Year of the Red Monkey
I have been asked more than a few times recently 'what, exactly, do I do'. One thing I do is this. Divination. This isn't future or fortune telling. It is more like those times when you read a story and you feel like it was written for you. Synchronicity and Empathy. Intuition in the latin sense of consideration and teaching your self. This will be the first time in twelve years of doing this, that I will be doing it for the broader public, the community. In this case, the community is virtual but it is also global and, I hope, that these words will help someone somewhere... If that's not your thing, no worries, just enjoy the story and the cleverness of Monkey...
Below is Edun, beggar messenger Eshu Elegbara in his monkey guise and next to him is the Buddhist Monkey or Red King.
"Ibeji re, omo edun ibeji re, omo edun kere-kere-yan" "Behold twins, children of the monkey. They do not die."
Gong Hay Fat Choy, friends! and E Pele O! Happy New Year and Happy Imbolc, St. Briigid's day, Breed, Carnevale, Mardi Gras, Lent and anything else you might be celebrating or ignoring completely at this time of year. Typically, at this time of year, I am gearing up for my birthday and that includes doing a Reading for the Year. This is a divination for everyone and, in years past, I have publicly used the traditional Mayan Xultun Tarot. This year, I'm prompted by unseen (but not entirely unknown or even mysterious) forces to do a traditional Yoruba 'Odu/Ifa' Reading of the Year. That's a reading based on a story that is drawn randomly from a minimum of 256 stories. I do this every year but this will be my first public divination that maps out the whole year. Today I did it twice and drew the same one. How lucky... And a fortuitous reading it is. Ok, they all are; but the reading this year coincides with the Chinese New Year and it is their Year of the Monkey. This happens only every twelve years. So when I turned up this particular story today, I knew that this would be a good reading and a very good year for all of us. When I cast it and it came up again, I thought I should say something. Twins are important to the Chinese and the Yoruba. A Yoruba word for twin is Edun, which means Monkey. Let me share the story first and then we'll talk about it...
'Kindness turns into Evil' Cast divination for Monkey
On his Journey out of the Jungle
He was asked to offer 880 cowries
So that he does not lose his life over Kindness
Monkey heard about the offering and performed it
One day, as Monkey passed by
He saw Leopard in a ditch, who could not climb out
Leopard begged for Monkey to help him
So Monkey pointed his tail toward Leopard
And brought Leopard out of the ditch
But Leopard did not release Monkey's tail
Monkey screamed: Yeee, Yeee!
Esu arrived and asked them for an explanation
Monkey explained himself
Then Esu asked Leopard to do the same
As Leopard was explaining Esu said:
No, didn't you see the monkey use hand gestures to clarify?
You need to use your hands to explain yourself
As Leopard clarified with his hands
Monkey jumped into the tree
And started to cry out at the top of the tree to all little monkeys:
'Kindness has turned into evil
Favor, favor, don't you ever offer favors'
When Monkey reached the Grasslands
He started to sing:
Pity me, pity me Gently,
The Tail of Agan does not touch the ground
Ok. This may not seem fortuitous to you but bear with me here. First, you have to know that Eshu is the Trickster. He is like a Heyoekah, Koshare or other sacred clown. You may know him as Papa 'Legba which is one of his Yoruba names. He is also called Jocomo or Jocko. Yes, like Michael Jackson's monkey. Jocomo is so named after the monkey that jumps out of a box like a jack in the box. So, Eshu and the monkey are the same... Twins. But trickster twins. Like the beggar and the king are one... Now that we got that, we can do the reading. This is a trickster reading and it will be a trickster year. Sort of like 'Oppposite Day' but for the year. The only other thing you have to understand is that the Yoruba concept of evil is more like natural consequences that stem from bad choices or a lack of character. Not all 'bad things' are considered this way. death, illness, poverty, etc are all a part of what we might consider 'Good' in that they serve an ultimate purpose to your Destiny or Character. And that is a big part of the Year for all of Us. This year we need to focus on ourselves. No rescuing or getting involved in others' business, no matter how desparate they seem. This is the Year when the best you can do for others is to take care of yourself. It also means that this is the year that no one comes to rescue you. That you must 'save your own tail'. Or maybe lose your tail. That is not to say that you cannot be kind but it must come from a place of empathy and not sympathy. 'Agan' means 'Bareness' or nakedness. And this year is the Year of the Naked Monkey. Us. Your humanity will be on display for everyone to see. Especially yourself. This 'self reflection' is without blame or projection. All you think of others are mirrors of yourself. Reflections. No blaming, shaming or guilting this year. this is the year that the monkey takes charge of his/her own life. In the Chinese Zodiac, the Monkey is also the symbol of the cleverness and quickness of man as well as also being the trickster. This year,for each of us, this is especially true in matters of business and wealth. The Yoruba Odu agrees. It also agrees that the type of monkey, Fire Monkey, means unpredictable occurences in politics and international affairs like war and world commerce. Fire Monkey years often are catalyst years who's effects are felt for a long time. The last time we had a red or Fire Monkey year (1956) Britain and France invaded the Suez Canal. We already know this from the election process underway but this will be global. It also is because the Fire Monkey is the Monkey King (highest of the five elements or monkey types) and the Yoruba story agrees here. Leopard is the symbol of the king as well as Ogun and this Odu is called Ogunda Meji (Meji also means Twin). This signifies that the random figure was cast twice. Anything 'twinned or repeated is very important. This was cast twice again as well. It is also important because Ogun, the Leopard King controls our 'stomach'. Our appetites, yes, but also our Integrity. Our Character (Iwa in Yoruba) is second only to Destiny as the reason we are here and, in a year where it is doubled, Character and Lack of Character are the two ruling forces that create the chaos in high places. Monkey or Jocko can mitigate that by making seemingly bad things turn immediately around but it wont be immediately understood. Chaos is Order we dont Understand. Yet. In the Yoruba Odu above, Leopard uses the monkeys kindness to trap it. It isn't likely that we will stop being kind but we must be careful that we aren't enabling, codepending or rescuing. Leopard is fully capable of getting out of a ditch. Don't let your need to be a hero or your ego trick you into peril. This is especially true with relatives and relations. The dynamics of all relationships are changing this year and Leopard and monkey are the subject of many a Yoruba Tale. And that means that relationships will end and change a lot this year. Even end. But just as Bagheera (a black Indian leopard) and Mowgli ( a naked ape) had to part ways, it was Bagheera's gift of a bull that released Mowgli from his debt to the Wolves. Monkey is about Freedom. Freedom from Guilt, Blame, Shame but not Responsibility. The trick of monkey is that responsibility and freedom are the same. The ability to respond creates freedom. Monkey does so quickly and knows that the laws of the jungle cannot be counted upon to do anything but change. The very last image is that of Monkey high above in the Tree. He is holding what is left of his tail and feeling sorry for himself. It wasn't until we lost our tails that we learned to walk upright on the grasslands and out of the jungle. The good news from this story is that everything, no matter how it turns out this year was a way to get you quicker to where you need to be. So you can wait for evolution to lose your tail or you can tangle with leopard. That brings me to the end here. The watchwords this year is choosing between Evolution and Revolution. The Tale of Agan is that he will reach the Grasslands but his Tail will not touch the ground. He won't have one. He wont need one. Neither do you... E Pele O! (I greet you Gently)