Fire Horse : Wood Horse 2014 : The Five Elements

Patrician McCarthy

Patrician McCarthy

“Isn’t the Horse, in Chinese Astrology, Fire Element? Why am I reading that 2014 is going to be a Wood Horse year?” asked Deirdre, a reader from Calgary. Then she added, “I did some internet research, but it was useless. I’m a full time student, so I don’t have the luxury of time and patience. Please help me.”

Luckily, (for me as I don’t have a lot of time and patience this week, either!) it’s an easy answer. But let’s start with a few basics:

  • Each of the twelve Animal Signs of the Chinese Zodiac has a Stem, and that Stem is either (-) Yin or (+) Yang
  • Each Animal Sign has a fixed Element of either Water, Wood, Fire, or Metal. (There is no fixed Element of Earth because the belief is that we all, as beings of the planet earth, have a component of Earth within us.)
  • Each of the Elements is associated with a direction and a season.



This chart quickly tells you that the Horse is (+) Yang, and that its fixed Element is Fire. And Fire’s direction is South and its season is Summer.

That’s easy, right? So why is this a Wood Horse year?

Let’s first look at the Chinese Astrological twelve year cycle:

Each year is represented by one of  the twelve Animal Signs, beginning with the Rat and completing the twelve year cycle with the Boar (or Pig). Then another cycle begins with the year of the Rat, and so on.

As this is a fixed cycle, every Animal Sign represents a year once every twelve years. Each of those years the Animal — no matter what its fixed Element is — is additionally associated with one of the Elements of Water, Wood, Fire, or Metal, in that order.

As this is the Year of the Wood Horse, let’s take a look back over the last several Horse years to see how the cycle has progressed, starting with the Water (+) Yang year of 1942 until this Wood (+) Yang year of 2014:


It is important to know the characteristics and traits associated with each of the Elements in order to understand the dynamics of each year. In the upcoming year I know that Horse’s fixed Element of Fire is compatible with this year’s Element of Wood, so that gives me some optimism for the year ahead. Yet, I am also aware that it is a double Yang year — in addition to both Fire and Wood being innately Yang Elements — so I am prepared for a lot of intensity and struggle for dominance and control. And that’s just the beginning! But it’s a great start.

In the next couple days I’ll tell you what else I see for the year ahead based on the Elements of Fire and Wood.

While we are waiting for that, take a look at the chart above and note that the last time there was a Wood Horse year was 1954, sixty years ago. The next time there will be a Wood Horse year will be sixty years from now, 2074.

I always look back sixty years to see what was happening in the world (and eventually, in my own personal life), to see if I can understand the patterns and events of that year so that I can be prepared for the patterns and events of the upcoming year. I am always surprised how many similarities there are, even though that is what I’m looking for!


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