Is it just me or has 2016 been an extremely challenging year?
Locally, there were extreme weather events throughout Australia, from the extended winter across the southern states, with late-season snow dumps in the alpine region, to unbelievable wind gusts and thunderstorms causing widespread structural damage and extended power outages. Flash flooding, king tides and cyclones also featured.
Worldwide, we witnessed violent attacks in public places inspired by radical ideologies: the truck ploughing through a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, and the Orlando nightclub shooting.
There was the sombre mood that blanketed the globe when the EU referendum saw the UK opt to leave the European Union, aka Brexit.
And of course there was the equivalent of a car crash we just couldn't look away from – Donald Trump and that hair being elected as America's next President.
On top of that, 2016 marked the passing of some of our most beloved artists: David Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder, Harper Lee, Florence Henderson and Alan Rickman, to name a few.
Of course tragedies and challenges occur every year. So why does 2016 feel like it was so much worse?
Edgar Lok Tin Yung, a Melbourne-based feng shui and Chinese astrology consultant, analyses each cycle and makes predictions relating to the animal which is assigned to that cycle.
He explains that 2016 is the year of the Yang Fire Monkey. The animal sign of monkey has the element metal assigned to it – and combined with fire, the two elements are in conflict. He says this is where much of the difficulties in 2016 have arisen.
"The Fire element represents power, heat, lightning, explosion, and electrical incidents. There were so many incidents related to the Fire element – South Australia in total blackout in September is one example," he says.
As for the metal component, he says, "In our body, the metal element represents the respiratory systems, which is why there were particularly bad lung and respiratory issues this year." Thunderstorm asthma was one fatal aspect of this.
I'm not sure there's much explanation in Chinese astrology for why Trump succeeded in the US election, but it is curious to know he has his own Chinese feng shui expert, named Master Pun-Yin. New York-based Pun-Yin has consulted with Trump on business developments involving the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
According to an article from the US digital news outlet Quartz, Pun-Yin analysed all the candidates and had this to say about Trump:
"Trump was born in the year of the dog. According to the Chinese zodiac, he is currently in his 'high cycle' ... Half of Trump's elemental composition is 'earth', and its heaviness suggests Trump holds personal grudges. He lacks water (empathy).
"He also lacks metal, for which he might compensate by seeking material things and, say, insisting everything be gold-colored."
Seems frightfully accurate – although I must confess I've never met Donald Trump in person
Looking ahead: what's 2017 got in store?
Thankfully, this Year of the Fire Monkey is almost at an end. We will then see the Year of the Yin Fire Rooster start on January 28, 2017.
Lok says the Rooster is also a metal element, but as "2017 is a Yin Fire and Yin Metal year, Yin is more gentle. So it will be a better year."
He predicts that "even though 2017 is still a year of conflict, at the end, there is a powerful person or powerful organisation [who will] come to help resolve the problems."
I'll assume he's not talking about Trump.
The Rooster is one of the Peach Blossom animals. That might sound like it is one of Jamie Oliver's kids, but apparently the Peach Blossom relates to romance – although in 2017, the combination spells a year of sex scandals and love affairs.
On a positive note, The Yin Fire Ding and the Peach Blossom combined can benefit the entertainment, fashion, beauty, movies and broadcasting industries. In addition, businesses that operate at night (bars, night clubs, restaurants) will be in for a great year.
Naturally, 2017 will have its own set of challenges and adventures for us all to tackle. Perhaps the calmer influence of Yin will mean a less tumultuous year. Let's hope so.
Happy (Chinese) New Year!
For further details on 2017 and The Year of the Yin Fire Rooster, see more predictions on Lok's site.