Saturday, January 12, 2008

1966--Year of the Fire Horse



 Years ago, while visiting a small Asian border town, I saw a peculiar advertisement. In English, it read, "Love your girl child." My hosts explained that infanticide of girls was still practiced by some uneducated villagers. The only explanation I was given was something about boys being valued more because girls leave the home when they marry. I couldn't then and can't now reconcile that answer with infanticide. Years later, when I learned about Fire Horse women in Chinese astrology, I understood the significance of the phrase "love your girl child."

When I first began writing my novel, Secret of The Plains, my central metaphor was the snow leopard. In fact my first working title was Search for the Snow Leopards. I knew that the snow leopards were the mysterious creatures of the Himalayas and it made sense. But as I wrote my first draft, I couldn’t find many ways to connect snow leopards with the characters and the image just felt empty. It bothered me, but I knew I needed this central image to drive the story.

Then in January of 2007 I attended a teachers' retreat. It was a day of journaling, poetry, walking, talking, and space. This was just over a month after I left my husband and I was scared and in search of some peace so the day resonated with me. I threw myself into the activities. At the end of the day one of the participants asked me if I was a Fire Horse. It seemed like a strange thing to say to someone and I asked her what she meant. She explained that women born in 1966 were Fire Horses. She was a Fire Horse sign and thought she recognized a fellow adventurous spirit. I was surprised that as broken as I felt someone recognized strength in me. I am not a Fire Horse sign, but I appreciated that the teacher saw these characteristics in me. Her words stirred something in me. I went home and researched Fire Horse Women.

After reading about this sign and the power these women had, their potential to change the world, I knew that Lili, the main character's sister, was a Fire Horse. I also knew that I had found my central metaphor. I immediately changed the images and rewrote the Lili character. The Fire Horses sought me out.  Below is just some of what I learned about this remarkable sign.

Unlike the astrology based on sun signs that my mother reads in her daily newspaper, Chinese astrology is closely linked with Chinese philosophy and astronomy. A person's destiny is determined by his or her birth, the season, and the hours of their birth. Most of us have found our birth year on the placemat in a Chinese restaurant-I'm the Ram. Yet the Chinese actually follow a 60 year cycle that is much more complicated than the animal of their birth year. Depending upon the year born, a person can also be one of the elements wood, fire, earth, metal, or water. For instance, born in December of 1967, I am a Fire Ram. If I had been born just ten months earlier, I would have been a Fire Horse. As a Fire Horse, I would have had a very different destiny.

In general, Horses are outgoing, people-loving, and successful. However, in the Fire element their freedom-loving traits turn to rebelliousness, hubris, and destruction. While this potential was tolerated in a male child, it was thought to be ominous in a woman. The common belief in most Asian countries was that a Fire Horse woman would devastate her nuclear family, drain them of resources, and bring about the early death of her father. If a husband could be found for a Fire Horse woman, he would be mistreated and meet an early death himself. Several stories have perpetuated this fallacy such as a popular Japanese tale dating as far back as 1682 about a Fire Horse woman who nearly burned down the city of Edo.

The power of cultural myth is strong as evidenced by the decline of births in the year of the Fire Horse. The birthrate in Japan during that year is down a half million as compared to the previous and succeeding years. In China, Tibet, and Korea there is also data of a plummet in birthrates. Stories of infanticide of girls from this period persist. You can be sure that women born in 1966 are not quick to reveal this in public.

Today these women are beginning to revise these beliefs, and their stories are capturing the imagination of the world. Fire Horse myths are being rewritten to honor the regenerative strength of women born under the sign of Fire Horse. In Japan the Hinoeuma Association, was formed by six Fire Horse women to raise awareness and better the perceptions of the roughly 1,300,000 fire horse women who were born in Japan.

Films such as the 2005 Canadian film, Eve and The Fire Horse, has raised awareness while also winning accolades such as the Sundance Special Jury Prize. The first woman owned Indian film company, FireHorse Films, was founded by two Fire Horse women, Venita Coelho and Deepti Datt. They told reporters that they chose this potentially controversial name to "encourage creative women in India and around the world, who are unafraid to question the status quo and push the envelope."

Many books, too, have been published. Most noteworthy is by the co-author of Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. Her book, The Legend of Fire Horse Woman, is about the survival of three generations of Japanese women and illuminates the purifying strength of women born into this destiny.

The next cycle for this rare sign will be 2026. Following the movement of these wonderful works by Fire Horse women around the world, will cultural perception be different in 2026? Will families receive these strong women with excitement, or will parents genetically engineer a year of boys. Either way, when I think of Fire Horse women, I cannot help but remember that shaky sign wavering on a screen in a dark movie theater: "Love your girl child."

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

And again. :-)

You've just been visited by a Fire Horse woman. :-)

Anonymous said...

Best success on your writings from another fire horse in West Linn!

Anonymous said...

Greetings and best wishes from Michelle, a Fire Horse neighbor! (West Linn)

Dawn Maree said...

I wish you the best of luck and look forward to reading it when you are done. I am a proud Fire Horse woman and even named my ranch after it... "Fire Horse Ranch"

Haydee said...

Fire horse here :-)
Thanks for telling our story

Anonymous said...

I am a lucky fire horse woman! I love my job! Raised 3 kids. And am Always cheerful! Have one of the best of marriages! although first husband died at age 53 of heart attack. I also work with another female firehorse! She has her act together, also a wonderful mother! We have a male firehorse at work too. We are long distance operators in Alaska and love it!!
Thank you for the fire horse information.

navajofirehorsewoman said...

Today, I researched "Fire Horse Women" and am finding out so much about myself. I am enlightened and am beginning to understand just how unique I really am.

Thank you for sharing your story about Fire Horse Women.

I was born on Wednesday, June 29, 1966 and am a Navajo Fire Horse Woman.

navajofirehorsewoman said...

Today, I researched "Fire Horse Women" and am finding out so much about myself. I am enlightened and am beginning to understand just how unique I really am.

Thank you for sharing your story about Fire Horse Women.

I was born on Wednesday, June 29, 1966 and am a Navajo Fire Horse Woman.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling our story...I am a Fire Horse Woman :) and proud of it. I have 3 children all beautiful and successful, 2 grandchildren and been married for 27yrs. I am blessed with so many blessings in my life and nevertheless my unconditional love to our family and friends. I have had many so many, exciting and challenging career that always brings me to reach the top of my goals. You are correct about us we are extemely powerful in so many ways...but most importantly we are so especial to mankind because we all appreciate and acknowledge true love, kindness and hardwork. We are extremely giving and always thinking of others before ourselves. Most importantly I live in God's law. Again, thank you and I can't wait to read your story, my story, our story. God Bless

James said...

Hi, I was born February 16, 1966, but I am a man. Are men born in that time frame just ordinary or weak? I read somewhere about the Fire Horse born then, that they are either incredibly lucky or ridiculously unlucky. Unfortunately, my life sways toward the later I think. Thanks, James

Kalirati said...

James,

Men born in this year have the same attributes. However, in many traditional cultures, while these attributes are valued in men (hunters, providers, decision makers), they are not in women. I believe it was seen as threatening to the societal order for women to show strength in the same way expected of a man. So, the "Lucky" ones would have "historically" been the men, because these attributes were valued and sought out in men. If I were to take a purely social/historical criticism of your comment on "unlucky" I would say that perhaps this is the result of changes in society. On a personal level, I'm sending positive energy to you. I hope your luck changes. We all deserve good in our life.

Anonymous said...

I am a Fire Horse woman married to a Fire Horse man, a perfect match.

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Anonymous said...

I will not concur on it. I think nice post. Expressly the title-deed attracted me to study the unscathed story.

Chris said...

I'm a fire horse woman and agree people can sense us and therefore fear us. My history is of highs and lows, with the lows brought by petty and jealous people as I am making headway into instrumental changes and progress in organizations. A Fire Horse attacked and beaten and then chained like an earth or metal? horse that is content and plows or pulls the grinding wheel is a depressing and frustrated being. Just hit upon this site. In looking up fire horse stuff years ago nothing was out, now there is a wealth of info and commentary about us Fire Horse women coming into our own and making an impact on society world wide.

Anonymous said...

Thanx for the story, Im a fire horse woman
(english name DAWN and chinese name LIMING)
have a son, married only for 2yrs and and seperated for 14 yrs and no interest of getting married again(no interest in commitment).
but I have a freedom, time for myself, and a very happy life.

Anonymous said...

hi i am a fire horse woman and leading a wonderful life. its true to an extent all fire horse women i know are unique. it is needed esp when you are part of an Asian culture.

Jean said...

amazing to know all these...Fire Horse Woman from down under. All the best to you.

Anonymous said...

Fire Horse man here enjoying reading about all of you, thank you. It's uncanny how accurately the horoscope describes us. One of my keenest senses is my intuition and one of my worst the inability to relax. I find my life experiences are entangled with extremes, as if duality must be felt at vast opposite ends of every spectrum in order to perceive the entire conflagration of life. Sometimes I feel worn out and in need of a great big hug. But nothing can get me down for too long. I feel my Creator-self is way stronger than the sum total of my rational, mortal, often negative thoughts and feelings, made redundant by comparison. I find my true nature living from my big heart my tiny mind is following around haha. Love to all from Sydney, especially the firey-fillies :P Steve

Anonymous said...

Azure Dragon of wood sitting next to my Fire Horse woman getting hot while reading this tripe. Looking forward to fueling her flame tonight.

Anonymous said...

I am a Leo fire horse woman of 66. the story of what happened to so many of the female baby of this sign is so wrenching. the image of mothers drowning the girl baby's in the river makes my sole break. my life is not glamorous or a world win of action but i have lived a true strong life that has shaped me and changed others and if it had not been the world would be different even less so change the world? small world..;}

CA Smith said...

Is there a specific time of the year during 1966 that was more ominous than others I was born 1/14/66 I find that in the past I walk into go fortune at many times and thought this was just to strange to be true.....even friends find that when I am around their luck improves. Can you tell me more about this.

Anonymous said...

I am 1/2 Japanese and born on 12/10/66. My Mother always told me that I was cursed because I was a fire horse. I think I am a survivor, strong-willed and have a constant desire to be free. I was born 3 months early. I weighed 2.2oz. Most babies born a premie in 1966 did not survive. I do have a temper and have had to learn how to tone it down a bit. I think firehorse women are powerful and a bit intimidating.

Anonymous said...

I am a fire horse woman born in May, 1966. A Taurus Fire Horse. Now that's a combination! I am very strong emotionally, do well in my career and love my children. Husbands I have not done well with. :-( I do find that people are attracted to my fire and strength, yet intimidated by it. What a joy though to see all the comments from Fire Horse women and men. Perhaps we should start a Fire Horse Group!

Anonymous said...

I am 1/4 Japanese; Scorpio Firehorse born 11/1/1966. I think we should start a society to raise awareness and end infanticide period.

Anonymous said...

How fun to have a place where fire horse women can collect! I am a fire horse Sagitarius woman. It is certainly a combo of intensity, passion and independence, and vision. I was told years ago that we could not be " tamed", and that was the fear of men, parents and society. So what great task should we set out to do? You know nothing can stop us?

Anonymous said...

Your blog was written 2 years and 10 days ago and comments are still being left, and I am grateful they are. I have been on a search for all I can find as to why I was born when I was born..btw turns out I am a Fire Horse, what is my purpose, what beliefs do i value.
Thank you for writing this and look forward to reading your past, present and future blogs.

Kalirati said...

I am filled with wonder at these comments. So many people have come just to this one page. Fire Horse women and men from around the world have found a home here. What next?

Anonymous said...

I love being a Fire Horse :) although it gets me into trouble sometimes!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article.
Fire horse Aquarius. Born on the first day of the chinese new year. Never was a trouble make but am a free spririt. Parents loved it!

Anonymous said...

Hello! a female fire horse aquarious just visited your post. Born January 28, 1967 but still under fire horse calendar. Only through prayers that i was able to calm down my temper and impatience. I'm married with 2 teenage daughters and I bought my own house without my husband's approval,only the 3 of us resides in my house. I don't care whether my husband will follow us or not. But life is boring without challenges.May God Bless us all.

Anonymous said...

Hello! nice post. I'm a fire horse aquarious, born January 28, 1967.

Anonymous said...

I agree. My birth 4/24/66 fits both the Taurus and Horse to a T. Humbly so as it's embarrassing to see my shortcomings predicted. My father died at 50. My affair with a man from my past has created havoc on my family. On the other hand I'm a personal fitness trainer who loves to run and do yoga. People are pulled to me as I make it a point to empathize. However in my recent self-rediscovery I can be a bit vain and I definitely love to run the party. I'm thinking of getting a yinyang tattoo on my right hand just to remind me of this past year and that I need to keep sight on BALANCE!

Anonymous said...

Hey, a Fire Horse Man here, 8/20/1966. Great comments. I am married to a Fire Horse Woman, my HS sweetheart, a perfect match. We just feel that we were born for each other. I am proud of being a Fire Horse. Bayar, Portland, OR

777Benzo said...

Hi my name is Ruben, I was doing a little research on the Fire Horse sign because I was born on Dec. 2nd 1966 and I came across this site and I found it very interesting. I know it's probably disappointing that I am a man since it was 99% focused on Fire Horse women :) but I felt compelled to say that I don't know whether or not being a Fire Horse and or being a Seventh Son of a Seventh Son or combination of the both but I have had some pretty phenomenal experience's through out my whole life both good, bad, paranormal and it never stops. I always new in my heart it is a very special sign. God Bless Always be True and You'll Always be Free RH

Leonie said...

Im a fire horse woman, i can so understand myself more now and my strengths ! not only born in 1966, but also born 4 Dec , making me a sagittarian, half horse and an archer, a fire sign. im ruled by the planet Jupiter, and my tarot card is the Emperor.
Could i get any more stronger influences ?? laugh
I have to admit i had to tame/tone myself down !
I have enjoyed reading everyones comments, any other saggitarian fire woman out there to compare note with ?? !!

Leonie said...

Im a fire horse woman, i can so understand myself more now and my strengths ! not only born in 1966, but also born 4 Dec , making me a sagittarian, half horse and an archer, a fire sign. im ruled by the planet Jupiter, and my tarot card is the Emperor.
Could i get any more stronger influences ?? laugh
I have to admit i had to tame/tone myself down !
I have enjoyed reading everyones comments, any other saggitarian fire woman out there to compare note with ?? !!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I am a female fire horse born december 28, 1966 from Irvine California. I have two wonderful daughters and am currently married. I had 12 jobs in 15 years period of working. I never understood why I am never happy at any single job, like I am destined to do something else greater. I am still looking for that special something to complete my life. Thanks for this website!

Anonymous said...

I am march 19 1966 Woman !And I am powerful .. having a great Job.... Fire tiger daughter the best THING of my life ....always True to myself ... chinese astrology is my passion , i can guess people signs Just by talking to them for a few min . Deeply in LOve with Fire Horse man !! WE are very special !!!

Gui Water said...

Wonderful site. Yes, from my own experience as a Fire Horse woman; we feel and know we are destined for something bigger, never stop learning, never quit, never pessimistic, self-reliant, love to impart knowledge, ethical, have to help, compassionate, passionate, realistic, always multitasking, courageous, mystical, spiritually aware, acute gut instinct, thrive on challenges, gutsy, can-do attitude, visionaries, entrepeneurial, natural born leaders. A chauvinistic male client once put it this way " You've got balls".
On the negative: inner insecurity, power and status hunger, risk takers, opinionated, stubborn, workaholics, love solitude, find it hard to delegate, procastinators, fiery temper when provoked, non-sentimental, self-absorbed, domineering, self-important, scheming, controlling.
To be honest, sometimes I wonder how my husband copes with me. We have been married 20 years, love each other and have three great kids,22,12 and 5.
Me Gui Water, Fire Horse, Capricorn 19/01/1967. My husband is a Yang Wood, Fire Snake, Scorpio 07/11/1965. Both Kua/Gua Gen 8. Go figure!

www.Booksbouquins.org said...

Fire horse woman 8/5/1966. I'm a bit more mellow now but the fire is still burning

www.Booksbouquins.org said...

Fire horse woman 8/5/1966. I'm a bit more mellow now but the fire is still burning

Anonymous said...

I am so intrigued! I am a Fire Horse Woman born May 27 1966. Reading all of this makes so much sense to endless confusion of listening to others, especially my ex boyfriend of 3 years! I have always had a strong sense of my strength and I've been told I am a woman of power! Not by him though, he tried to make me feel like less of a person and I always felt like I was being tied to the ground. I ran and am honoring myself this year for the first time in my life! You can be sure I will keep on reading about this.

GratefulDeb said...

I'm a Fire Horse Woman. Born on the cusp of Cancer and Leo (two very opposing signs) and am an AB+ blood type to boot! Thank God I was born in the USA.

Very interesting story, I always knew I was different (often in a good way!)

Anonymous said...

i am a fire horse born 13/5/66 and really enjoyed reading the comments,iam blessed with a wonderful son ( snake/taurus) ,blessed with a successful career,i am impatient with a bad temper at work.sometimes i really wish my life was less dramatic,my freinds say if they re bored theyjust need to spend time around me and theres always drama and excitement they think its great but i really wish myself some peace and quiet, dont get wrong, iam blessed with overdose creative talent and a good business mind which i believe i owe to beign a firehorse.in love i havent been too lucky. i wasnt lucky to meet enough tigers, goats, and dogs that kept me interested for long. i actually just went for the challege(rats and dragons who werent really interested, and couldnt deal with my overdose of fire,strength, and independence.i really attract lots of luck and trouble,are there any other firehorses out there who feel thesame? a.berlin

Lance Taylor said...

I've been interested in the fire horse folklore for years...I noticed how people in my yr.class of 71 (snake) were different than the class of 72 horse yr. I read that fire horse women are avoided in Chinese folklore, that men who marry one will die an early death. There may be some reason for this, as horse women are often strong and independent, and the fire yr. may add to this, but we should not stereotype people, if you do you may miss out on a beautiful marriage with someone, you may find that these characteristics are admirable in a woman. A woman who is strong and because of this may wind up in marriage to men who may be "wild" in some ways and more prone to early death. I look at a lovely fire horse, Cindy Crawford, has a husband who is a motorcyclist, for example, an active man who could end up dying early, but, may live a long and happy life, too.