2015 is the year of the green wood sheep in Chinese astrology.
What does that exactly mean? The year of the sheep is supposed to be a gentler and more calmer year that is better suited for creative pursuits since the sheep loves art and beauty. This year is supposed to be even more prosperous because the sheep is the eighth sign of the zodiac and the number eight is considered lucky in Chinese culture. This year is also a wood year which finds itself between fire and metal and thus should be a year of turning points as fire changes into metal.
Interestingly enough the sheep or hitsuji in Japanese as a symbol doesn't pop up much in Japanese culture. Last night I did a lot of research looking for the motif in art or referenced in literature. There wasn't anything terribly specific. Generally the reason the motif doesn't come up is that sheep aren't prevalent in Japan because of the climate tends to be more on the damp side and not conducive for raising sheep because they get some type of foot problem. The symbol of the sheep is sometimes interchanged with the goat or yagi. The yagi on the other hand is sometimes seen in woodblock prints as a sort of spiritual warrior and their horns can also be seen sometimes on helmets.
The year of the sheep calls us to be pursue more creative projects and look for ways to ground ourselves in the face of change. In order to do this I would like our dojo to focus on ukemi in our training and teaching and for our administrative side to be better organized. This should allow us to meet any turning points with calmness and confidence. Seneca summed up this year up best when he said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." Please prepare yourselves well and let luck take care of the rest. Happy New Year!