The Asian Lunar New Year dawned today with crowing cocks. I placed a glass rooster on my desk and wondered how this symbol might be useful to us and our therapy clients during this time of political upheaval and strife. What is the story of the Rooster around the world and how might we relate to this animal in our lives this year?
Let’s start with the tale of how the rooster became one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.
“The rooster always sought to prevail over others, made troubles and fought all around. When the Jade Emperor selected the Chinese zodiac animals, the contributions to human beings were taken into consideration, so the rooster had no chance. One day, the rooster found the horse which had been selected was spoiled by human beings with golden saddle and silver stirrup. The rooster was very envious of the horse, so it asked: "hi, brother horse! How did you win today's honor?" The horse replied: "I plow and transport at ordinary times and charge forward in wartimes. So I have made great exploits for human beings. Of course they love me." The horse continued: "it is not difficult to get human's love if you can take your advantage and work for them. For example, the ox can plow; the dog can watch the gate; the pig devotes meat and the dragon can rain. You are born with a natural golden voice; maybe it is helpful to humans."
After going back home, the rooster thought it over and finally found that it could wake up the sleeping people with its golden voice. Therefore, the rooster got up early every dawn and woke people from sleep by singing. Humans were very grateful, so they decided to ask the Jade Emperor to list the rooster into the Chinese zodiac signs. But according to Jade Emperor's standard, only animals rather than birds could be selected as the zodiac signs. Among the six domestic animals, the horse, the ox, the sheep and the dog were all selected except the rooster. So, the rooster was extremely anxious: its eyes turned into red and its throat became hoarse, but still had no effect.
One night, the rooster was unable to get over; it tossed about and couldn't sleep. Its soul came to the Heavenly Palace and complained tearfully to the Jade Emperor that it woke up the humans every morning and made great contributions, but it was not selected, so it was unable to get over. After that, the rooster cried. The Jade Emperor thought the rooster indeed made great contributions and his standard of selecting the Chinese zodiac signs was wrong, so he picked a flower in front of the Heavenly Palace and put it on the rooster's head as a reward.
After the rooster woke up, it found there was really a red flower on its head, so it went to visit the Four Heavenly Kings with the flower. The Four Heavenly King recognized that this flower was the one in front of the royal furnace and the Jade Emperor valued the rooster, so they permitted the rooster to participate in the competition for Chinese zodiac signs. On the competition day, the rooster and the dog got up and came together. When they approached the Heavenly Palace, the rooster flied to the front of the dog. The dog wanted to catch up but failed, so it was ranked after the rooster. Since then, the dog hated the rooster and chased after whenever it saw the rooster. Even today, the dog is still angry about the rooster and the phenomenon of "the dog chasing after the rooster" is still visible. While the rooster still wakes up people every morning in red face and with a beautiful red flower.” www.yourchinesastrology.com
When the Rooster appeals to the Emperor to be seen for his value to humans, he is recognized and blessed with a red flower. He discovered that his voice could serve humanity. The Rooster’s “cock-a doodle-doo” at dawn reminds me to awaken in time to meet the day’s tasks. But what else does he represent?
In many cultures the Rooster is a protector. In Europe, the crowing of the cock drove away nocturnal demons and protected people from evil forces. It was believed that the rooster’s comb protected dreamers from nightmares and that he called babies out from the womb at birth. Roosters are brave fighters and harbingers of change. A symbol of sun and fire, a guardian of the Norse rainbow bridge to Valhalla and various divinities in other cultures, he is also a symbol of Christ, who calls people to awaken to faith. And perhaps most pertinently, the rooster symbolizes a warning against arrogance.
This morning dawned pink and golden above the trees as the sun rose again. I heard three roosters yodel today as I walked by. Inspired by the year of the Rooster, I am ready to boldly strut and crow aloud, join others in the flock and together we will chase away the demons and the darkness.
Ellen Searle LeBel, NCRSS President
COMMENTS on this article are welcome but please do not include any client references.