Monday, February 8th marks the beginning of the Year of the Monkey. In Chinese astrology, those born under the sign of the Monkey are considered to be gregarious and playful, full of energy and humour. At social occasions, they often become the centre of attention. They tend to be very generous, talented, and inclusive. Monkeys are very curious and clever, making them excellent problem-solvers and mediators. Because they are so charming and engaging, it is easy for Monkeys to become famous for whatever talents they possess.

Of course, there are two sides to everything. The common challenges Monkeys face in their personalities are that they can be deceptive, opportunistic, and self-serving. Though they can be loyal and devoted, they can also be flighty and lose interest in relationships quickly. These challenges can be overcome if the person is aware of them and willing to transform them into strengths by applying them in the appropriate contexts.

Many people are unaware that there is also an element associated with each year. 2016 is actually the Year of the Fire Monkey. The element of Fire is associated with leadership, confidence, originality, positivity, and adventurousness. It is also symbolic of aggressiveness, dominance, forcefulness and impulsivity. The stones that resonate most with Monkey energy are strombolite and lepidolite, and the stone that most embodies the traits of Fire mentioned above is sunstone.

So what does this year bring for each of us? Well, it is above all else a year of change. It is likely to involve a lot of emotional processing, whether through conflict or inner reflection, and at the same time is likely to bring new connections to people, whether you already know them or not. Since Monkey is carefree and playful, there are many unexpected twists and turns that may happen this year; also, since Monkey is creative and Fire is innovative, people who have these traits will navigate the tumult much more effectively, able to take advantage of the opportunities presented in chaos. For those people who tend to be more obstinate or strong-willed, the ideal is to take a lesson from Monkey’s tendency to hide things and be less vocal about your positions for this year, as you will experience a lot of push-back otherwise. Of course, challenges provide opportunities  for growth, so do as you like – just know that you may be challenged more often than usual this year! For those who would like a little help navigating this rocky terrain, carnelian, ruby, aventurine, pyrite, and sunstone may be helpful.

For  the signs four years away from Monkey on either side – Rat and Dragon – this year will be easier than for many other signs, as they hold the highest compatibility with Monkey energy. There will also be a focus on building or strengthening bonds with friends and family this year for these signs. Stones that can help with this process include lepidolite and ocean jasper.

For Monkeys themselves – anyone turning 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, or even 108 – this year offers freedom to do whatever calls to them, but they must be careful not to get carried away. What they do this year can set the tone for the next eleven years, so this is an ideal time to take advantage of the flux and redirect their energies if they are so inclined. Stones that may be helpful with this include lepidolite, fluorite, and pyrite.

Overall, the Year of the Monkey is one of enthusiasm, laughter, and potential, bringing change and connectivity. Whether you’re outgoing or shy, adventurous or conservative, this year promises to bring some interesting new experiences into all of our lives.