• A dragon mascot sets off firecrackers during the advent of the Year of the Sheep.

A dragon mascot sets off firecrackers during the advent of the Year of the Sheep. (Photo : Reuters)

After the Western world tussled between the titles of "sheep," "goat" and "ram" at the dawn of the new Chinese year, those who are well-versed in matters pertaining to ancient Chinese astrology have spoken to the media.

Fortune tellers based in Hong Kong spoke with the Sina website about what the planet can expect from the Year of the Sheep in relation to not only last year's horse year, but also the previous sheep year.

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Readers were informed that the Chinese lunar calendar uses the cycles of the moon to understand the human condition in the context of passing time, while Chinese folklore identified 12 animal symbols to align with each year in the repetitive cycle.

Feng shui expert Cheng Chi-tai explained that the sheep is interchangeable with the goat and is in the eighth position. Cheng called the eighth astrology character "comparatively tame," and during a sheep year, "everyone can come together to solve" any type of challenge.

The problem-solving capacity that the sheep animal symbol fosters is a welcome piece of news, as even though the Chinese zodiac animal symbol of the sheep represents a docile, tame creature--in contrast to the fire element of last year's horse influence--the forthcoming annual period is not merely defined by placid calm.

Another feng shui expert, Thierry Chow, informed the AFP news outlet:

"Depending on what other elements are partnering with earth, it usually sparks an outbreak. There is going to be a big explosion of bacteria."

Chow referred to the sheep year's wood and earth merger as a combination that needs to be approached with caution.

Just like the ancient wisdom of Chinese astrological beliefs, the bacteria-outbreak warning should not be taken lightly, simply because media depictions of sheep appear cute.

For anyone who needs reinforcement, the last time that the sheep graced our cosmic doorsteps, in 2003, the SARS epidemic infected 8,096 people and resulted in 744 deaths on a worldwide scale.