At the close of 1992, Queen Elizabeth II referred to the multitude of tragedies that beset her family and her home in 1992 as an annus horribilis. While the queen was looking at the year through a lens of personal tragedy, the year 2020 truly deserves the award for the most horrible year in recent memory. While the ongoing war began against an invisible enemy, human reaction to the pandemic varied around the planet.
Waves of death and panic, along with overwhelmed medical centers, became the norm. Societal lockdowns demonstrated whether discipline or ego would prevail. The start of New Year celebrations in pandemic areas where discipline reigned look quite different than where ego reigned. Pictures tell the difference between crowds in China, Japan, and Taiwan, and the lack of crowds in places where only minimal gatherings or lockdown prohibitions were in place.
Humans crave movement and change. We are not meant to sit idle. Yet it appears that those who followed the disciplined path are nearly back to a level of pre-COVID-19 pandemic normality not seen worldwide since January 2020. Chinese New Year 2021 should be very different than the one where celebrations were abruptly canceled in January and the first lockdowns in Hubei Province began.
Collaboration is the theme of the 2000 millennium although this might not be clear from the varied reactions around the world to the pandemic. In the midst of the chaotic downside of 2020, the fastest vaccine development since the 1960s arose in just 12 months, proving that a planetary threat can be quickly addressed when scientists work together. In areas where preventive measures continue to be embraced and maintained, the perceived level of mutual benefit through collaboration is high. The group welfare is more important than that of the individual. Likewise, even for those who do embrace preventative measures, the overall group mentality matters. In areas where the individual choice ranks as more important than group welfare, collaboration is low; the perception of mutual benefit is lesser.
Forced quarantine and lockdown conditions in China appeared draconian at first, yet the community benefit included being able to openly celebrate in large crowds a year later. Disputes and rejection of the need for non-negotiable use of preventative measures resulted in a range of outcomes in the United States. The most famous public gathering in Times Square, New York City, changed to only a small group of invited heroes; everyone else had to watch the ball drop on television. Most cities followed suit with prohibitions on large gatherings and reminders that home celebrations with just those in residence were best.
New Year’s celebrations are times for declarations of promises and resolutions to ourselves, our families, and our gods. After almost ten months of various lockdowns, the United States needs a break. We’re ready for a change. The standard promises to lose weight take on more meaning if one has gained weight during the pandemic. Some call it the COVID 15, in reference to the supposed “freshman 15” college students gain during their first year away from home.
For women who have lost jobs due to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, which required them to choose between their careers and taking care of their children as the child care market disappeared, we need a change. From the era of women working a double shift – a job followed by a second shift of childcare and housework – we need a change. For parents who feel burdened by the need to both work and guide their children through distance learning, we need a change. For the overall post-secondary educational system that showed weakness during the pandemic, we need change. For couples who realized that a pandemic revealed the irreparable damage in the foundations of their relationships, we need a change.
Fortunately, this particular new year is suited for change. While the year 2020 in numerology terms was about forming a solid foundation through hard work, organization, and attention to detail, the hallmark of a “number four year,” the year 2021 brings a breath of fresh air. Unlike the 2020 year, where limitation was both needed and produced benefit for all, the 2021 year will address change itself.
The year 2021 is a “five year,” where change can easily happen on the positive and the negative sides. The typical advice for action during a five year is to effect change only in the areas of life that have been negative. If things are going well, we shouldn’t change anything in a five year. This is similar to tarot card number ten, Wheel of Fortune. Just as life is cyclical, with expected and unexpected changes, so the five year is one where anything can happen. Just as the five life path is one of freedom and lack of restriction, the five year allows those who are willing to take the chance to look at those foundational problems uncovered in the four year and address them.
Due to the pandemic response, several industries faltered or stopped altogether, including those in the areas of travel and hospitality. Instead of flying to meetings in luxurious far away places, we increased usage of virtual video conferencing platforms like Zoom. Companies hold virtual happy hours for employees. While not nearly as lavish or as plentiful as pre-COVID pandemic happy hours, this is still a release of sorts.
As families, we now celebrate births, weddings, holidays, and even ordinary conversation through the internet. When loved ones are in the hospital, it seems a near standard for doctors or nurses to connect family outside to visit – or, sadly, to say goodbye with one last “I love you”- via the iPad. The advantage of connecting by virtual video meant that we could stay at home. As a foundation builder, the 2020 year fully supported this.
The 2021 year is time to expand and test the spirit of collaboration. Unlike the past millennium, where the number “one” started each year, we now have had a full 20 years where the number “two” starts the year. The number two is one of cooperation, balance, and the unveiling of mysteries.
Fulfillment and progress happen in years with the number “two” in prominent positions by working together rather than going it alone. In the year 2020, working together became the key to creating a vaccine at record breaking speed to fulfill the overall goal of keeping humanity alive and stopping the spread of COVID-19. In the year 2021, the positions of the numbers indicate that collaboration and cooperation will be valued more than the individual, indicated by the number “one.”
Why is this so important for change? After a year during which every thing wrong that could possibly happen did so, when so many turned for stress relief to making family videos on TikTok, humans need a break. In the United States of America, the collaboration message came though at first, but a strong sense of individuality and the persistence of ego taking precedence over public health has produced many different pandemic responses throughout the 50 states, rather than one unified response that prevailed in areas like China. As a result, there are areas that are currently in lockdown with advisories in place to not leave home except for essential services such as going to the doctor or securing food; there are areas where one might be forgiven for thinking that there is no longer a pandemic.
The biggest promised change that has yet to take effect is the completion of the vaccination program. While having a vaccine is great, the spread of any virus stops only when the actual vaccinations are done. Right now, the change needed relies heavily on the actual distribution of the vaccine, including having enough support to both service those who need shots and enough space to do so efficiently in a nearly round-the-clock effort to help those who are administering the shot.
For the United States of America, while we celebrate Independence Day on July 4, the actual day of the declaration is July 2, 1776, with the Lee Resolution. From a numerology stance, what makes this fascinating is that the actual personal year of the United States for the year 2020 was a 13/4 – a number of work (the “four”), but also transformation, noted by the traditional meaning of the tarot Death card, which is card 13 in the deck.
For those who lived through the year 2020 in the United States, transformation happened throughout the country in terms of how Americans related to each other, how we openly we proclaimed our political beliefs, and how we chose to address the pandemic in our own lives. Our beliefs went through a process of death and rebirth: a transformation of sorts. There were those who chose to not follow the protective guidance regarding the wearing of masks, social distancing, washing hands, and staying home when sick. There were those who did so. Arguments still reign regarding whether mask wearing is an issue of personal responsibility or an issue of collective responsibility.
For the U.S.A. as a whole, the personal year remains a 13/4 until its birthday in July. At that point, it shifts to a 14/5, with the number 14 reflecting a new card, Temperance. With Temperance, we create a new path of balance by looking down the middle in lieu of following an extreme left or right path. Given the heartache that ripped apart many families during the past year, where even scientists are having trouble getting their own loved ones to follow guidelines, we need a change.
The first half of the five years of 2021, blended with the 13/4 personal year of the United States of America, is one of the endings and the completion of an evolutionary change. The energy becomes that of the 18/9, with the major arcana card of The Moon being in prominence. While we are ending a cycle of madness, we also need to be aware of the need to rest, to pay attention to our dreams as a nation, and to face the darkness that is present. We need a change.
The second half of the five years is the 19/1, with The Sun coming out after we face the problems, threats, and darkness that were present in the year 2020 in the United States of America, and in some senses, the world.
No one wants a pandemic. For so many, the year 2020 consisted of the few comedic moments that punctuated life during the pandemic, its attendant economic disruption, and the eruption of protests against racial injustice brought to life by the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. The festival of Kwanzaa uses seven candles, closing with the principle of Imani or faith on the seventh night, January 1. Coming at the close of one year and the start of the next, it is a good time to reflect on the struggles of the past and hope for the future.
Although Kwanzaa is seen as a festival for those of African-American cultural heritage, during times of crisis, this non-religious festival is one for all. The pull and tug between the struggles currently faced by so many versus the hopes and desires by those same individuals do not depend on the color of one’s skin or on one’s cultural background.
As a Black woman, I celebrate Kwanzaa to remember the many who have died, the struggle of structural racism and the “-isms” that punctuate everyday life for so many – Black or not – and the pain of everyday living, especially during the time of the coronavirus.
For those who see injustice as a matter of blindness to violent killings and mistreatment of primarily Black and brown bodies, each dashcam video released reveals truths that are necessary to engender hope that our current criminal justice system can, at last, be shaped into one that is fair to all instead of to those who are wealthy, well-connected, or fair-skinned.
For those who see how pandemic lockdowns reveal a technological divide that fosters further division in the areas of education, health care, and housing, parental ingenuity promises changes for the better in our society.
For those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, to the long haulers who continue to suffer after surviving COVID-19, and to those who even now are on ventilators clinging to life in a coma, hope brings a bit of comfort. Multiple vaccines produced push the miasma of despair a bit farther away. The cushion of accomplishment and relief grows with each completed vaccination cycle.
For those who have felt that 2020 was a year of pain and misery, let 2021 be a year of change. Like the Wheel of Fortune, we take what we have learned, we work together, and we move forward. Just as struggles pull the scales down, hope provides a balance for the future. After a disastrous year, one consistent thread that resonates into 2021 is the banner of hope.