I know, that’s a bizarre headline, but you’ve read this far ….. give it a chance.

One aspect of the study of feng shui and Chinese medicine is the opportunity to become more in tune with the cycles of nature, our own body, and our immediate and distant environment. Given how much China seems to be on everyone’s mind, it seemed only fair to look further into this tradition to discern what hidden messages we might uncover.

The Chinese zodiac consists of twelve animals first arranged in a calendar in the 5th century B.C. The 12 animal signs revolve around a cycle of five energies (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) resulting in a larger 60 year cycle (12 x 5 = 60). Determined long ago, 2020 is known as the Year of the Metal Rat. For those who study feng shui or the Nine Star Ki system, this is well known. The previous Year of the Pig was ruled by Earth.

2020 is the Year of the Metal Rat

Every year also brings our focus to a specific area of the body; Metal years relate primarily to our respiratory system. It is believed that in a Metal Rat year there is a particularly weakening effect on the Lungs that can lead to more colds, fevers, dry coughs, asthma, infections like the flu, and persistent fatigue. 

With me so far?

Holding that in a corner of your mind, now turn your attention to the practice of feng shui in which wind chimes are recommended for certain situations. We’ve all seen various types: the tiny metal ones that hang over the archway at a store’s entry, tinkling as we pass through; the long bamboo mobile hanging on a front porch that “clunks” with the breeze; or the one with varying lengths of shiny silver pipes arranged in a circle whose pleasant, melodious tones rattle with a chord when a gust of wind surges.

In feng shui, the purpose of a wind chime is moderation. One is placed to delineate one distinct area or space from another. It announces to both visible and invisible energies that pass by a change is necessary, that now is the time to moderate your Chi, to adjust from one way to another. 

Bamboo Wind Chime

For example, walking with a friend along a busy street, the volume of our voice and the length of each step in our overall walk will need to be very different once we enter the store, passing under the wind chime. It’s as if the chime says “lower your voice” and “shorten your gait” and we do so automatically once inside.

Yes, the chime clearly announces our entry, informing the shopkeeper a customer has arrived, but it also tells us to moderate our own energy and this is further accomplished by the sound of the chime. Air circulation and wind, primary to our respiratory system, brings the message and with it comes a subtle request to adapt to a new environment.


Perhaps that is what this new coronavirus brings. Maybe this is a harbinger of “change in the air”, and whether foreboding or encouraging, it is up to us to determine. Rats, small though industrious, cannot accomplish much on their own – just enough for survival. But in the Year of the Rat, one clear change we have realized if that we are called to examine our interconnectedness as occupants of the same environment. It is nothing less than an invitation to work together.

Is coronavirus a conspiracy? Yes, I think so — but only in the etymological sense of the word. This is a highly infectious virus – that much most people accept as true, but is this an act of evil, a plot to wipe out populations, to create a new world order? 

Sir Karl Popper coined the term “conspiracy theory” and prior to its use in the 1950s, we all managed quite well despite there being many viruses –yellow fever, scarlet fever, cholera, Spanish flu (1918 was an Earth Year, 1919 a Metal year), typhoid, polio, etc. — when plenty of nefarious forces were at work behind the scenes. Is this time different?

Rather than think of clandestine cadres with morally corrupt motives which may or may not be at play now, instead let’s examine the word itself: con spire. The prefix “con” implies “with”; the root “spire” comes from the Italian “respirare” or “breathe.” Also think “resiratore” or respirator.

In other words, a conspiracy is “the act of breathing together.” 

A Conspiracy of Qi Gong practitioners

So it is my contention, as the headline makes clear, that coronavirus, present in the Year of the Metal Rat, with its focus on lungs, is a wind chime – a call to moderate our chi, to look within, to acknowledge our interconnectedness, to work together – and conspire in the truest sense of the word. 

It is my fervent hope that we may all read this message of change from a place of one breath, one Earth, one family conspiring to change ourselves and the world around us. 


  • Thank you for this enlightening information!

    Diane Rukmini Bongiorni April 13th
  • Thanks Bill. You always put things in perspecti

    Alice Fava April 13th
  • Such great ‘food for thought’, exquisitely articulated.

    susa ure April 13th
  • Dear Bill, It would be great for you to join us for a panel or a sweet story telling about grief, about renewal, about fengshui… etc for EARTH DAY…

    this is such a sweet post… and I pray we align for all the good directions of gathering together…

    Peace and best
    Lynn it is 48 hours around the globe… creating “actions of impact” and would love you there….

    Lynn C April 14th
  • Thank you so much for this enlightening information!!!
    I am happy to be in contact with yoy after many years!

    Afrodite Railas April 15th