The South Downs and this time it’s personal

Welcome to Imperial Feng Shui

Richard Ashworth

Feng Shui Diaries

Solar fortnight beginning:

Thursday October 8th 2009 12.15

 Hour  Day  Month Year 
 wood  fire  wood  earth
 gap   bing  gap   gay
 ng  sute   sute   chou
 horse  dog  dog  ox
 Month:  gap sute  the wood Dog
 Solar Fortnight:  hohnlow  Cold Dew

The South Downs and this time it’s personal.

At this time of year, the Dog month, in this case a wood Dog, the Sun is so much lower. If I start early in the morning I have to close my curtains against the glare. The hibiscus is in bloom, the tomatoes have given up – perhaps a little late – but otherwise apart from riots, earthquakes, political extremism, suicide bombers, recession and global warming, all’s right with the world.

I like the Dog month. It’s a big statement but all Dogs are loyal in their way and the balanced Dog is totally consistent; his soufflés turn out the same every time. October is a steady month and the Dog is a universal symbol of steadfastness. On mediaeval livery it meant that the noble house concerned thought of itself as embodying loyalty (or more likely demanded it).

There are of course five different Dogs. The Water Dog (1982) brings back the pigeon. The Fire Dog (1946/2006) sits by the hearth, the Metal Dog’s (1970) bite is worse than his bark. The Earth Dog (1958) is the most loyal of all. But the Wood Dog (1994/1934) is a confused Dog, the mutt who chews his own paws. Like this month. The last wood Dog year was 1994 and before that 1934; those born in those years are known for digging deep into their resources.

Cricket Alert: this is not a drill.

If you’re a cricket buff (which my typical reader isn’t but I am, so tough) 1934 is the year of bodyline. Faced with the unbeatable Sir Donald Bradman, the greatest batsman the game has produced, the English captain Douglas Jardine devised a way to beat the Australians. He came up with bodyline or leg theory which basically meant the batsman had to defend the ball off his body before he could score. Some called it intimidation. Some said it wasn’t cricket. They were mostly Australian. It was so effective that the rules were changed. Jardine’s team trounced the Australians soundly and he lost his job and demon bowler Harold Larwood never played for England again. I used this information to correctly predict the Ashes result in 2005 and 2009 by the way.

Clive Lloyd who captained the unbeatable West Indians of the 70’s followed the same strategy throughout the 70’s and 80’s with great success and little criticism. Go figure.

Across the world, it was in the Dog year of 1934 that Hitler whose party had commanded less than 10% of the vote in 1929 now controlled the Army and the Trade Unions and had suspended all other political parties. An extraordinary time as political extremism followed recession followed stock market crash. Sound familiar?

The years since 1989 for a variety of reasons, echo those between 1919 and 1939. Recessions lead to extremist views. Most people need someone to blame. If I haven’t got a job it’s easy to pin it on foreigners. The ones with head scarves and burkhas are the easiest; Poles aren’t that easy to spot.

Next month a wood Pig, then a Fire Rat and we move into the year of  the ferocious Metal Tiger, a precarious time. I’ll tell you about that in my predictions in 8 weeks or so. Watch this space.

Ladybirds, Beatles and other bugs.

We’re visiting my daughter Henni at Sussex University today. I tell her how much we’ve missed her.

“There’s been a serious lack of hysteria and random behaviour.”

“Random?!” she says, four foot ten of fiercely assertive young woman. “You’re a fine one to talk.”

And she’s beautiful and brilliant but I would say that, wouldn’t I?

The university campus is purpose-built. The halls of residence surround the academic buildings like a wagon train. Sussex has a reputation for producing graduates with well-grounded radical ideas and it feels both safe and exciting. I could get lost in the book shop and actually nearly do. This place feels great.

Feng Shui is wind and water. The wind carries the chi down from the mountain and it accumulates by the water as the Book of Rites has it. One of the main tricks of feng shui has always been controlling the wind. If you walk among the mountains – luan tou – out in the wilds of central China with a Chinese Master, he will take you to still plateaus where the chi is perfectly settled. These are the most powerful locations of all.

Sussex University however is in a bowl between the South Downs and the Sea. Being close to the sea. the wind is an issue. What they have done is to shelter the campus by building on the ridges. So the University itself is still and the walkways and roads are placed so that there are no roaring wind canyons. Nor is there what a feng shui master would call heaven chop: when the gap between two buildings is too small relative to their height. Many feng shui masters attributed 9/11 to heaven chop*.

* Ask me if you want justification for this especially outrageous assertion.

Here at Sussex they have contained the wind so the chi on this fortunate North-South axis is settled. Nestling on the slopes are the halls of residence, contained in the valley, the theatres, classes and lecture halls.

Henni has hibernating ladybirds in her room. She asks what this means.

“Good fortune. You get cochineal from ladybirds. Cochineal crimson is the default good-luck colour.”

“Not so lucky if they’re nesting over your bed,” she says with matter-of-fact contention.

“And Ladybird fashions, of course,” I say, risking my life.

We arrive home and Jess and Joey are playing Beatles Rock Band. Jessie sings “Twist and Shout,” Joey plays bass. Fifty years on the Beatles still own the run-up to Christmas. And Henni will be home on the 12th December. 

Richard will be teaching ba zi again in 2010 : four weekends starting February.

Stop Press : Book of Changes Day Saturday November 28th

It’s the oldest book in the world and it’s at the heart of every aspect of Chinese Culture: from cookery to kung fu, from Ken Hom to Yuen Hom. Richard will be hosting a day long introduction: Opening the Book of Changes. Learn how to consult the oldest oracle in the world and how to make sense of the answers. No knowledge of feng shui required.

Join us by contacting Sheila at :

 Richard Ashworth © 2009

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: