Walls have ears (or at least their sausages do.)

Richard Ashworth

Feng Shui Diary

for the month of the Fire Pig

Sunday November 7th  2010 21.30 

Hour Day Month Year
Earth Metal Fire Metal
gay tsun ding gung
hoi yuw hoi yan
Rooster Rooster Pig Tiger


Month: ding hoi the Fire Pig
Solar Fortnight: lap dung Winter Begins

Walls have ears (or at least their sausages do.)


Lap dung;  East is the direction to travel to get attention in this Fire Pig month but that’s not actually why I’m walking round a 6-below Berlin at 2 in the morning. This is the third time I’ve been to Berlin but I’m as lost as if it were the first. And all the German I know I learned from Fleetway Boys’ War Picture Library comics: «Achtung der minen» «Donner und blitzen» and «Englander Pig-Dog» which are unlikely to be either useful or diplomatic. It’s not long however before a Turkish taxi driver filling up at a 24-hour petrol station, tells me in pretty good English where my hotel is. It seems to me that human beings are basically decent wherever you go. If you need directions, a cup of soup or a fiver, whether you’re in Singapore, Poland or Limerick, someone will offer it. The cabbie tries hard to be grumpy but he gives excellent directions and at last I find my hotel.

 Get Ready for 2011

If I haven’t surveyed for you for a while, some of what I did may be out of date by now. 2011 is very different to 2010 with a whole new box of feng shui tricks; especially houses facing South East, NorthWest, East and West.

So like last year, I’m offering a very limited number of Tune-Up surveys.

Here’s what happens: I visit you for two hours, locate the new places to work rest and play, as well as avoid or neutralise, do what I can on the spot and leave you with a list of things to do. This year I’ll also leave you with a schedule of dates to activate particular locations at particular moments for particular outcomes during the coming year as well as some indications from your ba zi as to what the year has in store for you.

Enquiries to: Richardashworth@imperialfengshui.info.

£350 payable on booking. No discounts! First come, first served

Many Berlin streets are very wide and Stresemannstrasse is as broad as the Westway. My room is big and basic. As I finally settle down to sleep, there are unaccountable knockings which sound like someone rapping on the desk opposite the bed. I get up and address the desk.

«One more knock if there’s someone there,» I call.

There is one more knock. I sigh.

«It’s late. I’m going to sleep. Perhaps tomorrow night.»

I deal in Chinese metaphors for the most part so soon enough I’ll be able to call these intrusions severed fate or something exotic. They are likely to equate to a pocket of energy I can work out with a xuan kong or a ba zhai calculation after which I can consider an elemental cure. On the other hand, just like you and me, all that any entity, human, demonic, angelic or abstract, wants is love. Knowing this, what would you do? I’m back and this time it’s personal.

At home in London I’ve been working with a desperately ill 16-year-old girl whose weight is now down to around 4 stone. I spent several hours with her at a very carefully chosen moment in mid-October and when I’m back in the UK I’ll be working on the feng shui of her house. I was brought in very late but that doesn’t help. I keep thinking of her huge eyes against her tiny face. This is quite painful. To enter healing is to risk failure, blame, guilt and more because you can’t half-commit. It’s all or nothing. When we commit to making a difference for the better, we commit equally to not making a difference for the better. She’s tried every alternative method other than kick-boxing but the fact remains that if we chose we can unchoose. Anytime. I feel for her scarred life but that’s not what this agony is. It’s her parents’ pain I feel across half of Europe. Her mother is such a sweet, fairminded woman. I have six children. How could I feel otherwise?

I get a drink of water. Is it safe to drink from these taps? Of course it is, this is 21st Century cutting-edge Berlin where the taps are operated by a sensor. It follows that my attempt to drink with my head cramped under the flow of water is unsuccessful. I have to wave my hand under the tap and swiftly replace it with a glass before it changes its mind. This may look like a Lee Evans routine.

Green Manalishi

Next day finds me surrounded by Finns. We are at Humboldt University (named for the man who invented geography as we know it) on Unter den Linden, another broad swathe that runs East from the Brandenburg Gate whose 18th century magnificence once marked the boundary between East and West Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie’s around here somewhere.

I’m in Berlin mostly to hear Professor Wang Yude.

I studied feng shui that is Di Li (or Earth Studies) with Professor Wang in Wuhan in Hubei Province, Central China in 2005 and he doesn’t often speak publicly outside China. This was the man who presided over the only Feng Shui Course ever certificated by a Chinese University. My own diploma, complete with fetching unshaven photograph, sits in its red silk folder behind me as I write. Professor Wang is five-foot-nothing and ageless in the way that only the Chinese manage. He clears his throat and he’s away.

You have to know a little about the all-pervasive politics of China to fully grasp just how brave this man is. That same year the faculty at Nanjing were censured for attempting much the same. For «censured» read something between «ostracised» and «publicly condemned». Promoting the wrong syllabus remains a career decision or worse.

As it turns out, for reasons that are still unclear, Professor Wang talks in Mandarin without interpreter or transcript and I still have no idea what it is that he said.

At lunchtime I follow the crowd and suddenly I’m surrounded by Finns. Finland is home to the demon Manalish referenced in Fleetwood Mac’s Green Manalishi. That song with its despairing click of damped strings in default of a guitar solo, is the cry for help of Peter Green, composer of Albatross, Man of the World, Oh Well and Black Magic Woman, as he choked in celebrity before submerging for three decades. Finland is also home to a language unrelated to all Indo-European tongues other than Magyar and Estonian. There’s not many people know that.

Finns are different. These ones are uniformly beautiful, feminine and not necessarily blonde, both tuned-in and intellectually adept and their knowledge of feng shui is intimidating. This is of course an academic gathering but many of these ladies are hands-on like me, as well as educated. I have to up my game. Unaccountably, Finnish is also related to Eskimo-Aleut.

As it happens, Anna didn’t know that.

«Is it right that there’s no distinction between masculine and feminine in Finnish?»

«Yes it is.»

«So feminism is built into the language?»

She smiles.

«Also no past and present and no singular and plural.»

«You must look at the world very differently. »

«I wouldn’t know.»


In my room that night the sensors on the taps go bonkers. It sounds like Marineland of the Pacific in there. Suffice it to say that a little later, I am awake and not sleepy. The severed fate, generally written as a Chinese seven (which is like an upside down European seven) is calling. I respond as best I can.

In the morning I’m reading early. My laptop tells me Dixie from Texas has sent us thousands of pounds to help with a new-build. She says the house can face anything between 215 and 225 degrees South West. I reply that there are some very important differences between those angles.

My room is peaceful. My work here is done.

Above the Salt

Good feng shui calls for open space. If you’re going to live in a seaside town like Totnes, for instance, make sure you live higher than the water. Down in the marshes there’s nothing but stodge. You don’t need a feng shui master to work that out. Unless you’re my friend Maggie.

I’m in Totnes to bail Maggie out. We start with a crash course in Chinese Metaphysics.

«The Chinese think of three varieties of energy, three varieties of luck, three varieties of destiny: Heaven, Man and Earth. They’re best put in that order because it is human beings who connect Heaven and Earth.»

«I see.»

She has been quite ill and most of her money is spent. I am not charging her for this.

«First of all, this is a terrible, terrible house and you should never have moved in. It’s right in the water.»

«I know,» she says. Maggie’s a Dog and Dogs are traditionally consistent, loyal, faithful and stubborn as hell. The fact is that after I patched up her previous home, she moved without checking with me.

«Let’s not get too hung up on that,» I suggest.

That way superstition lies, superstition which as far as I can tell, is simply an inability to distinguish between what can be controlled and what can not.

«When you believe in things you don’t understand, you suffer» was Stevie Wonder’s wisdom on the subject. As I recall he also said «Doobie doo ‘n’ doobie doobie doobie doo» as well as «Uptight, everything’s alright, clean out of sight.»

Maggie is 40-something and an expert on diet, with a passion to change the world with what she knows. The water has soaked up her money and begun to dull her ambition. Can’t have that.

«Heaven luck is the cards we’ve been dealt. Having blue eyes or Irish parents is Heaven Luck. From my standpoint everything is chosen – you don’t have to agree – but height or blood group is less obviously chosen and therefore less easily changed. Some call Heaven Luck Destiny. I’m not one of them, by the way. Human luck is choice and Earth luck is science if you like.»

«Science ?»

«A discipline within which we always get the same results under the same conditions. Earth Luck is what we can do with Heaven Luck; the tricks we can play. Most Chinese Masters insist that feng shui is a science.»

«Are they right?»

«I think they’re precisely one third right.»

Technically Maggie’s an Earth Dog with a strong yin Earth day stem. The position of the Chinese characters in a ba zi have traditional meanings and to say that she is an Earth Dog is to say equally that her Mother was Earth and her Father a Dog. These rigid doggy qualities came down with the dna.

I look out of her very big picture window. The house is built into a bridge across the river. The window appears to be a converted door.

«It was the tollhouse for the bridge.»

«You mean money was coming through here hour after hour, day after day for centuries in an unstoppable flow?»

«I think I do mean that.»

«Better open it.»

We discover that Maggie’s Big Fate opens with a decision to throw herself away. It appears to be a decision to copy her Mum and oppose her Dad.

«I gained a lot of weight and gave up at school.» A light goes on in her eyes and she suddenly sees an avenue of choices she didn’t need to make and can now re-examine. If we chose, then we can unchoose. It’s a pindrop moment.

«What Western practitioners bring to the party is transformation,» I remind Maggie. »Human chi changes Heaven chi. Choice changes destiny. You and I know that.»

«I didn’t choose this.»

«Then it’s time you did because you’re in it.»

While she ponders that, I work on the three points that may change something; in the East, West and especially the NorthWest. The Dog belongs in the North West. The procedure involves placing bowls of crystal to East, West and NorthWest to be emptied and refilled daily. On one level it’s simply a way to ensure that the best pockets of energy in the Metal Tiger year get stimulated every day. On another it’s a chance for the Dog to re-choose.

By mid-afternoon she’s smiling. I leave her to it. She’s on her own now and I’ve got a long drive home.

In my office on Monday the electrics go crazy. My ipod is operating its own volume control and the phones are tinkling by themselves. Back in North London, the 16 year old girl is deciding whether a blood transfusion will save her life. If we chose, we can unchoose. Just one file won’t save on my laptop. It’s hers.

©Richard Ashworth 2010

Names have been changed to protect..uh…me.

Current email address. Please Note :
Following February’s excitement, my default email address is now: richardashworth@imperialfengshui.info
Telephone:           01483428998
My website is still at http://www.imperialfengshui.info/site/1/home.html


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