Wise in Morecambe

Welcome to Imperial Feng Shui

 Richard Ashworth

Feng Shui Diary

for the month of the Wood Sheep

Thursday July 7 th 2011 20.06





















“All is well here and Saoirse has moved back in. My prayers were answered! The NW bit worked!  Thanks so much for all your help.”

Kim, Bagshot.


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 “Why do some people make good decisions and some not?  I think of the ba zi or Four Pillars of Destiny as a map of our most likely mistakes. Since the Elements run in eternal recurring cycles, the moment of birth can be run backwards or forwards to reveal a person’s choices, potentials, opportunities and as far as such things are possible, their mistakes. Through the prism of the Tao, all of  these things are decisions and if a decision can be made it can be unmade.” Richard Ashworth.

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Wise in Morecambe

As the Horse month of maximum Fire closes and the Wood Sheep opens, a huge brush fire approaches Los Alamos in Arizona where the plutonium left over from all that testing in the 60’s is stored. Oops. Apparently it’s in containers unable to withstand enormous heat; not that you’d get much of that in the desert. The timing of this embarrassment in the deep West of the US at the onset of the second month of the Wood Triad (trust me or ask questions at the end) mirrors the inconvenience at Fukushima in the extreme East in the first month of the Wood Triad.

Wood Sheep btw, not such a great month for Metal Sheep of 1931 such as Murdoch R but the prognosis for the Sheep’s year remains pretty up. The Tao has a sense of humour and is always telling us something if we will pay attention but never underestimate the resilience of the powers of nastiness.

And indeed although we tend to find it easy to ignore hideous events in Africa and Asia, Fukushima may have brought home that natural disasters can happen to real people who wear suits and go to the cinema. Los Alamos suggests such things could even befall Westerners.

This nuclear stuff, some might say, is the outcome of the Three Curses at the Western cardinal point in a Wood Year. Others might call it a warning to be wary of nuclear power. In March the issue was domestic, in July it’s military.

Games without Frontiers

Back here on the western fringe of the EU, I’ve been teaching Mr Levi (5) to play Beggar your Neighbour (he cheats). I protest uselessly as he deals from the bottom of the pack. Mr Gaby (10) looks on cackling and returns to playing Fable 2. Up in Scotland their Dad, my son Thom, is just arriving at T in the Park where his band Our Lost Infantry are playing. They are wonderful, by the way but I would say that, wouldn’t I? Judge for yourself, click here.

Last week I was in North Cornwall, helping my friend Maurice with his retreat above the ancient church at Tintagel. Now Julie summons me to Morecambe where she is setting up her home telesales business. Morecambe happens also to be the home of Derek Walters, my old teacher and the leading Western authority on Chinese Astrology*. It’s a long shlep by train so I travel the night before and stay in a traditional Lancashire B&B where I am treated with routine indifference.

“Do you want breakfast?” my hostess enquires as I struggle in underneath a shoulder bag, a wheelie and a canvas Wagamama carrier.

“Yes, I guess I do, thanks.”

Not till the morning though.

“That’ll be five pounds, then,” she says, holding out her hand and passing the note to her husband, a very large man in vest and braces who is apparently due to be going out to work at 2 in the morning. Rather him than me. The next morning he will chide me for interrupting his sleep at 7am by slamming doors. I didn’t but I feel for him.

There are perhaps a thousand books in English on the Animals of the Chinese Zodiac and all of them owe a debt to Derek Walters. Of those perhaps a dozen are worth opening and of that dozen he wrote three.

He’s just back from Siberia where he celebrated his 75th birthday which, as you will know, makes him a 1936 Rat. In China and Germany and Finland and Russia they hang on his every word.

“Do you ever get lonely?” I ask him.

“Whatever the opposite of loneliness is, I suffer from it,” he says good-naturedly.

We talk about the Mansions of the Moon, calendars and the positioning of churches. Along with his dog Ty, he takes me in his vintage Jaguar up to St Patrick’s Church high above Morecambe Bay. Built into the floor of this working place of worship is a pagan arch and higher up the cliff a little chapel. Like the church at Tintagel, it commands a view far out to sea, in this case to the Lake District and the Cumbrian Mountains which are just about visible in the haze. Ty rushes ahead over the rocks. He’s pretty surefooted.

“Why here?”

“Good question,”

Derek has the ability distinctive of the wilier Rat to induce others to commit to a view before he does, a useful quality in a teacher.

“Founded from Ireland?” I say, vaguely gesturing over the water in an Irish direction.


We both know that these coasts were ravaged annually by Viking raids from 800 onwards which makes foundation later than that very unlikely.

Out to the edge we follow Ty who has been lured by the smell of burgers on a campfire nearby. There are stone graves cut into the rock here.


“No idea.”

When may be an easier question to answer. Christianity was brought to these Isles by Roman soldiers in the 1st century AD. The earliest British martyr was St Alban who was beheaded in AD 304. But when the Romans return to Rome in 410, pagan barbarians overrun most of Europe. Britannia holds firm for a while – perhaps a couple of generations. This is the setting of the Arthurian stories whose power may be in the idea of a united Christian island surviving the break up of the Roman Empire. To cut a long story short, some very few churches may have stayed open; in remote places like the Cumbrian Mountains or dug into the thin topsoil of the Cornish coast. Some were founded or rededicated by Irish Monks who converted the errant British (now English) from around 600AD. St Patrick’s claims to have been founded around 970. Nah. Like Tintagel, perhaps 700. Otherwise (but less likely) before 410.

We repair to a pub where we discuss how the variable lengths of the days alters their meaning in terms of the Chinese Animals. He is currently translating a book on this subject from the Russian, fascinating to me but not everybody’s cup of tea.

*No serious student should be without his Complete Guide to Chinese Astrology ISBN1-84293-111-3

Old Religion

Julie’s house faces South East into the Snake across towards what I guess is the edge of the Pennines. To face this way, as I explain, is to face deception.

“The Snake: what you see is not what you get.”

The plot lacks a great chunk of North West. This is the place of the Father. The garden is arrow-shaped to the rear, almost as if it has been deliberately hacked to exclude a piece. So she lacks a great chunk of her Father. Actually Fathers; it turns out she parted unhappily from her husband of twenty five years relatively recently and now she’s rebuilding her life. Interestingly so are both her adult daughters. The three have callous menfolk in common.

She is apologetic as she cries, recollecting her Father’s poor behaviour and her husband’s as well as her sons’ in law.

“So this is caused by the garden?” she says, prepared to take as religion whatever I say.

“Not caused,” I say gently. “Reflected perhaps. What it does mean is that as we repair the garden we repair you.”

Some women are reactive to the notion of being fixed; not generally those who pay me a fortune to bring Tang Dynasty formulae into their homes though. Traditionally men often claim to feel nothing as women emote around them. In the Tao everything is its opposite and I am as close to tears as she is.

“I get on with my Dad so much better now,” she says. He should be so lucky. What she tells me of his behaviour would curl my hair were it not already.

“The thing is,” I say, “We appear to have little choice but to love our parents. As Chuck Spezzano says, “The flag can not fight against the flagpole.” The degree to which we are damaged is the degree to which they are to blame.”


“And vice-versa.”

“I think I see. If I see them as bad I commit to being damaged?”

I nod.

“Let’s not labour it, we’re going to fix your garden.”

What’s required is that the rear of the garden is squared off so as to make a regular rectangular shape. We will put her shed, currently dominating the South West, in the area behind. There’s a bit more – the Tang formulae call for someone who can hold a compass the right way up – but broadly that’s it. The plot actually is not unlike Osama Bin Laden’s at Abbottabad. He had similar unresolved Daddy issues, it seems, but evidenced by what he did with his upset, limited access to therapy.

She has five grandchildren including two grandsons.

“Boys become men in time,” I point out. “And if you exclude one you may exclude all.”

She shudders.

We go out to the front to arrange what is called a Dragon’s Claw which will hold the energy in on that side. The fence needs reinforcing with hedge. Beyond that is a road which is bringing healthy chi and beyond that again perfect, open field.

“At the far edge we want table mountain,” I say, “Experientially about head height. Just like that.”

I indicate the Snake in the distant Pennines. All of a sudden I notice something.

“What’s the big structure on top of that hill?”

“Heysham Power Station,” she says.

“Heysham Nuclear Power Station?”

“That’s the one.”

On my return journey I watch Baby Monkey Riding Backwards on a Pig on my iphone. It may be that the wisdom of the ages has been distilled into this short film:  Do watch!

Mr Levi certainly suspects so.

This month only

During this Wood Sheep month, a little action, life, water, even fire, to the North may pay dividends. Don’t let that interfere with anything I’ve put in place for the year or longer term and keep up the “journeys” I have prescribed on these pages previously. They are the heart of how to benefit from the unique energy of this Rabbit year.

China Incidents

Fukushima in the East at the opening of the Rabbit month, Los Alamos in the West at the opening of the Sheep month. If you’ve followed me this far you may understand why I suggest we are very careful of our own nuclear installations from early November.

©Richard Ashworth 2011

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

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