Richard Ashworth’s Forecast for the Year of the Snake in the Grass 2013

Imperial Feng Shui

2013: the Year of the Snake in the Grass.

The end of the world as we know it?

Is truth always positive? Of course. Once the truth comes out, you know, it’s all right. We’re scared that if the truth comes out that it’s not all right. It’s the other way around.

Yoko Ono.

Hold the Maya Noise

My son Thom once told me it was better to be an optimist than a pessimist because the optimist has more fun even if he’s wrong. He was only seven at the time otherwise he might have added that worthwhile futures are born in the mind of the optimistic. Each pessimist believes he’s a realist even though realism itself is a function of what we have decided upon. To put it simply: Chinese and other mumbo jumbo to one side, we are each of us responsible for our reality and next year is no exception.

What is it that we have decided? Few dates have been subject to as much advance speculation as today, 21st December 2012: are we in for cataclysm and disaster? Should we run for the hills?

As you may have learned by the time you read this, the answers to these questions are no and no. Firstly from my standpoint, that Mayan moment on the day of the Solstice is offering information about 2013 not 2012. I use the prevailing energies to read the likely trends of the following not the current year. It’s an interesting date but its significance has been importantly misunderstood: it’s not about that moment itself but about the dynamics that follow. I’ll be here, promise. You too.

Secondly there are, as I write, a variety of social and geographical processes in motion which follow the Chinese 60-year cycle. Their outcomes may become inevitable around now but very little of importance happens suddenly and irrevocably; whether in human or other affairs, trends build and lead to a moment of focus and resonate beyond that time.

Finally, to predict floods, tumult and plagues of boils is too easy and of little use. So I draw conclusions based on existing evidence but aim to invest no further. Forgive me even that, Ms Ono.


Canons to the right: This is a year with a great soundtrack. Johannes Pachelbel author of the Canon in D, perhaps the most influential piece of music ever written, was born in the Water Snake year of 1653. Listen to the Canon. Now listen to it again. Now sing any stadium-filling ballad of the last half century over it. Those who haven’t been in an arena recently if at all, might open with Ralph McTell’s Streets of London. Otherwise Don’t Look Back in Anger perhaps or Jessie J’s Pricetag.


Snake Dharma.

The Snake is the sorceror’s apprentice and the sorcerer is the Dragon. This means that the events of a Snake year often extend those of the previous (Dragon) year. Issues unique to any Snake year are likely to be about truth and falsehood. So set the controls for a year like 2012 with added bad faith. The Snake is the seeker after truth. When balanced the Snake is allergic to misrepresentation, unbalanced that same Snake is a major league bull-shitter. Issues of justice and its miscarriage are typical. What you see is not what you get. What to expect in 2013 then includes:

Mitchellgate: evidence of inter-constabulary turf wars and between government and police emerges. Heads will roll. No change follows.

Afghanistan: further shenanigans among the top brass. I warned Water Dragons like David Petraeus last year that 2012 would bring a change of career direction. Boys will be boys.

Hillsborough: a tightening knot of fudge. The police know nothing and never did. In fact they weren’t even there. Oops, that’s worse.

Leveson: a paler shade of whitewash. The press remains unregulated. Wood Snake Piers Morgan, having spied too late in gun control a hobbyhorse that allows him to preach against pork in a synagogue, joins his soul mates the Murdochs under a cloud. But hey it’s a pretty comfortable one.

Cut backs:  further systematised funnelling of wealth from the poor to the wealthy under the generic term “austerity.” No upturn follows in the same way that no upturn follows a leap from a tall building.

Sex: usually a subtext of Snake concerns, so continued fallout from the escapades of the late Jimmy Savile. And others. Awareness of mistreatment of women is a theme of the year. This leads to change over time but action is needed. Let’s start now.

Tax: It’s getting tough to buy a book, a cd or even a cup of coffee with a clear conscience. In 2012 legislators claimed disingenuously that tax-avoiders like Amazon, Google and Starbucks were “immoral” In 2013 the challenge is to change the laws that encourage this moral laxity. They won’t.

Global warming: no serious addressing of this before 2016. But it will be. Never underestimate the ingenuity of men.

If there is one change to make in 2013 it is putting an end to much of the above. How?

Like this, perhaps:!/sunny_hundal/status/281555804853776384


Syria:Some Chinese Masters say that the Animal of the Year is inherently at risk. I think not but it’s a push me-pull you year for Wood Snake Basher Assad. His future is actually more to do with his other pillars. The fate of Snakes generally is mixed this year; not all bad at all. In 2013, however Assad’s luck runs out. In order to get away with killing the women and children in his charge, he needed to fly to a tax haven long before now.


Forever blowing bubbles.

My principal model for the years 2000-2020 remains the first two decades of the 18th century, precisely 300 years ago. The years 2009 to 2020 reflect the years 1709 to 1720. These are the years of the so-called South Sea Bubble.

When years are twelve years apart and thus share an animal (like the Water Snake 2013 and Metal Snake 2001) they are somewhat alike. When they are separated by multiples of 60 years (like the Water Snakes 2013 and 1713) they are very much alike.

As I outlined last year, in 1709 (corresponding to 2009) the South Sea Company was established. By 1713 it had sold off as junk bonds vast sums of the national debt. The value of these bonds became inflated as they traded third, fourth and fifth hand in the following years. In 1720 the whole farrago blew up losing millions for investors all over the British Empire. This modern-sounding fiasco was one of the great British innovations; centuries ahead of its time, up there with Stephenson’s Rocket, the Dyson Air Blade and gunboat diplomacy. And it is recurring right now.

Typical again of Snake business is the sleight of hand by which alumni of American investment bank Goldman Sachs have gained in turn control of the US and European Central Banks and now the Bank of England. It’s actually proved necessary to naturalise a Canadian (Mark Carney) in order to give Goldman this further privilege. What suggests to the asleep-at-the-wheel helmsmen Cameron and Osborne that the bank that set the balls-up rolling by securitising the Greek national debt and jobbing Greece into the Euro thus making a sizeable contribution to the current misery for all but bankers and trustafarians, should breed the Messiahs of recovery? Bear in mind that Goldman received a $10 billion bailout in 2008/9 which they repaid inside a year. I don’t know which part of that statement is the more worrying.


Cricket: Not much convergence between my demographic and cricket fans but I can please myself every now and then. In 2005 I was asked to predict the outcome of the Ashes Series and went correctly for an England win. If you care about these things, this is a year of recovery for West Indian cricket and of retrenchment for India. England may end the year as number one.


 Metro Goldman Maya.

Rest assured it won’t last. The banking system is on the verge of collapse. The prevailing energies at 20:16 on the 21st lack both Wood and Metal; that’s two of the five Elements, the two most aggressive and most associated with money, markets and trading. It may be that we are being offered a future in which money and guns count for less.

Karl Marx wrote in the 1860’s that capitalism would mature to the point that its decline would be inevitable. It just would not work any more. We’ve reached that point. And that’s bad news only for the greedy. A better system, perhaps in the form of something along the lines of the enlightened Grameen Bank is emerging. Something happens today that makes that inevitable, a moment that will be traceable when all has fallen into place in perhaps eight years’ time. It may not be obvious until then. This is what the Mayan calendar marks, I think. It’s certainly not effective legislation separating “casino” banking from deposits which will take geological time. It might be gun control.


Treachery Extra: Conquistador Francisco Pizarro may have been born in the Water Snake year of 1473. He certainly executed the Emperor Atahualpa on the 15th July in the following Water Snake, 1533 even though the Inca had delivered the ludicrous volume of gold demanded as ransom by the Spaniards. This violence may have been the single most irreversible action in history. Pizarro was of course assassinated by his own men in a quarrel over the gold. Consider the consequences.


Slave to the Rhythm: 1653-1853

Opaque issues running through 2013 like the letters in a stick of rock include violence and what can only be called slavery. Trends rise and fall within these sixty-year cycles and the trafficking of human beings seems to be attached to cycles punctuated by the Water Snake.

Most of us for instance know that the port of Bristol was a pivot of the slave trade. In the suburb of Clifton to this day, Blackboy Hill runs up to Whiteladies Road. It’s a relatively little known fact however that the Church of St Leonard was erected next to what was then the harbour, to commemorate the abolition of slavery. This followed fierce campaigning by Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester. It’s lesser known again that this took place in the mid-11th century, the stock-in-trade then being hapless Midlanders who were shipped across the Irish Sea. Even lesser known may be that this church was demolished in the Water Snake year of 1773, at the height of the more familiar (African) Slave Trade. History, you may have noticed, repeats itself.

It’s better known that slavery was proscribed by law all over the British Empire in the following Water Snake year 1833, having been first enshrined in the Americas by the case of Johnson versus Casor in the Water Snake year of 1653. Astonishingly Anthony Johnson a black slave owner born in Angola, contested the right to freedom of his servant John Casor who thus became the first legally-sanctioned slave in US history. Up to that point indentured servants seized from their homes in Africa, were eventually released and given land to work out their retirement. That same Water Snake year the first slave, one Abraham van Batavia, arrived in South Africa. Lucky old Abe.

My research suggests that an issue is often born, matures and is settled within a 180-year period punctuated by the same pillar. Arithmeticians will have noticed already that it is 180 years since 1833. And in that time the issue has gone largely underground. But it’s still with us. In 2013 the plight of children in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asian domestics in the Gulf States as well as women trafficked for all the reasons women are routinely trafficked Westwards across Europe and Asia – non-consensual sex and the more unpleasant domestic chores – is highlighted and change begins to happen.

It’s been a long time. Long enough.

To make a difference yourself  contact: 


Las Malvinas son Argentinas: just as the Water Dragon of 1832 (180 years before last year’s) indicated isolation issues for Greece in 2012, that year being the first time an independent Greece had been recognised, so in 1833 the Falkland Islands were sequestered by the British. This may not be great news for Thatcher’s favourite grandchild David Cameron. Though of course if Argentina conducted themselves diplomatically more as they do on the football field they might command greater international respect. Or perhaps that’s the problem.


Consonant, please Barrie.

I used to predict time and place of spree shootings – pretty accurately, though I say it myself – nowadays I care only about addressing the fundamentals that bring events like Sandy Hook about. Here’s a hint: you can’t shoot without a gun. Obama’s onside but it’s an uphill struggle.

The date I’ve left till now to reveal is that it’s 180 years now since the Boston Tea Party and the need for armed vigilance from which the pro-gun lobby claims legitimacy: December 16th 1773. Consider that perhaps in the light of the above. We are being offered an alternative.

This and many other issues might be addressed by a second term President who stands to lose nothing by sticking to his er…guns. In his first term he is dependent upon maintaining a certain level of popularity in order to have a chance of re-election. But since two terms is the maximum permitted by the twenty second amendment of the US constitution, a second term President can please himself. Metal Ox Barrack Obama promised hope and change four long years ago. Among the changes promised were the closure of Guantanamo and the rolling back of personal freedoms. Neither was delivered. He said nothing about gun control or human trafficking but the alert reader may notice that in 2013 we have essentially one theme not several. Why with very similar gun laws does Canada suffer literally ½% of the gun crime of the US?

The Chinese cycles suggest Obama has more purchase than we might guess. The US electorate gave him a second chance firstly because he was head and shoulders above any of the certifiable and laughable ranged in opposition but also because a series of impassioned speeches led them to believe that he might deliver more than a series of impassioned speeches.


Salmond Fishing: 1715 was the year of the so-called “15”, when the “Old Pretender” James Stuart landed in Scotland hoping to raise a rebellion to oust the first Hanoverian King George 1st who had acceded to the thrones of England and Scotland in 1714. This may presage the reaction of Scots to the devolution vote tabled for 2014. Its yes/no structure makes secession a long-odds outcome. The Scots can be sore losers though.


The Chinese calendar is on their side.

Here’s why:

When I was asked during 2012 who would win the US Presidential Election, I would point confidently to Feb 4th 2013 and say “Obama.” There he was in the Chinese calendar on the operative date. If you understand ba zi you can see for yourself.

That date is lap chun, the Spring Festival, the orthodox date from which to divine the nature of a year. The Four Pillars (or ba zi) of that day feature a Water Snake year, Wood Tiger month, Metal Ox day and Earth Rat hour.  Although the Year Pillar is what most people know about a Chinese year, the Day Pillar – the precise day concerned – is the engine of the ba zi. Every Chinese Master derives most of what he knows about a ba zi from the relationship between the Day Pillar and the rest of the chart.

Interestingly then, Xi Jinping, the new Chinese Premier was born a Water Snake (in 1953) and Barack Obama a 1961 Metal Ox. China is represented in the Year Pillar, the US President in the Day Pillar. On the face of it, China continues to emerge as Global hegemon – bold enough to provoke both India and Japan for instance. Xi Jinping represents visible emerging authority but Obama wields the real power this year. He’s in his second term. Why not take some risks? On gun control he’ll be resisted by the forces of idiocy who claim straight-faced that government will deprive them of guns in order to control. There may be something in that but it is surely a lesser and addressable evil?

This may be the last time an American President can truly be called the most powerful man in the world. In 2013 we see that power wielded usefully to reduce the violence in the world.

And the Beatles remain right: “All you need is love.” Barrie: please note.

Richard Ashworth ©20th December 2012

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