Archive for the ‘Qi Men Dun Jia’ Category

Forecast Day for the Metal Rat Year 2020

October 11, 2019

2020, Who moved my Cheese?

The Watershed Year of the Metal Rat. 

All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”

Julian of Norwich. 

On Saturday December 7th & Sunday December 8th I’ll be forecasting the Metal Rat Year online via Zoom. Very easy to join btw – we just send you a link and you click. No prior knowledge of Chinese metaphysics required.

2020, A Watershed Year.

A Master once said that feng shui is like poker; the trick is to capitalise when the force is with you and play safe when it isn’t. That is as true at home as it is at work, as true domestically as globally; as true in the sphere of relationship as in the sphere of health. And in the demanding year that beckons, especially so.

The saying goes that the only constant is change and during the workshop we will be discussing what changes are coming with the New Chinese New Year. Where should you locate for best advantage? Which Animals are set to prosper, which to consolidate and what is to be done about it? Also what is the likely trend of world events? How do we best respond?

So what’s on the cards?

Metal Rats are watershed years. You might remember 1960 when there was a brand new US President. They say that politics is showbiz for ugly people and all that glamour and youth in the White House was a new thing indeed. 1960 of course ushered in the “Swinging Sixties”, a new age of personal freedoms. Meanwhile Rachel Carson was writing “Silent Spring” the earliest account of the damage we are doing to the planet.

A Metal Rat year is a grinder, a melting pot. The archetype, Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat is possessed of sharp teeth and tongue, he’s cynical and opportunistic but ultimately on the side of the angels. These qualities pervade the year: much change, some drastic, all of which can add up to gains, given nimble feet. It’s unlikely to be an easy one for the most part but we’ll aim to point you in the right directions to make the best use of it.

We will be looking closely at the fortunes of each Animal; every year brings winners as well as losers: each of your Month, Day and Hour of Birth are ruled by a Zodiac Animal as is your Year, as you know. Dragons are mostly boosted in 2020 for instance but even if your birth was not in 1952, 64, 76, 88 or 2000, it may have been on a Dragon Day, a Dragon Hour or a Dragon Month.

We will look closely at this, so be sure to have all four of your Four Pillars to hand. As each Pillar relates to a different area of your activity, it may well be that a Horse of 1954, 1966 or 1978 say, who might otherwise expect a thin time was born on an Ox day which implies an increase in personal power.

We’ll be looking of course at the fresh patterns of energy; The New Year qi dictates new areas to work and sleep and create. The tai sui (that is the most powerful feng shui energy) will be coming in from due North this time. We won’t be facing that way even if it’s one of our personal best directions; that would be like wilfully facing a tempest. But we will be locating and facing in directions, month by month, where we can expect a following wind. 

What else will we learn?

We’ll consider what’s likely to happen where and when; Last year the map indicated trouble in the straits of Hormuz. That was on the button – for which I take no credit; it’s just careful drafting. This year we’ll look again. We’ll see how we are ourselves affected as well as what we can do to help.

We’ll trace the progress of the year by way of the Book of Changes; the Four Hexagrams of the year allow us to track the ebb and flow of the prevailing energy, week by week as it peaks and falls.

We’ll look at the indications of Qi Men Dun Jia, the cutting edge of Chinese divination, for some magical dates that you can employ.

All things are cyclical.

As rain follows sun, so light comes after darkness. Based on the Gan Zi Cycle which has been guiding Chinese Diviners for most of four millennia, I’ve been predicting financial collapse in 2020 for the best part of a decade. Now I’m not even outspoken. We are however additionally facing drastic environmental change as well as multiple extinctions and various forms of tyranny.

But the other side of collapse is renewal. All over the world resistance to careless authority and poor maintenance of the planet is popping up. Again, as I noted a decade ago. You won’t remember the Metal Rats of 1900, 1840, 1720 or 1660 (all of which offer indications) but the reassurance that the Gan Zi Cycle offers is that everything is cyclical. All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

We’ll see what we can do, personally, socially, at work and at play to emerge into 2020 with a bright future and a healthier planet. Join us.

Richard Ashworth. © 2019 

The Boring Bit:

The price is £100 for one day if paid by October 31st and £125 after that. Please add £5 if paying via Zoom. Places are very limited.

Saturday 7th will run approx from 10:00 until 17:00 GMT (with breaks)

Sunday 8th will run approx. from 14:00 until 17:00 GMT (with breaks)

Please note that you will be given the facility to record via Paypal, we will not be providing a recording.

Please email sheilaashworthfengshui@gmail.com to book your place and for any more info you might need including help with Zoom.

Thanks.

 

 

A One-Day on-line Workshop on the Book of Changes

September 4, 2019

A One-Day on-line Workshop on the Book of Changes
with
Richard Ashworth.
October 19th/20th 2019.

“Only collective moral force can unite the world.” Hexagram 45 T’sui; Massing; Lake over Earth.

The Book of Changes is a miraculous thing. Essentially it’s just sixty four images and yet a reading can be so personalised and so up to the minute. Generals, philosophers, politicians, poets, artists and calligraphers have consulted the I Ching or Yi for guidance for over three thousand years. Whether we’re considering the recipes of Ken Hom, Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the obscure procedures of classical feng shui or the labyrinthine mysteries of Qi Men Dun Jia, the roots are in the Yi.
The Yi has its origins in ancient shamanic practices but it has probably never been more in use than it is today. Each Hexagram or six-line figure, corresponds to one of sixty four states of being, sixty four moods or sixty four puzzles, if you will. Each line like life, is in constant motion and as each line changes in accordance with certain rules, it offers a way to progress from the situation in which we find ourselves into another. It won’t necessarily be better but it will be different.
On the 19th & 20th October I will be running one-day workshops looking at the history of the Book, its influence on feng shui, divination, prediction, acupuncture, TCM and on Chinese culture, from cuisine to military strategy. But above all we will look at the transformation concealed between its lines and how we may use it in our lives and work.
There are two one-day workshops, both online by Zoom; on Saturday the 19th we start at 10am BST to accommodate my European students; on Sunday at 3pm BST for the rest of the World. The workshops run for approx 6 hours with breaks.
We only put these things on when the Universe has made it absolutely clear that it is appropriate and the fact is that most places have already been allocated to my students. But there are a few places left if you move fast. The cost is £175.00 and the Early Bird price of £150 expires September 10th 2019.

If you would like to participate please email: sheilaashworthfengshui@gmail.com

Hope to see you.

Richard Ashworth.

The Butterfly effect: the Month of the Fire Rabbit 2019

March 8, 2019

The Butterfly effect: the Month of the Fire Rabbit 2019.
Public Feng Shui Bulletin for March2019
(05:14 6th March to 09:59 5th April 2019 inclusive)

Da Zhuang
—-  —-
—-  —-
———-
———-
———-
———-
Great Power
Hexagram 34

Animal by Animal
During this Fire Tiger Month,
The Rat may risk being overlooked,
The Ox may be comforted,
The Tiger is impatient but unsure what for,
The Rabbit stands her ground,
The Dragon’s output may exceed input,
The Snake considers trusting,
The Horse paces herself,
The smart Sheep accepts the invitations,
The Monkey may be out of step.
The Rooster tacks,
The wise Dog acknowledges.
while
The Pig locates their bottle.

Remember:     Each Pillar of the ba zi represents an aspect of your life:
Year Animal:   physicality, forebears, heritage, the obvious & immediate;
Month Animal: the work environment, education, peers, siblings, exes;
Day Animal:     you and your beloved;
Hour Animal:   intimate thoughts, children, dreams, the future.

S
9       5       7
      1       3
4       6       2
N
Fire Rabbit

1 month fosters communication and everything is a communication.
A Rabbit month centres on the home.
Most helpful location: East. Least helpful location: South West.
Favoured Animals: Rabbit, Sheep, Dog, Pig.
Challenged: Rooster, Dragon, Ox, Snake.
The Hexagram (above): Da Zhuang Great Power (& its uses), Thunder over Heaven.

The Butterfly Effect.
The story is told of Zhuang Tze and the butterfly. One night Master Zhuang fell asleep and dreamed of being a butterfly. It was such a vivid dream that he awoke believing he actually was a butterfly. Then as the mundane details of life imposed themselves he realised that he was Master Zhuang and it had all been a dream. But then he asked himself:

“What if I am now a butterfly dreaming I am Master Zhuang?”

The universe is always talking to us if we will only pay attention; every whisper, every headline, every half-heard snatch of song. Sometimes it’s inconvenient, sometimes inescapable. Sometimes it’s in the form of obscure Chinese formulas. Sometimes to pay attention is to be in something like a dream in broad daylight.

On the morning of June 23rd 2016, my wife Sheila and I were driving to vote in the Referendum when we became stuck in traffic; the school run, bumper to bumper, 5 mph tops. As we snailed towards the polling station I noticed that the registration number of the car in front was KUA 8 BU.

“Oops,” I said.

The word kua is used in Classical Chinese to indicate a Hexagram of the Yi or Book of Changes – also known as the I Ching. Hexagram Eight, Water over Earth, is often called Union, Bu in Classical Chinese means “not”. So what I was presented with was “No Union.”

Bu
—  —
——–
—  —
—  —
—  —
—  —
Union

“Not looking good for Europe” I said.

And so it turned out.

Andrew Harvey teaches a sufi ritual which involves repeating the words “Laillaha il allah” (Everything is God) until they lose all meaning. At that point, left brain extinguished, the next action is to ask your environment what it’s telling you.

“Bird of prey, why are you hovering just there, just now?”

“Oak tree, how did you come to be precisely here on my path?”

My suspicion is that the Chinese diviners of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties asked just such questions. This is very pure feng shui. Those diviners needed to get it right, their survival and that of their extended families depended upon it. Furthermore in the great Chinese tradition, if they didn’t offer the right answers to questions like “Where is the food?” they were likely to lose the softer parts of their bodies or worse. Sun Tzu, was teaching The Art of War rather than practising it because both of his feet had been amputated by some miffed overlord.

As I say the gift of divination can be inconvenient. And feng shui is a very particular species of divination because it offers solutions. A Tarot reading becomes history but a house can be changed. When I first encountered authentic Classical feng shui in the 1990’s after several years of reading, studying and discerning between what was feng shui, what folk lore and what total nonsense, I had the good fortune to be invited to shadow Master (now Grand Master) Chan Kun Wah. Subsequently I studied with him for several years.

When we arrived at the first house he was to look at, he declared immediately:

“Woman always live alone here.”

Which turned out to have been true ever since the house had been built some ninety years before; something to do with a tree in the front garden, just a little too close to the house. It took me fifteen years to understand how he’d done that. The method is called Xuan Kong Da Gua by the way.

The act of divining as I said, can resemble the dream state; alpha rhythms, a hardnosed rationalist might call it. Most of us spend around a third of our time asleep. So it’s a terrible waste to neglect the dreams of the other two thirds. In a sense divination and much of feng shui consists of interpreting the waking dream.

So when I visit your home or office, don’t be surprised if I appear to be simply staring blankly, listening to something in the distance. It’s the universe that I’m listening to. But also don’t be surprised if I calculate and draft for hours on end either.

And don’t insist on understanding; that can take years.
Richard Ashworth ©2019
http://www.imperialfengshui.info

Where to be in March.
Summary: abundance deriving from clear communication.
East, Ambition: Year Star: 6 Month Star: 8.
The only constant as they say, is change; this is a pretty good place for your desk or bed both right now and all year, although like every location, it’ll experience crests and troughs. The 6 and 8 Stars are calling for Water to make the magical 168.
Either way this is the place of youth, gain and progress. Settle in here for inspiration at this time of year, get up early, tend to the reviving and infant plants and get down to whatever your bliss may be.
Best for Dogs, Rabbits and East Group kuas but helpful pretty much to all. Teamwork & discussion helpful.
Exploit: Wood: three solid plants.
Sentimental (ie pumped) or other Water.

Where not to be in March.
Summary: Poor all year.
South West, Accumulation: Year Star:5, Month Star: 7.
Little helpful accumulation here right now. The Annual 5 or wu huang joining the tricky Red 7  here will tend to invite cash flow issues, also stomach niggles. Harshest for Tigers, Oxen, Pigs, Rats and East Group kuas 134 & 9.
Briefly: don’t enter, locate or face South West if there is an alternative. If your front door is South West, aim to enter another way..
Mitigate: t’ang lung now!

Richard Ashworth ©2019.
http://www.imperialfengshui.info.

Richard Ashworth is among the most respected Western Feng Shui Masters. He has worked from Lebanon to Bermuda, in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and with stars such as Kelly Hoppen and Gillian Anderson. Unusually for a Western Master, he has addressed the Grand Masters at the International Feng Shui Conference in Singapore. His day job remains “walking round people’s spaces being enigmatic”.

Every month we send (at a modest fee) retainer clients a more comprehensive monthly bulletin than this one, covering in detail right places to be (and when) as well as helpful days Animal by Animal and much more from the Chinese calendar.

Subscriptions (and further info)sheilaashworthfengshui@gmail.com

 

Richard Ashworth Feng Shui Diary: Inconstant Moon

May 17, 2018

Inconstant Moon.
“They tell you happiness is an achievable ambition.” Granola Suicide, Consumerist Healthcare” from “Skipping Breakfast”.

Early March; Water Snake Day, (still) Tiger Month, Dog Year, Full Moon.

Everyone knows that the Chinese New Year falls on February 4th. Everyone that is except the Chinese. As it happens, sometimes they down tools and party half-way through January and it can be as late as mid-February. This awkward irregularity is because their New Year is calculated not from the gan zhi cycle of Chinese Animals but like Easter – around a month from now as I write – by a combination of lunar and solar calendars. That is to say it is like Easter, an astrological computation.

The only constant is change which means that everything there is is either growing or decaying. That which is, in Bob Dylan’s words, not busy being born is busy dying; people, beasts, plants, rocks, planets, digestive biscuits, everything. Every minute, every hour brings change and so the Dragon dance has to fall on the right day if it is to bring in what the New Year offers. Many Chinese Masters publish extensive lists of which rituals to perform over the following few days. Getting it right matters. Some would say the timing makes or breaks the year. It’s pretty much literally life and death.

Last night the Arran wind was wild and in the light of a Full Moon blurred by clouds, the breakers were like white spears as they crested and fell. I love a gale but truth to tell, once or twice I was almost bowled over. Walking along the Brodick seafront was like pushing an icy wall and the gust is still sharp against my cheeks this morning as I take the Fisherman’s Path by the water’s edge. My feet slosh and slurp where the Water has settled on the causeway.

I’m listening to Indigo Faelan Azidahaka a.k.a Granola Suicide’s Skipping Breakfast, aching music about the experience of the young, homeless and gender-free. It’s not expert and it’s lo-fi, so you can hear breathing and the squeak of fingers moving on frets. But it’s so real. There’s no pretence here. And one more thing – there’s something I can only call faith in these songs. And I’m not sure that’s what was intended. Which makes the unpolished harmony of the double-tracked voice all the more touching.

The waves aren’t so turbulent this morning but I have to stop short and turn around after a while because great rafts of the causeway have submerged overnight. This exceptionally deep water is the “spring” tide of the Full Moon. My DMs will withstand a couple of inches but the planks are twice that deep. I look across the bay at the dock. It’s empty. There’ll be no ferries today.

Both lunar and solar calendars mark time that is distinct from the Gregorian calendar. The central purpose of that notional ordering of things in which January and October have thirty-one days and November thirty which is employed from London to Ulan Bator, is simply to make sure we all agree what day it is. If you and I set up a meeting for say Tuesday March 21st we want to be sure I don’t arrive on Wednesday 22nd and you on Monday 20th.  Which could be disappointing. But those numbers, 21st 22nd 20th are lifeless; the Gregorian calendar is no use in identifying real time, a real moment. There is nothing absolute about September, April, June and November having thirty days or February twenty eight. The lunar and solar calendars however take us away from such strictly notional timing into more natural rhythms, the gan zhi cycle takes us even further.

This search for real time by way of Sun and Moon and planets has some history of course. And not just in Asia; here in the Western Isles, there’s a longer tradition than most and it’s tied up with the meaning of resurrection and the promises of Christ. To Columba and the Celtic Saints who preached here, correct ritual and timing were more than life or death, they were what ensured redemption and the forgiveness of sin. These missionaries to the Scots, the Britons and the Anglo-Saxons believed that a soul could only be made safe by the grace of Jesus Christ and that it was their duty to let all those in possession of a soul know of this special arrangement. Resurrection of the body is a pretty big deal and like the Chinese New Year it entailed celebration in the right way at the right time.

I’ve been studying the “mysterious doors” of Qi Men Dun Jia. These doors can locate an individual advantageously in space and time or to all intents and purposes disappear them altogether. Qi men starts with the gan zhi cycle, factors in Sun and Moon and the directional implications of feng shui and more that I have not yet mastered.

Before leaving for Arran to begin my research for her I looked at my client Barbara squarely and told her:

“If this works I want all the credit and if it doesn’t, it had nothing to do with me.”
She looked back equally squarely and laughed.
“How are you going to do it?”
“I don’t know yet. Method is only a platform.”

Gavin who runs the little boarding house next to my cottage, is out walking his Lhasa Apsos across the beach. He trained as a ballet dancer, he tells me. And he is banned from two of the six pubs in Brodick. Those are facts that don’t obviously gel. He’s a gentle man who does a mean service wash btw. Lent is no time to get thrown out of pubs, I tell him.

I’m deep into a phone conversation with my youngest son Joey. His band itoldyouiwouldeatyou have a new single out, it’s about the rights of the defenceless to defend themselves. His concerts are intended to be a safe place for the gender-neutral like Indigo. He tells me gender is over and he’s curious as to my take on Jordan Peterson who’s become notorious for resisting non-binary pronouns.

“I can’t argue with his reasoning,” I say, “But I’m not sure he’s wise or kind.”

Joey’s concern is that wisdom and kindness are not priorities to the half-baked alt-righters who quote Peterson to justify all sorts of nastiness. We agree that we can’t blame Peterson for this any more than we can blame Nietszche for Hitler. But Peterson’s card is now marked.

Thwarted by the Water I walk back to the main road via the smaller of Brodick’s two Co-ops where I buy a still-fresh-but-best-before sandwich.

At first I did not sleep well here in my cottage overlooking the bay. On that first night, after eight hours of travel I rushed to bed without consideration of time and space. As you do. And awoke sluggish.
The next morning my luo p’an (or Chinese compass) showed that my head had been pointing West all night, a poor orientation for me at any time. I realised also that there was a broadband router plugged into the wall next to the bed. If we are paying attention, we feel these things. Although I’ll need the internet from time to time, I have disconnected it pro tem and moved the room around. The wall-mounted reading lamps look eccentric now, marooned opposite the bed like hunting trophies.

And I can feel a cat in the cottage somewhere. Not that that’s a problem, I’m fond of cats. Richard Bach wrote once that we always have the same cats and dogs. They follow us from incarnation to incarnation, he reckoned. This one appears to come and go through closed doors, sometimes it rubs against my leg, at other times I simply smell musk. My own cat Lyra died suddenly last year; I like Bach’s idea but I know this cat is not her.

Last night I was invited to dinner with Gavin’s parents who own my cottage. We shared some Arran malt whisky and an excellent vegetable curry with perfect fluffy rice. You can tell a lot about a man by how he cooks rice.

I know Don and June from pioneering spiritual work we did together a quarter century ago. Once bonded, such a connection fades very slowly, it’s as if I last saw them yesterday. They are admirable people, good-hearted, generous and rooted in community and family. We talked mostly politics and children; they have three compared to my six and there was plenty to talk about.

Don asked me about the feng shui of the cottage and I told them how I have moved the bedroom around. He explained that when they came to Arran there was an ancient chalet where the cottage now stands.

“Leaking and falling down,” he says. “We demolished it and started all over again.”

Barbara wants the means to change the world for the better and she has very specific plans. My feng shui has already sold for her houses that had refused to budge. And more. That’s why she’s commissioned me.

“Just tell me what to do,” she asked.
“I can only do that up to a point,” I said, “The only constant is change. Beyond that there are no rules.”
“That sounds like a Chinese fortune cookie.”
“Surprise, surprise.”

The faith of the Celtic Saints was powerful enough to draw them across the stormy Irish Sea first to Iona and Arran and Eigg, Uist and Skye and then to the Scottish mainland and thence to England where they could expect to be greeted by murderous heathen Picts and Anglo-Saxons and lapsed post-Roman Britons, all of whom were at each other’s throats with a savagery unmitigated by respect for the immortal soul. This was the 6th century, the darkest of the Dark Ages. These were brave men.

“Skipping Breakfast” is still playing on my phone and I’m considering whether the coastal path is deliberately positioned to be swamped from time to time, when the music is paused by a call from David. Despite my headphones it’s quite hard to hear him against the roar of the wind.
David has been through a decade of hell, domestic, financial, professional and other. Before I left I positioned him very carefully facing due South.
“Sit there, do whatever comes up. Do nothing important anywhere else.”

This is the second time I’ve given him this kind of advice; last time he wrote a book, his first which was snapped up by an agent, then by a publisher and now he tells me, by Hollywood. He’s called to thank me. He asks what I’m doing in the Hebrides. I explain that I am in pursuit of real time. He knows better than to question me as to what that means.

David’s home is in rural Herefordshire where the A-roads are B-roads and a “neighbour” may actually live ten miles away. That’s just how he likes it and it helps him understand why I’ve chosen the emptiness of Arran to take stock.

Those ten years of upset culminated in a separation. In the South West of his garden a lifesized statue of  Hestia stands. The Roman Goddess representing all the qualities David’s unhappy wife could not finally be at ease with, was placed there to relieve her misery. I don’t think she ever really got his brilliance and now I hear in his voice a man freed of that weight. A Rabbit and therefore traditionally a networker, David has over the years recommended me to many of his friends and associates.

Feng shui, you might say concerns the Cycles of Space where ba zi concerns those of Time. As well as the gan zhi cycle and the wu xing or “Five Elements” (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal) feng shui is of course itself rooted in the cycles of Sun and Moon. One of David’s friends – also with relationship problems – asked me once how a relatively sane, relatively educated person like myself could believe in astrology. Surely such a belief is irrational?

“I don’t believe in astrology, any more than I believe in nuclear fission or capillary action,” I replied. “These are simply things I need to respect in order to navigate my way through life. If I don’t for instance, respect gravity, I’m liable to fall over a lot.”

Furthermore, if the Moon’s phases are coincident with the way plants and animals behave and with a woman’s menstrual cycle, quite apart from tides, it is rash to write off the possibility that larger heavenly bodies, however far away have other effects.

“Astrology,” I suggested,” Is not disproven but unproven. And it’s actually unscientific to discount it.”

And so if real time is a discoverable thing whether we seek the perfect moment or the imitation of Christ, it must take account of the influences of the physical universe. St Columba, for his part was pretty sure that sharing the passion of Christ was the only way to be saved.

Like most of his friends, David is a churchgoer but his book is not in any sense devotional nor is it history. It’s semi-autobiographical, essentially advice for his kids, wise throughout, often screamingly funny. It’s what came out of him when I pointed him in the right direction from the right location at the right time. Manifesting by tapping into creative energy with precise timing and placing is something I do all the time. This is feng shui. But it can be hit or miss and what Barbara wants is more than that.

Since the causeway is flooded, I’m walking the perimeter of the bay now. The road is narrow as I leave the built-up area and the pavement runs out. The road begins to wind and becomes narrower again, so I need to be aware of the traffic; there’s a near-miss with a camper van. I come to a small cemetery from which there’s a startling view across the sound to Merkland Point where the land runs into the sea. And I sit on a mossy wall and eat my slightly soggy sandwich. The tombstones have names like Currie, Mackinnon and Bannatyne. The dates go back into the 18th century but there’s not a single Hamilton. Those’ll be buried on the higher ground by the castle, I guess.

“Skipping,” I have learned is the practice of raiding skips outside supermarkets for wasted food; the cover of Skipping Breakfast shows Indigo aboard just such a skip. I guess that’s where my Co-Op sandwich would have gone had I not intervened. Many supermarkets apparently put bleach on leftover food to discourage the homeless and the hungry.

From the time the Roman legions left in 410 AD, Christian worship was pretty much extinguished throughout Britannia . But somehow by way of St Patrick, a British nobleman taken by Irish slavers from the Northern Cornish coast a few years later, Christianity got to Ireland. And by 563 the Irish prince Colm Cille known to us as Saint Columba, was ready to return the favour, landing on the tiny island of Iona, from whence he proceeded to spread the gospel all over the Inner Hebrides which of course included Holy Isle off Lamlash Bay just a couple of miles South of me here.

A generation after his own landfall Columba sent his kinsman Aidan across country to found a similar mission at Lindisfarne which lay just off the coast of the kingdom of Northumbria, in the extreme North East of England. The King of Northumbria at that time was Oswald, known as Shining Arm or White Arm for his dazzling skill as a warrior.

Lindisfarne was just a beginning. It’s a fact that over the next couple of centuries Celtic missionaries founded churches as far away as Turin and Kiev. It’s also a fact that the bloodthirsty habits of their patrons didn’t necessarily change along with a change of worship. That white arm of Oswald’s would need rinsing of blood many times after his conversion.

It’s also a fact that Columba’s Ionan style of Christianity was in its turn pretty much extinguished throughout the British Isles within a couple of generations as well. Because meanwhile back in Rome, Pope Gregory I was sending St Augustine to convert the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Kent in the South East of England to the Roman way. Once this task had been accomplished in 597, further representatives of Roman orthodoxy were to be despatched to the West and North of Britannia with the same objective. In time they collided with the Irish proceeding South and East.

Here’s the thing: the beliefs of each group were equally rigid but their ideas of orthodoxy and correct ritual were very different. Both considered themselves the preservers of the true message and there was not room for two of these.

I’m walking back towards Brodick now, past the castle with its Victorian ice-house and sculpted gardens set on the commanding heights. Except for the conifers blocking the open space between castle and sound, this is excellent feng shui. I’m cold so I stop for a cup of tea at the Douglas where Gavin is seated at a table with his Lhasa Apsos enjoying a pint of Joker. He offers me one. Feeling a bit of a tightarse, I stick with my tea.

Oswald died in battle not long after his conversion. The trunk of his corpse was separated from his famous white arms – the bones became holy relics – and his head impaled on a stake outside the village in North Wales which in time became Oswestry or “Oswald’s Tree”. Grisly, but nothing he wouldn’t himself have done had he won that last battle. His skull became a relic too.

The Wood Rat AD 664 was the year the two groups of saints met for adjudication at what is known to history as the Synod of Whitby. This is one of a trio of facts generally known about this otherwise relatively obscure Northern seaside town, the others being that it was Dracula’s landing place as well as ground zero for a vast number of fish.

The representatives of Rome were outraged by what was called the “Devil’s Tonsure”; the forehead area of the Irish monks was shaved and the rest of the hair gathered into a ponytail, making them look more like death metallers than like Friar Tuck. There are reasons to suppose that druids had been coiffed in exactly this manner. And there were question marks around the rapidity of the Irish conversion; an entire land had been redeemed inside a century. Perhaps Christianity grafted a little too easily onto pagan practices. It’s certainly true that new churches had been established on existing holy sites in Ireland, something the Pope had expressly forbidden. And there are those who see in the Celtic tradition of the Three Daughters of Dagda the antecedents of a holy trinity that has entered Christianity by some route other than the New Testament. They were all called Bridget by the way. Which if not suspicious is at least not imaginative. And how did Patrick get rid of all those snakes? And then there was the timing of Easter.

The mediator Oswiu, Oswald’s brother as well as successor, later achieved the remarkable feat for a Dark Ages monarch of dying of natural causes. Which may be why on the other er…hand, his arms and head never gained the cachet of his brother’s.

The true er…bone of contention at Whitby was that the two factions calculated Easter differently and no missionary of either persuasion could tolerate the possibility that they were sharing the final passion of Christ on the wrong day. Over time ritual can become empty but both factions believed that getting it right would duplicate the taste, the feel, the nature of that passion. That’s quite a thing.

The Chinese word is qi.

Which is where these notions begin to tie up; the ba zi or “Four Pillars” are a snapshot of the prevailing qi at any given moment. This is the same word as the “qi” in Qi Men Dun Jia which takes the Four Pillars of ba zi as its base and then attempts to account for wider influences starting with Sun and Moon. Qi is generally translated “energy” but makes more sense as “taste” “feel” or “nature”.

I would not have taken up Barbara’s challenge had her own ba zi not been an extraordinary one, speaking of an unusual ability to pounce upon opportunity. I’ve seen this pattern before – I’ve drafted thousands of these things – but never one quite as emphatic. And a strong ba zi gives birth to a strong Qi Men chart. David’s is not unlike hers but it’s more encumbered. Which would come as no surprise to him.

Time has passed and the world has become a different place since David’s first book, so where I have placed him this time is not quite the same: not simply facing South but also glued to his dining room in the Southern part of his home. Out of this window he can pick up on the Fire energy of the South. He can also not help seeing Hestia in the South West.

He’s located here now because the Fire is favourable to him and South being the direction of the Sun, is its source. He is literally in his Element. Cautionary note: Fire does not mean wealth or success for everybody.

But it does mean those things for David and apart from selling the film rights on the first book, he has now written several thousand words of a new one. And overseen by Hestia he’s pulled off a deal that will fund him meanwhile.

At Whitby the Irish were represented by Aidan’s successor, Colman, a simple devout priest; Rome by the wily Wilfrid, twenty or so years younger, ambitious, hungry and a more flexible debater. Rome owned both the history and the future of course. And the Pope. It was always a long shot for the Irish.

First of all, Colman couldn’t speak Anglo-Saxon. Second, Oswy’s wife was a Kentish princess who was probably fed up with fasting when her husband was feasting and vice-versa because they had been calculating the days of Lent that lead up to Easter differently. And thirdly, any trailing edges to the dispute were likely to be settled at sword point.

So Oswy found for Rome. Which may have contributed to his peaceful exit.

I sit with Gavin for a while by the bar at the Douglas and he tells me about his lost love.

“Czech,” he says. He lived with her in a village outside Prague for a while. “We could argue,” he says, sounding like argument is a competitive team game. Like a verbal three-legged race.

The little dogs snuggle against his legs in turn as he opens up. He’s a sweet man and his heart is broken.

I suggest he returns to the Czech Republic maybe.

“Maybe,” he says, stroking an Apso and lifting his glass in salute. As I rise, three pairs of eyes look up at me with the same gently pleading look.

The Moon is still almost full as I walk back up the steps of the snicket to my cottage, the cloud thinner and the Moon brighter but the wind still harsh. I notice that in a garden next to the narrow path there appears to be an avocado tree. Is this a miracle of the Gulf Stream? More likely a rhododendron I guess.

As I climb I’m thinking of Colm Cille on his knees in his tiny cell on windswept Iona and wondering if the saint who put shrines and chapels on so many of these islands, was aware of what would happen when his teachings hit the Roman buffer. And I’m thinking of David tapping into the Sun while he tries to keep his gaze off Hestia and I’m thinking of Gavin in his cups. I don’t know about prayer practice but I do know that Indigo dreams of simply waking up one morning with “two parents a brother and a dog.” And perhaps a sandwich before its sell-by date.

If you subscribe to these things, Christ is reckoned to have risen on the 16th day of Nisan, the Sunday following the Jewish feast of the Passover; that is to say the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Like the Chinese New Year, the date is a combination of solar and lunar timing; actually what we might call an astrological formula.

The Chinese are very practical people for the most part and the meticulous timing of the Dragon Dance of the New Year is to equip them to profit from the newborn qi of the year. But Jesus’ mission as I understand it was a much bigger one, to heal the hurt, the heartbroken, the hungry, the hapless and the homeless, the scrapers and the skippers. He would take on the sins of the world, apparently. Being 100% innocent he could say: “Lay the burden on me, there’s no need to blame or suffer any more. Your souls are saved.” Everyone could take a deep breath and start again. And he was apparently just a bloke; he had no free ticket. That’s a hell of a job description. To truly share that experience is a bit of a mind-blower. And of course the world was off the rails again by Monday morning.

Columba and Gregory’s quest was almost as ambitious: to redeem souls in His name. And it was not only early missionaries who were prepared to kill each other over timing: Greek and Russian churches dispute the dating of Easter to this day. To shorten a long story, real time mattered because it was how the experience was re-created. And to many of the faithful who may have forgotten or never knew about these disputes, it remains crucial.

It turns out that Don and June let a homeless woman live in the delapidated chalet for a short while. Abandoned by her husband, she had been camping with her school age daughter in a tent in the woods above Brodick Castle. The two of them moved into the chalet briefly one Christmas in the late 90’s. Along with their cat.

“It ended in tears of course.”

So mortified was Colman that after his defeat, he took himself and several hundred English converts off to an island off the West coast of Ireland. That too ended in tears as it turns out.

“Do you understand your children” Don had asked me over Arran single malt aged 14 years.

“That would be a rash claim.”.

The wind is loud but I love that sound and as I enter the cottage I open the window to let the roar follow me in. I look out across the bay to Brodick Castle and the almost-Full Moon and something soft brushes against me.

“Hello Lyra,” I say but it’s only the malt talking. I touch my shin briefly, make sure the router is disconnected and sleep the sleep of the saints.

Richard Ashworth© 2018

Altruism Corner:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/uncowed#/ You have of course received this Feng Shui Diary free. In return would you be prepared to assist my friends Chris and Jan Attkins? They are first-class human beings as well as long-term media professionals and they’re making a short film.

The film is about bullying which may be an issue that has affected you or someone close to you. Certainly it has raised its ugly head in our own children’s lives. Chris and Jan are risking £15,000 of their own money on this and they’re crowdfunding the rest.

Would you be prepared to help them out? The link above will allow you to contribute relatively modest sums in return for all sorts of related goodies. Do support them please if you can.

Also do download on Spotify, Granoola Suicide’s album, perhaps one less breakfast skipped:  https://open.spotify.com/album/5lYcLjIXaYjlSg7NF1stLl

Thanks. R&S
Richard Ashworth© 2018
www.imperialfengshui.info

Ba Zi: why the greatest generals never go to war.

June 17, 2016
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To hear Richard talking Ba Zi click the pic.
Ba Zi: why the greatest generals never go to war.

“Therefore measure in terms of five things: the way, the weather, the terrain, the leadership and discipline.”.  Sun Tzu. The Art of War.

The story is told of three brothers all of whom were doctors. These three were reckoned to be the greatest healers in all China. So skilled was the youngest that his patients mostly recovered while those of the middle brother invariably returned to health. But the patients of the eldest simply never got ill. Prevention, as they say, is greater than cure. And as Sun Tzu wrote, the greatest generals never go to war.

Probably the elder brother concerned himself with breathing, diet, hydration lifestyle and destiny. Holistic treatment has always been the underlying principle of traditional Chinese medicine. He would have known acupuncture and above all ba zi, which is reckoned to track destiny. Joey Yap, probably the most successful Master in the world, actually uses the term Destiny Code. The ba zi being expressed in terms of the balance of the wu xing or Five Elements, can assess whether we have too much Earth say – leading to sluggishness and a variety of other symptoms – and therefore that we need say Metal (ie focused activity) to remedy the imbalance.

Whether we define healing as solving emotional blockage, enhancing performance or actual physical change, the ba zi is a healing tool. Not I hastily add, that ba zi of itself heals physically. It is diagnosis where feng shui or acupuncture (or tai chi or tcm) are remedy. But as a method of identifying tendencies, physical and other, it has no equal. All three brothers would have thought of it as a map of destiny. The doctor’s job like the general’s, was to see what was coming and the ba zi was how they managed to see it.

In those days remember, the mediaeval times of Song and Ming, a doctor was paid by his patients only as long as they were healthy. Which may have been a motivating factor. When my Father returned from one of the first trade missions to modern China in the early 70’s, I remember him telling me that the Chinese were “the least likely Communists” he’d ever met. Nye Bevan would have approved.

Be that as it may, I have always been wary of Sun Tzu because he assumes enmity and opposition; understandably perhaps given the cruel times in which he lived, but applying those assumptions to feng shui, ba zi or even Qi Men Dun Jia (the current hot divinatory method in feng shui circles) denies any progress during the ensuing millennia.

The fact is that Sun Tzu is the guvnor on winning business in the teeth of opposition and when I first started studying The Art of War in the early 80’s, that was the context. Sun Tzu’s strategies – when your enemy expects you to be slow, move rapidly; when he expects advance, withdraw and so on – are brilliantly applicable if you think of your client as the opposition. Not so great if you want to be of service. Such a philosophy may be everything that is wrong with both politics and business and it runs through finance like the words in a stick of rock. But it doesn’t work and it works even less as a basis for feng shui or ba zi practice.

Which is why it’s important to be aware that the ba zi depends upon benevolence. In 30-odd years in the world of woo-woo™ ba zi is the most powerful healing tool that I have come across. Being a snapshot of the prevailing Elements at the moment of birth it shows potentials, preferences, abilities and above all moments of choice. From where I’m sitting – a position you don’t have to share by the way – everything is choice and if we can identify moments where decisions were made we can un-make them. Consider how a life might be changed that way.

Ba zi lays open the soul to the sensitive practitioner. There is calculation involved and deep learning but at heart it’s an empathetic, instinctive thing. The trick is to know the building blocks so well you can apply them without thinking. And to trust the fact that to think and feel simultaneously is an art but quite possible. Above all to care; as I tell my students, it is unprofessional not to love your client. And perhaps surprisingly easy.

Of course ba zi teaching sooner or later turns transformational. Learning the twenty-two Chinese characters necessary (only twenty two!) requires application but it’s not rocket science. There are rules to be followed, the Animals have traditional relationships, for instance: Horses such as Angela Merkel and David Cameron are deeply challenged in a Monkey Year like 2016; Pigs like David Bowie and Alan Rickman are at risk and Dogs like Prince and George Osborne may miscalculate drastically.

But the teaching always goes transformational. Because the student’s curiosity and crucible is their own ba zi. I’ll use example ba zis to make points – if you looked closely at Gary Glitter’s for instance, you’d tend to feel a great deal less contempt – but everyone wants to know about themselves. Once a Monkey (born 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980 or 1992) learns that Wood and Metal are in eternal opposition and that Tiger and Monkey are respectively yang Wood and yang Metal, they’ll tend to understand more about conflict with a Tiger parent or boss. A Dragon fixated on glamour may recognise the expression of a “secret friendship” with the Rooster. And so on.

The point of this is not to be run by ba zi but to master it. I am myself a Water Dragon and traditionally therefore particularly irked by Earth Dogs of 1958. As it happens, some of my best lady friends are Earth Dogs, some of them very successful business-people. I think they can be a bit dense, they think I go on a bit. We know this about each other. We contain it and rub along. Where’s the problem?

One source of trouble can be being too literal; some trainees and indeed some experts fail to factor in humanity. This tends to put the ba zi rather than the practitioner in charge. The main pitfall however is seeing the world as Sun Tsu does, as a jungle of threats and competition. Some New Age teachers would call this a belief in shortage, others a lapse of faith.

We all possess free will. We are all complex individuals and no woo-woo™ analysis can adequately define us. The ba zi is a guide not a dictator and put simply, the practitioner’s job is to give.

Master Sun, the great teacher of strategy whose wisdom as James Clavell once suggested, might have prevented war in Vietnam and Afghanistan, would not have known the truism that those who can do and those who can’t, teach. Sun himself was prematurely retired from active service by the amputation of both feet (a punishment for telling the hard truth to a minor king probably rather than a mishap). He would have known of Qi Men Dun Jia which dates from his era (the so-called Age of the Warring States 475-221BCE). He might well have approved of the use of his words as part of this very powerful tool of divination (which I don’t yet teach) in a world defined by greed and violence, that is to say shortage and competition. There are things in the world that I would sooner weren’t in it but Sun’s is not the world I choose to live in.

And so I try to practise and teach both feng shui and ba zi as gifts of love rather than as ways to steal a march. Abundance is about much more than wealth and healing is more than band-aids. I’m not teaching dogma and above all I’m not teaching how to win the game of life against stiff competition. What I offer is a method of touching and perhaps understanding the soul.

And that’s why the greatest generals never go to war. In the teeth of Orlando, Iraq, Syria, Burundi, Afghanistan, I try to remember that although Sun Tzu is still in print after all this time and the younger brothers of the story probably got the most approval, it was the eldest that made the most positive difference.

Richard’s next starter Ba Zi Course opens in September 2016 in Godalming but he has a (Friday) slot now vacant to learn via Skype pretty much right away.
For more details go to:
http://www.imperialfengshui.info/courses
Some Early Bird Discounts still apply.
Richard Ashworth©
www.imperialfengshui.info