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SNAFU Manchu My diary for the month of the Wood Sheep

July 7, 2016
SNAFU Manchu
My diary for the month of the Wood Sheep
(July 7th 00:33 to August 7th 10:39am inclusive)
in the Year of the Fire Monkey.

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Hexagram 33

“Whoever can comprehend this exchange could rule the world.” Confucius.

The Sheep Month
Animal by Animal
During this Wood Sheep Month,
The Rat may appear sidelined,
The Ox may be confronted,
The wise Tiger holds back for now,
Fortune favours the brave Rabbit,
The Dragon is on cruise control,
The Snake seeks advantage,
The humble Horse finds comfort,
The Sheep rules – if that’s okay,
The Monkey is quietly agitated,
The Rooster could be oblivious,
The Dog is consistent,
The Pig gains a further foothold.
Know your inner beast. How Sheep are you?
Birth in the Sheep Hour (1-3pm)~: age disgracefully.
Birth on the Sheep Day#: the pivot and the ridgepole.
Birth during the Sheep Month (July)*: selfless work.
Birth in the Sheep Year: idealism, 60’s consciousness.

~ An hour earlier than the clock during British Summertime ie 8-10.
# You’ll need a Chinese calendar for this.
*Caution: Chinese months start later.

Where to do what, when and why

Summary: There is a choice of helpful locations this month. One suits the West Group of people, the other the East Group. If as is likely, this means nothing to you, just ask: . Meanwhile remember to be gentle.

West, Intervention: Year Star: 4 Year Sun, Month Star: 8.
The visiting 8 suggests the West helps the creative this month. The monthly san sha makes it fragile, so be gentle and await inspiration. Writer’s block, tricky plotting and the equivalent knots relating to art, sculpture, dance design and so on will tend to loosen in the West right now. The romantic toe far or “plum flower” Star is still here which means that affairs of the heart may distract in the nicest possible way. Trust this as part of the creative process, sex and creativity are inextricably linked, as geniuses like Picasso and Dali insisted. They also (consider Prince and Marvin Gaye for instance) bring healing. Which is the job of the restorative Sun sitting due West all year at the Rooster.

So locate yourself West, face West, enter through a Western door or occupy a West-facing building but don’t make too much commotion; no parties, keep music down and infrequent. West Group kuas: 2, (especially) 6, 7, 8*: are suited. Mechanically a Water fountain is a boost. And occasional bright light – not too bright.

East, Ambition: Year Star: 9 Dragon Virtue Month Star: 4
The 9/4 is combination stud muffin, sex kitten and student. Often of course found in the same package – which may make it hard to concentrate. Dragon Virtue looks after reputation and a Water Feature will continue to boost ambition. But locating or facing East may prove distracting. Either way keep adding More Wood! Best for East Group people: 3 4 9 1.

*Note: These are calculated from birth details; everybody is one or the other. If this is all er…Chinese to you, email me your birth details or more drastically, study ba zi that is Four Pllars (the Cycle of Time) with me.

SNAFU Manchu:
My diary for the month of the Wood Sheep.
Politics Alert: if all you want is dates and places, read no further.

Chinese Masters can relish predicting plagues of boils. I generally don’t do it because it’s just too easy. Furthermore there is a thin line between identifying the future and creating it. What I have been pretty explicit about though for several years is the Fire Monkey’s likely turbulence and the spread of the global unrest that’s been brewing since at least 2010.

As it happens I was at a love-in for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt just before the referendum and I found myself reluctantly agreeing with him about Remaining. He stands of course for the vested interests of the City whereas I feel more representative of my children the future, cooperation and generally saying yes to stuff. But he was adamant that Brexit formed the greatest threat to British sovereignty (whatever that is) since Suez. What year would that have been? You’re right, the Fire Monkey of 1956.

In the years leading up to the current Monkey, global turbulence took the many contradictory forms of the Scottish Referendum, Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution and popular support for Podemos in Spain as well as thrusts for independence in places such as Catalonia, right wing movements like UKIP all over Europe, Donald Chump’s bid for power and of course Brexit. These are the forces channelled, rabble-roused and then abandoned by Boris, Gove and Farage. Not that there is that much to choose between the above sociopaths and Cameron, Osborne and indeed Trump; all spouting negative, lowest common denominator crowd-pleasing stuff designed to bring out the worst. This is the code of the above-it-all.

And it is in the teeth of this that the efforts of the Greek popular movement Syriza have been so poignant. Did you know that Mario Draghi the President  of the European Central Bank now enforcing privatisation, pension cuts and sliced-up public services, is the same man who while he was at Goldman Sachs, advised the Greek Government (for a vast commission) as they fudged their figures in order to “converge” and join the Euro? You couldn’t make it up.

Anyway now that we’re in the eye of the storm let’s try to explain how events fall into the gan zi cycles of time and perhaps look at what comes next.
No Wise Monkeys.
As you have learned, if we want a guide to what’s likely to happen in a Fire Monkey year, we look closely at previous Monkeys and extremely closely at Fire Monkeys. This means going back in sequences first of twelve years and then of sixty in order to consider how past events may recur in a more modern context.

Which takes us back first to the Wood Monkey of 2004 when the principal topic of interest on this isolated little island was the invasion of Iraq. Twelve years previously British boots had also been on the ground in that long-suffering part of the world and in 1980 the Russians blundered into Iraq themselves. 1968 brought escalation of the American invasion of South East Asia as well as street riots in Paris; plus, as they say, ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Excuse my French. Monkey means chaos and specifically invasion. I write as the Chilcot Enquiry reveals its findings.

Then we go deeper. 1956, like 1896, 1836, 1776, 1716 and even 1536 are multiples of sixty years apart. Each is not just a Monkey but a Fire Monkey. The key events I have long seen in these Monkeys were Suez (1956) The Alamo (1836), the American Declaration of Independence (1776) and the inflation of the South Sea Bubble (1716). I’ve been banging on about parallels to these (and particularly this last) for a very long time. But it took a conversation with my friend, the very perceptive Sarah Fenton to get me to look as far back as 1536.

Remember the Alamo!
1956: Suez. Briefly, events in Egypt that year suggest we really could still be stupid enough to try and solve Middle-Eastern questions with bombs. Gun boat diplomacy worked in the Boer War, why not in 1956 and indeed 2016? Watch this space.

1836: The Alamo. Early in the morning of March 6th 1836 the Alamo mission house packed with American settlers, in San Antonio, Texas (or rather Tejas) in Northern Mexico was wiped out by several thousand troops under the dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. The Americans had been paid by the Mexican government to migrate there and clear the territory of natives; even then it was common knowledge that American people took to gun violence like no other. Empresarios such as Sam Houston – who would go on to be the first Governor of the new American territory of Texas – and William Travis (played by Laurence Harvey in the John Wayne movie) had made substantial incomes from brokering this migration.

Suffice it to say that by the end of the year, Texas was American. In US myth the Alamo is the story of gallant Davy Crockett (Wayne) inspiring the settlers to stand for justice and the American way in the face of tyranny. The fact is that to this day, Texas is largely Hispanic not because of incursions from the South but because the Mexicans were there already. In Mexico.

Fast-forward to today, Chump is having fun winding up Hispanic-American tension. A wall (“that they’ll pay for”) running say, from Laredo to Baja California would more than likely be the popular success its equivalents in Berlin and Palestine have proved to be. But that issue – Hispanic rights – will be pivotal to the result of the election. And Chump will ride that horse as far as it will go. See above.

You can’t shoot without a gun.
1776: The American Constitution, perhaps still the greatest product of the human mind, is augmented by the 10 Amendments of the Bill of Rights, the second of which permits Americans to bear arms. And kill each other. I see this amendment itself being amended by the end of the next Presidential term but there will be plenty of resistance first. August will tell.

1716: The South Sea Bubble. I’ve written about this more than once before. In that Fire Monkey year, the South Sea Trading Company had for six years or so been selling off the British National Debt at many times its face value. Today we’d call these investments junk bonds. By 1720 the bottom fell out of the market and ruined thousands. If this is predictive, a life-changing market “correction” is on its way right now, perhaps the biggest since 1929. Which is not all bad by the way, in that a fresh start might pull money back onshore, bring down property prices and lead to the reform of corporate governance while restricting global inequality along with the consumption of hydrocarbons.

1536: #Brexit1, The Dissolution of the Monasteries. Ann Boleyn is said to have refused to let Henry VIII have his wicked way with her unless she was first made Queen. In his desperation to get his leg over, Henry ushered in the English Reformation, consequently finding himself in possession of huge tracts of church land. This land and the other riches of the church belonged (if they belonged to anybody) to the congregations whose alms had built them up. Undeterred Henry shared them out among the wealthy. That this was a parallel with the distribution of the wealth of the common people among the rich and undeserving that has accelerated over these first two decades of the 21st century, has been clear to me for a very long time. But it took a conversation with the above-mentioned Sarah Fenton to have me realise that it equally represented a cutting off from the Catholic Church, the Pope and thus a break with Europe.  Oops.

And from that a further insight: the new barons had more wealth than they knew what to do with. Many including Henry’s son and successor, Edward VI set up schools on some of the land they’d received in this massive windfall. These (Rugby 1567, Harrow 1572, Westminster 1560 and so on) form the backbone of the English Public (that is Private) School system – the method by which the English middle class ensure their children emerge into adulthood as repressed and dissociated as they are themselves. If you want to understand how deeply Cameron, Johnson, Farage and the rest of them don’t give a damn, you perhaps need to understand this uniquely British institution. And 1536 is when Henry’s incontinence gives it birth.

It was the Duke of Wellington who remarked that the Battle of Waterloo had been won on the playing fields of Eton. That and every other triumph of the British Empire; only the British Public Schoolboy could believe he had a right to invade India, China, Malaysia, the list is long. Only British Public School boys could have massacred natives and then gone home for a game of cricket followed by a gin and tonic. Only British Public Schoolboys could have engineered Brexit and then to a man scarpered. The roots are in the Fire Monkey of 1536 which goes some way to explaining why we remain ruled by sociopaths.

Darling Buds.
The Sheep month is likely to be conciliatory to Horses like Cameron and Merkel, harsh upon Oxen such as Barack Obama and Yanis Varoufakis and to put thoughtful Rats like Owen Jones onto the back foot. It’s not a harsh month, more like a backwater of temporary calm. Dragons – Farage, Johnson, Putin and Russell Brand – get time out. Pigs many of whom have had a hard year to date. break through as do the hard-working Rabbits. The smarter Snake will pick jewels from the rubble, but it’s risky. Dogs are a special case though; it may have escaped your notice that Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton and candidate Donald Chump share more than a thick skin. All three were born in the same Fire Dog year, 1946. So in a sense Chump represents business as usual with added shamelessness. This month will tend to put these qualities into sharp relief.

On the other hand the next Chinese month is a Fire Monkey itself, starting 7th August when the events at the peak of the year will be echoed by way of a reaction. Hang onto your hats. Theresa May btw – who’d have thought it? – was herself born in the Year of the Fire Monkey 1956.
Richard Ashworth © 2016. 7th July 2016

Footnote: my next ba zi Starter Course starts in September, Early Bird offers still open. Details here:

And finally, a limited number of places are still available to study with me one to one via Skype.

Richard Ashworth©

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

December 21, 2012

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