Posts Tagged ‘I Ching’

Wool Gathering: 2015, The Year of the Wood Sheep

February 21, 2015

Wool Gathering

2015: The Year of the Wood Sheep

The Year of Gathering.

“Only when there is an invisible bond between government and people so that the people are sheltered by their government as ground Water is sheltered by the Earth, is it possible to wage a victorious war.”The Book of Changes, Wilhelm edition.

 It’s all about tomatoes.

Sometimes when I’m asked for a scientific explanation of feng shui I say something like: “If you plant tomatoes in January, don’t expect great salads. Worse if you put them against a North-facing wall.”

We all know this really. Each of us is subject to the integrity of time and space; everything is growing or shrinking, accreting or eroding. In the words of Bob Dylan: everyone is “busy being born or busy dying.” This applies equally to people, rocks, tower blocks, penguins and pangolins. As well as tomatoes.

The cycles that a series of Chinese geniuses drew from such observations over millennia imply that Sheep years – every twelve – are quite alike and Wood Sheep years – every sixty – very much alike. That to keep it very simple, is the basis of this forecast; think of it as something to do with tomatoes.

Dragon Rules.

As it happens, last year I predicted – wrongly – a “yes” vote in the Scottish Referendum. This forecast was derived from the nature of previous Wood Horse years, going back – in steps of 60 years – centuries, principally to the formative years 1708-20 to which I have referred before and to which I shall return in this piece.

I was wrong but I had read the energy right and following that result, a wave of resentment swept around the world: to the umbrella kids in Hong Kong, to separatist Catalonia and Quebec, even Ukraine and back again to Britain where the right-wing UK Independence Party has fed ravenously upon it. More recently it has shown up in Greece, the cradle of democracy. Spain is probably next; that wave is still cresting and it very much characterises the year. This is after all, the Year of Gathering.

Note: this is not a which-Animal-am-I-will-I-have-a-good-year kind of forecast. Those are covered by my Animal by Animal forecasts.

And to see me say pretty much this please have a look at the talk  I gave for Rachel Elnaugh’s Source TV New Year event.

2014 was a Wood Horse like 1714 just as 2015 is a Wood Sheep like 1955, 1895, 1835, 1775 and 1715. 1714 saw the accession of George 1st, the first Hanoverian, a German prince parachuted in to make sure that the Scottish Stuart Kings were gone forever, turning the United Kingdom the Scots had joined less than decade before as partners into serfdom. What followed in 1715 was the First Highland Uprising. The highlanders got as far as Lancashire.

I’m not suggesting street-fighting in Preston this year, but these are parallels. As I say energy, process, is easy to read. How it manifests not so much. I suspect however that we are far from having heard the last of Scottish Independence. Or of the Umbrella Revolution.  That wave of energy, that demand to be properly represented and address the issues that matter – among them the environment, inequality, and the way we treat women – is still running wild. In 2015 it focuses.

It’s not essentially racist or nationalistic – whatever right wing enthusiasts may hope. But it’s restless. Let’s remember that the Sheep is the year of the idealist. Currently this wave is supporting the rise of the Greens in the UK as well as poleaxing the three major parties. I’m not yet ready to predict how the votes will fall in the General Election. All I will say is this: the smaller parties will achieve results no one is yet dreaming of. Parliament will not be so much hung as drawn and quartered.

To go a bit further, the balance of power in the UK will be held by 1964 Wood Dragon Nigel Farage just as globally, it will be wielded by 1952 Water Dragon Vladimir Putin. That’s how the year shapes up; the Dragon rules. Look forward to many more photo-opportunities of the Russian President in homo-erotic poses. Expect some Chinese faces in these pictures as that particular team gathers.

Meanwhile the Pig is supported by the Sheep so it’s probable 1947 Fire Pig Hillary Clinton will run for President and that ISIL firebrand 1971 Pig Abu Bakhar al-Baghdadi will be rampant for a while yet. Both will tend to be supported by this need to gather, to define sides.

What we can do ourselves is to commit, to join, to stand up and be counted, hug trees if we must but as Ram Dass said “learn our zipcodes.” Being informed is not negative. Being negative is being negative. But we must oppose what needs opposing.

A Copper’s Slips Now.

This Sheep year follows the frenetic revelations of the Horse of 2014, which saw public exposure of a series of abuses of power. Exposure is the nature of the fiery Horse. August bodies such as the CIA, FIFA and South Yorkshire Police were embarrassed by their own corruption, incompetence and reluctance to own up. As indeed they should have been. The Yorkshire force even bodged the cover-up of the cover-up of their own disgraceful handling of both the Hillsborough disaster and the Rotherham abuses. And let’s not even raise the Miners’ Strike; same force, same violent idiocy. Peter Sellers would have done it better.

It doesn’t take psychic powers to conclude that such powers-that-be are as likely to be more discreet as to be more considerate next time; the Sheep’s yin Earth nature, standing for tolerance, forgiveness, cooperation, family, joining and groups, will tend to slow up revelations. The Sheep does not embarrass her associates as the Horse can. So it will probably not be a year in which public irresponsibility is seen to have consequences. This won’t however be because it’s not going on but because it will be obscured. There will for instance be much to prevent courageous whistle-blowers such as Ed Snowden or 1967 Fire Sheep Tom Watson MP adding to their existing public testimony. The influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News International including the ludicrous Fox News will continue to grow. Legislation to check that is unlikely.

All You Need Is Love.

1967 the Summer of Love, was a Sheep year. Among the many very positive Sheep qualities is commitment. So this is a year of marriage, partnership and embarking upon long term undertakings. Renewal of vows is on the cards. It’s a time to return to family. If you have neglected children, siblings or partners, now’s the time to get on the case.  Yin Earth is about home and its protection. We need to be there.

This extends to the Earth herself. A Wood Sheep year includes an aspect of self-harm. Wood clashes or attacks the yin Earth. In this Year of Gathering, sides are drawn. This may not prove to be the year of fracking and shale retrieval. If it isn’t, it’ll be because the artificially low oil price has made random-acupuncture-of the-Earth-with-poisons less profitable for the time being and therefore a lower priority. It’s likely to be a year when statutes and equipment line up quietly to await opportunity. Don’t expect to see much of Caroline Lucas fronting protest groups. The thing to oppose will have been hidden. At least until the autumn.

And there are three Earth Climate Summits during this year. It is just possible that we’ll learn something and change our ways in time to forestall what’s already being called the 6th Great Extinction. In my office building people still put milk bottles in for landfill despite there being a re-cycling skip and just a few hundred miles South of feng shui central in Singapore, the last few habitats of the orang utan are under imminent threat right now. You want to change this? Suggest Santander Bank stops financing it. But remember perhaps that if you wear stuff or eat stuff, you’re part of the problem too. Let’s oppose what needs opposing but not waste time pointing fingers.

Peaking Ducks

Feng shui is doing the right thing in the right place at the right time and in a Sheep year, projects that require many ducks falling neatly into a row will work out as long as they’re stuck to. The only difference between success and failure is completion, isn’t it? There is the danger that many – Dogs, Sheep and Oxen in particular – will give up just as they break through. Any of the above Animals who prove sick or accident-prone this year may simply be running from opportunity. By the way the Dragon, in the form of actual Dragons born in 1952, 64, 76, 88, 2000 and 2014, is the answer. The Dragon brings magic. The Dragon’s location is the South East of the compass, his time April and the hours between 7 and 9am. This year these may be the right times and places.

Spirit Level.

The Sheep is reckoned the most spiritual of Animals, so perversely the (largely unimportant) disputes between science and faith, religion and spirituality, Sunni and Shia will tend to be fanned on her watch. The Middle East may polarise. In the last Sheep year the West blundered into Iraq despite sixteen million protesters.

The Sheep hour is the post-prandial siesta time between 1 and 3pm. And so it’s often a time to consider progress half-way through a process. Perhaps this is why she also has a reputation for being able to re-consider a position and climb down. One outcome of the embarrassments of 2014 could be a reassessment of attitudes. There are likely to be major unexpected treaties towards the end of the year.

Because the Sheep is inherently yin Earth, it can be co-operative, self-reliant, disciplined and influential. An out-of-balance Wood Sheep though is internally conflicted, unstable, liable to self-harm. So although this Sheep year, like other Sheep years has the biddable, friendly, family-loving qualities of the Sheep, it’s kind of split. The image of the Wood digging into the Earth of the Sheep is one of self-attack. Psychologically then it’s a year of self-doubt as we juggle our many roles: consumer, polluter activist, denier. We’re all all of these, of course. And the Earth itself probably has little attachment to the hairless monkeys on her surface. As Sacred Activist and visionary Andrew Harvey has it, in time Earth will shrug the disturbance off, one way or another. And yes this very important thinker is a Dragon: Water 1952.

The Sheep is a joiner, a disciple, a follower. But this year is one in which we may determine which side we’re on. The trick is perhaps to know this and be responsible while opposing what needs to be opposed. And continuing to love.

There are no Blue Meanies; it’s us. But the Beatles were right, all you need is love. On the other hand if we were doing it right the Earth would be a safer place by now.

3’s a Crowd.

Technically this year is also for other reasons a 3 lo shu year which means it’s a year of dispute. Simmering disagreement may spill into frank opposition and be solved by communication. These kinds of events will be the keynote of the last quarter of the year; this will tend to be true in commerce, diplomacy and warfare. “Plateau” situations resolve for better or worse in a 3 year. 3 represents the raw contentious yang Wood energy of ambition, assertiveness, getting things done, the qualities of youth, especially of the young man. Contention is not of itself of course negative and if you want more of it, for whatever reason, occupy and activate the East. If you’re feeling really stroppy go South.

The lap yum or “note” of the year Metal in the Sand means it’s a year of conservation; that means care with resources. Or carelessness. This is the year of parties lining up: polluters & the ecologically aware, business and spirit, money and quality of life. The Sheep has even the most reluctant of us playing well with others. But extremely selectively. And at this point in history we seem unable to be at our best other than in competition. So it’s by extension a year of competition.

The Year Hexagram 48 Jing the Well, from the Book of Changes, underlines this; it is about the conservation of resources. As Mississippi Fred McDowell had it: “You don’t miss your Water till your well run dry”. Jing is about the quality of Water and about the bucket we send down into the Well to draw the Water

Not that this is much of a surprise. As the next Chinese Fate Period (9) opens sometime between 2017 and 2024, these issues become central. 9 means Fire, so global warming and its implications such as the custodianship of Water. The disputes of the 21st century will be mostly about land and Water.

The Great Year.

So we’re in the middle of a 60 year Cycle, precisely the 8th stop in one that began in 2008. Previous Sheep years, multiples of twelve years ago will be somewhat like this one. And previous Wood Sheep years will be extremey like this one.

Let’s go back in multiples of 60: in 1955 the courageous Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Mississippi bus thus bringing to the attention of the world the two great truths highlighted by the life of Martin Luther King – as played by the remarkable David Oyelowo in Selma – that you can’t shoot someone without a gun and that black citizens have the same rights as white ones. In 2015, the events in Ferguson Mississippi are mirrored and re-doubled.

Another event that took place in 1955 was the resignation of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister to be replaced by Sir Anthony Eden who is best remembered for the last flourish of British gun boat diplomacy: the Suez adventure in 1956 – that is to say the next year in the cycle, a Fire Monkey just like 2016. Watch this space. And the Middle East.

An interesting astrological fact about 2014/5 is that it’s the first time since 1938 that the Moon has been new on the day of the Winter Solstice. You may remember that the following year featured some excitement.

Forever Blowing Bubbles.

Finally, if you think junk bonds were invented by Drexel Burnham in the 1980’s think again. Blame the South Sea Trading Company, established 1708. This corporation bought up the British national debt and then re-sold it as investment bonds. The bonds offered decent interest and were reckoned 100% secure; it was guaranteed by the British Empire wasn’t it? So the bonds changed hands over the next few year at thousands of percent of their face value. Until 1720 when the Bubble burst, spreading ruin across the developed world; not at that time such a big expanse, pretty much the British Empire (including the USA) and Europe. 1708 sits in the same point in the cycle as 2008 and 1720 as 2020. That is to say that since the Banking Collapse of 2008 we have been reliving the same cycle. Without apparently learning much. I know I bang on about this, but as George Santayana wrote: “Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

If we go back far enough in point of fact, we find that 1797 – which saw William Wallace’s response to early English expansionism at Sterling Bridge – reflects 2017, the year after next. Not such a great prognosis.

Mel Gibson: note. Time for Braveheart II – This time it’s Colonial?

If you follow the maths further, 2015 drops into the same spot in the cycle as 1775 which fell between the Boston Tea Party and the Declaration of Independence in 1776. 2016 is like 1776, a Fire Monkey. There is a time of turbulence coming. That year is also the same as 1836, the year of the Alamo. That connection of itself stands examination.

Going further back, fans of “Wolf Hall” are probably unlikely to have noticed that 1535 was an even earlier echo. What happened then? Henry VIII confiscated the Church property which had been funded by the poor in order to give it to newly-created Barons who frankly had enough already; a pretty literal activity of taking from the poor and giving to the rich. As I write, the ceo of Citigroup has been paid around $13m for presiding over a further year of failure and corruption.

That’s the Wood Sheep. A year of joining,  a year of gathering. It’s possible at year’s end that we will share a coherent strategy for adapting to climate change and that some of the two billion currently going to bed hungry will have been relieved. Or that the orang utan, the tiger or the snow-leopard will have some sort of future to look forward to.  

We’re all consumers and polluters but we can wake up to that. We’re all voters and we can make sure we use our votes and encourage others – especially – our children to do so too. That wave of energy is still cresting. We can take it anywhere we want. Can’t we? Let’s be very careful where we plant our tomatoes.

www.imperialfengshui.info

Richard Ashworth ©2015.

Chicken Busy. Rooster Month; bak lo, the Season of White Dew

September 14, 2014

Chicken Busy.

Rooster Month; bak lo, the Season of White Dew. 

“Divinity is knowing where to start.” Our Lost Infantry – Scissor Fight. 

It’s the Rooster month, the month of Zhong Qiu, that is the Harvest Moon, said to be the brightest and fullest. It’s the counting-up time of the year. A good time to re-think, reinvent and restructure. Also to move house. Last night’s moon was a perfect half-circle I noticed, as it rose in the halflight that is neither Summer nor quite Autumn. It’s a writer’s cliché that as the leaves fall, the mind turns to sunsets but there it is.

The first weeks of September are the traditional time for starting wars and blowing things up and as I park in the lane, having failed twice to spot Luke and Lisa’s new home, an excitable American with a serious lack of imagination hijacks Facebook on my ipad to welcome Armageddon and the “end times”. Do me a favour.

And talking of popular times and place for dispute, this summer I’ve been working on a watermill on the Serbian-Romanian border (which after a huge amount of earth-moving will become a Water Dragon) as well as a villa in Cyprus with close-to-perfect feng shui and a tower near Kingston where the front door is having an argument with the Water that flows through the garden. But the most arresting project has been this semi-detached cottage out in the woods of the Surrey Hills. Let me tell you why.

Luke’s a musician, Lisa works for a children’s charity. They’re both Pigs, that is multi-talented with a wide sphere of interests and skills as well as a need for space. The Chinese character for a home is a pig under a roof; note, just the one. They’re wide-open, sweet young people who look as if mutual tolerance is as easy to them as falling off the logs that surround their home. But when you consider it, their needs are very different; he for instance needs space and the safety to make noise, she some quiet to think. Forest all around suits them both.

Careless Whisper. 

I’ve also been working with the publishers of a Southern European tabloid. They have been suffering malicious gossip. Gossip? A tabloid? Who’d have thought it? As it turns out, the South of their basement houses a natural spring which has overflowed in the unprecedented floods of the Horse year. The South is the closest to the Sun, hence the place of visibility and publicity, Water is communication – a thimbleful spilled in the English Channel at Zeebrugge also raises sea level off Zanzibar. Put the two together, karmic issues aside, you get uncontrolled rumour.

The complete cure is a sam he (that is Three Harmony or yang gong) formula involving housing and redirecting the spring. Meanwhile I’ve given them as a band-aid, a procedure involving the addition of Earth in the form of several huge crystals. It’s a funny old building still featuring a huge ancient printing press to which Hitler apparently took a particular aversion. The Gestapo are said to have imprisoned it in its own custom-built cage. Now that’s what I call a proportionate response.

Plugs. 

I first learned complex sam he formulae with Master Chan Kun Wah in the late 90’s. At that time I had just sold the insurance business I had been running in parallel with my woo-woo studies for twenty years and was in the lucky position of being able to study pretty much full time. What this meant was that I’d sit in a room with Master Chan once a month or so along with Gill Hale and Jon Sandifer and Sylvia Bennett and others frantically writing down every word. Then I’d go home and spend the next month working out what the hell he’d said.

Sam he formulae, arguably the most powerful, longest-lasting and most effective of all, pivot on the concept of the qi (pronounced chi) form. These are the methods the Grand Masters save for billionaires.

Identifying the qi form, which dictates the quality of energy entering a building is a judgement call; what you’re effectively doing is reading the trail of qi. This depends on a subtle blend of feeling, measurement and guesswork. It’s one of the key skills of feng shui. And I’ve lost track of the number of times Master Chan taught a complex formula which I was just about able to grasp and concluded by saying that the calculation all depends on the qi form. That’s traditional Chinese teaching methods for you.

What I’ve learned in the years since is that the key to qi form is finding the qi mouth. This is usually, but not always, the low point of the compound, that is to say where Water gathers. It can be miles away and in an urban environment almost impossible to locate.

When you find the qi mouth, what’s required is to “plug” it. This means placing a bridge, stones or some other obstruction to tame the outgoing flow. If you get it precisely right, the house receives the full benefit of the energy that is otherwise running loose in the landscape. So for instance, if I get the mill right, another billionaire is created. Often I use boulders. Sometimes I have to re-angle doors to accommodate the qi mouth. Which can be fiddly. The rules for this were formulated around eleven hundred years ago in the T’ang Dynasty.

Sloping Off. 

This idea of qi is elusive. The ancient tradition is that it “comes down the mountain on the wind and stops at the Water”. That’s the Book of Odes (c300BCE.) These days quantum theorists are happy saying that mass is simply very condensed energy. Consider how much goes into putting the mass into a mountain, even a small hill like the one behind Luke and Lisa’s new home. I seem to recall from elementary Physics that height is sometimes called potential energy.” Maybe that’s the simplest way to look at it; once we’ve found the Mountain (that is height) we’ve found the source of the qi and the Water will be at its foot.

Luke’s day job is as a gardener. He understands seasons and cyclical change. He has the leathery glow of a man who loves the outdoors. He tells me how drastically bird life has reduced since he’s been working; no orioles, sparrow and finch numbers hugely down. He readily gets the idea of qi form.

“Sometimes,” I say, “People are startled when I find the height and then point to Water.”

“Gravity,” he laughs.

“Exactly.”

The cottage backs onto an incline running left to right as you look out.

I follow with my eye the slope down the meadow behind the house. There is woodland in every direction but this one. At the summit there is a much bigger house. It’s a dull day so although I’m looking South, I’m not dazzled. Tracking the qi down the hill, the gradient flattens almost due West and I’m about to note down exactly where when I realise there’s no need. Precisely on the qi mouth there’s an ancient willow. It’s been pollarded and pruned once or twice as there are several generations of branches sprouting like hedgehog’s quills around it but the trunk is fully a yard in diameter. There’s your qi mouth.

“Perhaps two hundred years old,” Luke guesses.

And there’s your plug. Perfect sam he; no need to reangle doors, nothing fiddly required. The woodland cares for this house just as indeed it should.

The Birds and the Bees. 

Inside the house there are boxes everywhere. I suggest – counter-intuitively – that they sleep in the slightly smaller back bedroom. Then I identify work spaces for them. On different floors.

In the dining room there is retained energy. Calling it woo-woo™ is as specific as I’m going to get. I tend to think in terms of Chinese metaphors. That’s what they’re for. The more personal I make it, the fewer methods there are to approach it. I used to spend a lot of time “moving on” such spots of energy. I’m not sure whether it was principally for me, them or the client. It certainly made me feel clever and sensitive.

In this case I suggest we let it be. It’s not doing any harm and it seems to be linked to a picture of Lisa’s brother on the mantelpiece. I feel into it; there’s a whole story here. Another time. All I do for now is suggest they arrange the dining room table at an angle to the walls so as to pick up their best directions.

We sit, we look at ba zis. The ba zis raise some issues that may have been floating over them, as yet undiscussed. Lisa’s a bright sensitive woman, Luke equally so but the fact is as a general rule, that when it comes to relationships women are usually smarter. At some point a woman will ask where the relationship is going and a man may reply: “Going? I didn’t know it had to go anywhere.” Luke knows that everything that is not growing is shrinking. Cycles are no mystery. As Bob Dylan wrote ”Everything not busy being born is busy dying.”

Click here to hear me speaking about ba zi, the most powerful model for transformation I know.

Richard Ashworth © 2014.

It’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses

June 24, 2014

It’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Dedicated to Maurice Willmott.

“Late last night I heard the screen door slam and a big yellow taxi took away my old man.” Joni Mitchell. Big Yellow Taxi.

The Dark Newt of the Soul.
Menorca, Dragon Month, Horse Year.
While I’m here I swim daily; a few more lengths every morning. I like the sensation of my muscles stretching with the regular exercise. I feel my waist tightening and my shoulder joints.
In the Commentaries to the Book of Changes, Confucius counsels that destiny emerges from character. There are no free tickets or free lunches. We may spend a lifetime looking for short cuts but eventually our lives match us. Everything is chosen. Which is great or not depending on how we view ourselves and the justice of the cosmos.
Much of feng shui of course derives from the Book of Changes (or Yi) ; which consists of just sixty four diagrams made up of six lines each. Between them they say pretty much everything there is to be said; sixty four Hexagrams, sixty-four expressions of the human predicament with six ways out each. The Hexagrams themselves break down into two Trigrams, each of which represents a situation, a feeling, a thought, a member of the Confucian family and a thousand other things. And a great deal of authentic feng shui comes straight out of the Yi. There have been times in my life when it has been the only voice I trusted.
Last year on my final swim, I came across a frog in the pool; a Menorcan stripeless tree frog which is longer, thinner and a brighter green than ours and with its big eyes, more like a proper Disney frog. You might think that a swimming pool would be frog paradise. I guess he did too. Except for the chlorine and the fact that he couldn’t jump out because the ledge was too high and there’s no traction on water. He struggled a little – only a baby, I think – but eventually, cupped in my hand, I placed him gently on the perimeter and he bounced off. Today, a year later almost the same thing happens; apparently identical frog, same situation but on day one. I take that as progress.
It’s April, I’m here studying, researching and writing again. And thinking. What I’m studying is yang gong, the method used by inscrutable nonagenarian Grand Masters to turn external Water into vast assets for Asian billionaires. Which came first the Dragon or the billions? you might ask. Water is certainly the key to feng shui but what I can tell you is that it wasn’t until the 20th century that the feng shui man saw his job as placing Water relative to the building as opposed to the other way round. That makes a lot of what calls itself feng shui pretty silly.
I’m also studying the Yi but then I’m always studying the Yi.
What I’m thinking about is my peers who seem to be dropping like flies. The nearest I’ve had to a close male friend in my adult life, tai chi Master, skilled musician, thirty years a fireman, peerless husband, father and grandfather and all round good egg Alan Briggs, died suddenly in November. Without warning he suffered a massive heart attack in the arms of his beloved wife of forty years. He was a remarkable man.
Everybody dies and there are worse ways to go, but of my British feng shui peers, Master Jon Sandifer died a little earlier and Rob Grey just a little after. The world is the lesser for their loss and now my friend, shaman and miracle worker Maurice Willmott has made the dubious choice of contracting motor neurones disease. It’s a hard time for healers.
From where I’m sitting all death is suicide and I’m wondering why these men made these choices and I’m thinking it’s because each saw the way the world is right now and recoiled helpless. You don’t have to agree of course.

Meme Girls

It’s unseasonably warm but a villa-owner can’t rely on that; hence this sun-spattered place that sleeps eight is empty but for myself and my daughters, Jessica and Henrietta. It’s predictably cuboid – including garage – except for a two-storey turret to the East. Up there you can see across the heathland all the way out to sea. I’ve done that many times. But the wrought-iron steps have succumbed to time and weather and on this visit they are roped off.
This quiet dwelling, way out in the biosfera is owned by my friends Gemma and Anna who save souls as Taylor Light Creates (TLC – geddit?). Anna is a gifted psychic. I call her the Happy Medium. And Gemma who teaches Alexander Technique, is simply the single most gracious person I know.
The villa was built by their Father back in the 70’s; not it seems, a happy man. Not then, not now. He died young in the 1990’s. There is a paved area at the back that is almost always in shade. They tell me he used to lurk there.
Up in the sky a bird of prey hovers over something. It’s not that big – more likely a peregrine than an eagle or a buzzard, I guess; a rare or endangered species for sure. A few lizards are about and I doubt the bird would chance its wing with a tortoise. There are no fast roads here serving up splattered rabbit or badger. Es Grau has rats just like everywhere else in the world. Polecats too, but nothing bigger and I imagine even these small predators are a bit heavy for a falcon. Also a bit aggressive.
Jessica and Henrietta are twins of 26, identically tiny, brilliant and beautiful but very different people. It’s great to have them here with me; apart from it being high time we caught up, their relentless work ethic pulls me into its orbit. I cannot help but study. But the fact is that I love wrestling these obscure formulae into submission. And before you gasp at my erudition, let me clarify; I’m studying the text in a translation by Hung Hin Cheong, (kindly published by Joey Yap’s Mastery Academy) along with notes I’ve accumulated from various sources over the last two decades.
As well as a writer, Jessie is an actress and herein lies heartbreak. In 2006 she made a big movie with Anne Hathaway and since then she’s done respectable work – some of it high profile – but nothing that has matched up. Despite their writing success, she hasn’t been happy away from the camera. But Jessie’s a trooper and she also has an uncanny sense of the structure of a story.
They’ve tolerated my particular brand of mumbo jumbo all their lives and they play along as I make sure they’re seated South to suit their ba zis. They chunter and banter while they work at the kitchen table, almost like a single person talking to herself.
The bird lingers, tacking into the thermal, close to motionless in the new warmth. Perhaps it’s just playing; there are worse ways to spend a spring morning. There are worse ways to spend a life actually.
Morning turns to afternoon and eventually evening when Jess and Hen down tools and we prepare a meal. Henrietta wants to watch the sun set over the Balearics so we eat outside under the Western portico. As it happens, a quirk of our location is that the sun’s final descent actually happens out of sight. The bushes in the way are tall and these young women aren’t. The glow is pretty magnificent though.
“I wanted to see the sun set,” says Henrietta.
The Moon is new, so darkness falls rapidly. It remains warm despite a slight breeze as we share a beer by the pool. I sit between them, my feet dangling in the deep end; theirs don’t quite reach. It is the breeze that makes the Balearics comfortable even at the peak of summer.
“You might have seen it on tip-toes.”
She frowns.
“Before the month is over I’ll show you something magic in the moonrise.” I say and I explain to her how the phases of the Moon can be represented as Trigrams. “
“Three unbroken lines, maximum yang; full Moon,” I tell her but it doesn’t satisfy her.
Jessie has the recent UN press release about climate change on a Twitter link on her phone.
“By most accounts peak oil production was reached in 2006,” she reads.
Master Chan Kun Wah once told me I would be a Master when I could tell Water from Fire. Estimates of how far seas will rise this century vary from a few centimetres to metres. Great Ice meets Great Fire leads to Great Water. I have an idea that I may be close to understanding. And I think of the vast tonnes of ancient glacial ice floating like sugarcubes in the English Channel.
The report makes it clear that we are collectively walking over an ecological cliff edge. No surprise there. Shameless corporate greed, reckless burning of oil and gas, plus half-baked government have made this inevitable. Every generation believes the world will barely outlive them but even those of us who know this, are concerned about the world we are passing on to our children. If you believe Guy McPherson or James Lovelock we may not even manage that.
When I was last in Singapore, not two hundred miles away in Indonesia, a motorway was driven through the one of the last habitats of the orang utan, man’s closest relative on Earth. These are dark times. The three of us hold hands. The nature reserve suddenly seems small and ever so fragile. This blackness is what Alan saw, I think. He was too smart and had seen too much of the world not to see the same night-black that Maurice is recoiling from. It’s dark, as Elwood says in Blues Brothers, and we’re wearing sunglasses.
There’s plenty of room in the villa. The master bedroom with its en suite sits in the West. There are other bedrooms but in 2014 both North and North West are troublesome. So Jess and Hen go West and I go North East. They get the ensuite, I get shuttered windows that open onto the rear.
I shift my room around so that my head is South East and I can back onto a wall. As a bonus I’ll be able to see the sun as it rises because there are no bushes in the way on this side of the house. I sit lotus-fashion on the bed and watch the night gather. Then I pick up Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong which Henni has recommended. It’s beautifully written but I can’t be bothered with it. In the night I hear the shutters rattle. It’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Turning Turtle

I wake thinking of Gemma and Anna’s father and how these magnificent women have turned hurt into healing. They say it takes three generations to make a writer; this may be true of healers too. My own father claimed that he had always wanted to write but that a raft of practicalities got in the way: family, career, mortgage, you know the riff. Bless him; it wasn’t true. No one forces these things upon us; they’re not destiny, God’s will or a court order. We always retain choice even when we imprison ourselves in the realities we buy into. And for myself, I don’t live by writing as these two do. Jon Sandifer had seven children and a chronic weakness of the kidney, I remember. And I think of Alan tuning his guitar with one hand and a rollie in the other, considering the future he might share with his children and grandchildren.
Another morning, another swim. I’m up to twenty lengths now. After a few arguments with Spotify, I’ve rediscovered the music of Style Council, Paul Weller’s jazzy 80’s combo. As I dry myself and make tea, I’m playing Paris Match on my laptop. That smoky vocal is by Tracy Thorn out of Everything but the Girl. I know it’s contentious but I think this is Paul Weller’s best music. For me the Jam were fatuously rebellious and these days Weller seems to be duplicating the 70’s music he claimed to hold in contempt in ’78. Bless him, his perma-frown and his funny haircut.
There are no falcons today, but a single lizard scurries back and forth across the pebbled drive. The sun is already high.
Unimpressed by my choice of music, Hen and Jess rise early, put on a playlist and get writing. Screenwriting is an interminable business. First you write a pitch, then a treatment, then a spec. Then if that stimulates the right juices, a producer demands a rewrite. Then the sources of finance – the BFI for instance – demand further re-writes, then send “notes” with requests ranging from corrected punctuation to what can amount to yet more rewrites. All before the film goes into what the industry calls “pre-production”.
Meanwhile Jess and Hen have been writing on Fresh Meat – cool comedy if you’re young enough to recognise cool – as well as for Children’s BBC and fulfilling a series of other people’s commissions. It’s creative but not entirely theirs. What they’re here for is to put to bed the final “notes” to Olivia and Jim, one of their original screenplays. And get it made ie into production. They’re aiming to write a spec for a new movie too, something it’s been tough to fit in between the commissions. Sounds ambitious.
“We never get time,” says Henni, with deep frustration. Where have I heard that tone before?
They write through the day. I study. When they get excitable it’s hard to concentrate around them, so I repair outside. It’s 30 degrees. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
There’s another bird up there, it could be a falcon or eagle or even a coot; it’s swooping and gliding not hovering.
Yang gong is not derived from the Book of Changes so much as from careful study of nature. Sometimes I’m asked for a scientific explanation of feng shui and I tend to say something like: “If you plant your tomatoes on a North-facing wall don’t expect great salads. Worse if it’s January.” We’re all subject to these forces – men, women, frogs, firemen. That’s feng shui. That’s yang gong.
I look out over the front garden, still spring-green. The qi – for which also read energy, water, traffic and gradient – slips away to the South. The villa was built in the early 70’s when what is called the Wealth or Water Star was where it should be, in the swimming pool. Now it’s at the back. And the house is in some need of repair. Armed with that information I can tell Gemma and Anna how to restore it to its former glory. And perhaps put the paved area at rest.
Later Jess, Hen and I watch Parks and Recreation and we laugh like goons. Rob Lowe does not seem to have aged since the West Wing. I love the sound of the girls’ laughter.

Fossil Fools

Marianne Williamson is planning to stand for Congress. This extraordinary woman’s Course in Miracles-based teaching has already changed the world. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure,” comes from her book A Return to Love, although it’s often attributed to Nelson Mandela. If she is dipping her fingers into the murk of politics, something’s moving. Bless him. Nonetheless I continue to lecture my daughters on peak oil production.
“Fossil fuels had become too hard to extract. So prices could only rise. It was time to stop.”
“Presumably that wasn’t news,” says Henni with customary irony.
Of course not. Instead however of taking this gentle hint from the powers-that-be at face value, oil producers got more and more ingenious.
“Fracking may pre-empt being held to ransom by Gazprom but random rape of the environment with poisons doesn’t seem a longterm alternative,” I say bleakly.
It’s a windless night but the shutters are rattling as I drop off to sleep. I wake to a blazing sunrise over the Eastern hills. The thin linen curtains are no match for the sunlight.

Economic Migrants.

Feng shui was developed by a series of Chinese geniuses over millennia. Che Ying who pioneered modern yang gong in the 17th Century was one; Grand Master Yang Yum Song – from whose nickname yang gong is derived -another. It’s his sketchy 11th century illustrations that Che Ying tidies up in his classic Direct Pointers to True Earthly Principles. These are what are called Sam He or Three Harmony methods as opposed to the Sam Yuen methods which use the Hexagrams and Trigrams of the Book of Changes.
Sam Yuen allocates each Hexagram of the Yi to a particular point both on the calendar and on the clock. Also on the map; this is called na jia – “positioning yang Wood” and it corresponds with the rising and setting position of the Moon.
This morning we get up, drive the hire car slowly to the other side of the reserve and recycle plastic, paper and glass. The glass is the plum job; you the bottles smash satisfyingly against each other as they drop into the container. We argue over which of us gets to do it. Somewhere there’s a landfill that is this much less full, somewhere an oil well that need not produce quite as much. You do what you can, don’t you?
Back at the villa, I tell them about na jia. Out here in the wilds there is so little light pollution that there’s a decent chance I can fix the positions of the changing moon relatively accurately.
“You mean the Book of Changes can tell you where the Moon is going to rise and set?”
“Pretty much.”
“Awesome.”
Studying yang gong involves reading translations of Che Ying and Zhao Yu Cai formulae spliced into five hundred pages of diagrams. Here’s the basic principle: feng shui is a real thing. Power, energy, qi is stored compressed and then released. Think of the energy that went into putting up mountains. That energy flows down on the wind from the heights. When it meets sufficient Water, it is held where we can use it. What Che Ying and Zhao Yu Cai concern themselves with is where the Water goes. This may be the big secret of authentic Chinese feng shui.
As the days go by, the Beach Boys and Neil Young are leavened with Taylor Swift and the eternal lentil and vegetable stew with fish. Each morning we swim. We shower, we dry, we chat, but we’re at work before nine.
Jess and Hen argue over the new script. It’s nuclear in the front room where we’re all working. That’s the thing about twins. Born together they’re as close as close can be. Which means they feel safe to tear strips out of each other. They know they’ll eventually complete the dispute and settle and everything will be fine again. Ten days in, they’ve handled the pre-production notes and written a draft script for a short film and started their spec but now they’re at another impasse.
I suggest we take a walk.
“We might see one or two tortoises,”
“As long as they’re not in too much of a hurry,” Henni says.
“I don’t know whether what we’re writing is any good,” says Jessie, as we walk the gravel path through the gorse. She is anguished. Every writer gets to this point. To make it any good, they must devote themselves 100% to what they are writing and meanwhile refuse all opportunities to live lives, make money, hedge their bets. And at the end they may decide it’s bollocks. We stitch these things together and we hope they make sense.
A screenplay is generally ninety pages long. They have got to around thirty and it sounds pretty lively but Jess isn’t sure it’s real. She’s still distressed.
“You write and gravity kind of takes you,” she says. “And it may go in a wrong direction that it’s really hard to pull it back from.”
Between the hills there’s a break opening onto a lake dotted with coots. The birds twitter in the afternoon stillness. It’s a little known fact that the Eurasian Coot winters at Es Grau before returning North. Although Menorca is a small island, the heath appears to stretch forever in three directions and I find myself wondering how many centuries coots have been coming here and what cataclysm it would take to stop them.
“I’m not sure it’s got any shape,” Jessie says. And then she adds bitterly: “And I want to be acting anyway.”
“And here we are,” says Henni. “Writing. In Menorca. Not acting.” She is gentle and reassuring but there is no deflecting Henrietta. She’s four-foot-eleven of sheer will.
They talk it through. They won’t write pantomime villains or violence and the story must grow from the characters.
“It has to be honest,” says Henni.
It becomes obvious to all of us that the script is real, also engaging and beautiful.

Short Films.

“What is it about tortoises and feng shui?” Henni asks as we walk on.
“Actually it’s turtles, specifically Asian River Turtles whose lower shell or plastron is roughly square and the upper shell roughly circular; that’s the traditional Chinese representation of Heaven and Earth. Tortoise shells are very similar.”
“Uh-huh.”
I explain that the early Chinese divined from lines breaking up the patterns on the backs of the turtles.
“The patterns evolved into a “language” of two types of line – broken that is yin, and unbroken or yang. Broken broadly means “no” and unbroken “yes”.
“Like a binary code?”
“Exactly.”
“How did they make the lines appear?”
“By baking the shells. They actually made the river turtle extinct.”
“Yuk.”
Day sixteen of the Moon that was new when we arrived; dusk is approaching. We talk by the pool. In addition to completing the “notes” and the short film, they have a brand-new 90-page spec. That’s some work for a couple of weeks and they’re here for two more yet.
This Moon is the Peony Moon; it’s close to full. Full yang, that is as bright as it can be, represents the Trigram Qian, the Father, three unbroken lines. So according to the na jia formula, the Moon should rise between 7 and 9pm at chia, that is between 67½ and 82½ degrees East. I know precisely where that is and I point – out beyond the paving to the rear, over the hills, almost opposite the setting sun. And sure enough there it is, just becoming visible; the Moon rising against the cloud in accord with the ancient measurement.
“Awesome,” they say in unison.
The spec concerns two mutually dependent sisters who fall out. Write what you know, Jessie says. They may make it the first film of their own as yet unchristened production company, they tell me. I suggest “Short Films” as a name. Neither is impressed.
The Moon is now gone. It’s dark, quiet but for crickets. We retire. I sit on my bed and listen to the shutters. I’m still not tempted by Birdsong. I listen into a webcast: Andrew Harvey’s extraordinary work in what he calls Sacred Activism which offers a middle-ground between anarchy and tree-hugging. It’s close to midnight but something’s happening.
My Father could navigate by dead reckoning. He’d have spotted the Moon rising though he’d have made nothing of it. To him there was a simple linear explanation to everything.
When I was perhaps eight, we slept under the stars. Pointing above, “There’s Polaris,” he said. “That means North Star. If you’re lost, find that one and you’re home. Part of the Great Bear or Ursa Major also known as The Dipper.”
“What about South?” I remember asking.
“There’s no star due South,” he said. “You find the Southern Cross and estimate.”
“How?”
I don’t remember understanding the answer.

False Smooth Snakes.

The next night as we sip beer again, there is not a frog or tortoise to be seen. This may be because two snakes are fighting by the pool. Combat appears to consist of one sinking its fangs into the other’s back, letting go and then offering itself for the favour to be returned. None of the hissing and posing you might expect.
“This isn’t the Jungle Book,” says Jessie, by way of explanation.
These snakes, according to Wikipedia, are examples of the Menorcan false smooth snake, whose bite is fatal to small rodents but no risk to us. They look pretty forbidding, just the same. We keep our distance; this is not a bar fight to break up. I have a suspicion they might actually be shagging. Probably a better idea.
Just as every pessimist thinks himself a realist, every generation believes the world will be hard pressed to survive them but even those of us who know that, are concerned by the horrors we see and those we see coming. And we suspect that we might be the first generation to be right. But you know what? I’m on the side of the angels. I fear what I see but I choose something better. I prefer to concentrate on the Tessla car, Marianne Williamson’s campaign, Anna Friel saving the gorillas. As Oscar Wilde wrote: we are all of us in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.
Having looked closely at a few tortoises now – like me and unlike their aquatic cousins, reluctant to swim in cold water – I conclude that given an infinite number of Chinese river turtles and a very long time, one shell might emerge dotted precisely like the lo shu or magic square of Chinese folklore. And it’s certainly true that the upper shell is domed like the sky and the lower squareish.
I rarely write these long pieces any more. Here are some reasons: the social media people tell me to write shorter, more frequent articles and link them to Twitter, FaceBook, Linked-In, Grinder (I made that up). Secondly I’m busy. Also the most engaging bits of my writing apparently are those about people. And some people don’t like being written about. Finally the power of these pieces comes of poignance. And poignance is next door to impotence and I refuse to believe nothing can be done.
Tonight the sky is totally clear sky over the heath and bumpy hills and Henrietta is satisfied with the sunset and the sudden blackness that follows. I point out the Big Dipper, the engine room of Chinese Astrology. We notice the pointer which indicates seasons and directions and I explain that it is this motion that is reflected on the shell of the tortoise. And hence much of traditional feng shui. We talk about Maurice and the fighting snakes.

Richard Ashworth ©2014.
Post script: the film Olivia and Jim is now in pre-production according to IMDB, the film-maker’s bible.

www.imperialfengshui.info

What Richard is doing…where & when

June 20, 2014

Hi:

I thought it was about time I sent out one of my newsletters to let you know what Richard is up to in the next few months & where & when! So…

 Ba Zi at the London Astrology Lodge:

Monday 7th July at 7pm, Astrological Lodge of London at The Theosophical Society, 50 Gloucester Place, London W1 8EA

Richard will be looking at times, places and people and explaining to the Astrological Lodge, ba zi’s roots in the tao, yin and yang and the Five Elements or wu xing. Along the way he will examine some historical events, to see if indeed they fall into cycles.

Astrologers, feng shui people, sceptics, cynics, civilians, all welcome.

More details here. 

Starter Feng Shui Course:

13 & 14th September 2014 is the first weekend (of four) of Richard’s Starter Feng Shui Course.

For anyone who wants to become expert in the theory and practice of  feng shui. This course opens to a lifetime of study which may excite enthusiasts, the curious and anyone who would like to better understand themselves and the world around them. Grounding in feng shui principles desirable but not essential.

Early Bird Offers are still available.

More details here. 

  Starter ba zi Course:

17th & 18th January 2015 is the first weekend of his starter ba zi course.

Richard is world famous for his ba zi work & his course is honestly incredible!

Again open to all curious souls…

Early Bird offers are very much available.

More details here. 

 If you book both courses together further discounts are on offer. 

 Richard now teaches via Skype both feng shui & ba zi on a one to one basis with weekly sessions so if you can’t travel or you live abroad, this is a perfect option & Richard loves doing it!

 Advanced Ba Zi:

As Richard is finding teaching via Skype so successful he is now offering one to one sessions in Advanced ba zi. His studies with the Masters have given him so much he can now pass on to those wishing to take the study of ba zi much further & deeper.

 Feng Shui at the London School of Astrology:

On Saturday 18th October at the London School of Astrology at The Friends Meeting House, 173, Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ, Richard is talking feng shui to western Astrologers…should be fun. More details to come.

 

So that’s pretty much it for now, if you have any questions please do email me on sheila@imperialfengshui.info

or call the office on  +44 (0)1483 428998 or visit the website:  www.imperialfengshui.info.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sheila

www.imperialfengshui.info

Horse Diary: what to expect in June 2014

June 6, 2014

Horse Diary: what to expect in June 2014.
Nags and Hobby Horses.
Horse Month opens: June 6th 02:32am.

Fire!Fire!
A Horse year is inherently fiery and the Horse month of a Horse year doubly so. Consequently, expect Fire to show itself in all the ways Fire does: heat of course but also the slips of judgement and haste that come from the discomfort of overheating. Fire is passionate and indiscrete. Fire is spontaneous. These are times when even the calmest of us make unforced errors. It’s a time when overheated stockmarkets peak and unlikely football teams triumph. But it’s also a peak of innovation and vision when sales of Elon Musk’s eco-friendly Tessla car are taking off, a plan to install lcd sensors over America’s roads has raised over a million dollars by crowd-funding and Marianne Williamson’s game-changing campaign for Congress almost took off. She’s a Water Dragon btw, so she should expect a bumpy ride but that’s probably inevitable, the establishment being what it is. Bumpy but ultimately triumphant.

The Horse in the Horse Month.
Horses (1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002) like Dragons, tend not to play nicely among themselves, so a Horse month tends to bring disagreement, rivalry and competition. Horse times – years and months – favour the sturdy Dog, the most loyal of the Animals, and the often contentious Tiger, but not the Horse so much. The Sheep may find it easy to build and run teams official and casual just now; the smart Horse employs a Sheep for just such a purpose. But the Horse’s own energy may dip especially towards the middle of the month as the year energy peaks. Observe prominent Horses like Angela Merkel and David Cameron with compassion. And Sheep like Nick Clegg.

Horse Month Animal by Animal.
During the Horse month:
Some Dragons may falter and rise reinvigorated,
The Horse may feel competed with,
The Sheep may form the missing link,
The Monkey may alternately overwhelm and suffer overwhelm,
The Rooster shines if she can choose the game,
The Dog may shine too,
The Pig may take unusual risks,
The Rat is advised to hold back his best shot.
The Tiger is likely to rise, the Ox to lie relatively low
and
The Rabbit may be on the horns of more than one dilemma.
Note: little is inscribed in stone. The trick is to use forewarning as forearming. The Chinese character kun that is challenge means influence, power and discipline also.

The Horse Pillars. How Horse are you?
Birth in the Horse hour: (11am-13:00pm): outgoing children, joy found late in life.
Birth in the Horse month: (June*): frenetic work schedule.
Birth on the Horse day: extrovert nature.
Birth in the Horse year: partying parents.
* Caution, the Chinese month generally starts and finishes a few days after ours.

Where to do what, when and why.
As I write, yesterday’s Primary decided that Marianne Williamson would not get to stand as the California’s 33rd District Congressperson. At the centre of this month’s lo shu is the 4, to do with the Eldest Daughter, the intelligent truth-seeking female who like Ms. Williamson typifies the best of 21st Century woman. The 4 of course also rules the year. So trends are reinforced, portents doubled-up. It is despite everything, a time of invention and innovation, illumination and enlightenment. Fingers crossed.

This month: the South holds the fortunate monthly 8 Star. It’s a tricky area all year but if you crave attention, now is the time to pump the South. Best method is probably plants and/or flowers. Don’t make it too dynamic. Wood moves constantly but slowly. Poor time for a Dragon to open a campaign though.

Also for your attention:
*Learn authentic Chinese feng shui: Richard’s Starter Feng Shui Course The Wind that Stops at the Water runs this autumn over four weekends starting 13th September. Early Bird price available (save £150) till 1st July. You can now participate via Skype – wherever you are.
*On the evening of July 8th Richard will be talking Chinese Astrology to the Astronomical Lodge of London. More details here.  Know your Animals!
*Stop Press: All things being equal, next week we’ll be sending out (& blogging via WordPress) a longer piece, Richard’s first in a while. If you like these longer pieces, watch out for it. If you don’t er…watch out for it.

Richard Ashworth©, late in the month of the Earth Snake, June 2014.

www.imperialfengshui.info

Snake Diary: what to expect in May 2014.

May 7, 2014

Snake Diary: what to expect in May 2014.

Snakes and Ladders.

May 5th 22:16pm until June 6th 02:32 inclusive. 

Its dark and were wearing sunglasses.

This month is an Earth Snake. The last time the Earth Snake ruled an entire year was 1989. By most accounts that was pretty cataclysmic; as a Tweet correspondent reminded me this week, it was the year of the Second Summer of Love, the year of the smiley. And then there was the peripheral business of the Berlin Wall coming down, the end of the Cold War and of the Soviet Union. Last month the UN made an unequivocal statement on climate change. We are now officially sleepwalking over a precipice wearing sunglasses and state-of-the-art headphones. This month may mirror 1989 in terms of a change in the world order. Not so drastic though; its only a month. 

The Snake in the Snake Month.

Unlike Dragons, Snakes (1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001) get on relatively well among themselves, so a Snake month may bring them agreement and consensus. The Snake works well with teams that include the sensitive Ox  whose gifts include sticking to the point  and the photogenic Rooster – who can both attract attention and keep accounts. The Snake, the seeker after truth, brings something like spin. This Wood Horse year however with its constant bright light, is not the year for concealment. And no human action remains hidden for ever; ask Gerry Adams or Max Clifford. 

Snake Month Animal by Animal.

During the Snake month:

The Dragon finds an audience,

The Horse shares the limelight,

The Sheeps invitation may not be taken up.

The Monkeys charm may not be enough.

The Rooster is in demand as long as the Ox invigilates,

The Dog may feel understood but not necessarily approved of,

The Pig may tire easily,

The Ratmay take up the role of disciplinarian.

The Tiger is apt to maintain a respectful distance,

and

The gentle Rabbit is often surprised by sudden popularity.

Note: do remember the purpose of this is to foster health, wealth and wisdom; its a foolish Snake who uses the above to disdain Monkeys or avoid Tigers.

The Snake Pillars. How Snake are you?

Birth in the Snake hour (9-7am): children seek truth as do you, later in life.

Birth in the Snake month (May*): suits work in sales & marketing.

Birth on the Snake day: lifelong pursuit of truth, may start late.

Birth in the Snake year: brought up to question.

* Caution, the Chinese month generally starts and finishes a few days after ours. 

Where to do what, when and why.

At the centre of this months lo shu is the 5, to do with the double-edged sword of power. The 5 of course belongs in the centre. The bench mark lo shu supposedly observed by Fu Xi on the back of a noble turtle had 5 at the centre. So its a return to influence, truth and certainty. Know where your power base is and consider retracing your steps.

This month: the North East which holds the tin yute gwai yan Noble Helper Star is doubly effective because it also holds the monthly 8 Star. If you take no other feng shui advice, perhaps just trust the 8 and locate yourself North East when the opportunity presents itself. 

Forthcoming Events:

*We still have places on Richards Feng Shui Course starting the weekend of 13th/14th September 2014. Early Bird Offers are still available. For those further afield Richard is offering the course via Skype in parallel. 

*If you want to meet Richard in person he is talking at the Astrology Lodge in London on the 7th July 2014. It will be a fascinating & educational evening.He may even joke.

*Enjoying these diaries? You can subscribe to more in-depth bulletins, weekly &/or monthly. For more details on this or with any other queries email:becciimperialfengshui@gmail.com 

*To keep up to date with Richard, follow his daily tweets  summarising the forthcoming day each morning @fengshuidiaries 

Richard Ashworth©, early in the month of the Earth Snake, May 2014.

www.imperialfengshui.info

Dragon Diary: What to expect in April 2014

April 4, 2014

No Dragon Feet.

Earth Dragon month, Wood Horse year.

April 5th 04:54am.

 

Rapid Movement.

The Earth-in-Wood that is the Dragon always makes for change. Master Zhongxian Wu suggest we ”purify and change old patterns” while “an unwavering attitude will help us accomplish tasks (now) even if we bump into some tough situations.” It’s moving-on time.

Change, as the man said, is the only constant. But sometimes it can feel overdue. Not possible of course but sometimes we know that that job, that mission, that relationship is over but it limps on. Now may be the time to act. If a change is gonna come, April is the likely time. This as Master Wu implies, may take courage. An Earth Dragon may make it easier – the Earth is always restless – or more difficult because it’s big and solid. The harder they come…. 

The Dragon in the Dragon Month.

Dragons (1964, 1976, 1988, 2000) suffer the so-called self clash; they are not reckoned to play nice among themselves. In fact the Dragon is often said to be the most powerful of the Chinese Zodiac but this power is accompanied by fragile ego. Dragon times like the Dragons themselves are demanding and magical. April is the time of transformation; Spring becomes Summer, Wood becomes Fire, views opened by the fallen leaves close up again; everything changes.. It’s in the air. Not just for Dragons.

So give everyone but especially Dragons, extra space now. In the words of Keane, everyone is changing and neither you nor they know what fresh shape they might be taking up. That last bit isn’t from Keane. 

Dragon Month Animal by Animal.

The Dragon:

Takes the Snake on as apprentice.

Tolerates the competitive Horse.

Sidesteps the Sheep who keeps out of his way too,

Conspires with the Monkey although he knows better.

Joins the Rooster but is likely to get bent out of shape.

Makes peace with the Dog from his current position of strength.

Admires the Pig from a respectful distance.

Is directed by the Rat.

Bamboozles the Ox.

Remains wary of the Tiger.

Allows the Rabbit to draw on his resources.

The Dragon Pillars. How Dragon are you?

Birth in the Dragon hour (7-9am): children inherit opportunity & add drive.

Birth in the Dragon month (April*): unemployable.

Birth on the Dragon day: secretly magical but prone to mood swings.

Birth in the Dragon year: light on the face of it, dark within except when it’s the other way round.

* Caution, the Chinese month generally starts and finishes a few days after ours.

Where to do what, when and why.

This month’s lo shu is the 6, to do with winning and losing. This is the month of finicky detail.  We can approach it two basic ways: respecting authority or flouting it. Either’s likely to lead to change.

This month: activate or be in the East of whatever space you find yourself. This month it holds the 4 of discovery and all year the 2 of obstacles while its native star is the 3 of moving on. Putting all that together, if you’re brave and hungry for change, hang out East.

Forthcoming Events: 

Feng Shui Course 2014:

If you want to learn more about Feng Shui or want to hone your current skills, Richard’s next Feng Shui Course starts on the weekend of 13th & 14th September 2014 & there are three further weekends in October, November & December. There is still an Early, Early Bird Discount available but not for much longer. For further information, go to Richard’s website or email becciimperialfengshui@gmail.com Also, if you live outside of the UK & want to study with Richard he runs Skype courses concurrently with the UK ones. Do email for more details.

Astrological Lodge of London:

Richard has been invited back to talk Chinese Astrology (Ba Zi) at the Astrological Lodge of London on the 7th July 2014 if you would like to hear him talk in person. More details closer to the time.

Richard Ashworth©, in the month of the Earth Dragon, March 2014.

www.imperialfengshui.info

Fire Rabbit month, Wood Horse year

March 5, 2014

Bunny Hop.

Fire Rabbit month, Wood Horse year.

March 6th 00:09am.

  

Big Light, Big Heat.

The placid yin Wood of the Rabbit can be an anti-climax after the drama of the Tiger that opens the year. It’s a bit like the time after a tropical dawn. The Sun rises almost instantaneously, a flag hoist aloft, everything is suddenly light. Then it just stays light while we wake and wash and dress and prepare ourselves for the day. Not so exciting. Every single cranny bathes in the light as it spreads but there is little sign of the raw violence of the Tiger. On the other hand, soen, the Wind the embodiment of yin Wood, is all these delicate qualities and as the Book of Changes has it, ultimately adamant. Don’t underestimate the Rabbit. He may be modest but he has influence.

As for the Fire of this Rabbit; traditionally the red Rabbit was a manifestation of a just ruler.

So extravagant metaphor to one side, what does all this mean for those of us living through this year of illumination?

Here are some answers: the Year is ruled by Fire and this Rabbit especially is fuel to the Fire. Whether the focus of the year proves in retrospect to be Russian expansion, LGBT rights, peaking markets, climate change or something else again, it comes gently into light now. Come June the issues will be clear and the process well under way but now they’re subtle. The same kind of thing is true of our own lives. It’s a time to pay close attention.

The Rabbit in the Rabbit Month.

The Rabbit (1963, 1975, 1987, 1999) enjoys the company of other Rabbits. So the Rabbit is generally comfortable during its own month. Comfort however, may not be the most creative experience. The Rabbit is the networker of the Chinese Zodiac; it likes to know exactly where it stands with everyone else. But the safety of familiarity may take up time that might be spent pushing for new frontiers. Better? Worse? Who knows what these words mean?

Tiger Month Animal by Animal.

The Rabbit:

Poses no threat to the Tiger.

Colludes with the Sheep in avoiding risk.

Gives the Pig backbone,

Fires up the Dog.

Resists the Rooster, who may need to develop respect.

Can fleece the Dragon – if the Dragon allows it.

Fuels the Horse but may never receive appropriate credit.

Is often wary of the Rat, who can just be too much.

Puzzles some Monkeys, who expect to do all the puzzling themselves.

Appears (but generally is not) fair game to the Snake.

Draws upon the Oxheightened awareness.

The Rabbit Pillars. How Rabbit are you?

Birth in the Rabbit hour (5-7am): home-loving children, goals whose common feature is security.

Birth in the Rabbit month (March*): working from a place like home.

Birth on the Rabbit day: safety first.

Birth in the Rabbit year: passive, stable, home-loving, friends in high places.

* Caution, the Chinese month generally starts and finishes a few days after ours.

Where to do what, when and why.

This month’s lo shu is the 7, to do with interruption. It’s a month when many events can most usefully be seen as interludes in bigger ones: the Winter Olympics with its political side-shows is the first part of the Olympics proper; the Olympics themselves, an aspect of the ongoing chest beating of nations. If we get it right, this is the month of the timely intervention. If not we may appear unable to mind our own business or worse (and less truthfully) think that’s true of everybody else.

Hint: anything that appears to apply to everyone else is likely to have its source closer to home.

On the 17th: aim to be in the North East of whatever space you are in. Additionally (or instead) make the North East as noisy and bright as you can all day. This rouses assistance and supports good reputation.

Forthcoming Events:

Richards next Feng Shui course, The Wind that Stops at the Water, starts on the weekend of 13/14th September 2014. More details here.

Early Bird Discounts now available!

Richard Ashworth©, early in the month of the Fire Rabbit, March 2014.

www.imperialfengshui.info

Big Fire, Big Ice: Big Water.

February 10, 2014

Tiger, Tiger.

Fire Tiger month, Wood Horse year.

February 5th 06:21am.

Big Fire, Big Ice: Big Water.

The Tiger opens the year with a burst of Fire. To some extent this is always true because the Tiger is part Fire. In some years this blast of spontaneity, of visibility, of passion is more marked than in others. This year it is quite extreme. Heres my take on the year btw.

Here is film of Richard talking prophetically about flood meadows, exterior feng shui, real wind and especially real water. Bear in mind this was before the recent ‘biblical’ floods. Who knows? There might be something in this stuff.

The Tiger in the Tiger Month.

The Tiger itself is generally confident, neither flattered nor challenged by a Tiger month. Such confidence is not always justified. They might like to know that the fresh power Tigers may be feeling now is likely to last the whole of the Horse year and may or may not be 100% valid. Tread carefully. The Book of Changes (Hexagram Ten Lu, Treading) says: “…one’s purpose will be achieved if one behaves with decorum.”

Tiger Month Animal by Animal.

The Tiger:

Demands expression of the Rabbit.

Supports the Horse even in ill-conceived endeavours.

Directs the Dog.

Instructs the Monkey, sometimes with surmountable barriers.

Assists the Pig, one-to-one.

Frustrates the over-ambitious Rooster – but satisfies the contained one.

Talks across the Ox but that’s not just the Tiger.

Focuses the Dragon.

Flatters some Snakes, wakes others up.

Draws deeply on the Rats powers of expression.

Backs the Sheeps team.

The Tiger Pillars:

Birth in the Tiger hour (1-3am): implies great vision and children with the same ability.

Birth in the Tiger month (February): work that requires constant vigilance.

Birth on the Tiger day: a tendency to put parenthood ahead of relationship.

Birth in the Tiger year: Vision, patience, clear memory especially of favours and slights. Ambitious, can appear aggressive.

Where to do what, when and why.

This month’s lo shu is the 8, to do with rapid positive achievement. This ambitious objective is probably best supported by locating yourself or facing West which is likely to work better for West than East Group but it all evens out. If this is Greek to you (or even Chinese) you’re hardly alone. You can take it on trust or study enough to question it  or of course anything in between.

Forthcoming Events: Click below

Feng Shui Course 2014: Early Bird Offers now available

Big Fire, Big Ice; Big Water: Richard talking in October 2013 about real wind, real water 

Richard Ashworth©, early in the month of the Fire Tiger, Oct 2014.

www.imperialfengshui.info

2014: The Year of the Horse in the Clouds.

January 31, 2014

“When you can tell Fire from Water, you are a Master.”

Grand Master Chan Kun Wah.

Merry Christmas Li Ka Shing.

For more than a thousand years, the town of Godalming, deep in the Surrey woods, has been saved from flood by its Lammas Land. Although it is at the base of the Wey valley, the town generally stays dry however much rain falls. From April to August, this meadow is pasture and it pretty much becomes a lake between November and March.

ImageIt’s been that way since the time of King Alfred. That’s around twelve hundred years. Sometimes on summer afternoons we leave the office, take our meal-deal from Boots down to a park bench and watch the cattle and horses fattening up on the rich grass between the Town Bridge and the Titanic Memorial. Don’t tell me I don’t have a life.

This is feng shui in action; the balance between Heaven, Earth and Human needs, what in Chinese is called tian-ti-ren, the Earth, the Wood and the Water in mutual dependence. Because the land is grazed, saplings never become bushes nor do bushes become trees. The meadow serves as a drain that keeps the buildings dry.

This year for the first time in my lifetime however, some houses were evacuated as the water rose. Half-a-dozen threatened homes is not Bangla Desh or even Tewksbury (which became a mini-Venice with buildings growing out of the flood and roads turning to water courses) but it’s a bench mark. Nor is it the Somerset levels which you’ll know maybe from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon are the lowlands surrounding Glastonbury. They used to be lake throughout the wet season. And are again this year. Something is happening.

We used to know about this stuff. Godalming’s parish church was built on higher ground around the year 811. No building of any age sits as low in the valley as the Lammas Lands. The homes in danger were not ancient but none had been vulnerable before.*

What’s this got to do with the fiery Year of the Wood Horse? Here’s one thing: a respectable method of assessing the coming year is to look at the last one that had the same pillar, the last Wood Horse. That was 1954 which set new records for flooding and coastal erosion. If you seek confirmation that this is sound methodology, 1954 also featured shenanigans in Korea as well as East-West arm-wrestling over nuclear proliferation.

Here’s another thing: when Great Heat encounters Great Cold, Great Water follows. When icebergs and glaciers melt in the heat, sea-level rises. In some ways this year of Fire promises to be a year of Water. Already there’s too much. This year that fact may become impossible to ignore. I surely hope so.

One person who has clearly been able to ignore it is the above Hong Kong mogul who now owns the local utilities. Due to the extraordinary weather, Godalming became a black spot on the National Grid over Christmas. In our house the power was cut four times. Here in the affluent South East of England – spit and you hit a banker – we’re extraordinarily fortunate. Our privileged lives are rarely interrupted by the elements. For the time being it’s the rest of the world I worry about.

It’s pretty easy to peel sprouts in shadow, and in the half-light we got to talk to each other and play board games. In the brief intervals of power supply, my daughters Jess and Hen cooked and then we overate at our leisure. Outside the winds keened and blew the garden chairs around while rain poured and poured and poured. More fell more rapidly than I can remember, sometimes sounding like power drills, sometimes like small animals rushing around on the roof.

Water will not be resisted. It cannot be compressed. This Water is coming from somewhere and it has to go somewhere. We have forgotten how to respect the Water and we have forgotten its power. My suspicion is that 1200 years of flood prevention is about to fail and power cuts will be among the least of our worries. Merry Christmas, Mr Li.

* perhaps read George Monbiot’s Guardian article on this.

The Horse’s Mouth.

“Mouth open, story jump out.” Guyanese proverb.

By the most popular calculation, February 4th 2014 opens the Year of the Wood Horse, known as the Horse in the Clouds. This suggests an image of charging into the air with vision impaired; full steam ahead with the windscreen fogged up. So a year of spontaneity and reaction rather than strategy. Horses can sometimes talk before (and often instead of) thinking. So this Horse Year may be a year of revelation when the deceitful are wrong-footed.

Image

Horses are said to be spontaneous, passionate and outgoing. These qualities can be expected both of people born in Horse years and of the Horse year itself. One theme of the Snake year of 2013 was deception; what you saw was not what you got. In contrast the Horse can be expected to shed light. Whether the issues are global surveillance, the Lockerbie bombing, drones over Pakistan, climate change or show biz scandals, the outcome may be illumination rather than whitewash. The enquiry into the cover-up-of-the-enquiry-into-the-cover-up-of-the-enquiry into the Hillsborough tragedy may name names. Similarly, where so far only one banker has been jailed for treating the interests of client and public as subsidiary to his own, 2014 promises to reveal this as the standard procedure it may be. And it may be that the impending ecological catastrophe is finally addressed.

We are currently walking over an ecological precipice wearing headphones and Google glasses. What happens to the Earth happens on some level to each of us individually. To the extent that I am disheartened, so is the world. It may take a shock to wake us up. The Fire of the Horse year may hold that shock. The Horse is the animal of the blurted-out truth. It just can’t help itself.

Hors d’oeuvres.

Also the Horse is competitive; it likes to dance on tables. And on the average table there’s only room for one dancer. For this and other reasons it is said to suffer the so-called self clash. This means Horses don’t play nicely together.

So even relatively contained Horses like David Cameron and Lloyd Blankfein (CEO of Goldman Sachs) may find their authority challenged before year’s end. Cameron however need not beware Sheep like Ed Balls or Nick Clegg, both of whom whatever they present, are meek team players. Angela Merkel of course is another Horse and several Masters have seen her recent accident as evidence of the self-clash in action. Also evidence that dancing on tables is safer than skiing.

Horse Trading.

Markets tend to sink in Water-heavy years (like pretty much all of those since 2007) and pick up with Fire. Fire returned in 2013 and peaks with the Horse. Some see this process as literally manic-depressive. Sunshine brings optimism and bull markets, rain the reverse. This enthusiasm may peak like the power of the Sun at mid-summer. Many recommend being out of markets by July. At the extreme of Fire is burn-out but if markets are the measure, this is a boom year.

The price of commodities however continues to be distorted by market manipulation. Such deceit is a Snake type phenomenon. Expect the Horse to bring into light abuses in coffee and cocoa markets and latterly metals. Technically this is to do with a Rooster-Horse clash. Rooster is yin Metal, glamour, the superficial; the Horse represents the light of noon. So expect revelations between June and September. Precisely how that will play out is hard to assess but if you thought bankers only distorted stock and money markets, you don’t know the half of it. And whether that’s good or bad news is simply a question of view point.

Horse Box.

Another method of prognosis consists of assessing the lo shu  or so-called magic square of the year. I won’t digress into why, but take it from me that this year’s key number is 4 which represents academe, discovery, invention and sex scandals. It’s also the number of the eldest daughter. Take these implications together with the nature of the Horse and you have an interesting soup. A year to practise discretion. And forgiveness.

I don’t speculate about celebrities any more because it so easily encourages mean-spiritedness and the press does that so expertly already. However….the Rabbit’s resources are fully drawn upon this year, so Fire Rabbit Andy Murray might just win that second title. It won’t be straightforward though. And English football is always flattered by the Horse, as it was in 2002 and doubly in 1966. Remember that? So we can anticipate a respectable World Cup performance.

The lo shu:

                                                                                                  2014:

S

3      8      1

2      4      6

7      9      5

Squire Horse.

Because of the 4 lo shu it’s likely to be a year of career progress for women. Men are typically suspicious of the woman in power because they expect female bosses to be like male bosses, only in skirts. We expect fruitless cleverness and no-winner competition because business seems always to have been like that. Actually there’s another way. Empowerment could replace rivalry for instance. This is a yin (that is female) quality.

Even now, although they account for fewer than 5% of CEO’s of FTSE 500 companies, women hold the reins both of the European Central Bank  and the IMF and now with the appointment of Fire Dog Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve Bank. Ms Yellen looks like a very different kind of banker but as you’ll read in my Animal Fortunes the Dog has a job holding onto money this year. Low interest rates are past their sell-by date (although no one has told Wood Snake Mark Carney) but they won’t be coming down significantly any time soon. Nonetheless in a Wood Snake/Fire Dog conflict, don’t put money on the Snake.

Other rising women include Gloria da Piero MP who is a year or so short of prominence. This is a year of learning and of building support for Pigs like her. Wood Horse Angela Merkel’s career is a little further down the road but some sort of challenge looks likely whether within or without Germany.

And finally the London Stock Exchange now boasts two female directors. That’s serious progress. A trend going back several thousand years is changing along with the climate. As the regularity of the cycle of days and seasons became clear, a woman who could feel when an eclipse was coming became less valuable than a man who could calculate and record the next thousand. It’s this type of control that has taken us to the precipice.

Number Five is alive.

The number to watch out for in the Lo shu is always the tricky 5. In 2014 this star falls in the North West, the place of authority. It landed in the centre last year, so many masters predicted upset in “central” places like the Central African Republic and capital cities generally. Riots in Istanbul and Rio among many others, may have proved them right. This year it’s authority that’s at risk. This is a year in which tradition is seriously questioned. If we look at what’s North West of the UK and North West of land masses in general, civil disobedience in North America and South Western Europe look on the cards. Also the Arabian Gulf. And let’s not neglect the North West of the US where a legion of multinationals such as Irish-registered tax dodger Apple and the not-for-profit Starbucks operation make their homes.

Bull in a China shop; a note about the Ox.

The Ox has a distinctive pattern of demanding power and not knowing how to use that power, when to let go of it or when it is starting to fail. Margaret Thatcher and Napoleon come to mind. And Metal Ox Barack Obama. In the Rat year of 2008, Obama could do no wrong. By 2010 he couldn’t get the simplest legislation through congress. This year the Ox is especially favoured by a shower of auxiliary stars. But only this year. If Obama is to leave any sort of legacy, now is the time. This applies to all Oxen. Carpe diem doesn’t mean fish of the day.

Four Horses.

Another traditional method of forecasting is to examine the Hexagrams of the Book of Changes indicated by the year. There are traditionally four. And by my (not 100% orthodox) reckoning this year’s are: Hexagram Numbers 1, 2, 45 and 36. These are Father (ie authority) Mother (the Receptive), Gathering and Brightness Obscured.   

Image1  Father  2 Mother   45 Gathering   36 Brightness Obscured

Each covers a quarter of the year. The way I read it, the year opens with strong leadership, followed by co-operation but in many spheres appears to stall in the 3rd quarter taking us into September. Gathering suggests many possibilities late in the year of which extraordinary convocations are one. Contracts will need renegotiating and predictions adjusted. This may concern Water supply and take place in the Arabian peninsula.

Gathering may well mean literal flooding too although no Chinese authority sees anything other than great heat before the end of er…..Great Heat (chu shu, the 2nd fortnight in August.) The extreme South where the Horse sits, may be hottest. Australia and Brazil and Northern Africa may illustrate the drying power of the year Horse in the South. And unless we wake up, this is only the beginning.

As I said, We are currently walking over an ecological precipice wearing headphones and Google glasses. How to wake up? During 2014 I studied with Andrew Harvey whom I have known since I was a small boy. His idea of Spiritual Activism starts with awareness of a world in which corporate greed, mass hunger and ecological apathy can not coexist. Having attended the various climate change summits, he observed that the powers-that-be are used to overpowering both activists and idealists, the one group susceptible to rough policing and the other ineffectual. Chant “Om” and hug trees with our blessing; it makes no difference anyway. The image of the year for me remains Green Euro MP Caroline Lucas reaching hopelessly for her son’s hand as he is wrenched away by police at the Balcombe fracking protest. Given this failure to change things we simply have to withdraw from blame and take responsibility. Most of the eco-destruction has taken place in my lifetime and the tipping point during the lives of my children – 2006 when oil production peaked. We did this.So if the flood defences of comfortable, affluent Surrey are tested, what about the Netherlands, the Maldives, Bangla Desh? Call me bonkers but I am used to buildings talking to me. Following Andrew’s procedures sometimes I hear the whole planet. And it’s depending on me. That’s you. There is no “we”. Only “I” and “all”.

This may be the last time

So now you know: Wood Horses occur every 60 years. So 1954 and before that 1894, foreshadow 2014. In 1894 interestingly the Harmsworth family which owns the Mail, bought their first newspaper and the city of Shanghai was substantially damaged by fire. It was also the year China and America signed a treaty limiting the numbers of foreign labourers. Notice the echoes.

The year that I see most clearly echoed in 2014 however is 1714. That year saw the accession of the Hanoverian George I – effectively withdrawing independence from Scotland forever. In the following year was the first of the great Highland Uprisings, the violent reaction of the Scots to the end of the Stuart dynasty. The hexagram Gathering may be precisely about this.

So what? We may well yet see a “yes” vote in the Scottish Referendum is what.

A little earlier in 1711, the South Sea Trading Company was incorporated, a further echo from the 18th century. Many believe the junk bonds now pinning interest rates to the floor after bankrolling two generations of investment bankers, were invented by Drexel Burnham in the 1970’s. Not so. It was the creation of the South Sea Company who spent the first decade of the 18th century, buying up the National Debt and selling it back to rich punters. Who could resist? It was guaranteed by government. It couldn’t fail. But it did. In 1720. The corresponding year is 2020. It’s gonna blow.

Richard Ashworth © 2014. Image

www.imperialfengshui.info