Posts Tagged ‘Richard Ashworth’

Richard Ashworth’s Diary from the Hebrides: Refugee

March 16, 2018


“The least we can do is wave to each other”. Peter Hammill.

Right now I’m hiding on the Isle of Arran for a few weeks to write and research. As I look across the roofs through my cottage window, I’m listening to Karla Bonoff’s plaintive version of “The Water is Wide”, a traditional Scottish tune dating from at least the 18th century. It’s not really about Water by the way.

On my morning walk I pass what appears to be The Sporran Arts Club. I blink, no it’s the Arran Sports Club. It’s February, neither as quiet or as cold as I expected but quite sleepy nonetheless. An LED sign in a coffee shop window blinks “Closed” welcomingly. The spring sunlight plays across the bay; dappled stripes are divided by lighter channels. Snow-capped across the water stands Goat Fell (elevation 974m) high over the protective arm of the sound; in the lee, Brodick Castle ancient seat of the Hamilton family, stands out from the pines in its Victorian splendour. Uncrenellated red brick is not really my idea of a castle and feng shui bore that I am, I note that the conifers in front have grown so tall as to block the space directly in front. Such an open space (known as ming tang) represents the future, here an impeded one.

Flat-topped goy moon hills embrace the sea. The Chinese words translate as something like “open gate”. These are welcoming slopes. The land meets the Water too gradually for a natural harbour but it makes for a sheltered beach. Such feng shui implies openness and comfort rather than power or wealth. Hong Kong it isn’t but it is a place where people belong.

Feng shui is sometimes defined as “doing the right thing at the right time in the right place.” Which will do. I have a brief to research for a client and I have a book to write. The research is into timing. Since our understanding of time is principally derived from the Sun’s apparent journey across the sky and that journey always starts East and concludes West, time and place like the Arran sea and the sky, fold into one. I am in the extreme North West of Britain which right now is a powerful place to be. This is early in Spring, the season of Wood. And one expression of Wood is the written word.

The proposed book is a follow-up to my “Feng Shui Diaries” which despite modest sales appears to have changed lives from Russia to Vancouver by way of Bermuda, Poland, Spain, Kuala Lumpur and other exotic points too numerous to list. I stopped writing the regular diary entries that make that book up for several reasons: one was that miracles don’t happen every fortnight. Another was that I feared twisting the truth to make a better story. Reading it back now as the cold weather sets in around my cottage here, I am happy I never did that. The third reason was that so many people don’t want to be written about. This includes the famous and – wait for it – those who sought me out over thousands of miles because of that book. Go figure.

Someone once said that they didn’t know the secret of success was but they were pretty sure it wasn’t achieved by pleasing everybody. The Feng Shui Diaries has some good jokes in it and it’s mostly stories of course but some found it too technical and some not technical enough. I notice that its author was a simpler, gentler person than the one writing this.

The bulk of Brodick Castle dates from 1844. Fifteen years before that, a ship load of crofters set sail for a new life in Canada. They had little choice; the Duke of Hamilton had taken their homes. Brodick Heritage Museum dismisses such “clearances” as something like necessary modernisation. They’re currently embroiled in an argument with local historians who see it a bit differently. My son Jaime who is a proper professional historian tells me history is always about the present day. The only constant is change and yet nothing changes.

To everything there is a season. The task my client has set me is identifying her perfect moment for certain types of action. To do that I have to delve into real time; that is not time as dictated by clocks and calendars. It’s time as marked by the Sun, the Moon and nature itself. We all recognise it, I think. Before we’re fully awake and reach for ipad, phone or laptop, we are all able to tune into what season it is, what day of the week and what time. We are not distinct from nature but part of it. This morning I woke at 5:30; I knew by the light that it was Spring and barely dawn. It was cold but not the ambient cold of Winter, dark but not night. And there’s more.

Up to a point I can do this detective work with ba zi (or Four Pillars, sometimes misleadingly referred to as the Chinese Horoscope). Ba zi which is probably what I’m best known for, is drawn from the Gan Zhicycle of 60 Animals which is not subject to the phases of either Sun or Moon. But what I plan to do is work with a more demanding method of divination called Qi Men Dun Jia. Qi Men is relatively simple to calculate (though the Masters whose material I have studied disagree over how) but lengthy. It starts with ba zi and then factors in Sun, Moon and much more. Because calculation is lengthy there are Qi Men apps for phone and tablet. I don’t use these for ba zi and I’m not about to for Qi Men. To do that is to completely miss the point.

At the weekend I trek to Lamlash, some four miles away cross-country. The initial climb simply follows Strathwhillan Burn. When the burn peters out at the summit, another replaces it following the downward slope. Mountain follows Water, Water follows Mountain and Mountain follows Water.

It’s cold but the sun is shining. I notice where moss has run rampant in shadow and where stretches of trees are starkly brown against the green of their neighbours and I climb to a plateau by the main road from where as I marvel at the view, I call my son Alex at work. It’s Sunday but he’s an industrious man. It’s the first time in a while we’ve both had time to catch up. I thank the pace of the island for this opportunity.

It was an anomaly in Scottish property law that allowed the  laird to turf out tenants whose families had been in Brodick or Lamlash or Whiting for centuries. As I walk I’m thinking of those families huddled together against the Atlantic gale, knowing they had several weeks to brave followed by a future that was at best uncertain in a land where they owned nothing. That much is history but it’s the image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015 that keeps superimposing itself. A refugee is a refugee is a refugee. I don’t know how many of the crofters made it but I do know that little Alan’s parents were also heading for Canada where they had family.

The last few hundred yards of the walk into Lamlash are across the camber of the slope and parallel with the main road, so I cross several burns running right to left under the road. Now there are houses either side and I am relieved to find a bus stop. The time table tells me there’s a bus back to Brodick in four hours’ time. There are actually five buses running today, Sunday. I’m impressed; that’s five more than in rural Surrey. Transport – don’t start me talking; privatisation plus monopoly equals chaos. All part I guess, of the periodic “need for reform” as the museum put it.

There’s an extraordinary view across Lamlash Bay to Holy Isle. Like other such isles around the Northern coasts of Britain, the island is named for the monks and kings who settled there down the ages. St Columba himself was based on Iona just a few miles North and it’s likely he sent a cell of monks here possibly including his most famous successor St Aidan.

I sit on a bench a while taking in the view. Then I investigate ferries across to the island.

“Not before Easter,” says the boat man dourly.

Then I stop for a pot of tea and I buy some local marmalade. As I walk back towards the bus stop, my attention is drawn to a monument to the displaced crofters by the side of the road. Funded from Canada it lists many of the individual economic migrants by name. Most ended up in Quebec, many gravitated to Nova Scotia where some erected crofts which wouldn’t look out of place right here.

The bus is on time and the return journey takes about quarter of an hour. The map made Lamlash look so distant and walking is such an on-the-ground experience. My ipad tells me the rest of the country is snow bound but none has fallen here. It’s cold and windy now so I stop at the Douglas in Brodick for a further cup of tea.

3 million Scots emigrated following the clearances. These were rural people used to rising with the Sun and resting when it set. They did what work they had to, then rested, danced, constructed and repaired things, cared for their children and wrote and sang songs like “The Water is Wide.” It wasn’t perfect of course; they lacked penicillin, flush toilets and tv remotes but they worked as they had to and prior to lightbulbs and central heating, lived pretty much in tune with nature.

Unlike Alan Kurdi, many of these economic migrants didn’t of course venture far from home. Many ended up in the satanic mills of Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham and even distant London. And there they became part of a system that paid them just enough to keep returning at 7am each morning.

Looking out over the goy moon hills from the Douglas, I remember that it was Cecil Sharp, famous for his far and wide search for folk song who tidied up the lyrics to the “Water is Wide.” He concluded that there was no such thing as a London folk song.
Richard Ashworth © 2018

For more information on Richard’s courses and services, please email or visit his website.

Richard Ashworth©

Wood Rabbit Bulletin: What to put Where and When this Month

March 5, 2018

Another Monthly Bulletin in our new format; it tells you briefly how the month may turn out for you as well as where to concentrate for best outcomes. And this time, a little more about the nature of the month. There’s no actual Feng Shui Diary here. Which as it is not so time-sensitive, will be with you later in the month. Watch this space.
Meanwhile you can top up daily on Twitter (@FengShuiDiaries), LinkedIn and FaceBook. Best to like my page rather than be my friend if you’d prefer to avoid politics, rants, cute micropigs and photos of my grandchildren.
Summary: a month when the way power is handled has profound repercussions.
Info, diary, assistance:

Budding: the Month of the Wood Rabbit 2018.
Bulletin for March 2018
(23:25 5th March to 04:20 5th April 2018 inclusive)

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

Animal by Animal
During this Wood Rabbit Month,
The Rat may feel unrecognised,
The slower Ox may be over-ambitious,
The Tiger awaits developments,
The Rabbit travels hopefully far and wide,
The Dragon checks their change,
The smart Snake does not over-exert herself,
The Horse is surprised by the attention,
The Sheep participates,
The Monkey recovers,
The Rooster is opposed,
The Dog chases more than his tail,
The Pig can be rasher than usual.

Remember: Each Pillar of your ba zi representsRichard Ashworth is among the most respected Western Feng Shui Masters. He has worked from the Lebanon to Bermuda, in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and with stars such as Kelly Hoppen and Gillian Anderson. Unusually for a Western Master, he has addressed the Grand Masters at the International Feng Shui Conference in Singapore. His day job remains “walking round people’s spaces being enigmatic”.
We send out to Retainer Clients a (much) more comprehensive monthly bulletin covering in detail, the right places to be (and when) as well as helpful days Animal by Animal and much more from the Chinese calendar. It is available by subscription.
Subscriptions (and further info):
Richard Ashworth© an aspect of your life:

Year Animal: physicality, forebears, heritage, the obvious and immediate;
Month Animal: the work environment, education, peers, siblings, exes;
Day Animal: you and your beloved;
Hour Animal: your most intimate thoughts, children, dreams, the future.

A 4 month is all about curiosity, invention and the yin.
A Rabbit month sees shoots become buds.
Most helpful location: South (for East Group kuas 1 3 4 9)
South West (West Group 2 6 7 8).
Favoured Animals: Pig, Rabbit, Sheep, Dog.
Especially challenged one way or another: Rooster, Dragon, Ox, Snake.
The Hexagram (above): Da Zhuang Great Power; Thunder over Heaven.

Animal Fortunes for the Wood Rabbit Month March 2018
In so many cultures the Rabbit represents the re-emergence of life: buds becoming shoots, lambs in the field and the beginnings of leaves on the tree. The corresponding Hexagram from the Yi Jing or Book of Changes however is Da Zhuang, Thunder over Heaven, that is to say the Eldest Son taking precedence over the Father; meaning Great Power and the wielding thereof. This may seem a little previous so early in the year but traditionally Da Zhuang is taken as a cautionary sign; life is returning but don’t overplay your hand.
Da Zhuang is what is called a “Tidal” Hexagram. There are as you may have noticed twelve, one per month. You may even have observed that as Winter gives way to Summer, the yang (that is unbroken) lines creep up the image. The qi is growing and gaining strength as it journeys from mid-winter to mid-summer.
The Book of Changes suggest that destiny emerges from character. Luck is a function of who we are. Chinese culture interestingly is very reluctant to reward anything but hard graft. What we can do however is seize the time.
Richard Ashworth ©2018.
Where to be in March.
Summary: the place where things are happening now.
South, Bright Future: Year Star: 4 Month Star: 8
Full of creative, manifesting energy, an 8 in the South attracts desirable attention especially for the inventive and ambitious woman. South is still best for kuas 1 and 9, as well as Dog, Tiger and Sheep. Much the same applies to a South-facing house btw. Be here, face this way, enter the house by this door.
Enhancement: Bright light; a Water fountain may help – just for now.Anchor

Where not to be in March.
Summary: morbid.
North, Distant Future: Year Star 5 san sha wu huang Month Star: 9
The tricky 5 is here all year. Nasty; get used to it. A 9 which otherwise might be helpful, just magnifies the effect. The best you can say is that there are no secrets here right now but there may be all sorts of inflammation.  Don’t work, here, sleep here or linger. Avoid North even as an orientation. West Group kuas 2 6 7 8, Horse and Sheep are the most vulnerable as the san sha or “Three Evils” settles in for the year.
Solution: t’ang lung or Metal stuff, 6-Pipe Metal Windchime, Red 6, wu lou – take your pick. Best to stay clear though.

Take a look at your Aniimal Fortune for 2018, the Year of the Earth Dog

And here’s the (Western Astrological) take of the very perceptive Lorna Bevan:5D Astrology Report March 2018 New Creations from Old Modalities
Richard Ashworth is among the most respected Western Feng Shui Masters. He has worked from the Lebanon to Bermuda, in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and with stars such as Kelly Hoppen and Gillian Anderson. Unusually for a Western Master, he has addressed the Grand Masters at the International Feng Shui Conference in Singapore. His day job remains “walking round people’s spaces being enigmatic”.
We send out to Retainer Clients a (much) more comprehensive monthly bulletin covering in detail, the right places to be (and when) as well as helpful days Animal by Animal and much more from the Chinese calendar. It is available by subscription.
Subscriptions (and further info):
Richard Ashworth©

The Pig in the Year of the Earth Dog 2018

February 24, 2018

Pig 2018

Who is a Pig?
Years:  1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007.
Month*:  November
Hour: 09:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Day: ask us
* Caution: the start of the Chinese month can be as early as the 4th & as late as the 9th, depending on the year. I can let you know this too.
What is a Pig?
The weakness and the strength of the yin water Pig is to think they know what is good for them. Generally they do, and the maddening thing is that they are actually right often enough to make advice close to impossible. By extension this means you may believe you know what is right for everybody else.
Versatile and wilful, gifted at whatever they do, the Pig is the sign of the inventor. Edison was a Pig, as is Hillary Clinton and Wikileaker Julian Assange. Perfectly-balanced Pigs can literally do almost anything but they don’t always handle the truth well. They don’t much like reflective advice from others and they often hate not to know for sure. Remember Fire Pig Elton John in “Tantrums and Tiaras”?
But vagueness is also uncomfortable for the Pig: Edison was of course an obsessive patenter, Hillary determined to get Wall Street onside in the teeth of her liberal credentials and Assange, confident that he knows better than anyone else what the world needs to know. This does not make any of them mistaken but the truth can be a moveable feast.
The Pig is communicative because it is a water sign. A balanced Pig (perhaps March birth around mid-afternoon) is a great audience and typically gets the listening/talking ratio just right. An unbalanced Pig can shoot off at the mouth and give (or take) away the farm before she knows it. Does any of this sound like – to pluck a name from nowhere – Earth Pig Simon Cowell?
More likely, you are prone to withdrawing into silence. The Pig can sulk but can also withdraw simply out of disinterest and be perfectly cheerful when challenged on the withdrawal. The Pig child needs just the right mixture of carrot and stick. Too much disincentive and he is suppressed or resentful. Too much carrot and he can be smug. The balanced Pig is the most sensitive of the animals; the unbalanced Pig suffers an empathy bypass. As the parent of a Pig, just remember you are instrumental in this process. Your Piglet does not need to become a boor.
The Pig embodies the wood of creativity so they can be as adept with the written as the spoken word as well as the yang earth that makes them able to concentrate deeply. Many Pigs prefer to study in noisy rooms and many are effortless A-students as teachers of third year undergraduates of 2017 may notice. Bear in mind though that there is a near-epidemic of depression and anxiety among millennials and that Water is the associated element. Don’t ever take a Pig’s good cheer for granted.
The Pig does not tend to like the Snake; one way or another they immobilise each other. The Snake’s intimate, the Monkey, can be a source of annoyance also.
The Pig’s most natural team is with the Rabbit and the Sheep. This is a domestic alliance. Together these three naturally make anywhere home. A perfect family might be Pig father, Rabbit mother and Sheep first-born. Once home, the Rabbit entertains while the Sheep ensures compatibility and the Pig does skilfully the tasks that are beyond her partners.
Traditionally the Pig also enjoys the company of the Tiger as Water Pig David Furnish can attest. You might think she’d be more cautious but she knows that the Tiger is uninterested in conquering anyone he considers easy meat. Of course he’s missing something here but the Pig’s fearless approach often disarms the Tiger before he realises.  And by the bye, Pig’s literary ambition may burgeon in a Tiger year and flourish in a Rabbit one.
Although she may herself be more adventurous, the Pig also understands the loyal and consistent Dog. She respects the fact that every home needs its guardian. These two will tend to develop a camaraderie with its own distinctive banter. The Pig respects the Dog’s diligence and the Dog knows the Pig will compensate for his weakness.
The Pig also operates well as factotum for a group consisting of the Snake (whom she can’t otherwise stand for any length of time) the Monkey (see above) and the Tiger. For these she is, interestingly, the peacemaker and setter of standards. Without the Pig this grouping whose common interest is travel and mobility, can’t get off the ground.
One final note: the Pig suffers what is called the self curse. That is to say that she has limited patience with other Pigs. The Chinese character for a house is one Pig under a roof. Just the one.

Richard Ashworth©

The Dog in the Year of the Earth Dog 2018

February 23, 2018

Who is a Dog?

Years:  1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006.
Month*:  October
Hour: 07:00 pm – 09:00 pm
Day: ask us
* Caution: the start of the Chinese month can be as early as the 4th & as late as the 9th, depending on the year. I can let you know this too. 

What is a Dog?

The Dog is yang earth and a byword for good faith and consistency. Terriers and Rotweilers are both fierce and loyal. In mediaeval heraldry and Renaissance painting, the Dog in the form of the greyhound, symbolises constancy.

So a balanced Dog reveres tradition and has a strong family background. If a Dog commits to something they can generally be relied upon to see it to completion. The difference between male and female Dogs can be that the female gets the message quicker. Interesting to note that Kate Middleton and Prince William are twin Water Dogs of 1982; a very solid match because as a yang earth sign, the Dog is pretty immovable, an ideal best friend or protector. These two are, first and foremost, good friends.

Note however that the world’s most prominent Dog right now is Donald Trump. So you’ll have noticed that the thinking of the unbalanced Dog may not always be informed or flexible. But when he gets an idea, he really gets it. His natural grouping is with the hunters, the Horse and Tiger. Apportionment of tasks here is obvious: the Horse provides pace and the Tiger ferocity while the Dog watches the rear. If HR people studied Chinese metaphysics, more workplaces would zing: in business the Horse will tend to be the sales person, the Tiger the closer or credit controller and the Dog the provider of after-sales service or er…HR department. In its negative sense this is Trump the late night revenge Tweeter.

But the typical Dog excels at service because he never gives up. He will return your phone calls and keep that appointment. You’re the friend who sends a card every birthday and the spouse who remembers every anniversary. You care.

The Dog also, perhaps surprisingly, mixes well with the gentle diplomatic Rabbit. The Rabbit schmoozes while the Dog ensures that his colleague’s openness is not abused. The Dog makes a wonderful bodyguard and middle manager. A Dog employer will have achieved that position by sheer hard work and will demand the same from all around.

The Dog doesn’t like the Dragon because he’s such a smarty pants. Also the Dog can feel insecure around success without effort – especially his own. And the Dragon creates with such apparent ease. You’re suspicious of magic. So you’re often not so keen on the mini-Dragon, the Snake either; you’d even resent the Horse (too damn flighty) except that you are scrupulously loyal to your own team.

An unbalanced Dog is a bit of a shop steward. He knows his rights and the way things should be (often that’s the way they always have been btw). An unbalanced Dog (such as one with an October or mid- evening birth) is just too respectful. A smart one learns to ask questions.

The Dog will often have a strong spiritual agenda and if he has a blind spot it may be an inability to understand viewpoints opposed to his own. respect the difference between religion and spirituality or either understand or respect views opposed to his own. Because this means he sticks to his guns, the Dog is suited both to new age therapy and religious persecution. He will not be thrown off by the opinions of others once he has committed to a line of action. In fact the unbalanced Dog can be thick skinned in matters of belief. Some Dogs would be ideally suited to being a Grand Inquisitor. His motto ought to be "Do as you would be done by," The problem can be that he thinks it already is. The stubborn restlessness of the Dog can make you take revenge in advance.

The Dog usually works well with other Dogs and with the Pig, with whom he shares a love of home and team and they are so different they don’t crowd each other. Sometimes the Dog and Pig can be telepathically close; this is because they are adjacent signs in the calendar, linked by the yang earth that is a feature of both. Sometimes this earth is expressed by banter or earthy humour. They can have a lot of fun together while getting the job done.

But the most powerful and most demanding role the Dog can play is in a creative team including the irritating Dragon, the autocratic Ox and the soft Sheep. If the Dog acts as conscience and bookkeeper, the Ox will relax, the Sheep toughen up and the Dragon acknowledge someone else for a change. If you are a Dog recruiting for non-executive directors, take note. What is great about the Dog is that if you find advice that works you will adopt it as if it were religion. Bless.

Richard Ashworth

The Rooster in the Year of the Earth Dog 2018

February 22, 2018

Rooster 2018

Who is a Rooster?

Years:  1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005.
Month*:  September
Hour: 05:00 pm -07:00 pm
Days: ask us
* Caution: the start of the Chinese month can be as early as the 4th & as late as the 9th, depending on the year. I can let you know this too. 

What is a Rooster?

The Rooster is yin metal, the night bird, glamorous with an eye for presentation and detail. She appreciates an argument and likes to win but has little patience for causes that drag on. She will appreciate jewellery, fine art and good living and create wealth easily. Conversely of course, a dangerous Rooster like Qaseem Soleimani (Iranian General i/c of the Iraqi Army – Google him) can reject such distractions in order to serve a cause that has indeed dragged on for decades. This is yin and yang.

The rule this illustrates (by violating it) is that a typical Rooster is suited to work that involves short decisive arguments such as that of an advocate. Her brief passion is the perfect support for a client. She can defend with enormous commitment and then move on to the next one. That commitment is 100% but it is short lived. If she is in a job that involves holding her peace she may fret and become ill.

Osama bin Laden was a typical 1957 fire Rooster: one big splash and he was off. For you, a car must be fast, a partner challenging and life full of twists and turns. The Rooster is likely to be quick witted rather than profound, with a short attention span.

Her allies the Snake and the Ox are sometimes impatient with her because she can digress so widely and so easily but she brings to the metal alliance the pure competitiveness that the Ox might otherwise misuse and the Snake misunderstand. Think Ed Miliband snatching leadership of the opposition from under his brother's nose. The Rooster is pure metal – that is determined to prevail at all costs – Snake and Ox are not. They will not win many cases or many contracts without her and they would do well to pay and respect her appropriately despite the fact that she demands longer holidays and a better remuneration package.  Conversely if she fails to respect a support system that dots i’s and crosses t’s in order to support the intuitive flashes that s/he can exploit but seldom generate, she will not prosper.

Her pitfalls are sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. She likes to party and her personality may be addictive; the Rooster prefers dusk to dawn and also the small hours.

The Rooster enjoys a powerful alliance with the Dragon in which she, uniquely in the average Dragon’s experience, may hold the whip hand. This is not always entirely healthy. She can bend the Dragon out of shape just as the Ox can bend the Rat. This sway must be employed responsibly otherwise both can be damaged. With that proviso this is one of the strongest and longest-lasting alliances in the Chinese zodiac.

Predictably the Rooster is one of the charismatic Flowers of Romance. Success and glamorous partners come easily to her. Often a Rooster can punch above her weight in this regard. Cinderella was a Rooster and so is Yoko Ono. This effortlessness can make for complacency; bitterness is more common among middle-aged Roosters than any other animal. Not the remarkable Ms Ono btw. Roosters are often long-lived also.

With the Monkey she can form a commercial alliance. A business co-run by these two will be irresistibly attractive but may not open on time. It may not close promptly either and may also suffer the cash flow problems that come from poor financial prioritisation. A marriage would risk the same types of problem: great parties, early divorce. The unbalanced Metal creatures – Monkey and Rooster – sometimes know and understand precision but don’t respect it.

The cautious domesticated Rabbit is the nemesis of the Rooster who likes bling while the Rabbit can see no life in a stone. Any such relationship would generally be full of obstruction and passive aggression. The insistent wood of the Tiger is almost as maddening although his fierceness would at least engage the Rooster’s attention. The loyal, consistent Dog risks boring her rigid.

Richard Ashworth

The Monkey in the Year of the Earth Dog 2018

February 21, 2018

Monkey 2018

Who is a Monkey?

Years:  1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004.
Month*:  August
Hour: 03:00 pm – 05:00 pm
Day: ask us
* Caution: the start of the Chinese month can be as early as the 4th & as late as the 9th, depending on the year. I can let you know this too. 

What is a monkey?

The image of the Three Wise Monkeys, See no evil, Hear no evil, and Speak no evil is a mediaeval Japanese summary of the qualities of the unbalanced Monkey. The image is of someone of course who shrinks from involvement. In elemental terms, this is about too much yang Metal. What is meant by yang Metal is precision; in human relations that distils down to is competition. Often the Monkey is so competitive he dare not enter the race. For many Monkeys, a man is an island. He is, like Hugh Grant’s character in About a Boy, “bloody Ibiza”.

As well as competitive, the Monkey is typically charming, loveable, dextrous, logical and quick witted and has a gift for precision. The balanced Monkey uses these qualities constructively and in the service of his fellow man. The unbalanced Monkey (born say, late afternoon in August ) does not clean up behind himself. He is in short a monkey.

The Monkey is often the most acquisitive as well as the gentlest beast but he is above all, competitive. In the extreme this means warfare. In its milder forms it is the ruthless competition that involves the belief that another’s gain is our loss. This is a mistake. It’s what leads to steroid abuse in athletics and ballet dancing in the Premiership penalty box. The metal Monkey may learn this lesson early; it’s what makes him particularly gentle. All Monkeys subscribe to this delusion to a greater or lesser extent. Just as you’d expect, the pitfall of the Monkey is frivolity. If he can’t win he takes the Mickey.

The Monkey’s natural allies are the Rat and the Dragon. This is a pretty heavy-duty grouping, perhaps the most powerful in the Chinese Zodiac. The naturally dominant Rat and the egotistical Dragon are not, as a rule, a bundle of laughs. But they get stuff done; most of the big revolutions of ideas involve this team. The influence of this trio spreads everywhere: Sigmund Freud perhaps the most influential thinker of the 20th Century, Michele Obama for a little while yet, possibly the most influential woman in the world. Dragons. Even Jesus if you take AD32 as his birth year.* And somewhere in there if we delve deeply enough, we find unsung Monkeys and Rats making it happen. The Rat plots, the Monkey gets out there and competes. Probably St Paul, the man who sold Christianity to the world was a Monkey. Someone who is a Monkey for sure is Karen Armstrong author of a History of God and Fields of Blood, founder of the Charter for Compassion and arguably the most important thinker of the 21st Century. This is a Monkey who has learned to speak no evil while seeing much. For her forgiveness is the fundamental value.

The Monkey tends to understand engines; he is the grease Monkey. He also tends to understand maths, science and argument. He is suited very often to a career in engineering or the law, also accountancy. Unbalanced, he neglects all of the above. The Monkey month of August spans Leo and Virgo and to see him as a hybrid of Virgo control and Leo passion is not far from the truth.

When the Tiger and the Snake meet the Monkey, there’s often trouble. The Monkey both co-operates with and fights the Snake. The presence of the Tiger pushes this competition over the edge. Keep them apart.

So the Monkey should mind his p’s and q’s every February, the month of the Tiger and every May, the month of the Snake. So that’s the Monkey: argumentative, practical, mischievous, so competitive he can withdraw altogether. But you knew that already didn’t you?

* That’s up for debate of course but presumably he was a Capricorn anyway.

Richard Ashworth


The Sheep in the Year of the Earth Dog 2018

February 20, 2018

Sheep 2018

Who is a Sheep?

Years:  1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015.
Month*:  July
Hour: 01:00 pm – 03:00 pm
Day: ask us
* Caution: the start of the Chinese month can be as early as the 4th & as late as the 9th, depending on the year. I can let you know this too. 

What is a Sheep?

Idealistic, yin earth, not the top getter-onner, the Sheep has well-meant judgements about everybody which can sometimes keep her stuck in first gear. For the unbalanced Sheep (July birthday and/or mid-afternoon birth) ambition and foolishness are pretty much the same thing. On the other side of the fence the grass is not greener; it’s actually brown on both sides. The balanced Sheep though, as well as being an expert judge of people, knows exactly what matters and is not easily diverted from it. Metal Sheep Rupert Murdoch as an example, may be all sorts of deluded but not in the above regard.

Conversely, the value of caution and conservatism is often clear in Sheep relationships. The most obvious of these is with the extrovert, spontaneous Horse whose sidekick the Sheep often ends up being. With the Sheep beside him, the Horse’s fun may be a little less riotous but he will also stay out of serious trouble. The Horse and Sheep of 1978 and 1979 for instance, are often a tag team who go out drinking and clubbing together. The Sheep may stand back in amazement at the Horse’s daring but she is there both to pick up the pieces and to take advantage when these risks bear fruit. The Horse dances on tables, the Sheep buys the drinks. This of course illustrates a psychological truth about the Sheep: the risk-taking they shy away from is exactly what attracts them most. What often follows also is that a desirable partner, on the rebound from a Horse, finds a steadier proposition in the Sheep.

Anyway, placed as you are between the Horse and the Monkey in the Chinese Zodiac, you understand the tricky Monkey. There is generally a certain mutual wariness but this unorthodox team is capable of magic. Consider btw the eternal rectangle of Monkeys Wendi Deng and Jerry Hall, Horse Mick Jagger and Sheep Rupert Murdoch. Perhaps throw in Horse Cherie and Snake Tony Blair to make it interesting.

The Sheep also affiliates easily with the Pig and the Rabbit. This is a very domestic alliance. The Chinese ideograph for home is a Pig under a roof and the average Rabbit would also happily stay home 24/7 if allowed to. The Rabbit is the diplomat and mixer while the Pig who is inherently versatile, takes up the slack of whatever jobs there are to perform. The Sheep makes things safe. She will have ensured for instance that there are no mutually sworn enemies on the guest list. The typical Sheep is an ideal social secretary as well as a master resolver of conflict. Psycho-therapy is among the appropriate career paths.

The Sheep is passionate, representing the yin or feminine side of sexuality, but whether male or female, he is more seducer than chatter up.

Perhaps most interestingly, the Sheep forms a team with the Dog, the Dragon and the Ox. Individually each of these three is somewhat intimidating to her but when this group gathers, the Sheep’s unique gifts become essential: drawing flexibility from the Dog, humility from the Dragon and cheerful co- operation from the autocratic Ox. Above all she ensures peace among them. Even if all she does is make the coffee, the Sheep is a comforter of the insecure. She understands that most barkers never bite and that aggression is simply inverted fear. When in doubt, join.

Richard Ashworth©

The Snake in the Year of the Earth Dog 2018

February 18, 2018

Snake 2018

Who is a Snake?

Years:  1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001.
Month*:  May
Hour: 09:00 am – 11.00am
Day: ask us
* Caution: the start of the Chinese month can be as early as the 4th & as late as the 9th, depending on the year. I can let you know this too. 

What is a Snake?

The balanced or mature Snake has absolute integrity; this is the goal to strive for.

Snake is yin fire and sits flanked by Horse and the Dragon, possibly the most powerful pair of animals in the Zodiac and certainly among the most difficult stools to fall between. So a typical weakness of the Snake is indecision. Next to that is lack of commitment and finally a propensity for sudden and uncharacteristic dishonesty. The Snake is the prisoner who breaks at the threat of torture; a reasonable decision if you know you’re going to give in anyway. Snakes being of Candle Flame fire, are easily discouraged and sometimes they should be. A Snake may even stick long term with an inappropriate choice so as to put off making any choice at all.

The most powerful Snake in the world right now is probably Xi Jinping, born in Snake in the Grass year 1953 and appointed at a time when the internal tensions in China – between efficiency and self- expression, between industrial wealth and rural poverty and between cohesion and corruption – were quite stark. Repetitive tasks for cheap labour have been travelling East from Europe since the 18 th century. Once the last few hundred million Chinese have been urbanised, there’s nowhere else for manufacture to go because growth can’t go on forever. This is the conundrum that faces Xi. The smartest and bravest Snakes confront it head on, the typical Snake pretends there’s no issue and proceeds to “reform”. Do not deceive yourself that the Chinese authorities are no longer imprisoning the innocent without trial or protecting those of the corrupt who can be discreet. In Tibet some of the actions sanctioned by Xi – torture, dispossession, summary execution – make Assad (1965 Wood Snake) look like Paddington Bear. These are karmically at least, very young Snakes to whom the truth is a flexible tool but this is your shadow figure, your worst, most plausible self, walking.

It can be different. And if it is your dreams come true. The Snake remains the seeker after truth. This can mean that an immature or unbalanced one is a purveyor of untruths. The balanced or mature Snake, as I said, reveres the truth and calls out falsehood. But meanwhile what you see may not be what you get. Taking into account the Umbrella sit-ins in Hong Kong and a push-me- pull-you approach to liberal reforms, you might well say that about Mr Xi. Compare perhaps with triple 1953 Snake (year, month, day) Tony Blair. But also with 1941 Metal Snake Bernie Sanders.

So the choice for the Snake is between opposites: the extroversion of the Horse and the subtlety of the Dragon, instinct and logic, process and end product, long and short term, relationship and freedom, employment or entrepreneurship. In the face of this dilemma, a balanced Snake will often develop sufficient charm to get through without having to make the hard decisions. Typically in a relationship, the Snake of either gender is not the decision maker and the decisions she has not made may include that of being committed to the relationship. The partner of the Snake (best choice probably Ox or Rooster though Monkey lady and Snake man works well) would be well-advised to drag at least this minimum communication from the Snake early on. Interestingly the water Snake of 1953 is one of the best makers and keepers of relationship of all 60 pillars.

One of the advantages of being between the autocratic Dragon and the unruly Horse is that the Snake has her ego in check. Many would consider her wise because what she has to say is well-considered and she never says too much. The Snake can be a brilliant collaborator, especially with the Ox and the Rooster who are in a sense similar to her two neighbours: the Rooster is blatant and the Ox determined while the Snake anchors them to each other. There may be moments of doubt when the Snake’s loyalty wavers. At such times, the Snake asks searching questions which should have been settled long ago and then usually re-commits. The high minded Brutus was probably a Snake. Not Judas though. To know this, grants the Snake both power and integrity. Snakes who know themselves earn undying trust.

The Snake can also work with the Dragon in what is called the House of Magic. Only the Snake can subordinate ego to the extent that the Dragon demands, while also keeping up. One ideal vocation for a Snake is high-level p.a. Usually (and wisely) the Snake opts for the role of No 2 rather than Big Chief.

Being substantially of yin fire, the Snake often has intellectual and visual gifts. She makes a good critic as her judgement is good and she is not out to destroy egos. She will generally have natural and effortless style.

The Snake’s relationship with the Monkey is a love-hate one. Both have hands-on and logical abilityand both attract the occasional tussle but where the Monkey welcomes the opportunity for mischief, the Snake treats dispute as a necessary and regrettable evil. When a Tiger appears either in the form of a Tiger-born person or a Tiger year like 2010, this misunderstanding can turn nasty. In the Metal times of 2016 and 2017 however, the issues are very different.

The Snake is opposed to the Pig and as both of these are members of the informal group sometimes called the Four Terminals or Stations, they can impede each other’s movement. Snakes may develop mobility issues in a Pig year (or month) and vice versa. Your momentum may for instance slow in November this year. Be sure to have achieved your year goals by then.

The Snake prefers a short menu and yes/no questions. In a Rat year the Snake may be overwhelmed; there is just too much choice, The Snake’s dreams may come true only for her to run in the opposite direction. Often communication has to be wrenched from the Snake and in the water years of Rat and Pig there is little support for the tight-lipped. In a typical Ox year there is just enough water but not too much. This makes scope for just the restricted level of communication the Snake prefers. The Rooster year on the other hand is very different.

Snakes have a complex relationship with fire. They are not usually sun-worshippers but often their skin needs just a little regular sun and without it they may fall prey to easily avoided ailments such as vitamin D deficiency.

Richard Ashworth©

The Dragon in the Year of the Earth Dog 2018

February 17, 2018

Dragon 2018

Who is a Dragon?

Years:  1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012.
Month*:  April
Hour: 07:00 am – 09:00 am
Day: ask us
* Caution: the start of the Dragon month can be as early as the 4th & as late as the 6th, depending on the year. I can let you know this too. 

What is a Dragon?

The Dragon is yang earth, the most egotistical of the branches as well as being generally considered the most powerful. Putting aside conventional rules of animal compatibility, everyone is either fascinated by the Dragon or suspicious. Many are both.

Though charming and affable, like the Pig, the Horse and the Rooster, the Dragon suffers the self clash which makes him unsuited to working with his peers. Dragons often live alone and enjoy their own company. Sometimes they claim to, even when they don’t. Often what he experiences as joy is a subtle experience that others find puzzling. The shamelessly extrovert Horse for instance, can consider the Dragon a high maintenance prima donna. Even the Dragon’s ally the Monkey, contrasts his own goonish delights with the impassive Dragon and can often make little sense of it.

And yet the Dragon delivers. Sometimes awkward and gauche, the Dragon can appear incompetent and yet still win. The steadfast Dog whose workings always lead to a logical answer can find this very tedious and may sabotage the Dragon. Put simply the Dog thinks the Dragon goes on a bit. The Ox and the Sheep share something of this attitude but are more passive about it.

The Chinese ideogram for thunder is a Dragon under a raincloud. And all over the world rainclouds speak of plenty; drenched is good if you’re looking for growth. Water makes for the abundance and nourishment of Wood. The Dragon month is April, the time of sudden change and indeed the character of the Dragon is like the awkward times before a storm breaks.

The Dragon does not naturally co-operate or easily share confidences. He will, however, grudgingly work with those he considers his inferiors as long as they are very clear about the pecking order. This is the central weakness of the unbalanced Dragon. King Lear was a Dragon where Othello may have been a Tiger and Hamlet probably a Snake.

The Dragon’s traditional partners are the hands-on Monkey and the plotting Rat although these three may not mix socially. They need a task to cooperate around, otherwise they find it hard to connect. Socially the Dragon will seek out the Rooster and the Horse both of whom excel at pr. Alone or teamed-up, the Dragon is just as creative as he feels like being. He can instantly magic up wealth and as rapidly squander it. Neither Horse nor Rooster are much help in this regard, although a benevolent Rat and a diligent Monkey would be.

The Dragon and the Snake form the House of Magic. The Dragon is the Sorceror, the Snake his apprentice. So Merlin was a Dragon and his story illustrates the other central weakness of the Dragon: that he can be beguiled by the glamour of the Rooster. This coupling takes the Dragon off track. In a Rooster year the Dragon may forget all his carefully laid plans and go off-piste. In a Rabbit year he may have to defend himself but either is preferable to Tiger or Pig years which may have found him settling into quicksand.

Note to Employers: A Dragon employee is the best there is if the task suits him. It had better suit them because she will do precisely what she feels like either way.

Richard Ashworth©

The Rabbit in the Year of the Earth Dog 2018

February 16, 2018

Rabbit 2018

Who is a Rabbit?

Years:  1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011.
Month*:  March
Hour: 05:00 am – 07:00 am
Day: ask us

* Caution: the start of the Chinese month can be as early as the 4th & as late as the 9th, depending on the year. I can let you know this too.

What is a Rabbit?

The Rabbit is yin wood, which makes him essentially gentle and domestic. Her time is early morning; the legend has it that she and the Rooster swapped places which is why the cock of the Chinese Zodiac crows not at dawn but at dusk. Accordingly the Rabbit rules the Spring – think of March Hares and Easter Bunnies – and the Rooster the autumn.

The Rabbit is subtle, in keeping with his yin nature. He provides service readily and is often suited to catering and caring. But her preparedness to roll up her sleeves makes her the unexpected queen of networking. If you want to be introduced to the person in charge, ask a Rabbit. As a business person however, you open deals much better than you close them. There is no hardness about you. Do not confuse hard with tough; the Rabbit is the most resilient of all Animals.

You are accordingly well able to wait your turn; vigilance and patience are typical. Natural allies are the Pig and the Sheep. This is a house-proud team and the Rabbit is a team player. Your unexpected friend is the Dog who values your ability to charm without threat.

The Rabbit also belongs to the gathering known as the Flowers of Love (or Plumflowers) along with the Horse, the Rooster and Rat. She may often find herself clearing up behind these three extroverts and quite often the cuddle-bunny will obtain a life partner from the leavings of more obviously glamorous colleagues. Be aware that these extroverts and schemers need you in order to function properly.

The Rabbit tends to be conservative with a small “c”. Early rising is typical but this tendency to the yang of early alertness may be demonstrated by the yin of sleeping in. Lazybones or insomniac, sleeping is an issue. This is better cured by adjusting your timing than by pharmaceuticals.

Because of the unflattering connotations of the local word for Rabbit, in Vietnam this Animal is called the Cat. Intuitively this does not sit right. The ideogram so clearly has ears. Yin wood relates to the eyes and to the Spring, leaves and flowers and grass, none of which are feline attributes.

In some ways the Rabbit epitomises yin. Yang wood may be best characterised as an outwards and upwards movement like the growth of a tree. Yin wood is more of a pure outward expansion like the spreading of grass. What these two expressions of wood have in common is irresistibility. But they are very different types of irresistibility. To counter yang wood we need yang metal: an axe will cut down the biggest tree. But you could attack a lawn with that same axe and not remove all the grass in a lifetime. This is the power of yin wood. I often use Water Rabbit Michelle Obama as a good example of such irresistibility. Remember her on the stump for Hillary? A month of that and Trump would have been consigned to history.

Wood is both stubborn and flexible. Yin wood (as characterised by soen, the wind of the South East) is thorough as well as organised. Hexagram 53 of the Book of Changes, Gradual Progress describes the ability of the little tree to grow on the hilltop despite the wind, either by throwing itself absolutely upon the mercy of the tao or following a detailed plan that it follows meticulously. Or some combination.

The Dragon is said to lose money when the Rabbit arrives. This may be because the Dragon is distracted by a neighbour so apparently different in nature. The Rabbit is a borrower as well as a burrower and the Dragon thinks little of tomorrow. So this is not generally a great pairing but the fact is that the Rabbit sitting between the Tiger and the Dragon shares qualities with both. Partnership with the Tiger is sometimes formalised as the House of Diplomacy. The Rabbit offers carrot while the Tiger wields a stick. This arrangement exemplifies the truism that more is achieved with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone.

Other prominent Rabbits include Russell Brand, who despite his wild exterior, is that most romantic of Animals, the 1975 Wood Rabbit. Wood represents bone, spine and hair as well as eyes: the light is fire but the receiving organ is wood. The Rabbit is often not strong in these regards, unlike the Tiger. This is yin and yang.

Richard Ashworth