Posts Tagged ‘xuan kong da gua’

Ox Diary: what to expect in January 2015

January 6, 2015

Ox Diary: what to expect in January 2015.

The Ox takes a Bow.

Ox Month opens: January 6th 00:57am.

Ox takes a bow.

Now, in the sluggish Ox-time we prepare for the New Year. The Ox of January is a symbol of fortitude and stamina, occupying this slow period between the year’s end and its regeneration. December is slow and dark, February is fresh. Inbetween is neither one thing nor the other, short days, long lights, new purpose taking time to form. “Blue Monday,” supposedly the most depressing day of the year, falls on the 26th January when holidays, paydays and clement weather are furthest away in either direction.

But this is a time literally of re-creation. An ancient Chinese proverb says that ”the new-born Ox-calf does not fear the Tiger.” This may simply be an oriental way of warning fools not to rush in but the terminology is astrological: the Ox Boy and his lost partner nu the Maiden, are separated in the night sky by the vastness of the Milky Way. Year succeeds year and the less we resist change, separation and novelty, the easier it may be to adapt appropriately.

The years as I have written many times, do not change like the opening and closing of a door. Nature does not work in straight lines and there are good reasons for putting the beginning of the year as early as December 19th – when the esoteric kua numbers of the days start to be counted upwards rather than downwards – or as late as February 19th and the Chinese (Lunar) New Year Festival. There are those who are pedantic about each of these calculations and indeed about several more. All of which simply emphasizes the sleepy chaos of the Ox month.

So this is the time to start the he tu journeys prescribed for the year and to-rethink sleeping and working positions while the qi remains weak. It’s hard to stumble into an inauspicious location and trigger a plague of boils right now but equally, few dramatic reversals are likely to be conjured up. All of this information was included in our 13th December workshop btw and will shortly appear in writing. There’ll be more.

The Ox in the Ox Month.

Ox (1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009) are by common consent the tyrants of the Chinese Zodiac. If that seems sweeping, consider again that Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte and Margaret Thatcher were all born in Ox Years. And Barack Obama.

In the Ox month we reluctantly uncurl and pick up where we left off. As you’d expect, the typical Ox has no problem with consistency. In fact sticking to a position beyond its sell-by date may be the Ox’s downfall. Consider the Oxen above. They also share somewhat the Ox’s other failing, that of not knowing when their influence is fading.

The Ox’s cohorts are Snake and Rooster who can be inventive and seductive respectively, while the Ox keeps them to the agenda. The Rat may feel that his or her arms are tied for the time being while that agenda continues to vary from his own.

The Ox spats with the incoming Sheep and indeed this year focuses around the four Earth Animals – Ox, Sheep, Dragon, Dog – and the so-called Bullying Punishment which is relieved by the Four Earths. This year features team-building revolving around the Dragon who brings magical release to a stuck situation. If I remind you of two prominent Dragons, Farage and Putin, this may start to make sense, especially if we factor in the Obama Ox, Sheep Nick Clegg and Alex Salmond along with Dog George Osborne.

This is the Year of Gathering, not one of uncovering like 2014 and most of what matters will be out of the public gaze. Do not expect the CIA, Goldman Sachs, GCHQ or those in charge of investigating the various abuses that came to light in the bright year of the Horse to report rapidly or fully.

Early in the Cameron administration, a ship ran aground on the South Coast. Sheila and myself, both brought up by the sea in traditional wrecking country, looked up from our armchairs and smiled at each other ruefully at the BBC announcer’s admonition to the curious that the cargo was “hazardous”.

“It’s valuable,” we said simultaneously. And indeed the hold was full of shiny new motorbikes. Now, the Ox month, is the time to pay close attention to what is not being said.

Ox Month, Animal by Animal.

During this Ox month:

The Rat reluctantly takes orders.

The Ox sticks to the point.

The Tiger flirts with impatience.

The Rabbit finds gratitude.

The Dragon becomes essential.

The Snake dictates what is dealt with.

The Horse defends the indefensible.

The Sheep may withdraw before joining.

The Monkey may feel left out.

The Rooster is flattered.

The Dog narrowly avoids break-up.

and

The Pig gets a second chance.

Ox Pillars; know your Ox rating.

Birth in the Ox hour (01:00pm-03:00am): children of faith.

Birth in the Ox month (January*): leadership.

Birth on the Ox day#: ignoring shelf-life.

Birth in the Ox year: born to a spiritual or religious tradition.

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

# Just ask.

Where to do what, when and why.

This month’s lo shu is the authoritative year 6. In a 3 year like 2015, authority is unlikely to be respected consistently;this trend is magnified in the Eastern part of any space right now. This makes the East however along with the North, literally a plum location in the coming Sheep Year. Because both of these hold toe far or “Plum Flower” stars. This means they can be activated to attract or strengthen one-to-one (generally romantic) relationship for those born in the years of the Horse, Dog and Tiger (East) and Rabbit, Sheep and Pig (North). Such “activation” is best customised, but simply placing “sentimental” (that is flowing) Water North now and in the East from February may bear interesting fruit. Let me know.

Coming Shortly: Richard will be posting both his Animal Fortunes for 2015 & his general forecast for 2015, the Year of the Wood Sheep on his website & via Twitter (@fengshuidiaries). Watch this space.

Your home/office space aligned for 2015: to get the best of the new energies, Richard is booking in Tune-Ups NOW. Email: Sheila@imperialfengshui.info

Ba Zi Starter Course: Discover the Secrets of the Four Pillars opens the weekend of 17/18th January 2015.

Auspicious Dates and Places: Every month Richard compiles for his retainer clients at vast expense, a detailed bulletin of the current auspicious dates, places and procedures for health, wealth and wisdom. Now you can subscribe at a little less than vast expanse. If you’re interested in receiving that bulletin along with his daily Hot Spots, contact Sheila@imperialfengshui.info

 Richard Ashworth©, towards the end of the month of the Rat, 2015.

www.imperialfengshuifengshui.info

Richard Ashworth©, towards the end of the month of the Rat, 2015.

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

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

Early, Early Bird…

April 16, 2014

Hi:

Learn Classical Feng Shui with Richard Ashworth

Early, early bird reduced price expiring very soon!

 

With Easter only moments away it won’t be long until the Early, Early Bird on Richard’s autumn Feng Shui Course expires. Currently only £1200 (a saving of £300) for the four weekends, it commences 13th & 14th September. If you register for both Richard’s courses, feng shui & ba zi (this starts early 2015) further discounts are available. If you can’t get to the UK easily, Richard runs Skype sessions concurrently with the UK courses.

For details email becciimperialfengshui@gmail.com or call 01483 428998 or fill in the contact form at the end of this post.

There’s more at http://www.imperialfengshui.info/the-wind-that-stops-at-the-water

Meanwhile here is a taster video of Richard talking nuts and bolts about feng shui:

 

 

I do hope you all have a lovely Easter break

 

http://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

Bo Xi Lai Nouveau

April 27, 2012

Imperial Feng Shui

Bo Xi Lai Nouveau

It’s raining as I walk into Godalming, the worst sort of English weather: no driving wind to give the rain character, no cold to make it sharp. It’s not even raining particularly hard, it’s just wet, the sort of wet that makes everything dark and floppy.

The walk takes me past the Church of Jesus Christ, Scientist which dwarfs the houses either side. In the front window are quotations from Mary Baker Eddy. “You are safe,” one reads. I must have been twenty before I was sure that Ms. Eddy neither sang duets with Jeanette McDonald nor played the twangy guitar on the “Peter Gunn Theme” but over the years her message has suffered worse misunderstandings than these. “You are safe,” the banner reads. Always good to know.

Certain buildings feng shui Masters call “Dragons’ Lairs” because they are equal parts bear trap and treasure house. Activating the correct spot in such a dwelling at the correct moment can be followed by unfeasible good fortune, the wrong one by a plague of boils. Only a feng shui Master would knowingly take one on. This building, part church, part reading room, part sales office, looks like just such a construction.

It’s the 23rd and after energising the downstairs loo of a period house in Berkshire between the hours of six and eight in the morning, I’m back in Godalming prior to another trip to South East Asia, the topic of study this time being ba zi in physical healing, the place where feng shui meets Traditional Chinese Medicine. This information is likely to percolate into my ba zi teaching later in the year just as Xuan Kong Da Gua has entered my feng shui teaching (commercial break: on which the Early Early Bird offer runs out next week)

As I pass the paper shop in the pouring rain, I notice that the hosepipe ban shares headlines with the skullduggery in China. The ten-yearly reshuffle of the hierarchy at the People’s Congress approaches. Sixth-in-line Bo Xi Lai is fingered as a conspirator to murder. This has nothing to do with justice; the allegation arises not as part of the slow grind of the wheels of the law but because Bo has crossed some line in the internal politics of the PRC. There is every indication that had Bo minded his ps and qs, the rapidly cremated body of apparently poisoned businessman Neil Heywood would remain under the carpet so to speak. Q is of course pronounced “ch” in Wade Giles Mandarin, btw (just as the x in “Xi” is “sh”).

However hard it rains, Godalming never floods even though much of the town is below the level of the River Wey that runs through it. This is because of the flood meadow.This Lammas Land is mostly river from November to April which is why the town isn’t. This flood plain as its Celtic name (derived from Lug, God of Light) suggests, is as old as the town itself, upwards of sixteen hundred years probably. Feng shui is wind and water, the ancient principle being to preserve the water and protect against the wind. It’s easy to forget just how powerful Water is.

One Saturday afternoon several years ago, Sheila and I were walking our dog Zusu down by the river. The level was dangerously low, the water having that dusty look a too-shallow river gets, the fish too visible. Once home we rang the Water Board and discovered that there was a stopcock located in a building on the riverbank. A wheel was turned, the level was restored.

 Mary Baker’s Eddy.

The events of this watery year 2012 can be expected to reflect previous Water Dragons: a Dragon’s Lair, poison and treasure. Such years include 1952, 1832 and 208BCE, all troublesome times for China. In 1952 Tibet was the treasure, annexed and never since relinquished, long-term not such a popular move with the natives. In 208BCE, Qin Xi Huang Di, having unified China with unbelievable brutality, lit out for the Eastern Ocean on a successful search for shamans to kill him with immortality potions. 1832? China is deep in the Opium Wars. Oh and Greece secedes from the Ottoman Empire. 1712: the South Sea Trading Company buys the national debt and sells it back to investors as junk bonds. Plenty of parallels to play with.

Toxic times indeed. As I walk into town, fleeing my office where there is more going on than I can concentrate over, I notice that there are now three nailcare shops. Although there are fewer pubs than there used to be, only one or two premises are boarded up. They will become restaurants in due course or Tesco Metros or be demolished and replaced with maisonettes at a quarter of a million per bedroom. This is banker country. Recession is something that happens to other people.

Despite the wealth of manicure options, there’s no Starbucks in Godalming as yet so I head for Costa which like approximately half the shops on this East-West High Street, faces due South and so enjoys a Flying Star pattern called “String of Pearls”. To cut a long story short, shops change hands but nobody goes bust. There’s always someone else ready to open a haute couture boutique as a tax loss. Or a coffee shop.

Unlike Starbucks, the coffee at Costa tastes like coffee, something I’d generally consider a disadvantage. That doesn’t matter however as I don’t drink it anymore. Coffee tends to desensitise when I need to be sensitive and we can’t have that, can we? These days I drink green tea for the most part. So what am I doing in a coffee shop? The truth is that I am drawn by the buzzing energy, the comings and goings, conversations that I half-hear, activity that demands nothing of me. I can be involved and not involved. It’s a place to hide if you like.

As the shop fronts due South, till, bar, coffee machines and staff are all in the South East. This means that in 2012 till, bar, steaming coffee machines and in the recent unseasonal heat wave, steaming baristas are all in the wu huang or Five Yellow as well as the tai sui, the direction of the year energy. These annual spots of sat chi or Poison Stars are not places to linger.

So I’m unsurprised that things appear to be going wrong around the engine room of the cafe. The flow from the boiler tap is down to a trickle. It takes the pretty young barista several minutes to pour enough boiling water onto a Twinings Green tea bag to fill a large cup. She’s studying law at Guildford Law College and reported for duty at 6:45 this morning, she tells me. And today, according to her young male colleague (Film Studies, Manchester) the till is not taking cards. He’s a bit hot under the collar. I’m not surprised. There’s no room behind the counter which itself is piled with enough confectionery to render the staff close to invisible. The counter is designed for all sorts of things but serving coffee is not one. It’s okay, I say, I’ve got cash and I can wait. Then all of a sudden he asks exasperated, of nobody in particular, “When is this going to be sorted out?” and I blurt out without thinking: “About six weeks,” and he looks at me as if I am criminally insane. Not the first to do that of course. Mouth open story jump out, as my first mother-in-law used to say.

I find a quiet table and make my tea bag last an hour. Every now and then someone I know walks in, greets me, we talk, I explain myself. Then I return to making sense of the Xuan Kong Da Gua material I’ve brought back from Thailand. This is powerful stuff.

Xuan Kong means “Mystery of the Void,” and the story goes that it was used in mediaeval times to hide armies in plain sight. The general who employed a XKDG Master could appear from nowhere right in the face of an unprepared enemy. I have been using this material for more than a decade now but the new slant I am working with gives the whole thing a fresh edge. While I work, the wife of my current problem client, an unemployed banker, emails to tell me he may have landed the job he wants. Thank God for that. XKDG properly measured, located and applied, should make a difference that quickly.

Having studied for ten hours-plus most days over there, I have mastered the bulk of the theory but there are three bits I don’t understand. They’re like an ache. I can not bypass them. Classical feng shui is like mathematics; there’s no point approaching stage two until you’ve mastered step one. By three pm, I’m deeply frustrated. I persevere. By five, two of the three problems are making sense. Thank God for that too.

It’s still raining on my way back and I want to ask the Water Companies some more questions. Just how wet does it have to get before I can water my sunflowers? What proportion of the lost water is due to leaky pipes and poorly secured reservoirs, what proportion overuse of river water by industry?

Finally, the last few windows before I’m out of town, I pass the hand-care shops. Expensively engraved upon the glass of one is:”Proffessional Nail Care.” I’m a Virgo. I was straightening up the pictures on other people’s walls long before I was paid for it. Two f’s where there should be one is almost as distressing as failing to understand Xuan Kong Da Gua. I have to look away.

You can get hybrid nail replacements now apparently. I’m frightened to speculate as to just what that might mean.

But of course we are safe. There is little to which the appropriate response is not a smile. Come hell, high water, death or the taxman, but especially high water, the Tao is both beyond control and worthy of trust. Not that the Tao gives a damn. It just goes on taoing its thing. So thank you Ms Eddy. We are indeed safe.

Richard Ashworth April 2012.