Insights into 2019 - the Chinese Year of the Earth Pig


The Pig is also called the Boar, which in China had preceded its domesticated descendant by several thousand years. The Pig is the twelfth and last animal sign in the Chinese zodiac.
Chinese legend tells the story that long ago the Jade Emperor invited all the animals of the kingdom to participate in a contest to celebrate his birthday. The first twelve animals to reach his gates and congratulate him would each be given a place in the new zodiac calendar. The fastest animal would take the first place and so on. The Pig, though capable of moving at speed, felt hungry during the race so it stopped to eat something then fell asleep. When it awoke it continued to the finish and just managed to gain the very last place.

This Year’s Elemental Nature

2019 is the year of the Earth Pig. Elementally Earth is represented by the colour brown, which is why 2019 is also known as the year of the Brown Earth Pig. The Pig’s own element is Water. Water is the essential resource for life to flourish, whilst Earth will restrain it from flowing away.

In Chinese cultural thinking, pigs attract success in all the spheres of life and they are a symbol of wealth, their chubby faces and big ears are signs of good fortune. So Chinese people are optimistic that 2019 is going to be an auspicious year and more prosperous than the previous few years.

The zodiac Pigs are diligent and positive, sociable, friendly, generous and relatively calm. They handle problems well and they will devote all their energy to achieving their goals. Apparently however, being trusting creatures they can be quite easily fooled. So watch out for that this year.

Feng Shui Influences and Tips for 2019

This year’s annual flying stars have a rather special Qi pattern because it matches the Qi pattern of the current period 8 flying stars. It means that the period star and the annual star are identical in each of the eight compass zones and that brings an auspicious timely double eight 88 into the central palace, the heart of the home. When the central area of your home connects easily with an outside door It is most advantageous this year, so the more often you use the door the more your entire household may benefit.

Some things you can do:
If your front door, living space or bedroom lie in the Southeast, then just adding a touch of blue, a water feature or a clear glass vase of flowers will maintain favourable harmony there.
Keep the the central area clear and welcoming, introduce illumination, crystals, or a stone deity.
Keep the entrance hall area light and uncluttered, add welcoming artwork, a flowering plant.
Keep the front door and other outside doors in good condition, clean and attractive.
At the doorstep, healthy flowering plants will generate their vibrant life force indoors.
Get a new door mat, it symbolises new things happening.

Make more space by decluttering to draw positive new energy into your life this year.
Begin by paying attention to all those areas mentioned above. An effective tip: whenever you add something to your personal possessions or general household items, let go of at least two others.
Be thoughtful of the planet Earth too this year by recycling and reducing your use of plastics.
You may also like to honour the Earth element by planting something you will love to have in your garden, or buy a beautiful potted plant to enjoy indoors, and water it regularly.

Man & Nature: Chinese Wisdom that Makes Feng Shui Work


Man & Nature: Chinese Wisdom that Makes Feng Shui Work

The principal aim of Feng Shui is essentially to find a harmonious balance and a supportive connection between people and the environment that they live in. From a Chinese cultural perspective there is a fundamental interactive relationship between nature and man, space and time, influenced by tangible and intangible factors that generate human reactions.

Following the changing patterns of nature, time is cyclical in Chinese thinking, not linear, and its progress is elliptical as it moves forward. It is hard work aiming for something that is not likely to be achievable at the moment. However as the season or year changes, so does the situation we find ourselves in. The opportunity will be there at the right time, and being in the right place too at the right time is even better. Shi means timeliness.

According to Chinese philosophy our lives are shaped by fate, by destiny or ‘luck’, and by free will. Only our birth is fixed, it is our Heaven fate, because we have no control over the life situation we were born into. The rest is largely up to us. We shape how we progress in life and thereby create our own destiny by our endeavours and consideration, by continuing to acquire knowledge, and by decisions we choose to make. We can also organise our environment to support our needs and desires.

Characters, images and pattern language creatively guide Chinese thinking. Recognising several possibilities or correlations for a situation, as well as analysing it to reach a definitive outcome, becomes effective as well as efficient. This fascinating and preagmatic, yet apparently opposing, blend of left and right brain integration is also used to reach purposeful Feng Shui decisions.

This is a sophisticated example of Yin and Yang, the Chinese concept of complementary opposites as the binary code of life. Everything can be related to Yin and Yang. There can be no procreation without male and female, no shadow without sunlight. And it is the different Yin and Yang qualities of Qi that determine its potential to become desirable or undesirable.

To make Feng Shui right, there also has to be Qing, which means feeling or affection, so that the built space we inhabit enjoys a mutually supportive resonance with forms in the natural landscape and in combination they give us protection as well as opportunity.

The connection between nature’s form, heaven’s intangible influences, and human needs, called San Cai in Chinese, is the secret to creating balance and harmony in your home or workplace so that you will thrive and flourish, gain life enrichment and happiness. That connection is where the solutions are most likely to be found.

Feng Shui Guidelines to Choose Artwork for your Living Space

The Two Ladies in a Boat    Hanging Scroll by Fei Danxu (1801-1850)

The Two Ladies in a Boat    Hanging Scroll by Fei Danxu (1801-1850)

Owning a work of art that is special to you is sure to inspire your mood and enrich your life.  Textiles and wallhangings, wooden carvings and metallic objects, vases and vessels, china and ceramics, deities and sculptures all constitute artwork. Art makes an expressive focal point and the choice goes way beyond just paintings.

When you want to acquire your special piece of artwork, or to decide where to place it, you may confidently draw on the aesthetic design principles of Feng Shui to help guide and inspire your decision making. Foremost considerations are that you feel a connection and affection for it, that your attention is held meaningfully when you engage with the piece, and that you resonate positively with it.

Artwork that is most likely to complement your living space is ageless, timeless and engaging, with light and shade, action and calmness, superficial interest and deeper layers combining in sensitive yin-yang balance. Use art colour tones to create the connection with your decor. Neutral decor themes will be harmoniously enlivened by complementary accents of brighter hues in artwork.  You can also create an aesthetic composition with a well-balanced group of art pieces.

Because fundamentally we need to feel connected with nature, flowers and natural scenes tend to work very well in apartments with no outside space and in urban living spaces.  Artwork in your home is meant to feel inspiring, uplifting, happy, romantic, evocative and beautiful. So be sure to avoid impressions of aggression, sadness or loneliness and dull, scary, harsh or ugly imagery.

 It is important that your artwork enhances the location where it is placed and that it is in harmony with its close surroundings. Give it adequate space, light and visibility, so that you can fully enjoy looking at it. The addition of strategically positioned, direct or indirect lighting sources and well-placed mirrors will illuminate and augment its beauty. The picture frame is also a component of art, so choose it carefully to complement the subject, its tones and textural elements.

Owning a special piece of artwork that you treasure is so emotionally fulfilling, because our response to art is expressed from the heart. Choose yours with love on a day when you feel happy. And you can draw on these Feng Shui guidelines to help you make your choice.

Watch Sylvia’s Artwork Video at Christie’s

The Grass is Greener


The Grass is Greener. Seeing the colour green communicates a sense of contact with the natural landscape. The vibrational stimulus of green neurologically soothes and replenishes, restores balance and inspires creativity. In Feng Shui, green is represented by the Wood element.

Growing numbers of green roofs and living walls are appearing in cities, transforming the impact of the built-up urban landscape by improving air quality, humidity and temperature regulation, encouraging biodiversity and wildlife.  Actually far more than that.

For the lucky people who live or work in buildings which overlook them, seeing even just a small area of green has recognised therapeutic benefits. Scientific studies show that people are happier, healthier and function more productively when they feel engaged with nature.

I never expected I would find myself writing about the merits of artificial grass!   But it really is hard to tell the difference between the new generation of synthetic turf and the real thing. Apart from its advantages of all-year use with near-zero maintenance.

Simulating nature, virtual grass transforms shady, damp or problem spots, small areas, children's play zones, patios, terraces and ugly visible flat roofs. It is the ideal aesthetic solution for outdoor spaces where having real grass is impractical. You can get it laid by bespoke specialists like Easygrass ( see before-and-after images on their website), or buy it from DIY centres.  

The photo here shows my own urban first-floor balcony. Like me, it has been converted - its former tired decking is now a delightful grassy oasis.

Sylvia Bennett
International Feng Shui Consultant London



Innovative Clutter Clearing - the Art of Tidying

CLutter Solutions.jpg

Its an established cliche that clutter holds you up, bogs you down and confuses your mind. It is neither comfortable nor convenient to live with, a visible form of stagnation and an invisible weight on your shoulders. It literally gets in the way of everything.

Even in living spaces that look great, most of us have some clutter tucked away and would appreciate a helping hand to motivate action.

My own home is a neat little urban apartment for two, and we hate to live with clutter. The kitchen has only the essentials for cooking super meals. Our minimal wardrobe space precludes silly shopping sprees. Our workspace is a clever use of limited square footage. Everything has a dedicated place and our possessions are pared down to the bare minimum - or so I thought !

When a client lent me her copy of ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo, I just had to read it. It certainly captured my imagination and a desire to at least experiment with some of Marie’s innovative suggestions. It is quirky, rather simplistically written, somewhat repetitive and with an evident emphasis on the lifestyle and customs of Marie’s Japanese clients.  Nevertheless it is charming, intriguing, motivating. The urge to try out some of her unusual tidying tricks is irresistible.

My scarves are rolled and stood on end in a pretty box that fits perfectly on the shelf where they belong, formerly laid flat and awkward to maintain. It looks like an exclusive boutique. Underwear revamping followed. Lots of cute touches to try out everywhere.   

The clearing mood progressed happily on to letting go of a few folders of well preserved ‘important’ papers and such in our well-organised tiny home office. It did not look much stored neatly on shelves.  imagine my shock when the security shredding firm gave me a receipt for my 44 kilos of discarded paper. Yes really. Need more encouragement - get the book and get started.

Thank you Marie Kondo for your inspiration.  No wonder the book is a best seller.

Feng Shui Decorating - A Breath of Fresh Air

Decorating is a great opportunity to make a fresh impact and create a new sense of harmony and well being.  It is also a time to consider just what you paint on to your surfaces. The World Health Organisation recognises that harmful residual emissions from conventional paints undermine the air quality even years they have been applied.  What is the point of refreshing your walls, but upsetting the environment and challenging your health?

The answer is to use only a quality natural based paint and there is one that I feel comfortable about introducing to all my Feng Shui clients. Not just because it carries the Allergy UK Seal of Approval and is completely free from solvents, VOCs, toxins and odour. Lakeland Paints water-based range (formerly Ecos) includes two of my very favourite paint products. So I want to share them with you.   

Their Feng Shui multi-purpose paint with its stylish colour range is the ideal answer to creating a calm, coordinated feeling in any room. It can be applied to walls, doors, woodwork, window frames and radiators. The overall unified effect looks so professional and it feels really harmonious. Being washable means it also works well for kitchens and in children’s playrooms.

Their revolutionary Air Purifying paint permanently filters out and neutralises airbourne pollutants such as solvents, formaldehyde, VOCs, other chemicals and some traffic fumes. independent testing has verified its effectiveness which apparently lasts for years. It has the full colour range and is ideal for bedrooms of children or adults with respiratory sensitivities, helping them enjoy a more peaceful and healthier sleep.  Beautifully natural paint solutions.

Wind in the City

Our modern urban society is experiencing a worrying ‘new’ environmental situation that practitioners of Feng Shui have been cautioning about for thousands of years. We term it ‘Wind Sha'. When I recently conducted students’ study tours at London’s Canary Wharf, it was impossible to ignore the excessive wind that blew constantly, channeled between the awesome high rise buildings that occupy its straight East-West main streets. Many have angular corners, which accentuate thewind force.  Now it seems it is no longer only Feng Shui devotees who acknowledge the problem exists.  

Wind is funnelled between tall structures and is directed harshly towards any property that faces a T-junction. This is perceived in Feng Shui as a detrimental force that affects occupants, undermining their life situations.  

The wind speed and its pressure increase to become unpleasant, even harmful, as demonstrated in this photo of a beautiful lime tree growing in direct line with the gap between two large houses near me that was blown down during last year’s high winds. And the house facing this alleyway also sustained damage.

Read more about urban wind patterns, the downdraught effect, Venturi effect and the physics behind them responsible for escalating this disruptive phenomenon.