Insights into 2018 - the Chinese Year of the Earth Dog

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The Elemental Nature of the Earth Dog Year 2018

After two predictably chaotic years, the naughty Monkey and the fighting Rooster are succeeded by a more docile Dog. Even so, that Rooster’s influence may linger for a few weeks. The qualities associated with the Dog are luck, loyalty, bravery, caution, a social nature though stubborn. The Dog year influence could help you complete tasks and achieve your goals, even if some obstacles make it harder to get things done.

The Dog’s element is Earth, the same as its accompanying Earth stem. Its season is Autumn, indicating its strength is in decline.  According to Chinese metaphysical insights, the double Earth nature of this Dog year will accelerate the initiation of new things and shows potential to be a good year all round. Yet it could also be tiring. Procrastination or negligence are to be avoided this year and it would be better to take a modest sound opportunity than to compete for more.

In Chinese medicine, the Earth element is associated with the pancreas and stomach, muscles and cells. When the Earth element is out of balance, weaknesses tend to show up in those areas of your body. During this Dog year, health could become a concern if neglected. Eating salads and root vegetables, walking and fresh air bring positive Earth-related benefits to support your health. 

This year is also influenced by the element Fire belonging to the Li trigram with its Luo Shu number 9suggesting a potential for prosperity, new business opportunities and social prominence. It is the year to have parties, to celebrate and to enjoy life.

Feng Shui Tips for 2018

Career - If you want to give your career a boost this year, look at the Southeast, centre and Northwest areas of your home.  Decluttering those areas will be a great help.  The clearer they connect with each other unobstructed, the better it will be for you. You could also place any kind of water symbol in the Southeast if practical to do so. 

Relationships - If romance is your priority in 2018,  make a plan to socialise more often, do new things and take up a new activity where you will meet a new circle of like-minded friends. One thing leads to another ..!   Feng Shui Tip: place a vase of fresh red, pink and purple flowers in the South area of your living room or home to reinforce your desire for love. Change the water regularly because it needs to have clean water. 

Health and Wellbeing  - Doing five to ten minutes gentle exercise daily at home, such as stretching, yoga, rebounding and jogging on the spot, will have an accumulative health promoting effect. Movement boosts your immune defence and brings nourishment to your body, helping to improve any weaknesses.  If your entrance hall, bedroom or living room happens to be in the North area of your home, placing a salt water remedy there this year is a popular Feng Shui strategy to absorb certain influences that might undermine your wellbeing.

Children - To support your children’s academic progress this year, place 4 green or jade gemstones, 4 bamboo stems, or 4 Chinese calligraphy brushes with a pot of water beside them, in the South area of their bedroom. If they have a desk, you could place the enhancements on it. 

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



Year of the Rooster 2017

Insights into 2017 - the Chinese Year of the Fire Rooster
This Year’s Elemental Nature  

So what are the prevalent influences of this Fire Rooster year according to Chinese metaphysical observations and insights? The Rooster’s characteristic tendency is active, resourceful, outspoken, strong willed;  the Rooster seeks to impose its boastful charm and authority.   A Fire Rooster year, with yin fire on top and yin metal below, generally symbolises optimism, innovation and progress. But there is conflict and disharmony in the elemental fire-metal inter-relationship, indicating that it may not be a stable year and it could drain your energy. The likelihood is we could have fresh challenges requiring grounded firm decisions to stay ahead. The key to success this year is caution, hard work, determined effort and practical solutions.   Steer well clear of any risky speculation.

Feng Shui Tips for 2017 
The four areas of North, Northeast, East and Southeast will enjoy a positive potential during 2017.  If you have your main entrance door, kitchen, office, lounge or bedroom located in the South, Northwest, West or Southwest I will be able to help you modify the less helpful potential of these locations. In the South a salt water remedy is advisable to absorb the year’s most pernicious influence, being strongest in September. Take care in March and December too, especially if you have any health issues.The Rooster year may bring some challenges before we approach the more grounded year of the Earth Dog. To get the best out of 2017 it is well worth investing in a feng shui review this Spring.  Please contact me for a concession consultation.

Pantone’s Colour Choice for 2017
Pantone are promoting ‘Greenery’ as their 2017 ‘Colour of the Year’. And how appropriate it is. They say Greenery is an uplifting fresh yellow-green tone that evokes early Spring, the season of revitalised natural new growth. When green, nature’s equilibrium, is brought into design and lifestyle choices, it helps to offset the stressful impact of modern urban life. So introduce accents of green into your home decor, with its recognised calming vibration and wood element, to evoke a healing sense of connection with nature.

During 2017 I am offering free talks and low-budget short workshops to support groups involved with environmental and personal welfare. Please introduce me to any connections you have. I will also try to post more regular blogs on feng shui aesthetics and the environment; the next one ‘the Grass is Greener’ will be with you in March.

For several years I have supported Shelterbox. Contributions go directly to their very worthwhile cause. They provide emergency tented accommodation and basic equipment directly to people in crisis areas of the world.Your support would help there too. Read more on

My warm wishes to you and your family for a successful and healthy Year of the Rooster.

Innovative Clutter Clearing - the Art of Tidying

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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.

Insights into 2016 - the Chinese Year of the Fire Monkey


This Year’s Elemental Nature

Metal and Fire are the elements of this Monkey year starting on 4th February and they express the nature of the year to come. The Monkey is yang metal element; smart, nimble, charming, cunning, competitive, inventive, inquisitive and resourceful by nature. Fire element relates to brightness, heat, extrovert behaviour, action, performance and achievement. Fire is the most yang of the five elements.

This year Fire combines with the Monkey, as it does cyclically every sixty years.  The combination conveys the picture of a fast-moving year charged with a determined force that can serve to advance our ambitions and goals, yet it could easily get out of hand if it is not well controlled by level headed thinking.  

The Chinese zodiac monkey lives in the Southwest and this location is attributed to the mother as its family member. She may exert her influence in 2016 to curb his unruly tendencies, if so a manageable year with some tranquility could be possible.

Taking time out to chill and recharge this year is advisable for maintaining a clear head and your health too. Take replenishing walks in fresh air, drink plenty of water and pay particular care to your lungs (metal) heart and cardiovascular system (fire).

Rose quartz, the mineral that relates to the Southwest, is a calming, healing crystalassociated with harmonious, loving relationships and the heart. Aptly, Pantone’s international Fashion Colour of the Year is named Rose Quartz.

New Year Firecrackers and the Legend of Nian

Chinese New Year is celebrated this year on the 8th of February and it is steeped with wonderful stories, including the legend of the mythical beast called Nian.

 A wise old man realised Nian was afraid of loud noises and the colour red. So at midnight on New Year’s Eve people would set off fire crackers to scare away the monster Nian. They hung up red lanterns and put red scrolls on their windows and doors to prevent the beast from attacking people and causing destruction. It is still a popular Chinese tradition at New Year throughout the world and letting off noisy fireworks during the celebrations also encourages good luck to come in.

Things to do in 2016

If you have any doors or windows in the Southwest or East, open them as often as possible because the most prosperous qi comes into those locations this year. Place a salt water remedy anywhere convenient in the Northeast, where the most aggressive annual qi visits this year, to neutralise its harmfulness.

Monkey Rescue

Many thanks to the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary proprietors Graham and Janfor allowing me to use images of their rescued primates. I want to take this opportunity to sponsor their dedicated efforts, if you would like to support them, for sure any assistance you feel inclined to offer them will be truly valued. The Monkey sanctuary is located in the beautiful South Wales countryside, a lovely place to visit.


The Feng Shui Society’s annual Conference with eight accomplished international speakers will be held on 14 May in central London. As usual I shall be introducing the day. If you are tempted to attend, it will be really great to see you there.

Warm Chinese New Year wishes for good health and a prosperous year to you and your family.


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.

Chinese Year of the Goat 2015

The Chinese Year of the Wood Goat starts on February 4th 2015. It brings with it the brand new energy of yin Earth, which the Goat represents, managed by yin Wood.  Compared to last year’s dynamic yang forces, this year’s feeling is elementally softer and more compromising.

The resilient, yet delicate nature of yin Wood is depicted as resembling blades of grass, a young flower, twigs and bamboo fluttering in the breeze; thriving because it adapts well to changing circumstances. The Goat’s character is gentle and compassionate, seeking to please and to maintain harmony. The month of July is represented by the Goat, so fire from dry summer warmth gives it hidden vitality and strength.

All in all, this new Wood Goat year optimistically symbolises that progress can be achieved most successfully through a considerate and flexible attitude. Just be selective about who you trust and make sure your kindness is well deserved.  

In traditional Chinese medicine, the Wood element represents the liver, gallbladder, eyes and tendons. Earth element relates to stomach, spleen, pancreas and muscles. Those parts of the body might become more susceptible this year. To support your health, make sure you take in an adequate supply of magnesium and calcium, cut down sugar intake, do gentle stretching exercises or yoga and take regular walks, and remember to drink plenty of fresh water.  

Finally, you will surely be happy to know that the Goat appreciates a nurturing environment, has good taste and loves art, fashion and beauty. Seems like this is the ideal year to redecorate, make home improvements and update your wardrobe. For the style conscious, the Pantone Color Institute’s colour of the year for 2015 is Marsala, a rich reddish-brown tone which they describe as having a seductive, unifying element and a sophisticated natural earthiness that will add elegance to any project - and a perfect choice for the Year of the Goat! 

With my warmest Chinese New Year wishes to you: Sui Sui Ping An - harmony and safety all year through.