As the Chinese bid farewell to the Year of the Dragon, fortune tellers who practice the art of feng shui ("wind-water") are warning that the "black water snake" that rises February 10, first day of Chinese Lunar New Year heralds a stormy year ahead.
Feng Shui practitioners are very influential in a wide area of Asia and people take critical decisions in their lives such as when to invest in stocks or when to get married, move or renovate a home only after they have sought their advise.
According to AFP, feng shui astrologers are pointing to the fact that previous Snake years have been characterized by upheavals, examples being the September 11, 2001 terror attack, the 1983 Tienanmen pro-democracy protests and the Pearl Harbor incident in 1941 that heralded the escalation of World War II in the Far East.
The fortune tellers also recall the 1929 stock market crash that heralded the Great Depression as another of the type of events that mark the character of Snake years as stormy. They point out that as far as the stock market is considered the three most recent Snake years saw Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index down.
AFP reports that one of Hong Kong's top feng shui masters Mak Ling-ling, predicts that the stock market will see a smooth first-half before running into turbulent waters in the second half. The turbulence, the feng shui master says, is linked to the twisty, tricky and evasive character of snakes. AFP reports Mak said: "It's just like the movement of snakes -- fast, aggressive and sharp, but cunning and tricky at the same time."
She warns that in spite of early signals which foster widespread market optimism, the eurozone will see no recovery in the Snake year. According to Mak, the economy of the US will also not see signs of strong recovery until 2014. She reportedly advises President Obama to "be less conservative" in his policy drive to revive the US economy.
Feng shui astrologers say that this year, the snake element identifies with the water element that symbolizes fear. The fire element they say represents joy and optimism. Water sitting on top of its elemental counterpart indicates conflict between both elements that will bring turbulence in the month of May.
ChineseFortuneCalender.com explains the interaction of the elements:
"According to the Chinese Five Element Astrology Calendar, 2013 is the Year of Water Snake. The color of Water in Five Elements system is related to Black. Therefore we can say 2013 is a Black Snake, Water Snake or Black Water Snake year.
"Chinese Astrology is a Balance Theory of Five Elements. Each animal can be converted into Five Elements. Snake contains mainly Fire. It also contains some Metal and Earth. Snake is in the Fire group. Water of 2013 and Fire of Snake are opposite elements. Therefore most of people will experience mix of good and bad fortune."AFP reports that according to Singapore's "Grand Master" Tan Khoon Yong, 59, of the geomancy consultancy OnNet Group: "This is a disaster year... a lot of things will not go smoothly. The European Union may split, the euro may be in trouble." He said the EU will be threatened with division in May.
Hong Kong astrologer Chow Hon-Ming, predicts that May, being symbolically disharmonious, will see the dispute between Japan and China escalate into a "brief" war. According to the expert, the prediction arises from the meeting of two "snakes" in his reading of the Chinese almanac, AFP reports.
In the Chinese feng shui system, May is the "snake month." Because the year is also a Snake year, the "two" snakes will clash between May 5 and June 6.
Chinese historians say that the feng shui system is based on the basic premise that there are five elements, namely metal, wood, water, fire and earth and that people's fortunes are determined by the way the different elements blend. The philosophy is ancient, dating back thousands of years.
The system claims that one can determine a person's fortune by calculations based on the time and date of birth and the blending of the elements. The Chinese lunar calender consists of lunar phases in which a period of 12 years makes up a complete cycle. Each year in the cycle is associated with an animal. The snake is the sixth animal in the group of 12 animals.
According to ChineseFortuneCalender.com:
"Snake is the 6th animal in the Chinese horoscope order sequence. Six (6) is an even number, Chinese horoscope treats Snake is a Yin (female) animal. However, Snake contains Male Fire, Male Metal and Male Earth. The outside of Snake looks soft, but the inside is tough. Male Metal in the Snake is very special. Metal's mother element is Earth and Earth's mother element is Fire. Snake is a birth place of Male Metal. Male Metal will become mature when the Autumn comes. If there are Chicken and Cow in the birth chart, then Male Metal will become very active during the Fall season. Since Fire and Metal are opposite elements, people's fortune may start to change direction after Summer."
The system predicts, for instance, that China's new leader Xi Jinping and Korean "Gangnam Style" rapper Psy, two famous people born in the Year of the Snake, will thrive in a Snake year matching their Chinese zodiac. Ordinarily, this is considered bad omen. Xi Jinping is warned to about his health. AFP reports Chow said: "He needs to watch out for his health. He might suffer a fall in November if he travels." Chow advises him not to travel to Europe or Russia in May.
As ChineseFortuneCalender.com explains, individual luck does not follow a fixed overall formula, it depends on the "type of element you are" and what "your lucky element is" as determined from your astrological birth chat. The website says: "The Lucky Element is the major factor to determine people's fortune."