Nine Star Ki for the Earth Dog Year 2018

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Happy Chinese New Year!

This Friday, we celebrate the Chinese New Year! I'll be at my local Shambhala Center celebrating our version, called Shambhala Day, which honors the Tibetan New Year (Losar). The traditions are similar and all welcome the year of the Earth Dog.

The energy has already begun to shift for the new year; the official transition was actually on February 4th. That means, it's time for yearly Nine Star Ki forecasts! Be sure to check out the blog post with Beth Grace for individual zodiac horoscopes, as well as what kind of energy to expect from the Year of the Dog. 

In combination with the Chinese zodiac astrology system, I also like to use the numerology of the Nine Star Ki to prepare for the coming year and stay energetically balanced. This practice was developed in ancient China, so it only makes sense that it goes so well with feng shui, and is based on a number system of nine rather than the animal system. It also closely aligns with the five element principles and the I-Ching. 

Holistic Spaces has worked with Andrea Giordano, from AromatheraChi, again this year to create custom aromatherapy blends for each Nine Star Ki number in the Year of the Dog. Each aromastick is created to provide support and enhance the energy for your individual number in the coming lunar year, and they can be used in conjunction with feng shui!

Now let's figure out your number and what's in store!

You can calculate your principle number by using your year of birth. Beware: this requires a little elementary math ;)

As an example, if you were born in 1986:

  • Add:  1+9+8+6 = 24
  • Reduce to a single digit:  2+4 = 6
  • Subtract from 11:  11-6 = 5

*if you were born between January 1 and February 4, subtract from 12:  12-6 = 6

If you were born in 1940:

  • Add:  1+9+4+0 = 14
  • Reduce to a single digit:  1+4 = 5
  • Subtract from 11:  11-5 = 6

*if you were born between January 1 and February 4, subtract from 12:  12-5 = 7

Here's what all that calculating means for the Year of the Earth Dog in 2018:

If your principle number is 1, in 2018 you will be in the year of Prosperity. This year will feel strong and prosperous. You will begin to feel confident and be recognized for your knowledge and skills. There will still be a lot of effort, but you shall finally be harvesting the fruits of your labor. As a 1 Water person, you will feel supported in this 6 Metal year. Make the most of it!

If your principle number is 2, in 2018 you will be in the year of Celebration. This year will feel celebratory and playful. It is a great time to relax and pat yourself on the back for all the hard work that you put in the last few years. Enjoy yourself, rejoice and have some fun. As a 2 earth person, you may feel depleted from time to time in this 7 metal year. Be sure to also take care of yourself so you don't get burnt out from too much partying!

If your principle number is 3, in 2018 you will be in the year of Stillness. This year will be much quieter than the last. It will be a time of stillness, like climbing up a mountain to meditate in isolation. This is a great time to focus inward and do some self-cultivation. As a 3 Wood person, you will feel a bit slowed down in this 8 Earth year. But remember, this is a time to ground yourself and go deep.

If your principle number is 4, in 2018 you will be in the year of Recognition. This year you will be in the house of fire, where you have the best opportunities to be seen and recognized by others. It is a great time to receive any promotions or any other projects that you want publicity for. Be careful, as all things, good or bad, may be unveiled to the public. As a 4 Wood person, you may be prone to burn out in this 9 Fire year. Add some water and go with the flow to tone down the flames.

If your principle number is 5, in 2018 you will be in the year of Planning. This year will feel quiet and is a time for planning. In the winter, it may appear that everything is dead on the surface, but underneath there is much life and activity. Similarly, it may feel slow, but take this time to reflect, review and plan for the future. As a 5 Earth person, you will may feel a little muddy in this 1 Water year. Take advantage of the quietness and rest up!

If your principle number is 6, in 2018 you will be in the year of Germination. This year will be the time to plant seeds. When you plant a garden, you germinate many more seeds than you need. Do the same this year. Put all your ideas out there into the universe and share them with others. Plant the seeds and see what comes up! As a 6 Metal person, you will feel supported in this 2 Earth year. Enjoy, and let this year take care of you.

If your principle number is 7, in 2018 you will be in the year of Sprouting. This year will be energetic and full of new beginnings as you catch sight of seeds that you planted last year begin to sprout and grow. Be open to new ideas and cultivate the projects that you start at this time. As a 7 Metal person, you may feel a little overwhelmed in this 3 Wood year. Remember that this is a time to sharpen and expand.

If your principle number is 8, in 2018 you will be in the year of Rapid Growth. This year will be a continuation of last year where you see your sprouts grow into strong, grounded trees. This year will be busy and active, so please take care of yourself and be careful not to get burnt out. As an 8 Earth person, you may sense some upheaval in this 4 Wood year, but remember that it's about creating movement and change for the better!

If your principle number is 9, in 2018 you will be in the year of Fluctuation. This year will feel a little chaotic, as this is a time of renewal and rebirth. You many need to reinvent yourself this year. It’s a great time to let things go that are no longer serving you. As a 9 Fire person, you may feel depleted in this 5 Earth year. Emphasize some self-love and care this year.

How is the coming year looking for you? Are you excited? If you're interested in learning more about Nine Star Ki, check out this Holistic Spaces podcast, and take a peek at the blog, too, for ideas on how to celebrate the Chinese New Year! No matter what your number or animal, don't forget to take care of yourself during the Year of the Earth Dog! One great way is to grab a three-dimensional rabbit charm to carry with you at all times for protection and support. Since the Rabbit is the Dog's best friend, carrying this charm will keep you in their good graces. :)

by Anjie Cho

The One Room Where You Shouldn't Keep Tons of Plants, According to Feng Shui

featured this week on MindBodyGreen by Emma Loewe

image credit: Sophia Hsin via MindBodyGreen

image credit: Sophia Hsin via MindBodyGreen

Who doesn't love a good houseplant? With their toxin-bustinghappiness-inducing properties, plants are an amazing vehicle for ushering some of nature's healing power indoors. And these days, it seems like the more you have, the better. Instagram's most enviable homes feature rooms draped in greenery, and some of the world's most influential offices (Amazon, anyone?) are transforming into urban jungles.

But one design philosophy is saying not so fast. Here, leading feng shui experts explain why the bedroom may not be the best place for all of your plant pals:

But if you already have them, it's totally OK.

If you have a bedroom full of plants and sleep like a baby, you don't need to change a thing. Most feng shui pros, including Maureen Calamia of Luminous Spaces, agree that, depending on the room, a few plants can be beneficial, especially when placed in the wealth corner to promote green of another kind.

Architect and feng shui expert Anjie Cho adds that some schools of feng shui, like the more Western BTB philosophy, think that woodsy elements in the bedroom can actually help some people thrive. "The wood element adds qualities like flexibility, kindness, growth, and healing into your life," she says. "For a very lethargic or depressed person, it may even be good to have some uplifting energy to raise your chi. I personally have plants in my bedroom and found that they brighten and perk up the space." full article

De-Stress Your Relationship

Valentine’s Day is an opportune time to look at your primary romantic relationship. No matter how well it’s going, all relationships can use some support. Feng shui gives us some practical and magical tools to give your relationship some extra support. And if you’re not in a relationship, these tips still apply!

1. A headboard for support

A stable headboard that is securely attached to the bed represents solid support and stability in a relationship. The best type of headboard has no bars, holes or perforations. The bars may indicate feeling imprisoned or caged! Holes or perforations lack stability and may weaken a relationship. If you already have a headboard, just make sure to tighten it to the bed. The headboard should be securely and mechanically fastened to the bed (rather than attached to the wall, or almost falling off). If you don’t have a relationship, the headboard will help you to attract a relationship that has enough support to last!

2. Equal partners

Be sure to maintain equality in the relationship by having equal space on both sides of the bed. If possible, each person should have at least 18” of space between the wall and the side of the bed. You also want to have equally balanced nightstands with lamps. The nightstands need not be matching, but close in size. I had a client whose husband had a huge nightstand, and she had this tiny little thing. Such a situation may manifest itself in an unbalanced power relationship between the couple. If you’re single, this lets the universe know that you have space available to accommodate someone into your life.

3. Pair of rose quartz

Rose quartz is a natural semi-precious gemstone that assists in opening up our heart to receive and give love. Place two similarly sized pieces of this natural stone on your nightstand to symbolize and attract supportive openness between you and your partner. If you are looking for a romantic relationship, the rose quartz can support self-love and healing so that you can attract the best partner.

4. Clean under the bed

Whether you’re single or have a partner, the objects and storage underneath your bed can represent unconscious blocks in your love live. The energy of anything under your bed truly affects you in a great way, especially because we spend many passive “yin” hours sleeping in bed. If you must have some storage there, stick to sleep related items such as pillows, blankets and linens. Absolutely no photos of ex-lovers or anything sharp or dangerous.

5. In case you need more passion

Hey, we can all probably use a little more passion in our lives right? Maybe for Valentine’s Day it’s time to treat yourself to a racy little lingerie set… in RED! Red is the color passion and fire. Get yourself some sexy red underwear and see how it makes you feel. I promise it will make a difference. You can also get yourself some red sheets to heat things up in bed!

by Anjie Cho

Q&A Sunday: Kids Study Spaces and Where to Begin with Feng Shui

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I like your blog, it is so inspiring. I am new to feng shui and have 3 questions:
1. Is/are there any effective, specific knowledge/ items which help(s) kids to manage themselves to study or encourage(s) doing homework? I am a Tiger mum and have a Pig boy (June 3, 2007) and a Rabbit daughter (May 29, 2011). Based on this info, I would appreciate any recommendation. 
2. I want to practice feng shui. Where should I start ?
3. Do you ship outside the USA?

Oznur R., Turkey

Dear Oznur,

Thank you for your question and compliments, and welcome to the wonderful world of feng shui!

It’s awesome that you have so many questions; it means you’re really interested and curious. In feng shui, you’re encouraged to inquire, test and scrutinize the teachings. 

Your first question pertains to supporting children in their studies and education. In general, it’s recommended that when your son and daughter are doing their homework, they have a desk or a dedicated area to do their work. An area of the dining table is fine, as long as it’s clear and spacious, and accommodates them. When it is time for them to study, have this space become a real desk. It’s also important to locate them in the commanding position of the room, whether at a desk or another study area. This means that they can both see the entrance of the space, without turning their heads, but are not in line with the door. The best location is diagonal from the door. This way your children are in a relaxed place in their space so they can clearly focus on homework. There’s more information about the commanding position here, here and here.

You’re also a Tiger mother, and your son is a Pig. This tells me that you have a good, compatible relationship to begin with. Tiger and Pig are best friends and ideal companions. Your daughter is a Rabbit, so your relationship to her is neutral. But your Pig boy and Rabbit daughter also get along well, because they form a harmonious relationship (along with the Ram). By the way, be sure to check out our post where Beth Grace shares the forecast for each Chinese Zodiac animal this year.  

Your second question is about how to start studying and practicing feng shui. Well I have an exciting announcement! I’m starting a Mindful Design teaching program with my talented friend, Laura Morris. The program is set to launch in the fall of 2018, so keep an eye out! We're excited to teach feng shui from our shared Mindful Design perspective.

Last but not least, yes we do ship to Turkey for most items! You can email us at if you have any specific questions about that! Be sure to check out our new apothecary items… I think the Focus mist might be perfect for your little ones! 

by Anjie Cho

Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!

Join Me for a Feng Shui Evening Hosted by the Alix Experience!

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I'm so excited to share that I am doing another Alix Experience this year for Chinese New Year! If you're in the New York area, please join me Tuesday, February 20 or Wednesday, February 21 for an intimate dinner in Chinatown, including a personalized numerology analysis for the upcoming Year of the Dog! Visit The Alix Experience to register, and check out Beth Grace's Chinese zodiac readings for the new year on the Holistic Spaces blog. Don't forget to also grab a three-dimensional Rabbit charm for good luck and prosperity, and take a peek at our Chinese New Year Kit!

Greenwashing and How to Avoid It


With the increased focus worldwide on taking better care of our planet and preserving our natural resources, marketing campaigns have started to focus on sustainability as a selling point in many fields. This is an awesome move if the company really is an active advocate for preserving water, energy and the like; however, many times companies toss a green marketing claim to consumers based on little to no actual action. Customers who fall for these claims and purchase advertised products from companies who aren't actually green are doing little to help save our planet and, in reality, may be unwillingly doing more harm than good. We call this "greenwashing."

Fortunately, greenwashing is a villain that can be stopped relatively easily if consumers are careful and pay close attention to products they purchase. The most accurate way to avoid being greenwashed is to properly research "green" products before purchasing. If your favorite detergent company has just launched a green cleaner, take the time to check facts about what exactly makes this new detergent qualify as green.

On this same note, avoiding greenwashing is about more than just ensuring that you buy holistic products. The idea behind going green requires that we do everything in our power to reduce the carbon footprint each of us leaves on the world. In this way, we can directly save many of the non-renewable resources we're currently flying through. That said, even if a product really is "green" on the consumer side, if the company is required to use more energy and produce more waste in order to create the product, perhaps promoting its production isn't the best thing for our planet. Just like you research your products, research the companies who make them. Are they really following a green initiative or just trying to make a buck off the good efforts of others?

I'm very happy to see the overwhelming number of new environmentally friendly options on the market, but remember the reason for these products. If we aren't actually conserving the earth's resources, perhaps these campaigns are less "green" and more "greenwash."

by Anjie Cho

Q&A Sunday: Front Door and the Six Killings

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What do you do when the front door faces your six killings direction?

Soy K., Pinole, CA

Hi Soy!

Thank you for asking this very interesting question. As you may (or may not) know, I’m a BTB Feng Shui practitioner. BTB is one of the many many schools of feng shui. This question is for a classical feng shui expert, so I consulted my good friend Beth Grace, who also does our yearly Chinese Zodiac readings. You can check the 2018 readings here

By the way, I also incorporate classical feng shui here and there in my own life, but my expertise is in BTB feng shui. And in regards to advising others, my teachers have said a beginner (like someone who’s read a book) may know just enough to be dangerous. Of course, it's beneficial to try techniques out and see how they work for yourself. For instance, in BTB and in Buddhism, you are encouraged to experience and work with all the dharma teachings. Keep what works, discard what doesn’t. But when teaching others, your karma mixes with theirs… and it’s a big responsibility! So with that, I am so pleased to share what Beth offers us.

Beth reminds us that in all the schools of feng shui (she’s been educated in quite a few!), the front door to your home is very important. We want the qi, or life energy, coming into our home to be positive, which is good feng shui. Liu sha is translated into English as the “six killings”. Beth says the meaning is “distorted in translation”. The English word “kill” or “killing” provokes fear in us. Instead, Beth and I wish to reconsider this fear-based way of looking at the world. The six killings is not about anyone being killed, but about six negative activities that can be brought on: lawsuits, bodily injury, need for surgery, robbery, scandals and adultery. Of course these are still undesirables, so what to do? I quote Beth: “All is not lost; we have tools!”

In classical feng shui, there are eight directions, four are positive and four are negative. The six killings is one of the negative directions. Beth tells us that each sector, for instance the North, is divided further into three sub-sectors, North 1, North 2, and North 3. An experienced feng shui practitioner can determine which sector the front door actually falls into. Your door may not be in a problematic area.

But if you do find out the door is still in the six killings direction, you can further fine tune your feng shui with Xuan Kong Da Gua, which divides your floor plan into the 64 hexagrams. There are smaller sectors and with this technique, if required, you can change, tilt and/or alter the front door to welcome better energy into your home (and life) based on your personal astrology. For example you can match your personal hexagram(s) to your front door. 

That said, with this fine tuning, I cannot emphasize enough that it’s very important to engage an experienced feng shui consultant for something as specific as this. Be careful!

And many, many, many thanks to the beautiful and wonderful Beth Grace for sharing her knowledge and expertise with us! Be sure to check out her website; she has a great monthly newsletter with Chinese Astrology predictions every month. I highly recommend you sign up! Don't forget to check out your Chinese Zodiac for the Year of the Earth Dog, also thanks to Beth!

by Anjie Cho 

Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!

How to Arrange a Compact Teen Bedroom

featured this month on Houzz by Eva Byrne

A teen bedroom is a place of refuge, a private retreat from family life. You’ll need to provide somewhere to sleep, somewhere to study and somewhere to store clothes. With clever planning, you can accommodate these needs in even the tiniest of spaces. Think in terms of a ship’s cabin to squeeze the most out of every available centimetre.

When planning your family home, it’ll do no harm to think ahead to this stage from the outset, so radiators and wardrobes are in the best spots for the optimum teen layout.

Max the make-up

A teen girl will always appreciate even the tiniest of dressing tables. Your bathroom will thank you, too, with one less demand on its use.

Slip a narrow table within the run of wardrobes, perhaps near the window to maximise that all-important light. Add strong artificial light for night-time use, and, of course, a large mirror. A drawer beneath the dressing table would be handy for lotions and potions. full article

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Q&A Sunday: What Color Should I Paint My Front Door?

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How do you know which color to paint your front door? 

Teri G., New York, NY

Hi Teri,

This is a question that comes up a lot! And I'm going to throw that question right back at you, because it really depends...on you. There is no magic perfect color, but I’ll go through some guidelines and ways to approach this decision.

First thought, best thought

What is the color you want to paint the front door? What’s the first color that arises right now? Remember: first thought, best thought. Don’t overthink it. It may just be the color that works best for you. 

Mundane matters too

Now think about the color that popped into your consciousness for your door color. Let’s look at this practically. Does it fit with the rest of the house? Colors have countless variations that can probably work with your home, and that’s where a designer can help you to find the option that works best. 

Have fun with it!

But it’s also okay if the color is maybe a little out of place. First of all, it’s just paint - you can always repaint the front door. Second, I'd like to share a story my teachers have told about Professor Lin Yun (founder of BTB Feng Shui). He told one of his clients to paint their whole house exterior purple! Now this is pretty extreme, and this person ended up becoming the talk of the neighborhood, which in turn created a huge business boom. I’m not suggesting you should paint your whole house fluorescent yellow, but you can have fun with the door and remember that painting a front door is not a huge commitment. You can always repaint it!

Try red or black

Red and black painted doors are good basic go-to’s for front door colors in feng shui. Red is auspicious and can attract life energy. Black also absorbs and also brings in positive qi. But this is the “Barnes and Noble” answer!

The mouth of Qi

With all of the above considerations, remember that your front door represents the mouth of qi. This is where energy from the world can enter your home and life. Maybe you do want a door that blends into the rest of your home and looks dignified and subtle. Or maybe you want to attract some energy, in which case a bright red door could look great and do wonders for your opportunities. Now we've come full circle to the first thing I mentioned, which is that the color really depends on you and your life circumstances!

In some areas of the home, there are certainly colors you might want to avoid. All black in any room can make a space feel smaller, and red in a bathroom can make relaxation difficult. But when it comes to the front door, anything is fair game. It's such a small area it can easily be repainted. Put some thought on your decision, and be willing to take a chance on trying a new color!

by Anjie Cho 

Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!