The Year of the Horse is off and racing. Best known as Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year is celebrated all over Asia, though start days vary by country.
If you were born in a horse year — 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002 and 2014 — geomancers and feng shui masters around the world have this piece of advice for 2014: Keep your head down.
According to Chinese philosophy, those who share the same zodiac sign as the year’s designated animal generally have a tough 12 months.
For horses, this is not the year for career changes or marriage. But what about the rest of us?
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Well, that depends on your zodiac animal. There are 12 animals that make up the Chinese zodiac, each of which interact with the four elements of wood, fire, water and metal.
This year, for example, is a wooden horse year.
Wooden horses are considered stable, adventurous and energetic — but wood also burns. It's believed this year will therefore see more conflicts, disasters and record-high temperatures.
Cynics might say that sounds kind of like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. ... But if you're a believer, here are five things to watch out for.
1. Don't expect to get your own way
Whether you are pushing for a pay raise or trying to resolve the Syrian crisis, it will be a tough year for negotiating deals.
"The upcoming Horse year is also a 'yang wood' year, when people will stick more to their principles and stand firm," Hong Kong feng shui practitioner Raymond Lo said.
2. Stay away from volancoes
The wooden horse incorporates the fire element so expect to see more violent volcanic eruptions and protests.
“In the last month, we've seen a lot of fire issues in the southern areas, like South Australia and, in extension to that, we'll see more in South America and south New Zealand. Because the fire energy is so strong, we'll get a lot of fire issues like volcanos and gunfire protests, which will be very violent,” Sydney feng shui master Lok Tin said.
3. Travel (except to volcanoes)
This is the year for globe-trotting so starting planning vacations to some of those exotic locations on the places-I-must-visit-before-I-die list.
“Horses are legendary for their ability to run long distances on great journeys,” Beijing feng shui expert Chen Shuaifu said.
4. Get married or have a baby — or both
2014 will be a “double spring” year, which the Chinese believe is a good time to get hitched or have a baby.
"This will be a very romantic year and there will be news of marriage, romance or babies for people in the 21, 23, 27, 33, 35 and 39 age groups," Auckland feng shui guru James Dong said.
"It will also be a good year, in health, luck and career for those who are aged 23, 28, 32, 35, 40, 44, 47, 52 and 56."
5. Keep your money in the bank
So, 2014 is the year you want to invest those hard-earned savings in the stock market? Maybe you should consider leaving them in the bank.
"In theory, wood produces fire. Fire produces illumination. Everything looks good for the stock market," said Brandon Chua, a feng shui master at Pure Feng Shui in Singapore.
"But I did a little divination and a very simple and answer came to me and it says: disasters.”