With the Year of the Wood Dragon fast approaching, Marites Allen lets us in on the fundamentals of feng shui, and what we can look forward to this year
Separated by two screens, I am an ocean away from feng shui expert and master Marites Allen at the time of our interview. Her personality glitters (and so do her jewels) as we converse. With the Chinese Lunar Year fast approaching, she has much knowledge to impart.
While my awareness of the ancient Chinese practice was limited, I was familiar with Allen’s expertise, dating back over 20 years. “What do you know about feng shui?” she asks me. I admit to her that I knew little, but was eager to learn. “Some people say they don’t believe in feng shui, but feng shui isn’t magic, it’s not a superstition, it’s a science.”
As Allen explains to me the basics of feng shui, I cannot help but notice the cadence in her voice. Authoritative yet gentle, one can’t help but dedicate their full focus to her as she guides you through the ins and outs of her beloved craft. A certified expert in her field, Allen has been practicing feng shui for more than two decades, garnering an impressive clientele alongside international recognition. In 2013, she was the very first Filipina to be awarded the prestigious “Master in Feng Shui” title by the International Feng Shui Association. Continuously innovating and illuminating the craft of feng shui, Allen has also branched out into the world of commerce through her auspicious lifestyle brand “Frigga.”
“If someone says they don’t care or they don’t believe in feng shui, it’s very important to understand that no matter what anyone says, it is inevitably a part of our lives,” Allen explains. Delving further into this ideology, she lays out the groundwork of feng shui matter of factly. Made up of five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood, each element corresponds to a particular colour that reflects each of our identities. We as humans utilize colours to represent who we are. We do this through colouring our hair, choosing the colours we want to wear for our outfits, and so on.
“The element of fire is red, pink, purple–we cook food with fire. The energy used for technology is from fire,” As Allen continues to explain, it suddenly dawns on me that maybe we aren’t so far apart from each other after all. How feng shui–regardless of whether you are a sceptic or a loyal follower–interconnects each and every one of us every minute of every day.
What to look forward to this Chinese New Year
As we approach the Year of the Wood Dragon, Allen explains how this is a particularly special year because of the fact that compared to all of the other Chinese zodiac signs, humans have never seen a dragon in real life before. “The last time there was a wood dragon year was in 1964. That was 60 years ago.”
Symbolizing power, wisdom, and success, this coming new year is set to be auspicious for achievements. Allen also explains how the population increases during dragon years. “This year is also in conjunction with a so-called shift of time. In feng shui, we have different periods, and this year is the period of nine. So the last period of eight was when I started feng shui in 2004 in this country, and then it ended in 2023. That’s 20 years. The period of nine will begin on February 2024 to 2043. That’s another 20 years. That’s why I call it the year of transformation, because the timing is just so unique.”
With wood being the element of the year, Allen also emphasizes how this represents the early stages of development. An opportune time to start fresh and welcome the new. “It’s a time to let go of the old…as we nurture our dreams and lay the foundations for a brighter future,” she explains. People born on the year of the rat, monkey, and rooster are also set to have an exciting year as these animals are known allies of the dragon. Other signs such as the ox, snake, and dog may face challenges this year as they are adversaries of the dragon. However, Allen imparts that whatever obstacles they may encounter can be transformed into opportunities to emerge stronger than ever.
“This is a year of transformation. There is going to be a very big shift. This is also a year for women. Women who are middle aged, we can see a lot of them leading more companies, taking centre stage, running businesses, women entrepreneurs. Women will reign supreme in 2024.”
In addition to this, the lucky colour for this year is set to be green. Gemstones such as jade, malachite, emerald, sapphire green, peridot, and green tourmaline are set to be lucky as well. Numbers 1, 8, 14, and 21, and the month of the Dragon (March 6th – April 4th) are also highly favoured this year.
On the importance of mindset
It is often said that to whom much is given, much is expected. For over two decades, Marites Allen has worked tirelessly in guiding others towards their most favourable paths. When asked about what she does to remain centered and focused, Allen credits it all to mindset.
“Our mind is so powerful. I veer away from people who say: “Oh, how I wish I had more money, or I wish 2024 is better for me.” That alone insinuates that you’re lacking of it. You need to change impossible to i’m possible. You need to claim it and feel it.”
Looking back on her career, Allen fondly recalls an instance a few years ago that perfectly encapsulated her ideology. “In 2004 or 2005, I created my vision board. I was literally cutting photographs of people I admired from magazines. I was reading Forbes Magazine and I saw the image of Alice Walton, the owner of Walmart. Then in 2015, I was asked by the late Washington Sycip to fly back to New York because I had just left for London on the same day. He said that they were going to have a special dinner celebration and that only 18 people invited,” Quickly changing suitcases, Allen shuffled back to Heathrow Airport and made her way back to JFK that same day. “When I showed up, guess who I was seated with? I was seated next to Alice Walton.”
On how we can use feng shui to better our lives
If there’s one thing Marites Allen wants you to know about feng shui, it’s that it won’t answer all your questions or wishes in life. “There are three types of luck. The first is what we call “heaven’s luck”. Some people are already born maswerte. They are born lucky over the others. They are born rich. They live in exclusive villages. So that’s what you call the heaven’s luck. Something that is God-given, preordained, and cannot be changed. The second is what you call “mankind’s luck”. This is what you do for yourself. It is because of your actions and decisions. The final kind is the so-called “earth luck”. This is what feng shui is all about.”
Highlighting how every adversity we encounter can also serve as an opportunity, Marites Allen’s life and career are testaments to the importance of hard work and perseverance–constantly taking advantage of opportunities, and maximizing her talents. “There are things in life that you cannot escape. When a tragedy, obstacles, or challenges come your way, face it head-on. You have to go through it. There are no shortcuts, you have to feel it because it’s only when you feel it, that you become a better person.”