Years ago before the presidency, Donald Trump once consulted a master of feng shui - the ancient Chinese system of geomancy and soothsaying - for a development project in New York.
Now - as pundits parse Trump's State of the Union - feng shui masters in China and elsewhere are busy offering Lunar New Year prognostications on what the next 12 months will bring in business, love and, of course, politics.
And what, we asked, does the freshly minted Year of the Pig have in store for Trump?
It's a mixed bag.
Some say Trump will get his border wall funded by August. But, then again, he could face impeachment in the inauspicious month of March.
He should take antioxidants to purge "earth" - one of the five universal elements in feng shui - that makes him stubborn and vindictive, others note.
But his re-election bid for 2020 couldn't come at a better time for his feng shui fortunes: His year of water and gold.
With so many fateful questions swirling over the White House, The Washington Post consulted practitioners in three cities, including Pun Yin, a second-generation sage of New York's Chinatown, who counseled Trump in the mid-1990s.
But first, the predictions.
"Last year couldn't be worse for strong earth like Trump, but things will turn around for him," intoned Raymond Lo, a feng shui grandmaster and frequent media commentator in Hong Kong who is feted for correctly predicting the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 - and the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes breakup in 2012.
"He'll still face lots of obstacles and challenges through spring and summer until August, when water and metal rise," Lo said. "But his enemies can forget about impeaching - best time to do that was last year."
Why? The president's fortunes are bound to improve because his earth-heavy nature will balance with the arrival in 2019 of the very elements he lacks, Lo explained.
According to the principles of feng shui - which means "wind water" in Chinese - the fortunes of people, events and places are governed by whether the five universal elements - fire, water, wood, metal and earth - can attain equilibrium.
Using birth dates, astrological calendars and compass-like devices called the luopan, feng shui practitioners calculate the disposition of individuals and periods when they can expect upswings and reversals in luck. That's why Trump, who was born June 14, 1946, during the Year of the Dog with an unusual preponderance of earth, had a crisis-mired 2018, a year also overabundant in not just earth, but "sinking earth."
That's also why Democrats may be dismayed to hear Trump's luck will surge going into 2020 - precisely "a year of water and gold," said Lo, who urged the president to pay attention to his blood circulation and up his antioxidant intake.
Outside the Qing Dynasty Lama Temple in Beijing, Master Rong Xia, concurred that it might be best for Democrats to strike before August and preferably in March, a bad time for Year of the Dog-born people such as Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a "very formidable" dragon born March 26, 1940, will experience more difficulties in September.
On the top floor of a commercial building in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay, Master Yeo Tin Ming - meaning Heaven's Destiny - laid out a bit of a truism that's nevertheless backed up by feng shui.
"Dogs and dragons are opposed. They clash," Yeo said. "They have problems communicating with each other. It's very hard for them to come to any agreement."
But Yeung predicted that as the year wears on, Democrats will relent on building a border wall, although likely with less funding than Trump hoped for.
Call it pseudoscience or the accumulation of millennia of Chinese wisdom - feng shui is serious business in Asia, where masters are leaned upon when picking everything from baby names to billion-dollar construction sites. They serve as life coaches and business strategists. They're also summoned to arrange furniture and position architectural features - all with the goal of achieving balance in the elements.
That's precisely what Pun Yin did in 1995, when the New York master suggested adding a metal-frame globe outside a new Columbus Circle hotel, the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
But when asked about Trump's fortunes today - the president is no longer her client - the feng shui master didn't exactly predict serenity.
"The extreme intensity of the earth element creates a character that is stubborn, self-absorbed, vindictive and judgmental," Pun Yin said. "Based on his five element characteristics, he will still be obsessed with fame and fortune and react to criticism."
She advised Trump to absorb the counsel - and the stabilizing "yin" influence - of his daughter Ivanka, and avoid rushing into deals this year on denuclearization and trade with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un or the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, respectively.
But considering the president's birth year, Pun Yin downplayed the chances of her old client changing.
"You can't teach an old dog new tricks," she said.
The Washington Post's Hui reported from Hong Kong.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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