Beware of the dog and all that . . .

Tai Sui and his nasty peers are camped out in the North this year, so expect storms, floods and trouble with ice there.

The dog stars they call them, left over from an earlier time when the universe was run by the powers of evil. Mightily restrained over the millennia by unknown Feng Shui masters, they still cast their malign influence over human affairs. So which strays will come to eat from your doggie bowl this year? The usual suspects are at the door, aimed against dogs, dragons, oxen and goats, but conversely good for rabbits and roosters.

Tai Sui

The Grand Duke

Responsibility for guarding the Grand Duke's kennel this year passes to General Jiang Wu - the Ming dynasty figure from Shandong, not the actor from Hebei. The Tai Sui PR office talks up his military background and his rectitude in opposing anyone whose activities clashed with those of the state. Not only did he oppose the Mongols and Manchus, he went after domestic bandits too. His army was the only one not to flee in panic when opposing Li Zicheng at Kaifeng. His reward for such loyal service? Drawn and quartered, giving him the opportunity to become immortal and to oversee all regions. So what does Jiang Wu's coming mean for us? To prevent things going south, dogs need to keep a watch on their emotions - stay away from hubcaps and postmen. Dragons' grand plans are likely to go astray - so those castles you've been planning to torch might get a pass this year. Goats need to be on their best footing, otherwise falling off that rocky path will hurt. For the rest of us, eating more celebratory foods is a good way to keep ill-omens at bay - crash as many weddings as you can.

Tsui Po

The Year Breaker

Throw a spaniel into the works. The Year Breaker sails east-southeast. If you sit facing west-northwest, then calamities and penury abound and it's the doghouse for you. Cheer up though. Pop down to your local Wing On and pick up a Year-Breaker tablet - that'll set matters right! If they've sold out, you're best advised to have your building turned 180 degrees; that way you'll be sitting alongside the Tai Sui and facing down the Year Breaker. That's expensive, but really, have you looked at the denominations, or is it demoninations, of currency in the spirit world? You don't want those debts hanging over you.

San Sha

Three Killings

All mangy wickedness comes from the north, one way or another, and this year the Three Killings are pointering directly at us. But it's been around a long time and its eyesight is no longer 20-20, so if you need to dig in the north, start out towards the east or west. Ox, Rat and Pig folk should pay special attention as they are most at risk. Just in case, you might stare down the Three Killings with the Three Celestial Guardians, the Fu Dog, the Pixiu and the Qilin. Between them they're equipped with about every form of feng shui defence you can imagine.

Wu Wang

Five Yellows

Don't be fooled by seeing this chap at the back of our pack - he's a true mongrel and he'll cast his pestilence from the north this year. Protect yourself against his rabid designs on your health by placing more metal in the northern side of your home. Five-element pagodas are also effective at assuaging his anger: in card form or in metal. But remember, like the Tai Sui, the Five Yellow can never be completely eliminated - always be on your guard!