Before you start moving around large pieces of furniture to maximize your ch'i, you need to understand the principles lying behind the guidelines. After all, what good is it to rearrange your living space if you don't understand the theory behind it?
Yin and Yang are not the names of twin pandas. Well, actually, they probably are, but that's not the Yin and Yang we're talking about. Yin (black) and yang (white) are the harmonizing factors of the universe: opposing energies like day and night. Here's a picture:
Oooh… pretty. Yin and yang are totally dependent upon one another and one does not exist without the other. In fact, there is always a little bit of yang within yin (the white spot on the yin side) and vice versa.
Yin and yang are typically portrayed inside a Taichi circle, which symbolizes completeness. Lifeforce energy (that is, ch'i) created the oppositional duality of yin and yang - neither is good or evil - they just exist that way. Below are the characteristics associated with yin and yang.
Supports, nurtures, and sustains
Shady, northern side of a hill
Valleys, rivers, streams
Full of power and energy
Sunny, southern side of a hill
Hills, mountains, raised topography
In feng shui, the goal is to achieve a balance of yin and yang. For example, if a backyard is too hilly (too much Mr. Yang) one would want to introduce a water feature or some plants to break up the landscape (introduce Ms. Yin).
The eight trigrams of the "I Ching" are the secret of life. Oh… so THAT'S the secret! And we thought the secret to life was the respiratory system! The I Ching, China's oldest and most influential book, describes nature (and everything else in the universe) as moving and changing. Here's a picture of the eight trigrams:
Each series of three lines represents a different "house." We'll get back to all these little lines later. For now, just know that they're important.
Ch'i energy can be manifested in five forms - the five elements of fire, earth, wood, water, or metal. (Contrary to popular belief, Milla Jovovich is not the fifth element.) The Chinese believe these elements affect everything we do. For example, in our horoscopes we have some of each element; however, how much we have of each element determines our personality and success (we'll tell you more about how to find out your personal elements later on in Step 4). Characteristics of the elements are listed below:
These elements interact with each other in cycles. You need to know these cycles, because it affects how you're going to arrange your living quarters. But for now, just frolic in the theory.
Fire produces earth (ash), earth creates metal, metal liquefies, water nurtures plants, and burning wood creates fire.
FIRE -> EARTH -> METAL -> WATER -> WOOD -> FIRE -> . . . and so on!
Fire melts metal, metal destroys wood, wood draws from earth, earth overpowers water, and water puts out fire.
FIRE destroys METAL destroys WOOD destroys EARTH
destroys WATER destroys FIRE . . . and so on!
This cycle corrects imbalances caused by the cycle of destruction. It's the reverse of production.
FIRE rebalances WOOD rebalances WATER rebalances METAL
rebalances EARTH rebalances FIRE . . . and so on!
So let's pretend that you are a WATER. Then it means that you should surround yourself with METALS (because it allows for production of your element), but you should keep away from EARTHS (because it destroys your element).
There are two different "schools" that you can use to analyze your environment: the Form school and the Compass school. While it is technically possible to use both, we're gonna stick with the Compass school because it's much easier. But to be fair, here's a little background on the Form school:
The Form school of feng shui suggests that you use the physical environment of your land to determine where to live. The ancient Chinese noticed that people who lived on the south side of a mountain surrounded by rolling hills to break up the wind had good, prosperous lives. They also saw that certain land formations looked like animals (much like how clouds can look like animals).
In the perfect feng shui location (called "The dragon protecting the pearl"), green dragon hills lie to the east and form a horse-shoe shape with the slightly lower white tiger hills in the west, black tortoise hills are to the north, and low red phoenix hills are in the south. Moreover, a meandering river tops off this most fortunate site (remember, swift waters carry away ch'i and the good fortune associated with it). In such a site, the ch'i will pool where the loins of the dragon and tiger meet in intercourse- the male dragon provides the yang energy and the female tiger provides the yin energy. That's where your house should go! If you can't get the prime real estate of the loin area, go for the dragon's heart or stomach.
But many of us live in apartments in the city - totally far from any chance of finding dragons, tigers, meandering streams, and loins. Fear not. Feng shui principles still hold true, no matter where you live. If you're moving to an apartment in a big city, a Form school master can analyze the height of the buildings surrounding your potential apartment, and help you find an apartment with good ch'i.
Let us give you a piece of advice now: don't worry about the Form school. It's interesting, and it's useful if you are going to build a house on a plot of land, but chances are that you're not going to use feng shui to determine where you decide to live. You're probably more interested in how you should arrange your furniture within your house. That's where the Compass school comes in.
The Compass school of feng shui deals with the compatibility between an individual's energy and the celestial energy from his/her environment. Basically, it uses Chinese astrology.
What you see above is called the Pa-Kua (pronounced par-kwar), a Taoist symbol of the universe. The eight trigrams depict the points of a compass, and make up the octagonal Pa-Kua. Each trigram is a different house: Li, K'un, Tui, Chien, K'an, Ken, Chen, and Sun.
So what you need to do is get a floorplan of your home (or dorm, or studio, or whatever you want to apply feng shui magic to), and put the Pa-Kua (or picture of a Pa-Kua) over it. If you need to sketch your floorplan on the back of a dirty napkin, that's OK too. You just need a picture of the layout of your domicile so that you can put the compass on top of it. Be very careful about direction. The North part of the Pa-Kua should point to the north of your house, not necessarily toward the top like a normal compass.
In order to determine your feng shui, you now must refer to the reference chart provided below, and find out what your personal elements and directions are. The 1) year and 2) time of day you were born determine your two personal elements. Once you know these two elements, you can figure out whether their relationship is good, bad, or neutral (see cycles in Step 2).
|Year of Birth||Element||Sign|
|Jan 25, 1925 - Feb 12, 1926||Wood||Ox|
|Feb 13, 1926 - Feb 01, 1927||Fire||Tiger|
|Feb 02, 1927 - Jan 22, 1928||Fire||Rabbit|
|Jan 23, 1928 - Feb 09, 1929||Earth||Dragon|
|Feb 10, 1929 - Jan 29, 1930||Earth||Snake|
|Jan 30, 1930 - Feb 16, 1931||Metal||Horse|
|Feb 17, 1931 - Feb 05, 1932||Metal||Sheep|
|Feb 06, 1932 - Jan 25, 1933||Water||Monkey|
|Jan 26, 1933 - Feb 13, 1934||Water||Rooster|
|Feb 14, 1934 - Feb 03, 1935||Wood||Dog|
|Feb 04, 1935 - Jan 23, 1936||Wood||Boar|
|Jan 24, 1936 - Feb 10, 1937||Fire||Rat|
|Feb 11, 1937 - Jan 30, 1938||Fire||Ox|
|Jan 31, 1938 - Feb 18, 1939||Earth||Tiger|
|Feb 19, 1939 - Feb 07, 1940||Earth||Rabbit|
|Feb 08, 1940 - Jan 26, 1941||Metal||Dragon|
|Jan 27, 1941 - Feb 14, 1942||Metal||Snake|
|Feb 15, 1942 - Feb 04, 1943||Water||Horse|
|Feb 05, 1943 - Jan 24, 1944||Water||Sheep|
|Jan 25, 1944 - Feb 12, 1945||Wood||Monkey|
|Feb 13, 1945 - Feb 01, 1946||Wood||Rooster|
|Feb 02, 1946 - Fan 21, 1947||Fire||Dog|
|Jan 22, 1947 - Feb 09, 1948||Fire||Boar|
|Feb 10, 1948 - Jan 28, 1949||Earth||Rat|
|Jan 29, 1949 - Feb 16, 1950||Earth||Ox|
|Feb 17, 1950 - Feb 05, 1951||Metal||Tiger|
|Feb 06, 1951 - Jan 26, 1952||Metal||Rabbit|
|Jan 27, 1952 - Feb 13, 1953||Water||Dragon|
|Feb 14, 1953 - Feb 02, 1954||Water||Snake|
|Feb 03, 1954 - Jan 23, 1955||Wood||Horse|
|Jan 24, 1955 - Feb 11, 1956||Wood||Sheep|
|Feb 12, 1956 - Jan 30, 1957||Fire||Monkey|
|Jan 31, 1957 - Feb 17, 1958||Fire||Rooster|
|Feb 18, 1958 - Feb 07, 1959||Earth||Dog|
|Feb 08, 1959 - Jan 27, 1960||Earth||Boar|
|Jan 28, 1960 - Feb 14, 1961||Metal||Rat|
|Feb 15, 1961 - Feb 04, 1962||Metal||Ox|
|Feb 05, 1962 - Jan 24, 1963||Water||Tiger|
|Jan 25, 1963 - Feb 12, 1964||Water||Rabbit|
|Feb 13, 1964 - Feb 01, 1965||Wood||Dragon|
|Feb 02, 1965 - Jan 20, 1966||Wood||Snake|
|Jan 21, 1966 - Feb 08, 1967||Fire||Horse|
|Feb 09, 1967 - Jan 29, 1968||Fire||Sheep|
|Jan 30, 1968 - Feb 16, 1969||Earth||Monkey|
|Feb 17, 1969 - Feb 05, 1970||Earth||Rooster|
|Feb 06, 1970 - Jan 26, 1971||Metal||Dog|
|Jan 27, 1971 - Feb 14, 1972||Metal||Boar|
|Feb 15, 1972 - Feb 02, 1973||Water||Rat|
|Feb 03, 1973 - Jan 22, 1974||Water||Ox|
|Jan 23, 1974 - Feb 10, 1975||Wood||Tiger|
|Feb 11, 1975 - Jan 30, 1976||Wood||Rabbit|
|Jan 31, 1976 - Feb 17, 1977||Fire||Dragon|
|Feb 18, 1977 - Feb 06, 1978||Fire||Snake|
|Feb 07, 1978 - Jan 27, 1979||Earth||Horse|
|Jan 28, 1979 - Feb 15, 1980||Earth||Sheep|
|Feb 16, 1980 - Feb 04, 1981||Metal||Monkey|
|Feb 05, 1981 - Jan 24, 1982||Metal||Rooster|
|Jan 25, 1982 - Feb 12, 1983||Water||Dog|
|Feb 13, 1983 - Feb 01, 1984||Water||Boar|
|Feb 02, 1984 - Feb 19, 1985||Wood||Rat|
|Feb 20, 1985 - Feb 08, 1986||Wood||Ox|
|Feb 09, 1986 - Jan 28, 1987||Fire||Tiger|
|Jan 29, 1987 - Feb 16, 1988||Fire||Rabbit|
|Feb 17, 1988 - Feb 05, 1989||Earth||Dragon|
|Feb 06, 1989 - Jan 26, 1990||Earth||Snake|
|Jan 27, 1990 - Feb 14, 1991||Metal||Horse|
|Feb 15, 1991 - Feb 03, 1992||Metal||Sheep|
|Feb 04, 1992 - Jan 22, 1993||Water||Monkey|
|Jan 23, 1993 - Feb 09, 1994||Water||Rooster|
|Feb 10, 1994 - Jan 30, 1995||Wood||Dog|
|Jan 13, 1995 - Feb 18, 1996||Wood||Boar|
|Feb 19, 1996 - Feb 07, 1997||Fire||Rat|
|Feb 09, 1997 - Jan 27, 1998||Fire||Ox|
|Jan 28, 1998 - Feb 05, 1999||Earth||Tiger|
|Feb 06, 1999 - Jan 27, 2000||Earth||Rabbit|
|Time of Birth||Element|
|11 p.m. - 1 a.m.||Wood|
|1 a.m. - 3 a.m.||Wood|
|3 a.m. - 5 a.m.||Fire|
|5 a.m. - 7 a.m.||Fire|
|7 a.m. - 9 a.m.||Earth|
|9 a.m. - 11 a.m.||Earth|
|11 a.m. - 1 p.m.||Metal|
|1 p.m. - 3 p.m.||Metal|
|3 p.m. - 5 p.m.||Water|
|5 p.m. - 7 p.m.||Water|
|7 p.m. - 9 p.m.||Water|
|9 p.m. - 11 p.m.||Water|
In feng shui, the goal is to create harmony between your environment and yourself. Your personal elements should guide your interior design decisions. For example, if you were born in a metal year, you would want to have earthy elements in your home because earth creates metal in the productive cycle (that's good!). However, you would not want too many symbols of fire, since fire melts metal in the destructive cycle (that's bad!). For refreshers about the productive and destructive cycles, jump back up to step 2.
This all gets pretty complicated when there is more than one family member in the household. In this case, the main breadwinner of the home's elements should be used for all the common living spaces, but each person's room (e.g., bedroom) should be based on his/her own elements.
Each person and home has its own trigram (that is, house). Use the table below to determine your personal trigram. Your home's trigram is determined by the direction the back of your home faces. The best situation is when your personal and home's trigrams match (that the back of your home faces the way that the chart below says it should face). If you ain't that lucky, you should still be content living in a home that's part of the same group of East or West houses as your personal trigram. If even that doesn't match up, never fear; there are remedies such as plants, fountains and wind chimes that will counterbalance the fact that you are living in a less than optimal home for you.
|Trigram - translation
Symbol, keyword, aspirational keyword, element
|Back of home faces||Positive directions||Negative directions|
|Li - the clinging
Fire, magnificence, fame, fire
|1919, 1928, 1937, 1946, 1955, 1964, 1973, 1982, 1991, 2000||1913, 1922, 1931, 1940, 1949, 1958, 1967, 1976, 1985, 1994||S||
Six Shar SW
5 Ghosts W
|K'an - the abysmal
Water, entrapment, career, water
|1918, 1927, 1936, 1945, 1954, 1963, 1972, 1981, 1990, 1999||1914, 1923, 1932, 1941, 1950, 1959, 1968, 1977, 1986, 1995||N||Prime N
Six Shar NW
5 Ghosts NE
|Chen - the arousing
Thunder, progress, family, wood
|1916, 1925, 1934, 1943, 1952, 1961, 1970, 1979, 1988, 1997||1916, 1925, 1934, 1943, 1952, 1961, 1970, 1979, 1988, 1997||E||Prime E
Six Shar NE
5 Ghosts NW
|Sun - the gentle
Wind, penetration, wealth, wood
|1915, 1924, 1933, 1942, 1951, 1960, 1969, 1978, 1987, 1996||1917, 1926, 1935, 1944, 1953, 1962, 1971, 1980, 1989, 1998||SE||Prime SE
Six Shar W
5 Ghosts SW
|Chien - the creative
Heaven, strength, mentors, sky
|1913, 1922, 1931, 1940, 1949, 1958, 1967, 1976, 1985, 1994||1919, 1928, 1937, 1946, 1955, 1964, 1973, 1982, 1991, 2000||NW||Prime NW
Six Shar N
5 Ghosts E
|K'un - the receptive
The earth, obedience, marriage, earth
|1914, 1917, 1923, 1926, 1932, 1935, 1941, 1944, 1950, 1953, 1959, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1977, 1980, 1986, 1989, 1995, 1998||1915, 1924, 1933, 1942, 1951, 1960, 1969, 1978, 1987, 1996||SW||Prime SW
Six Shar S
5 Ghosts SE
|Ken - keeping still
Mountain, pause, knowledge, earth
|1911, 1920, 1929, 1938, 1947, 1956, 1965, 1974, 1983, 1992||1918, 1921, 1927, 1930, 1936, 1939, 1945, 1948, 1954, 1957, 1963, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1981, 1984, 1990, 1993, 1999||NE||Prime NE
Six Shar E
5 Ghosts N
|Tui - the joyful
Mouth, joy, children, lake
|1912, 1921, 1930, 1939, 1948, 1957, 1966, 1975, 1984, 1993||1911, 1920, 1929, 1938, 1947, 1956, 1965, 1974, 1983, 1992||W||Prime W
Six Shar SE
5 Ghosts S
Each home is divided into 8 sections that correspond to pa-kua directions. Four directions are "good" or positive:
Four directions are "bad" or negative:
Now with ALL of this information, what you do is turn your attention back to your floorplans (or dirty napkin), look at the Pa-Kua laying over the drawing, and find out what parts of your house are positive and what parts are negative. Then heed the advice above, and make sure that the positive areas are where you eat, work, and sleep, and that the negative areas are storage areas, pantries, and bathrooms.
Here's a list of things you should look for: check out the lay of the land in terms of hills, water, vegetation (look for lush and thriving greenery), sunlight, drainage, roads, and potential winds. A square or rectangular lot is the best, rather than irregularly shaped land.
Well, we can't all live in the loins of the green dragon and white tiger. So, what you do is make do with what you get. There are many steps that you can take to improve your chances of accumulating ch'i in your home. If you live near strong winds or swift waters, you could build a fence or row of trees/shrubs to shield you from the wind or negative affects of the strong current. If you don't happen to live near clean, meandering water then you could build a pond or fountain. Water is important since it symbolizes status, prosperity and wealth and is the dragon's favorite element.
The ancient Chinese believed that shars or poison arrows travel in straight lines. Therefore, one should avoid straight lines often found in power lines, railroads, walls, rivers and roads. For example, the corner of a neighboring house may be pointed directly at your house. There are also traffic or road-related shars, like when your house is at the intersection of two streets, when traffic faces your house, or when your house is built on a curve of a road. Practically speaking, these types of traffic situations are negative because headlights are likely to shine in your windows at night. One remedy would be to build a fence or row of trees/shrubs to shield your home from the road.
Inside the house, exposed beams are considered unlucky and inhibit ch'i movement. They create the feeling of the weight of the world on one's shoulders. Ways to fix the negative effects of beams include hanging a small Pa-Kua in the center of the beam, or two small flutes with tassels. There are numerous shars that one should avoid, but too many to list here. Please refer to the reference books at the end of the article if you are interested in learning more.
Kitchen: (it's the symbol of family wealth)
And there you have it, how to use feng shui to get all your crap straightened out (no pun intended). For information that's a little more personalized, check out the online Chinese Fortune Calendar. Just put in your birth date, and it will calculate most of your feng shui information for you. Your directions, elements, all the basics!
Source: SoYouWanna.com, Inc