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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

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.

Yin
Yang
Black
Night
Female
Receptive
Yielding
Negative
Supports, nurtures, and sustains
Shady, northern side of a hill
Valleys, rivers, streams
White
Day
Male
Active
Dominating
Positive
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

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.

The five elements

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:

Wood
Fire
Earth
Metal
Water
  • Creative

  • Innovative

  • Pliant and bending,
    or
  • Strong and unyielding

  • Sociable and community minded

  • Color: green

  • Direction: east & northeast

  • Life cycle: birth & early childhood
  • Energy

  • Enthusiasm

  • Can be dangerous

  • Warms and cheers, but can burn and destroy

  • Natural leader

  • Color: red

  • Direction: south

  • Life cycle: late childhood before puberty
  • Stable

  • Real estate and legacies

  • Patient, just, honest, and methodical

  • Can be smothering and demanding

  • Color: yellow

  • Direction: center, southwest, & northeast

  • Life cycle: adolescence
  • Harvest

  • Business

  • Success (financial)

  • Can symbolize the sword and be destructive and violent

  • Color: white

  • Direction: west & northwest

  • Life cycle: adulthood
  • Travel

  • Communication

  • Literature, arts & media

  • Gentle (soft rain) or Violent (hurricane)

  • Nourishes living things, but can wear away rock

  • Color: black

  • Direction: north

  • Life cycle: old age

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.

  • Cycle of production - GOOD

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!

  • Cycle of destruction - BAD

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!

  • Cycle of reduction - NEUTRAL

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

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

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.

   
SOUTH
   
   
Li
   
EAST

Sun




Chen




Ken

K'un




Tui





Chien

WEST
   
K'an
   
   
NORTH
   

The Pa-Kua

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.

Elements

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.

Trigrams

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
Male
(year born)
Female
(year born)
Back of home faces Positive directions Negative directions
EAST HOUSES
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

Prime S
Health SE
Longevity N
Prosperity E

Death NW
Disaster NE
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
Health E
Longevity S
Prosperity SE
Death SW
Disaster W
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
Health N
Longevity SE
Prosperity S
Death W
Disaster SW
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
Health S
Longevity E
Prosperity N
Death NE
Disaster NW
Six Shar W
5 Ghosts SW
WEST HOUSES
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
Health NE
Longevity SW
Prosperity W
Death S
Disaster SE
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
Health W
Longevity NW
Prosperity NE
Death N
Disaster E
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
Health NW
Longevity W
Prosperity SW
Death SE
Disaster S
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
Health SW
Longevity NE
Prosperity NW
Death E
Disaster N
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:

  • Prime - the same direction the back of your house faces; a good side of the house for bedrooms and doors

  • Health - this direction brings vitality and good heath; good for master bedroom, dining room, and doors

  • Longevity - this direction brings peace, harmony and good health; good for bedrooms, for elderly folk, and the dining room

  • Prosperity - this direction brings progress, promotion, wealth, and vitality; good for the front door, the kitchen door, an office, or desk

Four directions are "bad" or negative:

  • Death - this direction is related to accidents, illness, and other misfortunes; good place for the toilet (but never the front door)

  • Disaster - this direction brings arguments, legal problems, and anger; good place for the toilet, pantry, or storage area

  • Six Shar - this direction is related to procrastination, loss, and scandals; good for the toilet or kitchen

  • Five Ghosts - this direction is related to fire, theft, and financial problems; good for the toilet or storage area

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.

Choose land

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.

Improve the site of your home

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.

Avoid shars

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.

Room by room

Bedrooms:

  • The master bedroom should be as far away from the front door as possible, because it would be most secure there.

  • The bed should face either the health or longevity directions if possible.

  • A person sitting in bed must be able to see who is entering the room (either by direct sight or using a mirror).

  • The foot of the bed should NOT face the door because this is how the Chinese line up coffins for burial (death position), nor should it face a mirror.

  • The bed's headboard should not touch the wall, but part of the bed should be touching a wall otherwise the people will feel unstable.

  • The color of the bedroom should compliment your personal element (for instance: wood - blue, fire - green, earth - red, metal - yellow, water - white).

Kitchen: (it's the symbol of family wealth)

  • The placement of the stove is most important. It should be positioned so a person using it can see who is entering the room (either by direct sight or using a mirror). The cook shouldn't be surprised by someone coming into the room because it may cause accidents or affect food preparation.

  • The stove should NOT face: the front door, bathroom door, master bedroom door, staircase, bed, under a beam, or in a corner.

  • There should be ample room to work around the stove - it should be kept clean and work well to encourage favorable family finances.

Living Room:

  • This is where the family and guests usually come together, so it should be comfortable, cheerful, and reflect the personalities of the home's occupants (e.g., pictures, art work, memorabilia).

  • It should be regular in shape - square and oblong are the best. However, some of the furniture should be round (e.g., rugs, end tables) since a round shape represents money.

  • The room should be well lit and have natural sunlight.

Dining Room:

  • Should be close to the kitchen and preferably in the corner of a home to encourage the pooling of ch'i. Placement near the front door means your guests will eat and leave quickly. However, just like fences can block unfavorable situations outside, screens can serve the same purpose inside.

  • Round tables are ideal because everyone can talk easily to each other. The table should be made out of wood or metal, NOT glass or marble.

  • There should be enough room around the table for guests to comfortably get in and out of their chairs.

  • Mirrors are beneficial because they give the perception of doubling the amount of food.

Bathroom:

  • Lots of water (symbolic of money) is used in the bathroom, so the room symbolizes the homeowner's finances.

  • The bathroom should NOT be placed in the wealth, fame, or career sectors of the home, nor should it be visible from the front door.

  • It should be clean, well lit, well ventilated, and have many mirrors.

  • The toilet should be hidden, if possible in a separate room, and not be placed central to the home because it could "flush away" opportunity.

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

 

 

 

 

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