A Feng Shui Primer for Westerners

Hilda Carroll


Photo by Jack Prichett on Unsplash

Many ancient traditions applied sacred space practices to purify the energy of our homes. In the modern western world, though, Feng Shui is possibly the better-known system.

And it can be relatively simple to apply — if we don’t get too bogged down in having to do it perfectly.

In this article I'm looking at western Feng Shui (also known as Black Hat).

First, a word on manifestation.

Many people approach Feng Shui as a manifestation technique. And while it can certainly be helpful in this regard, I think it’s unhelpful in general to adopt it only for that purpose.

Some Feng Shui consultants will tell you to put “cures” in place, and then your life will magically improve. Please don’t have these kinds of expectations, as disappointment is likely to follow.

However, when we combine symbolic cures with reflecting on and adapting our own thought, beliefs, and behavior patterns, Feng Shui can support us in manifesting positive changes in our lives.

The Bagua.

The Bagua is the fundamental tool to become acquainted with. It divides your home into nine equal areas (guas), each of which corresponds with a different area of your life:

· Health/Unity
· Wealth & Blessings
· Career/Life Path
· Family & Community
· Knowledge & Wisdom
· Relationships
· Creativity/New Beginnings
· Fame & Reputation
· Helpful People & Travel

When you view your home in this way and associate particular areas with different aspects of your life, decluttering, cleaning, and re-organizing a specific gua can often result in improvements in the corresponding region of your home.

As already mentioned, for the outer changes you make in your guas to have a mirroring effect in our lives, we also need to reflect on what belief or behavior patterns we have that may be contributing to a less than optimum situation.

It is essential to couple the outer work with inner work.

Applying the Bagua to your Home.

Wherever it sits on your Bagua, your front door is considered as the primary energy (chi) portal for your home, with opportunities coming in through this entrance. Some Feng Shui teachers insist on this being the architectural front door. Others allow more flexibility, if you use a different entrance more frequently.

Whichever way you go, the space inside our main entry must be reasonably clear and uncluttered, allowing the energy to flow in freely and begin to circulate throughout our homes.

First thing to do is draw your home's floor plan. Be reasonably accurate in terms of proportions. You can step it out if you don’t have a measuring tape handy.

Then divide it into a grid to identify what part of your home represents what parts of your life. Do this for each level of your home, if it is multi-story. It's important that the grids are equal - don't be influenced by the internal walls. Any room can have multiple guas within it, and any gua can span more than one room.


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Your front door will be opening into either your helpful people/travel, career/life path, or self-development area. And those guas will be directly above and below one another on different floors.

It’s also worth noting that your kitchen and bedroom are also hotspots for wealth and relationships, respectively.

So, no matter where your relationship gua sits officially, your bedroom is also a space tied to romantic relationships. And your kitchen is also closely associated with finances.

The main issues tend to be related to the flow of energy and the symbolism placed throughout the home.

Piles of clutter can block the circulation of energy or furniture poorly placed. And the remedy is to remove whatever obstacles are in the way — either decluttering or rearranging the furniture.

The result you want to achieve is a clear pathway for people — and the energy — to easily move around your home.

It is just as important to check that energy (representing opportunities) is not escaping from your home too quickly.

While a clear path for the easy movement of chi is needed, it’s not recommended to have a straight path between the front door and the back door or a window. That moves the energy in and out of the house too quickly, without redirecting it around the home first.

Of course, this can be an architectural issue that we can’t control. But the beauty of Feng Shui is that there is a remedy for every problem.

If there is a straight path between your main entry and an external door or window, the remedy is to slow down the movement of chi. You can do this by hanging a crystal just inside the entry and exit points. And placing an obstacle in the way (helpful in this instance), for example, a table with a plant on it.

If you do have an architectural issue like this that you’re finding difficult to resolve, it would be a good idea to consult a practitioner .

Energy can also escape prematurely down toilets and other drains. So the recommendation is to keep toilet lids down and keep bathroom doors closed.

You also need to check that water isn’t excessively draining out of the house. If you find any leaking taps or pipes, fix them without delay.

Once you’ve sorted out energy blocks or drains, you want to examine the symbolism of the art and décor in each gua.

Ask yourself if it reflects how you want that aspect of your life to be.

For example, does the symbolism in your relationship gua depict happy, loving relationships. Are there images of single people there? Are there images of unhappy people there (or anywhere in your home)?

Is there anything in your wealth area that conveys a sense of prosperity to you? Conversely, is there anything there that makes you feel inadequate when you see it?

Reflect on how the external appearance of each area of your home supports what you want to be feeling about that aspect of your life on the inner level. And swap out anything that doesn’t symbolically help that with something that will.

It's also possible to use elements of nature - Earth, Fire, Wood and Metal - to activate and support each gua and I'll cover these in a follow-up article. And you can find specific tips to enhance romance in this earlier article.

Feng Shui is about balancing and harmonizing the energy of our homes.

There’s no need to become obsessive or take a perfectionist approach.

The key lies in becoming aware of how well the chi can circulate and how the overall energy supports us in creating the life we want.

We do the best we can, and we do it with deliberate intention. Small tweaks applied mindfully can be more helpful than you think.

Because making these tweaks on the external often prompts internal inquiry around these areas of our lives. And ultimately, that inner reflection can lead to the most helpful changes.

For more on that, you might enjoy:

Why You should Treat Feng Shui as a Personal Development Tool.

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My passion is to help people to create true sanctuary in their everyday lives, by combining self-care practices with home-care practices. I believe that the key to optimum wellbeing is designing both a life and a home that you don’t need to escape from in order to recharge. Instead, create a lifestyle that integrates wellbeing practices and create a home that supports you in maintaining this balanced lifestyle.


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