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Feng Shui & Subtle Energies

Updated on October 21, 2014
feng shui symbol
feng shui symbol

Understanding Chi

What is Chi?

Chi is simply translated to mean "life force." It is pronounced chee. Places that contain broken objects, mess or negative images are thought to weaken or block the life force. An individual living in such an environment is thought to have their own life force weakened by this negative chi. Negative chi is also called shar chi and is represented by anything that creates shadows, dirties the air or water, is stagnant or has sharp or intrusive edges.

Conversely, certain objects and shapes are thought to assist in the creation of good chi. These include objects such as mirrors, plants, bright lights and all moving objects such as wind chimes, mobiles, televisions, microwaves and electric fans. Ancient Chinese scholars named the universal abstract energy or force that governs our world Chi which also translates to mean the "dragon's celestial breath." This is what the ancient Chinese scholars named the universal abstract energy or life force that governs our world. The dragon, an auspicious animal, governs an individual's fate and karma.

Although chi is present everywhere it is thought to collect in places that are augmented by certain characteristics of the landscape. For instance it is considered to be bad fortune to live right next to a swiftly running river or in a dwelling that is exposed to the winds as strong winds and swift water are thought to carry good chi away. A property that is bounded by rolling hills and slow moving meandering streams is thought to create and collect good chi. This type of water flow is thought to bring a residence happiness, prosperity, luck and longevity.

Before you start moving around large pieces of furniture or tearing down walls to maximize your chi, you need to understand the basic principles that underlie this ancient art and science. Understanding just a few basic principles will help you customize the basic rules of Feng Shui to fit your particular situation. Remember that there are no firm how-to´s or rules in Feng Shui. It has always relied on innovation and intuition as well as tradition to provide solutions to every day problems.

Yin and Yang

Yin (black) and yang (white) are the harmonizing factors of the universe. They are opposing energies like day and night. Neither one is particularly negative nor positive; they are just forces that need to be in balance in one's environment to achieve optimum peace and prosperity. Yin and yang are totally dependent upon one another and one does not exist without the other.

Yin and yang are typically portrayed inside a Tai Chi circle, which symbolizes wholeness. This symbol represents the harmonization of dualities within the universe. Notice the fact that there is always a little bit of yang within yin (the white spot on the yin side) and vice versa. The following chart breaks down the contrasting general characteristics that are associated with both Yin and Yang.








Supports, nurtures, sustains

Shady northern side of a hill

Valleys, rivers, streams











Creates, initiates and achieves

Sunny side of a hill

Hills and mountains




In Feng Shui, the goal is to achieve a balance between the yin and yang elements. For example, if a backyard were too hilly (too much Yang) one would want to introduce a water fountain or some plants to break up the landscape. The introduction of the Yin element of water helps to balance both factors in the landscape. The rule of thumb is that too much of the Yin element creates an isolation and stagnation; too much Yang creates chaos, agitation and destruction.

Five elements of feng shui
Five elements of feng shui | Source


The Five Elements

Chi energy manifests in five forms - the five elements of fire, earth, wood, water, or metal. In certain schools of Feng Shui, these elements relate to trigrams on the Pa kua. Don't worry about memorizing all this as we have included a summation of all of this information on an easy to use Ba gua that you will find on a following page. However, for your own reference characteristics and qualities of the five elements are listed below: The five elements describe five essential qualities of chi (life force energy), which you can use to enhance, control, or balance a space, depending on your needs:

Essential qualities of chi

Metal the quality of contraction, sharpness, and focus; when too strong, metal energy can make you sharp-tongued and critical

Water the quality of flowing, making connections; too much water energy can make you “wishy-washy” and indecisive

Wood the quality of easy growth and progress; too much wood energy makes you aggressive or impatient, lacking compassion

Fire the quality of excitement, expansion, quickness; too much fire energy can leave you stressed out and anxious

Earth the quality of settling down, being receptive; too much leads to depression, sluggishness, feeling stuck or weighed down

Each element can help shift your energy and/or the energy of your space. When you understand the relationships between the five elements, and how they can affect your space and your energy, they become a powerful tool in your feng shui tool kit. Metal helps you concentrate and get things done; its inward focus helps you clear your head and cope with details. Water is helpful when things have been stuck for a while (think of ice melting), and for improving communication. It is also associated with cash flow and opportunities. Wood energy is associated with new beginnings, and it can help you make smooth progress in the projects you undertake. Fire creates heat and action, and is the energy to use when you want to increase passion and intensity in any area of your life. Earth energy is good when things are chaotic and you need more stability, or if you are dealing with issues of commitment, nurturing, or receptivity.

using a ba gua in feng shui
using a ba gua in feng shui

Using a Ba Gua

The Ba Gua

What is a Ba gua?

A Ba gua can be described as a "Feng Shui map." It is shaped into nine sectors based on the eight directions (something like the slices of a pie.) Each area corresponds to a different area in your life such as prosperity, love, wisdom and the other tenets that create happiness. The Ba gua also has a center that denotes the center of your home. This area is the health sector of your environment. Buy yourself a good compass to use in conjunction with the Ba gua

How to Use the Ba gua

First of all use your compass to find the most northern part of your home. Now refer to the Ba gua template above. You will see that you have found the career sector of your house. In the opposite direction is your fame and reputation sector (the south). In ancient times, the ba gua was oriented to the compass directions. Each element is therefore also associated with a specific direction: Contemporary Western feng shui orients the ba gua to the front entry of each room and therefore each room has an area associated with a specific direction. The choice as to which is used is entirely yours, do what feels most comfortable. Many practitioners also look at the compass directions when determining areas of influence. Compare your directions to the Ba gua template to find out how your dwelling measures up in terms of finding each different sector.


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