Feng shui, for the few folks out there who haven’t heard about it, is the ancient Chinese science of determining and altering the effects of the environment on our lives. If you listen to some of the claims made for feng shui, it holds all the secrets to health, wealth and happiness wrapped up in a few coins and some wind chimes. All you have to do is anchor your house with a Black Turtle, get a Red Phoenix to nest in front of it and find a White Tiger and a Green Dragon to protect its flanks. If all that sounds suspiciously like semi-mystical mumbo-jumbo, it may be because our practical English isn’t informed by the cultural mythology of China. Before you run out to find green dragon and white tiger statues, read on and learn a little about finding your perfect home with feng shui.
Feng shui proposes that in addition to the energy forces that we can see and feel – like wind – there are also invisible and unfelt forces of energy that affect our bodies and our minds. Some practitioners have tried to explain these forces by using the metaphor of a magnet. We can’t see the attractive and repellent forces themselves, but we can see their effects if we try to push together the wrong ends of two magnets. The magnetic forces repel each other.
In feng shui, the life force is called chi (or qi). There are two opposite types of chi – yin, the female, passive, receptive force, and yang, the male, active and repellant force. These forces are in constant flow and movement on, in and above the earth. Certain land formations and structures can help attract, channel and direct both types of chi. That’s the basic concept that underlies most practical feng shui.
So what’s that got to do with picking the right house?
When you choose a house, you look for congenial neighbors, good schools, the distance to and from work and other destinations, the view – why not look at the land forms and structures around the house and how they may or may not encourage positive energy to flow into your home – and stay with you? That’s essentially what a feng shui consultant does – examines the flow of energy and makes suggestions based on his or her observations. Ideally, a feng shui consultant will also want to know the birth dates of the people who will live in the house to help him or her determine specific suggestions for locating rooms and furnishings, but there are some general guidelines for situating houses that you might find helpful.
In feng shui, every house has four guardians. These guardians are given the names of mythical Chinese animals. If you stand facing your house, the left side is the place for the Green Dragon and the right is where you should find the White Tiger. At the back of your house, there should be a Black Turtle and in front of it, a Red Phoenix. The Green Dragon should be stronger than the White Tiger. The Black Turtle should be higher than the house, and the Red Phoenix should be lower than the house.
Now let’s cut away the poetry and talk in plain English. Ideally, your home should be protected on both sides and in the front and the back by some structure or land formation. You can see how practical this advice is if you consider that wind is an energy force. If energy currents carry life force, then it only makes sense to locate your home in such a way that it is protected from destructive forces while inviting and holding protective ones.
Feng shui experts will tell you to look for Black Turtle behind your house. Black Turtle “supports” your house. Traditionally, it’s a hill or a mountain, but these days a wall or building behind your house could serve the same purpose. If you can find or build your house so that there is a hill, mountain or other tall land form behind it, Black Turtle will have your back. If not, you can always build a wall or plant a hedge of trees. Practically, it makes sense to shield your house from high, strong winds and lashing rains.
At the front, the feng shui ideal house would have a lake, pool or meandering stream which encourage the good energies to pool and remain with your house. A lawn or grassy field makes a good Red Phoenix, as does a street with little traffic. According to feng shui wisdom, a house with a strong Red Phoenix, like one facing a busy highway, will tend to drain its residents of energy. Imagine the unconscious stress of the constant rush and noise of a busy street right outside your front window and you begin to see how it all makes practical sense.
Green Dragon and White Tiger
The auspicious home also has protectors to the right and left sides of the house, usually in the form of elevations – a hill, a wall, another building – even a row of hedges or a fence can serve the purpose. In feng shui terms, the green dragon and white tiger guard your home (and you) against bad energy. In practical terms, they serve as privacy screens and wind breaks.
What if the house you love has bad feng shui?
You could just figure that if you love the house, the feng shui can’t be all bad. But any good feng shui consultant can recommend cures to mitigate any bad feng shui. You might plant a hedge on the right side of the house to bolster the white tiger, or put a fountain in the front yard if your red phoenix needs help.
When you consider how practical many of the suggestions offered by feng shui consultants are, it’s really not surprising that many of the most beautiful and congenial houses you’ll view have good feng shui. If you don’t believe me, look for the white tiger and green dragon next time you go house shopping. You’ll see.
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