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Breaking Down the Bagua: Understanding the Most Important Tool of Feng Shui

At the core of all Feng Shui teachings lies the Bagua Map, an essential tool used to assess and enhance the flow of energy, or "Chi," within a space. The Bagua is a diagrammatic representation of your home, divided into nine sections or areas which each corresponding to different aspects of life.

History of the Bagua

The Bagua or Pa Kua Map dates back thousands of years, originating from ancient Chinese philosophies.

The "I Ching" or "Book of Changes" is an ancient divination text that contains sacred energy symbols known as trigrams. When the trigrams are stacked in pairs hexagrams are formed, creating the sixty four combinations of the I Ching. Over time the Bagua's symbolism expanded to include 9 key areas, each representing specific aspects of life.


In the context of Feng Shui, the Bagua is comprised of eight trigrams, also known as "guas"., which are fundamental symbols derived from the ancient Chinese text, the "I Ching" or "Book of Changes."

Each trigram represents a unique combination of 3 horizontally drawn solid/straight (Yang) or broken (Yin) lines symbolizing different elemental energies and universal natural phenomena. Typically the lines are read from the bottom up with the bottom line representing Earth, the middle line representing man, and the top line representing Heaven.

These trigrams form the basis of the Bagua and are associated with a specific cardinal direction, earth element, season, number, bodily organ, color, family member and other vital life aspects.

Here are the eight trigrams, along with their corresponding attributes:

Qian/Ch'ien (HEAVEN)

  • Direction: Northwest

  • Element: Metal

  • Attributes: Representing the creative force, strength, leadership, and the father. It symbolizes heaven, power, and masculine energy.

Dui/Tui (LAKE)

  • Direction: West

  • Element: Metal

  • Attributes: Associated with joy, creativity, beauty, and relationships. It embodies the concept of pleasure, harmony, and love.


  • Direction: South

  • Element: Fire

  • Attributes: Symbolizing brightness, passion, illumination, and transformation. It signifies warmth, enthusiasm, and the middle daughter.

Zhen/ Chen (THUNDER)

  • Direction: East

  • Element: Wood

  • Attributes: Representing movement, vitality, growth, and initiation. It symbolizes a breakthrough, vitality, and the eldest son.

Xun/ Hsun (WIND)

  • Direction: Southeast

  • Element: Wood

  • Attributes: Associated with gentle penetration, flexibility, and receptivity. It represents gentle wind, kindness, and the eldest daughter.

Kan / K'an (WATER)

  • Direction: North

  • Element: Water

  • Attributes: Symbolizing danger, the unknown, persistence, and potential. It embodies deep water, danger, and the second son.


  • Direction: Northeast

  • Element: Earth

  • Attributes: Associated with stillness, stability, contemplation, and meditation. It symbolizes a mountain, tranquility, and the youngest son.

Kun/(K'un) (EARTH)

  • Direction: Southwest

  • Element: Earth

  • Attributes: Representing receptivity, fertility, nurturing, and the mother. It symbolizes the earth, support, and the youngest daughter.

These trigrams are used in Feng Shui to analyze and balance the energies within a space based on their corresponding directions, elements, and symbolic meanings. By understanding and applying the principles associated with each trigram, practitioners aim to create harmonious environments that support various aspects of life.

Why is the Bagua Map Important?

  1. Energetic Flow: The Bagua Map helps identify areas where Chi might be stagnant or imbalanced, allowing for adjustments to optimize the flow of positive energy.

  2. Harmony and Balance: The Bagua's encourages a unified balance of the 5 elements to foster a sense of well-being.

  3. Personal Growth & Transformation: The Bagua addresses various facets of life, allowing individuals to focus on enhancing specific areas to support their goals, desires and overall well-being. It provides a framework to align one's environment with one's personal energy and aspirations.

How Does the Bagua Map Work?

The Bagua is framework to help guide your life to be more intentional- resulting in a mix of earth elements and overall living with more consciousness and creativity, noticing details and seeing the interconnectedness of everything in your life.

To use the Bagua Map, practitioners will overlay the template onto the floor plan of your home or a specific room. Typically the bottom of the map will align with the front side of the space which contains the main entrance.

As I was trained and certified in the contemporary Western BTB School of feng shui I do not follow the Traditional Luopan School bagua, which incorporates magnetic/geographic compass directions or "flying stars" luck and Chinese astrology. To me and many other modern practitioners this method is very out of date and overall an impractical, fear-based way to practice Feng Shui.

Instead I choose to align “metaphorical north” of a circular/pie chart bagua with the main entrance, which corresponds with the Purpose gua (ie “your true north”). The other guas stem from there, always based on the perspective of looking at the house from above, or in front . This gentle hybrid approach helps clients love and accept their home as it is rather than consider it a force working against them.

The nature of a circlur bagua is helpful because it demonstrates how the energy of your home naturally radiates out from the center. In this way extensions or missing areas arent as concerning or obvious, and all parts of the home are included and considered. For individual rooms, on the others, using a rectangular or square bagua still makes sense.

The Guas

Each portion of the Bagua corresponds to a specific area of your life, and by assessing these areas, adjustments can be made to enhance the flow of energy and improve various aspects of life.

Each of the 9 guas is associated with elements that are supportive (in order below), and each element has an associated color, shape and symbols to incorporate to create greater balance and harmony.

CAREER/PURPOSE ("North" - Front)

  • career path and life journey.


FAME/REPUTATION ("South" - Back)

  • recognition, reputation, visibility.


PAST/HERITAGE ("East"- Left)

  • ancestry, family history


FUTURE/LEGACY ("West"- Right)

  • creativity, play, youth, children



  • balance, harmony


WEALTH/PROSPERITY ("SouthEast" - Rear Left)

  • finances, abundance


LOVE/RELATIONSHIPS ("SouthWest" - Rear Right

  • romantic relationships and partnerships, self-love



  • connections- helpful people, friendships, acquaintances, neighbors, mentors, travel luck.


KNOWLEDGE /WISDOM ("NorthEast" - Front Left)

  • learning, education, personal growth


Application & Adjustments

Floor Plan Shape

Feng Shui emphasizes the importance of shape to contribute stability of the structure. Irregular shapes or can indicate extremes or imbalances, thus a square or rectangular floorplan is considered the ideal energy. Fear not, we can always use cures to remedy and anchor missing corners or extensions.

Once the bagua is applied and you have identified which direction and element is associated, you can make the necessary changes to shift the energy. These usually fall in one of three categories:

  1. SUBTRACTIONS: decluttering, removing anything you don’t love, use or need in order to allow positive energy to flow freely.

  2. ADDITIONS: elemental enhancements, traditional & transcendental cures. Use corresponding symbols and elements to enhance, activate or balance Chi in specific areas. Universal enhancements include incorporating plants, natural lighting and soothing, grounding shapes and colors.

  3. MODIFICATIONS rearranging and using what you already have!

The Pareto Principle

Also known as the 80/20 rule, this states that roughly 80% of results come from 20% of efforts or causes. In the context of Feng Shui and the Bagua Map, applying the Pareto Principle involves identifying and focusing on the most vital aspects of your life that can yield significant improvements in your living space's energy and overall harmony. To do this, focus on the TWO most important guas (20% of Bagua areas) to impact 80% of your life aspects or concerns. Periodically reassess to determine if the adjustments made to the vital areas have resulted in noticeable improvements. Refine or readjust Feng Shui remedies as needed to maintain optimal energy flow.

Intuitive Feng Shui

There will be the rare occasion when following the Bagua does not make sense, and that's ok. The most important guideline in Feng Shui is to follow your intuition. Ultimately YOU decide what resonates best with you and your space.

Wrapping it Up

The Bagua Map stands as a testament to the rich history and philosophical underpinnings of Feng Shui. Its enduring importance lies in its ability to offer guidance for optimizing spaces, promoting harmony, and supporting individuals in their pursuit of a balanced and fulfilling life.

In the modern era, the Bagua Map remains a cornerstone of Feng Shui practice, helping individuals and families attract greater peace and prosperity. While interpretations may vary with school and practitioner, the underlying intentions remain consistent.

Understanding and applying the principles of the Bagua Map empowers individuals to create spaces that resonate with higher vibrational frequencies and contribute to their overall well-being.

Need help applying the Bagua to your space? I'd love to help! Let's connect.


Erin is a certified feng shui consultant, energy healer, wellness coach, and holistic growth strategist.

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