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'Wind & Water': Understanding The History and Most Essential Terms & Core Concepts of Feng Shui

Feng Shui, the ancient art and science of creating spatial harmony, is a centuries-old metaphysical practice that has gained popularity worldwide. The core principles of Feng Shui are based on the belief that Everything is Energy, so the order and arrangement of our surroundings will affect all aspects of our lives, from our health, to our finances, to our relationships.

The ultimate goal of Feng Shui is to establish equilibrium between the individual and their environment. Making shifts in our living or working spaces can bring in positive energy, and enhance our overall well-being. In this blog, we'll explore the fundamental concepts, key philosophies and essential tools of Feng Shui to help you create a more balanced and harmonious living or working space.

Replicating Nature

Feng Shui represents 1/3 of the Cosmic Trinity of humanity: luck on earth, luck in heaven and luck in our choices. Feng Shui, which translates to "wind and water," is based in the observation of how the natural world affects human life. The ultimate goal of Feng Shui is to harness the soothing and harmonious flow of energy, much like the gentle patterns of wind and water, with the aim of attracting good fortune.

  1. Wind (Feng): Wind represents the invisible energy or life force (Qi or Chi) that flows through everything in the universe. In Feng Shui, harnessing the positive flow of energy (Feng) is essential for creating harmonious and balanced environments. Feng relates to the intangible aspects of energy, intention, and the circulation of life force. The practice seeks to ensure that the energy within a space, much like the wind, flows smoothly and gently, rather than being stagnant or turbulent.

  2. Water (Shui): Water symbolizes the physical, tangible aspects of Feng Shui. It represents the flow of energy in the material world and how this flow affects our surroundings. Water can be seen in the placement of actual water features, like ponds or fountains, as well as in the layout and arrangement of objects and structures. Water's adaptability and capacity for change are key aspects of how Feng Shui considers the dynamic and ever-changing nature of our environments.

By replicating the harmony of the natural world in our constructed environments, Feng Shui seeks to yield aesthetically pleasing and functional spaces while also cultivating a sense of peace and order within the subconscious mind.

In essence, the relationship between wind and water in Feng Shui reflects the balance between the unseen, metaphysical aspects (wind) and the practical, observable elements (water) within our living spaces. By harmonizing these two forces, Feng Shui aims to create environments that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also conducive to well-being and positive energy flow. When wind and water are in balance, they generate a sense of tranquility and vitality in the spaces they inhabit.

History & Origins

The foundations of Feng Shui can be traced back to ancient China and the philosophy of Daoism, which emphasized the principles of balance, interconnectedness, and living in accordance with the natural order.

Traditional Feng Shui teachings looked at the topographical features and geographical forms in the land. These were used in the search for auspicious locations for various purposes, such as burials, colonization and building structures. It was believed that a location's energy was based on the shapes and contours in the environment, which affected the vibrational energy of a particular site.

These original schools of feng shui evolved to incorporate a magnetic compass for diagnosing the energies within a space. Today, Feng Shui continues to be a popular practice for those seeking to improve the energy and balance in their homes and surroundings. Contemporary schools of feng shui have adapted to the demands of modern times,

To guide Feng Shui diagnoses and remedies, practitioners draw from the ancient foundational texts of the I Ching, which outlines the nature of all universal events and phenomena.

Essential Feng Shui Philosophies

Qi or Chi

The most direct translation of Chi would be “lifeforce.” This is an ancient Daoist concept that refers to the invisible but essential energy that forms, connects, and powers everything in existence in the universe, earth and humanity. It is what enables you and everything else to move, change, shift, and transform. It travels through our bodies along pathways called meridians, and across all of nature and throughout our spaces.

Chi is a lot like water; you want to keep it flowing consistently. It operates best in places that are safe, purposeful, accessible, clean and comfortable, where it can move and meander freely.

  • Sheng Chi – Positive or beneficial energy.

  • Sha Chi – Negative or harmful energy.

Yin and Yang

Feng Shui acknowledges the Daoist idea that unites all opposites as complimentary but inseparable forces. The basic duality of Yin and Yang energies:

  • The Yin represents "thought", or passive, receiving or feminine energy

  • The Yang embodies "action" , or active, giving or masculine energy,

These opposite polarities keep the world in a state of equilibrium. To move forward in a healthy and harmonious way you need both Yin and Yang, and you simply can’t sustain one without the other.

I Ching

The I Ching, also known as the "Book of Changes," is one of the oldest and most influential texts in Chinese philosophy and divination. People have consulted the I Ching for centuries to seek wisdom and guidance on various life situations and decisions.

The I Ching is composed of 64 hexagrams, which result from combinations of eight trigrams. Trigrams consist of symbols with three horizontally drawn straight or broken lines, each arranged above the other, representing Yin and Yang energies.

The most fascinating part of Human Design is remembering that the body has 64 codons of DNA. The synchronicity between the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching and the 64 codons of DNA reveals a profound interconnectedness between our physical and metaphysical realms and reflects the dynamic principles of nature, change, adaptation, and evolution. The same fundamental forces that shape our physical reality also influence our spiritual consciousness.


The Bagua

The Bagua diagram represents 8 natural forces or core aspects of life and existence.

1. Qian (Heaven): Qian represents heaven, the sky, and the creative force. It is associated with qualities such as strength, leadership, and inspiration. The element linked to Qian is metal. In Feng Shui, this aspect relates to the patriarch of the family and the head of the household.

2. Kun (Earth): Kun symbolizes the earth, receptivity, and nourishment. It embodies qualities like stability, fertility, and grounding. The associated element is also earth. In Feng Shui, this aspect corresponds to the mother or matriarch and the nurturing energy in the home.

3. Zhen (Thunder): Zhen is associated with thunder, shock, and awakening. It represents qualities like assertiveness, motivation, and growth. The element connected to Zhen is wood. In Feng Shui, this aspect is related to the oldest son in the family and his role in leadership and growth.

4. Xun (Wind): Xun symbolizes wind, gentleness, and penetrating energy. It embodies qualities such as adaptability, kindness, and flexibility. The associated element is wood. In Feng Shui, this aspect corresponds to the eldest daughter and her role in promoting harmony and adaptability.

5. Kan (Water): Kan represents water, the source of life and the flow of emotions. It embodies qualities like introspection, wisdom, and calmness. The element associated with Kan is water. In Feng Shui, this aspect relates to the middle son and his role in introspection and calmness.

6. Li (Fire): Li symbolizes fire, illumination, and the spark of creativity. It represents qualities like passion, illumination, and insight. The element connected to Li is fire. In Feng Shui, this aspect corresponds to the middle daughter and her role in bringing energy, passion, and creativity to the family.

7. Dui (Lake): Dui represents a lake or marsh, symbolizing receptivity, joy, and inner radiance. It embodies qualities like happiness, joy, and harmony. The element associated with Dui is metal. In Feng Shui, this aspect is related to the youngest daughter and her role in bringing joy and harmony to the family.

8. Gen (Mountain): Gen symbolizes a mountain, stability, and stillness. It represents qualities like patience, stillness, and inner strength. The element connected to Gen is earth. In Feng Shui, this aspect corresponds to the youngest son and his role in providing stability and strength to the family.

The Bagua Map, or Energy diagram, is an essential tool of Feng Shui, used to visualize the elemental characteristics of a space. It is divided into 9 areas, each representing a specific aspect of life or intention, as well as a cardinal direction and earth element:

  • Career/Purpose

  • Knowledge/Wisdom

  • Past/Ancestry

  • Wealth/Prosperity

  • Fame/Reputation

  • Love/Relationships

  • Future/Creativity

  • Serendipity/Synchronicity/Connections

  • Health/Overall Wellness

We use the Bagua map to assess and adjust the energy in a way that promote balance and harmony in various aspects of life. The Bagua is essential in guiding the arrangement, orientation and thus the flow of energy in a living or working space. When the bagua is superimposed on a floorplan and analyzed from an energetic lens it can reveal elemental excess or deficiencies.

Five Elements (Wu Xing)

There are 5 earth elements essential to human life and order in the world.

  • WOOD: growth and creativity

  • FIRE: transformation and passion

  • EARTH: stability and nourishment

  • METAL: strength and clarity

  • WATER adaptability and flow

These elements are believed to be the building blocks of the universe and are thought to influence various aspects of life, including health, emotions, and the natural world.

In nature, these elements interact in an on-going cycle of creation and destruction so maintaining them in the right balance is crucial for harmony, vitality and well-being.

  • Wood generates/fuels Fire

  • Fire generates/feeds Earth

  • Earth generates/creates Metal

  • Metal generates/condenses as Water

  • Water generates/nourishes Wood

In addition to the generating cycle, there is also a controlling or restraining cycle, where each element controls or restrains the next element in the cycle.

  • Wood controls Earth by penetrating and breaking it down

  • Earth controls Water by containing and directing its flow

  • Water controls Fire by extinguishing it

  • Fire controls Metal by melting and shaping it

  • Metal controls Wood by cutting and shaping it.

Feng Shui encourages us to incorporate complimentary elements to promote harmony and balance of energy in our spaces. Try it and you can literally feel the energy shift!

Best Practices for Optimum Feng Shui

Enhance Flow

Flow describes the most natural movement of energy, reminiscent of wind or water in nature. It's imperative for the Chi to be able to circulate freely. Things that impede or interrupt flow include:

  • Cluttered Spaces

  • Obstructions and Blockages

  • Angles and corners

Removing unnecessary items through the act of decluttering can bring clarity and vitality to your surroundings. Likewise, its important to arrange furniture to encourage conversation and comfort and to avoid anything that blocks pathways, hallways, stairways, window-ways and doorways. Lastly, incorporating rounded shapes and furniture with curves can also promote the free flow of energy.

Enhance Feel

Ultimately, a well-crafted, well-curated feng home is more than a physical space; it is an emotional refuge where the spirit finds solace. A harmonious home is a haven where one can retreat from the demands of the outside world. The atmosphere, like a sanctuary space or nature itself, should promote a sense of

  • peacefulness

  • tranquility

  • warmth

  • safety, security

  • calmness

  • comfort

  • relaxation and rejuvenation.

Incorporating best practices of feng shui means increasing the flow of Chi, thus also enhancing the feel. To do this it's important to first make sure the infrastructure and foundations of your space (structural, plumbing, electrical, etc) are in good repair- from lightbulbs to door knobs, everything needs to be in working order.

From there, we should also make sure our spaces are clean and tidy. This will ensure the flow of positive beneficial energy, ultimately supporting well-being and clarity of mind. Next, we can incorporate lots of natural materials and textures, which hold higher vibrations than synthetic, man-made decor.

Lastly, a home should also should be a canvas for personal expression, reflecting the personality and aspirations of its inhabitants, fostering connection and positive interaction.

Prioritize Key Areas

There are three primary energy centers of the home, which should be focused on;

  • The Entrance

  • The Kitchen

  • The Primary Bedroom

These areas carry the highest concentration of energy and activity, and thus affect our lives the most. Bathrooms, offices and living or dining spaces are secondary, followed by storage spaces and corridors.

Implement Energy Enhancements & Remedies

There are a variety of adjustments that can be implemented in a space to achieve the most beneficial and balanced energy. These can be used to neutralize or dissipate negative, inauspicious or stagnant energies, as well as to create harmony in all five elements,

Universal Cures are specific remedies or adjustments that can be applied to enhance the energy and harmony of any space.

  • Lighting: Salt lamps, natural lighting

  • Water: Fountains, Fishbowls

  • Color: Art, Decor

  • Reflection: Mirrors, Prisms

  • Natural Objects: Crystals, Stones

  • Mobile Obects: Flags, banners

  • Living Things: Plants, Animals

  • Sound Obects: Wind Chimes, bells

Traditional Cures:

  • Instruments: Bamboo Flutes

  • Objects: Lucky Coins, Lucky Bamboo

  • Colors: Reds, Yellows, Gold

  • Symbols: Dragon and phoenix, Cat, Frog

  • Numbers: 8, 9

  • Mirrors: Pa Kua Mirror

Transcendental Cures:

  • Rituals: smudging, salt clearing

  • Prayer, affirmations, intentions

Wrapping it up

Feng Shui is a powerful time-tested practice that can help you create a more harmonious and balanced environment to live or work in. By understanding its core concepts and essential wisdom, you can transform your space into a sanctuary for positive energy, wealth, health, happiness and overall well-being.

While DIY Feng Shui can be a good starting point for some, the complexity of this ancient practice often requires the experienced eye and knowledge of a professional consultant. This work goes beyond simply placing a few objects strategically. As energy-intuitives we delve into the intricate dance between the elements, while incorporating the appropriate tools and techniques to make sure you're meeting your specific needs and goals, while also meeting the full potential and possibility of your space.

Ready to embark on a transformative journey? I am a certified Red Ribbon professional through the International Feng Shui Guild. I can't wait to work with you soon!


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

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