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Literally translating to wind and water, feng shui is the art of placement that takes a look at how energy or Chi flows through your home and surroundings. For thousands of years, Chinese have used various symbols to attract good luck and ward off evil spirits. It has been practiced since the Tang dynasty and was considered a highly guarded secret of the Chinese imperial court. Eventually, the practices of feng shui passed down within family traditions. Today, feng shui is highly popular around the globe.
Here are the most popular Feng Shui symbols that will bring harmony and balance into your life.
Even though feng shui originated in China, it combines classical concepts with modern ones, sometimes influenced by other cultures. The symbol of the lucky cat comes from Japanese culture. Also called maneki neko in Japanese, which translates to beckoning cat, the Lucky Cat is a symbol of wealth, prosperity, and luck. Its name comes from its posture that is always depicted with a paw raised high. In Asian cultures, red and gold are celebratory colors, and the cat is often depicted holding an ancient gold coin and decorated with a red neck scarf and golden bell.
Did you know this symbol is based on the story of a Buddhist monk who lived in the 10th century China? He’s regarded as a reincarnation of Gautama Buddha who was a bit too eccentric for a monk but loved by many. He is also referred to as the Hotei in Japanese mythology and one of Shichi-fuku-jin or “Seven Gods of Luck,” all of whom are associated with happiness and good fortune. The Laughing Buddha is believed to bring joyful blessings, wealth, success, and good luck.
Feng Shui Dragon
In Chinese mythology, the dragon is one of the most powerful of the four celestial creatures that aided Pan Gu in the creation of the world. Historically, the Chinese emperor was the only person allowed to wear dragon robes, as he was long regarded an incarnation of the dragon. Contrary to the Western lore of evil, greedy, and fire-breathing dragons, Chinese dragons are divine creatures, often depicted as playful, benevolent, and wise. The Feng Shui Dragon is a powerful symbol of yang or male energy, and is believed to bring good fortune and protection.
Also referred to as Pa Kua, the Bagua mirror is a round mirror surrounded by an octagonal wooden frame used as a protection against negative outside energies, called Sha Chi or Si Chi. Each side of the frame has three lines—known as a trigram—representing an aspect of life. In Chinese history, legendary Fu Xi is credited for the arrangement of the trigram called The Early Heaven Ba Gua Arrangement, which is also linked to a method of divination used during the Shang dynasty.
One of the most used symbols in feng shui, the mystic knot is a combination of six infinity knots which promises to bring long life full of happiness and good fortune. In Buddhism, it is referred to as the endless knot, which symbolizes Buddha’s endless wisdom and compassion, as well as the endless cycle of rebirth. In fact, it is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols, a set of objects that represent qualities of enlightenment, which was also used in India at the coronation of kings.
Traditionally used as feng shui money cures, these coins are commonly replicas of currency used in Qing dynasty, where its round shape represents the heaven and the square hole at the center represents the earth. One side of the coin has four characters, which represent the Yang, while the other side has two characters, which represent the Yin. These are a traditional symbol for wealth, but they must come in a set of 3, 5, 6, or 9 to attract prosperity.
Chi Lin or Qilin
Also referred to as the Dragon Horse or Chinese Unicorn, Chi Lin is a mythical creature with the head of a dragon, body of a horse, scales of a carp fish, and tail of an ox. Its name Quilin is a combination of the two characters qi “male,” and lin “female.” It is believed to protect the home from evil spirits, and bring blessings of good health and fortune. In Chinese mythology, it carries a mystical good omen, and its appearance coincides with birth or death of a great ruler. It is said to have appeared in the garden of the legendary Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor, who was a culture hero and patron saint of Taoism.
Feng Shui Money Frog
Also known as money toad or the three-legged toad, the money frog is believed to attract abundance and wealth. The symbolism originated from Chinese folklore where the toad is said to be so greedy that money actually sticks to it. In the myth of Liu Hai, one of Daoist immortals and a Chinese god of wealth, he would lure the frog hiding in a well by a string of gold coins. In addition, frogs and toads reside around the water sources, which is a symbol of wealth in feng shui.
While it resembles bamboo, lucky bamboo is an entirely different plant species called Dracaena braunii or Dracaena sanderiana, which is thought to bring wisdom, peace, good health, luck, and love. According to Chinese tradition, the lucky bamboo relies on the number of stalks present in an arrangement. For instance, two stalks represent love, while nine stalks represent good fortune. However, it should be never arranged with four stalks, which is associated with death in Chinese culture. The plant contains the five important elements of feng shui, if planted correctly according to feng shui practices.
The Gem Tree
Also referred to as feng shui crystal trees, gem trees are often used to attract good health, wealth, and love. However, the kind of luck it will bring will depend on the type of crystals in the tree. While a rose quartz gem tree is believed to attract love, a jade gem tree is thought to bring good health. Its significance is closely related to the Bodhi tree or tree of awakening in Buddhism, where it represents the place of Buddha’s enlightenment. It’s also associated with Hindu god Vishnu who is being reputed to have been born under the Bodhi tree, called Ficus religiosa.
Double Happiness Sign
This symbol is often found on weddings, which is believed to bring harmony in a love relationship. It is composed of two Chinese characters xi that means happiness. The significance of the symbol originated in ancient myths of the Tang dynasty.
Accordingly, a young woman tested her lover by giving him half of a rhyming couplet, hoping the boy could complete it. The story goes that the young boy was a student taking an exam to be a minister of the royal court, and the Emperor challenged him by giving him half of a rhyming couplet, which happened to be the missing match to the girl’s rhyme. He passed the exam, and since he was able to complete the poem, he was able to marry the girl too. They wrote “xi” twice on a piece of red paper, which became the Double Happiness sign.
Chinese Guardian Lions or Fu Dogs
Traditionally placed in front of temples, imperial palaces, and homes of the elite, the Fu Dogs are a symbol of protection. In Chinese context, they are actually lions and traditionally called shi which means lion. During the Han dynasty, lions were introduced into China from ancient states of Central Asia, and gained popularity as guardian figures. The symbolism is often depicted as a couple where the male Fu Dog is holding a globe under his right paw, while the female Fu Dog is holding a cub under her left paw.
Growing from mud yet blooming into a pristine, beautiful flower, the lotus flower symbolizes purity and perfection, which is thought to bring harmony and good health. In Chinese medicine, every part of the plant has medicinal properties. It is also one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism, since Buddha is often portrayed sitting on a holy seat that is a lotus itself. The flower is strongly associated with Padmasambhava, legendary mystic who introduced Buddhism to Tibet.
The principles of feng shui have existed for thousands of years, and remain popular today. Many of these symbols are used around the world to attract wealth, prosperity, good health, love and luck, bringing harmony and peace into lives of people. Feng shui has gained popularity in the West as well, with many people following feng shui practices to better their homes, environments and lives.