Feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”) is a form of geomancy (the art of arranging buildings and objects auspiciously) that dates back to ancient China. Feng shui literally means “wind-water,” and refers to the flow of chi (also spelled qi) through an environment. By becoming familiar with the natural flow of chi in nature, a feng shui practitioner can manipulate the flow in their home to improve different areas of life such as family relationships, wealth, and happiness.
If you practice witchcraft or another magic system, that may sound a little bit like magic. After all, arranging objects in a certain way to attract a certain outcome sure sounds like a spell, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not quite that simple. Magic is about creating a desired outcome, while feng shui is about allowing energy to flow naturally and harmoniously. However, the idea of mindfully creating an environment with balanced, harmonious energy may be applicable to witches and other magic workers.
My partner and I recently moved and are now setting up our new space. As we’re setting up our home, I decided to do some research into feng shui and possibly incorporate some feng shui principles into our home design. Some of my relatives are Chinese, and this is part of a larger goal of mine to learn more about Chinese culture and spiritual practices as a way of honoring my family. (That being said, feng shui is not a closed practice, so you do not need to be Chinese or have Chinese family to study it.)
As I was reading, I realized that a lot of the concepts in feng shui are similar to concepts found in Western magic systems. This got me thinking. Would it be possible to create a similar geomancy system using Western elements and symbolism?
I want to be very clear: The system I present in this post is NOT feng shui. It is a geomancy system of my own creation, inspired by feng shui but rooted in Western-style witchcraft. Below are some concepts that appear in feng shui and suggestions for incorporating similar Western concepts in your home.
Chi is the vital force/vital energy of all things. Feng shui does not create or generate chi — unlike magic, which often involves raising energy. Feng shui does not direct chi or tell chi what to do. Feng shui is about clearing blockages and creating a balanced environment so chi can flow naturally. In this way, feng shui is similar to other practices involving chi, like tai chi, qigong, and reiki. There is an understanding that having balanced chi will allow good things into your life, but attracting a desired outcome is not the main goal of feng shui.
In Western magic systems, we talk about energy in a way that is similar to chi (but not exactly the same). Energy is present in all things, from people to animals to plants to inanimate objects. Humans are able to sense energy through our intuition and our psychic senses. When we do magic, we manipulate energy in order to create our desired outcome.
In magic we use correspondences — objects or symbols with an energy that corresponds with, or calls to the energy we wish to attract. Correspondences operate on the principle that “like attracts like.” For example, the color pink corresponds to the energy of love and friendship, so if I wanted to attract those things into my life I might decorate my home with lots of pink things.
Correspondences also appear in feng shui, where certain objects and colors are associated with each element and each part of the room. In our own geomancy, we can use correspondences to balance the energy of our homes and create an environment that empowers our magic.
Feng shui is a natural extension of Taoism and Chinese folk spirituality. Taoism (pronounced “DOW-ism” is a philosophy and religion with a focus on harmony and balance. You’re probably familiar with the “yin and yang” symbol — this comes from Taoism and represents the Tao, or natural order of the universe. The yin and yang symbol demonstrates the spiritual truth that duality is an illusion and that all opposites are part of a single whole. Balance between opposites is a recurring theme in Taoism and in feng shui.
This unification of opposites is also a theme in Western occult practices. The most well-known example is probably the Wiccan God and Goddess, or masculine and feminine energy more generally. If you’re uncomfortable using gendered language, you could choose to focus on a different set of opposites: heaven and earth, positive and negative (like the poles of a battery, not like good and evil), active and passive, creative and receptive, light and dark, or summer and winter. Remember that all of these dualities are really just different ways of seeing the one great Duality, and that Duality itself is not two separate forces but two halves of a unified whole.
For the sake of this post, I will use “active” to refer to yang/masculine/positive/creative/light/summer energy and “passive” to refer to yin/feminine/negative/receptive/dark/winter energy.
The goal is to have a healthy balance of active and passive. Too much active energy can leave us feeling restless, nervous, or caught in a cycle of overwork and burnout. Too much passive energy can leave us feeling tired, apathetic, or stuck. Too much action leads to exhaustion, but too much rest leads to stagnation. Too much focus on the spiritual can disconnect us from our bodies and from other people, but too much focus on the physical can disconnect us from the spirit world. We want all of these opposites to be in balance with each other.
In your home, you might represent active energy with white and other bright colors, straight lines, sun symbolism, or anything else you associate with this energy. You might represent passive energy with black and other dark or muted colors, curves and spirals, moon symbolism, or anything else you associate with this energy.
The five Chinese elements play an important role in feng shui. The Chinese elements are fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. Each element has certain colors, shapes, rooms, and symbols associated with it. Each of these elements is nurtured by one of the other elements and is reduced by another. For example, earth is nurtured by fire and reduced by metal — so if you need to encourage earth in a room, you would include fire elements, but if you have too much earth you would introduce metal elements to tone down the earth energy.
Western magic also has five elements, but the elements are different. The Western elements are air, fire, water, earth, and spirit/aether. Let’s review the elements and their associations (quotes from my book, Witchcraft for Beginners):
Air is “masculine [active], mercurial, and intellectual. It corresponds to birth and childhood, inspiration, communication, travel, and all mental activities.” A home that doesn’t have enough air energy will feel boring and/or dull. A home with too much air will feel chaotic, restless, and/or overly intellectual. Both too much and too little air and cause communication issues. A home where air is balanced will feel inspiring and stimulating.
Fire is “masculine [active], passionate, and energetic. It corresponds to adolescence, drive/motivation, creativity, anger, and transformation.” A home that doesn’t have enough fire energy will feel cold and dispassionate, and/or will smother creativity. A home with too much fire will be ruled by the passions and obsessions of the people who live there. A home where fire is balanced will feel warm and energizing.
Water is “feminine [passive], healing, and mysterious. It corresponds to adulthood, emotions, the subconscious mind, secrets, compassion, and transformation (but in a slower, gentler way than fire).” A home that doesn’t have enough water energy will feel emotionless, stuck, and/or shallow. A home with too much water will feel overly emotional and/or needlessly esoteric. (Too much water is common among witchy/intuitive types.) A home where water is balanced will feel soothing and introspective.
Earth is “feminine [passive], solid, and sensual. It corresponds to old age, fertility, money and finances, stability, and agriculture (including personal gardens).” A home that doesn’t have enough earth energy will feel unstable, insecure, and/or unwelcoming. A home with too much earth energy will feel cluttered, overly expensive, and/or overly focused on creature comforts. A home where earth is balanced will feel stable, grounded, and abundant.
Spirit is the fifth element, but it unites and contains all the other elements. In a way, spirit is the blending of the other four elements. Spirit is associated with energy itself, with deities, and with our connection to the divine and to everything around us. An imbalance in any of the other elements will also affect Spirit.
You can increase an element’s presence in your home by decorating with colors, symbols, and objects associated with that element:
Air: yellow, gold, bells or chimes, feathers and images of birds, swords and bladed weapons, astrological symbols for Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius
Fire: red, orange, candles (including electronic flameless candles), images of dragons and/or phoenixes, wands, astrological symbols for Aries, Leo, and Sagitarius
Water: blue, silver, fountains/fish tanks*/other water features, images of fish and water-dwelling animals, cups or chalices, astrological symbols for Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces
Earth: green, brown, houseplants**, rocks or crystals, wooden furniture, forest imagery, pentacles or coins, astrological symbols for Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn
Spirit: white and black together, rainbow, images of deities, sacred symbols
*Please do not get fish for your home unless you have the time, energy, and ability to care for them. The stereotype that fish are easy and cheap pets is false — even a single betta fish needs a five gallon tank or bigger, a filter, and a heater. The tank will need to be cleaned regularly and should include gravel and plants.
**Houseplants that are healthy have great energy — dead houseplants do not. Choose plants that do well indoors and consider things like how much sunlight they’ll get and how often you’ll be able to water them. If you have pets, make sure your plants aren’t toxic to them. If a plant dies, clear it out quickly instead of leaving a dead plant sitting in your room for days or weeks.
If you feel like there is too much of an element in your home, you can balance it by invoking the opposite element. Air and earth are opposites. Fire and water are opposites. Spirit has no opposite because it transcends duality. So if, for example, you have too much water energy, you can adjust by bringing more fire into your home.
Each element has an active form and a passive form. To invoke the active (masculine) version of an element, use light shades of that element’s colors. (Ex: light blue = active water.) To invoke the passive (feminine) version of an element, use dark shades of that element’s colors. (Ex: dark red = passive fire.)
In feng shui, each position in a room has its own associations. An eight-sided map or template called a ba-gua is used to determine these positions for each room:
Each gua (side) is associated with a part of the natural world and with an area of life. When the ba-gua is mapped to a room in a house, it looks a little like this:
For those of us working with Western systems, we can determine the ideal orientation for a room by mapping that room to a magic circle, similar to how rooms are mapped to the ba-gua in feng shui. For our purposes, let’s stick to a basic circle with the four cardinal directions mapped to the elements:
When that circle is mapped to a room, it looks like this:
This layout is much simpler, but that’s because we’re working with five orientations instead of nine. Like using the ba-gua in feng shui, you can use this template to organize your space in a way that lets energy flow easily and freely.
For example, since air rules communication, I might set my computer up against the eastern wall. Since water is associated with creativity and fire is associated with passion, I might set up my arts and crafts area in the southwest corner. If this room is a bedroom, I might put the bed in the northwest corner because earth is the element of stillness and water is the element of dreams. If this is an office, I might put my desk against either the north or south wall, depending on whether I want to prioritize financial success or passion in my work.
You don’t have to literally use compass directions for this. If you prefer, you could use a “fixed” orientation where the side of the room you enter from is “south,” the opposite wall is “north,” the lefthand side is “west,” and the righthand side is “east.”
If you do decide to use compass directions, pay attention to which direction people enter your home from, as this can reveal what outside influences your home is vulnerable to. If your front door is in the east, you may be vulnerable to outside ideas or to gossip. If it’s in the south, you may be vulnerable to getting caught up in other people’s passion projects. If it’s in the west, you may be vulnerable to outside emotions or spiritual influences. And if it’s in the north, you may literally be taking on other people’s stuff — it may feel like you attract other people’s unwanted belongings, or your home may seem to easily fill up with clutter.
You can protect these vulnerable areas by emphasizing the opposite element in the room where your front door is located. For example, if your front door is in the north, leaving you vulnerable to other people’s stuff, you can hang an airy wind chime near the door to balance that extra earth energy coming in from outside.
This is just something I’m playing around with, but I think there’s a lot of potential here. Let me know if you can think of any ways to use geomancy in a magical home!
- Taoist Feng Shui by Susan Levitt
- “The Basic Principles of Feng Shui” by Anjie Cho
- Witchcraft for Everyone by Sam Wise
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