Feng shui is ancient Chinese wisdom with many symbols with layered meanings. Each of these symbols may be used as imagery to include in your home as art, placed on objects, or even carried with you.
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Yin and Yang
The yin and yang symbol and feng shui both come from Taoism, an ancient Asian philosophy. This symbol represents the paradoxical unity of yin and yang. The black represents yin, while the white represents yang. But within each yin there is yang, and within each yang there is yin. Yin and yang can be likened to polarities like masculine and feminine, light and dark, outside and inside, and death and life. And this list goes on and on (and on...).
This symbol is a reminder that, like all of life’s dualities, yin and yang are in a fluid dance and not separate. For instance, feng shui is the study of how our homes are not separate from our inner lives. In fact, they are intimately connected and interdependent.
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Bagua is a Chinese word that translates to “eight areas.” The bagua is the feng shui energy map and is depicted in different forms and iterations, but one of the classic symbols of the feng shui bagua uses the eight trigrams of the I-Ching (the Book of Changes).
Each trigram represents an energy in nature. From top, going clockwise we have: fire, earth, lake, heaven, water, mountain, thunder, and wind.
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The symbol of the four emblems includes the four protector animals in a diamond formation. When feng shui was developed, one of the main purposes was to site a home or city such that it would be safe and protected. The four animals represented landforms to create an “easy arm chair” layout and symbolize protection in a home.
The four celestial emblems have the black tortoise in the back (north), the white tiger to the right (east), the red phoenix to the front (south), and the green dragon to the left (west).
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The dragon doesn’t need much introduction, because it’s seen in both the East and West. In Asia, the mythical dragon is considered benevolent, bringing prosperity, wisdom, and protection. As one of the celestial animals of the four emblems, it’s known for its power and magnificence.
The dragon is a welcome symbol in a home to invite in safety, prosperity, and kindness.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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The tortoise represents longevity, as turtles often have long life spans! The wisdom that later became the I-Ching (and then feng shui) was also said to have arisen from the markings on the back of a tortoise shell that emerged from the Luo River. Turtles are thought to bring messages from the natural world.
Including imagery of tortoises and/or turtles in your home can be used to enhance wisdom.
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Goldfish (or Carp)
In Asian culture, the carp is a magical creature that is capable of great transformation. There is a story of a carp that overcame many obstacles. It was able to swim upstream and leap over the dragon’s gate and transform itself into a dragon. Similarly, the goldfish can remind us of our potential to face difficulties and welcome positive transformation.
Goldfish are a type of carp, and they are home friendly as they are small. You can bring living goldfish into the home or also use images of carp.
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12 Zodiac Animals
The 12 zodiac animals symbolize the archetypes of energies that we live with in this human realm.
Each individual animal represents different things, but all together there is a greater meaning of true harmony.
Here are a couple ways to work with the Chinese zodiac in your home. You can look up your own zodiac animal by your year of birth to contemplate your own qualities, and invite that into your home. Or, you can bring in all the zodiac animals together to symbolize harmony with the variety of personalities in the relationships that you may encounter.
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Flowers are symbols of impermanence, beauty, abundance, and nature. In feng shui, fresh cut flowers invite energy into the home. They also can help the energy to flow smoothly and lift the mood of the home. If someone is feeling blue, flowers can be a feng shui adjustment to invite joy. While fresh flowers are the most ideal, you can also use images of the flowers in artwork.
Some of our favorite flowers include:
Peony: The luscious peony symbolizes romance, abundance, and prosperity.
Lotus: Arising from muddy waters, the lotus symbolizes wisdom and beauty that can bloom from even the most difficult situations.
Orchid: An orchid can symbolize and invite a noble and upright partnership.
Chrysanthemums: These long lasting blooms symbolize longevity.
Plum Blossom: The first flowers to bloom in the winter, they symbolize hope and perseverance.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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Fruit are gifts of sweetness and abundance from the natural world, therefore they symbolize fruition, prosperity, and generosity. Even in modern times, Asian families offer gifts of fruit for celebrations for auspicious and lucky energy all year round.
Here are some of our favorite fruit symbols:
Orange: The orange symbolizes the yang energy of the sun. It’s bright, cheerful, and lifts the energy in any space. In addition, the orange is likened to gold in feng shui, so it attracts wealth and good fortune of all kinds.
Pomegranate: With its many many (many) seeds, the pomegranate traditionally represents abundance. The color red is also connected to good luck and protection.
Peach: In feng shui, we have something called “peach blossom luck” that enhances your ability to attract a romantic partner. They’re also connected to longevity.
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Doors represent the mouth of qi; how energy enters your home and life. In feng shui, the doors are important and have their own “door gods.” The door gods are symbols of protection that are placed in pairs at the front door.
Fu dogs are an example of “door gods.” Fu dogs are mythical creatures that resemble lions and protect you and your home.
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The color red is the most auspicious color in feng shui. It is the color of protection, good luck, and vitality. Red is connected to the fire element and so it can easily attract success.
You can use the color red strategically in your home’s feng shui to bring benefit to your family. Some examples include painting your front door red, red flowers, or even just some red pillows.
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Chinese coins are auspicious symbols of success and wealth. The circular shape represents heaven and the inner square is earth. The role of a successful ruler was to connect heaven and earth for the benefit of humanity (or the people of their land). Therefore, these coins can symbolize auspiciousness and wisdom to bring prosperity into your home.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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Birds are symbols of freedom and connection to the heavens. They can bring our wishes to the heavens for fulfillment.
Some of our favorite birds are:
Crane: Symbolizing long life, this graceful bird also grants wishes.
Phoenix: One of the four celestial animals, this mythical bird represents rebirth and good fortune.
Mandarin ducks: As a traditional Asian wedding gift, a pair of mandarin ducks are symbols of marriage harmony, fidelity, and happiness because these birds mate for life.
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The bamboo plant is hardy and fast-growing. It can survive and thrive in a variety of weather conditions. Even in the greatest of winds, this grass can bend all the way down and still bounce back. Therefore, this plant represents endurance, growth, and flexibility. If you’ve ever closely examined a bamboo plant, you know it’s also hollow in the center. This openness also symbolizes a humble and open heart.
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Also known as the endless knot, these interlocking geometric designs are found in many cultures. Because it has no beginning and no end, these designs symbolize longevity and harmony. On a spiritual level it also represents that we are all interconnected and interdependent.