The Chinese Lunar New Year turns a page on feng shui harmony and the “updates” might have you taking a second look at your home and work surroundings. Are those red curtains in a southern bedroom really a bad omen?
Feng shui, the 6,000-year-old art of geomancy, normally divides space into nine directions — east, west, south, north, southwest, northwest, southeast, northeast and center.
In the Year of the Monkey, beware center, northwest, northeast and the north, according to Liu Qishan, a feng shui consultant based in Shanghai.
Worst of all? The center. Do not disturb this sector, Liu said. It’s the “location of illness and bad luck,” and you might be vulnerable to ailments if you spend too much time in this space, especially for the people born in the Year of the Monkey.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s important first of all to understand some of the fundamentals underlying feng shui. It’s a practice said to utilize the laws of heaven and earth in the search for improvement. The system revolves around energy, or qi. Most Chinese believe that their lives can be enhanced by correctly funneling qi.
Feng shui, which literally means “wind and water,” deals with the positioning of objects such as buildings, graves and furnishings, based on the power of yin and yang (cold and hot energy) and the flow of qi. The goal is harmony with one’s environment. In other words, we should be in balance.
The Year of the Monkey ushers in a new configuration of energies that should be considered in your home and work space.
Liu told Shanghai Daily that Taisui, or the Grand Duke of Jupiter, is located to the southwest relative to the earth this year. People born under the signs of the tiger, snake, monkey and pig are said to more easily offend Taisui, creating more twists and turns in their lives.
Liu suggests placing a bronze or dragon-shaped double-gourd in the “center” of a room or area. According to the Chinese Five Elements Theory, illness derives from the earth element but metal subdues the earth and heals. In ancient Chinese culture, a gourd shell was used by a god to trap evil things.
“The dragon-shaped gourd can increase the energy to fight illness,” Liu said. “Or a bronze gourd, holding several hairs of the host wrapped in a small red bag is also a good choice.” The northwest is also a bad locale this year — a direction where disputes and conflict can reign among bosses and colleagues, and husbands and wives whose bed is in the northwest of a room.
To avoid the bad energy, Liu suggests placing three green dracaena sanderiana, or fu gui bamboo, in this location. “If people are religions, they should attend religious rituals on the fifth or eighth day of the Lunar New Year (February 12 or 15), which helps dispels bad luck,” he said.
The west this year is good for students. Studying in the western part of a room can promote mental acuity. Bookshelves, desks and computers are best placed there. If it is a child’s room, parents should also place a wen chang tower model there. Wen chang is an ancient Chinese god of wisdom and knowledge.
But if your bathroom is in the west of your apartment, look out! “An easy way to adjust the energy there is to put five ancient coins in the bathroom,” Liu said.
The northeast in the new year is a “location of five ghosts.” In feng shui, that portends disputes, conflicts and problems. Liu said rule No. 1 is to keep the place clean and tidy.
“You can place five ancient coins on the window sill or the door frame of this room,” Liu said. South is a lucky location this year, increasing your chances of making money in speculative ventures. “There is only one thing you should be aware of: avoid red colors in this place,” Liu said. “Too much red —in the curtains, bed linens or wall paint — can greatly erode good luck.”
The north is a bad location, a place portending financial loss. If that location has water in it, things are looking even worse for your chances of hanging on to your money. However, a bowl of rice placed in a north setting can offset the danger.
“That’s because rice in the Five Elements Theory belongs to earth, which subdues water,” Liu said. The best location in the Year of the Monkey is the southwest — a place of fortune. If you want to strengthen your luck, place a round container filled one third with water inside this space, along with several round coins.
The east is also a good locale. Any auspicious thing, such as a red Chinese knot, Spring Festival couplets or a lucky cat, can be put here. The southeast is a lucky direction for those looking for love or wanting to improve their personal relationships. Normally, one would decorate a southeastern room with flowers to attract love energies, but this year things are little different.
“Energies in the location are complicated,” Liu said, “so the best thing is to do in the southeast this year is nothing. You could put some flowers there if you want, but don’t overdo it or you might get into trouble.”