The Bagua

Every Feng Shui book talks about the Bagua, the diagram with the 8 different areas, each representing an aspect of our lives, such as “Relationships”, “Prosperity”, “Career”, etc.. As a Feng Shui Consultant I’m very often asked to enhance a particular one of these areas to give a boost to the related issue.

Bagua literally means “eight trigrams”, the combination of 3 lines, either solid (for a Yang line) or broken (for a Yin one). The lines are familiar to those who consult the “I Ching”. As mentioned in earlier articles, it’s all about the Qi, the all pervading energy and it’s movement through a space or, in this instance, through a cycle of time. Understanding the eight trigrams will allow us to understand how to enhance good Qi and correct negative Qi.

In chinese philosophy it is believed that we all come from nothingness. Out of nothing, everything emerges. In the diagram below this is represented by an empty circle called “Wuji“, which means “The Great Emptiness” or just “The Beginning”.

How the trigrams developed.

Out of the empty cycle developed duality in form of the opposites Yin and Yang, the 2 aspects in all and everything: darkness and light, female and male, passivity and activity, the moon and the sun, and so on. If one wants to go deeper and characterize one side even further, you will see that each side again has a Yin and a Yang aspect within itself. This can be described through a second line above the first one. Two lines now allow 4 possibilities, and by repeating this process once more out of three lines we get eight possible combinations. These 8 possible trigrams are then called BAGUA.

If we combine these 8 trigrams with each other we’ll end up with the 64 Hexagrams of the Yijing (or I Ching), the Book of Changes, which was used as an oracle to better understand the patterns of changes in the universe. In case you’d like to read more about it, please see the list at the end of the article.

How do we apply the Bagua over the floorplan?

We need to find the center of the house and determine the north direction with a compass. Best would be to copy the diagram onto a transparent sheet and lay this on top of the floorplan. First determine the center of the house by finding the mechanical center through crossing the 2 diagonals. In case of uneven shapes you’d have to add missing areas to form the regular shape of a square or rectangle. If the form of the building seems too complex with additions, sunrooms, garages etc. you can find the center by experiment: cut out the shape of the floorplan, glue it on some cartboard and then balance the whole piece on the tip of a pencil. The point of balance will show the energetic center of the structure pretty well.

Once you have determined the center point, superimpose the center section of the Bagua at this point. The direction of the Bagua is set after the compass north direction on the floorplan. Then draw the octagon over the floorplan and write in the names of each part. The center is called the Taiji, the court in ancient houses or farms, the center of gravity and contemplation.

The BAGUA is a tool of traditional Feng Shui.

The 8 Bagua areas in the sequence of the Luo-shu numbers are:

1. KAN ( water)

Symbolism: Career, Way of Life, also called The Journey
Compass direction: North
Element: water
Colors: black and blue.

The area of water is the beginning of each journey. We ride through life as on a river. If we can manage to go with the flow easily instead of fighting against the current we will experience life with clarity and ease.

2. KUN (earth)

Symbolism: Relationship, Marriage & Partnership, also The Receiptive
Compass direction: SW
Element: earth
Colors: brown and yellow.

This sign consists of 3 Yin lines, the most receptive trigram of all, the strongest feminine sign. Being truly receptive is the final goal of any relationship. Listen to your partner, in private as well as in business, open your heart and receive like the earth.

3. ZHEN (thunder) – pronounced JEN

Symbolism: Family, Elders, Ancestors
Compass direction: East
Element: wood
Color: green

As thunder appears before a storm, the energy of our ancestors comes before us. In ancient Feng Shui the reverance of the ancestors was always very important. To provide the best gravesites to the forefathers would bring blessings and good fortune to the whole family. Thunder also stands for outbursting energy, fast growth and upward movement. The respect for elders as in all old societies is often lost in our modern world.

4. XUN (wind) – pronounced SHUEN

Symbolism: Wealth & Prosperity, Fortunate Blessings, also The Gentle
Compass direction: SE
Element: wood
Color: green

Blessings should be seen as a constant gentle happening pouring down and penetrating like wind. It is represented in the South East as Yin wood energy. This is the area in which statisitically most people are interested in. Beneficial elements to strengthen this area are water and wood.

5. The center called the Taiji (or Tai Chi) unites and grounds.

6. QIAN (heaven) – pronounced CHEEAN

Symbolism: Helpful Friends, also Travel
Compass direction: NW
Element: metal
Colors: silver, gold, white

Heavenly energy manifests in the form of support and love from friends, collegues and neighbors. A strong Quian area in a house decorates the inhabitants. William Spear describes this part of the house as helping to offer our own talents and energy to the outside world, as a possibility of serving others with our own talents.

7. DUI (lake)

Symbolism: Children, Creativity, also Joy
Compass direction: West
Element: metal
Colors: silver, gold, white

Children are usually associated with creativity, imagination and joy. Likewise our artistic, expressive endeavors share the same qualities. Deep strength represented by 2 Yang lines, on top a light Yin line showing the joyful play of the waves on the surface.

8. GEN (mountain)

Symbolism: Contemplation, Inner Knowledge, Wisdom, also The Still
Compass direction: NE
Element: earth
Colors: brown and yellow

Inner knowledge and meditation are the basic qualities of this area. Stillness gives strength. The trigram consists of 2 open lines and a solid line on top as in a picture of a cave, a place where ancient sages would seek contemplation and peace.

9. LI (fire)

Symbolism: Fame & Reputation, also The Light giver
Compass direction: South
Element: fire
Colors: red, purple, pink

Light and illumination are signs of clarity and the picture the world receives from us. Fame and reputation is the way we would like our work to be manifested. Red colours in various shades, symbols representing fire and triangular shaped objects enhance this aspect.

Recommended books:

Feng Shui Made Simple – William Spear
The I Ching – Richard Wilhelm, the classic guide to the Yijing.
The Philosophy of the I Ching – Carol Anthony
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feng Shui – despite the horrible title, a great source