The Feng Shui Bagua and Its Origins


BAGUA … The Feng Shui Bagua is a symbolic map that you lay over your space that touches all areas of your life. Each section of the bagua represents a particular energy pattern. The patterns have been around for thousands of years and have many layers. In addition to the energy patterns, each area is associated with one of five elements: water, wood, earth, fire, metal. By extension, each area is also associated with colors, seasons, directions, body parts and organ networks.

I CHING … The bagua energy patterns trace back to the I Ching, The Book of Changes, the oldest book of divination. The I Ching is an observation of human behavior and the constantly changing structure of the universe. It is about the way things are at the moment and the way they tend to change and transform themselves. The concepts of the I Ching are known as Taoism (Daoism) and the I Ching symbols are incorporated into the bagua. 

The Book of Changes (I Ching) took its final form During the Chou Dynasty (1150-249 B.C.), a few centuries before Christ. It has remained virtually unchanged to the present day.  The I Ching is really a philosophical system that incorporates mathematics and quantum physics. It consists of 64 hexagrams (6-line structures) that are a combination of a solid line (---) and a broken line (--).  The 64 hexagrams display every possible combination of the solid and broken lines when they are combined in sets of 6 (since 26 = 64). Each of the 64 hexagrams is accompanied by ancient texts and commentaries that relate to 64 typical human situations. There can be thousands of variations due to changing lines.

TAO … pronounced “dow” is known as The Way, The Path, The Flow, etc. It is the underlying concept of feng shui. The circle of the yin and yang represents wholeness or unity. Yin and yang are opposites that flow into each other. One is never without the other. The Tao is about change. It’s about bringing nature into your space. One way to experience the Tao is to take a walk and tune into everything around you. All your senses will be activated, and you’ll begin to feel the flow of nature all around you. There is no clear-cut definition about where yin and yang begin and end. Everything is always relative. Nothing is always yin, and nothing is always yang. Feng shui brings balance to both … yin being inward and receptive; yang being outward and aggressive.

TRIGRAMS … are eight three-line structures that are the basis of the hexagrams
(23 = 8).  Each of the eight structures represents the eight elemental forces, or energies, in nature.  These eight forces form the basis of energies related to the bagua.  There are two traditional ways of arranging the trigrams: the Early Heaven Sequence and the Late Heaven Sequence.  In the western approach to feng shui, we use the Late Heaven Sequence.

YIN and YANG … the two lines represent the duality of everything in the universe.  The broken line represents yin (feminine) and the solid line represents yang (masculine).  When they are combined in sets of three, they represent the eight energies of the bagua.

BAGUA ENERGIES … “ba” means eight and “gua” means section.  So, the bagua is eight sections, plus the middle (tai chi), making nine in all. 

  1. Career … This gua relates to your journey through life, often called Career of Life Path. This gua relates to the element of water, as water will always flow by itself and find its path. There is a natural energy of pushing forward in this gua. A search for expressing yourself through your path in life. If you’re feeling unsettled in this area of your life or you feel that you’re not on the right path, this is an area of your space to work with.
  2. Knowledge … also known as the Mountain. The mountain is about wisdom and exploring your inner alchemy, your inner world.  It’s where you can ponder your most difficult questions. It’s the ability to keep still, to be stable and to honor the sacredness of life. Spirituality is a big part of this area. If you feel that you don’t know what to do about situations or you are feeling a lack of spirituality … this is an area to work with.
  3. Family & Ancestors … also known as Thunder. This gua relates to your elders, your ancestors. Your relationships emerge from your elders. All of your relationships are predicated on relationships with your parents. In Tibetan philosophy you are born with 2 drops of blood that remain with you always … one from your father and one from your mother. Your parents gave you life and they did the best they could. Thunder is an arousing energy. It’s the energy of young wood. Your family is your footing. It is also called the past. It lays opposite of the Lake, the future. Work with this area if you’re trying to strengthen family ties or improve your health.
  4. Prosperity … also known as Wind. This gua relates to fortunate blessings … often known as wealth and prosperity. Wealth, spiritual wealth, life itself. It relates to philanthropy. Be generous and give things away. The more you give away, the more you get back. Send those things that are important to you out to the wind … they will come back. Wind is a gentle force. It’s strong wood energy. If you’re working to strengthen prosperity and blessings in your life, work with this area.
  5. Fame … also known as Fire. This gua relates to unity. It’s all about how much light shines from within you and how much light you cast to the world. It’s about how you are seen publicly. In unity, we are all connected. Everything you do affects everything else. Fire is also known as the clinging. You need air to absorb, to be clear, to be radiant.  Wood energy feeds the fire.
  6. Relationship … also known as Earth. This gua relates to the nature of all of your relationships.  It’s about love, the way human beings naturally relate to each other … unconditional love for yourself and others. Take care of yourself first and then take care of others. It’s also about receptivity. Earth is a balancing energy, the energy of soil, stability, foundations, our “seen” world.  Bringing more “earth” to a situation stabilizes transitions. 
  7. Children & Joy … also known as the Lake. This gua relates to your relationships between elders and children. It’s about what you give birth to … your children, your self-expression. It’s also about the future. This gua is also known as the “joyous.”  It is the creative pursuit in life. 
  8. Helpful People & Travel … also known as Heaven. This gua is related to the energy of helpful people and philanthropy. The key point is service and gratitude. You facilitate other people’s lives … you give away your time, your life … in service to others. This is the most masculine energy you can have.
  9. Center … This gua is all about mental and spiritual health.  It’s about achieving balance and being grounded. What you put into the center (food through your body) becomes everything else through your blood.  Blood is the carrier of consciousness.



Placing the bagua on your space:

  1. Square off your floor plan and plot plan.
  2. Lay the bagua over your floor plan with. Align the main entrance with the Knowledge, Career and Helpful People axis. Your front door (architectural main entrance) will be along this bottom line.
  3. Include everything under your roof.  Include decks if they are substantial. You might also have negative space and or a projection:

a) Negative space … is created when the side of your house or building fills more than half of the distance of the side, but not the entire side.  The negative space is the area that is not part of the building.  When you have negative space, fill it in with a symbol, a garden or something else to make it complete or whole. This is also referred to as a “missing area.”

b) Projections … the opposite of negative space.  A projection is created when part of your house or building sticks out, yet it is less than half of the entire side.  A projection is positive; it is an enhancement to the area.

The most powerful baguas:

  1. First, your lot.
  2. Second, your house.
  3. Third, your bedroom … since you spend one third of your time sleeping.

For help placing the bagua on your land, house or workspace, contact Peg Donahue for a consultation.