Whatever the philosophical orientation of a person and no matter where he is coming from and sometimes whether that person realizes it or not, the world is interpreted by symbols. The word worm for example will be interpreted by an English oriented mind as not having four feet and that, which barks.
Similarly, Feng shui uses symbols albeit in a manner that is only more familiar to the oriental mind and those that practices its principles.
Again, speaking of principles, Feng shui is basically attracting nature’s positive forces so that the person is more oriented to it and uses its symbols in a way that will be most beneficial to his requirements.
The most powerful of these and most widely in use are symbols for wealth, health, and happiness and long life. Not much different from the desires of cultures with a different set of orientation except that in Feng shui these are augmented by the use of representations.
To attract money, Feng shui practitioners will hang three coins that are tied together and are attached to door handles especially the front doors. The ribbons that are sued must be red and are cut in increments of 9. The reason for the color red is that it is the color that brings about luck the most and the 9 is the highest number in the numeric sequence (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), hence ribbons are often cut in 9″, 18″ 27″ etc. In the practice of numerology, the number 9 is similarly believed as having the highest value which by the way did not originate in China but whose practices have similarities in this area.
It is not uncommon to find Fu dogs in many Chinese residences. Dogs are symbols of protection and guardians of residences. Hence Fu dogs are usually placed on the front steps of residences but if that were not practical, it could also be placed inside the front door.
In many European mansions and establishments, one can find fountains and waterfalls in the yard and sometimes inside of the house. In Feng shui, these are not only decorative but are means of improving the cashflow. The waterfall is especially beneficial if it is located in the left side corner of the backyard.
For the mind that is oriented in western thinking, avoiding clutter, mowing the lawn, cleaning up, burning dead flowers and leaves, are ways to healthful living and minimizing accidents aside from aesthetics. For Orientals, these are all of the above but are stretched further by the belief that these practices invite good qi (or chi). Qi is a life force where life or where life comes from.
A pond in the yard whenever possible or an aquarium near the entrance detracts bad luck when they are filled with 9 fishes eight of which are to be either gold or red (goldfish or carp are the more popular choices) and one is black. The belief is that the gold and reds attracts good fortune while the black one will absorb any misfortune that will be intended for the residents.
These are only some of the most popular and common practices. To list them all here will already be far beyond the scope of this article as Feng shui practically covers all aspects of human living and interaction. However, suffice it to say that even when sometimes, Feng shui is shunned by those who are not oriented to it as mere superstition and mambo jumbo, the practice and application of Feng shui, has similarities and counterparts that is practiced by other cultures world wide.
The difference lies in the scope, dedication, depth and understanding that its practitioners poured into it.