Feng Shui 101: An Introduction to the Bagua

Feng Shui 101: An Introduction to the Bagua

If you’ve been following my blog or Facebook page, or had any exposure to Feng Shui, you’ve probably come across the “bagua.” The bagua is the energy grid used by Feng Shui practitioners to interpret a living space—a tool to map a home or plot of land that gives us a systematic way of looking at a home’s energy field that is inspired by the natural flow of nature. The traditional energetic shape of the bagua is the octagon with 8 directions, or guas. The name Ba-Gua literally translates into 8 guas, or 8 directions. When applying it to a home we would use the modern, and mundane application of a square or rectangle that fits easily over a living space.

The drawings below apply the bagua method and rules of BTB Feng Shui (Black Sect Feng Shui). Unlike compass Feng Shui practices, this method does not use the fixed cardinal directions, but rather the principle of relative positioning based on the dominant flow of chi. We will orient the bagua in line with the main source of chi to assess a space’s energy: a roadway, waterway or driveway.

“Grandmaster Lin Yun’s Feng Shui school emphasizes the Theory of Relative Positioning, which states that the areas of the environment that are physically closest to you affect your energy.” -- Daniel David Kennedy

The Eight guas/areas of the bagua

The bagua is broken up into 9 sections, or 8 “guas” plus the center. The individual guas are inspired by nature; the energy, and symbolism of each is aligned with a corresponding “trigram” (from the I Ching, an ancient Taoist divination text). The symbolism, position and nature of the trigrams have been translated into energetic signatures that correspond with areas of a person’s life. The order, and positioning, of the guas is transitional, moving from one energetic state to the next.

Each gua has a trigram, a cosmic number (9 star Ki), time of year, an energetic state, an element, a colour, and life situation. For example, Jen is the trigram Thunder, the third star, springtime, the energetic state of new beginnings and action, the element of wood, the colour green, and family.

Below are common and simplified references for each gua; keep in mind that each section is complex, and has many associations. Although the gua is often summed up in a word, it is much broader than this simple title, for example, the career gua is more than your job, it is about your life’s purpose, your calling, and the wisdom you share with the world.

Life situation Trigram Element Broader interpretation
Career Kan Water Purpose and calling, your path in life
Knowledge Gen Earth Skills, knowledge, and self-development
Family Jen Wood Where you came from, new beginnings
Wealth Xun Wood Abundance, prosperity and wealth
Fame Li Fire Recognition and accomplishment
Partnership Kun Earth Intimate relationships, marriage, and love
Children Dui Metal Children, a creative outlet, and completion
Helpful People Qian Metal Synchronicity, the right opportunities

The center of the bagua is the tai chi, it is connected to all 8 guas and unifies the energy of the space, a happy and grounded tai chi ensures health and well-being.

Place the grid over your home lining your front door with the red line

Laying the bagua

Your front door will be in one of three guas: Qian (Helpful people), Kan (Career) or Gen (Knowledge). The bottom of the bagua (Gen-Kan-Qian) will always be in line with your front door. In this example, we are using the square shape for the bagua, pulling the octagon further out to the edges of the home or property, creating nine equally sized areas. It is best to work with a to-scale floor plan of your home for best results. Here are two examples of the bagua laid over a bedroom, and over an office:

Bagua bedroom Bagua living room

This is article is a topline overview of the bagua*, an introduction to a complex and important Feng Shui tool. The examples used are straight forward and easy to interpret, this is not always the case. You may have a more challenging layout, floorplan, or lot. In those cases I recommend you seek the help of a qualified Feng Shui consultant. The purpose of this post is not to teach you everything about the bagua, but to show you how it is used, and the insights it provides. If you are unsure about doing a large space, then start with your bedroom. The bedroom is a great place to begin practicing Feng Shui, it is a manageable area, and the energy of the space is very closely tied to your own.

* This is from the perspective of Black Sect Feng Shui. Click here to read about the different Feng Shui schools.