Orcas Island

OrcasI didn’t anticipate how much it was going to hurt to walk down a simple hill.  After a marathon, what could be better than relaxing at a resort on Orcas Island in a room with a view of the Pacific Ocean, forest up to the coastline, deer roaming by?  All of that was spectacular, but the walks down the hill to meals and my longed for massage proved agonizing.  My legs weren’t bending correctly.  My balance was off on the incline.  Every single leg muscle hurt.

Following breakfast I hobbled out to the cliff’s edge and plopped down.  Spectacular seascape!  The details up close were even more amazing to me.  Tiny flowers carpeted the cliff top—incredible colors!  As I sat and silently absorbed the warmth of the sun and all of the magnificence that surrounded me, I felt enveloped by the sensation of a mystical embrace.  What was it?  Grace.

After a week of being intensely aware of time, space, and my own survival and perseverance in both the small and big picture, I actively felt Grace.  And then gratitude.

THE BAGUA MAP

While the Bagua map is something that literally can provide a diagram for your house, it also can provide the internal guidance system for maintaining a full and balanced life. Once the internal system is understood, the external support that you set up in your living spaces gives you real connection to the world and gives you a centering point from which to venture out. The more you build on both the internal and the external, the surer is your compass.

The “guas”

The Bagua is divided into 9 “guas,” each gua representing a different aspect of your life. The Bagua map is traditionally in an octagonal shape (shown as a square below), with a cross forming the “load bearing” part of the structure—3 guas horizontally, 3 guas vertically. Virtually every culture uses the symbol of the cross to represent the outer material world (the horizontal line), and the inner spiritual world (the vertical line).

The horizontal line

The horizontal line of the Bagua represents our connection back to that which has preceded us, and forward to our legacy. It rises in the east in the spring and represents inspiration and truth—in the gua that represents the honor we pay to our ancestors and mentors. It sets in the west in the autumn and represents release—in the gua that represents the honor we pay to the children and creative efforts we will leave behind.

The vertical line

The vertical line represents our personal journey of growth. It begins where we are in the present moment—in the north in the gua that represents introspection and imagination. Our journey leads to the gua in the south that represents illumination, wisdom, and expansion.

The center

In the center where the inner and outer meet, we are in the gua of yin and yang—the place of perfect balance.

The corners

The 4 guas in the corners of our structure represent the various ways we fill out our lives—for balance, we satisfy all of them.

The gua in the southwest and northeast

The gua in the southwest represents harmony. Our lives are empty without relationship with others, so this is the place in our hearts, the space in our homes where we honor this. In the opposite corner, the northeast, we find the gua that represents our own growth. Attending to our personal development is not only vital to creating a well-adjusted life, but it is essential to having fulfilling relationships. Conversely, our personal growth is heavily dependent on strengthening our relationships, so these 2 guas nourish each other.

The gua in the southeast and northwest

The gua in the southeast represents generosity. Our lives are abundant; we have so much we can share with others. The corresponding gua in the northwest is the place/space for gratitude. We are grateful for all the support we receive. These 2 guas work together to remind us that that giving and receiving keep the life cycle moving and thriving.

bagua-map

Elemental Characteristics and Birth Year

While we all have an element via our birth year, finding your dominant element may require a more thorough inquiry — many birth years are not a match. See if any of the descriptions below resonate for you.  And then see if you can enhance your own elemental self!

Wood characteristics

Confident, assertive, competitive, ambitious, powerful, comfortable in the midst of conflict or pressure; likes being first, best, and unique; sticks to opinions even if faced with strong opposition; comfortable directing or leading others; doesn’t take criticism well.

Wood represents spring, rebirth, sudden and spectacular growth and movement. Archetypes for the wood person are Explorer, Warrior, Champion and Hero.

Interiors: Wood floors and furniture, green colors, plants and flowers, oblong and rectangular shapes, art work representing trees, plants and flowers.

To build yourself up: add ingredients from the water element which is the nurturing element for wood. (Water feeds wood)

If you are overly woodish (you are overly competitive, bossy, bullying about your opinions, hyper-sensitive) introduce ingredients with metal element components. (Metal cuts wood)

Compatibility*: a water dominant person will be the most nourishing; a metal dominant person might undermine you.

Fire characteristics

Animated and enthusiastic, enjoys the pleasure of the senses, enjoys being completely open and exposed, enjoys physical contact and emotional intimacy, remains optimistic and hopeful despite the opinions of others, becomes easily involved in the events going on around you, lives in the here-and-now without worry about future or past, sees the humorous side of life. Fire represents early summer—heat, acceleration of life forces. Archetypes for the fire person are Magician, Magical Child, and Storyteller.

Interiors: Fire places, candles, red colors, triangular shape, animals, people and representations of same.

To build yourself up: Add the wood element (wood feeds fire)

If you need to curb your enthusiasm, settle down your sexual activity, have been depressed (fire people can feel the highs and lows more deeply than others), use more of the water element to help balance your energy. (Water extinguishes fire)

Compatibility*: note that a wood dominant person will feed you, and that a water dominant person could drown you.

Earth characteristics

Nurturing and supportive, puts the needs of others before own, enjoys socializing with friends and family, enjoys being relied upon for reassurance and help, agreeable and accommodating, enjoys mediating—diplomatic and tactful, team player, gets involved in other people’s lives, enjoys creature comforts, loyal and dependable. Earth represents late summer—ripening and maturing. Archetypes for the earth person are Nurturer, Great Mother.

Interiors: earth tones, terra cotta, square shape, cozy, comfortable furnishings.

To enhance these characteristics add the fire element (fire makes earth).

If you need to balance your earthiness if you are too much of a caretaker, too accommodating and forget to take care of yourself, find yourself without the energy to get off the comfortable couch: add more of the wood element (wood consumes earth).

Compatibility*: remember that a fire dominant person will build you up, and that a wood dominant person could consume you.

Metal characteristics

Maintains a neat and orderly lifestyle, meticulous and discerning, enjoys tasks that require logical, analytic, and systematic approaches to problem solving, shows restraint in expressing feelings or emotions, strongly committed to moral principles and a standard of conduct, self-contained and not overly involved in other people’s affairs, enjoys temperance and moderation, tasteful and discriminating. Metal is represented by autumn—elimination and a return to the source. Archetypes for the metal person are Alchemist, Architect, Engineer, and Mathematician.

Interiors: metal in furnishings and accessories, gems, round shapes, whites, metallic colors, modern and contemporary styles.

To build up your metalness add some earth (the metal element represents things made by the earth).

To tone down a tendency towards coldness or inflexibility minimize the metal elements in your space and add fire (which melts metal).

Compatibility*: note that an earth dominant person will help you grow, and that a fire dominant person could overwhelm you.

Water characteristics

Cautious and sensible, enjoys solitude and introspection, enjoys indulging imagination and curiosity, considered unusual or eccentric, involves self in intellectual pursuits, content with a few good friends and minimal social activities, careful about what is revealed to other people—private, self-sufficient, in or out of relationships. Winter is the season associated with water—on the surface this appears to be a time of quiescence, hibernation and sleep, yet it contains the hidden potential of the new. Archetypes for the water person are Shapeshifter, Thinker, Artist, and Healer.

Interiors: blues and blacks, irregular or wavy shapes, actual water features, mirrors, glass

To encourage your water qualities add metal (which holds water)

To temper your overly cautious nature or inclination to become a hermit, add earth (which dams water).

Compatibility*: a metal dominant person will hold you, and an earth dominant person could hold you back.

*While we usually have a dominant element, as you can see from the different characteristics of each element, it is likely that you have ingredients from other elements as well. (A perfectly balanced person has a little of each.) Therefore, the compatibility information should be fun, NOT determinative.

Elemental Archetypes

Archetypes (the Council Suit in SoulCollage®) are those energies within us that represent universal patterns or themes.  The 5 Chinese elements (water, wood, fire, earth, and metal) that are the basis for Chinese medicine and Feng Shui include archetypal characteristics when applied to our personalities.

Water

Water is fluid and so are the personalities of those with water as their dominant element.  Strength and adaptability is evident by the ability to move in and around obstacles and to ultimately wear those obstacles down. While some people resist change, these SHAPESHIFTERS embrace it.  They do best (in jobs and otherwise) when they are continually learning something new and have the opportunity to change the way things are done.  They are very willing to adapt their methods/ideas when they receive new information.  As THINKERS they want to understand the essence of ideas—to find the truth, meaning and significance of what is going on around them.  They are curious; when their curiosity is satisfied, they are ready to move on to the next interest.  Because they like change, trying on new things, and may not finish what they start, they may appear flighty or unreliable to others.  Water personalities are happiest when they are in their imagination and when they are able to use their creativity.  These ARTISTS often find that their purpose is to create.

Wood

Wood is often personified by the HERO, the EXPLORER, and/or the WARRIOR. The wood dominant person is adventurous, independent, and a pioneer of innovation.  Wood personalities are active competitors and love to prove their point. As opposed to meandering water, wood people like to travel in a straight line and pick up speed.  Wood people like to be recognized and admired.  They stay focused on their goal(s).   They passionately like to set things right and can use their voice to speak out against what they perceive as unfairness. Their passion often can be interpreted as anger by others.

Fire

Fire is a catalytic energy that can transform the mundane into the magical. The charismatic MAGICIAN that exemplifies those with fire as their dominant element is generally more community minded than the two prior elemental types.  These MAGICAL CHILDREN are fun, a bit theatrical, compassionate, and consequently draw others to them.  Fire people are happiest when everyone is enjoying their stories and when they can envision stories in which everyone receives what they desire.  These STORYTELLERS are terrific at entertaining, and at selling themselves and/or their wares.  They are generous to a fault, yet because they are unwilling to feel obligated to others, they have difficulty asking for help.  When these MAGICAL CHILDREN mature, they learn that honesty is critical to fully realizing their potential.

Earth

Earth is nurturing and stable, and therefore those with earth as their dominant element have these qualities as well.  They are generally serene and able to put others at ease.   These people with the GREAT MOTHER archetype advocate for what is good for the whole.  They feel responsible to achieve balance, to be fair to all, and to follow through.  They are susceptible to over-commitment.  Because they focus on supporting the goals of those around them, they may be overlooked or de-valued themselves.  The inclination to put others first can deplete their personal well-being.  As the mother creates an environment that instills balance and cooperation, they are good managers in general.  They are highly empathetic, and can be prone to depression (or overly preoccupied with “fixing it”) as they feel the anguish of others.

Metal

Metal is the element for the ALCHEMIST, the ARCHITECT, the ENGINEER, and the MATHEMATICIAN.  People with metal as their dominant element are often discerning, disciplined, organized, efficient, and good communicators. They are concerned with esthetics.  They are good at bringing order to chaos.  When they understand a framework and can trust the resulting structure, they feel grounded and are able to excel.  Finding that level of trust can be difficult and the metal person may feel abandoned by those they rely on.  They often prefer to work independently.  They may be unable to let go of details and can be too much of a perfectionist.  Happily, the ALCHEMIST can distill the essentials, purify, refine, and then let go of the things that are no longer effective and the expectations that went with those old structures.

* Many ideas about the element/archetype connections came from The Five Harmonics page from the website http://www.emotionaltechnologies.com.

Introducing SoulCollage(R) to the Bagua Map

Feng Shui can be practiced in different ways and has a variety of tools to offer. Many look to it as a way to affect change in their life. It is like acupuncture for the home. By moving furniture around, by addressing awkward doors, windows and walls, actual and metaphorical blockages are cleared and our life will flow better. We may have read about certain enhancements and cures, so we buy a few things, place them in the appropriate location and state our intention. Unfortunately, as many physical changes as we may make, we still get in our OWN way. And as clear as we think our intentions are, as tuned in to our intuition as we may be, our mind still tends to interfere.

When we add SoulCollage® to our process, a real shift can happen. In SoulCollage® we craft personal cards that represent our inner life, our ancestry, our guides, special inspirations, mythology and connection to something bigger—our own story. This engages the right side of the brain, the heart, and the intuition. It allows us to bypass that nattering head. (The nattering head might try to convince us that our intentions should align with the apparent goals of our neighbors—a pretty hollow intention.) When we merge our own story with a deeper use of Feng Shui, we can infuse magic and alchemy into our home and our life.

In Feng Shui, while the Bagua map is something that literally can provide a diagram for your house, it can also provide the internal guidance system for maintaining a full and balanced life. Once the internal system is understood, the external support that you set up in your living spaces gives you real connection to the world and gives you a centering point from which to venture out. The more you build on both the internal and the external, the surer is your compass.

Diagram of Bagua

The Bagua is divided into 9 “guas,” each gua representing a different aspect of your life.
The Bagua map is traditionally an octagonal shape (I show it as a rectangle in my example), with a cross forming the “load bearing” part of the structure—3 guas horizontally, 3 guas vertically. Virtually every culture uses the symbol of the cross to represent the outer material world (the horizontal line), and the inner spiritual world (the vertical line).

The horizontal line of the Bagua represents our connection to a past that preceded us and a future that follows us. It is born in the east in the spring and represents inspiration and truth. It begins in the home of the gua “Thunder.” It is the gua that represents the honor we pay to our ancestors and mentors. It dies in the west in the autumn and represents release. It ends in the home of the gua “Lake.” It is the gua that represents the honor we pay to the children and creative efforts we leave behind.

The vertical line represents our path through life—the journey. It begins where we are in the present moment; it begins with each germinating idea we nurture. It begins in the home of the gua “Water.” It begins in the north in the winter and is the gua that represents introspection and imagination. It leads to illumination, wisdom, expansion as it ends in the gua “Fire” in the south in the summer.

In the center where the inner and outer meet, we are in the gua of yin and yang—the place of perfect balance.

The 4 guas in the corners of our structure represent the various ways we fill out our lives—for balance, we satisfy all of them.

The “Earth” gua is in the southwest and represents harmony. Our lives are empty without relationship with others, so this is the place in our hearts, the space in our homes where we honor this. In the opposite corner, the northeast, we find the “Mountain” gua that represents personal growth. Attending to our personal development is not only vital to creating a well-adjusted life, but it is essential to having fulfilling relationships. Conversely, our personal growth is heavily dependent on strengthening our relationships, so these 2 guas are important to each other.

The “Wind” gua in the southeast represents prosperity and abundance. We have so much we can share with others. The corresponding gua in the northwest is the “Heaven” gua. This is our place/space for helpful friends. We are grateful for all the support we receive, so again, we offer a hand to others. These 2 guas work together to remind us that giving and receiving keep the life cycle moving and thriving.

We can honor all of these aspects of our life by using personal symbols to activate our intentions. These symbols can be put together in an altar or may be kept as discrete inspirations, but by having them in our view, we clarify those intentions and keep our purpose fresh. Periodic rituals reactivate the connection. Working with the SoulCollage® cards—making them and reading them—is a profound ritual.

The “Committee” cards that we create for our SoulCollage® deck represent our inner personalities and the roles we play in our life. This is a map that describes where our various cards might “fit” in the Bagua, but some examples are: our inner “lover” would feel at home in the relationship gua, our inner “yogi” would be comfortable in the self-cultivation gua, and our inner “gossip” might like to take its place in the journey gua as something we are working on in our lifetime.

The “Community” cards represent our ancestors and other family members, mentors, inspirational people, friends, pets …. The ancestors, mentors and inspirations slip right into the gua named for them. Helpful friends—same story. The Community cards for a spouse and our children would fit in the relationship and children and creativity guas respectively.

The cards in the “Companion” suit represent the energetic qualities of each of our chakras. The root chakra energy best matches our journey gua—where we begin. The second chakra companion—our ancestor gua. The third chakra—our personal power is developed in the gua for self-cultivation. Our heart chakra companion is of course most comfortable in our love and relationship gua. The fifth chakra companion—how we express our self is exemplified in the creativity gua. The third eye? That energy fits into the illumination gua. Finally, the crown chakra companion settles in the center.

The “Council” suit is for our archetypal guides, allies and challengers. Council members could be at home in several appropriate guas, but frequently pop up along our life journey—the vertical line of the Bagua.

I have been working with a friend on her SoulCollage® process. She has been intuitively creating journey card after journey card. She was having difficulty naming them, because, while they have an archetypal energy to them, the images are not easily anthropomorphized. Instead, they continually represent a difficult path—“stuff” from the sub-conscious trying to make its way through to consciousness, obstacle laden walkways with welcoming posts ahead. Some cards are more ominous, some more encouraging. Because of the flexibility offered in SoulCollage®, we decided to make a suit called “Journey.” Her current journey involves finding her way forward inwardly, AND connecting to her roots and progeny—the vertical and the horizontal.

SoulCollage® cards can be displayed (or kept in a special pouch) on any altar you build or they may be reserved for your own private rituals. The important element is to consciously apply the wisdom gained in your card making to your day to day life. Make yourself at home.