Reading and Using a Bagua Octagon

Sally Painter
Contributor: Karen Frazier
metal bagua octagon

The bagua octagon is a map to help determine where certain energies reside in your home. Using a feng shui bagua octagon ensures your analysis will be accurate. Reading an octagonal bagua is easy once you understand its symbols and how each octagon wedge is applied to your home layout.

Bagua Octagon Versus Rectangular Bagua

You'll see two different shapes of baguas - a rectangular bagua divided into nine squares, and an octagonal bagua divided into eight sections with a circle in the center. The rectangular bagua is used as a map for Western feng shui, particularly the Black Hat sect, while the octagon is used in traditional, or Eastern, feng shui.

Understanding the Bagua Octagon

The bagua (pronounced ba-gwa) or pakua (pa kua) is divided into eight wedges called trigrams (stacks of three lines either solid or broken that represent yin and yang energy). The bagua is one tool used to create the complex feng shui analysis of your home or business. Each section of the bagua represents a sector of your space along with compass directions for each sector. The eight sectors represented on the traditional bagua include:

  • Fame and reputation (south)
  • Relationships (southwest)
  • Children and creativity (west)
  • Helpful people and travel (northwest)
  • Career and life path (north)
  • Wisdom and education (northeast)
  • Ancestors and family (east)
  • Wealth and prosperity (southeast)

Enhancing each of these sectors of your home by using the elements associated with the sector can bring luck into those aspects of your life.

The Bagua Is a Map

The bagua octagon is a map that shows you how to create a better flow of chi energy in your home. Superimpose it over the layout of your home to find the most auspicious sectors and elements to enhance various types of luck.

Determine Your House's Facing Direction

Before you can use the bagua as a map to your home, you must first determine your home's facing direction. Once you know the direction your home faces, you can orient the map superimposed over a layout of your home.

Understanding the Trigrams

You will notice each trigram (wedge) has three lines. Some have more solid lines, while others have more broken lines representing different patterns of yin and yang. The solid lines represent yang, and the broken lines symbolize yin. A trigram with more solid lines than broken is a yang trigram.

Trigrams on feng shui bagua octagon

Understanding Directions

The eight sides of the bagua represent areas in your life and correlate to a fixed direction. The bagua never changes, however if you live in a south facing house then move to an east facing house, your front door will no longer be in your Fame and Fortune sector but your Health and Family direction.

Bagua Meanings

The octagon shape represents the four main magnetic directions: north, south, east, west and the four in between: northeast, southeast, northwest, and southwest. Assigned to the main directions are colors, areas of life, number designations, and four celestial animals. The other four directions have the same kind of designations except for the animals.

Five Feng Shui Elements

The bagua is representative of the cycle of life and its elements.

The wind element is the chi (also spelled ch'i or qi). It is the energy of all living matter. Earth is located in the center of the bagua octagon.

Bauga Octagon and the Elements Cycle

The cycle begins with fire burning wood, the wood in turn feeds the fire, and from this interaction, the earth (ash) is created. Earth then turns into metal (ore) under the heat and draws moisture from the air, which falls to the ground. Water then nourishes the wood, which fuels the fire, and the process starts all over again. Never ending.

This process creates wind (chi) which aids or inhibits the elements. Without all of these elements in proper place, the cycle becomes broken and the wind cannot flow freely. Life becomes blocked, diseased and out of sync.

Cycle of five feng shui elements

That's why you want to be sure that you don't accidentally interrupt this cycle. A good way to remember the cycle is to test the elements against each other. If they have destructive or adverse effects on each other, then you know they are not properly mixed. For example, water will extinguish fire and earth can smother fire. Earth makes water muddy. Fire melts metal and so on.

Below is a chart to help you understand the properties of each direction and the elements and colors assigned to each.

Bagua Octagon
Direction Name Life Area Element Color Lo Shu Number Animal
South Li Fame & Fortune Fire Red 9 Phoenix
Southwest K'un Marriage, Partnership, Parenthood Earth Yellow/Beige 2 N/A
West Tui Children Metal White/Gold/Silver 7 White Tiger
Northwest Ch'ien Travel & Helpful People Metal Gray 6 N/A
North K'an Career, Business & Death Water Black/Blue 1 Tortoise
Northeast Ken Knowledge & Education Earth Brown/Yellow 8 N/A
East Chen Health & Family Wood Green 3 Blue/Green Dragon
Southeast Sun Wealth Wood Purple 4 N/A
Center Yin & Yang Balance Earth Yellow 5 N/A
Four Directions & Celestial Animals
Direction Animal Season
South Phoenix Summer Solstice
East Blue/Green Dragon Spring Equinox
West White Tiger Autumn Equinox
North Dark Turtle Winter Solstice

Using Other Feng Shui Tools With the Bagua

For the most precise feng shui, combine your bagua with a Flying Stars Analysis based on the year of construction for your house or office and the direction it faces. In classic feng shui (Form and Compass Schools) the bagua's importance is secondary to the Flying Stars Analysis. The bagua is used to locate energy in your house yet it is not accurate for your individual best directions. To understand individual directions, you need an Eight Mansions and a Four Pillars of Destiny analysis.

Using the Bagua Octagon and Form School

Western culture has adopted feng shui; however, many people don't probe beyond the Black Hat Sect (Form School), which relies purely on the bagua. Using only the bagua octagon to make design choices and place features or cures in a home can be disastrous.

For example, you may place an aquarium in the southeast (wealth) corner of your house believing it will enhance your finances. It works, and then suddenly you experience financial losses. What happened? The flying stars were auspicious in the southeast when you first added the aquarium, but these move like real stars and change positions with the seasons. What was once good chi became sha chi or si chi (bad chi). A water feature in this sector then strengthens the invading negative chi.

Bagua Octagon Is Not Mysterious

As in all things associated with feng shui, there are good common sense reasons behind what at first appears to be mysterious and even superstitious. The reason the south is considered best for a house or farm placement is logical. South facing property will receive longer hours of sunlight, which in turn will produce a higher crop yield. The bagua octagon can help you take advantage of these applied scientific principles.

Reading and Using a Bagua Octagon