Feng Shui & Mermaid Imagery

Leighton-The Fisherman and the Syren-c. 1856-1858

You definitely get the feeling that the relationship is not going to work out… “The Fisherman and the Syren,” Frederic Leighton. Public domain.

I know many out there will hate to hear this, but mermaid imagery is disempowering for women and devastatingly so if it’s a single mermaid. Think of the phrase “like a fish out of water.” Well, that’s what a mermaid is. A mermaid tail cannot walk around on dry land, yet dry land is where the upper part of the mermaid has to be in order to breathe. So here’s this composite creature that’s at home nowhere, and powerless on land (which is where people live). If the mermaid image is female (which it almost always is, in contemporary depictions) and you’re a woman—watch out! Anytime an image (in your home, yard or office) is the same gender as you, it’s affecting you much more than an image of the opposite gender. In my opinion, that classifies as common sense.

I’ve often written about the problem of singular imagery having an adverse affect on the “relationship energy” of the home (examples are found on page 118 of Feng Shui for Hawaii, and page 14 of Feng Shui for Love & Money). Images of several merpeople are an improvement over a single merperson, in that sense. The earliest images of merpeople always showed interaction, not singularity.

John William Waterhouse A Mermaid.jpg

Well, here she is, out taking a “breather,” but she’s not going to get very far unless she holds her breath and jumps back in the water. “A Mermaid.” John William Waterhouse, 1900. Public domain.

Some of the earliest examples of merpeople can be found in mosaics on Crete. In those representations, the creatures have two scaly tails where you’d expect legs to be. They’re still not exactly land-friendly creatures, I’d say.

I recently had a client who agreed to remove her mermaid imagery, but she wondered what to do with it. I suggested letting it go, but in the meantime, storing it in a closet in such a way that if she opened the closet she wouldn’t see the images—the paintings are facing the wall. (This is my common recommendation when clients have items that are obviously unsuitable, from a feng shui standpoint, but they aren’t ready or able to part with them.)


Feng Shui & Wine

Wine bottles are a source of visual noise. Photo by WineKing via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

It’s not about the liquid—it’s mostly about the label, and somewhat about the shape of the bottle — at least as far as feng shui is concerned, anyway. Wine bottles are placed out (on display in rooms) on dining tables, side tables, coffee tables, sofa tables, and bars and counters. They are usually the only liquid with a brand label on display at a nice, gussied-up meal. Unless the labels stay facing the wall (which they’re not likely to), they are an issue in feng shui. First of all, they’re brand labels, and as such they are visual noise. You should avoid brand labels on view in your home. I’ve written on this blog before (here and here) about brands, words and visual noise.

Another major problem with wine labels is that they frequently have an image of a single living being. Be it a lone kangaroo or a single footprint, singular images are best avoided in the home—if they are going be on display. Singular images simply don’t have good relationship energy. If the wine bottle is always kept behind an opaque cover (when the wine is not being poured) then it doesn’t matter at all what’s on the label.

Most people in the real world are not going to turn all their bottles around or cover them up—so you could soak the label off. (But then how many people are going to do that either?) Well, I’m happy to say—there are always decanters—which can be delightful room accents and (if chosen carefully) can enhance an area of the bagua (because of the decanter’s shape or color). Clear, cut-crystal decanters can be used as dispersers of energy, when that’s called for to correct problems in chi energy flow within the home. These work wonderfully for storing spirits like gin or whiskey, and are so much more attractive on a table—and less noisy—during a meal when you are serving wine.

No. 132 Wine Decanter With Stopper, 1870 (CH 18732777) No. 2 Wine Decanter With Stopper, ca. 1835 (CH 18732025)
These beautiful vintage wine decanters are in the fantastic Cooper Hewitt Museum. Photos public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The shape of the bottle becomes an issue if the stored wine bottles are kept on their sides and in view. If the neck of a wine bottle points into the room, it symbolizes a gun aimed into the room—yuck. I’ve told this to many a client and they turn the bottles around immediately, saying, “It doesn’t matter to us which way the bottles point.” When the bottom of the bottle points into the room there is never a problem with poison arrow energy being aimed into the room—they can only happen when the top of the bottle aims into the room. And once again, if the bottles are stored behind an opaque cover, it doesn’t matter which way the tops face (or what the label design is). As with many things in feng shui, if you can’t see it, it doesn’t affect you. And remember, a nice piece of fabric can make a fine opaque cover… There are also some quite lovely solutions, such as adding doors to cover a wine rack.

This video from my Highline Kitchens showroom series covers cutting energy and “rifle barrel” energy and will show you what I mean.

Feng Shui and Silk Fabric


Raw, nubby, pure silk. Photo by Smriti Tripathi, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

When I say “silk,” I mean 100% silk—pure silk. I recently had a client in Los Angeles who thought she had followed my advice when I recommended red silk curtains for the large glass doors in the Fame Area of her home. She showed me the results in a Skype conversation, and told me that they were 70% silk. (That means they were 30% synthetic—and synthetic is plastic. Being small plastic fibers, it immediately starts degrading into ever-smaller pieces of plastic—plastic dust in your home—yuck!) I was extremely disappointed when she told me that the store didn’t have 100% silk. I said, “You’re shopping in the wrong store! You’re in LA—you shouldn’t have trouble finding fabric stores that carry 100% silk.” Silk blended with anything will not move or feel like 100% silk.

If you’re looking for fabric for the Wealth Corner, try silk velvet. The nicest sofa fabric that I’ve ever sat on was the silk sofa of a friend in San Francisco. It was that rough, nubby, raw silk—extremely strong and it felt great to sit on. Raw silk (sometimes called hard silk) still has the gum (that held the fibers of the cocoon together) on it, and it always has a certain stiffness to it. There are some silks that are woven from raw fibers, and then the gum is removed afterwards. Chiffon, crepe de chine, and foulard are examples.

Pearl Textured Dupioni Silk Curtain Single Panel, 50"x96"

These are 100% silk dupioni drapes with a nice texture to them. Photo via Houzz

I often recommend white or off-white silk sheers (curtains) for front doors that are mostly clear glass. I recently suggested this to a client in Hilo and she liked the idea immediately, which not everyone does. The fabric blocks symbolically blocks chi, while letting light through. As I mention in Feng Shui for Hawaii, if you have a front door with clear glass (or a large glass panel next to the door; this is a common design), someone could stand outside your home and look straight in. Their eyesight—their visual energy—is coming into your space without being invited. That symbolizes a home where the residents are not adequately in control of the circumstances of their lives. I cite several other uses for silk sheers in the same book.

I feel very sorry for anyone who has to buy silk (or any fabric) online. Fabric must be touched and moved to know if it’s right for your purpose. And this touching and moving is what proves that natural fabrics are always better than synthetic. Support your local fabric stores where you can touch what you’re buying.

My appreciation for silk and other fabrics was enhanced by the addition of these two books to our library: Handbook of Textile Fibres, Vol. 1: Natural Fibres by J. Gordon Cook, and Know Your Merchandise by Wingate, Gillespie, and Milgrom. The latter book is a textbook for retailers and consumers, and our edition is from 1975. I’d recommend it to almost anyone who has a collection (of almost anything). It’s a fascinating study into how all sorts of things are made.

Seminar Alert! I will be on Oahu this weekend, offering several seminars at various locations and on several different topics, including the feng shui bagua, feng shui for the office and feng shui for the bedroom. Most are free; the one exception is the two-hour long Bagua Class on Friday night, which has a modest fee. My complete schedule can be found on my events page.

Fire Under Water in the Home—The Feng Shui Perspective on Three Interior Features to Avoid 

Flickr - USCapitol - Bartholdi Fountain

Public outdoor fountains often light from beneath the water. The effect may be spectacular, but it symbolizes conflict and an unstable situation between fire and water. The lights at the top of this fountain which cast light down onto the water are fine. Photo: Bartholodi Fountain by Architect of the Capitol, via Wikimedia Commons

The element fire (and any object symbolizing fire) is in conflict with the element water, if they are next to each other or in close proximity. A circumstance where fire is under water is especially troublesome because water puts out fire. Here are three such circumstances that can happen within a home:

  • A water feature, such as a fountain, in which the light bulb is below the water. I emphasize this problem on page 90 of Feng Shui for Love & Money. Don’t buy this kind of fountain, and if you’ve already got one, don’t turn on the light. It’s fine to have a fountain with a light shining on the water—that’s like the sun shining on the ocean—very natural.
  • Waterfall pictures that you plug in and turn on and the water lights up and it’s supposed to look like the water is moving. Not only are these dreadful feng shui, but they radiate tackiness—yes, I really said that! (I can’t bear to look at them, but if you really must see one for yourself, here is a link to a video.)
  • Spigots over stove tops to fill pots with water for cooking. This problem is not as easily fixed as discarding a tacky picture. If possible, have the spigot removed. However, most people who have this (feng shui nightmare) in their home are loathe to have it removed. If that’s the case, put a tiny, discreet dot of red paint or nail polish (probably on the underside of the spigot so it won’t be visually obvious) and say out loud something like, “The red symbolizes a complete change—there is no longer a fire over water situation at this stove—the spigot is gone.”

I live in on an island where red-hot lava flows into the ocean, and sometimes under the ocean. It’s well known among people who live here that these are situations to be wary of—they can be very explosive. Don’t bring that vibration of conflict and wariness into your home.

Feng Shui & Clocks: A Tale of Two Faces

This (much more expensive) clock is what we’re getting rid of—too vague!

Not all clock faces are created equal. Digital clocks are always a bit more stressful to look at than the old-fashioned analog clocks, which have hands that move in a circle. We have a few small digital clocks scattered around the house, including the one on the stove. But the main clock in our house is an analog wall clock above the kitchen door. It’s on the screened-in lanai (porch), which is also our dining room and main hang-out room. Until recently, we had a clock from Macy’s hanging there. It didn’t have much going for it, from a feng shui point of view, except that the back had flocking (sort of a glued-on felt), which dampened the ticking sound. The main problem with the clock was that it had no actual numbers on the face. Where the 3, 6, 9, and 12 would be, there were only little dots. Often I would stare at it wondering, “Is that 4:30 or 5:30?” That kind of vagueness from a clock is not good feng shui.

No vagueness here! It is a slight bit noisier than the other clock, but my husband stuffed fabric in the hollow space in the back (around the frame) and that helped a lot.

Then, a few days ago, my husband and I were in the Salvation Army thrift store in Kailua, and there was this clock that was about the same size as the Macy’s clock, but it had numbers. The store was having a 50% off sale on all items. I asked Steve what he thought, and he said, “Get it!”

So for $2.50 we got a charming clock with all twelve numbers on the face. Every time I look up at it, I automatically blurt out, “I love that clock!” The vagueness is gone.

A few other clock tips:

  • If a ticking sound bothers you, as it does me, get only silent or very quiet clocks. This is essential in the bedroom.
  • Clocks need to be kept accurate; otherwise they are holding you back in the past.
  • If there are several clocks in the home, they need to agree on the time. Clocks that disagree by several minutes bring a vibe of untrustworthiness to the home. (If you collect clocks, you have a problematic hobby—keep them all accurate, or don’t have them on display.)
  • One of the worst kinds of clocks is the kind that has no numbers at all. These were popular in the 1950s, and remain so in some minimalist homes. This is vagueness gone off the scale.