The Chinese believe where you place objects in your home can impact other area's of your life such as wealth, health, and familial harmony. What do you think? Could it work, or is it a load of old phooey? Author Jan Andersen tells of her experiences.
The art of feng shui
I, on the other hand, am less cynical about the principles of this ancient Chinese art of luck management.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the subject, Feng Shui is all about the balance of energy and living in harmony with the environment. The laws of Feng Shui encourage you to improve the flow of energy (known as Chi) by arranging your own surroundings to attract prosperity, health and love, rather than loss, misfortune and isolation.
Each part of a building corresponds to a particular area of your life and before some smart arse pipes up, I know that the bedroom relates to sleep and that other "s" word and that the kitchen is associated with cooking, but that's not what I mean. If your toilet, for example, falls within the wealth sector, you could be symbolically flushing your riches away, along with all those other nasty by-products.
However, for every Feng Shui "problem," there is a cure. Since toilets are such bad news, except when you need to use one of course, the advice is to keep the toilet lid down and the door closed at all times. Try enforcing that law in a household full of males.
Like most women, I consider an up-lidded toilet seat bad news anyway, especially when the bathroom has been occupied for half an hour whilst my beloved reads the newspaper on the throne. Open lids facilitate the diffusion of that aroma known as Eau de Turd.
Unfortunately, my partner's treasured sons took the "keeping the toilet seat closed at all times" a little too literally and we ended up with attractive puddles surrounding the base of the toilet. Well, that was their excuse anyway and nothing to do with lack of hand to hose pipe coordination.
Since sinks are also bad news, but a necessity nevertheless, the advice given in my Lillian Too book is to keep plugs in permanently, which worked well until the above mentioned little darlings left the taps on and we acquired a cascading water feature to merge with the pool of wee on the floor.
Needless to say, both of the toilets in our house - one on the ground floor and the other on the first floor - are positioned in the family harmony sector.
Placement of inanimate objects
"How can the position of an inanimate object affect your luck?" he sneered once, shortly before he tripped headlong over his son's grotesque Jabba the Hutt character, which had been left precariously in the middle of the utility room.
Now being a technical bod and also being employed by a mobile communications company at the forefront of technology, my partner of all people should be au fait with the ability of static objects to affect energy. I remind him frequently that buildings in dense urban areas block satellite signals and that clocks and watches are powered by quartz crystal, which for all intents and purposes, is an inanimate piece of rock.
Unfortunately, not having similarly enhanced the family harmony area in a propitious fashion, it also means that I have been plagued on a weekendly basis with his two errant and disrespectful sons. Despite his skepticism however, my ever accommodating other half will acquiesce to most things and yield to my most whimsical requests, for very small favors in return.
"If it makes you happy and you believe that it will make us rich, then you just tell me what you want and where you want it." And so it has come to pass that he has obligingly extracted gigantic boulders of quartz from Scottish river beds and humped them back home for me, making only a brief comment about how his vehicle has altered status from a family car into a heavy goods' vehicle. He has also strategically positioned lights, furniture, pictures and plant pots and allowed me to exercise creative judgement on the interior décor.
Organ pipe-sized windchimes
When I informed him that we couldn't have a mirror facing the bed because it was bad luck, he said, "Well, that's obvious isn't it? I mean, catching sight of oneself first thing in the morning could make you have a heart attack and die. Yes, that would be unlucky, but it has nothing to do with Feng Shui."
I first took a fleeting interest in Feng Shui during the final months of my marriage to my skinflint of an ex-husband, in the hope that a change in fortune would send a more benevolent model in my direction. After placing some wealth coins into the area governing abundance, he had an unfortunate accident involving the alliance of a heavy object and his foot, incapacitating him for a few days. Consequently, I had to do the weekly grocery run alone and wasn't constrained by his parsimonious influence. That week was an extremely abundant one in the food department.
Clear the clutter
Ah, so he's actually succumbed to the influence of this "twaddle" and is taking a serious interest, I thought. That is, until he started spouting forth on the importance of symbolism.
"According to Lillian Too," he grinned, "It is auspicious to place a dragon in the Eastern sector. In that case, if your mother ever decides to stay, she can sleep in the bathroom."