by Carol C. Wheelock
I'm confused. Where is it good to have water and where is it bad to have water? Does it matter if it is a pond or a river?
Peggy J., East Montpelier
You've asked a very good question. This is an important factor to consider when choosing property, siting a house, or putting in a pond. There are many levels on which to look at water.
First of all, water is very symbolic. It is the shui in feng shui (feng means wind). It the flow of the meandering stream that we want to replicate in our surroundings and in our lives. It represents the energy that we see and the emotions within us.
Secondly, water is essential for all living things. Maintaining a supply of potable water is a huge concern in our world today. Many of our waterways are polluted and support very little or no life. Feng shui is about healthy, clean water. Stagnant water, regardless of where it is, is never a plus.
Historically, water has been a means of transportation, a source of food and drink, a way to keep clean, and an aesthetically pleasing attraction. People tended to build early settlements along waterways and lakes in order to take advantage of all that water has to offer. These communities and homes always faced the water.
Feng shui teaches us that it is best to be protected in the back and on the sides, and open in front. Water in the back does not offer security. Water in the front becomes part of the open landscape. Ideally, the building would sit slightly uphill from the water it faces.
If you have water near your home, it will influence you. Water that meanders and flows gently will give you a sense of flow in your life. If you are near stagnant water, you may feel stuck. Conversely, living near fast moving water is apt to make you feel that you are always rushing and that things are moving too fast in your life or passing you by.
Water is symbolic of wealth and prosperity. Gently flowing clear water represents a consistent flow in your life - flow of chi and money. This sense of flow brings more relaxation, that "go with the flow" feeling, along with prosperity. Stagnant or non-moving water will not help anything positive flow into your life.
Water that rushes toward you and then abruptly turns away may be taking your prosperity and chi with it. If this is the case, use plantings, stone walls, or fences to create a symbolic barrier between you and the water.
Waterfalls are beautiful, yet they can also be intimidating if they loom above a house. It is always better to look down on a waterfall than to be below it, looking up. It is also best to not be too close to a waterfall, as the energy can be threatening, especially in the spring.
Always keep proportion in mind. The residents of a small house right next to a large body of water will feel overwhelmed. The same house further back from the water would be fine. Man-made ponds should be created with this in mind.
Swimming pools are best if formed in natural shapes, as opposed to rectangles with sharp corners. Due to privacy reasons, pools are usually placed behind houses. It is best to leave enough room between the house and the pool to place plantings or other dividers around it. If you own a pool, be sure to maintain it well.
Many of us do not live near water. Roads become symbolic water, so living next to a road with fast-moving traffic is similar to living next to a fast moving river or stream. Roads that head toward a house and then suddenly turn away would be the same as a body of water doing the same.
When you observe water - where it is, its flow, depth, and health - pay attention to how it makes you feel. Distinguish between a moment of sightseeing and a long term place of support. Standing at the bottom of a huge waterfall may be beautiful and awe-inspiring, but the thought of living there would be anything but calming. Living next to a river may be wonderful on hot summer days, but that same river could be threatening if the waters start to rise and you are living on a floodplain.
Remember that water is essential to our lives and that our bodies are part water. By replicating the natural flow of water in our lives- moving around obstacles as they occur, naturally following the curves and bends, going with the flow - we honor the water within us and create flow within our lives.
Carol C. Wheelock, M.Ed. of Feng Shui Vermont is a certified feng shui practitioner who has studied in the United Sates and China. She practices Black Sect or western feng shui. Carol does private consultations for homes, schools, libraries, and businesses; clutter counseling and clearing; spaces clearings; phone consultations; presentations; and teaches workshops throughout the United States. She also does personal clearings.