The truth about the four Celestial Animals in Fengshui

photo of the 4 celestial animals

It’s time you know the truth.

English books on Fengshui sometimes pigeonholed the art of Fengshui as being represented by the Four celestial animals e.g. Eastern Green Dragon and the Western White Tiger. (so-called perfect configuration and perfect landform) As consumers, we have seen supposedly Fengshui inspired paintings where the left is higher than the right (Dragon higher than Tiger). As the left is taken to be the dragon (male/yang), it has affected societal norms where in Chinese societies, one can always hear people saying “males to the left and females to the right (男左女右)which is said to follow this ancient : Fengshui” principle. To understand this thing about green dragon and white tiger, we have to know a little about China’s geography.

The four so-called celestial animals are a set of constellations each with 7 stars (4X7=28 二十八星宿; which is presented in ancient Chinese literature as celestial beings). Another thing to note is that unlike a western compass, the Chinese compass points south instead of north.

The north of China refers to regions like Mongolia, Greater Russia and crossing partly into the Himalayan Alps. Therefore, North is taken to be higher ground. However, if north is higher ground and represented by the Black turtle, how can Black Turtle be considered Yin while the Green Dragon which is also higher ground is taken to be Yang? Isn’t higher ground supposed to be yang? Contradictory isn’t it?

The south of China is actually the South China Sea and the coastal areas i.e. lower ground. (Red Phoenix) Why are houses recommended to be North-South facing? The sun is at the equator and China is in the Northern hemisphere. Without modern heating amenities, facing the hotter/warmer area in the south seems to be a sensible option isn’t it? In the same vein, not all N-S facing houses are good.

The Green Dragon (Left) is said to be higher because the left of China is the area belonging largely to Tibet, Bhutan, part of the Himalayan Alps and generally higher ground. To the right of China (White Tiger) lies Japan and the big sea i.e. water flows from higher to lower ground.

Therefore in terms of orientation, if we are facing the so called North-South facing of a “perfect” Fengshui house, that would mean that the right side of China would be higher ground and the left (Japan’s side) would be lower. Another contradiction it seems.

If we view China from the lens of somebody using a Chinese compass with the South at the top, would it make more sense now that the left is higher and the right is lower.

Therefore, for this so called configuration to make sense, we have to recognise that the Green Dragon does not have to represent East. This configuration is merely a description of the landform and how the river flows i.e. from higher (left) to lower ground (right).

The left side of China (i.e. Green Dragon and the North of China i.e. Black Turtle are generally on higher ground) Therefore, while the green dragon is on the left but it doesn’t have to represent East. It just represent higher ground. This is the same for the directional representation of the celestial animals; they are just landform representations and do not necessarily correspond to their respective North, South, East, West e.g. Left Green Dragon is higher ground but doesn’t represent the East. Right White Tiger is lower ground and doesn’t represent the West.

From this perspective, we can then appreciate the emphasis on North-South facing houses and more importantly, resolves much of the contradictions that we raised earlier. Much of the associations of the four celestial animals are just geographical observations based on natural landform and has nothing to do with Fengshui or mythical solutions e.g. backing and embrace. Neither has it has anything to do with a “perfect” #fengshui configuration as it merely describes the geographical landscape of China. Similarly, you cannot Fengshui a place or a painting by having a higher left and say that it represents the Green Dragon. It is at most a simile to higher ground.

Likewise, please do not purchase “Fengshui” paintings or place a tortoise in the North because it represents the Black Turtle and is touted as being good for career. The Black Turtle represents the back but it may/may not be always in the north sector. These things don’t work and give a bad impression of #chinesemetaphysics. They are just antics thought up by ingenious salesmen. One is better off with real hard work or donating to charity instead.