8 Aspirations – What Do They Really Mean?
The West has been introduced to Feng Shui via the school of 8 Aspirations, the corners of the house affectionately known as the “wealth”, “partnership” or “fame” areas. This school of Feng Shui began in Hong Kong and gained popularity about 100 years ago because it simplified the more complex calculations of the ancient compass school. Lillian Too was one of the first to introduce this school to the West, keeping the 8 Aspirations in the proper directions that created them. In BHS, Professor Lin Yun disconnected the 8 aspirations from their original directions decreasing their inherent natural effectiveness, and substituted mantras and talismans instead to accomplish his goals.
In traditional Feng Shui each direction has a specific “trigram” and inherent energy from the environment and contains different potentials and meanings. For example, if we look at the North direction (Kan)–the direction associated with cold winds, winter and water–it can also relate to the middle son, a middle-aged man, the water systems in our body (lymph or blood) or the North trigram person depending on your birthday. 8 Aspirations school took these different meanings and extrapolated a common term for each direction to make Feng Shui more accessible to the masses. The North became the “Career” direction since it also related to waterways traveled by boat and thus trade, merchants, cargo, money and eventually you can see how “career” evolves as a person would travel from home looking for work. Nowadays roads are often considered waterways of trade and commerce providing the movement that rivers did in years past.
The I-Ching developed from the original 8 trigrams as well and the “Kan” trigram could also be interpreted as dangerous. Water could be destructive when weather was difficult and is a powerful moving element. The basic trigram interpretation says that water is a moving force that ultimately gets to its destination, like a river to the ocean. This can be a fitting description of a dedicated apprentice who has decided on his trade or work of choice, in essence his “career”, and leaving home could always be a potentially dangerous situation.
The other “aspirations” were developed likewise:
Partnership: is the “Kun” trigram and is the Southwest corner representing the woman of the home, the wife or mother. Marriage was an essential partnership to be successful in life for most people– as they wished to have descendants. The Southwest also represents an older woman, the abdomen, stomach, uterus and reproduction. The Kun trigram person is strong and nurturing and gains their authority through caring for others.
Mentors: is the “Qian” trigram of the Northwest and also represents the father or breadwinner of the family. Our father is our first mentor, but this can be broadened to include other patrons, mentors or father figures outside the home. The Northwest also represents hard metal, tools or weapons and the head and lung areas. It is also the personality of a strong leader, independent and often headstrong.
Wealth: Is the “Xun” trigram and Southeast direction also known as “wind” or the traveler. It represents the eldest daughter, often the first to marry and leave home. She would take up residence with her new husband’s family and it was ideal for her to marry well, so that the family could prosper from her good fortune, often for a whole generation. Xun also represents the thighs and buttocks of a person and someone who likes to move around a lot.
Family: Is the “Zhen” trigram and the East direction representing the eldest son. It was the eldest son that the family depended on to eventually take care of them, so the family’s strength, security and health in their old age lay with the fortune of the eldest son. Zhen also relates to thunder. It represents someone who is usually levelheaded, but also has a lot of innate power and force and who could erupt on occasion due to that inherent power. It also relates to the feet and throat, the ability to walk and talk, nervous disorders or an explosive temperament at times.
Education: Is the “Gen” trigram or Northeast direction and represents the “mountain”. It relates to the youngest son or a youthful personality. Often when a family had more than one son, the eldest was to take care of his parents, and the youngest was sent to a monastery at a very young age, often between 6-8 years in order to be educated by the monks. For a poor country family, this was often the younger son’s only chance for an education and a better life. The monasteries were centers of learning and often located in isolated places or high mountain areas in order to protect them from raids.
Fame: Is the “Li” trigram and represents the warmest Southern direction. Homes in China preferred the milder Southern entrances and this is where much of their socializing and visiting would take place. When the weather is warm, people are more open and friendly. Fame equates with fire, heat, expansion, activity and the spread of your good name. Celebrations were usually held in good weather and the South also represents the middle daughter, and the heart– the center of our bodies, and our eyes, the mirror to our soul. This is a feminine trigram and a very active personality, much like our heart that is always beating.
Children: The West represents the youngest or joyful daughter, as the youngest child tends to get some extra attention. It is the “Dui” trigram and talkative and is social in nature, fun loving and communicative. It also represents the mouth or teeth areas and soft metal like jewelry. The youngest daughter was often seen as the most gentle or vulnerable, so in need of protection. But she also brought great joyfulness and the pleasure that having children can bring.
So the question then has to be asked, can the traditional Chinese family also relate to the West and be relevant in its interpretations? But if you look closely at these symbols, they show the true universality of their archetypal meanings. The East is consistently seen as a new beginning in many cultures since the sun rises in the East, and it is often the eldest son who takes up the profession of his father to breathe new life into the family business. The West direction is where the sun sets each day and is the time you can go home to enjoy your family and children. The energy at dusk is “contracting” (metal) but it is the soft, beautiful metal of jewelry, gold and brilliant sunsets. The West aptly represents the youngest child and the joys of life. The family members and their associated meanings are universal, and are a useful template to help us decipher the energy of the environment and how it can affect our personal lives. So as long as one realizes that each direction has several different meanings and potentials and the aspirations are used in the proper directions– then this school could function as a traditional compass school.