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Colors, Shapes and Numbers
In addition to being associated with specific compass points & animals, elements are associated with shapes and colors: (Fire = red and angles/triangles; Wood = green/ blue-green and cylinders; Earth = yellow ochre and squares; Metal = gray, silver, white and circle/sphere; Water = black and very dark blue & ribbons & crescents).
How does one understand shapes and color together? Since any shape may be any color, we have a large vocabulary of element relations. When the element and color match, you have emphasis, such as a red triangle (Fire/Fire). But you could also have a green triangle (Wood/Fire) or a black triangle (Water/Fire) or a white, silver or gray triangle (Metal/Fire). So any shape with any color can be translated into its energetic equivalents. To this understanding we now add the material from which the triangle is made (wood, metal, glass, etc.). When you are looking at an object, ask yourself, what elements are represented by its shape and color? What material is used to create it?
Numbers in Feng Shui work many ways, but here we will not re-state well known ideas, such as '44' sounds like death in Chinese. (We generally are speaking English and more likely to say “oh, that is a dead end street.” Who wants a dead end job or to reside at a ‘dead end?’ Perhaps the best thing to say about graveyards and dead end streets is that they have a good chance of being quiet.)
Numbers in Feng Shui are classically associated with compass points via two maps, which are shown below: I. the Ho Map (also known as the Yellow River Map or the HoT'u Diagram and; II. the Lo River Map (also known as Lo Shu) which makes a magic square, by which we mean numbers add up to 15 whether you add them horizontally, diagonally, or vertically. See figure 2 below.
The Chinese affinity for the number eight has many sources, from the eight compass points (four principle North, South, East, West and four subsidiary Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest) to the eight trigrams. (ba = 8 and gua = trigram). Laid on its side, the 8 becomes the symbol for infinity, again embracing the notion of ‘allness.’ This idea of ‘complete’ or ‘whole’ residing in the number eight helps explain why octagons (and hence baguas) are so often the preferred shape. The number eight multiplied by itself gives us sixty four, a particularly auspicious numbers and the total number of the hexagrams in the I Ching. Each of the numbers between 1 and 64 has a particular energy which may be researched by studying the I Ching. The hexagrams (two trigrams taken together) are available imaged onto mirrors (Water), granite (Earth), or wood (Wood).