The Natural Archetypes of Feng Shui

You probably have heard about archetypes more than once in your life, referring to different types of people and what they represent symbolically to themselves and to others.

Today we will explore the archetypes of nature. These are forces or phenomenons of nature that deeply mark the way we relate to the world and perceive life. These archetypes of nature are at the root of the Feng Shui life areas, and the way they combine with each other produces the 64 chapters of the I-Ching, the Chinese oracle or Book of Changes, which is meant to be used not as divination tool to predict the future, but as a way to tune in to your own inner insight and your personal connection to Heaven.

The Archetypes


The first archetype is related to the beginning of life and life starts in the water. The first archetype is the Gorge that has been produced by the constant flow of water. It runs deep because of the action of water over thousands of year, and indicates to us the path we must follow because it is in our nature to follow it, just as water seeks the path of less resistance, always pulled by gravity. There is a gravity to our lives, a force that pulls us towards it, because it comes from the decisions we made as to what we came to do in this lifetime. The Gorge is the energy that underlies life area number one: Career, Life Mission and Individuality.


The second archetype is the Earth, not the Earth considered as the whole planet, but more directly the dirt. You know, in Spanish, we use the same word for Earth and dirt: Tierra. This archetype is about the agricultural field that receives a seed and then nurtures it to produce the plant that will directly and indirectly feed all the life in the planet. It is this generosity inherent in the nature of the agricultural soil that makes it the archetype for life area number 2: Marriage, Relationships and Partnerships. Most people who are unable to consolidate love relations either have issues with their own generosity or are unable to accept the generosity of others.


The third archetype is Thunder, and thunder is a force that spreads out from lightning, and lightning is itself a power that comes from Heaven down to the Earth. You cannot think of thunder without thinking of power. The power in your life comes from the strength of your body, including the strength of your internal health, but also from the genetic and cultural heritage that was delivered to you through your ancestors. This is why this is the force that rules life area number 3: Health, Family and Community.


The fourth natural archetype is the Wind. Think of the wind as it moves through a healthy forest, gently swaying tree branches and rustling leaves, aiding in pollination and spreading seeds. It provides the flow that guarantees life and prevents the stagnation that hinders life. This is the energy of life area number 4: Wealth, Prosperity and Self Worth. 


The fifth archetype is the Void. Traditional Chinese Wisdom teaches that everything was created from “nothingness,” and although this concept has seemed strange for the Western mind for thousands of years, today our modern science tends to agree. Nothingness refers to the absence of matter, and modern scientists theorize that matter was created from a burst of energy. It is because of the empty space in the middle that a cup or bowl become useful. It is the emptiness in the middle that turns a circle into a wheel. The life areas map, or bagua map, also has a void in the middle. It traditionally has been called the center of good fortune, or good luck center. In my system we call it the Center of Good Fortune and Gratitude.


The sixth archetype is Heaven, and all things celestial. In several languages the words for sky and heaven are the same. Cielo in Spanish and Italian; Himmel in German; Ciel in French; Céu in Portuguese. All cultures look to the sky, to the heavens, when they think of Spirit or God. Heaven symbolizes perfection, the absence of error. This is the type of energy you want to invite when managing large projects, especially those that involve coordinating the work of many people. This is also the type of helpful energy you would want to assist you when traveling in foreign lands. In Feng Shui, this energy rules the Helpful People, Spiritual Life and Travel life area.


The seventh archetype is the Lake. Think of an evening by the Lake, enjoying a meal with loved ones, right before the sunset. The work of the day has already been completed, and now is the time for enjoyment, while there is still some light, especially playing with children or watching children play. This is the best time for creative ideas – inspiration – to come down to us from Heaven. The water of the lake is calm, providing a surface that reflects the beauty and life around it. The energy of delight that comes with the enjoyment the lake provides through its variety (plants, flowers, butterflies, birds, fish and other animals) nurtures life area number 7: Children, Creativity and Fun.


The eighth archetype is the Mountain. In every culture in the world, people talk about climbing to high places to get closer to Heaven, to get inspired, or to get insight and spiritual guidance. People also may go up the mountain to try and find themselves. In Eastern philosophy, however, all these connections happen in the stillness of one’s own being. This is why meditation practices teach to still the mind, to quiet the constant chatter in the mind. It is in the internal silence that wisdom is achieved. The higher you climb up a mountain, the more still it becomes, the number of plants and animals decreases, variety of life is minimized, and the terrain becomes easier to see. You also can see the lower lands with the advantage of perspective. The archetype of the mountain gives us the knowledge base for life area number 8: Wisdom, Self Knowledge, and Rest.


The ninth archetype is Fire. Fire represents heat but also light, and light is related to intelligence and enlightenment. Uncontrolled fire spreads upwards and outwards. The harnessing of fire gave humanity protection and visibility at night, and the ability to chemically change foods in order to be able to better digest them. It also gave humanity power over metals and soil, allowing us to generate a number of tools. Because of the way that fire spreads, and its association to intelligence, progress, and innovation, it is a perfect match for life area number 9: Fame, Reputation and Social Life.

As you can see, each archetype does not only define each of the nine life areas in Feng Shui, but also gives you clues as to how to address each life area energetically.

A Question for You

Did you get any AHA! moments when reading about the archetypes and the life areas? Was this information helpful in understanding why some life area or another has been more of a challenge for you than others?

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