At the heart of Feng Shui and all of Chinese metaphysics, we have the symbolism of the Yin-Yang, often called the Tai Chi symbol. The swirling black and white coding represents the masculine and feminine principle, with a notion that nothing is all masculine or all feminine, like the ratio of male and female hormones which exist in each human being. But we also have definitive chromosomal markers which identify us as male or female, even with quite a range of outward appearances or behaviors.
It is the ratio of yin to yang, which characterizes all that we are and what is around us. The Sun is characterized as yang or in the masculine category and the moon is classified as yin, the feminine category. These distinctions go on and on, but they are also in a constant state of flux, just as night gives way to day or “young” eventually turns into “old.”
In one of the very first feng shui classes I ever taught, a student came up to me afterwards to ask me a question. Part of the class had been devoted to one branch of Feng Shui called the East-West School, or the Eight Mansion School (as in the 8 basic directions). In that style of Feng Shui, distinctions are made between males and females born in the same year. For example, a man born in 1963 would be characterized as an east type person and a woman born in 1963 would be characterized as a west type person, with unique order to their best and worst personal directions. I happen to no longer make that distinction between male and female trigrams, but it is a big part of modern day feng shui practices. So much so, that I make a big deal out of it, explaining to clients and students why I don’t practice that anymore.
From that signature energy for year of birth, unfolds all kinds of information about best sleeping direction, best entrance direction, best work station position and even best house type orientation. It is very interesting, but also very rigid and I only offer up Eight Mansion advice to clients as long as it does not contradict or interfere with the other styles of Feng Shui, which I value more.
In my current practice, if you are born in a certain year, you are the same trigram (also called a personal gua) whether male or female, in the same way that if you are born in the year of the Rooster, you are a Rooster whether male or female. But back in 1992, I was also following along with the still-popular system which gives a woman a different personal trigram than a man born the same year. The student asked me, “Is my personal trigram based on my gender at birth?” Back then, we didn’t refer to the person as transgender. We called them transsexual if they went through with the surgery. And it was very rare.
From my generation and further back, if a man had a deep yearning to wear women’s clothing and present as female, we referred to the person as a transvestite. And many transvestite men who spoke about it publicly would claim they were entirely heterosexual, but enjoyed dressing up as women from time to time. It appeared to be more of a sexual fetish than a form of gender identity. And of course, from the beginning of time we have had women (whether lesbian or not) who were more masculine in their physical appearance and/or personality and men (whether gay or not) who presented as more feminine physically or in their personalities. Except in the extremely rare cases of being a true hermaphrodite (born with both female and male sexual organs), we still only have two genders. Our gender identification is with us in our DNA from birth.
I have been reading articles lately, written by gay men who don’t have a favorable view of the transgender movement. They point out that there is still a 30%+ suicide rate among transgender people who are post-op and end up with regrets. The controversies of that issue are best left to debate within the medical and psychiatric community, because co-morbidity is extremely common. I just happen to notice in current cultural discussions that sexual orientation and personality is getting blurred with the more scientific assignments of literal gender.
Based on our DNA, I had to tell the student that their personal trigram in Feng Shui is based on their gender at birth. I wouldn’t even be asked that question now because I don’t promote the applications of Feng Shui which distinguish between male or female (that come directly from the Eight Mansion School). Historically, that school of Feng Shui was developed over a thousand years ago, but reasons for developing that school are as suspect as some of the modern day, re-inventions of Feng Shui. That said, I can certainly agree (as in the ever-changing yin-yang symbol), that we can find different expressions of a personal trigram for a male versus female. For instance, a Qian woman will experience life differently than a Qian man, or any of the other trigrams. And that aspect may also be influenced by the culture one grows up in.
For example, the Qian trigram (Hard Metal) can produce leaders and very strong people who take on leadership roles easily. It represents the father image in Feng Shui. In a more matriarchal society, a Qian woman may feel more powerful and comfortable to represent her true nature. Not only suited for the role of leadership, the Qian woman may have more opportunities in a more equal or enlightened society. The Qian trigram is symbolic of the person in charge. But in the United States and elsewhere, many women are now the head of household, the bread winner, and/or have very demanding jobs.
Women, in general, have taken on more masculine roles or identities than any other time in recent history. Further, we can also see variations in people with the same trigram, but born in different seasons or different Chinese Astrology signs. For example, a Dui man born in 1957 is a Rooster and a Dui man born in 1966 is a Horse. A number of variables are taken into account, so we cannot honestly say that all people of a certain trigram are the same. That is as generic as reading your astrology forecast in a newspaper.
Not so much in Feng Shui, but in the complementary practice of Nine Star Ki, we can better understand someone’s sexual personality, when we combine year of birth with month of birth. That system allows for people to be identified as yang/yang, yang/yin, yin/yin or yin/yang. Those traits do not determine absolutely someone’s sexual orientation. And yet, a person’s combination of yin or yang aspects can help reveal if the person feels emotionally connected to or understood by the opposite sex , insecure about their own masculinity or femininity, or their own ability to understand the opposite sex.
Author: Kartar Diamond
Company: Kartar’s School of Traditional Feng Shui ®
From My On-Line Students Blog Series