Since the art and science of feng shui comes from an ancient, and admittedly superstitious culture, many of its folk remedies are derived from a peculiar name-game association. Not to be confused with real substantial feng shui remedies, these superstitions are nonetheless persevering.

The word for the number four in Mandarin is "sze," which sounds almost like the Mandarin word for "death." Because of this, the number four still inordinately repels some Chinese when it appears in an address. While I seriously doubt that the number four really carries any negative energy with it, this name-game association still gives some potential homebuyers the jitters.

Supposedly "lucky" bamboo plants are treated as such because the "lucky" association has to do with a perceived longevity usually enjoyed by the plant. It is difficult to kill bamboo, (although I have managed to do it.) Because of the bamboo's "long life," it is considered a special blessing to be given one by a friend.

Fish have also been erroneously assigned super natural powers because some of their names are part of the name-game association, where certain fish names in Chinese sound almost identical to their words for "forever" or "prosperity."

In addition to animal references, some numbers are words in Chinese that sound like other words with positive or negative connotations.

Not to diminish the power of names and associations, a friend recently reminded me of a famous quote: "Perception is Reality." I don't know who said it, but we often succumb to this, consciously or unconsciously. As an example, a woman named Samantha or Bambi will be perceived differently than a woman named Gertrude or Beatrice. While we, as Westerners, may laugh at the superstitious name associations that haunt some Chinese, in our Western culture many people try to make themselves feel better and more prosperous by surrounding themselves with designer labels. It is really not a big difference and is at the heart of all marketing campaigns.

Feng Shui addresses all the five senses and sound is a part of that. When you hear something that disturbs you, whether it is psychological or based in actual pitches that are annoying to the ear, it can leave a person irritated or anxious. The only thing that can re-instate a sense of calm is a conscious effort to go beyond the immediate experience or to find a real distraction that can replace the unpleasant experience. Some people place water fountains outside their properties to drown out the sounds of traffic.

If it is windy enough, the rustling of trees can sometimes sound like a person crying. These are instances where Feng Shui Masters have recommended that couples try not to conceive during intense wind or storm because of some of the threatening sounds associated with it.

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© Melt Magazine 2003