The Semiotics & Inherent Fallacy Of Feng Shui Items

December 15, 2023

Ah, yes, Feng Shui items. If the universe was a living entity with a digestive system and it took a shit, it’ll come out as Feng Shui items. Let me start off by saying that Feng Shui items are scams and do not work, and I will try to argue my point in this post. Whether you agree with me or not is completely up to you.

I know I’ve been away for a while now, and I’ll explain why I’ve been missing in my year-end post, but till then, let’s indulge in some musings. And yes, a year-end reflective post will wrap things up, as always. That’ll come after this post.

Today’s musings will be on Feng Shui items – yes, again. I guess it’s because Chinese New Year is approaching, and it is egging me to write posts revolving around these themes. One of the events that egged me to write this post was this:

I will start with a very undiplomatic stance and state that any practitioner selling items, no matter how big, small, expensive, or cheap, is an utter disgrace and a useless low-life to me. They’re hypocrites who claim they want to leave the world a better place when they just can’t wait to close that sale. I know it’s harsh, but that’s how I view them, and you can sue me for having an opinion. Feigning kindness or wokeness is the best way to mask one’s incompetence and also the first step to pulling off most kinds of scams because it gets people to drop their guard. That’s just human nature.

I will start with a very undiplomatic stance and state that any practitioner selling items, no matter how big, small, expensive, or cheap, is an utter disgrace and a useless low-life to me.

I don’t care if the item peddler studied with masters on a mountain in another country or if the practitioner’s father is a Grandmaster because your father should have shot you onto a wall. The industry shouldn’t be this way; it was never meant to be this way. Practitioners should be sharpening their skills and developing as people to become proficient astrologers rather than peddling such items and selling false hope.

It’s been ten years since I started as a professional practitioner, and I’ve never been this appalled by how low the industry’s has sunk. I know I’ve grown much more audacious in chastising the malpractices, but that is to be expected.

Why I’m Talking About Feng Shui Items Again

I wanted to write a hopefully more intellectually rigorous post explaining why I find the whole Feng Shui item conundrum a complete joke.

People are willing to give Feng Shui items so much attention and spend so much money on them because they promise miracles, and people want shortcuts. A Feng Shui item is supposed to give you a return on your investment, manifest the love of your life, and somehow give you the life you’ve always dreamed of.

How wonderful. How delusional, too.

I’ve written about Feng Shui items a long time ago. Here’s the post.

I proposed a few arguments on why they don’t work, and I wish to revisit some of these arguments and add a few more things.

What Constitutes Feng Shui Items?

Has anyone stopped to ask themselves what constitutes a “Feng Shui Item”? Must it always have water involved, or a dragon, or something that’s typically Asian?

When I say Feng Shui item, it can refer to anything that some Feng Shui master out there with the same origin story claims can change your life. Speaking of origin stories, doesn’t anyone think it’s rather uncanny for almost all practitioners to have the same story?

Anyway, the list of Feng Shui items included but are not limited to:

  • Pi Xiu Bracelets: This seems to be the trendy thing now that sellers claim is traditional jewellery, but I can assure you there’s nothing traditional about it. People in the past don’t wear such things. It may be one thing to say it uses traditional elements, but it’s another thing to say it’s part of Chinese history, which I categorically state is not.
  • Feng Shui Trees: These are your trees with artificial leaves made from leftover, crushed crystals. Some sellers can say their crystals are purer and their leaves are more luscious, but it’s all the same.
  • Jadeite Rings & Mountains: These are usually sold as high-end items, with sellers practically staking their lives that they work because of just how ridiculously expensive they can be.
  • Random Trinkets: These are the most ridiculous of the lot because these are no different from the random stuff paraphernalia you find in the night markets but are being peddled for hundreds of dollars. Bookmarks, cartoonish figurines, and whatnot. You name it.
  • Your Dead Grandmother’s Ashes: Because why the hell not? Anything goes anyway in my industry!

Debunking The Hypothesis Of “Feng Shui Items Work”

I’ve spoken about this in the old blog post above, but I wish to touch on it again because it’s the simplest one to explain. The Chinese metaphysics industry functions on the hypothesis that “Feng Shui items work”. As such, we need to put this hypothesis to the test to prove its validity. Let’s just use really simple logic.

Some of us would have heard of the Law of Falsifiability. Let’s not go too technical about the philosophy, and let’s use the classic example of “All swans are white.” Suppose hypothesised that all swans are white; we only need one black swan to appear amongst the millions of white swans to kill that hypothesis of “All swans are white.”

The same goes for the realm of Feng Shui items. In a world where hundreds of people are claiming that Feng Shui items work, there will be some cases where Feng Shui items don’t work, and the buyer’s life is still in the doldrums. Do I need to point out how many people wear pink quartz bracelets but are still single AF?

In other words, the hypothesis that “Feng Shui items work” can be easily overthrown if just one case does not work for someone. You need to understand that even though there may be hundreds, thousands, or even millions of claims by people that Feng Shui items work, it just takes one negative case to overthrow the hypothesis. The claim that “Feng Shui items work” is now a lie, and if your counter-argument to that is that the efficacy of a Feng Shui item is subjective and dependent on other factors, then why do you need it in the first place, especially when you were banking on the item to change your life instead of your will?

Do you know what the funny thing is?

The fact of the matter is we don’t have millions of claims that Feng Shui items work. The positive claims only come from the handful of imbeciles who are either paid to say they work or raised to a higher level of mediocrity. There will always be infinitely more cases of Feng Shui items not working – it’s just that you don’t know about it. It’s common sense to know that peddlers of Feng Shui items feed you stories of claims that such items work to feed your bias and fuel their business.

Where Do Claims Of A Feng Shui Item’s Power Come From?

The commonly held belief is that a Feng Shui item’s power comes from its meaning and what it represents. I mean, where else can it come from? Do you think the raw materials are from some magical cave? Also, it’s ironic people don’t ask themselves what THEY as human beings represent. If stupidity had a physical manifestation, it’s the people who believe in Feng Shui items.

An object’s shape, appearance, colour or whatever holds meaning. The way everything comes together makes us feel a certain way and emotion, and it triggers a memory in us or reminds us of a virtue we need to uphold. A dragon, Pi Xiu, or phoenix represents power and auspiciousness; an animal figurine is auspicious because it’s a ‘friend’ of your zodiac sign, or a figurine of a pot of gold can mean more income. And no, it mustn’t just be any dragon – it must be a blue dragon because your BaZi lacks Water, and it’s a pity I don’t see any balls on the dragon to represent virility and good descendants.

One of the most ridiculous claims is that someone under the zodiac sign of Rabbit or Goat is often advised to carry a figurine of a Pig on them because of the meaning it holds because Rabbit, Goat, and Pig form a 三合 (san he) relationship. Like I said before, try applying this Feng Shui logic to our Muslim friends, and I can’t wait for you to get slapped for your stupidity.

Some might argue that it is the material that imbues es a Feng Shui item and its powers, and if that’s the case, there’s really no difference between you carrying a chunk of wood or a sheet of carbon fibre. It doesn’t need to be in the form of a celestial animal.

There lies an important question that people do not usually ask because we are not trained to ask such questions, given the uninspiring educational system of my era.

The Semiotics Of Feng Shui Items

When we deal with the meaning behind signs, symbols, and signification – we are dealing with a branch of philosophy called “semiotics”. Before you go, “SMLJ is semiotics?” Semiotics is “the study of meaning”.

The three elements of semiotics are: 1) Sign, 2) Object, and 3) Interpretant. You can see the parallels with Feng Shui items immediately here, where the “sign” is your meaning behind an item, the “object” is the Feng Shui item itself, and the interpretant is the moron who believes in them.

The meaning of a Feng Shui item is arbitrary. It is based on random choice or personal whim and not through any reason or system. In other words, what our mind projects onto the item gives an item its meaning, and social convention determines what the meaning of something is.

To us Chinese, a dragon is auspicious because it’s part of our social and cultural fabric. That said, our Asian civilization regarding the dragon as auspicious doesn’t negate that the assigned meaning is arbitrary – it’s just that we’re doing it on a larger scale as a society. A dragon might not mean much to someone from another civilisation and may even be seen as satanic.

Let’s take my trip to Bhutan this year as an example. You will find homes and even temples with pictures of a penis/phallus painted on their walls. The phallus is sacred and celebrated by the Bhutanese, but it doesn’t quite evoke the same emotion in most societies.

A Feng Shui item’s so-called ‘power’ comes from its meaning, but please remember that an object’s meaning is not absolute. It may not be arbitrary, but it is definitely not absolute. Like Yin Yang theory and the Buddhist concept of Dependent Origination, the meaning of something depends on something else, such as an opposing force or a person interacting with it, while considering the person’s background, culture, and upbringing.

Not many things in our universe have intrinsic meanings that exist on their own that are independent of human thought. This isn’t a bad thing – because it shows the elegance of simplicity and the beauty of emergent properties of our world, and the simplest laws can lead to so many wonderful things.

An object or Feng Shui item’s meaning can be anything my mind projects it to be. If that’s the case, why do I need to spend $68,000 on a jadeite mountain when I can put a photo frame of my family because I know exactly what my family means to me?

The Inherent Fallacy Of Feng Shui Items (This Is Important)

The claim of a Feng Shui item’s powers requires the meaning of an item to be absolute. This is the axiom required for the claim of a Feng Shui item’s power to be valid, and it must be as true and undeniable as the laws of physics. In other words, the meaning behind an item must not be arbitrary, and it must exist in itself even if there’s no one on Earth to assign it that meaning, and the meaning of an object must exist from the moment the Big Bang occurred.

Alas, we know the meaning of an item will never be absolute, nor will it have intrinsic existence. Humans created dragons and phoenixes, and they aren’t even real to begin with. The only thing I’ve seen close to being a dragon is the monitor lizard that’s always on the cycling path for some bloody reason, and it does not give me power – it trips me over.

I repeat: The claim that Feng Shui items work relies on the axiom that the meaning of an object must be absolute, which we know will never be the case. This is why the belief in Feng Shui items and that they can change your life is so ridiculously stupid – because a Feng Shui item is a fallacy in itself, and it is made to sound credible, unfortunately, with circular reasoning: Why does a Feng Shui item work? Because a Feng Shui item is in the shape of a dragon and is auspicious. Well, then, why is a dragon deemed auspicious? Because we use them as Feng Shui items.

The claim that Feng Shui items work relies on the axiom that the meaning of an object must be absolute, which we know will never be the case.

Astrology & Metaphysic’s Study Of Meaning

Now, I know some people might ask, “If the meaning of something is not absolute, then does astrology fall apart as well?” It’s a very good question.

I’ve always put it this way: The purpose of astrology and Chinese metaphysics is to discover what these “absolutes” are. What are these meanings independent of human thought and condition? Why are the planets we use in astrology assigned their meanings? Bear in mind that the assigned meaning, in astrology’s case, is not arbitrary or based on someone’s bias because if it is, astrology would technically not work – but it does. This assumes that certain things in the universe have intrinsic existence, and knowing that Venus represents love is quite comforting because love is no longer about chemical processes in one’s brain. Perhaps this notion of “love” has an intrinsic existence, and if you’ve watched Interstellar before, perhaps love truly binds all reality and humanity together. Perhaps the “intellect” Mercury represents is the ether required to drive physical manifestations of technology moving forward, and Mars is the catalyst that drives every change forward. I don’t know – but these are narratives I’m exploring.

Are there things with meaning that are independent of human interpretation and bias? I would like to believe that there is, and science and physics explore this. Appreciating this is important because if we do not accept that there are things, values, or meaning that has intrinsic existence, then the entire system of astrology and Chinese metaphysics collapses, and the meaning of anything can be up to anyone’s interpretation and why Shiba Inu floor mats are suddenly a Feng Shui taboo, and soft toys are suddenly the cause of your life’s miseries.

The above picture was sent to me by a client where a practitioner from a Special Needs School of Feng Shui proclaims that the Tsum Tsum piglet can cause some form of metaphysical and Feng Shui trouble. It’s demeaning to not just what our ancestor’s passed down, but humanity in general to see that we could sink so low.

We use the term “metaphysics” because it studies the fundamental laws of reality, and we hope to better our lives by understanding these really simple laws that profoundly influence our lives. Alas, metaphysics has become meta-psychosis, and instead of helping people think deeper, it’s made people more slothful. People in my industry and the blind followers are creating their own laws of reality as though they are the Divine Creator.

Symbols & Signs Do Have Power – Just Not The Way You Think

I’m not saying that symbols and signs do not have power. They do. But one must understand that an object’s power is still very much dependent on the interpretant – the person or imbecile interpreting or experiencing the object.

The meaning of an item very much depends on the human being that interprets it. So let me put it in the most blunt way possible:

  • To the Category 1 chart-holder: A Feng Shui item is another household ornament for aesthetics. It will not change one’s life, and the Cat. 1 chart-holder knows success and happiness come from hard work, being a decent human being, and wisdom.
  • To the Category 4 chart-holder: A Feng Shui item is the next best thing since sliced bread. The Cat. 4 imbecile wished they discovered Feng Shui items before they discovered religion. Who cares about religion, knowledge, or character development when Feng Shui items are so OP (overpowered)?

To fail to realise that you, the person, are one of the elements that give something its meaning is akin to you not existing at all. You are just drifting without a mind of your own. Congratulations, because you just lost a bit of your humanity, and you’d probably do better as an amoeba.

In what ways do signs and symbols have power? Well, just think of sentimentality and memories, and you’ll get what I mean.

But like the person who still seeks attention and validation from the “Good Conduct Award” trophy he or she got as a 12-year-old student – symbols and signs can only do that much. Regardless of the meaning a “Good Conduct Award” can hold for someone, if someone is still raving about a trophy they got when they were twelve, you know they probably aren’t going to go far in life.

Feng Shui items are the same. Sure, you probably got some psychological boost from purchasing an item and believe that you had some past life karmic affinity with a piece of rock unearthed from a mine using child labour. I mean, of course, you’d get a psychological boost from purchasing a Feng Shui item. Buying a piece of rock for $68,000 is crazy enough, and to spend $68,000 on an ugly figurine while not deluding yourself into thinking it has magical powers is even crazier.

Where Feng Shui Has Gone Wrong

Feng Shui went wrong the moment people decided to imbue meaning arbitrarily into objects that weren’t supposed to carry any meaning. The human mind is exceptionally good at deluding itself. It’s why there are cults and people who think they have special abilities or are the next Messiah and why ridiculous notions such as soft toys can be blamed for giving out energies that can bring you calamity.

People need to think critically and realise the inherent fallacy behind thinking Feng Shui items can change your life.

It’s even more piteous that religious figures like Buddhas and the Goddess of Mercy are dragged into the mess because images of them have become these Feng Shui items. Suppose you had a conversation with Buddha or a Bodhisattva. Imagine what they’d say. Where do you think there are passages in the sutras where Buddha explicitly said not to rely on charms? Do Feng Shui items suddenly imbue someone with wisdom, compassion, and the sudden aspiration to alleviate suffering?

Think about it. You spend ridiculous money on a Pi Xiu bracelet or jadeite mountain to remind you of basic human virtue. How pathetic is that? You can be reminded of these virtues easily with some self-awareness or having good people around you, but trust me, good people won’t want people who put their faith in inanimate objects around them.

The Irony Of Selling Feng Shui Items

There’s a lot of irony in selling Feng Shui items. They are supposed to represent good luck and attract wealth, but the people who peddle them panic and struggle to sell them when inventories pile up or someone else with the same item undercuts them. I thought these items should sell themselves since they were supposed to attract wealth? A showroom filled with auspicious items, but alas, the anxiety of declining sales and dead inventory is real.

Give My Real-Life Stories Some Credit

Like the Fallacy of the Black Swan, I’ve encountered many cases where Feng Shui items did not work and ended up worsening the buyer’s life. I kid you not, but some people get into debt purchasing these things. There are people out there who are that desperate (and stupid).

Let me give you some brutal but very real examples:

  • I experimented with Feng Shui items in my 20s, long before I officially became a practitioner. Nothing changes. My life was getting nowhere, and my Cat. 4 mother remained a narcissistic, abusive little bitch (yes, I really did say that. I’ve not got struck by lightning yet, and it’s my ‘filial’ sister who’s got cancer).
  • My clients who wear some stupid Pi Xiu bracelet embellished with pink quartz meant to attract love are probably still virgins. There is nothing wrong with being a virgin – I applaud holding on to your virtue. What I’m trying to say is that they’re still single AF. And just so we’re clear, not being a virgin doesn’t mean I feel you’re not virtuous, so fornicate all you want, but please be responsible for not just people’s feelings but for STDs, too. And yes, you’re not going to suddenly become more attractive just because you’re wearing pink quartz, especially when you are directionless, can’t hold a proper conversation, or play mind games because of your insecurity.
  • I know individuals who’ve spent more than $100,000 on Feng Shui items, but it will still hit when a bad year is supposed to hit. One is on the brink of being sued and is planning to declare bankruptcy while transferring assets to his wife to protect his assets.
  • My directionless and purposeless clients are still directionless and purposeless. Wearing an item is not going to imbue you with purpose. That’s preposterous.

There are more black swans than white swans in my world, meaning there are more claims of Feng Shui items not working than claims they do. It’s funny, isn’t it – because it can be statistically shown that Feng Shui items don’t work, but yet, the human mind chooses to delude itself.

You won’t know of all these negative cases because no one will assign a marketing budget to tell people these stories, but I assure you – there are out there, and I have an encyclopedia of them.

Then again, no budget is needed. All you need is common sense.

I’m not bashing Feng Shui items to get a bigger piece of the pie. As I’ve said, I’m not the practitioner for everyone, and there’s a huge chunk of the population that I do not intend to serve because my industry’s pie is mostly made of faecal matter that I do not wish to get a bite of. Honestly, reading my blog is enough for some people. It’s also heartening to know that many people already know that Feng Shui items are nothing but a scam, and I’m just here to play devil’s advocate to more vulnerable people being preyed on.

Good on you if you get what I’m trying to say in this post. If you don’t get it, that’s fine. It’s my duty – but not my job – to remind you.

Like I always say: Your life, not mine. Life is incredibly short and precious – don’t waste it being stupid.

– Sean

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