Q&A Sunday: Disposing of Sacred Ritual Objects

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I had two ceramic small decorative fu dogs in my kitchen near main entrance. A worker in the house broke one, and I tried to fix it, but it is terribly ruined. How do I "dispose" of or store these so as not to bring bad luck?

Sarah B., Portland, OR

Dear Sarah,

Thank you so much for submitting your question about Fu Dogs to the Holistic Spaces blog. It’s quite interesting that this is the third question I’ve received about Fu Dogs--maybe I’ve received more, but this is the third one I’ve answered on Q&A Sundays. (You can read the other two articles here and here.) In BTB feng shui, I never learned about Fu Dogs from my teachers, and I really don’t know all that much about them, so in the other two cases I deferred to others who know more about them. I asked two of my mentors and a colleague who is more familiar with more traditional Chinese objects. What I do know is that Fu Dogs are mythical creatures believed to offer protection from evil spirits and harmful people. They are usually placed in pairs, one female and one male, at the front door or main gate of a home, temple, or business.

Since the Fu Dogs were in your main entrance, it sounds like you were using them as protectors, and because one was broken, it is correct that it’s time for you to let go of the Fu Dogs and bring something else in. Interestingly, when you’ve made a feng shui adjustment and something is damaged, it’s actually a positive sign that the adjustment is doing its job. In a sense, it absorbed some negative chi. For instance, say you put up a crystal and it falls and breaks. This is actually a sign that you should replace it with a higher quality (a.k.a. more expensive) version of the same item. If the string breaks, you want to get a stronger, higher quality string. If a crystal breaks, you would want to get a higher quality crystal. It did its job and was strong enough to hold back any negative chi for a while, but now you need to get something stronger. In this case, your small decorative Fu Dogs served their purpose in your kitchen, and now would be a good time to replace them with larger, higher quality, more expensive Fu Dogs in the same location.

To answer your question of how to store them so as not to bring bad luck, I would suggest that you dispose of them, because it’s not recommended that you use that one alone. (we have another blog post that addresses that). However, not everything needs to be a feng shui adjustment. If you love the one that you have and you have some sentimental connection to it, you can keep it in that sense and place that single one somewhere else.

If you do want to dispose of it, here’s a good way to do that, and this goes for a lot of feng shui ritual objects: you can store it on your altar or at your shrine wrapped in red cloth. That’s what I do with a lot of my feng shui ritual objects that are not in use, since that’s a sacred space and it keeps the object sacred.

If you’re going to dispose of both Fu Dogs, you can also wrap the intact Fu Dog and the remains of the broken Fu Dog in the red cloth, thank the Fu Dogs for the service that they provided, and then bury them or dispose of them in the trash. But I wouldn’t just throw them into the trash without any kind of ceremony, as in thanking them and wrapping them in a red cloth. It’s very similar in other disciplines--I practice Ikebana, flower arranging, and in the contemplative form, you wouldn’t dispose of all your cuttings into the trash directly. In Japan they actually have shrines for used needles and flower cuttings. When I do flower arranging, I wrap my cuttings in a piece of paper and then put it in the garbage, and I treat it as a sacred offering.

Another possibility is to donate the one Fu Dog that is intact, and it might end up in a secondhand store. Then another person would find themselves with the question of what to do with one Fu Dog like in our earlier Q&A. Even if you give away the Fu Dog, be sure to thank the object for supporting and protecting you, and you may want to keep it wrapped in a red cloth when you transport it or give it away.

Thank you so much for your question! This is a helpful topic, because my suggestions above are not just about how to dispose of Fu Dogs, but how to dispose of any kind of ritual objects.

by Anjie Cho


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