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

If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design feng shui cerfication program. Laura Morris and I launched our program in September 2018. Check us out at www.mindfuldesignschool.com

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our a unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.

Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!

Turn Your Home Into a Sacred Space

featured this week on Over the Moon 

image credit: Svyatoslava Vladzimirska/Shutterstock via  Over the Moon

image credit: Svyatoslava Vladzimirska/Shutterstock via Over the Moon

All of us deserve to have a sacred space that supports and nurtures—mind, body and soul. We all require homes that help regenerate and restore us, and it’s something we can share with others.

Chögyam Trungpa wrote,

“You should regard your home as sacred, as a golden opportunity to experience nowness. Appreciating sacredness begins very simply by taking an interest in all the details of your life.”

When you come home, recognize it as a sacred space for you to inhabit and take care of. Sometimes there are spaces in your home that you don’t dust, use or take care of. You can transform your home into a sacred space by taking notice of the sometimes ignored spaces in your home: the dark corners, the backs of closets or even dining room tables. These disregarded spaces tend to collect dead qi, or life force energy. It’s a good idea to take some time to regularly attend to these areas of your home. You can stir up the energy by dusting, shining a light, adding a plant, or even ringing a bell can create energetic vibrations to lift the qi.

Someone recently told me that it’s almost rude to not engage your sacred spaces, such as an altar. Pay special attention to the special areas that you forget about as well. Is your shrine collecting dust? It may reflect upon your spiritual life. Since stoves represent wealth and health, if yours has not been used in months, that may mean that your wealth and nourishment is not as healthy as it can be. Even a vase of dead, wilted flowers may signal sadness and lack of joy.

Taking an interest in the mundane details of your home may require you to let things go. When an object has fallen to disarray and no longer can serve its role, thank that item and let it go!

Remember—everyone deserves to have a sacred space. Simply pay attention and be conscious, especially of the smallest details. 

by Anjie Cho