Understanding the Feng Shui Water Element

Published April 11, 2018
Fish tank in blue room

Water is one of feng shui's five elements. When decorating and organizing a space according to feng shui principles, it is important to incorporate the water element in the appropriate ways and places to promote the optimal flow of chi. Water can also help balance other elements by either weakening them or strengthening them.

Attributes of the Water Element

Water is primarily yin although it can also have yang elements. This means it is primarily feminine and receptive, although when water flows aggressively, such as in a river or powerful ocean waves, it can have more attributes of yang (masculine, aggressive). Water flows smoothly and easily, working its way gently around obstacles without surrendering its nature.

Destructive Cycle

In the destructive cycle, water is weakened by earth and it weakens fire. This means if you have too much of a water element or the water energy is too strong in a space, you can weaken it by adding a few (not too many) elements of earth. Likewise, if you have too much fire energy in a location, you can lessen its impact by adding elements of water.

Constructive Cycle

In the constructive cycle, metal nurtures water and water nurtures wood. This means in areas where you have water energy and wish to support that energy, you can do so by adding elements of metal, just as you can use elements of water in wood areas to nurture the wood element.


Water's colors are blues and aquas. For water with more of a yang quality, the color is black. Using these colors in your decorating schemes will bring the vital element of water wherever you use it.


The most obvious materials to add the water element to a space are items containing water themselves, such as fish tanks, water features, and fountains. Glass and mirrors can also represent the water element as can any art depicting water. Fish, sea creatures, jugs, and other water vessels also represent the water element in spaces. Because water is primarily yin in nature, objects and art with curved lines can display this energy (as opposed to straight lines and sharp angles for yang).

Other Attributes of the Water Element

Water has other attributes as well.

  • In feng shui, it represents luck and wealth.
  • It is related to the planet Mercury and the Moon.
  • The feng shui element associated with water is the black turtle.

Water and the Traditional Bagua

On the bagua associated with the traditional school of feng shui, water is represented in one trigram, Kan. The Kan trigram contains one yang line surrounded by two yin lines.

Kan trigram
Kan trigram

On the traditional bagua, Kan is located in the North sector of a home, room, or space. This area governs the energy of career and work, so using water colors and decorative elements in this space can help create auspicious chi in this aspect of your life. You can further strengthen the water sector by feeding it with elements of metal, which nurture water.

Water decorative elements can also help strengthen the wood areas of the home, which are in the east and southeast.

Water and the Western Bagua

Adherents to the Western school of feng shui (also known as black hat feng shui), place water in the front center of a space when standing at the front door facing in. It's best to choose whether you will follow western or traditional feng shui but not both when organizing a space. Like traditional feng shui, creating auspicious chi in the water area supports and strengthens career and work.

Careful Placement of Water

In feng shui, some water placements are considered inauspicious.

  • If you place a water feature outside your front door, make sure it flows towards your home and not away from it. Facing it away represents money and wealth flowing away from your home.
  • Never place water fountains or images of water in your bedroom as water cools fire, which can douse marital passion.
  • Unless your bathroom is in a water sector of your home, it's best that you don't add additional water features since the bathroom is already highly skewed towards water energy with a sink, shower, and toilet.

Cultivate Auspicious Water Energy With Feng Shui

Properly placing elements that represent water in your home, room, or space can create auspicious chi that supports luck, prosperity, and career success. By using the decorative elements in appropriate spaces, you can harness the energy of this important element to optimize the flow of chi.

Understanding the Feng Shui Water Element