One little-known aspect of Feng Shui is the very direct and clear advice this system has for the remains of your loved ones. Whether we are talking about the ashes of a pet, a relative, or a beloved partner or friend, how you deal with their ashes matters.
And, believe it or not, this is not just about where you store or display the ashes. Feng Shui also has specific and important recommendations for how to honor the remains of the being who is no longer with us.
I can tell you, and my clients will tell you, that following these directions and making these Feng Shui adjustments can change your life and the lives of the rest of your family for the better!
In this article, I will share with you some of the reasoning behind these “Feng Shui Tips,” and the changes you can make right away that will have a positive and long-lasting impact on your life.
May I start by saying, you don’t have to believe in spirits for these instructions to work for you! However, if you are willing, for a moment, to believe with me, I will also discuss the spiritual and energetic reasons behind these Feng Shui adjustments.
While most people think Feng Shui is about gadgets, I am here to tell you that there is so much more to it than that. Feng shui is about the land, the seasons, internal and external experiences, bringing everything into balance.
So, onto our topic for today:
Do you have containers of ashes, of pets or relatives, in your home?
What do you think? Is this good or bad Feng Shui?
While we might think that having the loved-one’s ashes in a plain box or beautiful urn, displayed in our home, might be honoring, according to Feng Shui, it is not appropriate, because the energy of the deceased, which is held by their ashes, is Yin. It needs to be returned to the earth, or to water (Yin with Yin). If you have this Yin energy in your home, there is conflict. Our home environments are Yang. The ashes will take the Yang Chi from our indoor environment. This is not good for us, who are still living. Nearly everything we do in Feng Shui for the inside of the home is about cultivating and increasing Yang Chi. We, the living, need that Yang Chi!
So, where should those ashes go?
For the remains of our deceased, one logical place is a cemetary, a mausoleum, or a columbarium. These places have walls or fences around them, for a reason. Think of the physical barriers as also being containers. The Yin energy is contained. In traditional Chinese culture, cemeteries have spiritual guardians who protect and watch over the spirits of the deceased. Also, blessings and ceremonies have been performed to make the land sacred.
According to Chinese Medicine and in Feng Shui, in our body, we have a physical body, an energy body, and a spirit body. When the physical body is no longer alive, the spirit body needs shelter and protection.
While alive, our home is our shelter for our physical body. In the afterlife, the spirit body needs a place to go. A cemetery is a special place, where the spirit body can stay connected in a way, to its former physical body.
But there are other options, besides a formal burial ground. As long as one chooses carefully and behaves according to local laws and health ordinances, opting for an earth or water location for dispersing ashes can also be very honoring and appropriate. (Please be sure to check local ordinances before choosing to disperse ashes in nature. A few resource links are provided at the end of this article, below.)
A Client experience with the ashes of her mother
I will now share with you two client success stories. In both cases, storing the ashes of a loved one played a major role in our work together, and in the positive results my clients experienced.
Where to Store Ashes? Case Study #1:
This client came to a talk I gave on this topic, about what to do with a loved-one’s ashes. She reached out to me afterwards and hired me to work with her. At the start of our process, she reported feeling depleted, sad, not in the best health; she had recently gained weight, and was depressed.
Five years previous to our meeting, her life partner had passed away. And on my first visit, sure enough, she showed me where she had his ashes: in an urn in the shelving unit below her TV, in the living room.
Some Feng Shui principles can seem utterly logical when we look at them. If you are seeking a new relationship, if you might want to remarry, if you are ready to move on, how — energetically and spiritually — will you feel when you bring your new potential partner in that same space where you are honoring the ashes of the partner who is no longer alive. How might this new person feel as well?
Whether or not you ascribe to this logic, according to Feng Shui, there is only one appropriate action. After the first year of a person’s death, the ashes, and the spirit of the being attached to them, must not be in the home.
Feng Shui Rule #1 for Honoring the Spirit of the Deceased:
Release it from the home
One option: Find a location appropriate to the being, whether pet or person, maybe their favorite place to go for a walk? And give the ashes back to the earth. To remember them, and this spot, take a photo. Another option, which worked for this client: choose a spot in the garden and make a meditative space.
This woman was lucky to have redwood trees in her backyard. She placed the ashes in a ceramic vessel expressly for that purpose, and then she put the vessel in the garden, buried by these trees, and placed a bench nearby. She would sit on the bench, light a candle, and remember and honor her partner that way. Outside.
That action, in combination with other Feng Shui adjustments, completely pivoted the energy inside her house, and changed her life.
Case Study #2: A Not-Quite-Perfect Mansion in Napa valley
These clients had the seemingly perfect home — a beautiful mansion! However they were depleted energetically. During our first session, I was inspired to ask if they had any relatives’ ashes in the house. The wife showed me, in a closet right by the entrance of the home (and if you know Feng Shui, you know how important the entry is!) — she was storing a plain box of her father’s ashes, along with a folded American flag, as he was a veteran. She admitted that she didn’t know what to do with these things.
I helped her select a burial site, and a date was set. With the proper ceremony, her father’s spirit was honored and the task appropriately finished.
This client reported that the shift she experienced from this was almost instantaneous.
Case Study #3: Unfinished Business in Palo Alto
This client came to me particularly because her son was acting out. She had a feeling that their space was in part to blame, that exploring Chinese Astrology and applying Feng Shui principles might help heal their relationship.
In going over her and her son’s charts, both showed an issue with her mother, his grandmother. An ancestor connection that, unhealed, would bring disagreement and misfortune. This was so obvious in the charts, practical data that prompted me to investigate. So I asked them some questions. Yes, it turned out, her mother’s ashes were at home.
The ashes were stored in my client’s tiny office. It turned out, her mom had a deep connection to Hawaii, and had given birth to my client there. By our next follow up appointment, my client had brought the ashes to Hawaii and completed a beautiful traditional Hawaiian ceremony, with singing, on a floating flower-boat, in the ocean.
When I work with any new client, I always ask, “Why am I here?” Each client has their reason why they called me, and I get that information, but I also ask this question internally. I notice that my job is often to help my clients resolve unfinished issues.
And in that vein, something we can all do for our children is to establish our wishes for the disposition of our own remains, before we pass from this earthly realm.
What do I want done with my body?
What is the ceremony I would like to have?
It is better to think and talk about this when we are healthy and present, than when we are on our deathbeds.
Getting more comfortable with the notion of what we do when others depart, the how, the wish list, not only thinking about a will, our possessions that we leave behind, but also being thoughtful about how we want to transition, can be a gift.
Another way we can honor our loved ones who have passed is by making a donation to a spiritual center and adding their names to a prayer list.
I personally began supporting a Buddhist temple community in Bhutan in 2020, helping them build their temple and school, during the pandemic. If you would like to join me in donating to these monks, making offerings and asking for blessings for the deceased, click this link: https://aelitaleto.com/little-monks/
Biodegradable Urns Become Trees (for pets or humans): https://urnabios.com/
From the Trident Society: Laws Regarding Scattering Remains in California: https://www.tridentsociety.com/cremation-society/top-3-things-know-youre-scattering-cremated-remains-california
From the Neptune Society: Laws Regarding Scattering Ashes in Bodies of Water: https://www.neptunesociety.com/cremation-information-articles/what-are-the-laws-on-scattering-ashes
Living Legacies Coral Reef: https://www.eternalreefs.com/
Neptune Society Coral Reef: https://www.nmreef.com/