There are five Chinese celestial animals associated with the landscape school in traditional feng shui: snake, tortoise, phoenix, dragon and tiger. The landscape school, or form school, is the oldest school in feng shui.
Each of the celestial animals is adopted from landscape forms that were said to be guarded by these animals long ago. If all of the animals were in harmony in a setting, the inhabitants were said to be living in harmony and comfort.
If each animal or piece of furniture in a room is placed following the feng shui guidelines, the benefits of the room will be maximized and you can achieve what is described as a natural space.
The animals are each associated with a color, a direction and an element in the landscape school of feng shui. The snake is referred to as the yellow snake and its element is earth. Its direction is center. The tortoise is black and its element is water. Its direction is north.
Fire is represented by the red phoenix. Its direction is south. The green dragon uses the element of wood and its direction is east while the white tiger's element is metal and its direction is west. The colors of each animal match the colors of the soil in their respective parts of China.
When designing a room, keeping in mind the elements and colors of each animal can help decide what pieces of furniture represent each animal and, therefore, where they should be located in a room to achieve the optimum conditions.
The snake is the visually central symbol. When referring to arranging a room, the snake is where you would be sitting most often, such as your bed or the main seat on the sofa. The other animals surround the snake because it is a receptive, alert animal that is constantly monitoring its environment. The central seat in the room is the seat of power and symbolizes the intelligence of its inhabitant.
The tortoise is the symbol of support and protection in a room. It should always be behind the snake as a background for reinforcement and stability. This animal is chosen as the shield because, often, a turtle will sit inactive inside its shell. A door or a window would not be a good option for the tortoise of a room because they can be opened and, therefore, insecure.
The phoenix represents the space in front of you in a room. It is said to be the opposite of the tortoise in that it allows energy in while still watching and assessing. The phoenix is a symbol of resurrection and new opportunities. The phoenix was chosen as a symbol because it was a mythical bird that was said to be able to go into the future.
The dragon in a room is located on the left side of the snake. The feature representing the dragon should be placed higher than the feature located on the right side as it is the main symbol of protection. The purpose of the dragon is to support your choices and highest values with thought and consideration. The dragon is illustrated in many Chinese works of art as a symbol of good luck and nobility.
The tiger should be located on your lower right side in a room. It should be slightly less prevalent than the dragon, as the tiger is said to signify our power and aggressive side and is thought to affect our decision making negatively.
In feng shui, if the dragon ends up overshadowing the tiger too much, there will be stress and too much of a male role in the family. The tiger also symbolizes protection and force.
Putting it together
Here is an example of how these animals would work together in a living room to create a positive energy. The snake would be the chair or sofa in the center of the room, placed with its back up against a plain wall – the tortoise.
In front of the chair or sofa, there would be plenty of floor space – the phoenix – until finally seeing a focal point such as the television or a painting. To the left of the central sofa would be a higher side table – the dragon, possibly featuring something green or something that has brought you good luck in the past. The right side should be something lower – the tiger, such as an ottoman or an actual white tiger statue.
Following the layout guidelines of the five Chinese celestial animals in feng shui will bring comfort and functionality to your living spaces. Placing pictures or statues of the celestial animals in your home is said to bring different kinds of energy, depending on the animal.
Overall, following the Theory of Five Animals layout brings feelings of security and peace.