I was about twenty years old before I finally noticed a strange old mirror hanging above the doorway of my parents’ home. It was cheap looking. It was just a piece of wood cut into an octagon with a mirror in the middle covered with cheap paint. My parents have such a beautiful home. Only a few years before they had not only remodeled but rebuilt the house from the bottom up, and I thought this tacky-souvenir-trinket-looking thing was out of place. I climbed onto the cement seat and plucked it off, then hopped off and walked into the house.
“Dad!” I called out, “Is anyone home?” There was a round convex mirror in the middle of the wooden frame, and I hadn’t noticed it then, but there were different symbols around the mirror representing different things. It was painted yellow and the symbols were in red. I thought it was just there for decoration. My dad came out to greet me and I asked him, “Why would you hang this in front of the house?” My dad had a look of panic on his face, took it from my hands and brought it outside placing it right back onto from where I had taken it from. I had a look of confusion and even a look questioning if my dad was sane this afternoon. “Don’t ever take that down and don’t ever bring it into a house,” he told me. “What? What is that? It just looks tacky. Why don’t you take it down?” “Noooo!!!!” he replied.
He then began to explain to me that mirror was called a bagua mirror, and it’s up there to protect our home and our family. Why did he just put it up recently?—he hadn’t. It seems that it had been up all my life and I hadn’t noticed it until now. Curious as to what it does to “protect our family,” I asked my dad to clarify. This mirror was an object of feng shui. A bagua mirror is hung above a home or business’s front door in order to capture and disperse all the negative energy trying to enter the home or business. It’s believed that the mirror disperses the negative chi, not reflect it—most of the time. Though the mirror disperses negative chi, those who believe in feng shui also believe that if someone is treating you or your family badly, this mirror will take that negative energy and reflect it back at them.
I thought my dad was being superstitious, and maybe it was just him. However, now that I was aware of that mirror I couldn’t help but look at all the other houses on my street. My parents live right in the middle of Little Saigon, and mostly everyone on their street was Vietnamese. I noticed that every single house on their street had a similar mirror hanging above their door. There was only one house that didn’t have that hanging—the people who lived in that house were white.
Back then, I thought it was ridiculous to believe in superstitions so religiously. Over the years, I’ve become more open minded, and though I don’t believe in the mirror’s powers as much as my dad or older Vietnamese people do, I now have the mentality that “it couldn’t hurt.”
The mirror isn’t just designed and painted that way to “look nice.” There are reasons and symbols behind everything. If you examine the mirror closely, you will notice that the lines going around the mirror are not all the same. They each have their own meaning, as shown on the chart below. The top of the bagua mirror is always the side with the three solid lines, which represents heaven or sky, and at the bottom is always the symbol for earth. Other symbols going around the mirror include “lake/marsh,” “fire,” “thunder,” “wind,” “water,” and “mountain.”
A few years ago, there was a lawsuit between two shop owners from San Francisco’s Chinatown. One shop owner sued another for having a bagua mirror up above his shop’s front door claiming that it was reflecting negative energy into his shop and he wasn’t getting as many customers as he used to. The court called in a feng shui expert to testify that the bagua mirror does not reflect negative energies to other people; it, instead, disperses it.
I’m not too religious, or superstitious myself, but as I have said, I have the developed the mentality that it couldn’t hurt. My boyfriend and his friends own and operate Orange County Jiu-Jitsu and MMA in Lake Forest, CA, and I found myself searching Little Saigon trinket shops an hour away for a bagua mirror. I found one and the shop owner explained to me about its powers, just as my dad had to me years before. I took it back to the academy and told the guys I had a surprise for them. I showed them the mirror, and immediately my boyfriend knew what it was because I had described it to him years ago when the incident of me taking the mirror down from my father’s house had taken place. The guys decided to keep the mirror up. Not because they believe in it as my father does, and not because they have the mentality that if it doesn’t work, it couldn’t hurt as I do, but because it “looked cool.” The tiny little symbol was just what the business needed out in front in a business park that allowed very few alterations to the front of the businesses.
Whether you believe in the bagua mirror’s powers whole-heartedly, passively, or not at all, just think that it fits the atmosphere, keep in mind that there are those out there who believe in a bagua mirror’s exceptional powers of protection and sometimes belief in the unknown is all one needs to access such powers.