As a feng shui practitioner I often receive questions about the Red Envelope tradition, so I thought some background would be helpful.
The red envelope practice is a time-honored tradition rooted in traditional Chinese folk custom and culture. The color red symbolizes good luck and power and the rectangular shape, resembling ancient shields, symbolizes protection. On special occasions, such as weddings or Chinese New year, money is exchanged in this way.
When a feng shui practitioner from the Western or Black Sect tradition shares sacred wisdom or mystical cures, one or more red envelopes with any amount of money inside are presented for their service. Some consultants request a fee plus red envelopes, others may request their fee be placed in one or more red envelopes, and others may ask for a particular number of red envelopes and leave the amount up to you. The practice varies.
As in all of life, the value you place on something is related to the value you actually receive. More red envelopes may be requested for deeply rooted issues or complex solutions. Multiples of nine are auspicious. Customarily you place one or more dollars in each envelope and give any combination of nine. Twenty seven is a strong feng shui number and 108 is very auspicious. You can also place one or more coins in each envelope. Coins add weight, which is also auspicious. The intent with which the envelopes are given and the weight that the money represents, strengthens the solutions. A monetary offering presented in red envelopes according to your ability and feelings is appropriate and appreciated at the conclusion of each consultation or exchange of information. The red envelopes energetically protect both the giver and receiver.
According to tradition, the red envelopes:
- Show the giver’s sincere intention, appreciation and respect for the sacred knowledge shared.
- Protect the practitioner from harm for inappropriately or naively revealing secret information.
- Strengthen and increase the effectiveness of the information given.
- Acknowledge the integrity of the working relationship.
Feng shui and ancient wisdom work on a variety of levels that are not always evident. Being open to the possibility that the expert may help you is fundamental.
Prior to a feng shui consultation, take time to prepare your red envelopes in a sincere manner. Slow down and quiet your energy. Reflect on what you hope to accomplish as a result of the consultation or information being shared. Then place any amount of money into each envelope. As you do so, visualize your anticipated outcome and express appreciation for the right answers coming to you easily.
Ancient wisdom is something that is learned and experienced. It is not purchased. Money is simply a carrier of energy. When you are not ready to receive the information on one or more levels, you may feel uncomfortable with the practice. You may also find a variety of issues related to money, self worth, the value of the information, and ancient wisdom traditions surface. When you feel resistance, a feng shui consultation may not be in your best interest. Look to solve your problem another way. When a student or client receives feng shui information and does not honor the tradition, I let it go. Experience has shown me that whatever action they take is not as powerful or effective as it could be, or their issue continues to linger.
The red envelope ritual expresses respect and sincerity for the expert’s knowledge as well as for feng shui practices and traditions. The expert takes the red envelopes home and blesses them to strengthen and increase the effectiveness of the information shared. Some practitioners place the red envelopes on an altar for nine days before opening them. Others may sleep with them under their pillow. The blessing and nine day ritual harnesses ancient wisdom and empowers the information that was exchanged.
Red envelopes can be purchased at feng shui product websites, card stores, office supply stores, in any Chinatown, or you can make them out of red paper or paint/color a white envelope red. In a pinch, use a new black pen and write “RED ENVELOPE” on a white envelope. Any new, unused red envelope works.
When I began my practice over a decade ago, I was uncertain about incorporating the Red Envelope tradition into my practice. In an amazing twist of synchronicity, the day of my first consultation I returned home with my red envelopes and found a large box stamped “Red Envelope” on my doorstep. I was stunned! There are no coincidences. I immediately got the message. A beautiful gift from one of my sisters arrived unexpectedly from the gift company “Red Envelope.” I had never heard of it before. On a deep level I got the message loud and clear. Of course I would incorporate the Red Envelope tradition into my practice.
Over the years I have received all sorts of red envelopes. One day a client presented me with nine gorgeous red envelopes she made using her finest red paint. She expressed her sincerity and appreciation by putting a lot of thought and energy into each envelope. I was so touched by this outpouring of respect and appreciation. I often receive homemade red envelopes in which the entire family participates, imparting their sincerity and intention. This can be an amazing family experience. Other times clients go out of their way to find beautiful red envelopes or they purchase red envelopes with a particular intent and symbol in mind. All practices work. Sincerity, respect, intention, and appreciation for all that we do and don’t understand are what matter most.
Thank you for honoring this ancient tradition.