Feng Shui Origami - Earth Wind Fire WaterMany cultures and religions have treasured the connections man has with the natural world. The natural world is usually divided up into four quadrants - earth, wind, fire, and water. You can find these symbols used in native American cultures, oriental cultures, the Hindu, Buddhism, and most other major religions. The natural symbols of earth, wind, fire, and water date back to the Greek culture and even before. Here are origami to represent each of these four areas.
Earth represents stability, a strong foundation, the long-lasting power of a mountain, the rich nutrients of garden soil. Origami which is created to "sit" on a surface falls into the earth category. Every culture has phrases in it about "coming from the earth, returning to the earth" or "permanent as stone". Travelers who return to their home shores often feel emotional when they once again make contact with their native soil. To represent all of these emotions, earth origami are generally made in a solid, sturdy manner.
If you had an elegant crane sitting on your desk at work, you would not want it blowing away every time someone came in through your door! Instead you would create it with thick, textured paper, full of detail and heft. A vase of beautiful iris flowers which you arranged "just so" in a vase should stay in that configuration, not move around into disarray whenever a gentle breeze came in through the window. This is why, for example, my origami flowers are created with fairly thick green pipe cleaners as stems. This allows you to bend and shape each stem into exactly the shape you wish, to create your finished floral arrangement. The end result should be stationary, fixed.
Wind symbolizes movement, change, the flow of ideas, the dance of life, the progress we all make with every minute. Wind is the smell of salt air on a gentle breeze, luring us onto that sailing ship to another shore. In origami, wind is represented by the hanging shapes - the window ornaments, the Christmas tree ornaments, and most especially the mobiles. Wind origami are created to be light, airy, and most importantly, able to move at the slightest whim.
A wind origami is meant to be light and delicate. A gentle breeze drifting in through an open window will set the mobile lazily spinning, allowing the cranes or other shapes to waltz and turn. A passing person by a Christmas tree causes the ornaments to turn on their bead bases, showing another facet, bringing the tree into life, dollops of color against a steady green backdrop. A heavy ornament would pull down the branches, making them look burdened and ponderous. Light, moving ornaments reflect the life and joy which a Christmas tree represents.
Fire stands for restorative change, for the shedding of the old and creation of new. The phoenix from Persian mythology is a great example of fire. This bird would grow, learn, and at its peak it would burst into flame, dissolving into ashes to be born anew. Fire provides that brilliant renewal for forests, burning down the rotted trees, allowing fresh new trees to grow in their place. In origami, fire is represented by the act of burning an origami which contains a special message.
This practice is known in many religions and cultures. For religions, the message is often a prayer, either to God or a saint. The prayer is written in the origami or represented by the origami, and then the origami is carefully place on a fire. This is usually a safely arranged candle, but you can also use a fireplace or a campfire. The dissolution of the paper, and the smoke going towards heaven represent that you are releasing this prayer and trusting in God to take care of you.
In many cultures fire is also used to help rid a person of fears or concerns. The worry is written down on or represented by the origami shape. The person gives serious thought to the situation, concentrating on the issue, and then places the origami into the fire. As the fire consumes the paper, the worry is also released.
Water stands for the calm, even passage of life, the stream that we all drift in for a period of time. It is calming, soothing, and ever-moving. Many religions use water as a cleansing force. A very powerful ceremony involving water is part of the Japanese Bon festival set. The ceremony is known as Toro nagashi and honors the memories of those who have departed, thanking them for their wisdom and guidance. Origami boats are created, as well as paper lanterns, and candles or other lights are placed within. The lanterns and boats are placed on the water to drift along with the current. The lights help to guide the spirits of the departed back to their resting place in the sea.
There are many rite of passage ceremonies and farewell ceremonies which can be created with origami boats, origami "balloons" and small lights. These ceremonies tend to look most beautiful at dusk, as the natural light fades and the soft lights in the boats twinkle in the growing darkess. Origami can also incorporate water to present a "serene" atmosphere at a wedding or other special event. For example, the lotus flower is a powerful symbol of emergence, growth and beauty. Large, flat bowls of water can be used as centerpieces at a wedding, with an origami lotus flower placed on a matching saucer, floating in each one.
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The Meaning and History of Origami
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1,000 Cranes for World Peace - Sadako Sasaki
Commonly Used Origami Terms
Meaning of Color in Origami Cranes
Feng Shui and Color
Christianity in Japan - Weddings and Christmas Origami
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