So, You’ve Got A Set of Brass Bells...

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I was given a beautiful set of brass hanging bells, called Spirit Bells, apparently for calling in spirit. In the spring and summer they would be lovely outside as wind chimes, but I'd prefer to hang them indoors so I can at least enjoy the image of their beauty now. I have a north west corner above a plant, in the dining area that I think they'd be perfect, but I want to know if there is a particular place in Feng Shui they should go? Likewise, I have two other single bells (one copper and one brass) that were given as holiday gifts. I usually just add them in a collection of pretty things on a shelf or table, but they always seem out of place. I'd love your insights about the use of bells in a home.

  • A., from Salt Lake City, UT


Thinking about this question brings up an essential idea about the Five Elements, and that is the notion of “literalness” when it comes to thinking about the elements. The Five Elements of Chinese Medicine and Feng Shui practice don’t always correlate exactly with the material for which they are named. 

What I mean by that is just because something contains wood, doesn’t necessarily make it part of the Wood Element, and just because something is made out of metal material doesn’t automatically put it in the Metal Element category. Weird, right?  The Five Elements aren’t actually THINGS- the Five Elements of Feng Shui and Chinese Medicine are PROCESSES and QUALITIES. You could also say the Five Elements are not nouns, they are more like verbs and adjectives.

So even though your bells might not completely belong to only the Metal Element, I'm moving forward by assuming they do. And they probably have a little bit of activating, vitalizing Wood or Fire qi too.

(“Aubrey! Stop! Just tell me where to hang my damn bells!”)  

Back to your bells: bells move qi. Look around your house and feel where you might like to have some subtle activation of the energy- places you’d want additional life, or a nice focal point. Near the front door can be a place that can benefit from the re-energizing effect hanging bells create. If your dining room is where you were feeling the bells would be right at home, then follow that instinct. I've never seen a few bells create feng shui havoc. Additionally, the corners of most rooms get stagnant and can benefit from some regular, fresh qi. That's another vote for "bells in the corner." I bet the plant will like them too because, you know, plants enjoy music...

Shall we talk about fairies or seances next?

Let's briefly discuss spirits. Because they are “spirit bells,” the intention embedded in their creation has to do with calling in energy from the west direction, which is the direction associated with death and burial. So when you place them, you can hang them with a prayer in the west, with the intention of calling in helpful spirits (obviously.) Northwest is a good direction too- a gentle, spiritual Metal direction. You could also put a picture nearby of a loved one who has passed, so the bells are part of an altar-like setting. Add a meaningful, spiritual image or statue if you want. If your lucky, every meal could be a Day of the Dead celebration. I’m kidding. Sort of. I think you know what I’m saying- if you act intentionally, I’m sure the bells will be effective, refreshing and pretty wherever you hang them. Oh, and be sure to keep them dust-free, ringing/shaking them often- use them to activate the qi wherever they are.

Regarding your singular bells, if they seem out-of-place amidst a collection of objects, that could be because they are rather heavy and important-looking, so they may need to stand alone? Sometimes setting one object out by itself gives it a more artful quality, like you’ve set it aside to be admired. Maybe you put a single bell in the middle of your dining table, with a pair of candlesticks or hurricane lamps on either side.  Ring when you’re finished eating and see if anyone comes to take your plates. 

If you want to play with grouping them with other things like you said, the objects they are clustered with might not be the right size/ weight/ proportion to balance the bells- either the bells are being overwhelmed by their friends or sticking out like sore thumbs by their lesser companions. Study the group- you’ll see which it is. Depending on how delicate or substantial they are, you can play with the scale of the things you group with them- look at the size and feel of the bells, and add two objects that are a tiny bit smaller. Try groups of three objects. Everything significant happens in “threes.” I think the best scenario is that you hope your Bell Giver gives you a third bell and, voila, you have a collection of bells. Grouping dilemma solved.

Thank you for this question- it was such a nice way to ring in the New Year. (cue laugh track)

IIf you need some clarity, some change, or a refresh either inside or out, you’re in the right place. Aubrey Thorne is an astrologer, integrative coach, and feng shui designer in Los Angeles. She works with clients all over, both in-person and online. Feel free to contact Aubrey to ask a question or to schedule a consultation.