I’ve always been prone to the rituals of superstition, especially the ones that can be indulged with very minimal effort on my part. I pick up pennies. I don’t walk under ladders. I wish on the first star if I happen to catch it in the evening. And now I carry the number eight, written in Sharpie on a Post-it, in my wallet. This mystical use of office supplies is allegedly going to result in a noticeable uptick in my cash flow. Any day now.
It’s been more than a week since I nestled the eight alongside the scant greenbacks in my wallet, along with random receipts from forgotten purchases, a photograph of my seven-year-old cousin, and a business card from the mayor of Reno (but that’s another story). I have yet to see any concrete increase in my checking account balance. In fact, my financial landscape, which is rarely verdant to begin with, has been more barren than ever.
By now you’re probably wondering which of my medications I forgot to take. But I can assure you, there are some arrangements and rituals people indulge in to beef up their bank accounts that make the little eight in my wallet seem like the most normal thing in the world.
Goldfish in the Southeast
So you want to get rich. According to the ancient art of feng shui, which, says the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “a Chinese geomantic practice in which a structure or site is chosen or configured so as to harmonize with the spiritual forces that inhabit it,” the southeast corner of your home is where you should focus your money-hungry energy. You can place different items in that area, depending on which room of your house it inhabits, in order to access the spiritual energy of wealth growth. For example, if the entrance to your house is in the southeast corner, then place a dish of coins or a bamboo plant nearby. If the southeast corner happens to be your living room, then place a leafy, healthy houseplant there, or a bowl of goldfish with multiples of three fish. But if it’s your bathroom that falls in the southeast corner of your home, don’t put a plant or fish in the room. Rather, keep the lid of the toilet down and the door closed, which is the usual feng shui advice for a bathroom. (Which would seem to indicate, if your southeast corner is your bathroom, that, well, you’re just going to be broke.)
Trade in early China originated in the seaports of the southeast part of the country, which explains the origins of the moneymaking power of the southeast. The symbolic and spiritual link between the southeast corner of your average home and the economic growth of an ancient country might prove a challenging logistical leap for the skeptics among us. But I ask you, skeptic, what have you got to lose by trying it?
There are wealth-enhancing rituals that you can purchase on the Internet for the low, low price of about $9.99 or so. But you can also find some free ones with a little judicious Googling and an open mind.
For example, there’s the money tree, which also hails from the practice of feng shui and is somewhat more involved than locating the southeast corner of your home and decorating it with three goldfish. (Though I imagine if you put your money tree in the southeast corner of your home, perhaps your financial luck will be doubly good.) The tree symbolizes nature and growth to attract a financially nurturing chi, energy flow, or spiritual force. To maximize the potential power of the tree, follow these steps:
- Clear all clutter from the space where you intend to keep your money tree (presumably the southeast corner), and as you do so, also clear the clutter of skepticism or doubt from your mind. Affirm to yourself that this ritual will absolutely bring you the increase in wealth that you seek, and that wealth will benefit not only you, but also those around you.
- Hit the nursery. Pick a plant with round leaves that curl up. If you can find such a plant that also sports red blooms, all the better.
- Put the plant in a red or green pot, then wrap the pot in red or green material.
- Wrap three coins in red cloth or paper, then place them inside a red envelope. Put the envelope under the plant.
- Be nice to the plant. Nurture it daily, water it, clean its leaves, and clip off dead parts, all the while reinforcing that you have every faith that as the plant grows, so too will your financial well-being.
So, maybe plants and Eastern spirituality aren’t quite your thing. How do you feel about the occult? The 21 lost spells of Domesius are now on the Internet, and one of those spells is an incantation for wealth. Before repeating the witchy words, you must first dig a hole about the size of your fist at the time of the setting sun. Then, in this exact order, place these items in the hole: a fresh oak leaf, three new coins, a strand of your hair, and a pinch of salt. Then repeat the incantation (which is quite lengthy, so I’ll not include it here), fill up the hole with the same dirt that came out of it, water it with rainwater for three days, and voilà—you’re rich.
This seems a great length to go for a few extra bucks, which brings me back around to the eight in my wallet. I can’t keep a plant alive to save my life, and the southeast corner of my home is occupied by my stove, which doesn’t seem to be a particularly auspicious arrangement. So what’s the significance of the eight in the wallet? One explanation goes back to the Chinese—again: the word for “eight” in Mandarin (in most dialects) sounds just like the word for “prosper.” Logically, you’d put this prosperous-sounding number in the place where you most commonly carry around the fruits of your prosperity: your wallet. Furthermore, the appearance of two eights, 88, looks just like that of the Chinese character that means “double joy.” Double joy is always a good thing, but when it comes to cash, it’s even better than a Daily Double.
The Web site NumbersLady.com explains the function of the eight in the wallet this way: “You are simply letting the universe know that you are ready for more financial prosperity in your life.” To which I say, hear, hear! In the end, it comes down to the power of positive thinking. Note that the essential element of the money tree ritual is not the red envelope or the coins or even the tree—it’s the conviction that you’ll have more money in your future. No matter what completely rational or slightly strange or mystical activities we indulge in to help us stretch our pennies further, it all comes down to our intentions—our determination to have more dough, to have more breathing room, to worry a little less about how we’re going to make it all happen every month. We work hard, so why not give the old dollar a little extra push however we can?