The Red Envelope

by Dolores Kozielski

The tradition of the Red Envelope began many centuries ago in China. In Feng Shui, red envelopes, (“ang pow” pronounced hong boa or lisee- lay see), are used in Black Sect Tibetan Tantric Buddhism as an honourable tradition, affording payment to the Feng Shui practitioner. Ang pow is said to enhance energy (chi), abundance and happiness. The envelope is also utilized to ward-off, inauspicious chi and negative energy. The envelopes are red because they are considered yang energy.

The red envelope is presented to the Feng Shui consultant, when a client pays for the consultation. Because of the high energy of the colour red and the blessings associated with its tradition, it is believed that the client, (presenter), as well as the consultant, (receiver), are both graced with auspicious chi. The envelope also represents the imparting of sacred knowledge and can enhance the efficacy of a transcendental cure. Usually, the payment to the Feng Shui consultant is in denominations of nine.

The number nine in Feng Shui is a very special and significant number; it is a number unto itself. Whenever you multiply the number nine, the sum can be added together and it will again become, or turn into, the number nine. Example: 9X9=81 this sum is added, once more, and becomes nine (8+1=9). Another example is: 23X9=207 (2+0+7=9).

It is a Chinese custom to put three Chinese coins, or $3.00 in American currency, in a red envelope, placing it above the frame of your entrance door, in your abundance corner, or in your wallet to attract more money. When the red envelope is placed at the entrance, it is said to protect the household, and in the abundance corner, wealth in the pathways of life. Yet, the Chinese custom of giving money in a white envelope signifies death or a sad occasion, such as helping the family members of the deceased, with funeral expenses.

The legend of Ang Pow, red envelopes

In China, during the time of the Sung Dynasty, a legend arose that the village people of Chang-Chieu were living in fear of an evil presence among them. No one could rid the town of this evil, dragon-like creature, not even the greatest noblemen or strongest warriors. The villagers lived in constant fear. Then, one day, a brave, young man, whose ancestors bequeathed to him a magical sabre, called a Ma Dao, waited for the dragon to appear. Unflinching, the young man, wielding his magical sword, defeated the evil presence of the dragon and it was no more. The villagers were so relieved and thankful that they had the elders present, to the brave, young man, ang pow, a red packet filled with money. The villagers believed that by giving this red packet to the heroic, young man that they, the young man and their village would be blessed. And so, from that happy day in the village of Chang-Chieu, and throughout the centuries, the story has become a Chinese tradition, in giving a red envelope as a blessing.

Presently, as a Chinese custom, the red envelope is most popularly given as a gift during the Chinese New Year– for a wedding– or to a small child, upward, to an unmarried adult, for their birthday–or to pay off a debt. “Ang pow” can also be given, at any time, even for no specific occasion, if the presenter feels compelled to do so. Whenever a red envelope is given and handled with the right-intention, it is always considered auspicious and invokes a blessing from the presenter to the receiver.

Illustrations on the front of the red envelope signify blessings, long life, good health–and prosperity. Some of the good luck symbols printed on the envelopes are the animals of the Chinese zodiac, Buddha with children, a flowering lotus, a dragon with the phoenix and the three immortals, Fu, Lu and Shou, the gods of Happiness, Wealth and Longevity.

Copyright ©2006 by Dolores Kozielski

Dolores Kozielski is a certified Feng Shui consultant practising in NJ, PA. She is also trained in Kabbalah, Qigong, Tai Chi, I Ching and the art of Iconography. Dolores is an author, published with major publishing houses, including HarperCollins, Scholastic and “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. She may be reached at: www.FengShuiWrite.com

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