While reorganizing a closet that contained boxes of things I hadn’t touched in years, I came across some of my grandmother’s personal effects and found a trinket box with the above sigil painted underneath, on the bottom of the box. It’s a feng shui talisman of some sort, that much I know.
According to my mother and those who are in the know, it’s “a spell.” Their words, not mine. A blessing spell meant to guard and protect.
The left-most column of text calls upon the guardians of the four cardinal directions, which in feng shui theory are the Red Phoenix in the South, the Black Tortoise in the North, the Blue Dragon in the East, and the White Tiger in the West.
The right-most column of text calls upon the spirit guardians of the five relative directions, or Up, Down, Left, Right, and Center.
The center column is about the founder of the Ba Gua, or eight trigrams, and calling upon that energetic legacy for protection. I might liken that to praying to a venerated saint and hoping that the saint will come and bail you out of trouble.
Meanwhile the guardians of the four cardinal directions are about the universal, collective Qi energy while the guardians of the five relative directions are about the personal Qi, like a call for summoning up your own inner strength. Then the characters inscribed in the circles with the little squares at the center are just various characters for good luck and fortune, like happiness, prosperity, yada yada.
The square within the circle is symbolic of the harmony between heaven and earth. It’s basically a pictorial expression of “heaven is on my side.” The diamond thing forming the four points are representative of the four gates of…something. It’s a mandala thing.
The chain of lemniscates or infinity symbols reinforce the intensity of power or the efficacy of the spell. It’s the insurance policy. I suppose it’s like adding a string of exclamation marks behind a statement to show you really mean what you’re saying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Then you have the overall form or structure of the painted sigil, which is meant to represent a bell or wind chime, which is superstitiously believed to ward off evil spirits. Allegedly, evil spirits are afraid of the sound of bells, which is a pretty interesting belief if you consider the cross-cultural employ of bells in religious services. A less abracadabra way of phrasing it (though no more scientific) is to say that the sound of bells or wind chimes can scatter malignant energies or bad Qi.