You may have seen the octagon design (eight sides) on the fung shui or Pa Kua mirrors adorned with Chinese characters that are hung outside the entrance to homes and offices. They confer protection against negative forces or energy. The octagon encompasses the four cardinal (north, south, east and west) and four intercardinal (northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest) directions. In traditional fung shui formulas, family members are each assigned a specific direction, i.e. the father is associated with the northwest, the mother the southwest, the oldest son the east, the middle daughter the south and so on. It is incorrect to assume that you should have an octagonal dining table in your home. Rectangular, square, oval or round tables are all appropriate for the dining room, while triangular or irregular tables are not recommended. It is also wrong to assume that the father, or head of the household, should always sit at the northwest part of the table and the mother the southwest; it is unreasonable to allocate each family member to a certain place at the dining table based only on their rank in the family. Other factors, such as the position of the table relative to walls, doors and passageways, should be taken into account to determine who should sit where.