The directions of energy are the crux of feng shui. Basements, being down, represent the past and your subconscious mind — accumulating clutter there will cause you to be stuck in the past, wrangling with issues that should have been dealt with years ago. Conversely, your attic symbolizes your aspirations and the possibilities for your future. Filling this space with clutter stifles what you want to bring into your life, and who you want to become.
While there is nothing wrong with using these spaces for storage, there is a huge difference between storage and clutter, especially the heavy, obligation-weighted clutter that tends to accumulate in attics and basements.
People tend to put things they do not want to deal with in the basement. For some reason, the especially heavy things (trunks, exercise equipment, and the like) end up in the basement. This is logical — it is easier to get a bureau down the stairs to the basement than to get it up the ladder and into the attic!
In feng shui, basements hold your past and your subconscious. This makes sense — the subterranean is usually where the subconscious dwells in most human mythologies. Filling up your subconscious with undealt stuff makes it harder to function in your life. Even small problems that come up can throw you off balance because you are spending so much psychic energy on avoiding what is down in your “basement”.
Basements also tend to be damp, and there can be real decay down there as things get moldy. Sometimes, this is nature helping you along, making it easier for you to get rid of all the stacks of things filling up the basement. Try clearing this space out and see if you do not feel more present, more able to let go of resentments and deal with the here and now. Cleaning this space may also help you in therapy work.
Attics have a different power. Even when we think about our aspirations, we tend to look up. Knowing that there are stacks and stacks of undealt stuff up there lends a feeling of resistance to the future. It makes you distrust your instincts, and what your gut is telling you you need. Many feng shui practitioners say stuffed attics give a feeling of something hanging over you, of pressure.
If you have nameless feelings of anxiety, kind of a “sword of Damocles” hanging over your head, seriously consider a trip up to that attic. Even if all you can do is take three things out of the attic and either give them away or sell them, you have made a good start.
In many cases, the thing that needs to move in the attic does not need to be sold or given away. It just needs to be used. It’s your aspirations up there, remember? Have you stowed your old guitar or your oil paints? Maybe you need to go use them, or, even better, clear out the attic so you can have a space to use them in. Many people find their attics become their creativity rooms — just like artists’ garrets.