new age spirituality

Feng Shui

Feng Shui literally means "wind and water." Pronounced "fung shway" or "fung shoi" (but often mispronounced in English as "feng shu-i"), Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space to achieve harmony with the environment. The practice is estimated to be more than three thousand years old.

Traditional or classical Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese belief system that addresses the layout of cities, villages, dwellings, and buildings. In its traditional form Feng Shui always involves the use of a Luopan compass and a systematic method involving iterated steps.

The Black Hat Sect school of Feng Shui, which began in the 1960s, heavily flavored by the New Age movement, explains Feng Shui as the arrangement of objects within a home to obtain an optimum flow of qi (or chi), the invisible breath of life or vital force which animates all living things. When surrounded by qi we tend to experience good health, prosperity and happiness. In contrast a lack of qi may bring sickness and misfortune.

Feng Shui has its roots in the Chinese reverence for nature and belief in the oneness of all things. The assumption is that the key to living a harmonious life is to reflect the balance of nature in daily life. This is most easily understood by the following concepts: Yin and Yang, qi, and the Five Elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.

Yin Yang Symbol
Yin Yang Symbol
The Five Elements showing the generating and overcoming cycles
The Five Elements showing the generating and overcoming cycles

Feng Shui seeks to achieve balance between the two opposing but complementary forces of yin and yang. Yin and yang necessarily exist together. One cannot exist without the other, eg the concept of light would have no meaning if there were no darkness.

Examples of Yin and Yang:
  Yin - feminine, form, night, earth, even numbers, valleys, introversion...
  Yang - masculine, force, day, heaven, odd numbers, mountains, extroversion...

The elements are considered to exist in cycles (eg the generating and overcoming cycles). These cycles indicate which elements work well together and which combinations should be avoided.

Some correspondences relating to the elements:
  Wood - both strong and flexible, blue/green, spring, east, infancy...
  Fire - energy, passion, red, summer, south, childhood...
  Earth - stability, materialism, yellow, changing seasons, center, youth...
  Metal - harvest, success, white, autumn, adulthood...
  Water - intellect, travel, black, winter, old age...

Form school - tips on finding good Feng Shui

The branch of Feng Shui concerned with the identification of fortuitous locations is known as the form school. The ideal location is in a range of hills representing a green dragon to the east, white tiger (west), red phoenix (south) and black tortoise (north). The dragon hills are slightly higher than the tiger. Within this location the best site for a house is part-way up the hill towards the north where the dragon and tiger join.

Qi accumulates at sites bounded by slowly flowing water. A sunny location surrounded by healthy looking greenery is good, a southerly facing spot is excellent. Square or rectangular plots of land are better than irregular shapes.

Qi may be blown away by the wind, thus windy sites such as the top of an unprotected hill are to be avoided.

Also to be avoided, or at least mitigated, are "poison arrows". These are features which are detrimental to the accumulation of qi.

Straight lines directed towards a house (eg roads, overhead cables, edges of other buildings, railway lines, flight paths...) are all examples of poison arrows, as are inappropriately located trees, pylons and tall buildings.

If your current home is less than ideal there are various Feng Shui remedies reduce the effect of any negative features. These include building fences or planting trees to block poison arrows, keeping windows afflicted by poison arrows covered, or placing ornaments in them to block the negativity. The use of judiciously placed mirrors is also beneficial.

Ponds, fountains, waterfalls all increase qi, though ensure pond water is kept fresh and not allowed to become stagnant. Wind chimes are another positive feature.

Post-modern revival

With the opening up of China to the west, principally first from Hong Kong and Macau, feng shui became increasingly known and also practiced by western "hongs" or trading companies to satisfy local business communities, and also to encourage luck in business. Feng shui masters have always influenced the great buildings in Hong Kong - both for good and bad ends: the famous Bank of China Tower on Hong Kong Island, with its blade-like design, was said to be a deliberate curse upon the Government House and its British administration.

Architects and landscape designers are sometimes called upon to take Feng shui principles into account, particularly in regions and cities where there are large Chinese populations. This has increased in recent years, and can be seen as part of the wider trend towards 'humanising' what is seen as the 'inhuman' spaces of Modernism.

Feng shui vernacular includes: fountains, the use of curves rather than hard straight lines, alignment of entrances with the best views, natural materials, and is best seen in such buildings as the Getty Center in Los Angeles by Richard Meier which stands as the best articulation of 1990s style feng shui influence and theory on the American west coast.

Further information

Recommended reading

A Master Course in Feng-Shui Eva Wong. An in-depth program for learning to choose, design, and enhance the spaces where we live and work.

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Feng Shui: How to Apply the Secrets of Chinese Wisdom for Health, Wealth and Happiness Lillian Too. Reveals a wealth of methods and tools to facilitate the flow of good ch'i in your life. From the size of your furniture to the direction your oven faces, from the shape of surrounding mountains to the year you were born--all of these can affect your life. Through the use of plants, colors, crystals, and mirrors, Too shows how to situate the things in your life to make the most of every situation.

Feng Shui Revealed : An Aesthetic, Practical Approach to the Ancient Art of Space Alignment Ron Chin. Through full-color photographs and in-depth stories, feng shui master and architect R.D. Chin reveals common design problems and their solutions.

Feng Shui for Dummies by David Daniel Kennedy. This clearly written, concise, and easy-to-understand guide can help anyone to create harmony and happiness in relationships, increase prosperity, eliminate chronic patterns of failure, difficulty, and stress, energize their home or workplace and enjoy better health.

Feng Shui Your Life Jayme Barrett.

More Feng Shui books

Web resources

Absolutely Feng Shui Learn Feng Shui via regular updates.

Feng Shui at Geomancy.Net Over several thousand authentic traditional Feng Shui resources & articles, free professional Feng Shui advice, many Feng Shui on-the-fly analyses (Ba Zi & Xuan Kong), highly comprehensive onsite or online professional Feng Shui consultation, certificate online e-learning Feng Shui courses, free Feng Shui talks & events, Feng Shui directory for Webmasters, 3rd Party Links & more.

Feng Shui News Traditional Feng Shui News, Information, How to Articles, Books and Products. Find A qualified traditional Feng Shui consultant, class or free lecture.

Feng Shui Palace Designed to support both the novice and educated feng shui practitioner. Offers basic education and unique insights on such topics as: the five elements of feng shui, the bagua (or "map of feng shui"), the creative and destructive cycles of elements, how to use traditional cures.

The Feng Shui Society An independent, non-profit organisation established in 1993. It administers minimum standards for education in feng shui to professional practice level and maintains a register of accredited consultants.

Feng Shui Times Articles and resources on Chinese Feng Shui, astrology & Chinese culture.

Feng Shui Tips Feng Shui advice and tips for your home & business.

Feng Shui UK Feng Shui information, gifts and products Feng Shui tips and cures for the home and office.

World Of Feng Shui - Feng Shui made simple for modern living. Updated daily, this e-zine has everything from book reviews, monthly tips by Lillian Too, I-Ching, Chinese Astrology, an Agony Aunt column, gossip, upcoming workshops, talks and events, useful links to other feng shui sites, an online bookstore ... and much more, all for free.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Feng Shui".