Feng Shui 101: An Introduction
What is Feng Shui?
Feng Shui. It has become part of our mainstream consciousness. When someone uses the phrase “bad Feng Shui” they generally mean “it was not a nice a place, something was off about it.” You may have even used it to describe your frustration with your home, office or life. “Nothing seems to be going my way. My life could use some Feng Shui!” or “Wow, this place is in serious need of some Feng Shui.” This often-misunderstood practice has started to become part of our Western dialogue.
When people say that they are in desperate need of some Feng Shui what they are saying is that they need to shift the energy in their space and life—they just don’t know it. Feng Shui has the power to change not only the look of our home, but also our outlook on life.
Feng Shui (pronounced Fung Schway) is both an ancient art and a complex system of divination, geomancy, and astrology. It is a practice that strives to bring people and their environment into harmony. The name Feng (wind) Shui (water) embodies the influence of nature on our wellbeing. Chi (Qi or Ch’i) is the unseen energy that flows through the earth and nourishes all living things. Chi is life force, vital energy. This idea of vital energy has existed in many cultures for centuries: ch’i (China), ki (Japan), prana (India), pneuma (Greece), elan vital (France). It is the breath of life that flows through us, around us, and in our environment. Feng Shui is the practice of channeling, harnessing, and enhancing this life force.
The formal practice of Feng Shui and geomancy dates back almost 4000 years, but it had been practiced far early in as a form of shamanism. Shamans divined how man should navigate in nature. Looking at the forms of the earth, the weather and the cosmos.
“For the last 5000 years, Feng shui has been used as environmental science, magic, worship, and therapy, to bring security, wealth, harmony, and happiness to homes, communities, workplaces, cities and countries.” — Steven Post The Modern Book of Feng Shui
The Many Schools of Feng Shui
Over the centuries, many different schools of Feng Shui have developed. While each school may have a different focus or approach to the art and science of Feng Shui, they all share one common goal: to create harmony and balance between people and their environments. I like to think of Feng Shui like yoga. Yoga has many styles and forms but they all the same intention: to help us become more present through the connection of mind and body. Feng Shui is same. You will encounter different approaches and techniques, but a qualified and competent practitioner should always strive to help their clients improve their home and life.
I will review three main schools of Feng Shui, with the caveat that there are many more than what I have reviewed here.
Form Feng Shui
Geomancers would examine the terrain and quality of the earth, mountain shapes, and orientation of bodies of water to determine the most auspicious site to build a dwelling. The concept of the ‘armchair’ position runs through most schools of Feng Shui today: a protective rise behind the home or lot, supportive trees at the sides, and a clear view in the front. The four celestial animals: the black tortoise, green dragon, white tiger and red phoenix, are symbolic of land formations, which creates the ‘armchair’ position. These principles, and geomantic practices of reading the land, have been absorbed into many modern schools of Feng Shui. Today we interpret our roads and buildings as the equivalent of rivers and mountains, for better or for worse, they are our modern-day land formations.
Compass School Feng Shui
This school of Feng Shui uses compass directions to calculate the optimal placement of dwellings and businesses, using the Lo Pan, a very detailed, and complex compass. For Compass practitioners, the directions and timing are critical factors. According to this method of Feng Shui, each person has an auspicious set of directions to determine where best to slept, eat and work; these directions are calculated based on the time and date of birth. Other tools and methods used by Compass practitioners are the Pa Kua and Flying Star, both are based on the Lo Shu square.
Black Sect Feng Shui
This is the Feng Shui that I practice. It is a form of shamanistic Feng Shui with ancient roots in Taoism and Buddhism. BTB Feng Shui (as it is more commonly known) uses transcendental cures and adjustments to remedy issues. Practitioner’s use what is called a Bagua (similar to the Pa Kua), and the five elements energy system to assess a space. They do not use the fixed cardinal directions, but rather use the principle of relative positioning based on the dominant flow of chi. They orient the Bagua in line with the main source of chi to assess a space’s energy, and to recommend Feng Shui cures to correct energy deficiencies.
“Grandmaster Lin Yun’s Feng Shui school emphasizes the Theory of Relative Positioning, which states that the areas of the environment that are physically closest to you affect your energy.” — Daniel David Kennedy Feng Shui for Dummies
Other tools and methods used by BTB Feng Shui practitioners are meditation, divination and the nine basic cures.
Hopefully this brief overview of Feng Shui will give you a better understanding of the rich history and complex principles behind this ancient art. No matter which school of Feng Shui you follow, or study they all have the same basic desire to help people to achieve balance and to increase prosperity in their lives.