Feng Shui Tradition

The history of Flying Stars Feng Shui

There are boundless myths surrounding the feng shui method of flying stars. Many different schools fight each other about the one ultimate true method. Following the principle "thou shall not divulge the secrets of Heaven" the feng shui method of flying stars has been kept a secret until the early 20th century. It was then, that the first book was published.

What exactly do we know historically about the Feng Shui Method of Flying Stars?

The History

Big DipperXuan Kong Pai means "School of the mysterious Emptiness" or simply "Mysterious Void School" and even today suggests a form of Feng Shui legendized in many forms - many of which are only just being rediscovered or will be rediscovered in the future.  "Xuan Kong" actually means "space" (an enigma) and "time" (emptiness).

In a book written by Geng Wen-Shan during the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD)  "Qing Nang Xu" (Preface of the classic "Azure Bag") it is mentioned that Guo Pu (276-324) started learning the art of Xuan Kong during the Jin Dynasty.

By the time of the Tang Dynasty, Yang Jun-Song had mentioned in his book “Qing-Nang-Ao-Yu” (The Profound Sayings of the “Azure Bag”) that:

“the intercourse of Ci-Xiong or male (Yang) and female (Yin) come together in Xuan Kong”
Yang Jun-Song 

and that one should:

“look to Wuxing (the five agents) to understand Xuan Kong”
Yang Jun-Song 

That is, the principle of Xuan Kong lies with the interaction of Yin and Yang forces and the Five Agents of Nature (Wuxing) or simply, the Five Elements (or Five Phases).

He also mentioned that the secrets of Xuan Kong rested in the “Ai-Xing-Shu” (the method of knowing how the stars take off (in a chart)). However, Yang never divulged how this was done.

The art was passed onto Wu Jing-Luan (? – 1068) during the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279). Wu Jing-luan was also known as Wu Zhong-Xiang. He came from Dexing country (now Jiangxi province). His grandfather Wu Fa-Wang was also an expert in astrology and feng shui. He sent Jing-luan’s father to study with the famous Chen Tuan in Huashan. Subsequently, Jing-luan learned his art from his grandfather and father and became well known himself.

In 1041, the Imperial Court invited him to become its Yin-Yang expert giving advice to the Emperor himself. When he was asked to make comments about the imperial burial ground he was too frank, and said that the place has Kun Wind (Yin Qi) that will affect the Emperor and his mother’s future. Song Emperor Renzhong was not pleased and locked him up in jail. He was not released until Renzhong died and his son Huizhong pardoned him.

After his release, Jing-luan became a recluse and spent the rest of his life in a cave in Baiyunshan (White Cloud Mountain) not far from his hometown. He passed his art onto his daughter (Wu had no son) and wrote many books on Kanyu astrology, including “Liqi Xinyin” (Principles of Qi from the Heart) and “Master Wu’s explanation of the Yi”.

The art was later passed onto Jiang Da-Hong during the end of the Ming Dynasty  (1368 – 1644). Jiang Do Hong was from Jiangsu Province, he claimed to have obtained Wu Jing-luan’s genuine transmission, but he did not dare to break the “prohibitions of Heaven’s Laws”. His disciple of more than 20 years, Jiang Tu had to give his teacher a large amount of gold (some say 2000 ounces) for his burial expenses before the secret formula for the Replacement Star Chart was reluctantly passed down.

Thou shall not divulge the secrets of Heaven.
- Tradition of Xuan Kong 


In keeping with the tradition of “thou shall not divulge the secrets of Heaven” none of these masters from Jin to Qing Dynasties (almost 1500 years) explained how the ‘stars’ would ‘fly’ in their books written for the public. The secret of the orbit of the Nine Stars was passed down solely by discipleship or within the family through word of mouth. Because of the secrecy surrounding the transmission of the art, Flying Stars Feng Shui began to die out until the middle of the Qing Dynasty (1644- 1911), when there was a revival of interest in the Song culture, including Xuan-Kong Feng Shui.

Shen Shi Xuan Kong (Shens Study of the Mysterious Void)


Shen Zhu-Nai of the late Qing Dynasty, who made a great effort to study Jiang Da-Hong’s work without much success, decided to seek out the secrets of the Flying Stars. In 1873, he went with a disciple/friend Wu Bo-On to the town of Wu-Xi in Jiangsu to seek out the children of a Feng Shui master called Zhang Zhong-Shan who had learned the secrets of the “Ai-xing-shu” from Jiang Da-Hong. They stayed in Wu-Xi for several months without learning anything. In the end they had to pay a large sum of money just to have a look at the manuscript written by Zhang Zhong-Shan and kept in the family as a treasure by his offspring. The manuscript was called “Yin-Yang-Liang-Zhai-Lu-Yan” (Record of Experience of Yin and Yang Dwellings) which were file notes of Zhang’s consultations. They secretly copied the whole manuscript by hand in 24 hours and took it home with them to study in detail.

After many years, Shen still could not decipher the secret until one day he realised by chance when he was comparing the Luoshu and Yi Jing that the stars don’t stand still, but they ‘fly’ through in fixed orbits according to a time cycle and the orientation of the house. He compared his findings with Zhang’s manuscript and found his theory matched with Zhang’s practice notes. With this realisation in mind he restudied all the writings of Xuan Kong masters in the past and made sense of their coded messages once and for all.

Lo Shu

When Shen Zhu-Nai was alive he had many disciples. He started to write up his lifetime’s work in a book called “Shen Shi Xuan Kong” (Shen’s Study of the Mysterious Void) but died before he could finish it. It was completed by his son Shen Zhao-Min and disciple/friend Jiang Yu-sheng and published under his name in 1927. The book included explanation of how to set out the Flying Stars patterns and the practice notes of Zhang Zhong-Shan.

A few years later, in 1933 his sons and disciples further re-edited and enlarged the book from four chapters to six chapters with additional writings by friends, disciples and experts of the past. It was re-issued as “The Expanded Shen Shi Xuan Kong Xue”.

A rigid way of looking at the Qi of the Trigram. No matter what the sitting or facing directions are. Period 1 belonged to Kan Qi, Period 2 to Kun Qi, Period 3 to Zhen Qi, Period 4 to Xun Qi, Period 5 to Gen and Kun Qi, Period 6 to Qian Qi, Period 7 to Dui Qi and Period 8 to Gen Qi and so forth.During the development of Xuan Kong Feixing because the “Ai-Xing-Shu” was not revealed clearly, there were many conjectures and guesses, which led to many different schools of interpretations and many different false fabrications. Some of the false methods included: 

  1.    A fixed pattern for the distribution of Qi. No matter which star is in the Central palace. 
  2.    The Fu-Mu-Gua (Father and Mother Trigram) always fly reverse, no matter what the facing direction is
and many more.

There were endless interpretations, making Xuan Kong the most mysterious and the most confusing school at the time.

The Flying Stars Schools

In the beginning of Qing Dynasty, there were six major Xuan Kong Schools to be found in China. They were: -

  1.      Dian Nan Pai, founded by Fan Yi-Bin.
  2.      Wu Chang Pai, founded by Zhang Zhong-Shan.
  3.      Su Zhou Pai, founded by Xu Di-Hui.
  4.      Xiang Chu Pai, founded by Yin You-Ben.
  5.      Guang Dong Pai, founded by Cai Min-Shan.


Although they all claimed Jiang Da-Hong to be their master, none of these 6 schools talked to each other. They wrote their books but kept their secrets. They fought bitterly with each other and all claimed that only they had the authentic and true teachings as passed down by the ancient masters.

This state of affairs was the horrific consequence of the misguided tradition of “Thou shalt not divulge the Secrets of Heaven”. Many of these schools and their false teachings still survive and are being taught today.

As we can see from this brief history, although Xuan Kong Feixing Feng Shui has been around since the Jin Dynasty, that is more than 1,500 years, its secrets were not revealed until recent times (in the 1920s) by Shen Zhu-Nai.

Shen’s book greatly influenced the practice of feng shui in modern day China, Hong Kong and South East Asia. A new generation of Masters like Bai He-Ming of Hong Kong and Wang Wen-Huo of Taiwan have published annotated editions of Shen’s books. Further making them accessible to the modern day feng shui practitioner. Together Bazhai Pai, Xuan Kong Fei-xing and Xing Shi Pai are the three most popular feng shui schools in practice today.

Line Masters of Xuan Kong Fei-xing Feng Shui


Line of masters of Xuan Kong Fei-xing feng shui:

Guo Pu (276-324)

Yang Jun-Song (Song Dynasty)

Wu Jing-Luan (? – 1068)

Jiang Da-Hong (Ming Dynasty)

Zheng Zhong-Shan (End of Ming Dynasty)

Shen Zhu-Nai (Beginning of Republic)

Source: Howard Choy, Peter Fischer (Feng Shui Center Berlin).