Feng Shui Tradition

About Feng Shui


Feng Shui is a Chinese system of geomancy or simply "earth-wisdom" which uses the laws of both Heaven and Earth to help one improve life by receiving positive energy (qi | chi). The original designation for the discipline is Kan Yu.


Feng Shui, which literally means "wind" (Feng" and "water" (Shui), originates in China almost 6,000 years ago. It is an ancient method of constructing and optimizing residences and its surroundings to bring happiness, abundance and harmony into ones life. It includes architecture, urban planning, interior design, garden design, burial grounds and placement of objects in our environment. To harmonize the surrounding energy Feng Shui uses layout, framework, materials and colors of building and environmental structures. With this an ideal situation harmonizing the immediate environment can be created.


History of Feng Shui

The Lo Shu Turtle has been said to bring eight different types of heavenly blessings, and especially “wealth luck”. When it is depicted with a baby (right), it is said to be especially powerful. The image on the left is taken from Feng Shui Best Buy..


Already early in time, the people in China discovered the need of being protected from the influence of nature. Especially the climate, which in China has its axis from North to South was an important factor. Chinese buildings did not use glass windows or similar and where hence looking for ways to be protected from the cold winds. Through observation of nature, they found out, that the best place for a house is with a mountain range behind it, higher hills to the Eastern side, less high hills on the western side and an open view, ideally with some water like a river or lake, infront. This brought them the needed warmth from the sun light while being protected the cold northern winds. To explain these findings to illiterate people, the Chinese found a way of explaining a certain landscape by assigning it to the four animals (si ling). Today, the four animals are an integrated part of the Feng Shui Form school. The art of Feng Shui was refined over many centuries, producing an abundance of learned scholars.


Traditionally, Feng Shui was considered a highly guarded secret of the Chinese Imperial Court. All Feng Shui Masters were forbidden to release their potentially powerful knowledge to outsiders. Consequently, knowledge was handed down from father to son within family traditions. A few masters however ignored the laws and went out to help the poor who would not be able to afford the fee for a feng shui consultancy.


Magic Squares and Turtles


Chinese literature dating from as early as 2800 BC tells the legend of The “Lo Shu Magic Square” or “scroll of the river Lo”. 

More than 4.000 years go, Dayu (Great Yu), the founder of the Xia Dynasty (2100-1600 BCE) saw a turtle emerging from the Luo River and discovered the - what today is called - magic square on the turtles back. Today this pattern is still called "Luoshu" or alternatively "Guishu" (turtle pattern).

Dayu with his great knowledge on the universe, studied this pattern and gained a great understanding through it. Amongst others he developed a large system of waterways to prevent further flooding.  The magic of the circle is its arrangements of dots, that when summed up always comes to: 15 (row, column and diagonally).


The number 15 equals the numer of days in each 24 cycle of the Chinese solar year. The legend of the Lo Shu Turtle is told in The Book of Rites, one of the five classical texts of ancient China.


Fu Xi - from Turtles to TrigramsFu Xi


Fu Xi was the first of three noble emperors, the San-huang, in Chinese mythology. According to tradition he ruled from 2952 to 2836 B.C. (116 years). The Chinese attribute many inventions to the legendary emperor Fu Xi, like the use of fishing nets, the breeding of silk worms and the taming of wild animals. He apparently also invented music, however something he is most known for is the invention of the Eight Trigrams (Bagua) which is one of the tools used in Feng Shui, but also many other other ancient Chinese arts. Another important invention is the divination technique of casting oracles by the use of yarrow stalks.

Fu Xi is said to have invented the one hundred Chinese family names and decreed that marriages may only take place between persons bearing different family names.


“In the beginning there was the one.” [Lao Zi (Lao Tse) the father of Taoism


Coming back to the invention of the Eight Trigrams (Bagua) which represent the qualities of Heeaven,  Earth, Thunder, Mountain, Water, Fire, Lake/Marsh and Wind.  They symbolize the quality of change within the world.  The trigrams are depicted in yin (broken) and yang (solid lines). They are hexagrams which means they consist of 6 lines. The change is indicated by only one different line between the trigrams. By knowing the essence of each change the user can not only find out more about him and his surroundings but can also predict what might happen next. 

... China's oldest philosophical text: The I Ching


The I Ching (or Yi-Jing)


The Book of Change, or Yi Jing (known in the West as I Ching), is China's oldest philosophical text. Its origins are lost in the mists of time, but scholars believe the first compilation was done early in the Zhou Dynasty (1022 BC to 256 BC). The latest findings actually present a date right at the beginning of the Zhou dynasty. Based on a divination system using the eight trigrams (groups of solid and broken lines), permutations of 64 pairs of hexagrams were worked out.  The story is that these hexagrams were already in existence before the invention of the Chinese writing system.

The hexagrams themselves are already full of symbolism and meaning, each trigram (one hexagram consists of 2 trigrams) has in itself already three meanings: one for heaven, one for earth and one for the human being. 

In addition over time commentaries were added to the Yijing, it is important to point out that these are tools to help us understand the hexagrams but the main meaning is the hexagram itself.


"Lü / Treading [Conduct]
Treading upon the tail of the tiger. It does not bite the man. Success.”


The Book of Change charts the movements and developments (hence, ‘change’) of all the phenomena in the universe. Many regard it as a complete system of philosophy in itself. Emperors, statesmen and generals throughout Chinese history consulted it. Revered by Confucius, the Book of Change was included in the five classic texts of Confucianism. It was one of the few books spared when Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 B.C.) ordered the burning of previous dynasties’ works. The Illustrated Book of Changes is a venerable classic made available to modern readers in Chinese and English. The 64 hexagrams and their traditional commentaries are explained with illustrations, and the Chinese text has been written by leading calligraphers.


These five classic texts have spawned not only Feng Shui, but Tai Chi, Chi-Gong, Acupuncture, and other philosophies and sciences. The I Ching is one of the primary sources for the calculations of Feng Shui. If you look at a Chinese Luo Pan Compass, you will recognize the trigrams.  The I Ching is always a tool for divination and is used in Chinese astrology.


For extensive background and detailed description of the I Ching, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Ching



About 1,600 years ago, the Chinese had already determined that there were invisible forces at work beneath the earth.



The Chinese Compass (Luo Pan)


Already more than 1.600 years ago, the Chinese knew that there were invisible forces beneath the earth. These were later confirmed as magnetic forces. The Chinese divided these forces into positive (yang) and negative (yin) and developed a first compass for it. This compass traced the true magnectic forces. As a needle a spoon was placed in the middle.

Over time, this compass was further developed and the Luo Pan was born.

Luo Pan The original magnetic compass used for navigation was constructed in the 7th or 8th century with the needle floating in water. The true North-South meridian was first set down by Chiu Yun Han (c. 713 - 741 A. D.) and known as the Cheng Chen.


This was used until roughly 880, when readings were so far off the mark that an immediate correction was required. In the eight or ninth century it was further refined with the discovery of magnetic declination. Yang Yun Sang added specialized compass points to compensate for the variation.


The Feng Chen or “seam needle” fixed the Cheng Chen’s variations.The compass was again adjusted in the 1100s when Lai Wen-Chun came up with the Chung Chen (the central needle). Chinese people used compasses for centuries prior to even the most rudimentary ones on European ships. As late as the seventeenth century, all Western compasses still pointed south just like the ancient south-pointing spoons they were built to imitate.

In Feng Shui, the luopan is an image of the cosmos (a world model) based on tortoise plastrons used in divination. At its most basic level it serves as a means to assign proper positions in time and space, like the Ming Tang (Hall of Light). The markings are similar to those on a liubo board.

The oldest precursors of the luopan are the shi (Chinese for astrolabe or diviner's board) also called liuren astrolabes unearthed from tombs that date between 278 BCE and 209 BCE. These astrolabes consist of a lacquered, two-sided board with astronomical sightlines. Along with divination for Da Liu Ren the boards were commonly used to chart the motion of Taiyi through the nine palaces. The markings are virtually unchanged from the shi to the first magnetic compasses.


During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1969), the old ways came under scrutiny and many ancient traditions were forbidden and destroyed. While traditional medicine received some official sanction from the government, Feng Shui did not. It was eventually outlawed. Ironically, since many Chinese leaders owed their rise to power to Feng Shui, they purposely kept Feng Shui texts hidden from the masses. Today, what little Feng Shui survives in China is under strict control of the Communist government.  Some of the ancient Feng Shui knowledge has survived by people moving to Taiwan or Hong Kong. Feng Shui is still strong and used daily in both these territories.


Yin and Yang

The Chinese believe that there are energy forces (Chi) in the body as well as the universe. They believe that out of the one (wuji) comes Taiji (the potential) which gives birth to yin and yang. Out of yin and yang comes the bagua and out of the bagua comes the 10,000 things - basically everything we see and experience and much more. The Chinese also believe that these forces need to be balanced to bring harmony to life, nature and the universe. This principle is applied in all ancient chinese arts and wisdom traditions, like chinese medicine, taoism, tai chi and qigong, music and much more. 


Feng Shui is the art of detecting the Chi in a room, building, or site, and regulating it for best results.



Feng Shui is the art of detecting the Chi in a room, building, or site, and regulating it for best results. The benefits of Feng Shui were once restricted only to the rich and powerful in China, but are now becoming widely available.


Simply put, Feng Shui harmonizes your surroundings with your own needs. It’s largely based common sense and it's not much to do with luck or superstition.


For example, it just feels better to have your back to a wall and see the door in your office. To have your back to the door, you tend to feel anxious that someone will sneak up on you. This makes you less productive. It is based on the human need of protection. In a working environment it also helps you to keep in touch with the bigger picture.


This is also why in a restaurant, everyone prefer to take the seat against the wall, looking out, with a view of the widest expanse of the room. They instinctually feel more able to protect their partners in this position. You are also safe from attack.


Feng Shui intuition runs very deep, and we all feel it. Knowing how to manipulate it is another matter. It is about taking care of a myriad of rules and details like this, in your home or office, which all add up. The overall effect can be improved dramatically by using these rules to adjust your furniture, objects, colors and materials. Once you find out about Feng Shui, you will never see the world the same way again.

Source: Feng Shui Harmony, Feng Shui Style (US), Wikipedia