HOW FENG SHUI WORKS
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How does Feng Shui work?
Feng Shui is an ancient concept that pertains itself to
bringing about peace and harmony, whether that be in the home, office, diet, or
just one’s own personal life. It’s a belief that some consider to be a New Age
concept that’s based largely on superstition. Others recognize its Chinese roots
but still believe that Feng Shui is nothing more than a cultural belief, held by
those who also practice things such as holistic medicine. But Feng Shui is a
practice that dates back as far as 6000 B.C. and although it does mostly come
from Chinese beliefs today, it originally came from India.
Almost 6,000 years ago, people in India began
practicing vastu shastra. This practice laid its principles in the belief that
architectural structures, such as buildings and houses, contained parts of each
of the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, and space – and that these
structures had a great impact on the world around them. These elements come from
the building’s energy, energy that every building and structure contains. It was
3,000 years after India began practicing vastu shastra that monks crossed
through Tibet and into China. It was at this time that the Chinese also began
practicing the belief, although they changed and developed it to fit their own
unique culture. It was here that Feng Shui began, though its roots were still
widely based on the vastu shastra beliefs.
Feng Shui is the belief that the way that
buildings, houses, and even cities are arranged, greatly impacts the flow of
peace and harmony within that space. Space is probably the biggest factor in
Feng Shui that those in the Western world have difficulty understanding.
Believers of Feng Shui believe that every structure has its own energy and that
the spaces we occupy greatly affect the way our lives play out.
When designing a structure based on Feng Shui
beliefs, the idea is to create a natural path for the energy to flow through and
to eliminate or change things that could block the flow of the energy. Whereas
the Western world mainly concerns itself with building structures that are
functional and nice to look at, Feng Shui believers concern themselves with how
structures flow and move to create balance and peace. Feng Shui wasn’t
introduced to the Western world until the 1980s, when it first came to the
United States. It then began to pick up large interest in other areas such as
Canada, Europe, and Australia.
The Different Schools of Feng Shui
Even those who practice Feng Shui don’t practice one standard set of beliefs.
There are many different variations of Feng Shui but the practice does fall
under 3 main schools of thought. These are the Form School, the Compass School,
and the Black Hat.
The Form School practice of Feng Shui is thought to
be ‘classic Feng Shui’ simply because it’s the oldest. The Form School
originates from southern China and mainly concerns itself with the relationship
of things found within the environment. Another main focus is on the placement
of land and water. This belief is based on the ancient need for survival and
shelter. Early Chinese civilizations would set up their villages at the base of
mountains. The great mountain offered them protection from wind and inclement
weather while the water that trickled down from the mountains provided them with
moist land for crops and sustenance to live off of. Dragons and tigers are also
often associated with this school of belief and this also stems from the ancient
The Compass School of Feng Shui originates from northern China and like the Form
School, it also places its beliefs in relation to topography and the way the
land is laid out. However unlike the Form School, the land in northern China is
much flatter than that of the south and so, this school uses a magnetic compass
along with the relation of Earth to the seasons, stars, and planets. The Compass
School is an intricate study of beliefs that is very hard to understand. It’s a
careful calculation of mathematics, a deep understanding of the Feng Shui
compass, all combined with Chinese astrology, which is difficult enough on its
own to understand.
The Black Hat school of Feng Shui is what
Westerners most commonly think of when they think of Feng Shui. It’s by far the
easiest to understand of all the schools and rather than looking at the
placement of things in the environment or relying on difficult-to-read
compasses, it simply concerns itself with the placing of objects. Thomas Lin Yun
founded this school of Feng Shui in the 1980s and rather than interpreting
mathematics and the stars, it simply relies on intuition and placing objects
within the home. Some masters of Feng Shui don’t even recognize the Black Hat
school of Feng Shui because of its simplicity and vague principles.
Even though these three main schools of Feng Shui
are all very different, they do all have similar characteristics and some of the
same basic principles and symbols.
The Symbols of Feng Shui
There are 5 main symbols in Feng Shui that all
schools of thought believe exist in Feng Shui. These main symbols are Earth,
such as rocks or ceramics; Fire, such as candles and fireplaces; Metal, such as
electronics and silver picture frames; Water, such as aquariums or fountains;
and Wood, such as a living plant or tree. These elements can either work
together to form a smooth and seamless cycle or, when things are out of balance,
can work against each other to cause a disturbance in the cycle.
A balanced cycle works so that Wood produces Fire.
Fire then produces Earth, which produces Metal. Metal produces Water, which
produces Wood. When the cycle is off balance, there are many different things
that can go wrong. Wood can overburden the Earth and the Earth could begin to
block the water. Fire could also begin to melt Metal and Earth could douse the
Fire. Although when speaking about the placement of objects within a home or
office these elements aren’t actually working this way, they are obstacles that
could block the natural flow of energy.
The ying-yang symbol is one that most people know
and can quickly recognize from the Chinese culture. This symbol shows two
teardrop shapes nesting inside of each other. One is black while the other is
white and each has a tiny dot within it of the opposing color. This is to
symbolize that each are opposites of each other and that they complement each
other to form a whole. One cannot exist without the other even though they have
such opposing meanings. The black side is yin and is thought to represent
femininity, softness, nighttime, and passivity. The white side is yang and is
thought to represent masculinity, daytime, warmth, and activity.
Bagua is a very important concept in Feng Shui. This
concept relies on boxes, which can evolve into grids that make up the most
important elements and principles of Feng Shui. Contained within these boxes are
numbers, elements, and symbols, all of which come together to form a complete
and balanced picture.
This bagua grid is created when the elements from
the Lo Shu Square are used to form a hexagon of the same elements, in the same
positions. This grid is then used to determine where objects should be placed
within a home or office. To make this determination, the black portion of the
grid must be placed at the entrance of the home so that the rest of the grid
would expand out into the home. It will then become quite clear as to where
certain objects should be placed. But of course, you need to know what objects
would be considered to be grey and which objects would be considered to be red.
This is when an understanding of Feng Shui, and the meaning of the colors comes
When first speaking of bagua, you must first
understand the concept behind the Lo Shu Square. This square is three columns
down and three rows across. Within each row are three different blocks, each
with its own number, element, and symbol. The symbols are small images made up
of tiny blocks within themselves and these symbols simply represent what lies
within that square. The numbers in the first row go across as: 4,9, and 2. The
second row of numbers within the boxes reads as: 3, 5, and 7. And the last row
of numbers reads: 8,1, and 6. This is so the numbers add up to 15 vertically,
horizontally, and diagonally. This Lo Shu Square can stand on its own to help
understand different Chinese principles. But the bagua grid is also a way for
scholars in the theory to connect the elements with the square.
Black symbolizes career, which can translate into
objects such as mirrors or fountains. This is one reason why mirrors in the
entryways of homes are so common and why fountains can be found in the lobbies
of businesses. Blue symbolizes skills and wisdom and so objects pertaining to
this color would be objects such as computers and books. So in a home, the
office or a den should, according to Feng Shui, be placed to the left of the
The green area is a good spot for things such as
plants and family pictures, as it symbolizes family and purple would be a good
place for things such as pictures of sailboats, or other things pertaining to
water. Because purple symbolizes prosperity, this would be a great area of the
home for your aquarium! Red is a great place to display different awards,
degrees or diplomas because red symbolizes fame and reputation. Pink
appropriately symbolizes love and relationships so in this area it’s important
that paired items are placed, such as matching bookends or a pair of comfortable
chairs. Pictures of you and your spouse or you and your loved ones are also
encouraged to go in this area of the home.
White is thought to be a place for children and creativity. Feng Shui principles
state that this area must be kept extremely clean in order to produce children
who are well-behaved. The grey area is representative of helpful people and
travel so this is a good place to keep travel souvenirs and maybe even your
religious items. Yellow is an interesting color within the Bagua grid. A piece
of this color, which represents health, should be present in every area of the
home. Scattering around stones or keeping different pieces of pottery in these
areas would all be sufficient according to Feng Shui principles.
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