Basic Principles of Feng Shui
Feng Shui is part of what is commonly called the Mysterious Culture of China or Shenmiwenhua. As Feng Shui practitioners, we are ultimately concerned with an individual’s fate. At various points in time, we focus on the individual and the intersection of two worlds, Kan and Yu. Kan is the Chinese name for the unseen, invisible, vibrational world we call heaven.
Yu is the name for the visible, physical world we call earth. Another meaning for these characters is “covered” and “support,” loosely translated as “under the canopy of heaven.” Historically, Feng Shui has also been referred to as “Hum Yue;” Hum meaning heavenly path (invisible energies) and Yue meaning earthly path (visible energies). The study of Feng Shui can include:
Ancient classics, e.g. the Nei Ching (China’s oldest medical text) and the I Ching
Yin & Yang and the five elements
Wushu (Chinese martial arts) & Qigong (breathing exercises)
Qimengdunjia; a form of divination by numbers using part of the Eight Trigrams and part of the Ten Heavenly Stems.
Xiangmian; face reading (Physiognomy)
Cesi; fortune-telling by analyzing the component parts of a Chinese character
Zhang; divination by means of the Eight Trigrams
Zinke; divination by tossing coins
Xiangming; fortune-telling by analyzing someone’s time of birth and palmistry
Feng Shui study began as a way of locating auspicious burial grounds and was first discussed by Guo Pu (276-324 AD.) during the Jin Dynasty. In Guo Pu’s
Book of Burial
In Feng Shui, riding the Sheng Qi, literally translates as wind and water. The Chinese believe that securing desirable burial sites allows the dead to rest in peace, ensures a favorable reincarnation, and secures the happiness and prosperity of future generations. Since the selection of a burial site in China is a very serious business, the privileged and ruling class chose burial sites well before their death (Kai Sheng Mu).
Potential sites were often evaluated for years, using a technique called ‘Golden Well,” in which a tooth or piece of bone is placed at the prospective site and monitored for the degree of decay.
First and foremost, an ideal location preserves the body. Additional considerations for burial ground and tombs include soil quality, topography, and the opportunity for the deceased to continue to display his socio-economic status.
Classic Form School Feng Shui describes the ideal site in terms of four magical, mythical creatures and their corresponding qualities and energies; the Black Turtle, Red Bird (or Phoenix.) Azure Dragon, and White Tiger. Sites for residences, temples, public buildings, and cities were all analyzed using this model, varying only in their respective size and energy requirements. It is important to note that what would be an appropriate site for a temple would not be appropriate for a residence.
Ideally, a site was protected on the North by mountains visually similar to a turtle. To the South, the Red Bird corresponded to open land, sunshine, and finding water. The White Tiger mountains on the West, were low and smooth, resembling the smooth round back, tail, head, paws, arms, feet, and legs of a tiger.
The Azure Dragon mountains to the East were sharply jagged with peaks resembling a dragon’s pointed back and spine, it’s scaly triangular and its long pointed claws.
The illustration of the four mythological figures, (included here and on the cover of this issue) was created by the author using representations taken from the tiles at Wei Yang Palace, in the City of Han, in the province of Xi’an. Located in the classic Chinese formation, the Phoenix, representing South, is at the top, with the other creatures in their respective cardinal positions.
Currently, Chinese Feng Shul is concerned with two types of residence: Yin Zhai, the residence for the dead (burial grounds), and Yang Zhai, the residence for the living. Feng Shui became differentiated between Yin Zhai and Yang Zhai during the Five Dynasties period (907-960 AD.) In the following sections, the Yin and Yang forms of Feng Shui will be discussed.