What is feng shui?

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Feng Shui is a more than 3000-year-old Chinese philosophy. The aim of Feng Shui is to organize living space in a way to be in harmony with the energy environment. Therefore several rules, techniques and methods exist in order to "capture" the auspicious chi (life energy), that brings good luck, love, wealth and health into our lives and to dissolve the harmful chi, the shar chi, that brings illness and generates misfortune.

You can imagine the life energy chi as invisible energetic forces, which circulate in nature and our homes, as well as in ours bodies. In Chinese medicine, acupuncture applies the harmonization of these very energy flows in order to balance body energies. We all know places that seem dead, stale, or lacking in energy, but we also know magnificent, flourishing places that are full of life and positive energy.

Different movements have developed, such as the Feng Shui form school or the more recent Feng Shui compass school. The guidelines of these two major schools practiced currently are given below.

Form school:
the four celestial guardians

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The oldest school, called form school, recommends that one's house be built according to the surrounding landscape (mountains, hills, rivers). For example, it is auspicious to have a mountain behind your house (ideally in the North), a hill on the left side (in the East), a smaller one on the right (the West), and a low-lying foothill in an open space in front of the house (the South). Just nearby, there will ideally be a meandering river.

The Chinese refer to the four celestial guardians: the black tortoise (the mountain behind the house), the green dragon (the hill on the left side, looking out from the inside), the white tiger (it's hill must always be lower than that of the dragon on the opposite side) and the crimson phoenix (the low-lying foothill in front of the house). The positioning may be different, the South may be behind the house, but it is not advisable to have the main entrance in front of a mountain. You can imagine the landscape formation as an armchair with its back, its armrests on the right and on the left, and in front, a small footrest in an open space. (You may also read the article Feng Shui and mountains about the subject black tortoise.)

For people living in cities, high buildings replace the mountains and streets replace the rivers - but the rules remain the same.

Compass school:
the bagua

or how to find the North of your house

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The compass school is based on points of the compass. In order to apply the eight aspirations theory, you draw the plan of your house on a sheet of paper. Then you take the center of the room you wish to harmonize (it can either be the middle of the house or the middle of a room, such as the living room, the office or the bedroom) and you mark it on your sheet. Then, using a good-quality compass, you plot the North and the Center and you draw a straight line between the two points, superimposing a kind of bagua, or Pa Kua (you will find more information about this topic under the description of the painting Mandala Ashtamangala, or you may visit the Wikipedia webpage), an octagon, as shown below. You can then determine the seven other points of the compass (Northeast, East, Southeast, South, Southwest, West and Northwest).

Pa Kua in the compass school of feng shui

(Normally, you see this chart the other way around, with the South at the top and the North at the bottom. This is because the Chinese read the compass the opposite way to Western cultures, but this makes no difference with regard to compass points or sectors.)

Each sector corresponds to one of the aspirations of mankind, as explained in the following table:

Direction Corresponds to the sector Element
North Career, professional advancement Water
Southwest Love, relationship, marriage, sector of the woman Earth
East Health, longevity, family Wood
Southeast Prosperity, wealth Wood
Northwest Influential benefactors, sector of the man Metal
West Children, creativity, future Metal
Northeast Education, spirituality, knowledge Earth
South Fame, recognition, self-confidence Fire
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You can activate a sector with objects, colors or forms which belong to the concerned element. For example, if you wish to improve your reputation, you can activate the South of your home or your living room. This sector being governed by the element fire, you can use light features (candles, lamps, a fire place), the colors red, orange, pink or bright yellow, as well as triangular forms. I will give more indications on how to activate a sector in each chapter about feng shui sectors.

Paintings belong to the symbolic
component of feng shui

Paintings make it possible to set up efficiently the five elements in a symbolic manner. If you live on a plain, hanging a picture depicting a mounting will help you benefit from its protection. If you have no space for an aquarium with lucky fish, and if there is no dragon on sale in the local pet shop (the ultimate talisman in Feng Shui), then a painting may fit the purpose. Flowers and fresh plants procure certainly more energy than a painting, but they are seasonal and also need to be taken good care of in order to attract benevolent chi. Here again, a painting can be an excellent alternative.

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