Feng shui (风水 pinyin : fēng shuǐ, literally translates as "wind-water" in English) is a thousand-year-old Chinese art. It relates to the Taoist Arts, in the same way as the Chinese Traditional Medicine or acupuncture, with which it shares a common-core syllabus of knowledge.
The Chinese considered Feng Shui as a philosophy of life allowing them to live in accordance with the nature and for centuries, they refer to it to conceive their cities, build their houses and bury their deaths.
Likewise, all the architects of the big Chinese monuments, as the Forbidden City in Beijing or the Great Wall of China, were inspired by principles of Feng Shui to give to their constructions the harmonious breath necessary for their integration in the nature.
Formerly called "Kan Yu", the naming " Feng Shui " appeared for the first time in The Zangshu or " Book of Burial " written by Guo Pu (276-324 AD): " The Classic says: Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water. The ancients collected it to prevent its dissipation, and guided it to assure its retention. Thus it was called fengshui. According to the laws of fengshui, the site which attracts water is optimum, followed by the site which catches wind.”
Way of the sky and Earth, “Kan Yu” developed under the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). It was born from the observation of the strengths between heaven and earth and study of the environment (mountains and water) by taking into account their shape and their direction. The result of these observations forms the contents of the system San He today.
To apply Feng Shui philosophy, two essential components have to be considered: the notions of complementarily of the Yin and the Yang as well as five elements (Water, Earth, Fire, Metal, Wood), often expressed by means of materials, forms and colours.
Besides Feng Shui ideology articulates around the Chi, which is the energy or the sum of the energy movements governing the Universe.
It was for several thousand years that astrologer and wise men of old China laid the foundations of Feng Shui. The legend tells that the compass was invented during the reign of the Yellow Emperor and was used at first for the navigation. It was then modified for the use in Feng Shui.
For the inhabitants of former China, the natural elements, as the wind and the water, grasp the energy of the sky and the earth. In movement, this energy is feeder, excessive or on the contrary stagnant, it possesses destructive qualities.
The first Chinese tribes were managed by kings-shamans who knew the ways of wind and water and had power on elements. One of them was the wise Fu Xi, today worshipped as protector of sciences and divinatory arts, in particular because of his discovery of Ho Tu (cyclic behaviour of the river Ho).
At the beginning of the Zhou dynasty (c. 1050–256 BC) King Wen was the first one to use Bagua (eight trigrams) to describe the changes of the world. At about eighth century BC, the Chinese used Bagua and theories of the change to favour the movement of good Chi in palaces, to bring to the kingdom prosperity and harmony.
It is interesting to note the Feng Shui development in the course of the centuries, in particular under the reign of the Tang dynasty (June 18, 618 – June 1, 907) as well as under the Song dynasty (960 -1279). Hundreds of schools of Feng Shui followed one another during these periods.
The last phases of the development of Feng Shui occured under the Ching dynasty (1644-1911) and then under the Republic of China (1912-1949). Very early under the Ching dynasty, the Eight Mansions System or Ba Zhai in Chinese was create and applied exclusively to Feng Shui of houses. Ba Zhai tries to tune the protective celestial body of the occupants of that of the house.
During the republican period, the school of Xuan Kong integrated the geological data: The School of Xuan Kong Feng Shui system rests on the astronomical basis of the "flight patterns of dynamic stars" through the three yuans or eras of nine yuns or periods which holds seriously impactful consequences on the occupants who lived within a confined space walled by at least three sides and a roof over it. The most common interpretation of this criterion is the human residence or shop space that satisfies this prognosis.
The principle on which Feng Shui is based is that all what surrounds us, recovers from a universal energy. There is an immeasurable and unlimited subtle substance composing the whole cosmos and circulating in the world which environs us, in our body and our spirit. It is the Chi (pronounced " tchi) in China, Ki in Japan and Prana in India.
The aim of Feng Shui thus is to make so that this air lungful of life circulates in an optimal way in and outside of us. This good circulation ensue an attitude, thoughts and positive feelings directly bound to our health, our family and professional life.
It is thus essential to make sure that the Chi circulates with fluidity and sweetness inside our houses. Any salient angles, deep hidden recesses and overloaded spaces are so many energy blockings susceptible to generate troubles and dysfunctions in our life.
This notion of free circulation of the energies is not exclusive to Feng Shui. Borrowed from the Chinese philosophy it is also one of the foundations of certain thousand-year-old Chinese therapies such as acupuncture or shiatsu.
The both depart from the principle that the spirit, the body (the various organs) and the direct environment of a person form a whole and that any disorder, whatever it is, psychic, physical or outside may break its energy balance causing diseases or weaknesses.
By stimulating, precise points, they act subtly on flows of energy to delete these blockings and allow the energy to circulate again freely and harmoniously in the body and the spirit. Just like the flight of birds, streams and rivers in nature, the Chi has to circulate according to ample and wave-like movements in our house.
To know how the situation in your home is, there is a very simple investigation to test the Chi flow inside. You have to support yourself with an unprocessed plan on which you will place all the furniture, household (electrical appliances, accessories, etc.). Use a pencil to express the Chi from rooms to rooms by describing movements in rings and note every congested, too dark, too big, too small, unused space, etc.
This analysis, joined to that of your needs, is naturally going to precede, the main lines of your future arrangement. This space is yours and so that you feel good, it is important that it responds as much as possible to your needs and to a good circulation of energy.
The Shar Chi
Note however that the energy circulating between your walls is not always beneficial. Feng shui appoints this bad energy by the word Sha or Shar Chi.
This «breath which kills " shows itself generally around all which is not "natural": the straight main lines, the salient angles, the L furniture, the sharp objects; what is too dark: the too deep hidden alcoves, the little enlightened spaces; on the contrary what is too much enlightened like the streetlights; what is too confined: corridors, muddled cupboards, … In brief every place where Chi circulates badly.
This hostile energy is at the origin of the faintnesses, diseases and dysfunctions. It is thus wise not to be exposed to it for a long time by setting the adequate remedy. For example, hiding bad wall corners behind plants …
Five Phases of Transformation or the Five Elements
The theory of the Five Phases of Transformation or the Five Elements (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal) is the main pillar of Feng Shui and explains how Qi (all the vital substances) cycles through various stages of transformation.
These five phases correspond to defined periods, as for example the seasons (winter = water, spring = wood, summer = fire, autumn = metal, inter seasons = earth) but also years, months, days, hours.
According to the course of time, the Qi undergoes transformations, and thus changes of cyclical properties. According to this theory, there are two main cycles of begetting (sheng) and control (ke).
The Five Elements Support and Control Each Other:
Everything we find in our external or internal terrain belongs to one of the Five Elements, each of which has supporting and controlling relationships with the other elements. When the Five Elements – within our bodies or external environments – are balanced, we experience health and prosperity. When they’re out of balance – overacting, counteracting, or failing to properly support one another – we experience disease of one sort or another.
The temporal factor
The cyclic transformation of the properties of the Qi brings the notion of time very important in Feng Shui (as in acupuncture or in Traditional Chinese Medicine).