Vol.2, No.6

What are the major principles of feng shui?

An overview of the basic principles of Feng Shui as how various school measure and interpret them.

The principles of Feng Shui
Photo Credit: Lynn Bycko
The Chinese phrase Feng Shui can be roughly translated as "the natural forces of the universe" or "the way of wind and water". They believe that the energy fields we live in, such as the Earth's electromagnetic field, affect all aspects of our lives. The main principle underlying feng shui is to live in harmony with the environment so the energy works for you and not against. There are several variations of feng shui, the main one being traditional or classical.

The basic principles of feng shui are Yin/Yang, the five elements, East/West compass points, the solar system and the environment. There is a set of complex calculations and theories that are used. Yin and Yang are the two opposing principles. Yin and Yang accomplish their work through the five elements of fire, earth, metal, water and wood. The natural environment is part, as well as the elements of the solar system, that works into the calculations used by the practitioner.

There are two forms of energy in feng shui, visible and invisible. The exteriors of buildings or landforms such as rivers and mountains are considered visible energy. These objects have a physical and visible structure and using a landform classification, their energies are typed positive, neutral or destructive. Invisible energy flows inside a building and can only be detected and charted using the compass and trigrams (pa-k'ua). When both energies are known, then the practitioner will understand completely what is needed for the building.

Extra care and measurements are needed for the invisible energy inside buildings. This was outdoor energy that could move freely, but is now captured inside. It has two spatial dimensions to it now. The dimensions are the directions that the back and front of the building are facing. A second dimension is the year in which the building was finished. This information forms the main method for the feng shui form of the Flying Stars School. Using trigrams of the I-Ching, the magic square (lo shu magic) divides a structure into nine sectors. Many factors and practices such as numerology and Chinese astrology are brought into this form.

The other compass school is called the Eight Mansions or East-West. It uses eight directions on a compass based on the four good directions and the four bad directions that every person or building has. Each one belongs to the East group or West group, determined by the birth year or facing direction. This school does not factor in the element of time.

Feng shui principles are common to most schools. Differences come from techniques and methods for identifying the energies and helping to balance them for the best results. When looking for a feng shui consultant, find one who is willing to explain 'why' they are making certain suggestions. This is a good indication that the person is familiar with the Chinese history and culture, as well as having attended a well-known school. By knowing some of feng shui yourself, you will be able to ask questions that are meaningful and understand the answers.