Evidence of geomancy, the art and (some would suggest) science of arranging structures in the landscape in order to enhance and improve the flow of naturally occurring energies, is found all over the world. So what is feng shui and does it work?
Feng shui (pronounced fung shway) is a form of geomancy that originates in China. Like many other eastern ideas it has been adopted in the West and continues to be used and adapted to Western culture.
Feng shui translates to ‘wind’ and ‘water’ but that doesn’t really explain what it is and how it works. It’s an intriguing clue that suggests that this art is elemental in essence, but as we shall see there is a lot more to it than vague ideas about two of the main five elements of air, fire, water, earth, and spirit.
What is feng shui? What is chi?
Feng shui is another method of improving and enhancing the flow of chi. Chi is a mysterious life force that animates all living things. It is the essence that permeates all life and is universal and abundant.
It is a concept found not just in the East but all over the world:
- Chi or qi – China
- Gi – Korea
- Ki – Japan
- Prana – India
- Mana – Hawaii
- Pneuma – Ancient Greece
- Vital Energy – Western Mystery Tradition
- The Force – Star Wars!
Feng shui then, is the practice of arranging rooms, buildings, gardens, and even objects on a desk in such a way that the combined arrangement of the objects, furniture, and living plants ehance, smooth, balance, and otherwise optimise the flow of chi.
The idea is to avoid the two extremes of stagnation on the one hand, and a flow that is too strong and fierce on the other. It’s about creating equilibrium and harmony within the spaces in which we live, work, and spend our leisure time.
Isn’t feng shui just good interior design?
It is of course entirely possible that people can live long, happy, and healthy lives without ever hearing about feng shui, let alone using it consciously. Artistic and intuitive people can create beautiful and peaceful environments using their innate abilities.
Interior designers all over the world can introduce beauty and create environments for their clients without the use of Feng Shui, or they may employ it as new tool to add to existing skills.
A skilled interior designer can create environments that suit the client. This may not always be quiet, peaceful areas. Sometimes a client needs an office space that is conducive to study, debate, negotiation, or creativity. For these areas the chi needs to flow more quickly.
Start with the basics
Feng shui should be seen as an optional extra enhancement to what should be common sense to most people. The best way to improve an environment is to start with the basics. Without these first essential steps no amount of feng shui is going to help.
These steps are relevant both indoors and outside.
- Clearing the clutter. Removing all broken, unused and unwanted items that have no value and which add nothing to the environment.
- Physically cleaning the area. A deep clean of badly contaminated areas that haven’t been cleaned for a long time, or a light clean of better maintained areas.
- Changing the air. Some rooms can be greatly improved by simply flinging open the windows and changing the air. Blow away that musty atmosphere, get rid of the smell of cleaning agents, and bring in the fresh air with its helpful and healthy bacteria.
So I’ve cleared the clutter. Now what?
There are several types of feng shui:
- Form School, which arranges rooms and locations after considering the surrounding landscape.
- Compass School, which employs the use of the cardinal directions in order to determine the most auspicious arrangements.
- Bagua Feng Shui, which uses a geomtric map to determine arrangements of a building, room, or even objects on a table or desk.
As you can see, the next step will be determined by the kind of feng shui you intend to use or which feng shui master you have hired for the task.
Bagua feng shui
In the West, the most common method is bagua feng shui. Using the map as your guide you can decorate the room or design the garden according to the areas of your life that you want to improve or enhance in some way.
The bagua’s areas each have a corresponding primary colour, element, and area of life. Walking a path across the bagua from point to point in your mind’s eye will help you imagine a healthy flow of chi through the environment in question.
Feng shui cures
In order to resolve any problems that the building’s structure may cause to the smooth flow of chi around a room, feng shui uses what are known as cures. These might be mirrors (convex or concave), light refracting crystals, plants, wind chimes etc.
Feng shui is a large subject and we’ve only touched upon the basics here. We hope it will inspire you to delve more deeply into it. At the very least, it might remind you to clear the clutter, clean the house, and to make the most of the spaces in which you live and work.