Feng Shui literally means “wind and water”. It refers to the Chinese art of balancing subtle energies (chi) in our surrounding environment. Feng Shui seeks to harmonise the elements of nature by establishing a balance of energies in our environment based on directional principles, seasons and colours.
Historically, feng shui was widely used to orient buildings—often spiritually significant structures such as tombs, but also dwellings and other structures in an auspicious manner. Depending on the particular style of feng shui being used, an auspicious site could be determined by reference to local features such as bodies of water, stars, or a compass.
Certain features in your external environment can adversely affect the feng shui of your building. These “poison arrows” can be responsible for ill-fortune in the form of robbery, legal entanglement or serious ailment. It is, therefore, necessary to identify the not so obvious poison arrows in your environment and to deal with them.
The poison arrow pointing at your main door could be a straight long road forming a T- junction. This brings dangerous chi into your house. Other locations where chi is too strong are houses on the dead end of a street or those on curved roads. The harmful effect of hitting chi can be neutralised by means of feng shui cures. The ‘poison arrow’ coming from a westerly direction can be set right by placing a spotlight above the door pointing towards the road. Whereas the cure for a south road is to place a large boulder between the door and the road.
An electric pole or a large single tree outside your main gate also acts as a ‘poison arrow’. Flyovers and bridges with fast moving traffic can also generate negative energy around your house. Trouble can come in the form of a new building in your neighbourhood.
The Five Elements or Forces (wu Xing) – which, according to the Chinese, are metal, earth, fire, water, and wood – are first mentioned in Chinese literature in a chapter of the classic Book of History. They play a very important part in Chinese thought: ‘elements’ meaning generally not so much the actual substances as the forces essential to human life. Earth is a buffer, or an equilibrium achieved when the polarities cancel each other. While the goal of Chinese medicine is to balance yin and yang in the body, the goal of feng shui has been described as aligning a city, site, building, or object with yin-yang force fields.
Traditional feng shui relies upon the compass to give accurate readings. However, critics point out that the compass degrees are often inaccurate as fluctuations caused by solar winds have the ability to greatly disturb the electromagnetic field of the earth. Determining a property or site location based upon Magnetic North will result in inaccuracies because true magnetic north fluctuates.
Matteo Ricci(1552–1610), one of the founding fathers of Jesuit China missions, may have been the first European to write about feng shui practices. He tells about feng shui masters (geology, in Latin) studying prospective construction sites or grave sites “with reference to the head and the tail and the feet of the particular dragons which are supposed to dwell beneath that spot”.