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Basic Feng Shui Concepts

Yin and Yang Yin-Yang

These are two extreme or opposing forces. When one reaches its limit it becomes the other. Yang is described as the vibration and movement of the universe. It is an expanding energy and is represented by one solid unbroken line ? ? . Yin is silence and stillness and is a contracting energy. Yin is represented by two short lines ? ? .Everything can be described in terms of Yin and Yang: foods, personality, organs, climate, etc. The key to understanding Yin and Yang is to realize that one cannot exist to the exclusion of the other, one gives rise to the other. Yin and Yang are independent concepts relative to each other. Both must be present in everything, otherwise there is nothingness. The purpose of much Feng Shui practice is an attempt to achieve balance between these opposing forces. Life becomes out of balance when there is too much of either one of these forces.

The Five Elements

The Five Elements are the five manifestations of energy or “chi”. These five energies are fire, earth, metal, water and wood. The Chinese considered these to be the five forces of nature that stimulate and shape all human and natural activities. These elements are associated with both times of the day and seasons of the year. The morning time is rising energy just like spring time, and are the wood element. The noon time when the sun is at its highest point in the sky like summer is associated with the element Fire. The Earth element has sinking energy, like the afternoon and the late summer. The Autumn and the evening is a time of turning inward and is associate with metal. The night-time and the winter are times of rest and they have a floating energy associated with the Water Element. The Five Elements also have associated directions, colors, shapes, numbers, tastes, personalities, body parts, etc.


When elements are introduced you can use pictures, sculptures, furniture, carpet, ornaments, etc.


Light, candles, spiky objects, triangular shapes.
Colors: Red, burgundy, maroon, mauve, pink, orange, purple, peach, salmon.


Stones, crystals, rocks, terracotta, pottery, flat-square shapes.
Colors: Yellow, brown, sand, tan, beige.


Copper, bronze, brass, weights, picture frames, clocks, round shapes.
Colors: White, copper, bronze, brass, silver, gold.


Water fountains, fish tanks, seascapes, pitcher of water, wavy shapes.
Colors: Black, blue.


Plants, cane baskets, wooden furniture and ornaments, tall-rectangular shapes.


Do not add any elements with pointed corners aimed at a place where you spend a lot of time. Do not hang heavy objects overhead. If you have any questions contact Dr.sandybond@buildingchi.com

The Five Element Transformations

Five Phases Theory states that things and events in the world succeed one another and that all energy is in a constant process of change. In this process the Five Elements relate to one another by cycles of production and destruction. In the Productive Cycle Wood ignites Fire, which in turn produces ash (Earth). Earth is the source of Metal Ores, which melt producing a liquid like Water. Water nourishes growing Wood. In the Destructive Cycle Wood sucks nutrients from the Earth, Fire melts Metal, Earth absorbs Water, Metal cuts Wood and Water puts out Fire. A third cycle is the exhaustive cycle where the productive cycle reverts backward to drain the energy of the proceeding element. Thus, fire exhaust wood, earth exhausts fire, metal exhausts earth, water exhausts metal and wood exhausts water.


In Feng Shui analysis both the cycles and Five Element associations of direction, shape, color, etc, are used to both cure afflictions to space caused by intangible forces of bad flying stars or afflicted directions and for enhancing good chi in a space.

Trigrams and Hexagrams

Trigrams are symbolic representations of how Yin and Yang interact and in the process, manifest in varying densities of energy. By adding a Yin and Yang line above these two images the four images of old and young Yang, and old and young Yin are created. The same process is repeated to create the eight trigrams. These trigrams are Chien, the Creative; Kun, the Receptive; Chen, the Arousing; Sun, the Gentle; Tui, the Joyous; Ken, Keeping Still; Kan , the Abysmal; and Li, the Clinging. These eight trigrams are then combined with each other to make up the 64 hexagrams. Each hexagram is made up of two trigrams, placed one above the other. Thus, in essence, both Feng Shui and the I Ching originate from the two energies that make up the universe – Yin and Yang.

Trigrams are very significant in understanding and interpreting the Feng Shui of Yang dwellings. Each trigram has a different symbolism and faces a specific direction. The principle of the Eight Directions states that each direction is associated with a different kind of chi energy. Not only is each direction associated with one of the eight trigrams it is also associated with one of the Five Elements, a symbol of nature, a family member, a Nine Ki number, a color, a time of day and a season. Together these produce a detailed picture of the type of chi energy found in that direction. These energies can be represented diagrammatically around the eight sides of the “Ba Gua”.

Schools of Feng Shui

The following schools of Feng Shui share the basic principles of how energy moves: yin and yang; the Five Elements and the Eight Trigrams.

Form School

The Form School of Feng Shui is sometimes also called the Landscape School or Mountain Top School and relates to the surrounding landscape and entrance to a building as the basic orientation. It is used to improve Earth luck by determining good positioning and orientation of objects and buildings in relation to the landscape. Ideally, a building should face the predominately sunny direction (south in the northern hemisphere and north in the southern hemisphere). This is known as the “Red Bird” direction. There should be an open view ideally consisting of a water feature to bring chi (moving energy) to the building. The building also needs to have a strong mountain-like feature behind it to protect it from cold winds. This is called the Black Turtle energy. Based on where the rooms are located in the building in relation to the building's Black Turtle and Red Bird energies provides information of how each area of the building will affect the occupants. Ideally, in a house, bathrooms, bedrooms and store rooms should be located toward the more yin energy of the Black Turtle while living rooms should be orientated towards the more yang energy of the Red Bird.

Compass School

The Compass School really is encompasses three branches: Ming Kua (Eight Personal Directions Method or the Ba Gua system); Ba Zhai (Eight House Method), and the Flying Star Method. These systems are linked to an Oriental system of astrology known as Nine Ki. These systems can help determine the strength of, and can help improve, a persons' Heaven Luck. As the name implies these methods use a compass to assess the energy flows through a building as the earth's magnetic field, solar energy and planets are believed to be most influential. A further extension of these methods is the Four Pillars of Destiny which is a method of Chinese Astrology to assess the destiny of an individual based on their birth place, date and time. This can be used to alter the spaces they occupy to improve their destiny.

The basic idea underlying each of the branches of the compass school is that the eight directions each experience a different kind of energy. A compass is used to determine the direction a building sits and faces and the orientation of the rooms. In Ming Kua, a person is either classified as a West Life Group person or an East Life Group person depending on their birth year. Once the lucky number has been calculated from the person's birth year this number corresponds to their lucky direction and the three other associated directions that will be favorable to them based on the Life Group to which they belong (either East or West). Similarly, their four inauspicious directions will then be known. All eight directions can then be applied to each segment of a building or to each room within the building to determine where they should sleep, work or spend most of their time.

The Ba Zhai method is used to determine the buildings auspicious and inauspicious directions based on the sitting and facing directions of the building. It is the most popular of the Compass School methods. The Kua number for the house is determined from the sitting direction of the house. It is used to see if the orientations and layout of a house are in harmony with the “Ren Ming” or human destiny of the person occupying it. Ideally, the occupant's lucky directions will match that of their house. Should these not match, Feng Shui cures can be used to overcome potential energy conflicts that can manifest negatively on the life of the occupant. Even where there is a match between the lucky directions of the occupant and their home, Feng Shui can also be used to enhance the chi of the space by taking advantage of the positive energy of the auspicious directions and minimizing the negative energy of the inauspicious directions. This can be done in such a way to improve aspects of the occupant's life.

The Flying Star method uses a compass bearing on the facing direction of a building to orientate its own birth chart, determined by the construction date. This method postulates that the energy of a building, the influences of the different directions, and their effect on the occupants, changes over time. Thus, time is an important element in this method. The effect of the building's features and surroundings on the birth chart are assessed, and likely problems for a specific time period anticipated and overcome through the use of Feng Shui cures.

Application of Feng Shui

After interviewing the client and diagnosing the building the Feng Shui practitioner will then decide on the most appropriate Feng Shui methods to apply for the given situation. In most common Feng Shui assignments the Form School will form the basis of the analysis with the various branches of the Compass School being used as needed. Many practitioners will choose to employ a combination of approaches as each approach adds a different layer, or perspective, that can help meet the client's needs.

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