Although commonly understood as an art of placement, feng shui is primarily a tool for planning, as its many techniques include analytical as well as creative approaches equally useful at many different scales. Feng shui seeks to understand the meaning of reality in the totality of existence, and is therefore equally concerned with larger ecological issues as well as small-scale details. Because its philosophical and ideological tools are holistic and holographic by nature, feng shui is extremely useful as a way to understand, analyze, and manage the complex interrelations between man and his environment, his activities, his society, and the Cosmos at large.
Feng shui found its origins in ancient agrarian China, at a time when the understanding of Nature and its processes was critical to survival. Over time, it developed tools to manage both rural and urban settings. In addition to large-scale management of regional land and water resources, ancient practitioners of this craft were able to create analytical tools for the development of towns, villages, and single buildings. The original concern for large-scale planning, however, was never removed from the practice of building, so that today even small projects are consistently reviewed in relation to regional and cosmic forces.
THE MASTER PLAN
Feng shui has useful application in all phases of the planning process. At the level of the Master Plan, it can inform the investigation by casting light on the larger Cosmic and regional forces acting upon the site, and on the implications of form and orientation for both the site and its users. Other techniques are used to determine specific elemental, metaphorical or symbolic contexts within which to develop a Master Plan. These can then be combined with analyses of functions and interrelations within the context of the organization itself, as well as within the site and its built environment. Other techniques focus more directly on human interactions, and are useful tools for identifying strengths and weaknesses not only in the user group itself, but also on the creative team, with helpful techniques for evaluating management and leadership groups.
In addition, certain feng shui techniques focus specifically on the timing of events, and are therefore useful in determining the overall outlook of a given project or development, the best time to initiate construction, and when to avoid development altogether. In a similar vein, analytical tools are used to evaluate the quality and potential of the enterprise as a whole. This can then be correlated with the suitability of the program and site to the scheme under investigation. Additional tools are helpful in understanding the history of a site or institution.
THE SITE PLAN
Feng shui has many techniques which deal with the impact of direction and orientation on the performance of a site and which can shed light on its potential to generate prosperity, success, or health. These include assessments of land and water patterns, road and traffic influences, and flow of vital energy throughout the site and its buildings. In addition, other techniques can evaluate the relative potential of the site at specific moments in time. Using these techniques, for example, it is possible to determine the likelihood of financial success or failure within a site or portion of a site at different points in time.
In addition, feng shui techniques can be used to evaluate the relative potential of different sectors within a site for specific functions, activities, organizations, or individuals. These can then be correlated with patterns of energy flow in order to determine the most effective configuration for all components of a site or building.
Ultimately the goal is to create an environment which reflects the natural and Cosmic forces that are participants in this effort, and which maximizes the potential of the site, its physical and energetic configuration, and the organization or individuals which occupy it. For situations that are not optimal, feng shui has developed many techniques and methods for correcting, curing, or alleviating problems within the site itself as well as in the larger geographical region.
In addition to design principles and guidelines for architecture planning, feng shui is also concerned about the practice of building. It is axiomatic in feng shui that the manner in which a given structure is erected will have direct implications upon the outcome, success and future of the structure’s users. These concerns begin with the quality of the land itself. Hence the evaluation of the site from the perspective of energy quality is a first step. Known as geomancy or the study of the energies in the earth, this includes not only analyses of land form, but also of subtler energies contained in the land and commonly referred to as dragon veins.
In particular, feng shui is concerned with locating healthy veins and avoiding those that are negative or detrimental. The latter are know as geopathic stress lines or dark streams. Traditional feng shui practice is eager to avoid creating dark streams through irresponsible building practices such as the accidental severing of a dragon vein when digging for roads or foundations. Western knowledge on geopathic stresses (other forms of detrimental earth energy which include dark streams) has also been incorporated into contemporary feng shui practice. When geopathic stress or dark streams are unavoidable, cures and corrections can be made to render the site safe for habitation.
Feng shui is also concerned with the health of the environment. Hence its advocates the use of non-toxic materials and building processes which do not create toxicity in the environment, both within the site itself as well as in the world at large. The use of green building materials is similarly endorsed, as this contributes to the quality of chi available to the planet. By the same token, engaging in sustainability as a philosophical ideal is also supported, because it helps to enhance the quality of chi available to all.
Not surprisingly, feng shui is also concerned with the electro-magnetic loads placed on humans by industry and technology. The newer generations of feng shui consultants are therefore keenly aware of exposure to radiation and other electro-magnetic sources, including household appliances and residential wiring. Recent evidence also seems to indicate that these may have an impact on geopathic stress because they tend to spread and generalize these pathogenic situations.
Feng shui also has many ritual techniques used to augment the natural vitality of a site. These include ground-breaking ceremonies, blessings and, in the case of older construction, space clearing procedures that can revitalize tired spaces. For more information on these services, please refer to our Rituals page.