Nowhere do feng shui and geomancy come together more elegantly than in the design and construction of gardens, healing spaces, spas, and sacred enclosures. These are spaces that are closely connected with the forces of the cosmos and with the spiritual qualities in humanity and can therefore effectively partake of the wisdom, knowledge, and tools available to the feng shui consultant. The practice of feng shui in this area, in fact, requires tools than are distinct from the more common approaches ordinarily used in residential or office design.

These tools include criteria, methods, and analytical approaches for the design and construction of sacred architecture, healing spaces, healing gardens, temples, shrines, and graves. Commonly known as yin feng shui (to distinguish it from its more secular form called yang feng shui), the feng shui of the sacred was originally meant to include grave location, positioning, and orientation. Together with western geomantic techniques employed to this day in Europe and the Americas, feng shui allows us to connect the healing garden or sacred structure directly to the power of heaven and earth, to the spiritual forces of the region, its topography and water systems, and to the spirit of place redolent in the particular site. It also allows us to tap into the divine qualities in both the individual as well as the community.

Creating sacred space is one of my top priorities, partly because feng shui and geomancy are ideally suited to this task (healing is the other), but also because the landscape is being de-sacralized at an alarming rate. Industry, urban sprawl, desecration through war and conflict, and the radicalization of ideological concepts are all threatening to destroy the web of sacredness that Nature and the Divine have placed at our disposal here on Earth.

Recovering a respect for the holy, and allowing this to manifest with grace and natural beauty in the built environment, are contemporary challenges of unparalleled importance. Without a sense of the sacred in everyday life, there is no possibility for conscious life, and therefore, no real possibility for sustainability in the long term.

Our clients in this field have included organized religious groups, hospitals and spas, artists, healers, and individuals intent on creating sacred containers for their lives, either through intentionally holy spaces, or through sacred areas in homes, offices, or gardens.


GARDENS AND LANDSCAPING

Gardens and landscaping have the power to connect us to larger cosmic forces and to make these available for our delight, regeneration, and healing. Our work has focused on the creation of gardens for hospitals, educational facilities, institutions, and private residences. Whether it is in a large conservation area, a healing garden, or a tiny urban plot, the placement of water, vegetation, rock outcroppings, sculptures, and buildings is intended as an exercise in global harmony; each outdoor space, no matter how small, can be a representation of the larger Cosmos. By connecting directly with the forces of nature, the seasons, and weather, our senses are stimulated and our appreciation for beauty is enhanced. In addition, healing power can be harnessed, and connections can be made to our ancestry, our spirituality, and our history.

All of nature can be understood as a repository for the sacred, so in a sense all gardens are healing places. Labyrinths, groves, meadows, sculpture, and outdoor pavilions can all be used to enhance the spiritual power of the land. In all cases landscaping should be seen organically; the seasons should be respected and can be used for their symbolic and regenerative power; the land should be allowed to inform us and direct our efforts.

Whereas the interior of a structure is conceived in terms of the movement of vital energy (chi) and the disposition of objects in space, outdoor environments are more directly correlated to the forces of nature. Hence, the theoretical constructs and practical tools used for landscaping are substantially different from those used indoors. In addition, landscaping considerations need to be correlated against other factors such as geopathic stresses, the global geomagnetic grids, underground water, and mineral deposits.


SPAS

Spas are locations where the individual can experience the totality of their being in order to create healing and wellness. The land, its topography and the spiritual qualities of the site are integral components of this process. In this context it is important to allow the landscape to speak to the soul and heart of the individual. To achieve this, it is essential, from an energetic perspective, to enhance and to replicate its qualities in the built environments.

Structures must serve a fundamental purpose: to resonate with the natural qualities of the landscape. Buildings must respond to the basic qualities of place: orientation to the cardinal directions, relationship to sky, water and earth, and to the movement of bodies as they travel in space. To this end, certain metaphors and narratives must be orchestrated in an attempt to guide the visitor into an experience that can capture the magic and mystery of the land. Furthermore, any harsh qualities of the terrain must be softened with the addition of new elements that play off the inherent qualities of light, sound, wind, and the passage of time.

Below are basic parameters and guiding principles that can be incorporated into the design and program of spas:

1. The experience of space is designed as a narrative in the landscape. Guests must feel that they are discovering the landscape in order to create wellness in their bodies, psyche and soul.

2. This experience is conceived as a series of events that follow each other in sequences. Some of these events involve built environments, others include natural formations, gardens, exotic element imported for this purpose, or special artwork that resonates with the environment.

3. The connections between places, events and amenities is conceived as a web of relationships, rather than a pathway or road. This allows for more complex discussions about the role of experience. It also allows for the introduction of sophisticated ideas for programming.

4. Key metaphors are isolated from the surrounding landscape and repeated at various scales in order to reaffirm the terrain and its qualities. These include but are not limited to: light and shadow, sun and moon, water and earth, openness and closeness, wind and mountains, the movement of sun, moon and stars across the sky, and plant life that reflects the patterns of life, death, and rebirth. Spaces must resonate with these qualities.

5. Although local materials are preferred, certain exotic items can be introduced in order to heighten the tension between nature and man. These include crystals, indoor plants, antiques, textiles, sculpture, and other decorations.

6. Art is used as a way to heighten the experience of place. Large scale sculpture and earthworks, in particular, can be helpful in dramatizing the landscape.

7. Since wind and sky are a key component of the landscape, its movement is made visible through art, architecture, and sculpture. Small chimes can also be used in courtyards and dwellings. Every small movement of wind needs to be captured as a way of increasing psychological relief.

8. Water and its role in the landscape must be explored repeatedly: water is everything in the land. Hence, gardens and horticulture play a central role in defining the guests' experience. Shallow reflecting pools and larger water features all have a role: to cool and delight.

9.In addition to the metaphors of earth and water, the movement of sun, moon, and stars across the sky is an organizing principle that can be captured with sundials, portholes, rituals, ceremony, and programs such as solstice events, labyrinths, sweat lodges, and many others.


SACRED ARCHITECTURE

Sacred Architecture rises from a primary impulse towards union with the holy and is a response to the need for a physical container within which to realize this union. Although physical and concrete, sacred buildings must partake of energetic and metaphysical qualities in order to capture the essence of the divine. They must also serve as gathering places for a congregation of spiritual aspirants. It is within sacred architecture that societies engage in ritual and ceremony, the languages of the sacred. As such, sacred spaces are integral to prayer, meditation, and healing.

All sacred architecture partakes of essential qualities that distinguish it from profane or mundane architecture. Among others, these qualities include: a recognition of the sacredness in particular sites, an understanding of geomantic structures and energy currents in the land, and mastery of techniques for tapping into the sacred power of topography and location. Known collectively as the genius loci, these spiritual forces in the land, waters, and vegetation are considered to be alive, conscious, and interactive, and include all elements of the natural world. Hence sacred structures are often located on or near caves, wells, springs, rivers, groves, mountains, ley lines (earth energy currents), or power spots (natural emanations of the healing power of the land).

In addition, all sacred architecture partakes of a common recognition of time and of the role of larger cosmic forces on earthly life and our understanding of the Divine. Astronomical benchmarks, alignments to key solar, lunar and sidereal events (such as solstices, lunar standstills, equinoxes, and planetary cycles) are part of the site planning criteria of all sacred enclosures. Time, as the integral partner of space, is always a component in this effort to honor the Cosmos and to tap into is life-enhancing power.

Whereas time and the genius loci of a site correspond to site planning criteria larger than man, the human body has always defined the proportion and dimensioning of sacred architecture. Referred to in the west as the anthropocosmos, this reverence for the body, as the measure of both natural and divine forces, is ubiquitous around the planet. The vastu purusha of the vedic architectural system, the lo shu of feng shui, the pharaonic proportional system of ancient Egypt, and the canon of Vitruvius, are all examples of the use of the human body as a metaphor for both the singularity of human experience as well as its eternal qualities in the divine. Knowing how the impermanent body mirrors the eternal is therefore part of the understanding behind feng shui and geomancy’s contributions to sacred architecture.

Significantly, our times have seen a revival of interest in the principles behind sacred architecture. The study of sacred geometry from both western and eastern sources, of feng shui and the vastu shasta (Indian feng shui), as well as Native American and Celtic shamanism, are all efforts to integrate the wisdom of traditions from many cultures into a single coherent understanding of space, time, and how the built environment can help to rekindle our connection to the land, the spiritual world, and to the divine within us. Each new epoch needs to redefine its approach to the sacred, as our notions and understanding of divinity change in response to changing conditions in society, nature, and psyche. Architecture is a fundamental component of this process and an integral part of the search for meaning that this implies.

For more information, please consult our "Guidelines for Healing Gardens", and "Guidelines for Sacred Architecture" in the Resources section.