Like astrology, feng shui provides a kind of road-map of the wyrd - a map of wyrdness in space rather than time. Feng shui (or fung shui, if you prefer) is actually only one type of environmental divination, or geomancy. There are many other forms of geomancy - every culture has had its own way of understanding sacred sites and energy-points within the landscape - but the Chinese form of geomancy is by far the best known in the West.
It's unfortunate that the version of feng shui that's become well-known in the West through the work of writers such as Sarah Rossbach - the Form School style - is actually the least-used in the East, and probably the least useful in practice. Feng shui now suffers, too, from its own equivalent of newspaper astrology, with 'feng shui consultants' in women's magazines pouring out platitudes that are based on little more than wishful thinking. As with real astrology, real feng shui takes a bit more practice - both analysis and intuition working side-by-side - to be useful in working with the everyday realities of wyrdness...
The form of geomancy we use at Wyrdsmiths, based in part on the work of the Australian College of Feng Shui and Geomancy, combines three traditional styles of feng shui - Form School, Eight Houses, and Flying Stars, and merges them with more Western forms of geomancy:
::Form School feng shui::This style - often thought of as 'feng shui' in the West - combines sound psychology and design sense with the interplay of five fundamental 'elements': water, wood, fire, earth and metal. (The same five-element model acts as the theoretical basis for Chinese medicine.) Underpinning this is a basic concept of ch'i, or 'energy' in any form: hence basic psychology indicates that it's bad feng shui - bad for our ch'i - to work with one's back to an open door, or to sleep beneath a window; basic design experience shows it's bad feng shui to build a house on badly-drained land; whilst Chinese five-element theory suggests that white paint or a semicircular rather than square table would boost the ch'i of a bedroom - the 'lungs' of the house.
::Eight Houses feng shui::This style expands Form School concepts - particularly about the five elements - to include concepts of direction and number. As with the Form School, there seems to be some physical basis - directions are defined relative to magnetic south, not astronomical north or south - but the relationships between direction, number, element, family structure and so on are less easy to understand. Each person has 'auspicious' and 'inauspicious' directions - a kind of equivalent of geis in the concept of wyrd, but in a directional sense - and each direction of the 'eight houses' of the ba-gua has its own attributes. (The strict traditional correlation between direction and attributes was arbitrarily changed by Lin Yun, the originator of the most common form of feng shui known in the West, to make it simpler for Western use - but the change may not have been wise...) Eight Houses feng shui uses five-element theory to balance the influences of each direction, according to the client's requirements.
::Flying Stars feng shui::This style is the most complex form of feng shui, and the form most commonly practised in the East. It builds on the Eight Houses model, linking it to aspects of Chinese astrology to create a form of feng shui which works with time as well as space. As with Eight Houses, it uses five-element theory to balance the influences of each direction, but it does so in a process akin to an active astrology. All interactions and influences are seen as 'trade-offs': each element provides content which, whether apparently 'good' or not, can be used well within an appropriate context - hence the management of context (rather than solely content, as in the Form School) becomes the central concern.
In our geomancy practice, we link these three different traditional Chinese models with two Western ones: dowsing for a variety of different types of 'geopathic stress', and the use of sensors and meters to identify various types of electromagnetic stress. (In terms of its effects on our health - our ch'i - sleeping on an active electric blanket is usually far worse than sleeping with one's feet toward the door!)
Given that Westerners have had a fair amount of success with Lin Yun's much-mangled version of ba-gua feng shui, perhaps it's true that the precise form or model we use may not matter all that much. What does seem to matter is that, just as with astrology, a consistent and coherent model of some kind needs to be used in a disciplined way. Whether it makes sense or not, our experience is that feng shui does work. It may be that ultimately it provides little more than a comforting illusion of certainty - though that's something which most of us do seem to need! Yet feng shui and geomancy also provide a framework which allows intuition to work with the wyrdness of the everyday environment - which means it also provides us with a means to gain a better understanding of 'everything, everywhere, everywhen, everyone'.
For a more detailed overview of Wyrdsmiths' approach to feng shui, see Tom Graves' book-project Geomancy: Beyond Feng Shui, and the associated conference paper (both of these are on the TomGraves.com.au web-site).
For further details on Wyrdsmiths' feng shui and geomancy services in Australia, contact Tom Graves.
For further details on Wyrdsmiths' FengCalc feng shui 'calculator' software for the Psion 5 palmtop computer, see the FengCalc pages.