Feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice believed to utilize the Laws of both heaven (astronomy) and earth (geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive Qi.The original designation for the discipline is Kan Yu ( literally: Tao of heaven and earth).
The words 'feng shui' literally translate as "wind-water"in English.
Many modern enthusiasts claim that feng shui is the practice of arranging objects (such as furniture) to help people achieve their goals. More traditionally, feng shui is important in choosing a place to live and finding a burial site, along with agricultural planning.
Proponents claim that feng shui has an effect on health, wealth and personal relationships. Critics consider it a pseudoscience, even sorcery.
Feng Shui Luopan Compass (image on the right)
Luopan is a Chinese magnetic compass, also known as a Feng Shui compass. It is used by a Feng Shui consultant to determine the precise direction of a structure or other item. Since the invention of the compass for use in Feng Shui, traditional feng shui has required its use.
Like a conventional compass, a luopan is a direction finder. However, a luopan differs from a compass in several important ways. The most obvious difference is the Feng Shui formulas embedded in concentric rings on the surface. This is a metal plate known as the heaven dial. The metal plate typically sits on a wooden base known as the earth plate. The heaven dial rotates freely on the earth plate.
A red wire or thread that crosses the earth plate and heaven dial at 90-degree angles is the Heaven Center Cross Line, or Red Cross Grid Line. This line is used to find the direction and note position on the rings. The schematic of earth plate, heaven plate, and grid lines is part of the two cords and four hooks geometrical diagram in use since at least the Warring States period.
A conventional compass has markings for four or eight directions, while a luopan typically contains markings for 24 directions. This translates to 15 degrees per direction. Interestingly, the Sun takes approximately 15.2 days to traverse a point. If you mark a series of 24 points on the ecliptic it creates a cycle of 365.25 days, which means that each degree on a luopan approximates a terrestrial day.
A luopan does not point to the north pole of Earth. The needle of a luopan points to the south geographic pole. The Chinese word compass translates to �pointing-south needle.�
But what, exactly, is Feng Shui?
Feng Shui teaches us how to create harmony and balance around us," says Stanley Bartlett, who uses the centuries-old art to design homes and businesses. The ideas date back at least 3,000 years, yet a growing number of architects and decorators are integrating feng shui ideas with contemporary building design.
Feng shui (pronounced fung shway) is an intuitive art. Designers and decorators claim that they can "feel" positive energy -- called ch'i. But architects who incorporate the Eastern philosophy are not guided by intuition alone. The ancient art prescribes lengthy and complex rules that may strike modern homeowners as quirky. For example, your home should not be built at the end of a dead-end road. Round pillars are better than square. Ceilings should be high and well-lit.
To further confuse the uninitiated, there are several different ways to practice feng shui:
Use a compass to establish the most beneficial placement of rooms
Draw on information from the Chinese horoscope
Examine the surrounding land forms, streets, streams and buildings
Use high-tech equipment to examine environmental health hazards, such as electromagnetic radiation and toxic materials
Use some variation of a tool called the Ba-Gua -- an octagonal chart outlining the most favorable placement for rooms
Yet even the most baffling practices have a basis in common sense. For example, feng shui principles warn that a kitchen door should not face the stove. The reason? A person working at the stove may instinctively want to glance back at the door. This creates a feeling of unease, which can lead to accidents.
"Everything is related to everything," says Bartlett. "If we pay attention to our environment, then we will find ways of creating different realities in our lives. When we move the bed, we also change our relationship with things around us in ways there aren't words for."
Despite the numerous complicated rules, feng shui adapts to many architectural styles. Indeed, the clean, uncluttered appearance may be your only clue that a home or office building was designed according to feng shui principles.