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Intro to Feng Shui: The Basics

Intro to Feng Shui: The Basics Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

For those who have been following our blog and podcast, you know that we can cover some pretty interesting topics when it comes to feng shui, but we thought it might be a good idea to go back to basics. Let’s back up and review what feng shui is, and some key concepts to the practice.

What is feng shui?

“Something feels off about this place.”

“I did like the feel of that house.”

“I can’t put my finger on it but this house needs something.”

Do any of these sound familiar? When people say that they are in need of some Feng Shui, what they are saying is that they need to shift the energy in their space and life—they just don’t know it. Feng Shui has the power to change not only the look of our home, but also our outlook on life. Feng Shui (pronounced Fung Schway) is both an ancient art and a complex system of divination, geomancy, and astrology. It is a practice that strives to bring people and their environment into harmony.

The name Feng (wind) Shui (water) embodies the influence of nature on our wellbeing. Qi, Chi or Ch’i is the unseen energy that flows through the earth and nourishes all living things. Qi is life force, vital energy. This idea of vital energy has existed in many cultures for centuries: qi (China), ki (Japan), prana (India), pneuma (Greece), elan vital (France). It is the breath of life that flows through us, around us, and in our environment. Feng Shui is the practice of channeling, harnessing, and enhancing this life force.

The formal practice of Feng Shui and geomancy dates back almost 4000 years, but it had been practiced far earlier as a form of shamanism. Shamans divined how man should navigate in nature. Looking at the forms of the earth, the weather and the cosmos.

Key concepts and terminology

Here are some key words, concepts and ideas that you will come across when you start learning and reading about feng shui. We will expand on these in future blog posts as part of our Intro to Feng Shui series.

  • Qi

    Qi is an energetic force, a life force that powers all living organisms. Feng Shui, meaning Wind and Water, is a metaphysical art that works with the unseen forces the ancients called “the breath of cosmic life” or chi. It has been called many things by many cultures: Ki, Prana, Pneuma, Aether or simply the breath of life.

  • Bagua

    The bagua is a type of energy map used by Feng Shui practitioners to interpret a living space—a tool to examine a home or plot of land that gives us a systematic way of looking at a home’s energy field that is inspired by the natural flow of nature.

    The bagua is broken up into 9 sections, or 8 “guas” plus the center. The individual guas are inspired by nature; the energy, and symbolism of each is aligned with a corresponding “trigram” (from the I Ching, an ancient Taoist divination text). The symbolism, position and nature of the trigrams have been translated into energetic signatures that correspond with areas of a person’s life. The order, and positioning, of the guas is transitional, moving from one energetic state to the next.

  • Yin Yang

    The concept of the duality of yin and yang began as early as the 4th century BC. It is the underpinning of all other energy systems and Taoist philosophy. The Tao is oneness, the whole that holds and produces the duality of the yin and yang. Yin and yang are interdependent primordial forces in opposition. No one thing is 100% yin or 100% yang, everything in the universe is made up of both.

  • Five elements

    Very simply, they are the basic elements of life: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. In the ancient practice of Feng Shui, we understand these elements to be more than actual flames, or dirt, or pieces of wood. These elements are universal energetic essences, each with their own flavor of qi. They are phases; how energy can shift in quality and purpose between one state to the next.

  • Schools of Feng shui

    Over the centuries, many different schools and approaches of Feng Shui have developed. While each school may have a different focus or approach to the art and science of Feng Shui, they all share one common goal: to create harmony and balance between people and their environments. I like to think of Feng Shui like yoga. Yoga has many styles and forms but they all have the same intention: to help us become more present through the connection of mind and body. Feng Shui is the same. You will encounter different approaches and techniques, but a qualified and competent practitioner should always strive to help their clients improve their home and life.