Feng Shui has often been referred to as the Mother of the Natural Sciences. Its origin began in China and is as old as the culture itself. The earliest form of Feng Shui was more concerned with the auspicious orientations of the tombs of the dead rather than the homes of the living. It is believed that a good burial site will bring peace and prosperity to the descendants of the deceased.Landforms play an important part in how a burial site would be laid out. In geomancy, an ideal configuration is called the “armchair” effect and like an armchair, you have a high back for a secure support, symbolized by the Black Tortoise. To the East of the site, is the Green Dragon and to the West, the White Tiger, with the Dragon side slightly higher than the Tiger side. The front, which is the South, is referred to as a ‘footstool’ and is symbolized by the Red Phoenix. In Feng Shui terms, the Phoenix is described as an unobstructed view, or a ‘pool of water’ (ideally, the water should not be stagnate, or moving towards or pass the site in a way a Feng Shui practitioner would deem inauspicious).

The south-pointing compass, also called the lo’pan, was first invented by the Chinese to ensure that the burial sites were correctly positioned to conform to the earth’s vital breath, called chi,which the Chinese believed flowed through the earth the way blood flows through the veins of the human body. Ancient texts trace its invention to the legendary Huang-Ti, or the Yellow Emperor, where it is said, that the “Lady of the Nine Heavens” gave him this knowledge. This ancient compass was called the Hin Shi and it is described as a square base, called a diviners board, holding a bowl of water which floated a magnetic south pointing spoon.

The Hin Shi slowly developed into the lo’pan between 200 AD to 700 AD. During the Sang dynasty, the compass was adapted for navigation at sea. By the 13th century, Arab traders brought the compass to the West. The arrival of the compass in Europe couldn’t have come at a better time and was essential for navigating out-of-sight of land. Before this sailors would hug the shore, a dangerous practice but was the only way they had of knowing where they were going.

In Feng Shui, the lo’pan is used to analyze the orientations of a site in relationship to the main door, the bed and the stove. The lo’pan is an intricate circular object of a simple compass surrounded by movable rings encrypted with Chinese characters. There is a maximum of 36 tiers, with each tier having its own purpose for divination. It is then divided into 8 sections, or trigrams. The Eight Trigrams were further developed into 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching with the astrological information of the Ten Heavenly Stems, Twelve Earthly Branches, the Five Elements, geological and celestial bodies.

Selected chinese dynasties with historical Feng Shui implications
DatesDynastyTraditional Feng Shui history
2000-1700 BCXiaSelecting Proper Site Divination – Astrology -Auspicious Date to Move.
1700-1027 BCShangOracle bone divination. Writing invented. Sundial used to measure time.
1027-771 BCWestern ZhouThe Book of Yi written. Sundial used for time.
770-476 BCSpring and Autumn periodLao Zi & Confucius born. The book of Yi becomes Yi Jing (I Ching)
475-221 BCWarring States periodSun Zi & Mencius born. Si Nan (Spoon compass)
221-207 BCQinGreen Satchel First Feng Shui classic written
206 BC-AD 9Western HanKan Yu The way of Heaven and Earth. 24 Seasons recorded. Liu Ren Water compass used for divination. The Name of Five Spirits, Ze Ri Method of Selecting Auspicious DatesTu Zia Method of Selecting Auspicious Houses, Eight Spirits in Heaven, Eight Directions on Earth, Eight Methods of Selecting Living Site, Fen Ye Concept of Examining Celestial Phenomena, to Predict Good Luck or Ill Luck on Earth, Twelve Feudal Lords on Earth, Twelve Celestial Districts in Heaven, The Rise of Concept of Spirits, Good Spirits, Evil Spirits, Selecting living site or burial place, one should consult the Divine.Five Phases Wood Fire Earth Metal Water, Five Directions East South West North Centre, Five Sounds Gong Shang Jue Zi Yu, Five Surnames, Eight Spirits in Heaven, Eight Directions on Earth, Eight Kinds of Residences to Select
AD 25-220Eastern Han
AD 265-316Western JinGuo Pu (276-324) – The writer of The Book of Burial “By means of Feng Shui one can prevail over god’s work, change his own fate, and instantly create good fortune and misfortune.”
AD 420-588Southern DynastiesQin Nang – Nine volumes of burial books in the Blue Bag, Qin Wu Zi – the name of a Feng Shui practitioner, Qin Wu Shu – Methods of selecting burial site by Qin Wu Zi.
AD 589-960Late Tang and Five DynastiesPractising the Five Phases Theory became the current fashion. Astrological Copper mirror Found. There were over 120 different schools using Five Phases Theory on selecting burial sites. Theory on selecting burial sites. Books of Five Surname Theory, on selecting living places, on selecting burial sites. Use of Talismans.
AD 960-1368Southern Song – MingEast/West System. Flying Stars System Three Yuan Nine Yun System – Three Cycles and Nine Fate System. 4 types of compass needle developed, consisting of Fingernail, wet, dry and hanging methods. Seam needle developed. Yuan – Magnetic tortoise compass developed.Plum Flower Method devised by Shao Yong, also square and circular arrangements for 64- Hexagrams.
AD 1368-1644Ming – QingDevelopment of compass rings. 2 essential classics on the use of Luo Pan written. Birth of Jiang Da Hong – Flying Star Master.
AD 1986– date“New age Feng Shui” based on the power of a positive mind further developed by Thomas Lin Yun in California USA. Please note that this system is very different from Traditional Feng Shui and has been the main source of confusion about Feng Shui over recent years.