The Five Element Theory is central to the practice of Feng Shui and Chinese Astrology (Bazi).
According to traditional Chinese Medicine, the Universe is made up of five elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. This theory was developed from the observation of nature where it was noticed that everything happens in cycles. For example the seasons, the moon phases and human life (birth, development, maturation, aging, death and so on). Therefore the Five Element Theory can be viewed as a cyclical model of the Universe.
The outer cycle (as per the adjacent diagram) represents the growth cycle: fire replenishes earth; earth produces metal; metal heats and produces water (steam); water then feeds wood, wood feeds fire and the cycle then starts again.
The inner arrows represent the controlling cycle: fire melts metal; metal chops wood; wood controls earth by preventing erosion; earth controls water by containing it (for example in a dam) and water puts out fire. These elements, therefore, are continually interacting with each other and underpin the interpretation and practice of both Chinese Metaphysics.
Furthermore these five elements are also associated with colors, seasons and shapes; all of which interact with each other and allow experienced practitioners to provide accurate and reliable assessments using both Feng Shui and Chinese Astrology (Bazi).
Feng Shui literally means wind and water and is an ancient Chinese practice that is commonly associated with the fortuitous positioning of homes. Building a home that optimizes the well-being of its dwellers was, and continues to be, much sought after.
Centuries ago in China, natural landforms such as mountains, valleys and rivers were prevalent and the houses were popularly oriented towards the South.
Living standards and needs were basic and as such, Feng Shui practices were simpler and revolved around architecture and culture. Nonetheless, the knowledge of Feng Shui was so coveted that its secrets were passed only to descendants or selected protégés by word of mouth. Manuscripts were closely guarded and deliberately written incomplete or with mistakes to prevent the knowledge from landing in the wrong hands.
Even today when lifestyles and desires have since evolved, the pursuit to constantly improve one’s well-being in all aspects still remains. Thus the practice of Feng Shui and the interpretation of its science and art form has adapted to a more modern, largely urban environment and the different needs of its inhabitants.
Landscapes, especially in cities, are now dense and cluttered, with an absence of space and natural elements. Therefore our challenge as 21st century practitioners must be to adapt this ancient art and apply its classical principles in a modern world so as to suit our ever changing environment and diverse cultures.
The Eight Mansions Formula was originally devised to advise solely on the least and most auspicious positions to place doors. It does not take the time factor into consideration, as these positions do not change with the passing of years. They do however assume different positions according to the sitting direction of the building or dwelling.
In fact according to the Eight Mansions system there are only 8 different types of houses, depending on which compass direction the building or dwelling ‘sits’ in. Thus we have a ‘Li House’ (south), a ‘K’un House’ (south west), a ‘Tui House’ (west), a ‘Ch’ien House’ (north west), a ‘K’an House’ (north), a ‘Ken House’ (north east), a ‘Chen House’ (east) and a ‘Hsun House’ (south east).
Once the sitting position and type of house is established, names and energetic qualities are then ascribed to the various directions. The four most auspicious are ‘Sheng Ch’i’, ‘Nien Yen’, ‘T’ien Yi’ and ‘Fu Wei’, whilst the four least desirable locations for a door are ‘Huo Hai’, ‘Wu Kuei’, ‘Liu Sha’, and ‘Chueh Ming’.
The one common factor in all the house types is the ‘Fu Wei’ direction, which is always located at the rear or sitting position of the dwelling. These houses also fall into two groups; either East House Group (sitting in North, South, East or South East and West House Group (sitting in South West, West, North West or North East).
History and our own life experiences teach us that our luck can go up or down and that no building enjoys complete good fortune for ever. This is because we are affected not only by the physical forms in our environment, but also by certain invisible energies, known as ‘Flying Stars’. These energies are dynamic and change over time and hence our buildings should be designed so they capture timely, auspicious ch’i (energy) in order to promote good fortune and well-being.
This requires very accurate measurements, which is done by a professional Feng Shui consultant using a specialized compass known as a ‘LoPan’. As such this is an indispensable tool for ascertaining the incoming direction, location and influence of these invisible ‘Flying Star’ energies.
Furthermore a good understanding of the dynamic qualities of the ‘Flying Stars’ enables an experienced consultant to choose a good location for a home or business. It can even help to locate a work/study desk, cash register and decorative objects to ensure a balanced and harmonious flow of ch’i (energy). In fact the Chinese believe that if everything is placed in accordance with Feng Shui principles, it creates a happy, healthy and prosperous environment which can improve the quality of life for all occupants.
Therefore our physical surroundings and the natural forces that move in them (‘Flying Stars’), are the two most important aspects to consider when selecting a site and organizing a living or working environment. They are vitally interdependent and act like the hardware and software of a computer. As such it is the objective of an experienced Feng Shui consultant to find ways of making use of the positive influences and avoiding or controlling the negative ones.
The ‘Flying Stars’ themselves are symbolized by numbers from 1 to 9. The numbers 8, 9 and 1 represent current, future and distant prosperity and the numbers 2, 3 and 5 represent the three major problematic Feng Shui energies. When an untimely Star is present in an important position of our home or office, such as our bedroom or main entrance, then trouble or misfortune is more likely to occur. It is therefore necessary to know the positions of all the ‘Flying Stars’ so that we can make positive changes or take remedial action to minimize the negative effects and enhance the positive ones.
The Four Pillars of Destiny (Bazi) is a system of Chinese Astrology. It can be used to ascertain a person’s general characteristics and energy dynamics and also to determine what elements are favorable to them. As with all systems of astrology, Four Pillars of Destiny is an interpretation of the cosmological energy qualities, represented by characters, which are present at each moment of time. A chart of this energy configuration can be drawn up and is called a Natal Chart.
Four Pillars Astrology can interpret many qualities and themes in a person’s energetic make up, such as relationships, creativity, status, resources, money, career and health.
The cycles that are encountered over the course of a lifetime can also be listed out. They are called ‘Luck Pillars’ and illuminate which cycles are more favorable and which are more difficult. With this information we know potential energy situations and how to negotiate these time periods. Are they times of growth where we can proceed confidently, or are they more challenging times where we need to show more care, caution and discretion? The influence of each year can also be deduced.
The Four Pillars also has special emphasis to Feng Shui as a person’s favorable elements can be ascertained. This can then be used to recommend certain choices in colour, décor, furnishings, desk placement and sleeping position which will strengthen our living and working environment.
Finally, once the dynamics of a persons Four Pillars Chart is known, then this information can be used to select auspicious dates to maximize success. For example, it can determine the best times to open a new business, get married, purchase a home or travel overseas. This is a skill that is highly regarded by the Chinese and involves reference to the ‘Hsia Calendar’ and ‘Tong Shu’ for selecting auspicious dates.
Another excellent way of improving your Feng Shui is to use the Eight Mansions or Pa Chai formula to work out your Kua number. Everybody has one and they are calculated according to your year of birth.
A Kua number determines your auspicious and inauspicious directions and enables you to know the direction you should face when sleeping, studying or working. It can even help you in the selection of a beneficial home, according to whether you belong to the East or West Life Group.
Everybody has four directions which are best for them and each one has its own meaning. These are:
• Prosperity Direction (Sheng Ch’i) – This is the prime location for creating wealth opportunities and for activating prosperity and success in the household. It is also the most auspicious location for the front door, master bedroom, study and office. Ideally the toilet or kitchen should not be placed in this sector.
• Health Direction (T’ien Yi) – This part of the house brings good health, energy and beneficial relationships. The bed should face this direction when one has a chronic illness to help cure the disease. It is also suitable for dining and entertaining areas.
• Longevity Direction (Yen Nien) – This sector is good for older members of the family and is the direction which best creates harmonious relationships. Activate this sector to improve the relationships between family members (such as husband and wife), and to improve one’s chances of getting married. It is said that a bed facing this direction can result in marriage at an early age.
• Stability Direction (Fu Wei) – This promotes mild good fortune, peace and stability. This is the best direction for your head to face when sleeping. It also coincides with the back of the house and is suitable for both bedrooms and altars.