There's an old legend that explains the history of feng shui related to Fu Xi (伏羲), legendary Chinese emperor (2852-2738 BC.). Fu Xi is credited with the initiation of hunting and fishing, the domestication of animals, and the invention of the Bagua 八卦 - Eight Trigrams.

While meditating on the banks of the Luo river洛河, emperor Fu Xi noticed a tortoise emerging from the river with a series of solid and broken lines on its back. He has foreseen the entire universe reflection on the back of the turtle and arranged accordingly in eight combination sets of three lines, some broken (yin) and some solid or unbroken (yang). The markings symbolize heaven and earth, fire and water, mountain and lake, wind and thunder. This pattern known as Ba gua, is a modification from the map Luo Shu 洛书 (literally: scroll/book from the river Luo) which is given as a gift to emperor Fu Xi.

Energy spots

In relation to earth energies Chinese culture isn’t the only one to recognize the places and landscape energy and its effects on people. Many ancient cultures recognized in which way earth energies influence people as well. Most of the old Catholic and Orthodox churches were built over an old animistic worshipping place. Metaphorically and literally, those places continued to be an ideal place to continue worshipping the gods without judgment about people's beliefs and doctrines. Similar respect for the universal energies and man-made structures can be seen in the Egyptian Pyramids, at Delphi and in various structures and mounds built in North and South America.

Structure of Geomancy

Relations of people with the built and natural environment are affected by many inseparable elements such as feng shui, electromagnetics and radio waves, natural earth energies in general, way of building, building materials, systems and design, and finally history.

Feng shui

Feng shui represents the most developed and sophisticated forms of geomancy. Feng shui observes particular design, layout and residential and work places, and how these factors influence our health, wealth, career, relationship, etc. Its foundation is based on the flow of Qi or energy in the external environment, and what effect produce on people.

Natural energies

Natural energies (electromagnetism, radio waves, etc.) can be a trigger for many diseases, producing an effect in reducing the immune system's ability to fight disease. These energies are created at the earth’s surface by geological faults, underground water streams and geomagnetic energies. It has been observed that if people spend a lot of time negatively influenced by harmful places, they are more likely to be tired, listless or unwell, beside all medical treatments they receive. Often the location of the home is a factor in why people are sick. Since 1963, many researches focus on electromagnetic influence on people. It seems that correlation link exists between electromagnetic fields and the incidence of several diseases, such as; insomnia, leukemia, cancer and suicide.

Building materials and building styles

Since prehistoric times people use natural materials for building. Many things changed in the last 150 years. Industrial Revolution created more sophisticated forms of building materials that aren't necessarily healthy for us. Many artificially created materials, like asbestos, oil-based paints, various plastics or glues, emit harmful gases for a long time and isolate us from natural environments. Heating and cooling systems have also affected the lives of many people in various buildings. Designs of houses and buildings also can follow natural landscape or oppose it producing a negative or positive effect on people.

Historical use of Feng Shui

The practical application of feng shui and geomancy always considers the historical usage of the built and natural environment. We should look no further than observe our ancestors and their homeland adaptation to natural laws.

Modern idea observing feng shui as a science has developed because experimentation is exactly what people do to the environment of their homes and workplaces. People often adjust and change their homes and offices, with new furnishings, new paint colours, by renovating or by moving. In general they are trying a new mix of the environment to see if they feel more comfortable than before, just like the scientists and their chemicals.

Energy properties

Our life harmony is greatly affected by invisible earth energies in a positive and negative manner. We naturally feel cyclical seasonal and weather changes, even though we cannot see the energy that causes the change. What we see is visible changes caused by invisible forces. We are all aware of full moon influence on people and nature. Movements of the tides by the moon are a great example of the impact of the invisible on the visible world. We function on a daily basis respecting only visible around us and accepting it as the only reality. Psychology brought us understandings of the impact of colors, size and shapes of a room or buildings on our mental, physical and psychological status.

We react differently to different colors; if we enter a room that is painted red, we might feel aggressive, and vice-verse our response to a white room might result in calmness.

An excellent example of the visible and the invisible is seen in the iceberg where the visible part above the water is only a small part of the total mass. The visible part cannot exist without the huge invisible section under the water. Our world is very similar in that the invisible can sometimes have a larger impact on us. We can't see sound, frequency or vibration, electricity or electromagnetic fields, wind or energy or atoms, but they unquestionably are part of our everyday life. In the visible world the built environment, natural topography such as rivers, mountains and the sea, continually affect our feelings for a place. The invisible is dependent on the visible and vice versa.

Feng shui observes, develops and corrects the invisible factors related to our lives. In feng shui terms the shape and location of rooms and buildings can have a profound affect on the occupants.

Instead of feng shui, Di li (地理) is a term broadly used in classical Chinese texts referring as land patterns, or in a modern sense - geography.

Feng shui practitioners manipulate the surface of the body of the Earth, in order to influence the flow of qi along its hidden pathways. The rules of feng shui apply equally to the siting of a whole city, or even a country, down to the arrangement of the living space in the smallest studio apartment in the heart of that city.

There are two main schools of thought in feng shui; the old Form School and the newer Compass School. The Former School is concerned with the visible form of the landscape surrounding the site under consideration, related to a house or a tomb. The Compass School, however, is concerned with a time axis and a complex set of relationships between directions. By the late nineteenth, the two schools were no longer separate and distinct. Feng shui experts practiced both methods of view in respected places of origin; Fujian and Jiangxi.

The various forms of nature’s energy Qi, acts at every level include sheng qi (生氣) vital, birth energy qi, and si qi (死氣), or torpid qi. The former is yang, and the latter is yin. Sheng qi flows most readily during the hours of the rising sun (midnight to noon), while si qi prevails during the declining hours of the sun (from noon to midnight). As the sun moves from east to west, the compass points from which one can expect either sheng qi or si qi alternate. Just like the tides, qi flourish and flows, not only throughout the day but also throughout the seasons of the year and within the framework of the sixty-year cycle upon which the Chinese calendar is based. Consequently, determining the current state of qi flow, related both to the clock and the calendar, is important when beginning an enterprise, building, altering, moving, buying, or selling property. Every year has twelve months, and each month has positions in time and space of vital and torpid qi. Whenever one builds on a vital qi position of a month, wealth will come his way and accumulate ... To violate a monthly position of torpid qi will bring bad luck and calamity.

The interrelation between time, space, and qi is explained in the “Dwelling Classic” in terms of combinations of the twelve Earthly Branches (di zhi 地支) and the ten Heavenly Stems (天干 tien gan) used to mark the passage of time, designate years, months and days.

The twelve Earthly Branches mark the twelve double hours of the day and the twelve directions of the feng shui compass. Combined with the ten Heavenly Stems, they form the cycle of 120 fen jin which also caters for the sixty-day and sixty-year cycle of the Chinese calendar.

Qi flows every two hours of the day changing direction and quality. Each year of the sixty-year cycle has a different form of qi, which flows will not be repeated again for the next sixty years.

To understand feng shui it is essential to appreciate qi. On a microcosmic level, qi is the energy of the body’s breath, which is concentrated in various parts of the body. At the macrocosmic level qi is naturally accumulated and may be enhanced at certain points in the earth by the application of landscape alterations made in accordance with feng shui rules.

According to Chinese cosmology, qi pervades both Heaven and Earth, therefore is divided into:

  • Earth qi (di qi 地气) or host qi, which exist in the dragon veins of the earth. These run through the earth and along its watercourses and are subject to decay. It is governed by the Later Heaven Sequence of the trigrams.
  • Heaven qi (tien qi 天气) or guest qi, is affected by the state of heaven and may overrule the effect of Earth qi. It is governed by the Former Heaven Sequence of trigrams.
  • Weather qi mediate between Earth and Heaven. The five weather qi are rain, fine weather (or sunshine), heat, cold, and wind.

The cyclical flux and growth cycle of qi is described by a series called the twelve Palaces, which describe the rise and wane of qi energy in a human life cycle, but is equally well applicable to the waxing and waning of the qi of a site.

According to Chinese Cosmology, human life has the following stages:

  1. To be born – growth (sheng 生)
  2. To be cleansed (mu yu 沐浴)
  3. To come at age (guan dai 冠带)
  4. Officially to reach stability and position in society (lin guan 领馆)
  5. Prosperity (di wang 帝王)
  6. To decay (shuai 衰)
  7. Sickness (bing 病)
  8. Death (si死)
  9. Burial (zang 葬)
  10. Soul incarnation (jue 绝)
  11. Womb (tai 胎)
  12. Nourishments (yang 养).

When the breath of qi is exhausted in the human body, a person dies. When the qi is abundant, extraordinary strength and skill can be performed. It is obviously very important for one's living space to be supplied with an adequate accumulation of qi. For most people the degree of passive absorption of qi from our surroundings, at home or at work, is the factor governing our energy and lucidity level. An increase of qi in a site automatically benefits those living there, and feng shui provides a method of doing this.