Why the Chinese
authorities have opposed the tradition for centuries
I’m (not) in Heaven…
Traditional Feng Shui : Yang. Top Down. An ordered universe. Made up
2. The Will of Heaven
3. The Emperor (where 2 and 3 are the same, and)
4. Everyone Else (…is completely unimportant).
Conformity is all. Having the temerity to engage a Feng Shui
consultant implies you’ve made the cardinal error of thinking that your
existence, thoughts and aspirations have any value whatsoever. Having a
consultation almost becomes a subversive act3.
So for a very long time Feng Shui was heavily sat on. And then along
came the Imperialists, and their religious chums. The Jesuits were there
first, and as the western powers strengthened their hold over the
country the local squirearchy became somewhat narked about the influence
of the pinkoes. They looked for something that would incite the locals
to become revolting, along the lines of and Feng Shui
was chosen as the icon, rather like a fight for the defence of the Welsh
language, or the image of the Spitfire circling lazily above the
cornfields whilst the sound of Jerusalem echoes across the landscape.
This is the period when many western projects were stymied because
the railway and/or the telegraph poles were cutting through the
landscape and killing the dragon. Whatever the geomantic truth of such
statements, they served their purpose. Feng Shui became a point of
resistance around which the troops rallied. It received official
The Feng, it Fengeth every day
Fast forward to the twentieth century and the movement for
independence. Feng Shui flourished. And then came The Commies. Book
Burnings. Mass liquidations. Nothing that was not in line with the line
was tolerated. Popular religion was wiped out. Feng Shui practitioners
were subjected to terrible times…
…but barefoot doctors came, and health for all…
…but then The Feng changed again. The market was not such an evil
thing after all. In fact, its all quite, er, progressive. Rural health
provision collapsed, and all sorts of quacks emerged to fill the gap. Of
course that’s China and nothing like that could happen here. In the
market place Feng Shui has begun to flourish once again.
Bruun undertook extensive fieldwork in two Chinese provinces.
"Longquan, meaning Dragon Spring, is an area southeast of
Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan…where the fertile
Chengdu plain borders the scenic Longquan mountains
"The houses now commonly (being) built have much the same
layout as many traditional wooded houses, only the rooms are
likely to be bigger. The main entrance, which is not necessarily
facing south in the ‘forms’ school of fengshui dominating here.
All the practitioners are chaps. The consultation ~ Seeing
FengShui ~ is clearly described by Bruun (p148) and I
have now incorporated the killing of a cock and associated
blood-sprinkling into all my consultations. Grave location remains a
The House of Flying Compasses
Bruun’s other field study was in Jiangsu, where…
"The (compass) ‘directions’ school of Fengshui practised here
allows for less flexibility in housebuilding and tends to give
rise to much more serious conflicts" (than in Longquan).
Bruun emphasises the differing elements of Fengshui, and quotes the
top practitioner in Jiangsu as saying ~ when asked why a particular
consultation was successful ~
‘Oh, I cannot tell you, there are so many things. You know,
fengshui is like poetry ~ it has symbols, classics, people,
nature and more ~ you cannot know exactly how it works…But of
course, it takes a long time to learn, and still you see only
The unwritten books
Bruun points out that there have been a negligible number of studies
of Feng Shui by academia, even within China. The existing studies are
listed in his book and are, like the book itself, essential reading for
anyone with a real interest in Feng Shui.
Ole Bruun has done us all a fantastic service. His book has over 300
pages, and only a flavour can be conveyed here. But it tastes wonderful.
1 ‘Feng Shui in China : Geomantic Divination between
State Orthodoxy and Popular Religion’ by Ole Bruun. 300 pages.
Hardback. Nias Press. (ISBN 87-91114-79-9) www.niaspress.dk Forty Nine
imperialist dollars from www.amazon.com
2 …fengshui gradually became a convenient weapon in the
struggle against foreign penetration