By Ozzie Jurock
Feng shui, or geomancy, is a branch of classical Chinese cosmology that gives a blueprint for people to build homes in splendid harmony with the elements of the natural environment.
The exponents of feng shui believe that where you live, and how you allocate and arrange the elements of your home or workplace, can significantly affect the harmony of your health, wealth and happiness.
If you acknowledge and understand the all pervasive life energy (chi), you can use this knowledge to affect the whole tenor of your wellbeing.
For cottage owners, simple things like placing your furniture the wrong way, using wrong colours, and elemental conflicts (such as having the water "refrigerator" next to the fire "stove") can create factors that can negatively affect your life.
The "xiansheng," or feng shui expert, considers four factors: the chi or "breath of life" potential of the neighborhood; the site orientation or the importance of the direction in which the building faces; the five elements - fire, water, wood, metal and earth - and their mutual influence upon a location; and the power of water and its significance in relation to the property.
While feng shui is thousands of years old and has seemingly strange rules, it contains much common sense useful to understand by anyone.
For example, feng shui proposes that the best site for a cabin or cottage that will take advantage of the vital chi is for the home to be on a south facing slope - preferably between two hills of unequal size (in feng shui terms, the Azure Dragon and the White Tiger).
Ideally, a river will be running along one side of the structure. The river should then turn in front of the building and then disappear.
Looked at another way, such a home on the south slope gets the maximum hours of sunlight, is shielded from the chilly, health-sapping north wind and has a good supply of water for drinking and cleaning.
By subsequently conveniently disappearing under the ground and gravel, the river carries away effluents and other "dirty" water.
So, such rules amount to just plain old common sense. Any recreation property builder could find it extremely useful - even necessary - to understand these concepts.
Some of the basic concepts as they relate to real estate are:
Avoid having a straight road leading directly to the home. With people coming and going it will dissipate the good influences.
Avoid building at the junction of a T-street or at the end of a cul-de-sac because these locations are on the receiving end of the straight-flowing sha (a feng shui term for negative energy, or disruptive chi caused by sharp angles and hostile structures). A dead-end street traps the bad sha.
The front entrance should not face the upstairs stairway.
The front door should not have a view of the back door. The through hallway is a no-no.
Heavy beams in the recreational room are a burden and interfere with chi.
To have the right side low and the left side high are both unlucky. The hills to the left should be higher than those to the right.
Houses or buildings on triangular plots of land are ill-omened as the strange shape attracts sha.
Water is very important and its positioning is vital to improving chi and confounding sha.
Fortunately (you knew it!) there are ways to rectify defects even if the defect is in the terrain. For example:
If the left is too low, plant trees to raise the height. If your neighbor builds a house higher than yours, add to the height of yours so your view of the stars is not obstructed (of course, you may have a problem with city hall or its local equivalent if you do this.)
If the plot is triangular, placing the door on the side of the triangle rather than on the point will counter the ill-omen.
In properties which back onto a river or if the ground slopes upward from the front of a building, the entrance must be at the rear to allow chi to gain entrance.
The Chinese also believe that a house with a front slightly lower than the back is useful in dispersing the influence of sha.
A pool of water (fish pond) is especially useful to conserve chi. However, a large tree immediately opposite the front door is ill-omened.
Sharp angles can be especially unlucky as these angles and straight edges drive off money, whereas curves attract money.
However, the flat edges of buildings, which lead toward the front of your property, are fine conductors of chi.
But then again, if there is a road in front of the place, which turns at a sharp angle, this can bring about the same unhappy effect as a "secret arrow."
Chi, or energy, is thought of in feng shui as naturally moving forward in curved lines.
If it is compressed or squeezed into straight lines, it may act like an arrow being shot from a bow, hurting whatever is in its path.
Straight lines from corners of walls and square furniture to streets and corridors disrupt the energy within a space, creating tension, conflict and anxiety in homes.
To counter this, a driveway leading up to a front door should always approach in a gentle sweep to help the entrance of wealth. Superstition? It really doesn't matter. What does matter is that if you are a builder, it behooves you to know feng shui as it relates to building.
Whether you believe in it or not, feng shui is seen by millions as an ancient science full of philosophy and practical wisdom.
If you drive through a predominantly Asian neighborhood and you find an empty lot in an otherwise fully developed cul-de-sac, you now know why.
Bad fortune comes along the street and hits the last house in the cul-de-sac.
Who would want to live there? Ahem...?!
Published in the Calgary Herald, Sept. 2007
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