Vicki Sauvage has been constantly in pursuit of knowledge in Feng Shui for many years and has undertaken advanced courses from internationally renown masters including GM Raymond Lo, Master Joseph Yu, Master Peter Leung, Master Henry Liu, GM Yap Cheng Hai and Jerry King. In this article she guides us towards developing our Feng Shui eyes.
When each of us looks around we can see different things. I have been looking to the landscape for 14 years with feng shui eyes. It is a process of developing a sensitivity to reading or interpreting the landscape from a feng shui point of view. Look for forms in the landscape – for mythical shapes, for movement in the mountains and the rocks, for broken mountains, for sharply rising mountains, for mountains with lush vegetation, for mountains devoid of vegetation.
Looking at the environment we seek to establish the points of yin and the points of yang. Both the Tao Te Ching and the Yi Ching talk about form and non-form. Movement and non-movement, and the subtext is the quantum world and the inner landscape. Look around your environment and establish the yin and the yang. Test it – how much activity is there in that part of the world or landscape? Is it vigorous and vibrant. Are the mountains nourishing and lifting up the Qi or are they over powering and oppressive. Are they masculine or feminine. What about the water around you, what form does that take? Is it yin or yang. Is it visible or invisible? Is it with or without emotion?
It is as impossible to define as is The Tao. Lao Tze said 'The Tao that you can describe is not The Tao! In other words by trying to talk about it – you try to create a box into which you put it and in so doing, you create what it is not. Qi is such a very complex thing to understand and interpret. It is visible AND invisible. It is the potential for movement and actual movement. It is waveform and particle. It is all that is AND the void. We usually come down to interpreting it by its movement or it's form.
Movement / flow
- Where is the qi flowing from or to
- What direction it arises from and exits
- How fast / how slow
- What is the rhythm
- What are the cycles (day / night; spring / autumn etc)
- Temperature and so on
Stillness / Action
There are two hexagrams which can be used to start the analysis of Qi. They are the two associated with movement and non-movement – Gen Gua (The Mountain) and Zhuen Gua (Thunder). It is useful to test the landscape and the movement or potential for movement with these two 'paradigms'. Is it like Gen – still, meditative, reflective or is it like Zhuen loud, forceful, potential for violent explosive action?
When looking at the landscape both exterior and interior it is useful to examine it in terms of the following:
What is the overall shape. Can you anthropomorphize it, classify it. See the image of the recumbent woman – can you see her? Sometimes you get clues to the form from the names attributed to them. The mountain referred to above is called Sleeping Beauty from the southern side.
What are the names attributed to the landscape by early settlers? You can certainly get some clues to the form from those names (but not always). Break-Me-Neck Hill and Bust-Me-Gall Hill in Tasmania are two idiosyncratic names that give you an idea of how steep they are but not their form – they are adjacent to each other by the way. When travelling on the east coast do look out for them.
What is the scale of the object or landscape feature we are looking at. What is its relationship with the buildings around it? Is it bigger, smaller, or the same as its surrounding buildings. Does it tower over or is it dwarfed by buildings around it. One way of getting a view of this is to go to the highest point in the landscape and examine the buildings surrounding the city as best you can. For example Rialto Tower in Melbourne.
The structure on the left (in the above picture) would be regarded as wood sha because it is tall and narrow and towers over the structures around it. You can clearly see Crown Casino in the foreground – what form does it take – what does it do to its neighbours? How do the roads around it contribute to the flow or take away from the flow. What happens to the Yarra at this point – what is the water like – an embrace or sha?
Depth (into the ground)
How far below ground does the structure go. How much disruption of earth was required to construct the building. The amount of floors below ground will also determine how many floors there actually are. This is imperative to know when making calculations for Chinese clients particularly Cantonese clients. Is the building built in an old quarry? Quarries are regarded as a form of yin Qi and as such are not well regarded for rehabilitation and thus for dwellings or office / retails.
When we have to dig out soil / earth to impose our will on the earth – we are not treating Gaia with respect. We are forcing her to accept our will. Men will, however, continue to try to reach to the stars with their planes, their rockets and their buildings. Amusing when contemplated for a longer period of time.
How long is the building – does it maintain a proportional relationship to the overall form. It must also be both respectful of its neighbours and have a harmonious relationship with its environment and to the breadth. Is it possible to get around the building or is it cheek by jowl with its neighbours. Is it as long as a cricket pitch and as narrow as a railroad?
This is also sometimes called depth but in this context because we want to differentiate from the depth into the ground we will use breadth. The length and breadth of the building, of the ming tang, of the elements in the landscape must all be taken into account when examining a site and refreshing our Feng Shui eyes. They must all be in propertion to each other and they then determine the quality of Qi, the capacity to hold Qi and the capacity for that Qi to nurture the inhabitants.
The relationship between things
There is of course a relationship between the length, breadth and depth – together they make up either an ideal structure or a difficult structure. Just as in the Fibonacci series there is a Chinese scale. There are measurements and forms which are regarded as more auspicious and less auspicious. For example – the sickle form is considered unfavourable, but a beautiful landscape with plenty of vigorous trees with spaces between, which slopes gently to water which moves gently through the landscape is considered auspicious. If the sickle form embraces then it is no longer a sha. If the wood shaped sha was in a 'forest' of other buildings of a similar height it might not be sha qi.
These are some brief considerations when looking at the environment with Feng Shui eyes. Of course, to really get how to look, analyse and interpret we have to practice and that practice must be consistent, not impatient but methodical. You should keep a journal, drawings, photographs of what you see and your interpretation. Sometimes understanding comes later, when you see something from a new perspective.
Vicki has been constantly in pursuit of upgrades to her Feng Shui training, undertaking advanced courses most years since graduating. She has studied with many internationally renown masters including Grand Master Raymond Lo, Master Joseph Yu, Master Peter Leung, Master Henry Liu, Grand Master Yap Cheng Hai and Mr Jerry King. She has traveled to China several times. The most recent visit was September 2009. www.sauvage-feng-shui.com