by Carol C. Wheelock
Just as ancient cultures everywhere were connected to the earth on both physical and spiritual levels, the Chinese were no exception. Feng shui originated from an acute awareness of environmental surroundings and a deep connection to the earth. This early feng shui, referred to as the form school, takes its name from the fact that people identified "forms" in the landscape. These forms were interpreted as being either auspicious or threatening.
The most common forms were the mountain ranges, which were viewed as auspicious dragons. The best place to build a house was in the "belly of the dragon," with the mountain range in the back acting as a protective force. Conversely, facing a nearby mountain would be considered facing an obstacle. The house was sited part way up the hill, so as to avoid both potential flooding and excessive exposure to wind. In addition, it was important to have protective features on both the sides of the house, creating an armchair effect.
Today it is possible to look at the landscape and observe different forms or shapes. Include land, water, trees, and buildings in our modern landscape and tune into how you feel when you look at each of the aspects of your surroundings. For instance, a dome shaped building may remind you of an auspicious turtle or a dead tree may appear to be a threatening monster. Do you feel protected in back and on both sides? Do you have an unobstructed view in front?
On a more literal level, the early feng shui masters were connected to the earth through being experts at analyzing the soil. The quality of the soil was extremely important because it had to support the crops that would sustain them and their animals. This was another consideration in determining where to build. Today feng shui masters in China are still called upon to analyze soil.
The balance of yin and yang is also taken into account. Earth is considered very yin, compared to Heaven which is yang. The Chinese are not alone in this thinking. Native Americans referred to Mother Earth, in contrast to Father Sky. Humans inhabit the space between. For humans to be in balance, there needs to be a balance of heaven and earth.
Another level of feng shui is the identification and balance of the five elements - water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. The earth element is the energy that is grounding and that literally and spiritually connects us to the land. Represented by horizontal and rectangular shapes; earth tones; things made from the earth; such as, adobe, brick, tile, ceramic and earthenware objects; and art depicting earthy landscapes. Earth energy is connected with physical strength, stability, reliability, practicality, sensuality, and confidence. Do you need more of these qualities in your life? Or do you have too much and feel stuck? A balance of earth energy helps us to feel centered.
A basic feng shui principle is that everything is connected. This means that each of us is one with the earth. Now consider that our surroundings affect us and we affect our surroundings. We owe it to the earth to be balanced, to be centered. In this way each and every one of us can help to support the earth. And by tuning into the earth itself, we can make more conscious decisions about how to further support this wonderful planet so it can continue to support us.
Today many have lost touch with the earth. We simply don't see it as the living force that it is; nor is its influence on us always appreciated. Although our landscapes are frequently filled with buildings and highways, it is important to look at the earth itself and the overall feel of those highways and buildings. Everything in our surroundings has an energy field and is, therefore, sending us messages. Pay attention to what you are seeing and hearing.
Carol C. Wheelock, M.Ed. of Feng Shui Vermont is a certified feng shui practitioner who has studied in the United Sates and China. She practices Black Sect or western feng shui. Carol does private consultations for homes, schools, libraries, and businesses; clutter counseling and clearing; spaces clearings; phone consultations; presentations; and teaches workshops throughout the United States. She also does personal clearings.