Articles & papers – Feng Shui conference: What is geomancy?

Geomancy includes all forms of feng shui:

  • Form School feng shui
  • Eight Mansions feng shui
  • Flying Stars feng shui
  • Landscape feng shui – riding the dragon
  • Yin-style feng shui – spaces for the dead as well as for the living

Geomancy literally means ‘divining the land’. And I’m a geomancer of sorts: though I’d describe myself more as a theorist – a kind of toolmaker, if you like – for those who work with geomancy at a practical day-to-day level.

These days the best-known form of geomancy is feng shui, which originated in China many centuries ago, and has been recently been adopted in the West with a great deal of enthusiasm – but perhaps not enough care… Some of the columns on feng shui in the women’s magazines seem to suggest that all we need to do to become miraculously rich and famous – without all that toil and struggle and the miseries of the Protestant work-ethic – is to put up a few mirrors and wind-chimes in strategic places: or, if that doesn’t quite work, pay a feng shui consultant or two to work their magic fixes on our lives. In reality it’s not quite as simple as that… oh well, back to the drawing-board?

Yet feng shui, and geomancy in general, do work well if properly used and properly understood. Geomancy’s roots are in what is literally a practical form of magic: but to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently advanced form of magic is indistinguishable from technology – and in its own way geomancy is perhaps even more advanced than most forms of modern engineering.

Yet the sheer scope can seem overwhelming: in feng shui alone there are many layers of complexity, from Form School, Eight Mansions and Flying Stars to the mysterious – and, to most Westerners, incomprehensible – Yin forms. But even those are only the start…

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