This is a book about geomancy – the art and skill of relating with the landscape – with a particular emphasis on feng shui, a classic Chinese style of geomancy. But the important word here is ‘about’: it doesn’t describe any particular technique or approach, but instead, like Needles of Stone (my previous book in this field), it aims to construct a picture of what’s going on behind or beyond the overall discipline of geomancy. Without an awareness of that wider scope, any predefined system of geomancy will inevitably fail somewhere – with unfortunate results for all concerned. Knowing when to stick to our usual system, and when to drop it and try something else, is as crucial a part of geomancy as it is of any other skill.
Geomancy isn’t as simple as it looks – or, at least, is usually portrayed. My aim here is to look at its full complexity, in order to identify the quiet clarity beneath: in that sense, this isn’t really a book for beginners. (So if you only want to know what colours best match your Chinese birth-sign, or where to put that eight-sided mirror thing you’ve just bought so as to boost your love-life or your personal finances, you’d be better off looking at a basic book on feng shui – there are plenty of them around, though some are so misleading that they’re probably worse than useless!) That said, though, there’s enough information here to help you build your own system of geomancy from scratch, though you’ll probably need to reference a number of other books along the way. Yet ultimately, I’d suggest, our real source of reference is from within ourselves, in dialogue with each place: and helping you reach that weird awareness of inner and outer worlds is what this book is really about.
Whilst the underlying ideas may at times take some strange twists and turns, the structure of the book itself is relatively straightforward. The first two chapters introduce the basic themes behind geomancy, and some of the more central issues in its application. The main group of chapters – seven of them – describe a variety of geomantic methods in what could be described as layers of reality, increasingly abstract in nature, though always strictly experiential. And the final chapter brings all of this back to ourselves as individuals, finding our own way of interweaving with the world.
What you now see as this book originally began life as a set of lecture notes for a workshop on ‘advanced geomancy’ for the Australian Institute of Feng Shui and Geomancy, based in Castlemaine, Victoria. The Institute’s directors, Kevin and Karen Masman, helped to bring me back to a field of study I’d all but abandoned a decade earlier; and their vast library on feng shui and other forms of geomancy, Kevin’s encyclopaedic knowledge of feng shui and experience in its adaptation to the southern hemisphere and Western cultures, and Karen’s precise if sometimes pitiless editor’s eye, have all been of immense help. It’s fair to say that this book could not have happened without them: I owe them many thanks.
The same must be said of Alick Bartholomew, my publisher at Gateway Books. More than twenty years ago, he was the first to understand what I was aiming to describe in the fledgling Needles of Stone; once again he has helped greatly in the process of converting a rambling collection of unconnected ideas into a single cohesive whole.