Feng Shui evolved in China through several millennia, developing in various schools and sects. There are over a dozen traditional Asian schools or sects of feng shui such as Flying Stars, Four Pillars, Eight Mansions and East/West to name a few. The two main Asian schools however are the Form School and the Compass School. The Form School, a combination of meteorology, geography and geology, studies the shape, size and lay of landforms. It came about as an effective way for people who lived in the mountainous regions of China to protect their dwellings from harsh winds and dangerous water. In fact, the words feng shui mean “wind water”.

The Compass School developed as the Chinese moved away from the mountains to other areas of China that were less hazardous. The Compass School places importance on the compass directions, a person’s birth date along with favorable and unfavorable directions. This school introduced the main components of feng shui being the yin/yang theory, chi and the Five Elements. As the Chinese people adapted in response to the changes in their religions, philosophies, agriculture systems, commerce and politics, so did the practice of feng shui, as well it should have.

Feng Shui History: The Black Tortoise, the Green Dragon, the White Tiger and the Red Bird

The Form School, the first school of feng shui, grew out of ancient Chinese mythology about celestial animals that protected people from hazardous weather and terrain. When they descended upon the earth, they took topological shapes. The ideal land site looks like an armchair with the tallest features such as hills or very tall pine trees (Black Tortoise) in the rear of the dwelling with the left side protected by tall features (not as tall as on the backside of the structure) such as evergreens (Green Dragon). Then on the right side (White Tiger) you would have small shrubbery or other smaller features. The front of the structure should allow for a clear, unobstructed view (the Red Bird). Traditionally, the Black Tortoise is in the north, the Green Dragon in the east, the White Tiger in the west and the Red Bird in the South.

Although it is not always practical to situate one’s dwelling facing south, the notion of protecting the back of a house or building, reducing exposure on the sides and having a clear view of those approaching is as important today as it was five thousand years ago.

Feng Shui History: Coming to America

Coming to America changed feng shui yet again in response to a completely different culture with a diverse set of customs, symbols and traditions. Professor Lin Yun brought feng shui to America when he introduced Black Tantric Buddhist (BTB) or Black Hat Sect (BHS) feng shui. This approach offered Americans the first version they could grasp. BTB deviated from a complicated astrological system practiced by traditional Chinese schools and offered easy to use remedies. It was also the first school to place a heavy emphasis on a client’s intentions as they relate to the important “stations of life” as later described in this book. Sarah Rossbach, a Chinese language student who studied with Professor Lin Yun who translated many of his writings and wrote the first books on feng shui published in America. Without her elegant writing style and skillful interpretation, feng shui as we know it, would not exist.

The Pyramid School of feng shui completed the job of bringing feng shui into the American twenty-first century by synthesizing wisdom and knowledge from all of the schools while filtering out cultural and geographical proclivities. This school places heavy emphasis on current social and physical sciences returning feng shui to its original status of a science.

Even though feng shui has changed throughout the ages, traveling from east to west, the basic premise remains as relevant today as it was in ancient times: use nature as a guide to create environments where you feel balanced, inspired and nurtured. This does not require large expenditures of money. Anyone can apply the principles without spending a dime and reap its rewards. Our ancestors used what they had on hand and depended upon nature to provide them with food, shelter and other necessities of life. When it comes to re-cycling, modern people could learn much from their predecessors.