Feng Shui – Historical Background

The practice of Feng Shui began about three thousand years ago in China. However, during the primitive times, this art was restricted to finding auspicious and inauspicious orientations for tombs or burial places only. The Chinese believed that a good burial site had the power to bring luck to the descendents of the dead, showering them with prosperity and abundance. But, as time went on, mystics realized the importance of applying Feng Shui to daily life as well. Through this knowledge, they believed, people could make themselves more attuned with nature, their environment and their life, to attract better health, finances, and emotions.

The main principal of feng shui states that a location which attracts water is most favorable, followed by a location which catches the wind. It is with these two elements that the environment is shaped and these elements are kept alive with the hidden forces of ‘chi’.

The Five Elements

In an attempt to explain the intricacies of the cosmos, ancient Chinese astrologers and philosophers used the five elements and the yin/yang theories. These two concepts have been the primary thought behind all natural sciences of China. The ancient Chinese held that the creation, growth and transformation of everything in this universe resulted from the yin/yang working together in harmony with each other. This interaction can also be explained within the elements.

These five elements are, fire, wood, earth, water, and metal which structure the universe.

The colors, numbers, shape, organs, space and time variables, seasons, emotions, directions, are contained within these five elements.

Theory Behind The Five Elements:

The notion behind the elements can be understood with the help of three cyclical interactions-

  • The creative cycle,
  • The destructive cycle, and
  • The reductive cycle.

The Creative Cycle

The creative cycle is: water nourishes wood (e.g. flora requires water to nurture); wood provides for fire; fire in turn creates earth in the form of ash; earth produces metal; metal generates water.

The Destructive Cycle

The destructive does not destroy, it neutralizes to maintain balance. The cycle is: wood disturbs earth; earth in turn disturbs water; water puts fire out; fire dissolves metal; and metal chops the wood down.

reductive cycle

destructive cycle

The Reductive Cycle

Reductive cycle tends to cure the imbalances caused by the destructive cycle.


fengshuiYin/yang represents how outwardly opposing forces are interdependent in the universe, and how they bring about each other in turn. Yang is light, yin is dark; yang is lively, yin is flaccid; yin is a female, yang is a male; yang rises, yin sinks. Every little thing has aspects of both yin and yang, but the intensity of both of these forces may differ in every object, and may also change over time.

As per the mystics, yin/yang must exist in an active state of equilibrium if we want harmony in things. Feng shui corrects the disparity that people unintentionally create in their environment.