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Where Did Feng Shui Come From?


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Feng shui dates back somewhere between 2000 and 5000 years ago in Ancient China. Here is a look back on this interesting practical philosophy that is becoming popular in the western world.

Feng shui is older than Confucianism and Taoism, and some of the tenets of those spiritual traditions were probably adapted from feng shui. Feng shui literally means wind and water. The ancient practitioners were the building scouts for groups of elite people. They searched for “the belly of the dragon” which were areas that were above flood plains and below strong winds, creating a balance of wind and water. The ancient feng shui masters would then guide the building of the home or the village in order to not disrupt the natural energy flow of the area. Feng shui masters in medieval China were only allowed to serve the elite classes and were punished for helping the commoners.

The next incarnation of feng shui relied on astronomy to find relationships between humans and the universe. It was used as a mode of gaining political power in ancient China. The ancient Chinese practioners used the celestial pole to determine the north-south axis of settlements and then used this measurement to determine the floor plan of their buildings. This technique was incorporated in the Shang palaces at Xiaotun, Yanshi, and Zhengzhou. In fact, all capital cities in China employed feng shui. The principles were recorded during the Zhou era in the Manual of Crafts and the Carpenter's Manual.

Early feng shui practices were kept secret from commoners. But in the Yellow Bandit Rebellion in 907 BC, it is believed that a feng shui master fled the palace and took refuge in the mountains. There he helped the poor by sharing his feng shui knowledge.

The first written proof of feng shui is thought to be from the East Han Dynasty, around 25 A. D. Since feng shui is centered on the balance of yin and yang, and this had its height of popularity between 770 B. C. and 475 B. C. , many scholars believe that this best dates the origins of feng shui. However, other scholars look back to cave and tomb drawings that date back much farther as a clue to the approximate time feng shui began.

Feng shui gained popularity in America after Nixon’s historic visit in the 1970’s, which opened up a cultural exchange between the two countries. In the thirty years since, feng shui has made it into the popular culture consciousness and is widely practiced around the United States.

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