feng shui

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It’s not uncommon for the Year of the Dragon — the fifth of 12 zodiac animal signs in the Chinese lunisolar calendar — to receive a markedly warmer reception than its contemporaries.

After all, it is the most powerful (and only mythical) beast on the list and has long been associated with positive attributes like good luck, prosperity, and passion.

So auspicious is the advent of the dragon year that it often leads to a well-documented bumper crop of babies in countries like China, Japan (where the Chinese zodiac calendar is also widely popular), and Singapore. 

It’s enough buzz to make even the most diehard sceptic a little curious about Chinese astrology and its sister concept of geomancy, more commonly known as feng shui — especially after considering just how long the concepts have stuck around.

feng shui
Photo: Unsplash, Gustavo Miranda

Both Chinese astrology and geomancy have foundations dating back to over three millennia ago. The latter concept was first elaborated in the Shang Dynasty (between 1751 BCE and 1111 BCE), predating the later Zhou Dynasty (1046 BCE to 256 BCE), where astrology and the Chinese zodiac calendar were developed.

Both are strongly intertwined with the metaphysical concept of qi, or energy, which exists both within the body and the physical environment around us. 

The fact that Chinese philosophical practices have persisted to this day — especially in the case of feng shui, which has seen widespread adoption in the Western world — speaks to the profound cultural impact of astrology and geomancy.

A thriving business

Adelina Pang and Kevin Foong, both Singapore-based geomancy practitioners running eponymous feng shui consultancies, tell The Peak that the year of the dragon hasn’t led to a significant uptick in business for a simple reason — they already have their hands full with their existing clientele, with many making bookings as early as September last year.

feng shui
Adelina Pang. (Photo: Adelina Pang Feng Shui Consultancy Pte Ltd)

“We get this same rush every year, as our clients want to get advice before li chun (the first day of a new year in the Chinese solar calendar, heralding the arrival of spring) so they can start the year right,” says Foong, who has served both well-heeled individuals and corporate clients, including major banks, hotels, and resorts for close to three decades.

Pang, who boasts a similarly exclusive portfolio of clients (including, she says, overseas royalty), concurs, “While the dragon year is generally considered auspicious, those of us who are well-versed in metaphysics know that zodiac signs are not enough. We still have to look at their bazi chart and do a forecast for the year ahead.”

Begin with bazi

Indeed, bazi readings are where most consultations with Chinese metaphysics experts begin, at least for individuals.

Bazi, literally translating to “eight characters” from Mandarin, essentially seeks to derive a person’s destiny, personality, and life circumstances based on the position of the Sun relative to the year, month, day, and hour of birth.

feng shui
Photo: Feng Shui In Motion

By examining the interactions between your time of birth, the zodiac signs, and the fundamental elements of earth, wood, metal, fire, and water (each given a yin or yang polarity), it is believed that feng shui masters can monitor the flow of qi within the universe to accurately map out the eight characters that determine your strengths, weaknesses, and overall personality.

A bazi reading also yields information about your future opportunities — and roadblocks – in romance, family life, career, health, and more, all shifting based on a 10-year luck cycle.

The nature of shifting forecasts means that feng shui masters typically see repeat customers over a protracted period — provided that their interpretations, and therefore predictions, pass muster.

feng shui
Kevin Foong. (Photo: Kevin Foong Consulting Group)

“There are thousands of feng shui masters using thousands of different systems, meaning you might not get the same forecast if you consult multiple masters. Those who spend their time working on getting their system as accurate as possible will see repeat customers. Those who don’t will lose the confidence of their clients, who will then move on to other masters,” says Foong.

He believes that destiny, as revealed by the bazi chart, is set in stone. “Let’s say the chart predicts an opportunity for career growth in the late part of the year. You might work hard at your job and get a promotion. But even if you don’t, you could then be headhunted. You can’t run from destiny. Even if you resist it, it will come for you.”

Conversely, Pang sees bazi charts as just that — a chart of your life’s possibilities. “Bazi helps you understand your character and your luck cycle. But you are the captain of your own ship. If you are predisposed to be stubborn, you are not stuck that way.”

“It is about mindfulness — a conscious awareness of possible opportunities and pitfalls and what you can do to capitalise on them,” she adds.

Feng shui to the aid

In either case, both Chinese metaphysics experts present feng shui as an avenue to mediate one’s luck.

Feng shui, meaning wind and water in Mandarin, references the belief that landscapes and water bodies can influence the flow of qi. Nowadays, it typically involves the selection of living and home spaces in a larger environment, along with the arrangement and orientation of items within them.

feng shui
Geomantic compass. (Photo: Royal Museums Greenwich)

Practitioners typically employ tools like the luo pan (geomantic compass), bagua (conceptual map), and specialised rulers to work out how to promote the optimal flow of qi. 

Auspicious energy should be welcomed, stagnant energy should be allowed to flow out, and destructive energy should be avoided at all costs.

According to Foong, the three most important points regarding residential feng shui are the front door, bedroom, and kitchen, though he also believes that the study is worth paying attention to. 

renovation singapore
Photo: Home & Decor

“I can look at where someone is sitting and, based on their table and the position of the door, tell them how they’re doing in their career,” he says. “This applies in an office situation as well. You generally want the decision makers in top management and those who are doing sales — and earning the company money — to take the best spots so that they can perform well, and the whole company will perform well.”

No quick fix

That said, both he and Pang are adamant on one thing — there are no quick solutions to feng shui.

“Good luck charms are a red flag. Feng shui is about metaphysics, it is not about superstition. We don’t incorporate cultural superstitions like rolling the pineapple into the home as a part of our practice,” says Pang. 

Adds Foong, “The most common misconception is that you can buy a golden dragon or phoenix and put it in the corner of your home to improve its feng shui. I understand why people adopt this business model; it’s the quickest way to earn a quick buck, and consumers feel better when they spend money and get a product back. But none of these things will change your luck.”