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Type of Classical Feng Shui

Saturday, August 25, 2001
By: Joey Yap

When Feng Shui was first used about 3000 years ago, it was called the art of KanYu. (KanYu describes the observation of forces between heaven and earth). Back then, the study of Feng Shui was not as developed with most of the information still in it’s infancy. There was only one system and that was based on the principles of Yin and Yang along with the 5 Elements.

Later on through centuries of empirical research, statistics and experiments, the Chinese sages and philosophers passed down their knowledge from master to disciple. Every generation, new findings were added and old theories redefined. By the time it reached the Tang Dynasty, it was regarded as the prime era of KanYu. During those times, one particular ideology emerged as the most prominent. That was the San He system.

San He is regarded as the oldest form of Classical Feng Shui. This school places great emphasis on environmental features such as mountains, terrains and water. The direction, shape, flow and appearance of all these features in our environment become components for sophisticated formulae. Towards the end of the Ming Dynasty (about 1640) a new ideology emerged. It was called San Yuan.

San Yuan was developed based on founding principles similar to San He. The main difference being that San Yuan placed more emphasis on the aspect of "Time" while San He focused more on the physiognomy, appearance, forms and flow of water in the environment. (More on this later in our article).

Key Functions of Authentic Feng Shui...

Key point to take note: Every formula in authentic KanYu (or Feng Shui) has a specific function. These functions can be divided into the following types:

  • Corrective – to remedy existing problems
  • Constructive – to enhance wealth, health or create certain outcomes
  • Predictive - to reveal the past, explain the present and predict the future

Different Approaches

Classical Feng Shui can be categorized into many different schools. Although many schools or systems are rivals of another, undoubtedly, there was always mutual respect between them because they recognized that each had their unique strength and specialties.

When Feng Shui was first practiced (presumably during Chou Dynasty 206BC – 219BC), there weren’t any particular schools. There was only ONE type of Feng Shui and they used Forms and Yin and Yang of the Five Elements to determine the quality of the land. Later on, practitioners through their own study of the I-Ching and practical experiences began developing their own methodology and discovered new theories. Due to the unique experience of each practitioner, a number of different schools of thought sprang up. However, all of them based their theories on sound understanding and principles of the I-Ching. It is important to note that Classical Feng Shui was not created based on psychology, superstition or make-belief positive thinking. Classical Feng Shui is a serious study of how the unseen energies of our living environment affect the people living or working in that particular area in a certain period of time. Most formulae had a set of mathematical calculation according to the science of the I-Ching.

Many of you have heard of Form School and Compass School. These two terms should not be used to describe the schools of Feng Shui. They should be used to describe methods of Feng Shui. Every classical or authentic school of Feng Shui uses Forms and Compass. If Feng Shui does not involve a FORMS and COMPASS reading, chances are they are not real feng shui!

As mentioned earlier, Classical Schools of Feng Shui can first be categorized into 2 Main Camps or ideologies. They are "San He" and "San Yuan".

From "San He" and "San Yuan" comes their various sub divisions. Some of these divisions are namely:

  • Xuan Kong (aka Mysterious Subtleties, Time and Space School)
    • Xuan Kong Fey Xing (popularly known as the Flying Stars School)
    • Xuan Kong Da Gua (64 Hexagrams Method School)
    • Xuan Kong Shui Fa (Time and Space Water Method School)
    • Zi Bai (Purple White Flying Stars School)

  • Pa Chai (aka Eight Mansions School)
    • Major Wandering Stars School
    • Minor Wandering Stars School

  • San Yuan Dragon Gate Eight Formation School
  • San He Luan Tou – (aka Environmental Appearance and Land Formations School)
  • San He Shui Fa – (Water Methods School)
  • Qi Men Dun Jia (Mystical Doorways and Magic Armour School)
  • Please note that the Eight Life Aspiration (North = Career, South = Fame, SouthWest = Marriage, is NOT part of Classical Schools of Feng Shui. Most Classical Feng Shui systems are derivatives of either or both of San He and San Yuan methodologies. Eight Life Aspirations has no foundation in either nor does it have any principles from the I-Ching. For more information on various schools please read our article on Different Schools of Classical Feng Shui.

    Every school can have their own application for both Yin and Yang Houses. (Note: Yin House refers to gravesites while Yang House refers to living residential areas).

    Undoubtedly, many beginners are confused by the conflicting theories of the different systems. One of the main aims of the Academy's courses is to help practitioners clear this confusion and provide a program that enables a structured learning system. Classical Feng Shui schools do not always 'conflict' in theory, they just operate on different 'levels'.

    Our courses will guide you on how you can understand this and learn Feng Shui better with an in-depth perspective on the many different theories. More importantly, by understanding how theories were formulated, practitioners are taught how to apply them in innumerable ways under different circumstances to create optimum results.

    Classical Feng Shui today is practiced as "one" school. Masters and practitioners have learnt that by recognizing each systems strengths and uniqueness, they can improve the quality of their works.

    Hopefully this article has served its purpose in enlightening you on the differences between Feng Shui practices available in the market today. Should you have any further queries pertaining to this article or about Classical Feng Shui in general, please do not hesitate to send us an email with your queries to

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