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Types Of Classical Feng Shui Systems

Monday, March 11, 2002
By: Joey Yap

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

Later on, through centuries of empirical research, statistical analysis and experimentations, the Chinese sages and philosophers passed down their collective knowledge to disciples. Every generation, new findings were added and old theories redefined. The arrival of the Tang Dynasty was regarded as the prime era of Kan Yu. 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. - Later on, a new ideology emerged – the San Yuan system which is largely based on the mathematics and numerical logic of the YiJing.

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.

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

  • Corrective – used to remedy existing problems
  • Constructive – used to enhance wealth, health or create certain positive results
  • Predictive - used 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 of the schools or systems are rivals of one another, undoubtedly, there has always been mutual respect between them because they recognized that each had its own unique strengths and specialties.

When Feng Shui was first practised (presumably during Chou Dynasty 206BC – 219BC), there weren’t any particular schools. There was only ONE type of Feng Shui and that used Forms and Yin and Yang of the Five Elements to determine the quality of the site. Later on, through their own study of the Yi Jing and practical experiences, practitioners began developing their own methodologies and discovered new theories. Due to the unique experiences of each practitioner, a number of different schools of thought sprang up. However, all of them based their theories on a sound understanding and the principles of Yi Jing.

It is important to note that Classical Feng Shui was not created based on psychology, superstition or positive thinking. Classical Feng Shui is a serious study of how the unseen energies in our living environment affect the people living or working in that particular area and in a certain period of time. Most formulae have a set of mathematical calculations based on the science of the Yi Jing.

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 it is not real Feng Shui!

As mentioned earlier, Classical Schools of Feng Shui can be categorized into 2 Main Camps or ideologies. They are "San He" and "San Yuan". From "San He" and "San Yuan", various sub-divisions are derived. Some of these divisions are:

  • Xuan Kong (aka Mysterious Subtleties, Time and Space School)
  • Xuan Kong Fei 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)
  • 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 Aspirations (North = Career, South = Fame, SouthWest = Marriage) is NOT part of any Classical Schools of Feng Shui. Most Classical Feng Shui systems are derivatives of either the San He or San Yuan methodologies or of both. Eight Life Aspirations has no foundation in either methodology, nor does it have any principles derived from the Yi Jing.

Every school has its own application for both Yin and Yang Houses. (Note: Yin House refers to grave sites 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 courses provided by the Mastery Academy of Chinese Metaphysics™ is to help practitioners clear this confusion and provide a program that enables a structured learning process. Classical Feng Shui schools do not always have 'conflicting' theories; they simply 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.

Today, Classical Feng Shui is practised as "one" school. Masters and practitioners have learnt that by recognizing the strengths and uniqueness of each system, they can improve the quality of their work.

Hopefully this article has served its purpose in enlightening you on the different 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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