The study of Feng Shui in modern times has been blurred by other subjects which are not classical Feng Shui teachings. So the AFSC® has, in consultation, established what is a Feng Shui subject and what is a complementary subject. It is time to draw the line between the two so that the public and those who practice and study Feng Shui understand clearly what is and what is not a Feng Shui subject.

The difference between Traditional/Classical Feng Shui and New Age Feng Shui

Traditional/Classical methods of Feng Shui originated over 4000 years ago and the main systems of Feng Shui that have emerged since then are known most commonly through terms such as Kan Yu, Xuan Kong, Form School, 8 Mansions and Flying Stars. Traditional/Classical Feng Shui requires a Luo Pan Compass to determine the facing orientation as well as construction dates of the building in order to ascertain the time period and subsequent Natal Chart of probability factors unique to that building, and applies to your (Di) Earth Luck according to the Trinity of Luck (San Cai).

New Age Feng Shui emerged in America in the 1970’s and is most commonly known via terms such as Black Hat, Fixed Bagua, Western Feng Shui, 3 Door or 8 Aspirations which incorporate Trigram associations via a 9 square map or 8 Pie chart with fixed Aspiration locations. This methodology does not require the construction date of the building or a compass (although some do use a compass to designate the 8 main directions in accordance with fixed Aspiration locations). This New Age approach applies to your (Ren) Mankind Luck as it focuses the individual on their personal aspirations within the building.

Following are at the core of what a Feng Shui consultant studies. In order for a subject to be considered a classical Feng Shui subject, it should embody these core subjects:


1.Tai Ji


To the ancient Chinese the universe began out of a state of nothingness or quiescence called “Wu Ji.” From Wu Ji emerged the “Tai Ji” The Supreme Greatness. Wu Ji is the realm of the absolute.  Tai Ji is the realm of the relative.

The Tai Ji is the iconic symbol comprising Yin and Yang, with each containing the seed of its opposite, indicating that Yin and Yang are dynamic and relative.


2.Yin Yang

The concept of Yin and Yang is fundamental to the study of Feng Shui, Chinese Metaphysics and Chinese Medicine.

The Tai Ji symbol shows that nothing is absolutely Yin or absolutely Yang. When Yang reaches its maximum Yin emerges and as Yin reaches its maximum Yang emerges. Yin creates Yang and Yang creates Yin.

Yang can be translated to mean the sunny side of a hill or river and Yin the shady side of a hill or river. Light and dark, hot and cold, summer and winter, male and female, left and right, high and low are common examples and manifestations of yin and yang. These seemingly polar opposites are complimentary and relative to each other. There is only light because there is dark, each requires the other to exist.

Yin and Yang are engaged in a constant cycle of transformation and change. Feng Shui like Chinese Medicine seeks to maintain harmony and balance between these changing forces.

Feng Shui is the study of the effect of Mountains and Water on human settlements and the fortune or misfortune generated by their positions. Mountains are considered Yin and Waters are considered Yang. Mountains are stationary, relative to Waters which are moving.

Cities, villages and buildings are located, sited, orientated and designed in order receive the beneficial influences of Mountains and Water courses.

Classical Feng Shui schools use compass formulas in conjunction with the topography to identify where the forces of Yin and Yang, Mountains and Water are harmonised in order to find the best location in which to live.

3. Heaven, Earth and Man (San Cai)

The ‘cosmic trinity’ of Heaven-Man-Earth is a fundamental principle applied in many different ways in Feng Shui. It is used in destiny analysis to describe our different types of luck (see Destiny) to determine which direction a house faces, and when renovations are carried out.  The latter assists in determining whether or not the renovations were sufficient to change the age (or period) of the house. In the San He Luo Pan, there are also three identical 24 Mountain rings which are at odds of 7.5 degrees and are called the Tian Pan (Heaven Plate), Ren Pan (Man Plate) and Di Pan (Earth Plate).

According to Howard Choy in his paper THE “SAN CAI” APPROACH TO FENG SHUI ANALYSIS AND DESIGN………..

“Zhouyi 周易 or the Book of Changes was the earliest written source to describe the San Cai 三才concept of Tian 天, Di 地 and Ren 人 or Heaven, Earth and Human as being “San Cai Zhi Dao” 三才之道 or the Dao of the Three Abilities.

Tian Dao 天道 or the Way of the Heaven is concerned with Yin and Yang 陰陽, Di Dao 地道 or the Way of the Earth is concerned with Soft and Hard (Gang Rou 剛柔) and Ren Dao 人道 or the Way of Human is concerned with Benevolence and Righteousness (Ren Yi 仁義), that is human virtue or Ren De 人德.

By looking at the various layers relating to these three concepts of what is above, what is below and what is in the middle in a Feng Shui situation, one can come to an understanding of the Ben Xing 本性 or the Original Character of a site and is able to take advantage of what is desirable or auspicious (Ji 吉) and avoid what is undesirable or inauspicious (Xiong 凶), without destroying the natural context and being Ziran自然 or Self-Thus at the same time.”

4. Seasons


5. The Five Elements (Wu Xing)

The five elements consist of:

5elementsWood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water

The five elements are an integral part of the foundation theory of Feng Shui and represent five types of qi prevailing one after another. It is said the five elements contain all the ‘10,000 things in the universe’ and therefore can be said to be a model of the universe which is cyclical yet forever changing.

The five elements represent the reccurring natural cycles of seasonal change, moon phases, day and night, emotions, body parts, and amongst many other things, even life and death. These elements relate to the environment in which we live.

The elements can work to enhance each other and promote growth and the cycle is inherent in nature. But they can also have a controlling relationship. It is up to your Feng Shui consultant to make sure they implement the correct element when advising remedies.

6. Combinations

7. Clashes

8. Ba Gua

The Ba Gua is fundamental to Feng Shui, Chinese Medicine, Martial Arts and Metaphysics. Ba Gua means the 8 symbols or trigrams. These also originate from the Zhouyi 周易 (Yijing, I Ching), the Book of Changes.

Evolution of the Ba Gua: xian_tian_trigrams

There are two arrangements of the Ba Gua, the Xian Tian and Hou Tian Ba Gua. The Xian Tian is attributed to the mythical figure Fu Xi and the Hou Tian is attributed to King Wen.

‘Xian Tian’ means “original” or “born with” whilst the Hou Tian means “modified” or “altered.” The Xian Tian Ba Gua is also known as the pre or early heaven sequence whilst the Hou Tian is known as the post or later heaven sequence.

The Ba Gua consists of 8 trigrams, the 8 trigrams are all the permutations of three Yin and Yang lines, hence the name trigrams. The trigrams are arranged differently in the Xian Tian and Hou Tian Ba Gua.


ba_gua_xian_tianba_gua_hou_tianIn the Xian Tian Ba Gua all the trigrams are arranged in their complimentary opposites. Heaven and Earth, Fire and Water, Thunder and Wind, Mountain and Lake. These pairings indicate perfect harmony and balance.

In the Hou Tian Ba Gua directions are assigned to the trigrams, with south being assigned to fire, north to water, wood to east, metal to the west and so on. Early Western researchers took the assignment of fire to the south and water to the north to conclude the Hou Tian Ba Gua was a map of the sun’s position and the pole of the northern hemisphere. The Hou Tian Ba Gua indicates how different qualities of Qi come from the 8 directions.


9. The Nine Stars

The Nine stars is a numerical system to classify the different qualities and personality of Qi.

Known mainly for their use in the Flying Star system, the Nine Stars are also used in the Nine Star Water method and the Nine Star Classification of Mountains as well as Nine Star Astrology and other applications.

The Nine stars are derived from the Lou Shu. the Lou Shu is an arrangement of white and black dots. The groupings of odd (white) and even (black) dots in the Lou Shu diagram are assigned a numerical value from 1 to 9.

The Nine stars are used to classify and describe cycles of time, heaven qi, earth qi, mountains and rivers as well as a person’s astrological signature.

10. The Ten Stems

The Ten Heavenly stems are an integral part of the 120 year Chinese Calendrical system.

The ten stems are the five phases (wu xing) of water, wood, fire, earth and metal in their yin and yang components. e.g example yang wood and yin wood.

The 10 stems represent the “heaven qi” whilst the 12 Branches represent the “earth qi” in the binomial calendrical system.

The 10 Stems are a key component of many Feng Shui schools and are included in the 24 Mountain ring of the Lou Pan compass.

Stem and Branch combinations are the basis of Astrological and Divinatory systems such as the 4 pillars of Destiny and Qi Men Dun Jia.

11. Patience and Practice

12. The Twelve Branches


The following are considered to be classical Feng Shui subjects:

Form School

Form School analyses the land around the outside of a building, its contours such as mountains and the location of water and roads. In addition to the outside influences, the inside of the building must also be considered, focusing significantly on the placement of furniture, walls, windows and importantly, doors. Using the Five Elements, the Form School analyses which features represent which elements.

Strictly speaking, as Stephen Skinner puts it, “Form and Compass Schools are methods, not really schools.”

Compass School

Compass School involves the use of a compass to determine the different directions relative to a building. The Chinese Luo Pan – pictured above – is usually used by practitioners. Once the directions are established, Traditional Feng Shui uses various formulae to calculate the type of qi that comes from these directions. The magnetised compass needle measures North-South reading the Earth’s magnetism at a given place.  Therefore in Feng Shui a compass must be used to ensure accurate directions.

Basically any Feng Shui technique that uses a compass can be said to be using the Compass School which is not really a school, but a ‘method’. When using Feng Shui it is imperative Form School is also incorporated, as the external and internal forms must be analysed in order to correctly analyse the Feng Shui of a building.

Eight House School (Ba Zhai Pai)

Using a compass, the sitting and facing direction of a building are determined and the building is assigned a Trigram. There are eight Trigrams so therefore eight types of buildings (hence, “Eight House” school). There will be four good areas and four not-so-good areas in the house and each has a different meaning and implication for the occupants.

Flying Stars (Fei Xing)

The Flying Stars, known in Chinese as “Fei Xing” is a popular traditional method. To calculate the Flying Stars, one must use a compass and know the age of a building. The Flying Stars is a superior technique as it uses the space (orientation of a building), together with the time in which the building is constructed to see how this impacts on the inhabitants (thereby using the Cosmic Trinity of Heaven-Earth-Man).

A Flying Star chart is based on a mathematical algorythm with the basic Earth Chart showing number 5 in the centre. It is considered a complete technique because it takes into account the influence of time on a building as well as the dimension of space, making Flying Stars a very complex, accurate and powerful form of Feng Shui. Conducting an analysis with Annual Flying Stars only is not sufficient and may actually cause more harm than good. If you are unsure about a what a consultant is including in the consultation please contact AFSC® and we will endeavour to assist you.

Former Heaven Later Heaven Water Methods (Xian Tian Hou Tian Water Methods)

The Xian Tian Water Method refers to a method where the Sitting or House Trigram in the Hou Tian Ba Gua has a different location in the Xian Tian Ba Gua. If water comes from the Xian Tian location that corresponds to the House Trigram it is called “Xian Tian Water coming to face the Hall” if water flows away in that direction it is called “Ruining the Xian Tian Water.”

Hou Tian water means water coming from the location of the Hou Tian trigram corresponding to the Xian Tian trigram in the sitting direction. If the water comes from this direction and passes the facing it is called “Hou Tian Water coming to face the Hall” If the water flows away in that direction it is called “Ruining the Hou Tian Water.”

Eight Great Dragon Gate Method (Long Men Ba Da Ju)

The Long Men Ba Da Ju is a much more elaborate examination of the relationships between the Xian Tian and Hou Tian Ba Gua.

Chinese Astrology (Ba Zi)

Chinese Astrology is a tool to help tap into our Heaven Luck to reveal the hand we have been dealt in this lifetime. The most widely used system is the Four Pillars of Destiny.

Chinese Astrology is not about whether we are an ‘Ox’ or a ‘Rooster’.

Four Pillars, or Ba Zi, is a system of Chinese Astrology using the Chinese Solar calendar, as opposed to the better-known Lunar Calendar (when Chinese New Year is celebrated). Four Pillars involves constructing a natal chart consisting of the hour pillar, day pillar, month pillar and year pillar of a person’s date of birth. From this chart, we then construct 10 year Luck Pillars, which tell us the themes that we come into at certain times in our lives. It is a form of astrology, not a form of Feng Shui.

The system is complex and is used to discern information about our life themes. This information can be used to help explain why we might experience certain events and happenings in our lives, and provide practical advice on how we might improve our quality of life.

Date Selection

Date Selection is a method of choosing the correct time and day for conducting certain important activities such as opening a new business, turning the sod for a new construction or moving into a new home. There are various techniques of Date Selection and your consultant should advise which method they use as the objective is to find the best time to undertake a particular activity to achieve the desired result.

Face Reading (Mian Xiang)

Every bump, lump, mole and feature of our face has a meaning in terms of Chinese Face Reading. It is not a very well known art and yet can have some amazing results. Face Reading is like a kind of personality analysis but it can also tell the past, present and future in a person’s life because everything we do, think and say represented in our face.  A skilled Face Reader can tell a lot about a person and they will usually include some aspects of body language in their consultation. An experienced reader can also read about the Feng Shui of someone’s house in their face as well.

Following is a summary of what the AFSC® considers to be core Feng Shui subjects. When a Training Institute joins the AFSC®, they will choose from this list to teach their students, or they may suggest new topics for our consideration:

  • Advanced Ba Zhai School (8 House School using 24 mountains)
  • Annual Stars, Ba Gua/Pa Kua School (Black Hat Sect or compass variation)
  • Ba Zhai School (8 House School)
  • Business Feng Shui
  • Compass School
  • Face reading
  • Form School
  • Four Pillars/Ba Zi Chinese Astrology
  • He Tu Five Rat Formula (for multi-storey buildings)
  • Incorporating Internet tools in Feng Shui practice
  • Long Men Ba Da Jue
  • Luo Pan (instructional use of)
  • Plum Blossom Divination
  • Practitioner Training (report writing, etc. instructional class)
  • Pure Yin Pure Yang Water Methods
  • Pyramid Feng Shui (Ba Gua School variation)
  • Qi Men Dun Jia
  • Shan Shui Long Fan Gua
  • Xian Tian Hou Tian Water Methods
  • Xuan Kong Da Gua (64 Hexagrams)
  • Xuan Kong Fei Xing (Flying Stars)
  • Yijing / I Ching Divination


Most of the subjects listed are taught by various AFSC® recognised Training Institutes. There are various San He and San Yuan methods, other Feng Shui subjects which are not necessarily listed here.

Members of the AFSC® may also practise the Complementary Subjects of Western Geomancy, Building Biology, Space Clearing/Sacred Space, or Vastu Shastra, but they should primarily be a Feng Shui based consultants.