Kindred of the East: Principles of Feng Shui

If you play Kindred of the East, or if you're interested in it, it's a good thing to understand the basics of Feng Shui. A great deal of the system is based on its principals, including the Dharmic correspondences of the Kuei-jin, and some of their powers, knowledges, and abilities. Plus, it's a great inroad into understanding the Oriental mindset. So I thought I'd give a brief explanation of some basic principles of Feng Shui. Now, it's not like I've done a huge, in-depth study on the subject, but I do know enough about it to have written a term paper for one of my college culture courses. I figure that this just about qualifies me to explain it for the understanding of the game. If you want to know more, then I have some links to Feng Shui sites on the internet.

Oh, I have one note. I use the term 'Oriental' here a lot. I do realize that the different nations are at least as varied as the different Western nations. However, as far as I have seen, almost all their cultures incorporate the dictates of Feng Shui. So I'm using 'Orientals' to avoid having to repeatedly write out "Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese" etc. No insult is meant.

Feng Shui is literally translated from the Chinese as 'Wind and Water.' It's the art of arranging things for optimum flow of 'chi.' Chi (or Qi, Q'i, Ch'i, etc) is literally 'life' in Chinese. It's lifeforce, the energy of all creation that flows through everything that exists. In Feng Shui, a person takes into account the interrelations of the five elements (yes, for Oriental cultures there are five) and how that interaction influences the flow of Chi. If you've done any research into Feng Shui, such as reading the back of a book on the subject, you will probably know that Feng Shui is used for interior design, to help the chi flow of your home. This is true. However, it can also be used in your office cubicle at work, in the way you dress, and in the design and layout of buildings and landscaping. In fact, to get the best Feng Shui for a building, it should be constructed by the principles of Feng Shui, on a site with good Feng Shui, and then have the interior design done to the same principles. Feng Shui is generally very important for Orientals. Whenever they build a building, buy a house, or open a business, they try to find a place with as good Feng Shui as possible, to promote good fortune, health, and general prosperity.

The five elements in Feng Shui are Earth, Wood, Fire, Water, and Metal. These five elements should be balanced and in harmony in your environment for optimum chi flow, just as in Nature. Feng Shui attempts to imitate Nature, seeing it as the template for everything, and the original ideal. Since people were meant to live in Nature, our artificial environments should stay as close to Nature as they can for us to be the most healthy and happy. Each element has many correspondences. Using these times, shapes, colors, and such, the elements should be brought into your environment in a balanced way. Of course, just as in Nature, there are different balances and harmonies that can be obtained. For example, if you are a person who loves the beach more than anything, you can arrange the elements in your home to mimic the way they're arranged on the beach. Or, if you want to decorate a study room, and you have always felt most calm and receptive when you're in the woods, you can arrange your room so that it has the same balance of elements as the woods. Aside from these elemental correspondences, there are other rules about Feng Shui. But these are what it's based on.

The correspondences and their rationales

Wood: Represented by plants, because it comes from plants. Also represented by the color green, by tall, thin structures such as pillars, columns, and poles (which represent the trunks of trees). Corresponds with the season of Spring, because plants begin growing then. From that follows its association with beginnings and new growth. This makes it correspond with the time of morning, as well. Encourages creativity, growth, and purification (plants take carbon dioxide from the air, replacing it with breathable, healthy oxygen).

Fire: Corresponds with the direction of South. This is because, from China, the equator and the warmest parts of the world lie South. The Sun and heat, of course. This associates it with Noontime and Summer, which brings it to the correspondence of the pinnacle of prosperity, things in full bloom. The color red. Triangles, because fire burns in a roughly triangular shape. Brick, because it is red and has been fired to harden it. Encourages love (the heart, blood, red, passion).

Metal: Corresponds with the direction of West. This is because it is cool, and greyish, rather like twilight. This associates it with endings and closure, as well as restfulness and hibernation, which brings us to the correspondence with Fall. The colors grey and silver. Odd, stepped, layered or tiered shapes, to represent the hills metal is taken from. Encourages strength, flexibility, and willpower.

Water: Corresponds with the direction of North. This is because water freezes with the cold, and cold and ice lie in the mountains in northern China. This associates it with winter, and darkness, from the darkest part of the year, bringing it to midnight, the time of darkness. Dark colors and glass. Fluid, sinuous shapes represent the ocean's waves. Encourages intelligence, calmness, intellect purified of clouding passions.

Earth: Corresponds with the center direction (you ere wondering, weren't you?). This is because, of course, the Earth is the center. All things live on it, and life revolves around it and exists because of it. It is represented by the color yellow, because the fertile soil deposited by China's flooding rivers is yellow. It is represented by squat, rectangular shapes that remind one of the Earth's stability. It encourages fertility and stability.

First, keep in mind that these are only rough outlines of the elements. Also, the directional correspondences, as far as I've been able to tell, are only one of a few direction systems that are used in the Orient. There's another one consisting of eight directions, North, northeast, East, southeast, South, southwest, West, and northwest. The correspondences for that are Water to the North, Wood to the East and southeast, Fire to the South, Earth to the southeast and northwest, and Metal to the West and northwest. This system is in relation to the eight aspects of the I Ching. I'm not sure about the rationale regarding these assignments, but I think it may be in regards to Yin and Yang; Yin being the cool, passive aspect, Metal and Water would fall into it, while Fire and Wood would correspond to Yang, being warm and active. Earth might draw a line between the two sides. It makes sense to me, but if you want to really know, I suggest you try looking it up.

A brief explanation of the I Ching and eight aspects comment: The I Ching, among other things, is a divination method performed by casting sticks. I Ching configurations are made up of three rows of sticks, each of which is made up of either one long or two short sticks. This results in eight possible configurations. Each configuration has a different meaning, and can be combined with each other to become more in-depth. Therefore, the I Ching represents everything that exists, and is also represented by the octagon. The actual I Ching symbol, however, is the Yin-Yang symbol, surrounded by the eight I Ching configurations.

I just hope that helps things a bit. As I said before, if you're interested in learning more, I have a few Feng Shui links you can check out.