Growing up I did not think of feng shui as a particular branch of study. My mother integrated it seamlessly into everyday life. I was not to position my study desk in such a way that resulted in my back to the door. Beds had to be arranged a certain way. Same with the arrangement of appliances in the kitchen. Let’s not even get started on what goes into house hunting when buying a new home.
She would not let us sleep with our feet toward the door. She’d talk about demons carrying off with our souls. Bells and windchimes were not to be played with recklessly. Aquariums were always part of the home décor and placed strategically . When a fish died, mother would go a little ballistic. If our rooms were a mess, it wasn’t just a nagging about cleanliness that we got, but she’d talk about energy and Qi and how the messiness of our room would affect our academics. This was all just a normal part of life growing up.
Growing up, the way I learned and experienced feng shui was as absolute and often threatening maxims, and passed on from generation to generation by oral tradition. Feng shui principles and maxims were spouted in hyperbole form, and almost always with a warning of doom and gloom if this wasn’t painted this color or that wasn’t placed there. Most Chinese people can recite the twelve zodiac animals in their order by heart, and so knowing zodiac compatibility was considered imperative. Certain geographical regions were “obviously” wealthy neighborhoods because of feng shui. Others were “obviously” the poorer neighborhoods…. because feng shui. Gentrification? I’m sure there’s a crazy-ass feng shui explanation for that, too.
So one might understand why it took me three decades to revisit feng shui and begin seeing it for what it really is: a philosophy.