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The Qi That Rides the Wind, the Art and Science of Feng Shui

Updated on March 19, 2022
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CJ Stone is an author, columnist and feature writer. He has written seven books, and columns and articles for many newspapers and magazines.

Feng Shui

A few years ago I attended an exorcism being conducted by a prominent Druid. It was in someone’s house. The person concerned was being upset by persistent disturbances in the night, by strange spirits and ethereal voices which seemed to come out of nowhere.

I can’t remember much about it, except that my first impression on entering the house was that there was something wrong.

I don’t mean that I sensed the presence of the spirits. No. I’m what you might call deeply insensitive (as opposed to people who believe in spirits, who are usually referred to as “sensitives”). I couldn’t tell a spirit from a washing line. What I mean is that there was just something odd about the décor of the house.

It was purple for a start, various shades of purple, from light purple on the walls, to dark purple on the skirting board, with flimsy violet scarves scattered all over the place, shrouding out light fittings and cast about seemingly casually over the backs of all the chairs. Also the room was full of crystals and table fountains with wind-chimes dangling in inconvenient places at the entrance to most of the rooms. Why clog up a doorway with a wind-chime when there isn't any wind indoors?

Then there were mirrors where there shouldn’t have been mirrors. I mean, what’s the point of a mirror? It’s for checking what your hair looks like before exiting the house to go down the shops, isn’t it? At least that’s what I use my mirror for. But this house had a mirror in the fireplace, and a mirror under a table in the corner of the room, and a mirror backed into an alcove between the sideboard and the wall. There were mirrors everywhere, but you couldn’t conveniently use any one of them without getting down on your knees, or craning your neck severely to one side or the other and very possibly putting your back out of joint. It didn’t make any sense.

I won’t go into the details of the exorcism right now as this isn’t the subject of this story. There was a lot of chanting and shouting and telling the spirits (whoever they were) to go back to from where you came. And then some casting about of water and salt and some more shouting and some spells and some supplications and incantations and all that sort of stuff, after which we drank a load of cider and the Druid performing the ceremonies fell down very drunk.

No, what got to me that night was the décor. That was much weirder than what the drunken Druid was up to.

I commented on it when I first came into the house.

“Why all the mirrors?” I said.

And my Druid friend said, “it’s Feng Shui.”

It was the first time I’d seen such a thing.


I’ve just looked up the term on the internet and apparently it means “wind-water” which is from a quote from the ancient Chinese: “the qi that rides the wind stops at the boundary of water.”

I like that. I’m a huge fan of Chinese culture. “Qi” is an almost untranslatable term, but it could mean something like “life-energy”. So I like the idea of a life-energy which rides the wind. The Chinese have been using Feng Shui since the late Stone Age at least. They are very dedicated to the idea that human development should take place according to the harmonious laws of heaven. That’s what Feng Shui is all about: the placing of buildings in the landscape, the placing of objects in a room. The Boxer Rebellion in 19th Century China was brought about because the western economic powers were not using Feng Shui in the construction of their factories and railways. In other words, the Boxer Rebellion was, at least in part, an aesthetic rebellion, a fight for beauty.

The modern Chinese still use Feng Shui. Hong Kong, for instance – despite the density of its population – is built almost entirely around Feng Shui principles.

This is not the same, however, as painting your walls purple or placing mirrors in inaccessible corners around your house. This is a peculiar western misinterpretation of Feng Shui, and is much more like a superstition than a set of architectural principles.

Feng Shui proper is both aesthetic and practical and is about he alignment of buildings in a landscape according to natural – ie “heavenly - laws. Although it has a mystical element it has a practical outcome.

This was certainly not the case in that house I visited, where I suspect both the Feng Shui and the spirits had a similar cause.

It wasn’t Feng Shui or Druidry our neurotic householder needed, so much as a psychiatrist.

© 2010 Christopher James Stone


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