Archive for November, 2005

Simple insights to clear the air

simple-insights-to-clear-the-air_2.jpgThere is a sense of mystery and often times, confusion as to what goes on in a Feng Shui consultation.

Some callers to my office inquire as to whether there will be chanting and prayers.

Some even wonder if it will involve an elaborate ritual and if it will take the whole day to Feng Shui their property.

In order to clear the air, I am going to provide you with some simple insights on what really happens when you engage a professional Feng Shui consultant to undertake a consultation on your home.

I am going to make a few assumptions here.

• We are going to be looking at what happens in an authentic, classical Feng Shui consultation.

Which means, we are not going to be referring to the “pop” Feng Shui methods that recommend products and items as quick fixes to cure everything anything that ails you.

Neither would we be concerned with cultural beliefs, superstitions or spiritual practices which strictly are not part of classical Feng Shui.

• You will be working with a professional who does this on a skilled level

Individual Feng Shui consultants will have different methods and working practices. Most will use a combination of techniques based on the requirements of their clients and the given circumstances.

As with any professional service, choose a consultant you trust and are comfortable with. Ultimately, the success of a consultation depends on the partnership between the consultant and the client.

The first step to any Feng Shui consultation is to determine why you are undertaking a Feng Shui consultation. You need to have a clear idea on what you are looking to achieve with the consultation.

Most skilled Feng Shui consultants will usually use this as their reference point when making their recommendations.

What to expect and what not …

In the initial stage of the consultation, often referred to as the pre-consultation phase, the consultant or his assistant will discuss with you your requirements and glean more information on the property to be consulted. You may be asked about the size and type of property, as well as the general location of your property and the number of occupants or key personnel (if it is an office building).

Once they have these details, they will usually quote you their consultation fees.

At this point, they would also usually ask you why you are looking to get a Feng Shui consultation and what you intend to achieve with the consultation.

Beware of those who promise you the moon – Feng Shui practitioners do not play God and even if they want to, they usually cannot change your fate overnight or ‘make’ you an instant millionaire.

An honest Feng Shui practitioner will make realistic promises on what they are able to deliver based on your expectations.

Once the discussion is over, you will need to furnish your consultant with the plans of the property as well as the birth details for their initial analysis.

The consultant, based on the information you have presented, will prepare the relevant astrological charts (usually known as BaZi or Destiny charts) as well as do a preliminary analysis on the layout of the property.

A Feng Shui audit that incorporates a BaZi or Destiny Analysis would be more comprehensive and complete.

This is why it’s important that your Feng Shui consultant should be well versed in BaZi or any other system of Destiny Analysis – so that they are able to chart out your luck cycle and tailor your Feng Shui accordingly. Remember - BaZi is the diagnosis and Feng Shui is often regarded as the prescription.

During the consultation – on site

This stage of the consultation is when your consultant will be on site. Here, he will be surveying the area, checking the landform and taking note of the various environmental features in the surroundings.

It is quite common for most professional Feng Shui Masters today to have an aerial survey of the surroundings and clients will oftentimes also need to guide them around the property.

This is a crucial step in an authentic, classical Feng Shui consultation – without assessing the landforms and environmental features, there is no way your consultant will be able to accurately determine the type and quality of Qi affecting your property.

(Note that an assessment that only involves the internal layout of your property or the immediate garden space is often not a complete assessment.)

Landforms, meaning the environmental configuration of the nearby mountains, hills, land contour, roads, river, neighboring buildings and land quality constitute a major portion of the Feng Shui quality of your property.

Once the external environment has been measured and taken into account, the internal layout of the property is then assessed.

The location of the key aspects of the property for a home is the main door, bedrooms and kitchen, for an office, the location of the CEO and key personnel are all considered in detail.

During this on-site assessment, your consultant will usually advise you of his findings and make suggestions accordingly.

It is during this phase that you will also be providing feedback to your consultant on what changes are possible and what would be beyond your present capacity.

After the consultation

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A professional consultant will usually formalize the findings, advice and recommendations provided on-site into a summary or report. This will then be discussed after the previous site visit.

Of course, there are those that may require you take your own notes during the consultation and you would then clarify this with them after a consultation.

When implementing the recommendations your consultant has made, he will usually be available to guide you and make sure these recommendations are implemented correctly.

If you already have a report provided by them, this is usually much simpler since all the recommendations would have been clearly detailed in the report.

If necessary, your consultant may make follow-up visits to the site as well, to ensure things are implemented as per his recommendations.

At times, follow-up visits are essential when particular recommendations, such as the main door direction or exact location of a water feature, have been provided for in the consultation.

Although not commonplace for residential properties, you may also choose to have a yearly assessment. Consultants will usually charge for this, so this optional annual assessment may vary from client to client, depending on their requirements.

All said and done, there are many different approaches and applications in classical Feng Shui.

Depending on the skill of your consultant and the level of professionalism, you may receive a different level of service from consultant to consultant.

Always check references if possible, ask around and don’t take for granted that they are skilled or knowledgeable simply because they happen to be elderly or they claim decades of experience.

A Feng Shui consultation, done correctly, can be a very fulfilling and satisfying experience with the long term potential to support you in achieving your goals and ambitions.


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Misled into harm’s way

misled-into-harmsway_2.jpgIt was a businessman who was at his wit’s end who approached me after a recent corporate talk I did for a long-term client of mine.

“Master Joey Yap, I really need to ask you something about my house,” he blurted.

“I have had so many bad things happen to my family.

“I had a near-death experience when I had a freak accident just few weeks ago. My car was a total wreck I was glad to get away with minor injuries.

“My financial situation is also a mess. I had invested a lot in acquiring a project for which I was the main contractor but at the eleventh hour, the project was given to a competitor.

“I can’t even begin to explain how much stress this has all caused me. And it’s all because of this Six Harms Water.”

The gentleman in question, let’s call him John, had apparently had his property Feng Shui’ed by a friend. The friend had attended a feng shui practitioner’s course conducted by a local Master.

The friend was keen to put his knowledge to practice, especially after having paid a fortune to learn certain “secret techniques” that were supposedly taught to select students.

After looking around his house, John was told by his friend that he had a Six Harms Water Liu Hai Shui problem.

Six Harms Water is based on the concept that houses facing a certain direction, should they have a water entrance (such as a drain or a road), coming in at a particular direction, will violate the San He Water formula.

The theoretical effects of the Six Harms Water include sabotage, backstabbing and lots of destructive rivalry and unhealthy competition.

Big name, but no real power

The Six Harms Water theory is a theory culled from a book published by a Taiwanese author, Master Kung Ren Zhang.

Copies of this book can be bought for less than RM80 at any reputable Chinese bookstore that carries books Chinese Metaphysics.

Now, the name sounds drastic and frightening, which no doubt explained John’s panic.

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In fact, Six Harms Water (see diagram) is not a Feng Shui formula but a theory extracted from BaZi application. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, BaZi is a form of Chinese Astrology.

The theory, as described in the Taiwanese book by Master Kung, entitled Essentials of Yang Dwellings , was not meant to be a water and road assessment method for feng shui application.

This fact was verified by the author himself when I spoke to him a number of years ago during the course of my research.

He had included the formula in his book only as a matter of completeness but has never indicated that it was an appropriate Water method for feng shui application or that there were documented results to support its application.

San He Water Formulas came under two categories – the Shuang Xiang Double Mountains and Fu Xing Fan Gua Shui Fa Assistant Star Transformation.

Both these groups have sub-categories but Six Harms Water Liu Shai Shui is not mentioned in any of these original San He classics.

Furthermore, San He formulas – unlike the Six Harms Water – are based on the concept of Zheng Yang Zheng Yin principles. You need to understand why does it work?

In what situations do you apply it and in what situations would it be detrimental to apply this knowledge.

So is there such a thing as Six Harms?

Yes there is, but not “Six Harms Water”. The ‘Six Harms’ is in fact a concept used in BaZi studies.

Hence, it is only applicable to a person’s BaZi (destiny) chart – it is meant to be used when analyzing a person’s life.

Although BaZi and feng shui complement each other, they are still separate studies. Taking a BaZi concept and applying it as a Feng Shui formula is like trying to play tennis with a badminton racquet.

So in fact, this Six Harms Water theory is just a big name, with no real substance to it. It’s not even a correct theory for Feng Shui application.

Now, back to John and his problems. Once I managed to get him away from the paranoia about the Six Harms Water, I was able to give him the proper feng shui explanation for his problems.

It seems that John had inadvertently undertaken minor renovations in the Northwest part of his home this year. The Northwest, in 2005, is where the malignant 5 Yellow Star is located.

This star, aggravated when the renovations took place in the area, brought about all the negative effects and resulted in all of John’s problems.

Once February 4, 2006 rolls around things should improve and get better.

Trade secrets available at the corner bookstore

As for John’s friend who had paid a fortune to find out the secret assessment technique, the fact is that he had been royally duped.

He paid for something which is not only an open “secret” but is openly available for a fraction of the price at the corner Chinese bookstore.

So I gave John the book that contained the Six Harms Water method along with the other water formulas that the friend had purportedly learnt from the expensive Feng Shui class, like Yang Ren (Frightened Goat Water) and Wu Gui Yun Cai (Five Ghost Carry Treasure).

Hopefully, he will be able to gain a better understanding of and insight into San He by reading the source itself.

Incidentally, if John’s friend had been familiar with BaZi , he might have perhaps been suspicious then of the formula.

BaZi and Feng Shui in fact complement each other and most professional Feng Shui consultants will use BaZi in tandem with their Feng Shui consultations.

There are no “secret techniques” or “secret formulas” in the study of Feng Shui any more.

People are seduced by the idea, no doubt from the many years of watching Cantonese TV serials where guild trade secrets, from Kungfu to Feng Shui , are passed from teacher sifu to student or disciple, when the teacher is on his or her deathbed, in the form of some papyrus paper book.

It looks romantic on TV, but honestly, it doesn’t happen that way anymore. Even Shaolin Kungfu today is taught to anyone and everyone, as long as tuition is paid. What more Feng Shui secrets?

The real value lies not in the formulas themselves , but in the interpretation and application of these formulas. That information is rarely found in books.

The true trade secrets of the industry are the knowledge, judgment, skill and experience of a teacher in using these formulas, in the appropriate circumstances, and knowing how to apply them in tandem with the landforms in the area.

Someone who possesses a formula may not always possess the wisdom and knowledge of how that formula should be used.

If you do pay for information, it should be for information on the application and theoretical reasoning of that formula, rather than just the raw information.

Most of these secret formulas sold at exorbitant prices are found usually almost word-for-word from easily available Chinese books.

If you do intend to study Feng Shui or Chinese Metaphysics, and find yourself paying for sheets of paper with directions or placements but no information to qualify these formulas (such as where it can be applied, when does it not work, why will it work, what’s the reasoning behind it and, more importantly, what is the origin, etc), you should be suspicious.

A good consultant in any field, is well-versed with the theory behind the practice, and the practice behind the theory. Chinese Metaphysics, like any other science of repute, is a scholarly and practical science.

Remember, just as a flapping white coat should never be evidence of a doctor’s expertise and ability, so a Chinese collar and white hair are not evidence of superior knowledge or wisdom in a Feng Shui master.


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Science or sign of SUPERSTITION?

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The Yi Jing is known generally as the Book of Changes, and claimed to be the oldest of the Chinese classic texts.

It describes and ancient system of cosmology and philosophy which is known to be the heart of all Chinese science, culture and way of life.

The philosophy centers on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and the acceptance of the inevitability of change.

However, to many in Western cultures, the Yi Jing is seen only as a system of divination.

The Yi Jing is one of the five classics in the Confucian cannon. It is a collection of texts of philosophy and divination based on a set of 64 hexagrams comprising various combinations of broken and unbroken lines reflecting the relationship between the two basic forces of the universe, natures and human society – yin and yang.

Unfortunately, this well-known classical Chinese text has been used to derive a variety of modern day superstitions and a lot of “feng shui symbology”.

Here, I take the opportunity to address the issue of the extent in which feng shui, be it Classical or New Age feng shui, draws on the Yi Jing and also to explain the role in which the placement of objects and symbols plays in feng shui .

First things first – it’s not the I-Ching . This is frequently used but incorrectly written term appearing in Western books that romanised Chinese words using the old Wade-Giles format, dictates it should be spelt as Yi-Jing .

It may sounds trivial but I feel it is important to start off correctly by pronouncing and spelling it properly.

Origins of the Yi Jing

The Yi Jing originally started out as a philosophy. It began in the Shang Dynasty (1600 – 1045 BCE) and was intended to be a sort of manual on life, a guide on how to conduct oneself, morally and ethically, and to effectively rule a country.

This was especially prominent during the times of Confucius where the Yi Jing formed the majority of his teachings. This was many thousands of years ago and you do need to maintain that perspective when thinking about the Yi Jing.

Later, during the time of King Wen (Zhou Dynasty: 1045-221 BCE), the Yi Jing was given a fresh perspective – some of its principles were transformed into a divination science.

Hence, the famous “Ten Wings of Yi” were born. It was also during this time that the method of divination known as Zhou Ji came to be and was made part of the Yi Jing .

To effectively accomplish this – at a time when education was privilege – the originals images and symbols of the Yi Jing were removed and only the concept and mathematical aspects were maintained, and used to extract information about times, space, probabilities and events.

The original Yi Jing is a book on Philosophy. Yi means “change” and Jing means “classics” or “sutra”.

When the concept from Yi Jing was later borrowed to develop the divination science of King Wen, it came to be known as Yi Gua.

Today, the Yi Gua method is known as Jin Qian Gua (Turtle Shell + Coins Divination Method).

Yi Jing and feng shui

Many feng shui practitioners like to say feng shui is “derived” from the Yi Jing – this statement is not entirely correct.

You see, if you trace it far back enough, almost every type of Chinese study from the Chinese Five Arts (Mountain, Medical, Divination, Destiny and Physiognomy) has come connection to or roots in the Yi Jing .

The science of feng shui is derived from the concept of Yi but it is not based entirely on the Yi Jing principle simply because the Yi Jing is a philosophical book of a divination science. Feng shui is neither.

Schools of feng shui such as Xuan Kong Da Gua, Xuan Kong Fei Xing, Ba Zhai, San Yuan and San He have principles founded on key elements of mathematical science like that of yin and yang , the five elements and the hexagrams and triagrams. But these are derived from the concept of Yi and not verbatim translation from the Yi Jing texts themselves.

The concept of feng shui is all about qi in our environment – how to derive and harness it to benefit us by making use of our property to tap onto this qi .

This is the key goal of feng shui . We should not forget this. Whereas the Yi Jing texts today are either primarily a philosophy (the Tao) or a divination science. It does not directly address feng shui concerns.

Yi Jing Imagery vs feng shui science

Many of the modern day New Age feng shui ideas are supposedly derived from the image of the Ba Gua (eight trigrams).

What has happened is imagery that was once used as a “teaching aid” or aide-de-memoir has been converted into the Real McCoy.

Images of the Ba Gua of the Yi Jing are supposed to be used to help students or feng shui practitioners appreciate how qi works in a visual way.

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So for example, the hexagram Qian is represented as Dragon Flying into the Sky.

The idea is to help people appreciate that Qian Gua refers to qi that rises upwards and/or a type of qi that is very strong “like” a dragon flying into the sky.

Along the way, this simple teaching aid has been corrupted into symbology and superstition.

Now, as much as we would like to believe that a figurine of a Dragon Flying in the Sky means Qian Gua in fact, what you have in your back garden is just a teaching aid.

It has no energy of any kind and it certainly does not bring about the qi associated with Qian Gua to that part of your home.

Images or symbols in the Yi Jing are metaphors used to describe a scenario. They are not to be taken literally.

Of course, this is not to say there is entirely no symbology in feng shui . The Hu Lu (or Calabash – a type of fruit) is a good example of this.

The Hu Lu (the natural kind, not the 32 karat gold or plastic kind) symbolizes Dui Gua, because of its natural shape and its opening.

Dui Gua , in feng shui terminology, is the number 7. It is for this reason that the Hu Lu is said to have the natural ability to help ward away illness, which is the number 2 – in feng shui He Tu Numerology, 7 and 2 combine.

However, the Hu Lu that was mentioned in Xuan Ji Fu texts refer to the Hu Lu Shan (a mountain that is shaped naturally like a Hu Lu).

Thus, the ancient philosophers clearly understood that the need for symbolism only refers to “natural” objects – like mountains, rivers or a type of fruit.

It was never meant that a man-made “symbolic” object should serve the same purposes as surely, with the superb craftsmanship in the old days, these symbols were easy to make. Then why isn’t this mentioned in any of the ancient feng shui texts?

If we check it out closely, the symbols in the Yi Jing are limited to 64 items with subtle variations.

But if you take a look around these days, so many Chinese symbols not even remotely associated with the Yi Jing are passed off as feng shui . So I am not sure how these symbols that have supposedly been “derived” from the Yi Jing came to be.

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Fu (prosperity)

 

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Xi (double happiness)

The hanging of calligraphy for instance – such as the word Fu (prosperity) that’s supposed to be hung upside down – or the Chinese word Xi (double happiness) used during weddings is now misunderstood and passed off as feng shui .

These Chinese characters or symbols were meant to set the mood for the occasion – a prosperous wish for the Lunar New Year of blessings of joy for the newlyweds. They were certainly not meant to and do not generate qi and neither is this written down anywhere in the Yi Jing .

The truth about object placement

Understandably, it can be quite difficult for many people to know when an object is simply symbolic or decorative, and when it has true feng shui usage.

This is because even in Classical feng shui , practitioners “place” items in the home. It is not uncommon for feng suhi practitioners to ask clients to place aquariums or wind chimes in certain sectors.

The key always is understanding the origins of feng shui usage and its underlying purpose.

Many of the items that have become associated with symbolism in feng shui application – they have simply become corrupted along the way.

For example, the fixation with “Fishes” as bringing Wealth Qi originates from the use of aquariums in Clasical feng shui .

You see, water helps collect Qi in feng shui so modern day practitioners, recognizing a bucket would look ugly in a house, asked clients to set up an aquarium.

If you really have to use objects in feng shui, here’s a simple guide: Ask yourself – what is it “made of” and not what does it “symbolize”.

The material, physical substance does have some small elemental value that can help influence the qi in an area – for instance, an aquarium (water element) or wind chimes (metal element).

If you have to consider the symbolic value then check if it is the creation of nature – like mountains, landforms, rivers and large rocks.

Natural symbols have qi but don’t get carried away. A little common sense goes a long way.

So the next time you hear something that sounds a little outrageous ask yourself, if it is science or sign of superstition?


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Expiring luck - Period 8 and your house

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Unless you have been holed up in Siberia for the last 3 years, you would have heard a friend or family member mention the Feng Shui of Period 8. Or heard something about it on television. Or read about it in the newspapers. Often with a possible ‘doomsday’ twist to the mention of this term.

The changeover from Period 7 to Period 8 was the Feng Shui equivalent of Y2K – that point close to the new millennium when people started frantically stocking up on food for fear of the sky falling down when the clock signaled in the year 2000. Similarly, as February 4, 2004 inched closer, there were more than a few Feng Shui enthusiasts frantically renovating their homes to ‘conform’ to the new Qi of Period 8. But unlike the Y2K bug, which most people in the computer industry now acknowledge was blown out of proportion, Period 8 continues to be a source of concern for newcomers to the field of Feng Shui and clients who fear their luck has somehow ‘expired’ and that they need to make massive changes to their homes.

Now, the cause of this ‘the sky is falling down’ syndrome when it comes to Period 8 is quite simply, a lack of understanding about what the changeover really means and the perpetuation of the myth that ‘luck expires’. In this article, I hope to adequately address and put to rest any concerns about Period 8, changing your home and these supposed Qi Expiry Dates.

Understanding The Changeover

In the practice of classical Feng Shui, there is a reference to time. Our universe is dynamic – the world is ever-changing and ever evolving. Qi too is dynamic and Feng Shui understands and caters to this. The time dimension of Feng Shui divides time into 20 year cycles, at the end of which there is a capital transformation in Qi. Period 7 runs from 1984 – 2003 and Period 8 which began in 2004, will end in 2023 ( February 3, 2024 to be precise). It’s all very organized and well laid out – which again should reassure you that the world is not about end just because it is now Period 8.

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Flying Star Feng Shui is really where all this time dynamic takes place. Your home has a Natal chart, known as a Flying Star chart, that maps out the Qi of the property. It is drawn up based on the Period in which the building was completed and when you actually moved in to the property. (Chart One, above)

In every Flying Star chart, the top right hand corner represents the Facing Star, the top left hand corner represents the Sitting Star. In general, Facing Stars govern wealth and career aspects and Sitting Stars govern people and health aspects. The idea behind Flying Stars Feng Shui is simple, a Flying Star practitioner wants to identify good facing or sitting stars to help the residents in their endeavours.

The question is, what numbers are good? This is where the period (timing) information plays a major role. In different periods, different star numbers are regarded as good and other star numbers are regarded as having a negative impact on the Feng Shui of your property. In Period 7, the good star numbers are #7 but in Period 8, the star #7 now slowly begins to assume its negative qualities.

Just like the Y2K panic all around the world, some Feng Shui enthusiasts were given the impression that they needed to renovate their properties as the Qi in their Period 6 (1964 - 1983) and Period 7 homes had expired and that they needed to ensure that their homes were now Period 8 houses. Renovation in Feng Shui terms invariably requires at least changing the roof, digging up the floor and replacing the floor tiles and replacing the main door. Period 8 does not come cheap.

The Good News

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In actual fact there is no need to update your house so that the Flying Star chart of your house is a Period 8 Flying Star Chart. My article on Period 8 written in 2003 (titled Hoo Hah About Period 8) which can be found on http://www.joeyyap.com/fengshui/articles/index.asp - clearly explained that there is nothing to worry about when Period 8 rolls around. You just need to use the existing energy map of your house to tap into the correct sector of your house once you identify the location of the Qi for Period 8. And this exists in your Period 7 and even Period 6 Flying Star charts.

But there are some Feng Shui practitioners who took this opportunity to create a climate of fear in an attempt to flog off items that would provide a ‘cure’ to the malady of Period 8. When asked to update your house to a Period 8 house, always ask what is the logical reason behind it. Most likely, there is no need to change the period of your house; managing the Feng Shui of Period 8 is all about knowing how to use the existing Flying Star chart of your house.

For instance, Chart Two (above) is a South 2 Period 7 chart:

During Period 7, the Wealth star is in the north. The water or main door would have been located in the north to activate the Star #7. Now that you are in Period 8 – without any serious renovations, you would still have the same Period 7 Flying Star chart in Period 8. The chart itself does not change – only the time changes. And with that, we also need to make small changes in how we use the Period 7 Flying Star chart of your home. What happens now is you no longer will want to activate the North #7 Star, you would concentrate your efforts on activating the #8 Facing star in the Southwest.

All this can be done at minimal or no cost at all. Often, all that is needed is to make use of the room in which the #8 Star is located or have a water feature here to activate the Qi for Period 8. All this ‘upgrading’ of your house to change the Flying Star chart to Period 8 is not only a massive waste of money, it is uncalled for and in certain cases, downright counterproductive to the Feng Shui of your property.

Moral of the Story: It is not about the chart you have but how you USE the chart. A Period 6 Flying Star chart that remains unchanged can STILL be used in period 8.

Let’s take another example of a Period 6 (1964 - 1983) house that is facing Southeast 1 – as you can see, Chart Three (above), if you have this chart for your house, and we are now in the year 2005 in Period 8, all we need to do is activate the #8 Facing star in the Southwest.

There is no need to change or upgrade a Period 6 house to a Period 8 house.

Throwing a Qi Party?

I remember hearing about an acquaintance throwing a major party and having a Lion Dance because it would supposedly change his Period 7 house to a Period 8 property.

Your house chart will not change because of a massive celebration or the so-called Yang energies of a lion dance. This is just plain wishful thinking.

Unlike milk, which carries an expiry date, Qi in the environment does not ‘expire’ overnight or change suddenly. It is a gradual process. Just as the Qi cannot turn bad in a day, it cannot be rejuvenated or turned favourable in a few hours just because you decide to have a lion dance, bang some drums and throw a party. Qi just does not work that way.

When it comes to Period 8, the key is in understanding what it is all about before determining if you need to change your house chart.


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Copyright © 2008 by Joey Yap. All rights reserved worldwide.