The Three Main Feng Shui Schools of Thought

The Ancient Chinese Art of feng shui has been practiced for thousands of years–some say for 5,000 years! Of course, it has changed and evolved over time. While there are many, many different schools of feng shui, the various practices generally fall into one of three broader categories: the Form school of thought, the Compass School, and the Black Hat Sect Tantric.


The Form School of feng shui is an especially VISUAL form of practice. Practitioners focus on the topographic features of the land on which your home sits and is surrounded. They find great meaning in the relationships between the locaiongs of each area of your home and the land. Great emphasis is placed on animal symbolism. Topographic features are named after the four celestial animals, characterize names such as the dragon or tiger hills, turtle mountains, and phoenix footstools. The five elements, fire, water, metal, earth, and wood, also play an important role. Consultants may use a directional compass or may use no tools at all.

In studying feng shui youll know that your learning is influenced by the Form School when you hear things such as:

– A mountain (or tall building) should sit behind your home.

– Your main entrance should not be confined.

– The ground to the left should be higher than the ground on the right of the home.

– Land with slow, meandering rivers are especially auspicious.


The Compass School of feng shui is a TECHNICAL form of practice. Practitioners use mathematics and a special feng shui compass called a Luo Pan. Kua numbers, Flying Star feng shui, star numerals, the Lo Shu grid, and the Bagua are all part of Compass School practice.

Youll know your learning is influenced by the Compass School when you hear things such as:

– Each individual has a Kua number that determines their auspicious and unfavorable directions.

– Your main door should confront your auspicious direction.

– Sleep with your head toward your auspicious direction.

– Work facing your auspicious direction.

– Sickness Stars change location with time; its basic to take measures to counteract these Stars.

Form and Compass Schools are sometimes referred to as Classical Feng Shui.


The Black Hat School of feng shui relies much more on INTUITION than precise measurements and placements and was only developed only a associate decades ago. The only tool the Black Hat Sect practitioners use is the Bagua map. Beyond that, practitioners rely heavily on intuition and keep up an if-it-feels-right-it-probably-is attitude, assuming chi flows freely and positively. Black Hat practice also incorporates the Buddhist practice of Zen meditation.

The Black Hat Sect borrows basic tenets from each of the other schools such as a mountain should sit behind you (sit in front of a plant, screen or substantial background instead of in front of a window) and land with slow, meandering rivers are auspicious (take measures to stop chi from moving too slow or fast in and around your house). However, practice is less precise and more subjective. Items do not need specific placement but a general placement, relying on a strong awareness of changes of feeling caused by changes in ecosystem.


The Black Hat Sect Tantric method of feng shui may be the easiest to learn for Westerners, but its important to learn about practices from each of the schools as youll likely want to use ideas from all of them in designing and perfecting your own space. Consultants will likely do this too, though their ideas will probably be based in one of the major schools. Before you have a consultant analyze your home check out the backgrounds of several consultants. The method used should be comfortable to you.

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