Mysterious Underground Energies

Divining the Underground Earth Energies
Using the Chinese Compass Method

Knowledge of the mysterious underground energies and the ability to divine their precise location is as integral to the Chinese Feng Shui tradition as it is to other geomantic traditions of the world. The personification of the telluric currents as the consciousness of the subterranean Dragon, Serpent, or Crocodile spirit is a global image. Whether named Lung, Naga, Nak, Wyvern or Wonambi, these beings are variously respected, feared, appeased, tamed and honoured the world over.

The Emperor Da Yu (born. 2205 BC) depicted in a Han Dynasty Bas Relief: “Yu (founder) of the Xia Dynasty was a master in the science of the earth (Xiang Di) and in those matters concerning water veins and springs; he was well acquainted with the Yin principle and, when required, built dams”.

The Chinese ideogram for sha / killing qi (top), derives from the sub-characters sha / to decapitate or slay (middle), and huo / fire, ascending flames (bottom): thus a killing fire force coming from beneath the ground (Ong Hean-Tatt, 1997, p.336; Wieger, 1927, pp.65, 126, 290).

Chen Su Xiao
(d.1332 CE)

“In the subterranean regions, there are alternate layers of earth and rock and flowing spring waters. These strata rest upon thousands of vapours which are distributed in tens of thousands of branches, veins and threadlike openings…The body of the earth is like that of a human being…Ordinary people, not being able to see the veins and vessels which are disposed in order within the body of a man, think that it is no more than a lump of solid flesh. Likewise, not being able to see the veins and vessels which are disposed in order under the ground, they think that t Underground he earth is just a homogenous mass… Water flows in subterranean courses called ‘veins of the Dragon’ (Lung Mai). Passing to and fro out of sight, the hidden veins of water serve, like the bloodstream of animals, to remove impurities from the body of the earth… and to deposit curative minerals within it. The earth’s circulatory system is matched by an ever-undulating network of currents in the atmosphere. The currents, running through meridians (Mai), carry the breaths of life (Qi)” (quoted in
Christopher Bird, The Divining Hand, 1979).

The aim of Feng Shui is to seek the healthy Qi (Sheng Qi) and avoid the unhealthy Qi (Sha Qi). Sha refers nowadays to any hostile qi or form in the environment that is threatening to health or fortune, which could be an astrological threat arising in a chart, or a visible psychological or tangible threat in the local landscape, but the root meaning refers to what we now call geopathic stress

The wet compass needle method was superseded by the dry compass needle, which was invented in the Ming Dynasty. Since that time the dipping and trembling movements of the delicately balanced needle in the central Heaven Pool of the Luo Pan have been used to divine the nature of the underground Qi of a site. These vertical movements of the Heaven Pool needle are thus used in the same way as are divining rods and pendulum in the Western geomantic traditions, and a reading can thus be taken of the state of the Mysterious Underground Energies, in conjunction with noting the rotation of the needle that yields Compass Schools directionology.

A Wet Needle Luopan or Chinese Compass from the Ming Dynasty

Shui Peng Ba Zhen Fa
The Eight Needles of the Water Compass Method

“Qi comes from the earth and moves upwards. If it is too strong it is not good to build above. If there is none at all maybe there is too much metal or hard rock, nothing will grow and this is also bad”.

Classical Chinese understanding of the nature of the unhealthy Qi that can arise from within the earth accords very closely with the modern western dowsing tradition’s knowledge of the dangers of geopathic stress, as the Ming Dynasty text ‘Shui Peng Ba Zhen Fa’ or ‘The Eight Needles of The Water
Compass Method’ reveals.

The wet compass needle is first recorded by Zhen Gong Lian in the Song Dynasty text ‘Wu Jing Cong Ji’. He describes how a thin fish-shaped piece of metal, 2 cun long by 5 fen wide, is heated and magnetised. Floating on the water, the movements of the needle determine whether metal is in the

Shui Peng Ba Zhen Fa describes the technique in more detail

  • The Feng Shui Master places a bowl of pure spring water, which has not touched metal, in the centre of a room, doorway or tomb site.
  • The fish needle is then placed in the bowl to float on the surface of the water.
  • The needle will orient north-south, with the head of the fish pointing south, and the way in which the fish needle moves can be interpreted to reveal eight different situations.

1. CEN – Sinking

If the needle sinks three times in a row

To the east- an underground ant-hole may be nearby

To the south – an ancient underground tomb

To the west -an old underground well

To the north, an old coffin underground

2. ZEN – Steady

The needle is steady as soon as it is placed in the water. This is auspicious as it shows there is no underground stream cavity or metal underground

If the needle moves slightly

To the east – there may be buried animal bones

To the west- jades and jewellery – this is the most auspicious indication of all as the owner will have prosperity

3. TANG – Unsteady

The needle is very unsteady, it floats and sinks and moves about.

If it tilts

To the east – there may be buried pork or beef bones

To the south – the ground has too high a salt content

To the west – the ground has very strong Qi (i.e. geological fault)

To the north – there may be old weapons buried (i.e. battleground)

4. RUI – Up and Down

The needle moves up and down as well as side to side

If it sinks straight to the centre- there is an underground stream hollow beneath.

If it sinks towards any direction there is iron underground

5. QI – Trembling

The needle is afraid – if it tries to hide

To the east – there is an underground stream hollow

To the south – there used to be a lake underground

To the west – rocks (i.e. geological fault)

To the north – shiny rocks, (i.e. crystals, quartz)

6. TUN – Tilted

The needle is tilted with one side higher and the other lower

If the head points to the bottom – there may be metal underground

If the tail points to the bottom,- an underground stream hollow

7. LI – Opposite

If the head of the needle points

In the opposite direction to usual – there is much metal where the head points.

8. ZE – Moving

If the needle moves around

It does not sit in the central axis – there are huge rocks nearby, the Di (Earth) Qi might be erupting vertically (i.e. geological fault)

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