In the whole of Chinese metaphysics, there are five main categories (Wu Shu) or special skill sets, which address the human condition and are complementary fields to each other.The Five Arts are: mountain, divination, astrology, appearance appraisals and medicine. Let’s briefly define the Five Arts.
Mountain: This is in reference to studying the influence of the land and it includes the practice of Feng Shui. Feng Shui is often called a natural “earth science.” And the expression “mountain” can also relate to the 24-mountains, which are the 24 different directions according to the Chinese Feng Shui compass.
It is called a luo-pan and on at least one ring of the luo pan the eight basic directions are divided into thirds. This creates the 24 divisions which are each 15 degrees in spread. (15 x 24= 360 degrees) With feng shui as part of the “mountain” category, there are also numerous schools of Feng Shui which most classical practitioners are familiar with. By “schools” I mean that there are different traditions, approaches and techniques. As an example, one school of Feng Shui may not address the aspect of timing, such as when a structure has been built. These schools may be more concerned with what we can observe with our five senses of hearing, taste, smell, sight and touch. Other schools of Feng Shui may be totally reliant on aspects of timing, such as when a house was completed and what currently annual or monthly cycle it may be in.
Divination: Divinatory (predictive) Arts are practiced in just about every culture and religion. For the Chinese, a book like the I-Ching is one example of a divination tool. Passages from this book answer questions and can predict the future. Divination could also come in other forms, including some which are very simple and you can only receive a “yes” or “no” answer. Some people relate to Feng Shui as a form of divination, although it has its own separate category. Many people refer to Feng Shui academically as Chinese Geomancy just because “geo” relates to earth and “mancy” implies the study of some form of divination. One could interpret cloud formations or the meaning of a bird nest on your front porch. Geomancy would be a better term for dowsing, since it deals directly and literally with prospecting what is underground, like water or gold. Some people read tea leaves, others may “read” the bones of dead animals and many other interpretations are based on omens, signs and coincidences.
Astrology: Chinese Astrology has two distinct forms, with one called the Four Pillars of Destiny (Ba Zi) and another astrology called Zi Wei Dou Shu, translated as “Calculation Transcription,” Purple Star Astrology or Fate Reading. The former refers to the Chinese solar calendar and the latter references the Chinese lunar calendar. Both forms of astrology demonstrate the cycles we all go through and which area of life will be affected. And some of these concepts in astrology have real applications in a Feng Shui audit. As well, under a wide canopy, we could probably place the practice of 9 Star Ki as a form of Astrology. This is because 9 Ki relates to people, cycles and timing. In concept, it can be similar to what we expect from astrology and the predictive results. It likely predates the development of both Ba Zi and Zi Wei Dou Shu.
Appearance Appraisal: This is a distinct form of divination, which is almost astrological in is ability to predict some events in time frames. These Appearance Appraisals are called such because one has to look for the physical signs on a person. Chinese palm reading looks at the unique lines on the hand and their meanings. Other groups and ancient peoples have similar forms of fortune telling with hand analysis. Another form of “appearance” appraisal is in Chinese Face Reading. The shape of the face and all the individual features of the ears, eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth, cheeks, forehead and chin can be interpreted for what kind of health constitution or personality traits a person might have. As well, other markings like moles and lines on the face can indicate certain circumstances or events.
Years ago when I took a face reading class with Master Sang, he showed how the length of the nose from the bridge to the nose tip can be broken down in time frames. Creases or lines on the nose could predict at what age a man may have a romantic affair! Many people are familiar with Iridology, which purports to define specific health problems upon analysis of the colors and many features of the eye. And of course, everyone wants to know if you can change your “face” destiny with cosmetic surgery. The answer is that you can change it a bit.
Medicine: This is a defined category which is mostly related to what we call Chinese medicine and acupuncture. However, it could include other healing methods related to herbs and nutrition. This category needs little explaining, but it is also one of the more pro-active of the Five Arts, along with Feng Shui.
For example, let us say that all Five Arts could predict that a person might have liver problems. It can show up in the calculations done on the house, noted in the astrology chart, showing up on the face or palm, indicated by some form of divination and conclusive during a physical health examination. Astrology just reveals it for what it is. But with Feng Shui applications and medical recommendations, a person can improve their health, such as liver problems, and not just accept it as fate.
Finally, one might assume that in order to be a true “master” that they would need to be a master of all these disciplines. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, but it is actually not required or all that common. In the olden days, being familiar with the Five Arts was kind of like being a “general practitioner,” or a Jack of all Trades, and having a working knowledge of these systems. In today’s medical world, it seems like there are so many specialties that the general practitioner, old time family doctor, may not be as much in demand. As well, I don’t literally know any full time doctor of Chinese medicine who can also be a full time Astrologer, Diviner or Feng Shui master. The Five Chinese Arts are specialties which one may be well-versed in, all or some.
Author: Kartar Diamond
Company: Feng Shui Solutions ®
From the Esoteric and Philosophical Musings Blog Series