Dowsing, Feng Shui, and Earth Energies : An encompassing relationship (Part 1)

by Ced Jackson

Many cultures believe in a triple-decker universe, a good example being medieval Christianity’s Heaven, Earth and Hell.

Feng Shui -part of the integrated Chinese approach that produced acupuncture -also believes reality is made up of three major chunks : Heaven, Man, and Earth.

  •         Heaven is a primary dynamic force, a kind of first mover.  Heaven is top down : This is the situation, if you don’t like it you’d better adapt to it.  Heaven expresses itself through the movement of the stars, and through time.  This leads to the rhythms of the day and the year.  The weather is an example of Heaven’s expression.  The current situation regarding Heaven can be interpreted through Chinese astrology.
  •         Man, or rather People, is about the stuff we are more familiar with.
  •         Earth is bottom up (as opposed to Heaven’s top down), the ‘yin’ as opposed to the ‘yang’.  We stand upon the earth and are influenced by it in all the ways we are familiar with as dowsers.

In this sense ‘Earth Energies’ make up around 33% of Feng Shui.

Regional Variations

China is a big place, with many different kinds of landscape.  In parts of the mountainous north, the landscape consists of the dramatic interweaving of hills and mountains, represented in classical Chinese landscape painting

In hostile terrain, issues of protection, water and food become paramount.  It is vital to find good locations for dwellings.  This skill was cultivated and refined.  As well as obvious physical factors that had to be taken into account, the early geomancers looked at the more subtle aspects of place.  “The aim of Feng Shui is to seek the healthy Qi (energy) and avoid the unhealthy Qi … (the) classical Chinese understanding of the nature of the unhealthy Qi that rises from within the earth accords very closely with the modern western dowsing tradition’s knowledge of the dangers of geopathic stress” ((The Mysterious Underground Energies : Geopathic Stress and Acupuncture by Richard Creightmore.  Feng Shui Society Journal, Autumn 2000)).

The early Chinese ‘dowsed’ with a compass.  This was a very simple instrument very different to both modern western compasses and elaborate modern Feng Shui compasses. The early compass was sometimes a piece of thin metal -often in the shape of a fish -which floated on a saucer of water.

The ‘fish’ was examined not only for the direction in which it pointed, but also whether it wobbled, turned and twisted, etc.  The movement of the fish – clearly a result of the influence of the earth – was then interpreted in particular ways.  This is set out in The Eight Needles of the Water Compass Method.

The interpretation of the movement of the compass – after the event – could be likened to dowsing, whereas modern dowsing does the interpretation (or questioning) before the event.

This distinction is not dissimilar to that between dowsing and distant viewing.  With dowsing, you may know what you are looking for but not where it is, whereas with distant viewing, you know where you are looking, but you have to interpret what you find.

The Feng Shui compass

Outside the mountainous parts of China, there are huge tracts of flatland, with no mountains or hills to orient oneself around.  In the mountainous areas, there are sometimes so many ‘strong’ landscape features that you do not need other interpretative aids.  By contrast, on the flat, the compass can be used for navigation, the marking of solar and lunar aspects, the orientation of buildings, and working out if you are in… the right place, at the right time, facing the right direction.

Fishy Dipping

Besides indicating direction, the compass fish was also examined to see if it ‘dipped’ or not.  The dipping results from the strength and nature of earth forces and magnetism in the locality.  This raises the fascinating parallel topic of the western understanding of magnetism and how it affects compasses at different points on the earth’s surface – for if you have an understanding of how this happens you could theoretically work out exactly where you are.

This is a very useful skill for travellers and sailors, and is explored the very interesting book Latitude1 (not Longitude) by Stephen Pumfrey, which I thoroughly recommend.  Latitude is a way of describing how far north or south of the equator you are.

Western Approaches

The compass responds to magnetism, and the notion that the earth is a giant magnet is relatively new. “The story begins in 1600, when Sir William Gilbert, physician to Queen Elizabeth 1, suggested that the earth was a giant magnet”2.

Gilbert is a fascinating figure who overlapped with magus/scientist Dr John Dee.  For more on this fascinating period I strongly recommend The Rosicrucian Enlightenment3, a rip-roaring read by an eminent Professor at London University. 

The book tells of  how following their expulsion from Spain, many Jews fled to Italy, taking their knowledge with them.  In Italy this Jewish wisdom encountered an influx of new learning from the east (actually classical learning transmitted through the Arab world), ‘triggering’ the Renaissance.  This movement took around 100 years to travel north and take external form in England as the Royal Society.

Gilbert was interested in the compass as a way of determining Latitude – how far north or south of the equator you are – on the grounds that if the earth is a giant magnet, then at the poles the compass would point straight down, at the equator it would be horizontal, and there would be graded positions in between.  The deviation from the horizontal is called the inclination.  As a result, by measuring the inclination, it should be possible to determine how far north or south of the equator you are. 

Unfortunately this is not precisely the case in practice.  There are inexplicable variations from what the theoretical position regarding inclination should be (secular variation in the jargon).  As a result the notion of using inclination as a means of measuring latitude was overtaken by other processes.

Dowsing mode and Compass mode

There are similarities.  Both detect invisible energies, one through the body (amplified through a physical instrument such as a rod), and one through a physical instrument alone.

To explore this further we have to examine the nature of magnetism itself, which we will do in a later article.

© 2003 Ced Jackson & BSD EEG

  1. Latitude, and the Magnetic Earth:  The true story of Queen Elizabeth’s most distinguished man of science.  Stephen Pumfrey. ISBN 1 – 84046 – 290 – 6 []
  2. Fatal Attraction. Paul Simons, The Guardian, 4th July,3605,748510,00.html []
  3. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, Frances Yates. ISBN 0-7448 – 0051 – X []