Are there other words to ascribe Feng Shui?
There is no equivalent Western word for Feng Shui.
Early Western missionaries in China associated this practice with Geomancy, latin for earth prophecy, which at that time was the practice of making predictions based on patterns made by a handful of earth thrown on the ground or by lines connecting randomly placed dots on the earth. This is an inaccurate representation of Feng Shui.
On occasions it is referred to as Metaphysics, which literally translates as ‘beyond physics’. Even when Metaphysics is referred to in its purest form as a branch of philosophy concerned with the study of the nature of being and beings, existence, time and space, and causality, it is an expression from a Western perspective that currently does not describe or explain Feng Shui. To refer to Feng Shui as Metaphysics is an attempt to appeal to the Western mind without truly doing justice to either Western ‘logic’ or the ancient Chinese wisdom of Feng Shui.
Those that refer to Feng Shui as Divination have limited understanding of this ancient wisdom. The assumption that it is a ritualised form of ascertaining information about the future by supernatural means often associated with a religion, is flawed. Feng Shui is not about predicting the future, nor tied to any religious belief. Although a branch of Feng Shui when practised correctly, can allow the practitioner to anticipate what might happen as a result of the energies that prevail. Focussing on predictive aspect of Feng Shui is an injustice to this wisdom, where its wonder lies in being able to anticipate i.e. consider something before it happens and applying the necessary corrective preparations.
The ancient Chinese word for Feng Shui was Kan Yu ( 堪輿 ), which literally means ‘canopy and chassis' referring to high and low places and carries the deeper meaning of ‘the way of heaven and earth'. It specifically referred to the study of energy that pervades terrestrial features. This was because Kan Yu was very much about understanding and utilising the Qi governed by natural land formations. Kan Yu was first used only by the upper echelon of the ruling class to select propitious burial sites to ensure the fortune of their descendents. Only about 2000 years ago during the Qin dynasty was the knowledge available to the commoner to select sites for residence. Early practitioners of Feng Shui were called Di Li Shi ( 地理師 ) or Fang Shi ( 方士 ).
As Feng Shui evolved to suit our urbanised society, the term Kan Yu became less appropriate and the term Feng Shui became a suitable allegorical reference for not only the external landforms but the internal fixtures and layout that determines the flow and nature of Qi.
The traditional Chinese Masters of today universally accept the term Feng Shui. Feng Shui is a profound and sophisticated discipline, developed and honed through 5000 years of history and worthy of its unique name. It is regrettable that these two words have been so misused and misrepresented in the ‘fashionable’ cultures of today.