Feng Shui, which translates to "wind-water" in English, is a traditional Chinese philosophical system that seeks to harmonise individuals with their surrounding environment. While most people are familiar with Feng Shui in the context of enhancing living spaces, fewer understand its profound significance regarding death and the afterlife. This article delves into how this ancient art guides the realms of mortality and eternity.
1. The Yin and Yang of Existence
The fundamental concept of Feng Shui is the balance between Yin and Yang — opposing but interconnected forces. In the realm of death, this translates to harmony between the living and the deceased. Traditional customs emphasise maintaining a peaceful balance, ensuring the deceased rest without disturbances while providing comfort to the living.
2. Grave Site Selection: An Art and Science
Arguably the most critical application of Feng Shui in death is selecting a grave site. Traditional beliefs hold that the location and orientation of a grave can influence the fortune and well-being of the deceased's descendants.
Direction: Just as the direction of a bed or desk can influence an individual's health or success, the orientation of a grave is believed to impact the spirit's journey in the afterlife.
Surroundings: The ideal grave site is shielded by mountains (representing support) to the north and overlooks water (symbolising flow and prosperity) to the south.
3. Ancestral Altars and Feng Shui
In many Chinese homes, ancestral altars are set up to honour the deceased. Proper Feng Shui placement ensures:
Positioning: The altar should be in a respectful area, ideally in the living room, where it can oversee the household. It should never be placed in bedrooms or kitchens.
Arrangement: Items like incense burners, candles, and offerings should be placed in a balanced manner, representing respect and order.
4. Mourning and the Flow of Energy
Attire: The colour white, which symbolizes death in Chinese culture, is traditionally worn during mourning periods. In Feng Shui, colors channel specific energies, and white brings forth peaceful, solemn energy appropriate for mourning.
Home Environment: After a death, to prevent negative energy or “sha chi” from lingering, windows are often opened, and purifying rituals involving incense or chants might be performed.
5. Navigating Taboos
Time: In Feng Shui, timing is everything. Certain days are deemed inauspicious for burials, while others are chosen for their positive energy flow.
Symbols: Items associated with death or negative energy are avoided during mourning. This includes certain plants, images, or words that might sound like 'death' in Chinese.
Feng Shui's principles, when applied to death, offer a structured approach to navigating one of life's most challenging experiences. It emphasises respect, balance, and the interconnectedness of life and death. Through understanding Feng Shui, one can find solace, guidance, and a way to honour the departed in the most harmonious manner possible.