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The Schools of Feng Shui - What's the difference between the Form, Compass, and Black Hat Schools

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

As a Feng Shui Consultant, one of the BIGGEST confusions that I notice when people are first learning about Feng Shui is knowing about the different schools of Feng Shui. Yes, there isn't just one type of Feng Shui, but many, hence the confusion and misinformation that this ancient energy practice gets.

I was in the same boat myself when I first started learning about Feng Shui. I would read one article about how your home should be set up according to the bagua map. The wealth corner is in this corner, the relationship sector in that corner. Yet in the following article I'd read, the set up completely changed. Apparently the health sector is in the East direction and the Career sector is in the North. Huh?

The multiple information comes from the multiple schools of Feng Shui. Often when most people start learning about Feng Shui, they don't know what school of Feng Shui this information pertains to.

If you're wanting to get more clarity on Feng Shui, knowing about the different types of schools of Feng Shui is the first place to start.


To first start off this lesson in Feng Shui History, it's important to know the original origins of this practice. Feng Shui stems from Taoism. Taoism is one of the three main philosophies and religions in China (the other two being Confucianism and Buddhism). These are considered the "three pillars" of ancient Chinese society. Taoism focuses on the teachings that everything in nature is harmonious. As such, we should be apart of this harmony and seek to find balance using the laws and teachings of nature.

Form School

The Form School is the oldest school of Feng Shui, the O.G. Dating during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 906 AD), it originally was focuses on building structures, villages, and burial sites, but has now been commonly used in landscapes and home interiors. It is also known as the Landscape School or the San He School.

The Form School focuses on surrounding landscapes, and how their energy impacts you. Symbolism is heavily used to explain energy, such as the Celestial Animals of Feng Shui. It takes into account the shape of furniture, the placement of pieces, and how each and every object contains qi (energy). All other schools of Feng Shui take from the Form School, as this is the first foundational school of Feng Shui.

Compass School

The Compass School came shortly after the Form School during the Song Dynasty (888 AD - 960 A.D). Directional energies are a important aspect of this school.

In the Compass School, science and mathematics are used to determine the best possible directions of energy. A compass called the Luo Pan is used to determine the direction of the home and where the eight sectors of energy are placed. There are auspicious (positive) and inauspicious (negative) directions of energy that impact relationships, health, safety, etc. This helps to orient the Bagua map as to where these energies are in the home.

Flying Star

The Flying Star Method of Feng Shui is a sect of the Compass School. It is also known as the Xuan Kong School. In this school of Feng Shui, energies can be broken down by year, month, week, day, and even hour. It takes into account the moving planets and shifting cosmic energies and finds the auspicious and inauspicious areas of the home.

There are nine flying stars or different energies that are taken into consideration. Below are the following:

  • One: This white star rules romance.

  • Two: This black star is known as the illness star.

  • Three: This blue star brings quarrels.

  • Four: This green star governs education.

  • Five: This yellow star is the most inauspicious flying star. It is an illness and loss/misfortune star.

  • Six: This white star brings wealth and career promotion.

  • Seven: This red star is very destructive.

  • Eight: This white star brings prosperity and wealth. It's also known as the luckiest star.

  • Nine: This purple star is called the celebration star since it rules all things auspicious.

Often times, Feng Shui practitioners will use the Flying Star method to understand the energy of the house (based on the home's birthday or build date) to see the fortune of the home.

8 Mansions

The 8 Mansions (Ba Zhai), otherwise known as the 8 Houses, is a formula and principle of the Compass School used to determine the compatibility of you and your home. To do this, you need to know your Kau/Gua number, which can be found through your Chinese Astrology and birth date.

There are four auspicious directions and four inauspicious directions. Below is a description of these different directions and energies.

Sheng Chi (Wealth) - This direction attracts prosperity, abundance, good fortune, and wealth.

Nien Yen (Love) - This direction brings in good relationships, love, family and friends.

Tien Yi (Health) - This directions corresponds to positive physical health and wellbeing.

Fu Wei (Personal Growth) - This direction is related to peace and harmony.

Ho Hai (Bad Luck) - This direction relates to minor misfortunes, frustrations, and mishaps.

Wu Kwei (Hauntings) - This direction is associated with fires, loss of income, theft and quarrels.

Lui Sha (6 Killings) - This direction is connected to missed opportunities, deceit, legal problems, and illness.

Chueh Ming (Misfortune) - This is the least auspicious direction and is related to poor finance and unproductive career. This direction can cause difficulties in every endeavour of life.

Four Pillars of Destiny

The Four Pillars is not a school of Feng Shui, but a tool used in the Compass School. This tool breaks down the aspects of your birthday. Known as the 'eight characters of birth time', or Sheng Chen Ba Zi, and Bazi for short, it refers to the year, month, day, and hour of your birth.

These pillars relate to your Chinese astrology and coincide with yin/yang aspects as well as the Five Elements. The Four Pillars of Destiny are used more is assessing one's personal qi and not the qi of a home, but can be used to better connect your energy to your space.

Black Hat School

The Black Hat School of Feng Shui is a Westernized version of Feng Shui. Originating in the 1980s in America, the Black Hat Sect is based off of the interpretations of Tibetan Buddhism, and combines them with Taoism and Feng Shui. It is often seen as a 'Watered Down Version' of Feng Shui and disregarded by many Eastern and Classic Feng Shui Practitioners.

In the Black Hat Sect, the Bagua Map is divided into 8 sectors very similar to the Form School. However, unlike the Form School, the Black Hat Sect does not take into account the landscape and formations of the environment/home. It focuses mainly on cures, otherwise known as intentional items to place in the home to enhance or reduce the flow of energy. The Black Hat school is often seen as a New Age version of Feng Shui, as it incompasses meditation, ritual, and other spiritual practices into the application of Feng Shui.

As you can see, Feng Shui is far more complex than just moving a sofa or adding a plant. Understanding these different schools and aspects of Feng Shui, you can find a practice that speaks to you.

If you'd like to learn more, you can check out my Intro Class on Feng Shui and gain a deeper understanding towards this ancient design practice.


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