by Roger Green

I originally came across feng shui when I was living in London twenty-four years ago. It became part of my study of macrobiotics, traditional Chinese medicine and shiatsu. At this time, there was little written about feng shui so I began my own research to understand the principles. When I established the Australian School of Macrobiotics in Sydney sixteen years ago, we ran programs in natural medicine and oriental philosophy including astrology and feng shui.

Achieving balance with the seasons and incorporating cultural differences was part of the school's curriculum, and this was necessary to successfully apply feng shui principles in Australia. The process of adjusting feng shui for the southern hemisphere is something I have been working on since that time. While Daoist principles remained universal, their application needs to be adjusted to the energetics of the southern hemisphere.

Feng Shui Design with the Red Bird and Black Tortoise

Ideal feng shui design for the northern hemisphere, in a temperate zone, is to orientate to the sun in the south and to protect against the cold winds from the north. The terminology used to describe these two energies is the red bird and black tortoise. These symbolic creatures are associated with the type of chi emanating from the southern direction (heat-bright-yang-red bird) and northern direction (cold-dark-yin-black tortoise).

The red bird is used in feng shui to describe the nature of more yang and active rooms such as the kitchen, living room, balcony and social areas. It needs to be more open (yang), allowing the sun's vital energy into the dwelling. It should incorporate larger rooms, openings and windows.

The opposite direction to the red bird is the black tortoise and this is located in the north. The feng shui principle is to 'close down' the area, to design with smaller windows and openings, and to place rooms like the bedrooms, storage areas and bathrooms. The classical feng shui arrangement for the red bird and black tortoise has a mountain in the north and open land, with a gentle rise, to the south.

northern hemisphere feng shui design

Common sense suggests we adapt these principles for the southern hemisphere where the red bird appears to the north. The sun rises in the east, goes to the highest yang point in the north, declines in the northwest and west, and is cold towards the south. Ideally, dwellings in the southern hemisphere are orientated to the sun’s position in the north, with protection from the colder winds emanating from the south, southwest and southeast. The red bird area suggests an open space to allow the sun's penetration, so a design aspect that is open and active to the north is good feng shui for the southern hemisphere.

southern hemisphere design
© Roger Green

Landscape features, such as higher land, buildings and trees, in the black tortoise direction of the south is good feng shui - they won't block the sun and will give protection from the colder yin elements and winds. This in turn protects the feng shui 'spot' where chi is gathered and contained. Placing yin rooms such as bedrooms, storage areas and toilets to the south, southwest and southeast strengthens the principle of 'mountain like' energy in these directions. Imagine if you made no adjustments, the red bird would end up in the coldest location and the sun would be located at the black tortoise. This would not be following feng shui principles as originally intended by the ancient sages who clearly defined the yang as the sunny side of a dwelling and yin as the shady side.

The Ba Gua and the Lo Shu

The ba gua is at the heart of many feng shui considerations and represents the eight primordial trigrams arranged as a mandala. It maps the energetic qualities of the eight directions including the seasons, colors and life situations. The trigrams are a combination of three lines showing humanity between heaven and earth. The ba gua is a clear and precise observation on how energy moves and circulates in our outer and inner worlds. It is an energy notation of natural phenomena describing the chi pattern that exists between Heaven and Earth. The first ba gua originated in ancient China, and describes the energetic flow of the northern hemisphere's seasons, sun pattern, directions and the alignment of the five elements.

Numbers, trigrams, elements and compass directions are used in the ba gua. Each has a resonance and association with other aspects sharing the same qualities of chi. For example, the number 9 in the ba gua is the most yang number and indicates the highest position of the sun - in the northern hemisphere this is south. The ba gua map has traditionally been drawn with the south at the top because the top represents the fire element. In this direction we experience what is called in the feng shui classics ' the radiance of the sun'.

Northern Hemisphere Ba Gua

The ba gua is an extension of the principles observed in nature. In the northern hemisphere, the element water is generated from the cold north, and is associated with the lowest ebb of chi, winter, and the number 1. Wood elements are generated from the rising sun and springtime in the east and southeast, and are represented by the numbers 3 and 4. The fire element is generated from the hot south, and has the number 9. Metal elements are generated from the yin contracting and consolidating energy of the west and northwest and are represented by the numbers 6 and 7. Earth elements represent the transitional phases of southwest, northeast, and the 'centre' and have the numbers 2, 5 and 8. The trigrams, being an expression of the directional influences, align with these same qualities. The trigram ‘fire’ is in the south, ‘water’ is in the north, ‘thunder’ and ‘wind‘ are in the east and southeast, ‘lake’ is in the west, the stillness of ‘mountain’ is in the northeast, ‘earth’ is in the southwest and the strong metal chi of ‘heaven’ is in the northwest.

The clear mapping of these universal energies makes feng shui holistic. The ba gua of the northern hemisphere describes the energy pattern and qualities of the sun's movement. The direction of this movement is clockwise. It also indicates the dominant direction of wind and water movements in the northern hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere, water goes down a sink in a clockwise direction and all the major ocean and wind patterns are clockwise. The southern hemisphere is the counterpart of this movement, the major wind and water patterns flow anticlockwise, and the sun's position is highest to the north.

The ba gua for the southern hemisphere, which I developed 13 years ago, symbolically represents the chi pattern that we experience, and keeps the unity of the numbers, seasons, elements and directions. The energy of the east and west are the same in both hemispheres because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west in both hemispheres. However, in the southern hemisphere the element fire, representing of the radiance of the sun, is in the north. So the trigram ‘fire’ and the largest yang number 9 are placed there. The quality of the water element and the number 1 manifests and is generated by the south. The integrity of the numerological sequence is maintained, with all numbers adding up to 15 across each axis in what is called the magic square or lo shu.

Ba Gua southern hemisphere
© Roger Green

You can see that northeast on the southern hemisphere ba gua has the number four, representing the wood element, and the early Daoists placed the 'wind' trigram here. Wind signifies the warm winds that flow from the southeast of China, and the same quality of chi is experienced in the southern hemisphere’s northeast direction. Wind represents morning, spring and the rising sun's rays. The ideal location for the kitchen is the position of the morning sun - in the northern hemisphere is the southeast, but in the southern hemisphere is the northeast.

The southern hemisphere ba gua is the one I use for all of my design principles in Australia. It aligns with the chi pattern experienced there, and is complementary to the ba gua for the northern hemisphere. When the numbers are linked, the southern hemisphere chi flow is counter clockwise, representing the natural forces at work. This is in keeping with the intention of feng shui - to make a dynamic balance with the forces present in our environment and local conditions.

The Tao Of The Seasons

In the southern hemisphere, we need to make allowances for directional influences and the associated seasons. The underlying principles of feng shui are observed in the flow of nature. Traditionally, yang and yin were described as the sunny side and shady side of the hill. Yang is associated with heat, activity and stimulation. In the northern hemisphere, this is south, towards the heat of the sun, and the seasons spring and summer representing the rising yang chi. In the southern hemisphere, yang is associated with heat towards the north, and therefore the months from July to December, approaching the summer solstice.

Feng Shui calendars are based on the mixture and flow of yin and yang energies. The solar calendar is divided up into equal parts based on the winter solstice (most yin) and the summer solstice (most yang). In the northern hemisphere, February 4th is the starting point of the solar year, as it is the beginning of the spring and its associated element 'wood'. February 4th is the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

The Southern Hemisphere calendar follows the same observations of cycles in nature. The energy of spring begins in August, when the wood element arrives in the southern hemisphere. This is the time of the 'chi movement', halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. It is through an understanding and respect for the patterns of nature that the theory and applications of southern hemisphere feng shui have evolved. The southern hemisphere is the counterpart of the northern hemisphere, with opposite seasons, wind and ocean currents. The following illustration demonstrates this relationship.

Tao of Seasons
© Roger Green

Drawn together, the hemispheres form complimentary and opposite wave forms, creating a dynamic balance of seasons, winds and ocean patterns. The lines represent the seasonal waxing and waning of chi in each hemisphere. Everything in nature is acted upon by the forces of heaven and earth. We live in a vibrational world and vibrational frequencies are wave forms.

Feng Shui and the ‘San Cai’

The study of feng shui and its practical applications depend on three aspects called the ‘San Cai’ or Three Treasures. These are the Tao of Heaven, the Way of Earth and Human Chi. Feng Shui is the study of the Heavens and Earth in relation to humans. The forces alive in the Universe are referred to as the 'Tao'.

The Tao of Heaven is the study of constellations, weather patterns, planets, astrological mappings such as 12 Earthly Branches (animals signs) and 10 Heavenly Stems, the ba gua and divination of the I Ching. They are all generally grouped into the study of the feng shui horoscopes and Lo Pan compass, and are referred to as the 'Heaven luck' or 'Tien Chai'.

The study of Earth includes the factors that effect a community’s feng shui, for example landscapes, buildings, rivers, town planning, colors and shapes. This is the study of the manifested world and is generally referred to as the Form School of feng shui.

The human predicament is referred to as 'Ren Chi ' in the Chinese language, and means a persons disposition, attitude, stage of consciousness, degree of health and vitality.

The feng shui practitioner brings all three together in a consultation, and aims to harmonize the heaven, earth and human forces. The Tao of the Ren Chi and the Earth are relatively the same in each hemisphere. Adjustments are made for different locations, climatic patterns, cultural tendencies, and a person's sense of aesthetics and health.

However, the 'cosmic order' or the Tao of Heaven needs to be looked at closely, otherwise we will be out of step with the flow of the universe. Let’s take a look at some of the more important schools of feng shui in regards to adjustments for the southern hemisphere.

Over thousands of years, many techniques of feng shui were developed. The most popular methods today include 'BaZhai' (Eight House) and 'Ming Kwa' (Destiny Number), "Fei Xing' (Flying Stars), and the Chinese horoscope referred to as the 'Four Pillars of Destiny'.

Ming Gwa and Ba Zhai

The Ming Kwa (Destiny Number) and the Ba Zhai (8 House method) are both based on the 'Pa Che' or East and West life groupings of the eight trigrams. The writings of Wang Ch'ung during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) allude to planning houses according to eight 'schemes'. Both house and person fall into one of two groups and are matched accordingly. The east life group consists of trigrams associated with the elements water, wood and fire. These are used for site selection, orientation, sleeping, facing and traveling directions.

As discussed above, the principles behind the southern hemisphere bagua govern the assignment of directions, numbers, trigrams and elements. For the southern hemisphere, the east life group directions are as follows:

  • 1 Water - South
  • 3 Wood - East
  • 4 Wood - Northeast
  • 9 Fire - North

The West life groups refer to the more yin cooler aspects of Earth and Metal, which are represented in the southern hemisphere by the following directions:

  • 2 Earth - Northwest
  • 7 Metal - West
  • 6 Metal - Southwest
  • 8 Earth - Southeast

Flying Stars

The Universe is by no means static and natural influences change with the passage of time. This method of feng shui is called the Flying Stars or 'FEI XING PAI', which makes it possible to assess the fortune of a dwelling and predict happenings within it.

Flying Stars involves time cycles that are mapped onto the bagua and the numbers expressed in the ancient Lo Shu diagram. Time is divided into 9 cycles and each period is associated with a 'trigram'. Given the age of the building, along with the direction that it 'sits and faces', the flying stars are read from the feng shui compass and are 'flown' over the bagua in a forward or reverse pattern. This creates the location of the 'water' and 'mountain' stars that are associated with prosperity and health. The outcome is a horoscope for the dwelling from which the practitioner assesses vital information that can be applied to the activities of the inhabitants.

The Flying Stars shows the effect of time on a dwelling. Using our bagua for the southern hemisphere we can create the 9 cycles of change with trigrams that representing the appropriate directions and elements.

The Four Pillars of Destiny

Used extensively by feng shui experts in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Four Pillars is the ancient system of constructing a horoscope based on the hour, day, month and year of birth. It forms the basis for all feng shui advice for the client including directions, colors, cures, lucky and unlucky times, and names. It is used for destiny and character readings as well as fine-tuning feng shui advice.

The Four Pillars are analyzed by the strength and weakness of the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Rather than reflecting the position of the stars, the Four Pillars describe the elements associated with the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches at the time of birth.

Different characters are needed depending on whether you were born north or south of the equator, as opposite conditions are reflected by opposite elements. Unless adjustments are made for the southern hemisphere and for local time, the elements in the chart, which represent the forces present at birth, will not resonate appropriately. For example, if someone is born in the spring time in the southern hemisphere, wood must appear in their monthly signs i.e. tiger or rabbit. If no adjustments were made then we would see a reflection of the seasonal aspects in the northern hemisphere i.e. monkey and rooster, and this would be completely inappropriate.

The 12 animals signs follow the seasonal flow of chi - for the northern hemisphere:

  • Pig, Rat Ox – Winter, night, water element, North, November to January
  • Tiger, Hare, Dragon- Spring, morning, wood element, East, February to April
  • Snake, Horse, Sheep – Summer, day, fire element, South, May to July
  • Monkey, Rooster, Dog – Autumn, evening, metal element, West, August to October

earthly branches

For the southern hemisphere, we place the 12 animal signs with their associated seasons and directions in the southern hemisphere:

  • Pig, Rat Ox – Winter, night, water element, South, May to July
  • Tiger, Hare, Dragon- Spring, morning, wood element, East, August to October
  • Snake, Horse, Sheep – Summer, day, fire element, North, November to January
  • Monkey, Rooster, Dog – Autumn, evening, metal element, West, February to April

earthly branches southern hemisphere
© Roger Green

In 1976, Prof. Wallace A.Sherrill and Dr. Wen Kuan Chu published ground breaking translations of ancient feng shui manuscripts under the titles 'Astrology of I Ching' and ‘An Anthology Of I Ching’. In these books they stipulated that northern hemisphere feng shui astrological techniques cannot be properly applied to the southern hemisphere without making adjustments. The metaphysical view described in feng shui astrology and numerological techniques are a mirror of the pattern of nature on earth, notated by the 5 elements and the seasons. The spiral of energy movement in the southern hemisphere as mentioned earlier is anticlockwise, reflecting the major wind and water directions. The 8 Trigrams, the 12 Earthly Branches (animal signs) and the 10 Heavenly Stems need to be oriented in both space and time to reflect this pattern of the unified field.

The Ten Heavenly Stems:

  • 1 Yang Wood 2 Yin Wood
  • 3 Yang Fire 4 Yin Fire
  • 5 Yang Earth 6 Yin Earth
  • 7 Yang Metal 8 Yin Metal
  • 9 Yang Water 10 Yin Water.

heavenly stems
© Roger Green

The heavenly stems and earthly branches combine to create the feng shui calendar of 60. The first heavenly stem with the first earthly branch gives us the wood rat. Each Earthly Branch will have one of the 5 elements from the Heavenly Stems associated with it. For example, Wood Rat, Fire Rat, Earth Rat, Metal Rat and Water Rat. 12 animals signs with a possibility of 5 element types equals 60 combinations. This cycle of heaven and earth flows over 60 years, 60 months, 60 days and 60 hours.

To readjust this cycle to the southern hemisphere, we first need to establish its starting point. The earth cycle is based on 12. If we take half, represented by the 6 month difference between the northern and southern hemispheres, and combine this with a 5 year difference for the cycle of heaven represented by 10, our calculations can be effectively adjusted to the southern hemisphere flow. Keep in mind that the northern hemisphere wood/spring season starts on the solar time of February 4th and the southern hemisphere wood/spring season begins on the 7th August.

February 1984 in the northern hemisphere was the beginning of the Wood Rat year, or the first combination. The Wood Rat year in the southern hemisphere therefore began in the August 1989, based on the 5 year difference in the heavenly stems and the 6 month difference in the earthly branches. The months, days and hours can be worked out based on similar principles, enabling a complete feng shui picture of space and time for the southern hemisphere.

The Lo P'an compass

The Lo P'an is a very useful tool for feng shui surveys - it enables us to map the unseen influences and balance the client’s horoscope to the dwelling. The Lo P'an incorporates the Taoist concept that Heaven (unseen influences) and Earth (manifested influences) should be in harmony for our wellbeing and prosperity. The Lo P’an analyses the directional aspects of a given site in terms of the relationship between the Five Elements, Eight Trigrams, Heaven reflecting the position of the stars, and the 4 pillars elements of the Heaven Stems and Earthly Branches.

To create a lo p'an for the southern hemisphere, first you must realize that the lo p'an is a sophisticated sundial – this is how it started. The bagua is placed at the centre of the Lo P’an. Fire is placed in the North on a Southern Hemisphere Lo P’an. The elements, trigrams, earthly branches and heavenly stems associated and resonating with the north, fire and the apex of the sun are drawn using concentric circles around the centre ring, the tai chi. The same applies to the water, wood, metal and earth directions. The southern hemisphere compass has the same order of rings as the northern hemisphere compass, and the same meanings and applications. However, because of the different directionology and flow of energy, the order is placed into an anticlockwise flow along with the resonance of the original meanings of the trigrams, stems and branches, and five elements.

The I Ching in the Southern Hemisphere

The I Ching is a spiritual treasure and one of the most beautiful books of the planet. It is a divination tool as well as an instrument to develop intuition and perception. It contains a lot of Taoist Knowledge about synchronicity. The Chinese ideogram for the I Ching is made up of pictures of the sun and moon. The word 'Ching' means classic. The word ‘I’ means change. The authors of this book knew that the world of phenomena is a world of ceaseless flux or change. Everything is constantly changing, evolving, devolving, being born, growing, reaching maturity, decaying, and dying. Within this constant flux and movement, the world seems to change in an orderly or rhythmic fashion.

The phenomenal world, according to Chinese philosophy, is created by the 'tai chi' or the ‘supreme ultimate’ which arises spontaneously from the 'wu chi' or ‘ultimate nothingness’. The supreme ultimate creates the universe and phenomenal world through the interaction of yin and yang, the great primordial forces of nature. The I Ching, the most fundamental expression of yin and yang philosophy, states "The changes of yin and yang contain the measure of heaven and earth. Therefore they enable us to know the Tao of heaven and earth and its order."

The 64 hexagrams that make up the readings and energy notation of the I Ching are arranged on the lo pan compass to express this order. To adjust this sequence to the southern hemisphere, the hexagrams are placed in a reverse order. Starting from the winter solstice, 22nd June in the southern hemisphere, is the most yin hexagram and this is placed in the south, the water element. The most yang hexagram is placed in the north to signify the summer solstice. From these beginnings the sequence continues to complete the 64 possibilities of change.


No one aspect of Feng Shui should be seen in isolation. Feng Shui can be at its most effective when several useful diagnostic "tools" have been acquired and a holistic approach is taken. No one tool is best because all have their use in different situations. With adjustments for the southern hemisphere, we can efficiently capture the cosmic order and bring it into our lives to improve our health and harmony.

© Roger Green, no reproduction.

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