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What do Feng Shui consultants look for and what can a magnetic compass tell us about a building?

When a consultant uses a modern day Chinese compass or Luo Pan, the first thing he or she will do is to begin by determining which side of the building is the face. This is a complex and sometimes controversial process in which the only truly set parameter is deciding which aspect of the building is the most Yang.

One might think of it as determining which end is the positive node of a battery; a distinction being made between the Yin or quiet side of the building and the Yang side.

Once this has been decided compass readings will be taken to confirm precisely just what specific direction the building is facing. A Luo Pan is marked in 365 degrees with each of the twenty four divisions apportioned fifteen degrees each.

Depending on which School the consultant is applying they will use one of three basic types of compasses. Each type is used for gathering slightly different information from the surrounding environment.

San Yuan

The “Flying Stars school” uses a complex San Yuan Luo Pan with three distinct ‘plates’. Earth Plate, relating to the earth’s magnetic polarity, Man’s Plate to the North Star and Heaven Plate a sundial, all of which gather and refer to differing aspects to be considered within that framework — for example Man’s plate measures protective structures and assigns the 5 elements to each of these. Timing of events can also be ascertained by use of a Luo Pan.

San He

The San He Luo Pan helps determine relationships between placement of Mountain, Water and the building in the San He School and focuses on many of the very famous Water Dragon Theories.

Zhang He

The third is a combination of both in the Zhang He Luo Pan.


Those applying the Flying Stars School and using a San Yuan Luo Pan will draw up and work from a numerical grid that will look something like the one shown below.

Numeric Grid

The consultant should be willing and able to explain in quite specific detail precisely how the Time/Space dimension of classical feng shui works and why they are making the recommendation they are to the property.

They will talk in terms of each of the separate locations or sectors within the building such as the Southwest or the West and what will be happening there and in turn make recommendations for the building both indoors and outdoors, in most cases.

Likewise for those applying the San He and Zhang He Schools where no such grid is applied.

Please note that a good consultant will be willing to not only explain which ‘School’ and line of theories he or she is following but also the basic science behind it.