Examining the doctrines of the so-called "Southern Hemisphere School" - by Ray Harris
Introduction to the Second Half
"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators, Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?" So the Bellman would cry:and the crew would reply "They are merely conventional signs!" - Lewis Carroll, "The Hunting of the Snark"
Remember, the Equator is a Construct
Recognize that the division of the Earth into hemispheres is a construct -- a product of human thinking, a mental note agreed upon by members of our civilization. Just as we agree there are Northern and Southern Hemispheres, we also agree there are western and eastern hemispheres -- and all are the result of cartographic conventions, not real phenomena. If you are a native of an equatorial country you are not aware of the Equator, for nothing marks its presence. There are no sudden changes -- the Moon does not suddenly flip upside-down and the stars don't abruptly change. One cannot say that as soon as you cross the Equator the seasons suddenly shift from summer to winter or spring to autumn.
The idea of an Equator causes us to think in terms of southern and northern hemispheres. Marking zero degrees longitude to coincide with Greenwich, England, causes us to think of eastern and western hemispheres, just as thinking of Rome as the ancient centre of Europe causes us to think in terms of Western and Eastern Europe and the Far East.
For the purposes of Feng Shui one could just as well divide the planet into three distinct zones: the polar (90 to 66 degrees, 30 minutes latitude), the temperate (66 degrees, 30 minutes to 23 degrees, 27 minutes latitude), and the tropic (23 degrees, 27 minutes South to 23 degrees, 27 minutes North). These zones more precisely represent the climatic conditions of the Earth. Each has distinct characteristics -- for instance, the change from the polar easterly winds to westerly winds of the midlatitudes and then to the easterly tradewinds of the tropics. The boundaries of these zones are marked by the solstices and the point where the winter sun never rises and the summer sun never sets.
By selecting the Equator as their reference point the Southern Hemisphere School is arguing an abstraction rather than something that is real. This is a classic error of basic logic.
Reductio ad Absurdem
There's a rule in logic that says when a proposition pushed to its logical extreme becomes untenable or absurd it is false. The logical absurdity of the Southern Hemisphere School rests on the Equator.
Let us suppose that you are a Feng Shui practitioner living in Singapore and you have been taught to accept the Southern Hemisphere School. You are asked to analyze a client's house on a new rubber plantation located in the hills just outside Kota Padang in West Sumatra. You look up Kota Padang and learn that its latitude is 0 degrees, 2 minutes South. You find out the property is 3 to 4 kilometres to the northeast, which places it on or near the Equator. You do some calculations and discover that the Equator does indeed run through the plantation. In fact, you realize that the house may sit precisely on the Equator!
How do you measure the Equator with such accuracy?
You diligently apply your Southern Hemisphere School techniques to the southern half of the house and discover that it has two Kan, Qian, and Gen sectors and no Li, Xun and Kun -- a logical absurdity. Perhaps you try to split the house into two separate mathematical models. How do you refine the Equator to within a metre or less? Is this technically and practicably possible? If it is not, then it becomes another logical absurdity.
Let us also assume that your client introduces you to a local politician who also wants house analysis. The politican's home is in the regional capital of Padang, safely south of the Equator. However, you find that this client was born in Jambak, a town that sits right on the Equator. You learn the time of birth was 2 am on 18 February 1950, but you are unsure which hemisphere the politician was born in. What do you do?
As an advocate of the Southern Hemisphere School, you must fiddle with the calendar because the answer to the question is critical to the Four Pillars reading you were asked to do.
But how do you decide which Equator to use when there are five of them?
- The Geographic Equator is, as previously mentioned, a construct of human invention. It is a useful but arbitrary convention created by cartographers. It is just as useful to measure latitude in a similar manner to longitude. True north could just as easily be assigned to 0 degrees and true south to 180 degrees.
- The Geomagnetic Equator is midway between the magnetic poles. It is measured according to the relative field strength of each pole. The geomagnetic field is a complex mechanism in a state of constant flux; this causes the Geomagnetic Equator to oscillate. It can be as far as 15 degrees North on one side of the planet and 15 degrees South on the other. This oscillation is not uniform. It is marked on an Isoclinic chart in terms of geomagnetic
- The Climatic Equator is known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone or ICZ, a shifting line separating barometric highs and lows of Northern Hemispheric origin from those of Southern Hemispheric origin. These weather patterns constantly cross the Equator so the line representing the ICZ oscillates at random above and below the Equator. An Indian monsoon can push the ICZ as far north as the Tropic of Cancer.
- The Solar Equator is the midpoint between the solstices. From the perspective of the Southern Hemisphere School this is the "true midpoint" because their method is based on the primacy of the effect of solar radiation distribution. However, with this system you have to check small perturbations in Earth's rotation known as The most interesting ones are called nutation and polar motion.
Nutation marks an 18-year cycle with a wobble of approximately nine seconds of arc. Polar motion has two smaller cycles of 12 and 14 months marking approximately 0.1 to 0.2 seconds of arc. This wobble causes the solstice points and solar equator to shift from their nominal positions. A shift of a second of latitude equals approximately 31 metres. Nutation creates a movement of nearly 275 metres. Such a shift will cause the plantation-owner's house to periodically shift hemispheres! In fact, the Solar Equator moves at a constant rate of roughly 15 metres per year.
Polar motion can cause shifts of as much as 9 metres, enough to cause serious problems within a building if the irregularities are not taken into consideration by a Feng Shui analysis. (Because of polar motion, regular adjustments to geographic latitude and longitude are required of cartographers.) Needless to say, all of the above factors exert a critical effect on the correct calculation of yearly and monthly numbers.
These arguments may seem like splitting so many hairs, but they are the logical consequence of the theories of the Southern Hemisphere School. They must be answered if the propositions of this "school" are to have any validity. Perhaps the fact that the equatorial regions are relatively undeveloped has so far saved practitioners of the Southern Hemisphere School the embarrassment of colliding with their logical absurdities. This will change as Feng Shui becomes more popular in South America. We'll be able to use Quito, the capital of Ecuador, as an example.
The problem of proof
Consultants who rely on the Southern Hemisphere School claim that it works, based on their experience. Unfortunately, those who practice the traditional method make the same claim. Clearly both methods cannot be right. How do we distinguish between competing claims? Who should we believe?
The Completely Southern Hemisphere School System
The complete system rearranges the Baguas and Luopan to suit Southern Hemisphere School arguments. It also adjusts the lunar calendar to begin six months later -- or earlier. But which is it? A critical decision, because the answer changes the Stem and Branch for the year. One variation changes the Stem and Branch of the current year as well. That is, 1998 is not the year of the Earth Tiger in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Partial Southern Hemisphere School System
This system changes the Baguas to suit Southern Hemisphere School but rearranges only some of the Luopan. For instance, the 24 mountain stars remain unchanged, as does the calendar.
The Black Sect Buddhism Feng Shui System
This variation uses the front door of a structure to orient the Bagua. Li becomes the "career sector" and Kan becomes the "fame sector." This version orients the Bagua to the "career" end as normal. Another variation is to keep the traditional Black Sect Bagua but orient it according to the "fame sector" end.
I'm not surprised. And there's added confusion: the first two systems are promoted together by well-known practitioners.
How can they both be right?
The "intention" argument
This argument states that the "intention" of a practitioner determines everything. This concept is primarily used by advocates of Black Sect Buddhism Feng Shui. The argument says that if you believe in a system then it will work. But this is a red herring. Why create a new system if intention is the main factor? Surely if you also intend the traditional system to work, then it will. This also means we can create whatever we choose because our "intention" makes it work.
The proof of experience
Practitioners who use radically different systems all claim that their particular system works. Each is equally adamant when questioned. I have not heard of one practitioner who has performed a controlled experiment or who has proved conclusively that one or another system does or does not work. No one, to my knowledge, has isolated a cure and tried the traditional, Black Sect, and Southern Hemisphere School systems in any rigorous manner. Until this is done all claims remain merely anecdotal.
A typical consultation includes a number of remedies. Try using a single cure in a traditional and a Southern Hemisphere School mode. For example, put a fish tank in the southeast for one month, move it to the northeast in the next, and see what happens to your wealth. Or create two Flying Stars charts and place a cure from each chart alternately
Unfortunately, the issue is much more complicated. According to some, cures work based on a complex maze of reasons, some of which include purity of action, effects of destiny, and clarity of intention.
Feng Shui is not a purely mechanical science. It may not be possible to find proof from within Feng Shui itself. The problem, therefore, is to work out an acceptable methodology.
Some practitioners work with kinesiology to confirm the efficacy of Feng Shui. Kinesiology employs traditional Chinese medicine as one of its foundations. It uses a series of muscle tests to indicate whether or not a remedy works. If it is not working the muscle will be weak; if it is working, it will be strong. Recent investigations indicate that the traditional method of Feng Shui is the "true" system. However, to eliminate error and bias, a comprehensive series of tests needs to be done that includes a trained, neutral kinesiologist to accompany practitioners. Would advocates of the agents of change submit to this test?
At a Feng Shui conference a practitioner of the Southern Hemisphere School commented that she had seen a demonstration of kinesiology that showed all of the participants reacted positively to the traditional Feng Shui method -- a comment which contradicted her own practice.
The burden of proof
The burden of proof lies on those who propose something new. This article asks that those practitioners who advocate a change from the traditional methods justify their changes. It is not enough to rely on anecdotal evidence -- you have to prove it. But first, these advocates of change must decide amongst themselves which of their systems is the "right one."
In other disciplines one must prove the integrity of a new system to one's peers before it is taught. Unfortunately, Feng Shui has no credible professional association and no system of professional accreditation. Anyone can teach anything, call it "Feng Shui" and not be called to account. There is enough confusion amongst variations of the traditional system without adding to it, but none propose as fundamental and radical a difference as the Southern Hemisphere School, with the exception perhaps of Black Sect Buddhism.
Each month sees a new book released, many of which contradict