We now come to the last division of the system of Feng-shui--the doctrine of nature's outlines and forms of appearance. This section, however, forms merely a practical application of the general rules and ideas laid down in the preceding chapters, and I need not therefore enter upon details at great length. I have already spoken of those elevations of the ground which indicate the presence of nature's breath, with its two currents of male and female, positive and negative energy, symbolically called dragon and tiger. The relative position and configuration of these two, the dragon and tiger, as indicated by hills or mountains, is the most important point, as regards the outlines and forms of the earth's surface. I will not enter into an enumeration of all those configurations which make the relative position, extent and direction of these two symbolic elements favourable or unfavourable. Suffice it to say that they are most happily placed when they form a complete horse-shoe, that is to say where two ridges of hills starting from one point run out to the right and left in a graceful curve their extremities gently turning inwards towards each other. Such a formation of hills or mountains is the sure index of the presence of a true dragon and--if other conjunctions counteract it not--the influence of a locality, chosen at the point where dragon and tiger start to the right and left, will be all that can be desired.
Another important element in the doctrine of the outward forms of nature is the direction of the water-courses. We have had occasion to allude to this more than once, and the chief point is, that water running off in straight lines or
forming in its course sharp angles is absolutely dangerous. A curved and tortuous course is the best augury of the existence of beneficial influences. But the junction of two watercourses is likewise an element that should not be overlooked. The junction should take place in a graceful curve, and the conjoined waters roll on in tortuous course crossing and recrossing the plain.
A third subject that calls for attention here is the form and shape of the hills, especially the outlines of their summit. I have remarked above that the summits of hills and mountains are the embodiment of certain heavenly bodies. It is therefore one of the first requirements of a geomancer that he should be able to tell at a moment's glance which star is represented by any given mountain. As to the planets and their counterparts on earth, the rules by which each mountain may be referred to the one or other of the five planets are very simple. If a peak rises up bold and straight, running out into a sharp point, it is identified with Mars and declared to represent the element fire. If the point of a similarly-shaped mountain is broken off and flat but comparatively narrow, it is said to be the embodiment of Jupiter and to represent the element wood. If the top of a mountain forms an extensive plateau, it is the representative of Saturn, and the element earth dwells there. If a mountain runs up high but its peak is softly rounded, it is called Venus and represents the element metal. A mountain whose top has the shape of a cupola is looked upon as the representative of Mercury, and the element water rules there.
Now of course, where there are several mountains or hills in close proximity, it is all-important to find out whether the planets and the elements, which these mountains individually represent, form a harmonious peaceful union, for the luck of a place depends in a great measure upon this, that the planets and elements influencing it should be friendly or allied to each other, either producing each other or indifferent to each other. Suppose there is close to a hill resembling
[paragraph continues] Jupiter and therefore representing the element wood, another with the outlines of Mars and corresponding to the element fire, it is manifest that this is a most dangerous conjunction. For instance, the peak of Hongkong, presenting the outlines of Jupiter, is under the influence of wood. Now, at the foot of the peak there is the hill called Taip'ingshan, with the outlines of Mars, and therefore the representative of fire. Now, a pile of wood with fire at the bottom,--what is the consequence? Why, it is no wonder that most fires in Hongkong occur in the Taip'ingshan district. We see, therefore, it is most important to consider not only to which planet each hill or mountain belongs, but also the mutual relation, friendly or destructive, of the several planets and elements represented by the different peaks.
More obscure is the method by which the presence of the so-called nine stars of the northern bushel is detected. These nine stars, with their fanciful names and dreadful influences, have no fixed outlines to indicate their characteristics and facilitate their identification, but are to be chiefly recognized by the indication of the compass.
In general the association of ideas connected with the outlines of hills and mountains is of great importance. For instance, if a hill resembles in its general contour the form of a broad couch, then its influence will make your sons and grandsons die a premature and violent death. If you build on a mountain which resembles a boat turned bottom upwards, your daughters will always be ill, and your sons spend their days in prison. If a mountain reminds one in its general outlines of a bell, whilst at the top there are the outlines of Venus, such a mountain will cause the seven stars of the Great Bear to throw a deadly light upon you which will render you and all the members of your family childless. Most dangerous are also hills that resemble the one or other of the following objects: a basket, a ploughshare, the eye of a horse, a turtle, a terrace, a meadow.
There are many more rules referring to the forms and
outlines of the earth's surface. But I think the above will suffice to give my readers a tolerably clear idea of the practical teachings of the Feng-shui system.
There is only one point left to be adverted to, and this is the art of improving the natural configuration of any given place. Heaven, it is said, requires the aid of man to carry out its scheme of justice. Earth requires the aid of man to bring its products to absolute perfection. Neither heaven nor earth are complete in themselves, but leave the last finish of everything to man. Consequently, as regards the natural outlines of the earth's surface, there is much room left for the active interference of man. The influence of the planets and the five elements is very great, but it is not all. The influence of the natural configuration of the ground is very powerful in its influence upon the destiny of men, but man may alter the natural configurations, and improve the aspects of any unfavourable locality. If there is any elevation not high enough, he can make it higher; if any natural watershed is running in a straight line dangerous to life and property, he can either remove it or turn it into a favourable direction. If there is a mountain representing Mars and the element of fire, why he has simply to cut off the point of the mountain and thus convert Mars to Jupiter. Or, if there is a mountain disturbing the harmony of the surroundings because it bears the outlines of Jupiter, why he has merely to round off the outlines of its peak, and Jupiter is changed into Venus. This is frequently done, and especially travellers will have noticed a pointed mound here or there on the very top of a high but somewhat flat mountain. This mound is raised to convert that mountain, which being flat corresponds to Saturn, into Mars, for the element fire, though itself never giving good ground for a tomb or house, is absolutely required as an element to enter into the general configuration of the surroundings.
We see, therefore, it is left in a great measure to man's foresight and energy to turn his fortunes into any channel
he pleases, to modify and regulate the influences which heaven and earth bring to bear upon him, and it is the boast of the Feng-shui system that it teaches man how to rule nature and his own destiny by showing him how heaven and earth rule him.