Since the day I began my Feng Shui journey I have been blessed everywhere I turn. I am constantly inspired by this amazing and significant practice simply by what can be achieved, and also just how profoundly it can change peoples lives in the most positive of ways.
As the popularity of Feng Shui has spread around the globe in recent years, and people have become more aware of the intimate connection between their own energy and that of their homes and offices - the age old custom of blessing a ‘space’is having a resurgence.
To bless a home or to create a sacred space refers back to very old rituals. In our western cultures we might celebrate with house warming parties. Many European cultures, particularly those of a Christian influence, quite often ask a priest to perform a blessing ritual in a new home or business.
Many traditional and native peoples from cultures around the world have deeply honoured and understood the profound role and relationships we share with our homes and environments.
Through Feng Shui we have the opportunity to release, clear and transform life depleting influences and create environments that nourish and support us bringing blessings not only to our homes but also to the planet.
Contemporary man and woman, who are confident in their command of technological power, tend to forget that buildings are more than physical realities sustained by steel girders and concrete but also...by the creation of human discussion, ceremony, ritual and blessings. Your floor plan can reveal the “blueprint” of your life.
A building is, fundamentally - a shelter. It provides protection from antagonistic forces, whether of the human variety or that of nature. But it is also, in another elementary sense that we now neglect - an intermediary. It is an arbitrator between insiders and outsiders, between the outside environment and the internal partitions. Its spaces allow for graduated relationships among human beings and most importantly it is an expression of a series of correspondences between the natural, external environment and the character of the built environment – between nature and human beings. In other words, Feng Shui helps to foster a bond between person and place.
Various forms of addressing the environment and its effect on people have been used by many ancient cultures. The Roman architect Vitruvius, who lived in the first century B.C., describing a location for the positioning of a new town in ‘The Ten Books on Architecture’ says: “First comes the choice of a very healthy site. Such a site will be high, neither misty nor frosty, and in a climate neither hot nor cold, but temperate: further, without marshes in the neighbourhood. For when the morning breezes blow toward the town at sunrise, if they bring with them mists from marshes to be wafted into the bodies of the inhabitants, they will make the site unhealthy”.
Whilst Vitruvius’s choice of words is different to those of a Feng Shui master – they are similar in nature.
In ‘Common Landscape of America, 1580-1845’, John Stilgoe writes: “Even as late as the nineteenth century, settlers in the Ohio Valley sited farmhouses ‘right with the earth’ parallel to vaguely understood lines of force that directed good health and prosperity to well-placed doors.”
During the gold rush era of Victoria, Australia, Feng Shui was at work and influenced the positioning, design and decoration of the Chinese joss house in Bendigo, which is one of only a handful of Chinese buildings left from this period.
It is possible that, due to a considerable number of the early missionaries in China dismissing Feng Shui as nonsense, the more western style of Feng Shui was watered down and has been superseded by a system of building ceremonies and blessings such as; turning the first sod, laying the foundation stone, completing the roof framing, foundation deposits and blessing the opening of a new business or building.
Ground breaking ceremonies today, are usually informal occasions.
In India the site of a house was once abandoned if ashes, bones, skull, or hair was found while digging the hole for the central post. Conversely, it was considered lucky to find stones or brick. Ground breaking ceremonies currently practised in the West are no longer performed to discover whether a site is lucky or not, they merely indicate the start of the building process which, of course, is still considered a very important occasion.
There was a well publicised ground breaking ceremony for Australia’s old parliament house held on 28 August 1923. More recently, in 2001, the then Prime Minister John Howard, with a nickel plated shovel (that was first used in January 1878 by Governor Jervois) and a wooden wheelbarrow turned the ‘first sod’ of the Adelaide to Darwin railway in Alice Springs.
Whilst this is a formal procedure often used by Government agencies and large corporations to celebrate their new buildings there is absolutely no reason why the ‘first sod’ should not be turned prior to the construction of a new home.
Opening ceremonies are often held to signify the commencement of a new business and commercial premises or significant buildings.
A new public building is opened usually by person of notable public standing, often at a specifically designated ‘auspicious’ time.
Usually, the front door is opened with a ceremonial key or a ribbon is strung across the main entrance of the building and the selected person cuts the ribbon at the appointed time. They can be simple or much more elaborate.
Due to my involvement in the building design of the Mawarankarra Health Service in Roeburn, my client invited me to join their official opening ceremony. This included acknowledgement and speeches by the CEO and officials such as the appropriate government minister. In accordance with the traditions of the various cultures the centre services, there were various performances of traditional songs and dance culminating in the clinics blessing by an elder of the community.
An opening ceremony or the blessing of a home or office can be as simple or elaborate as you would like. The importance is in the acknowledgement of the new premises, the relationship created between person and place as well as the future that it holds for those enjoying its offerings.