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The Practice of Yin House Feng Shui

Sunday, October 1, 2006
By: Joey Yap

Last week, I introduced the concept of Yin House Feng Shui and explained how in the ancient days, Feng Shui actually meant Yin House Feng Shui. This week, I'm going to explain the process involved in Yin House Feng Shui so that everyone has a better understanding of its relevance in today's environment.

As I mentioned last week, many of the principles in today's Yang House Feng Shui are similar to those applicable to Yin House Feng Shui in the ancient days. This is because many aspects of Yang House Feng Shui today are derived from Yin House practices. Of course, there are some significant differences. The Feng Shui practitioner doesn't have to consider internal Feng Shui when it comes to Yin House since there is only one individual involved. The 'sleeping direction' (or casket alignment as it is known in Yin House Feng Shui) is only for one individual and it is a permanent direction.

Classical Feng Shui practitioners generally are not concerned with the religious and cultural, or ceremonial aspects of death. Their role is strictly to handle the Feng Shui aspect of the site in relation to the burial. Whatever way the family prefers when it comes to religious, spiritual or other practices surrounding the death of a loved one strictly do not involve any input from the Feng Shui practitioner.

The 4 Stages of Yin House Feng Shui

Yin House Feng Shui involves a higher level of involvement by the Feng Shui practitioner, compared to a typical Yang House audit. It is not unusual for a Feng Shi practitioner to be involved in working with a client over a number of years. This is because Yin House Feng Shui, when done properly, involves up to four stages.


The first stage of Yin House Feng Shui is land selection. This is usually done well in advance of old age or illness. Engaging a Feng Shui practitioner to conduct a land selection after death is usually not a good idea because it tends to be a rush job and of course, in the midst of all the emotional upheaval, it is not desirable to have family members not being able to agree on the location (perhaps because the land formations are not favourable to everyone in the family, or favour only one person) or simply because the cost is prohibitive.

The next stage of Yin House Feng Shui takes place after death and prior to burial. The Feng Shui practitioner is usually involved in the selection of a suitable date for the alignment of the casket and placement of the casket into the ground. Some people bypass the alignment of the casket and it is an optional aspect of Yin House Feng Shui, but the proper process typically will involve casket alignment, so as to tap into a good direction, much like beds are aligned in a home in Yang House Feng Shui.

Where the Yin House process is taken very seriously, we may even hear of cases where the casket is not put into the ground for several years, while the descendants wait for a date that matches the formations. For example, Mao Tse Tung's grandfather's casket was not buried in the ground until 7 years after his death, in order to accommodate an auspicious date that would activate the powerful Feng Shui formations that surrounded the burial spot he had selected. These days of course that's not very practical. It is not uncommon therefore for the ashes to be cremated and then kept in a jar until a suitable date has been found.

Once the ground has settled, then a date is selected for the tombstone to be aligned. This is important because it is what will activate the tomb and enable the tomb to tap into the formations surrounding it. The tombstone for a burial spot is similar to the Main Door in a Yang House. It provides a direction for the Qi. Date selection plays the same importance in Yin House Feng Shui, as it does in Yang House Feng Shui. In fact, it is arguably of greater significance with regard to Yin House because a Feng Shui practitioner must align all the astronomical configurations (representing Heaven) in line with the land formations (representing Earth) and then by placing the tombstone, activates the tomb (representing the Man component). Many of the common Yang House afflictions that most people know about, such as the Three Killings of the year, and the Five Yellow star, are derived from Yin House practices.

Strictly speaking, according to proper Classical Feng Shui principles, there is no spiritual component involved in Yin House Feng Shui. Yin House Feng Shui involves the selection of the location and the alignment of the direction and really has nothing to do with the spiritual or religious aspects involved in the burial ceremony. And it does not matter whether it is Chinese tombstone or a Christian tombstone, or any other tombstone. In fact, it was only after the Tang Dynasty that tombstones were used to provide a facing direction for tombs. Prior to the Tang Dynasty, tombstones were not used because the focus was on the first and second stage of Yin House Feng Shui, which is the land selection and burial.

What are the important considerations ?

When selecting a location for a burial spot, the most important thing is to look at the land. Now for the average layperson, it would be difficult to discern incoming dragons or figure out the Water formulas and formations. A Feng Shui practitioner would generally look for an area with good land contours and preferably have gentle undulating hills in the surrounding areas. Flat land is generally not so favourable for Yin House, and is better for Yang House. There is of course an exception to using flat areas but it is an extremely difficult exception to effect in modern day, hence, the avoidance of flat areas for Yin House.

We also want to see supporting water formations, and the correct application of water formulas as per the structure of the plot. Mountain (yin) and Water (yang) must conform. This means, we have to consider the actual internal and external Water flow as well as Qi mouth in relation to that location. Now, when I talk about water formulas and formations, I am not necessarily referring to the drains that surround the tombs or any open-mouthed holes, which are often speciously considered secret water-mouths, and are typically seen in a selective group of Taiwanese graves. These are simply drainage systems and are designed to keep water away from the grave area.

Yin Apartments or Yin Houses?

After last week's introductory article on Yin House Feng Shui, I received quite a few emails asking me about whether or not placing one's ancestor's ashes in a columbarium makes a difference. The difference between placing the ashes in a columbarium and being buried in a grave is, in layperson property context, the difference between staying in apartments and staying in landed property. It is not ineffective but is less effective compared to burial. It is fine to bury the ashes or place the jar in the ground. Of course, actual burial is preferable but is not necessary.

In Hong Kong, it is common for people to 'move' their ancestral graves every ten years, especially if the graves are located in public graveyards, where public policy only allows the use of each plot for up to 10 years. So re-doing the Yin House Feng Shui is not as uncommon as it sounds. In fact, I recently read an article in the International Herald Tribune about how in Korea, where Feng Shui is known as Poongsu, prominent Koreans, move their ancestral graves each year in the hope of gaining an extra edge or even to win a presidential election. Feuding over a tomb spot has been going on between two famous Korean families for centuries!

I hope that this week's article has helped clear away some of the superstition and morbidity surrounding Yin House Feng Shui. Choosing a good location for a burial site does not carry any negative connotations or meaning. These days, most people are quite open-minded and have wills prepared well in advance of death. As I said in my article last week, more and more people are treating the selection of a burial spot as part and parcel of estate planning. Not many people these days think it is a bad omen, or that they would die sooner, just because they've drawn up a will. Similarly, selecting a burial spot brings no such connotation.

If we look at Yin House Feng Shui as part of a legacy to our descendants, a sort of Feng Shui inheritance if you like, it really isn't all that morbid after all!

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