by Claus Larsen

A miracle: TV just got worse

It seems that today’s television only consists of precious few types of programmes. Game shows of dubious qualities, sitcoms with canned laughter, “Home with Celebrity X”, “I’m OK, You’re OK”

Lately, we have seen an upsurge in the number of TV programmes with a paranormal twist. We see psychics talking to dead people, dowsers finding water, gold and bad “energies” under your bed, clairvoyants finding dead people or criminals, and astrologers guessing celebrities. It seems that nothing is too silly or incredible to put on the tube.

One recent example is the Danish TV-show, “Living with Feng Shui”. Feng Shui is an old Chinese form of geomancy, where we live in harmony with Mother Nature by rearranging physical objects around us.

We are supposedly living in a very unbalanced world, and the only way to ensure our happiness, is to bring “energies” in balance again. What these “energies” are, and how to measure them, is still not determined, even after all these thousands of years, but they exist – we are assured – and they can have devastating influence to our lives, jobs, economy depending on how we decorate our homes. Ikea has much to answer for, it seems.

It’s dat ol’ “Chi” again

This “energy” can be tapped from infinite sources, moved effortlessly across the universe, and channeled into specific parts of your home. Some energies are good for your career, so they go there. Some are good for your love life, so they go elsewhere. And somehow, they know this, because of how you decorate your home.

The way to do that is use a so-called “Bagua” (“Bah-gwa”) chart. The bagua chart divides the home into 9 square-edged areas, each dedicated to a certain aspect of your life. It’s quite simple: You superimpose the Bagua chart on top of a plan of the house (or flat), and then you can see where you need to improve/change things. E.g., in the top left corner, you can improve your economy by putting things that are purple. Similarly, you can put black things right where you enter the home, and your career will soar – the sky is the limit, it seems. Paint the entrance door black, and you will be promoted.

Hey, that sounds easy, doesn’t it? Of course, if one must achieve a good result, one should consult Feng Shui interior designers: It’s cheap, the Feng Shui “expert” on the TV show only costs a few hundred dollars for less than two hours of advice based on “Asian principles”.

How to soak up 4,000 years of divine knowledge in only 6 days

The “expert”, Ms. Ranvita la Cour has made quite a name for herself in Denmark, mainly by advocating “simple living”, where you cut down on everything, and basically live like a monk. Her credentials sure seem impressive, on the surface: Ms. la Cour has received her education at “The Western School of Feng Shui”, that offers a 6 days program, at only $2,550. After forking over that amount, you will be able to “develop a high level of working knowledge and skill”, “focuses on developing each student’s intuitive and intellectual Feng Shui capabilities” and is designed “to open up whole new pathways of understanding, this holistic approach presents Feng Shui as both an instinctive art and a practical science”.

Be still, my heart, and clear the way to Academia.

It’s all in the card(s)…

But this is not at all about Ms. la Cour. She is no different than any of her colleagues. No, I want to talk about her Bagua chart. When I saw the chart, first on the TV show, and later on the website dedicated to it (can anything happen today, without a website being created to cover it?), there was something tickling my memory. There was something amiss with the chart, and a little digging revealed what it was.

It turned out that the Bagua chart, purportedly based on 4,000 years of Ancient Eastern Knowledge (caps are in order, I think), has not reached what we could call “standardization”. In fact, it seems like it is more “bastardization”. A quick Google resulted in no less than 6 different layouts. On the first page of hits, that is.

Spot the difference

Let’s start with the bagua chart used in the TV programme:

A color is combined with a characteristic to form a synergy of sorts: “Fame” is connected with red, “Career” with black, “Health” with green, “Creativity” (which also includes children) with white.

One different bagua chart looks like this:

As we can see, “Health” has moved to the center and is now yellow. “Career” has turned blue. “Self-development” could be interpreted as “knowledge”, but has switched from blue to brown. “Wealth” is not pink, but blue.

A third has quite a different layout:

Although not all areas are color coded, we do see some fundamental differences. “Relationships” have taken the place of “Wealth”, “Career” has replaced “Self-development”, and “Wealth” can be found where “Creativity” once was. In fact, only one area is where it should be: “Benefactors”.

Big problems for all

Although you can compare all 6 charts here, I think we have seen enough. I think it is blindingly clear that we cannot trust these bagua charts. Which one should we choose, which one is the correct? They can’t all be correct, but unfortunately, it has not been possible to determine, just from these mere 6 charts, which was the right one to use. I posed this simple question to the six owners of the websites:

“”Of these six different bagua-charts, which is the right one?””

Not one took the time to answer.

If all are correct, then we can simply make up our own, and go with that. But that would also mean no more 4,000 years of Ancient Eastern Knowledge. It would mean admitting that this is fantasy, superstition and a scam. So, the charade must continue, and criticism must be ignored.

Despite their reluctance to acknowledge it, it is a huge problem for the Feng Shui advocates, who sell the same 4,000 year old knowledge, but place the energies in different spots, with different colors. It is a huge problem for their customers, because they pay for this.

If the Feng Shui experts are correct, then their customers run the risk of channelling the wrong energies to the wrong spots. If “Chi” can mess up your life by you decorating your home haphazardly, just imagine what havoc “Chi” can do, when applied specifically, but in the wrong places!

If the Feng Shui experts are wrong, then people are wasting their money on a scam. And I am fairly certain that it helps your economy little to put purple things in the top-left square of your home. Depending on what chart you use, of course…