3 things to Know About the Feng Shui Compass (Luo Pan)

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“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.” – Carl Rogers

Source: Wikipedia

When I first started practicing Feng Shui, I was a tad lazy and thought that I could cut some corners and do without a compass. After all, I can just “eyeball” where to place certain feng shui cures or solutions based on looking at the direction the sun was at, right? Nope.

I quickly found out that if I wanted to practice authentic Classical or Traditional Feng Shui, then it’s important to understand the origins of the compass. A major principle in boosting the energy of one’s space via Feng Shui involves accurate compass readings.

Here are three basic facts about the Feng Shui Compass that I would like to share with you:

1. Feng Shui is rooted in the compass

One interesting thing I learned when I began studying Feng Shui, was that the magnetic chinese compass was probably not originally designed for navigation. In fact, it was likely created and used specifically for Feng Shui purposes – to assess and harmonize a space or environment! Isn’t that so cool?

Basically, Chinese traditions held that positive and negative chi or “energy” exists around our environments. This chi also known as ying and yang or positive and negative energy needed to be measured and balanced via a tool – and hence the Luo Pan (or luopan) compass, also known as the Feng Shui or Chinese compass, was created.

2. Three types of Luo Pan compass

The Luo Pan has been around for over two millennium! Since its discovery, its become a fundamental tool used by traditional or classical feng shui schools. The word Luo translates to a “everything” and Pan translates to “plate”, “device”, or “tool”.

羅 (Luo)
盤 (Pan)

Basically, it combines a ton of Feng Shui information collected over time for reference and assessment and is a useful tool for those who want to get into very deep and advanced knowledge of Feng Shui. If you want get into the details of the Luo Pan, understand that there are various types of Luo Pans. Here are the three main types:

San He – this looks at an environment based on its form (e.g. surrounding mountains) and analyzes the yin and yang based on elements, bagua trigrams, and other feng shui details.

San Yan – more complex than the San He, the San Yan compass also includes references from the flying stars concept of Feng Shui, meaning time is also factored into assessing the feng shui of environment.

Zong He – this type of Luo Pan is a combination of the San He and San Yan compasses.

3. North is North … and some more!

by borghal (cc)
by borghal (cc)

Here are some key differences between the feng shui compass and the conventional Western compass:

  • In the very middle of the feng shui compass is a navigation tool similar to a regular compass. In Chinese, the word compass literally means “south pointing needle”, as the compass needle does not point North as it does with the Western compass. Even though the needle doesn’t point North, North is North no matter what part of the globe you are in. The same case applies to the South direction.
  • As with a conventional compass, the feng shui compass splits directions into 360 degrees.
    Baqua by Hipster Feng Shui

    However, it further splits the 360 degrees into 8 main directions in accordance with the feng shui bagua, and then 24 more granular directions also know as the 24 mountains – a major reference used in feng shui calculations to reference lucky and unlucky directions. Each direction represents 15 degrees (360 degrees divided by 24 directions).

  • The feng shui compass has many circular rings referencing different formulas and information for feng shui analysis.

Final thoughts

The most important thing is to have a compass that measures directions accurately. If you are new to Feng Shui, you can start with a regular compass first (e.g. compass on your iPhone) and gradually advance to a Luo Pan. If you would like to invest in a Luo Pan, be certain that it’s coming from a reliable source as there are many feng shui compasses out there that are low quality.

As with any practice or hobby, just remember to take a deep breath. Don’t stress too much, just take it a little at a time to embrace it and allow it to slowly improve your circumstances!


Patty is the creator and founder of Hipster Feng Shui. She is a wife, pet mom, vegetarian, tree hugger, world traveler, and Apple fan-girl. Seeing so many stressed and unfulfilled individuals in today’s society inspired Patty to help others by sharing her deep knowledge of Feng Shui and other lifestyle tips. Patty believes everyone can achieve peace and harmony through Feng Shui and lifestyle design while having fun! She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and worked at Apple and KPMG prior to founding Hipster Feng Shui. Subscribe to receive Feng Shui tips and find Hipster Feng Shui on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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