Lo Shu

The Lo shu Magic Square Part 2

In the last issue we looked at the history of the lo shu magic square. But the square is a powerful tool which can be used to enhance the feng shui of your home with just a few simple calculations

The lo shu is a nine chambered square, first seen on the back of a tortoise clambering out of a river in China. This discovery of the lo shu ‘magic square’ traditionally dates from 2005 BCE, making it 4,000 years old.

The lo shu square is similar to the pa kua octagon (featured on this page in previous issues of FSML), but not the same. The pa kua is concerned with the eight Trigrams and their Element associations with the eight directions. The key word here is Directions.

The lo shu is more concerned with Location, in other words, where to place things, rather than in what direction to point them. The formula applying the lo shu to a dwelling is one of the most useful feng shui formulae. To understand it you need to visualise the lo shu in detail. The lo shu can be seen as the ground plan of a house with nine idealised equal-sized rooms.


In ancient China, this is more likely to have been eight rooms with a central courtyard. This was a common layout for houses, and sometimes for whole villages. The outward turned walls provided protection while the inner courtyard was a private place for the family to relax in.

From here it is just a short step to understanding how the natural elements relate to the house, and indeed to the lo shu. The central courtyard is of course Earth, because that was quite often literally what it was floored with. The central square of the lo shu is hence attributed to Earth. The number associated with this central square is five. Arithmetically five is the centre of the range of numbers one to nine.

The Lo shu magic square Ⓒ FSML
The Lo shu magic square Ⓒ FSML

In addition the central courtyard provides air to all the surrounding rooms. Although air is not counted as one of the five Elements in Chinese cosmology, it is half of the words ‘feng shui’. The other half, water, often physically surrounds or passes the house in the form of a river or moat, or in very lucky cases, a properly made Water Dragon. Water for household consumption is brought in from beyond the outer walls of the house, whilst air penetrates the larger windows or door which traditionally face inwards on to the courtyard.

In a Nutshell

The house and its occupants depend upon these natural elements for their life. Death comes rapidly if you cut off someone’s air, and fairly quickly if you cut off their supply of water or other liquids. One can live much longer without food. Air and water are also necessary for the health of the house’s energy or ch’i. A stagnation of either of these will produce stagnant ch’i and then disease.

We will go into the inner magical meaning of the nine numbers attributed to each of the nine squares in a future issue. In outline the numbers begin at one in the North (representing Winter and Water) and end with nine in the South (representing Summer and Fire). The numbers one and nine refer to the elements that occur only once on the lo shu, Fire and Water.

The nine squares of the lo shu are called the Nine Palaces. They are sometimes called the Nine Halls of the Ming T’ang, which was a legendary temple dwelt in by the Emperor, who was supposed to move from one chamber to another as the seasons progressed.

In each chamber he was supposed to carry out the rites appropriate to that season. Similarly, the location of each room suggests the best place for each of the various domestic functions to be carried out in.

For those of you familiar with Flying Star feng shui, this provides a key as to why the ‘Five-Yellow Earth’ star is inauspicious.

It is obvious that transferring the qualities of an open courtyard to one of the inner rooms of the house brings disaster. It is also obvious that when the Centre flies to some other point, that things are upset from their normal order.

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