Lo Shu or Magic Square

Initially, I wanted to write an article on the school of flying stars. This method is fundamental and is generally not taken into account by the so-called “new age” or “western” feng shui. But I can’t talk about this school without first telling you about the famous Lo Shu square. Because the method of the flying stars is a mathematical technique that uses the numbers from 1 to 9, the same ones that are found in the magic square. Check my Feng Shui glossary for more concepts.

Hetu or the river diagram

According to legend, Fuxi, a mythical character in Chinese mythology, received a gift from heaven: a set of black and white dots inscribed on the flank of a dragon horse that emerged from the Yellow River. This diagram, called Hetu or river diagram, described an ideal world in perfect harmony. As you can see, the black dots represent yin and the white ones represent yang (see my article on yin and yang balance).

If we replace the sets of dots by numbers, it reminds us of the trigram arrangements of the Previous Heaven (perfect but immobile world). This Hetu diagram can be related to a second gift, received this time on the back of a turtle: the lo shu diagram.

diagramme hetu

The origins of the Lo Shu square

This gift, also known as the Luo River Writings, was received by Yu the Great, founder of the Xia Dynasty. It too contains a set of black and white dots, which in turn was related to the trigram arrangement of the Outer Sky (world in motion, interactions of Chi forces).

Of course, these are mythological tales, we don’t really believe that these diagrams appeared on the bodies of these animals. In fact, the true origin is unknown. Many writings have been destroyed, so we do not know by whom and when these diagrams were invented. The only certainty is that the los hu square is mentioned in the Annals of Confucius (500 BC).

The magic square

By replacing the series of dots with numbers, the Lo Shu becomes a third-order magic square. The black dots are represented by even numbers, the white dots by odd numbers. The 4 even numbers are in the 4 corners while the 5 odd numbers form a central cross.

It is said to be magic because the sum of the numbers contained in the cells of the same horizontal, vertical or diagonal line is always equal to 15.
For example: 4+5+6 or 9+5+1 =15.

The 5 being in the central cell, when we add the opposite even and the opposite odd, we always obtain 10: 3+7, 2+8…

This mathematical structure was used by the Chinese army because it is very efficient in defence: whatever the point of attack, there are always 15 soldiers to defend the centre.

The 9 Palace

The nine cells of the lo shu square are called the nine palaces. The number 9 has a powerful symbolism, in China, and almost everywhere in the world. In numerology, it symbolises fulfilment, the end of a cycle before returning to the number 1. In the past, in China, it was the number reserved for the emperor (9 dragons adorned his throne), so it carries nobility. It represents Heaven and perfection. According to legend, the Forbidden City had 9999 rooms.

For the school of flying stars, the 9 reinforces the number with which it is combined (i.e. being in the same cell).

The fact that the diagram is square does not make it any less cyclical, as it represents the world in motion. The arrangement of the 9 numbers in the 9 palaces of Lo Shu symbolises the distribution of energies in time and space. The 9 cells represent the 8 cardinal directions plus the centre. It indicates the trajectory of movement of the different energies: starting from the centre 5, we pass to 6 in the North West, then to 7 in the West and to 8 in the North East… The central palace represents the number of the Age.

We are currently (and until February 2024) in Age 8. This is why the flying star analysis of newly built houses is based on a lo shu which contains the number 8 in its centre. The other digits are then placed in accordance with the trajectory.

School of the 8 life aspirations

The idea of this method is that each sector of the Pa Kua refers to human activities, areas of life, aspirations.

For many traditional feng shui experts, it is not considered as feng shui. In fact, it falls under the so-called “western” feng shui.
Having said that, good results can be observed in many people and this is easily understood: dedicating a zone to an aspiration, and nourishing it according to one’s objectives, unconsciously allows the person to boost their confidence in the future. This can be a very precious help in moving forward in life.

An aspiration is thus assigned to each square of the lo shu square. Depending on the life and change objectives of the occupants of the house, we will work, nourish and boost particular areas.

It is related to professional life, studies, the path of life (dharma).
It is in relation with friendships and love relationships, the couple, partnerships…
It is related to health, vitality, ancestors, the past, the family, the awakening of life.
It is related to achievements, prosperity, finances, abundance, flow.
It is related to fullness, balance, being centred, energy.
It is related to luck, support, friends, external helpers, beliefs.
It is related to creativity, games, childhood, joy, the future.
It is related to research, studies, inner development, meditation, education.
It is related to social life, fame, reputation, self-image.

8 aspirations Feng Shui

To conclude on the Lo Shu square

As you have seen, the Lo Shu square or 9 palaces diagram integrates all the basic concepts of Feng Shui: yin & yang, the 5 elements and the 8 trigrams. It provides the tool to unify and bring together all these theories in order to analyse energy changes in time and space. This is why it is the basis of the Flying Star Analysis, as this method studies how time and space impact our lives through the famous stars, represented by the numbers 1 to 9.

épingle carré lo shu
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