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How do I take an accurate compass reading?

Taking an accurate compass reading is one of the most important parts of a Feng Shui consultation. You cannot determine the magnetic directions by using an A to Z map reference.

First thing first, you need to get yourself a good compass, the type of compass that you nee is one that reads in one degree graduations. I would not recommend buying a Chinese Luo Pan (compass) unless you are prepared to pay several hundred pounds for a good one. You will find many of these for sale on the Internet or in Chinatown for a very low price but they are better employed as decorative items.

An authentic Chinese Luo Pan contains a reservoir of valuable information and formulae. They are useless if you do not know how to understand the different rings of information and understand their use. Traditional Masters design their own Luo Pan with the intention of incorporating as many formulae and as much information into it as possible. Apart from taking compass readings, a Luo Pan also serves as a working manual.

Figure 1 - Luo Pan Example 1

Figure 2 - Luo Pan Example 2
Which way is south?

There is a great deal of confusion concerning the Chinese placing of south at the top of the Ba Gua which makes us ask the question; ‘Is the Chinese south different from our western south?’

The answer is: There is no difference. All authentic Feng Shui analyses are based on the magnetic directions of a compass. Therefore, no matter where you are in the world, south will be south and north will be north. If you met a Master in China who advised you to place an earth cure in the south, you would still place an earth cure in the south of your home wherever you are in the world.

There is more than one North?!?

The only north that concerns Feng Shui is the magnetic north. This is the north on your compass.

You may have come across architectural plans or OS maps featuring an arrow showing the north direction (this normally appears on the bottom right hand side of the drawing paper). This is not magnetic north. This north is geographical north. All you need to remember is never to use this reading for Feng Shui purposes.

Magnetic and Geographical north are entirely different.

Figure 3 - Magnetic north is used for Feng Shui, your new compass is set up to use magnetic north

Ask a friend to take the readings also and return the favour for them. This is a good way of clarifying that you have taken a correct reading. Believe me, it is so important that it is worth spending time checking.

Cardinal Directions: North, East, South, West.

Inter-Cardinal Directions: North-east, South-east, South-west, north-west.

How to ensure the perfect compass reading

The compass below is one similar to the compass we sell on our website. From the photo below familiarise yourself with the compass needle. Face yourself  and the top of the compass (C) towards to the front of your home/office. Align the bubble in vial (B) so it is central (this may take some time to get used to)  The red part of end of needle (A) always points to the north regardless of which country you are in, turn the bezel so that the red arrow needle is in between the two illuminated dots. Once this is aligned refer to the black highlighted maker line at the top of your compass and this will tell you the direction you are facing.

Figure 4 - How to ensure the perfect compass reading

Figure 5 - How to ensure the perfect compass reading
Make sure your back is square to the property and  remove all metal objects on you or in your pockets e.g. jewellery, belts and do not stand near metal gates, cars or manhole covers etc. It is good if you could get a friend or relative to give you a second opinion. Check the readings again the next day. It really is worth making double sure that you are happy with the readings.

Where should I take my readings from?
  • Take readings from outside your property.
  • Stand 3-5 feet away from property.
  • Do not stand near metallic objects e.g. metal gate, cars, metal garage doors, manhole etc...
  • Remove all metal jewellery including metal belt buckles etc.
  • Stand with your back squarely to the property.
  • Hold your compass at waist level.
  • Check spirit level bubble is in the centre.
  • Turn the compass dial until the red compass needle aligns with the mid-point between the two green markers as shown on the diagram (point A) in the previous page.
  • Read the compass degree shown on the thin red indicator line on the compass as shown on the diagram (point C) in the previous page.
  • Take three readings as shown on previous page.
  • The three readings will probably differ.
  • Make a note of all three readings.
  • Add all 3 readings up and divide by 3. I.e. 310 + 318 + 330 = 958 divided by 3 = 319 degrees.
  • The sitting direction is the opposite reading.
  • You will now have an accurate facing and sitting direction for your property.
Use the chart on towards the bottom to determine the Trigram of your house although you can find this out on your Feng Shui software and a lot more. The table also shows the best colour for your house. This does not mean you should paint the whole house red if you are a Li Trigram.

If your house faces 362 degrees north, this means your house sits south and is a Li Trigram house. You can paint the garage door and/or the gutter fascia panels in a deep red/burgundy colour as this can complement and bring balance to the home.

Figure 6 - An old loadstone compass
The eight different locations and sectors

Once you know the Trigram or compass reading of your home, you can lay the eight magnetic cardinal directions or sectors over your home allowing you to place your cures and enhancers for the year accurately.

In the old days, Feng Shui Masters used to wear robes with very long baggy sleeves. They folded their arms hidden inside the sleeves in order to look humble. Unbeknown to many, they did this in order to calculate complex figures on the pads of their fingers. They would use the finger pads of the three middle fingers to calculate Flying Stars and their directions. These nine pads represent the Lou Shu diagram and also the cardinal and inter-cardinal directions.

Figure 7 - An ancient Feng Shui Master

Figure 8 - The eight locations and sectors
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