Life as a Geomancer (Fictional Short Story)

All my life I lived in a small rural town in southern China. My father was the town geomancer, and he was the only one for miles and miles. This meant he was always busy assessing the feng shui of everyone’s house and ancestral grave sites. When I was very young I would sometimes go with him to his clients’ houses to watch him access the feng shui of the house. I remember sitting in the corner watching him explain how and why the family was experiencing one misfortune or another. Most of the time the family’s misfortunes were due to upsetting their ancestors, or some kind of disharmony involving the direction of an ancestor’s grave. Once I got older my father started to teach me how to access the feng shui of various locations. I remember reading through his extensive collection of books, each one adding to my knowledge of feng shui. After a number of years of studying, I began going with my father to meet his clients and even assist him while he looked over his clients’ houses. It wasn’t long before I was going out on my own. As time passed my father grew older and passed away leaving me the new town geomancer. When he passed away he passed down all of his books on feng shui. I treasured those books since I knew how important they were to my father. As each day passed people would come to me with new problems. One day a child was sick with a disease that had no cure, the next day a man would come and explain how his business was doing poorly and no matter what he did he couldn’t increase the number of customers coming to see him, after that would be a women who says her son has yet to find a wife, next came the mother in law who said her son’s wife has yet to bear a child. Each day people would come with new questions that needed answers, and each time I was happy to come and assess the feng shui of their house and/or ancestral gravesite. Life stayed like this for a number of years, and I was quite content with how my business was flourishing.

One day after I had just helped cure another sick child, I was sitting in my house when group of 10 or 15 young Chinese Red Guard soldiers came storming into my town. The leader of the troupe then demanded to know where the town geomancer was. I stepped out of my house to see what all the commotion was about and the leader again asked where the town geomancer was. When I stepped forward, all of the red guards pushed passed me and entered my house. They immediately began tearing apart my living room and taking my father’s feng shui books. I immediately demanded to know what was going on. The leader of the troupe said Chairman Mao was trying to preserve the true Communist ideology by getting rid of the “Four Olds”, old customs, culture, habits, and ideas, essentially it was out with the old and in with the new. Feng shui was, of course, considered old, and had to be removed. The leader then threatened to imprison me as a counter revolutionist if I stood in his way. All I could do was stand and watch in horror as the Red Guard took my feng shui books and then burned them right outside my house. After they left, it was hard to contain my feelings of disgust and sorrow. How could destroying China’s ancient culture be part of the true Communist ideology? How could the Red Guard just invade my house and burn my father’s books? Unable to move I looked around, papers were thrown everywhere, furniture was over turned, and the floor was covered in muddy footprints, my living room was a disaster.  After silent contemplation and calming my feelings of anger, I became determined to oppose this new ideology. No matter what it took I would continue practicing and studying feng shui. With this new found inspiration, I put my house back together and sat down at my desk. I started writing down all of my feng shui knowledge to create my own book. Hopefully this book would be passed down from generation to generation so feng shui could live on, even among all the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.

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