FEBRUARY 2015

Pa-Kua Feng Shui Basics

by: Steven M. Ng (reading – 5.1. - 11.1.)

FENG SHUI BASICS

Feng Shui (literally "Wind and Water" in Chinese), is all about balance and harmony between us and our environment. Just like the Yin and Yang energies, Feng Shui is about balance. Where there is light, there will always be darkness; where there is fire, there will always be water; and so forth.

Feng Shui teaches that every individual interacts differently with their environment. Sometimes, a particular environment - such as a house or office - is so suited to you that you find that everything in your life is great. However, if you have troubled relationships or financial woes, it is quite likely that there is some discord or imbalance between yourself and your environment, manifesting in your daily life.

By subtly modifying your environment, you will be able to restore this balance, and consequently improve your life. Modifying your environment can be as simple as changing the angle or position of your work desk, or by buying Feng Shui items such as mandarin ducks and placing them in proper locations in your home or office.

There are many systems of authentic classical Feng Shui. This article describes the Xuan Kong (pronounced "Shu-en Kong") system. Xuan Kong (literally "Mysterious Void" in Chinese) is a complete system which includes complicated formulae to calculate optimal positioning and composition of an environment.

EIGHT MANSION (PA-KUA) SCHOOL OF FENG SHUI

There are a few sub-schools within the Xuan Kong system, including the popular Flying Stars school. The descriptions in this article are based on the Eight Mansion school, also known as the Pa-Kua school. In the Pa-Kua technique, the compass is divided into eight directions, each of which is depicted by a trigram. Each of these directions have different significance. For example, one of the Pa-Kua directions is the personal or relationship direction, which will be of the most interest to someone with troubled relationships. Furthermore, the significance of each direction differs for each individual.

To find out how each Pa-Kua direction affects you personally, you will need to calculate your Kua Number. You can do this by using the Kua Calculator at:

www.mandarin-ducks.com/dragongate.html

The calculator will provide you with your Kua Number, and more importantly, what each Pa-Kua direction means to you. In short, four of those directions will be positive and favorable to you, while the other four will have negative connotations for you.

The eight Pa-Kua directions can be briefly summarized as follows:

Sheng Chi (Life Generating) - This Pa-Kua direction is your prosperity and wealth direction. You would focus on this direction if you are interested in financial strength.

Tien Yi (Heavenly Doctor) - This direction is your health direction. You would focus on this direction if you are interested in health and physical matters.

Nien Yin (Relationships) - This direction is your relationships direction. You would focus on this direction if you have troubled relationships and would like to improve your love life and/or your marriage.

Fu Wei (Stability) - This direction is your stability and knowledge direction. You would focus on this direction if you want to achieve tranquility and knowledge.

Ho Hai (Mishaps) - The first negative Pa-Kua direction is your accident or misfortune direction. You would focus on this direction if you want to reduce unforeseen accidents or loss.

Wu Gwei (Five Ghosts) - This direction is your financial loss direction. You would focus on this direction to prevent theft and other financial woes.

Liu Sha (Six Killings) - This direction is your "evil" direction. You would focus on this direction to ward off malevolence against you.

Chueh Ming (Total Loss) - This direction is your loss and death direction. You would focus on this direction to reduce physical loss and death around you.

For more information on the Nien Yin (Love and Relationship) corner, you can read:

www.mandarin-ducks.com/love.html

About The Author

Steven maintains the Mandarin Duck Feng Shui website at www.mandarin-ducks.com . It provides information on how mandarin ducks are able to help improve relationships using Feng Shui principles.



The Pyramids of Giza

by: Steven M. Ng (reading – 12.1. - 18.1.)

The most famous Egyptian pyramids ever built are the Great Pyramids of Giza, located in the outskirts of present-day Cairo. There are over 100 Egyptian pyramids of various sizes, and over 50 more in neighboring Sudan. However, the three Great Pyramids of Giza earn their fame by being the largest of these.

In the most popular pictures of the Pyramids of Giza, like the one shown below, the middle pyramid, that of Khafre (Chephren), appears larger due to the angle and because it was built on higher ground. The largest pyramid is actually the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), the one on the left.

The Great Pyramid of Khufu

Contrary to popular belief, not all the Great Pyramids of Giza are considered part of the Seven Wonders of the World. Only the largest, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, is the only one of the Seven Wonders that still stands. Egypt was also home to another of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was destroyed long ago.

The Pyramid of Khufu has a height of 145 m (475 ft) and a base area of 52,400 sqm (562,500 sqft). That area is large enough to fit over 20 Olympic-size swimming pools! And for thousands of years, until the rise of modern-day skyscrapers, the pyramid was the tallest building in the world.

What makes the pyramid an architectural triumph and one of the Seven Wonders of the World is the fact that the rocks used in its construction each weigh more than 2 tons. And there are more than 2 million of those rocks.

Greek travelers to ancient Giza wrote that it took a hundred thousand slaves 20 years to construct the pyramid. However, since they visited Egypt more than 2 thousand years after the Egyptian pyramids were built, the truth of their accounts are suspect. Modern engineers estimate that it would likely take less people and less time to build the pyramid using technology that was available at that time.

Treasures of the Pharaoh

The Pyramid of Khufu was built by the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops) in the 4th Dynasty circa 2560 BC, making it over 4500 years old! It is widely accepted that the pyramid was built to bury Pharaoh Khufu when he died. However, many other conspiracy theories abound as to why the pyramids were built, ranging from astronomical observatories to alien artifacts.

Since Egyptian Pharaohs were noted for being buried with their great treasure, Arab conquerors attempted to gain entrance into the Pyramid of Khufu in order to plunder it.

They managed to find a few narrow passages that led both up into the center of the pyramid, and down beneath the massive structure. However, all they managed to find at the end of these passages were empty chambers. No mummies or treasure was found in the pyramid.

During the Arabs' excavation of the Pyramid of Khufu, they encountered various boulders and slabs that were used to seal the passages and chambers within the pyramid. They also found hidden doors. This probably fueled the many myths about the Egyptian pyramids being booby-trapped, and where a grave robber who managed to get in would never get out alive.

A 17th century Englishman managed to uncover another shaft connecting the passages, but still no treasure was to be found.

Two conclusions can be derived from this. First, ancient tomb raiders have long since plundered all the treasure from the pyramid, leaving behind nothing but a few empty chambers. Or second, Khufu's mummy and treasure is still cleverly hidden within (or beneath) the Great Pyramid.

For more information on the Pyramids, visit www.nekhebet.com/w_pyramids.html

About The Author

Steven maintains the informational website Wonders of Ancient Egypt at www.nekhebet.com . Do visit if you want to find out more about the wonders of Egypt such as the Pyramids and the Lighthouse; or mysteries such as mummifcation and conspiracy theories; or its religion and history.



Everything You Wanted to Know about Bordeaux Wine Tours

by: Terry Roberts (reading – 19.1. - 25.1.)

When thinking about a vacation in France, there is always the image of going on one of the many delightful, relaxing and wonderfully delicious Bordeaux wine tours. The Bordeaux region of France has long been known for the amazing wines it has produced - and continues to produce. The Bordeaux region was divided into four wine producing areas by Emperor Napoleon III in 1855, and each area produces a unique and distinctive type of wine. Since the region of Bordeaux is relatively small, it is possible, with some planning, to tour each of the regions and sample the amazing qualities of wines produced in the area.

Most wines on the Bordeaux wine tours will be reds, but with constant pressure from other wine growing countries, the French vineyards and wineries have responded with an ever increasing variety. Today, on a wine tasting tour of the area, participants can expect to sample the traditional full-bodied red wines, together with medium-bodied reds and dry and sweet white wines.

There are many options when considering one of the many Bordeaux wine tours. One of the more popular tours for wine lovers, and those new to wine tasting and enjoyment, includes the harvest tours. These tours allow participants to actually work alongside the grape pickers in the field, helping with the harvest for a brief period of time. Lunch is then served in the fields and is usually a traditional French meal, served, of course, with wonderful wines from the winery. After lunch the tour continues with wine classes, wine tasting and then ends up with dinner in an authentic Bordeaux restaurant. For those that really like to learn about wines and wine making, this is an ideal chance to experience the whole production.

In addition to the harvest tours there are also many other options for Bordeaux wine tours. There is a bicycle wine tour offered through the area that allows participants to experience the countryside in a relaxed and enjoyable way. Everyone will ride bicycles to and from the very centrally located vineyards and wineries, and will also stop for lunch at local restaurants for wonderful traditional fare.

For those that wish to travel in comfort, Bordeaux wine tours have just the options. There are limousine tours that will provide individual or small group wine tastings at various chateaus and wineries within a given area of Bordeaux, or may complete a larger circuit of the various wine houses. There are also large charter bus services that provide guides, instructors and even chefs that can provide ideas for meals that are compatible with the various types of wines found in the Bordeaux area.

About The Author

Terry Roberts is a professional translator and linguist, with a wide range of interests. To read more about wine tours in Bordeaux, and wine tours in general, please visit his website: www.wine.food-and-beverages.com .



The Mystery Of An Opal

by: Sher Matsen (reading – 26.1. - 1.2.)

There is no other stone that has the mystery of an opal. With it’s fiery colors and magnificent spectrum of color it draws you in and you are helpless to look away.

Every opal is different. There are no two stones the same. And every stone reflects the light differently depending on its depth and personal characteristics. This stone eludes a mystical aura without even trying.

Opals are extremely popular for jewelry and it’s not hard to figure out why due to such a beautiful array of color. Soft and feminine yet fierce and bold.

Opal has the honors of being October's birthstone. Back to ancient times it has beeen associated with magical qualities. It was believed to bring both good and bad luck. Some cultures used opals in white magic and believed they brought good fortune. Other cultures considered them a third eye that would allow you to tell the future.

Opals are a semi precious stones but a black opal can cost as much as a diamond. The amount of fire in the opal and where it comes from will determine the price. Pale opals can be purchased quite cheaply but the more fiery or red the more expensive the opals become.

Opal jewelry comes in a variety of style and is set in both gold and sterling silver. Sometimes you’ll see triplet or stacked opals, other times they are set solitaire. They also come in a variety of different cuts.

There are several types of opals:

The fire opal is probably the most popular. It is translucent with fiery orange and red flecks. The colors are vivid and intoxicating. This opal is sometimes called the Mexican opal or the Cherry opal.

The white opal is an opaque milky white with light flashes of rainbow colors.

The boulder opal is a natural solid opal with a fine layer of opal deposited on an iron base.

The water or jelly opal is colorless and transparent and has no color play.

The crystal opal is also transparent, but display a rainbow of color. It is so transparent you can see through it on a light surface.

The Mosaic opal is just what it says. Small irregular pieces of opal tightly fit together. It’s a great way to use chips and is very affordable.

The opal doublet is made of sliced layers of natural opal that is too thin to be used in a single set. It is bonded and set on black glass or ironstone which enhances its color. The doublet opal is much cheaper because you are buying less true opal.

Synthetic opals are created in a lab and although they basically have the same properties as a natural opal by law the jeweler must tell you if it is a synthetic stone.

Contrary to what you hear opals are no more difficult to take care of than other stones. You should not knock or bang them and you should keep them out of direct sunlight or heat.

One thing you need to know is that opals cannot be cleaned in commercial jewelry cleaner or any other harsh chemical solution. Rather use a soft brush and water with a dab of vinegar, then rinse thoroughly.

Water will not hurt your opal unless it is a doublet or triplet then it should not be immersed in water. Solid stones are fine. See that's not so difficult.

So the next time an opal draws you in and wants to go home with you why not add this beautiful mysterious stone to your jewelry collection. Only then will you experience the mystery of the opal.

About The Author

Sher Matsen from Estate Jewelry International has been serving customers for over 20 years, providing fashion, jewelry,and wedding help. Please visit us at www.estatejewelryinternational.com/ .