I bought this book motivated by an enthusiasm to uncover the secrets of a fascinating type of "mandala", the Chinese Lo P'an compass, and to understand Feng Shui. However, I am having trouble finding enough information in this book to make sense of any readings I might take with the Lo P'an. Stephen Skinner does a great job presenting the history of the Lo P'an, or Chinese Feng Shui compass, which intriguingly predates European compasses by 1500 years. He describes the two main types of Lo P'an, and the different rings on them. However, the one area the book doesn't address, which for any practical use of the Lo P'an seems MOST important to address, is the meanings of the individual sectors of each of the rings. Without being given meanings for these sectors, I find myself completely unable to make any practical use of the Lo P'an, and thus rather frustrated.
For instance, the most important ring on the Lo P'an is described as the "24 Mountains" ring. This is a ring of 24 sectors, each of which has a certain Chinese name. HOwever, apart from correlating each of these 24 sectors with yin or yang, and the Chinese 5 Elements Wood, Water, Fire, Metal and Earth, no meanings for each of these sectors is given. So if for instance I take a Lo P'an reading on the facing direction of a particular structure, and find that it corresponds to earth and to yang, what the heck does that tell me about it, compared to any other possible combination of yin/yang and the 5 Elements? The same problem exists, as far as I can tell, for all of the other rings on the Lo P'an, such as the "60 Sexagenary Combinations" or the fascinating-sounding "60 Mysterious Gates", or the tantalizing sounding "72 Dragons": the NAMES of each of the Sectors are given, in Chinese and in some cases in English too, and sometimes associated animals or planets are named as well, but for NONE Of these sectors is any actual MEANING given, nor is one instructed on any method of finding such a meaning.
The one ring where information is presented which comes closest to an attribution of meanings, is for the Hsiu ring, or the 28 Lunar Mansions. HEre we are given associated planets, animals, chi luck paths, as well as lists of other correspondences, images, and what look intriguingly like sigils from a modern Chinese Almanac. However, Skinner makes no mention of whether these Chinese Lunar Mansions correspond to the INdian/Arabic 28 Lunar Mansions, and I don't find any similarities in the correspondences.
I would dearly love to know what the 72 Dragons stand for, or discover the secrets of the 60 Mysterious Gates, or be able to penetrate the significance of the 24 Mountains in their 3 forms of Earth, (Hu)Man and Heaven, or know any of the meanings of any of the other rings and their sectors, but alas, nowhere in the 430 pages of this big book can I find any of that, and so all I can do is look at my pretty Lo P'an and be unable to use it. Am I missing something? Are there other books on Feng Shui out there that provide these meanings, so important but so elusive within this large and sadly incomplete guide?