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Hope Gerecht - Healing Design: Practical Feng Shui for Healthy and Gracious Living

Describing the interaction of the five elements and your personal element is not an easy job. Gerecht has tackled this complex subject, and done it gracefully. Her instructions for creating your personal elemental profile are very complete, including the elements of your birth hour, with month, and birth country. She does the reader a great service by explaining that there are at least three systems of Chinese astrology, each one listing different elements. Most books fail to acknowledge the different systems of Chinese astrology, and readers are quickly confused as soon as they read more than one book.

Even though this is a superb book, I would hesitate to recommend it as a person's very first feng shui book. She walks you through eight places she has feng shui'd --- each place being an individual chapter. She teaches the rules and lessons of feng shui as she encounters them in each location. This is a bit of an indirect approach. I have a concern that some readers will say, "None of these homes are like mine. None of these people are like me."

The type of feng shui she practices seems to be quite similar to Ian Bruce's in Plan Your Home With Feng Shui. Gerecht's book is superior by far. She figures a person's personal element, then works to support that element by location of the door, bed, desk, etc. She also adjusts the elements in the surroundings to bring even more support. Mirrors are used to symbolically shift a door from an inauspicious position to a better position. She explains what to do when more than one person is involved. Many authors ignore that tricky, but important, subject. Great emphasis is placed on getting rid of broken things, clutter, and things you don't love. She eloquently states, "Clearing the clutter is the symbolic equivalent of clearing the mind through meditation." Her rule of thumb is, "Keep walls, counters, desks, and tables at least 50 percent clear to strike a balance between what stimulates your attention and what allows your mind to rest. A valuable point is made on page 19. "Feng shui is a perpetual ongoing process, a lifestyle, in fact." One of the great strengths of this book is her willingness to explain why. That is one of the main things a reader wants to know.

Gerecht is one of the extremely few authors to tell how to do a "symbolic cure." Something as simple as a stick-on red dot (sold in stationery stores) can be applied to something which is broken when an actual repair is not feasible. Renters are often in this predicament.

Not all feng shui teachers follow the same rules. Judging by the pictures she presents, she doesn't seem to have any objection to dried flowers, glass tabletops, or fire on top of water in the kitchen. (I.e. microwave sitting directly on top of the freezer.) Needless to say, not all feng shui teachers would agree.

The publisher has made two lousy faux pas. Someone in the layout department made a major goof at the last minute. Page 80 should be page 81, and page 81 should be page 80. Not realizing that the pages are switched can result in very confused reading. Also the author repeatedly refers to chapter numbers (without giving page numbers) but the chapters are not numbered --- not in the table of contents, and not in the text. Please note that Tuttle is only the distributor of this book, not the publisher. Tuttle is basically as good as it gets for publishing, and I doubt they would have allowed these slipups.

Tuttle (Journey Editions), North Clarendon, VT, (800) 526-2778, 1999, 1-885203-60-8, 176 pages, drawings and color photos, paperback, $24.95

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