Compass Directions and the Changing Magnetic North: Why It Matters

compass in hand
Compass directions can be a confusing point in feng shui. In traditional feng shui actual compass directions are used to identify the eight sectors of each property. In western feng shui, each of the eight directions are symbolic, depending on how you enter the space.

There are three “norths” and sometimes the question “which north do I use?” pops up. The answer is: Use north as indicated by your compass. This is the magnetic north. This makes sense in feng shui. Magnetic north is linked to the ebb and flow of liquid iron in the earth’s core. It’s dynamic energy and it changes over time, just as chi does.

The three norths are:

True North: which is stationary. It’s the location of the north pole at the northern end of our planet.

Geomagnetic North: which is the northern end of the planets’ magnetic field, located off the coast of Greenland.

Magnetic North: is where the magnetic field lines point vertically down. This location is used by compasses. In recent years magnetic north has been changing more rapidly. This is the measure that is also used by navigation systems, so it’s important that model makers stay abreast of the acceleration of shifts.

The Government Shutdown Also Shutdown Map Updates

National Geographic Magazine published an article about this after the 33-day USA government shutdown. A magnetic model that’s used for navigation is published every five years and is updated regularly, it’s known as The World Magnetic Model. The next update is due in 2020. The regular reports were not updated during the shutdown and when they were, significant shifts were noticed. The magnetic north is shifting at an accelerated pace.

Magnetic north used to move a few hundred feet each day, resulting in about seven miles each year. Since 2000, the shift is about 34 miles each year, a significant acceleration. The reasons are not clear.

The shift impacts magnetic navigation systems and primarily influences travel at the 55th degree parallel and north. The 55-degree parallel crosses Quebec, Labrador, Newfoundland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, part of Russia, the Gulf of Alaska and back into Canada. Although the model is primarily used for military and flight purposes, modern day applications include things such as Google Earth and Google maps, which are used by many.

The bottom line is that the shifts do not affect the compass directions we take and use for feng shui.

Learn more in National Geographic’s article: