As a long time practitioner, I have never even remotely felt like what I consult in or teach is related to the commonly accepted criteria for Occult practices. And yet I do not fear other practices, which are often labeled as the Occult. Divination techniques as benign as tea leaf reading and tarot cards may be categorized by some as "the occult," with implications that one makes himself vulnerable to the power of Satan or some evil force. I prefer to think of these practices as just metaphysical disciplines.
Modern science is now affirming that there is a continuum of consciousness (mind) which is separate from the physical brain. Many divinatory techniques just provide a platform to tune into the mind, its relation to the environment, and the "Oversoul" as described by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Something which is taken for granted to be "symbolic" may actually be more real than what we currently know or can prove. Unlike placebos, Feng Shui adjustments have a track record for working whether people believe in it or not.
By writing an article which explores the question, I may find it hard to be objective, but I want to address some of the misconceptions in and about our field. In many cultures, practices and beliefs which do not originate with, or reflect the values of that society will be viewed with suspicion. In the case of Feng Shui, I think that unwarranted suspicion denies people of the possible benefits they stand to gain from this ancient body of knowledge.
Taken out of context, Feng Shui practices and beliefs may appear to be strange and occult-like. And yet the Yin-Yang symbol is linked to binary code and the Earth's path around the Sun. One article I read on the internet mentioned that Feng Shui appeared to be like numerology. It is true that we have a lot of symbols and coded language, and yet I don't believe these number annotations are any more related to the occult than the Periodic Table of Elements. We speak and write in symbols and with numerical coding because it is just the short-hand of our discipline.
The coded language and symbols abbreviate observations of nature and laws of physics, but having originated as a body of knowledge thousands of years ago, it is still shrouded in mystery, folklore, and in some cases superstition. While the markings of the Luo-shu and Ba'Gua may look like a talisman, they were used more like a hand-held calculator. Distinct from magic or witchcraft, Feng Shui practices have more to do with understanding our natural and man-made surroundings, and moving with these natural currents instead of against them. Environmental psychologists often come to the same conclusions.
One Internet article placed too much emphasis and skepticism on the number of practitioners who claim to be "masters." The term "master" is an Old World title which simply acknowledges a certain level of training and expertise. Today's colleges and universities may also bestow the title, as in Master's Degree in Economics or Philosophy. In another context, we may respectfully refer to a black belt in karate as a martial arts master. This doesn't mean that "masters" have psychic or supernatural powers. A "master" is not the equivalent of a sorcerer, in other words. And the "Gurus of Wall Street" are not literal gurus either.
If a Feng Shui master were to say that the steady appearance of dead birds on your front porch is a bad omen, so might the Environmental Protection Agency. If a master says that living in a house below sea level is not a good idea, so might F.E.M.A. Many of our theories are based in common sense, although the majority of them have just not been validated by western science. We do know that history repeats its self and we do know that there are innumerable patterns in nature which are highly predictable. We practitioners draw upon both subtle and obvious principles in nature in order to come to time-tested conclusions. If taking cues from Mother Nature is "occult" then a lot of science-based forecasting would fall in that category as well.