Feng Shui for the Rest of Us: the Five Elements

The Chinese Tao belief and Feng Shui idea says that Yin and Yang display themselves within five energy patterns, called The Five Elements. These five elements balance each other in an environment, and therefore also within a person. You might, for example, feel more comfortable being in one place than in another based on the alignment of these Five Elements. Based on how you have assessed the Yin or Yang to be within yourself or within a space, one can utilize the Five Elements to correct any imbalances and invite any wanted characteristics into a space. This article will discuss the basic categories, and what they represent.

Basically, the Five Elements are as follows: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each of the Five Elements has a relationship to the other, and each affects the other in a cycle, or circle, whether positively or negatively. For example: Wood takes nutrition from the Earth; Earth either pollutes or absorbs Water; Water puts out Fire; Fire melts Metal, and Metal chips Wood. All work together as part of the whole – the same idea we discussed about Yin and Yang in the previous article.

Productive Cycle: Wood > Fire > Earth > Metal > Water > Wood

Destructively Cycle: Wood > Earth > Water > Fire > Metal > Wood

Each Element also is related to personality trait, which can be reflected in the mood or completeness of a being or of a space, as in interior design. The trick, of course, is to balance each of the Elements within it’s subtle relation to the Yin and Yang qualities to reach that whole balanced environment between yourself and the space in which you spend your time.

WOOD – mu (moo) Each element is associated firstly with a direction – for wood this is North. It represents such characteristics as harmony, stability, growth, and creativity. Symbolized in flowers, plants, Spring, and anything wooden. In traditional Chinese medicine, wood represents the liver and gall bladder, and this idea is widely used in Acupuncture techniques. It’s colors are Blue and Brown.

FIRE – huo (hor) It’s direction is South. Fire is characterized as transformation and change, heat and movement. Symbolized in animals, sunlight, and Summer. It’s colors are Red and Orange, or any bright color.

EARTH – t’u (too) Is the center. Represents grounding, support, security, and stability. Colors are earthtones and yellows Symbolized in slow, dense, earth materials to promote peace and calmness.

METAL – jin (chin) It’s direction is West. Represents intellectual power. Colors are white and pastels, with a circular shape. Symbolized in metals and rocks, prisms, and Autumn.

WATER – shui (shway) It’s direction is North. Represent renewal, release, and new beginnings. Associated with finances and business. Moving water is Yang and Still water is Yin. Colors are black and dark blue.


Feng Shui Chic, by Sharon Stasney
Feng Shui; How to create harmony and balance in your living and working environment, Belinda Henwood