Feng Shui's Five Elements

July 23, 2017

What is Five Elements Theory?

Ancient Chinese people recognized constant cycles of renovation and rejuvenation in the universe, based on their observations of nature.  At first, these explanations used Yin and Yang reasoning, but later these were expanded using a theory called the Five Elements.  The philosophy evolved from the study of various processes, functions, and phenomena of nature. Wood, fire, water, metal and earth contain their own specific qualities and properties. The Five Elements theory is still used today as a way for understanding qualities and behaviors, and as a means for analyzing changes of natural phenomena. 
As energy (or life) moves from one stage to another, the same changes occur to each of us, because we’re all subject to the laws of nature.  This movement holds true for every part of our lives, whether it’s moving from birth to old age, the passage of the seasons, to a breath of life.  The chart below will hopefully help you understand a bit more about different aspects of nature and our lives interrelate.


Five Elements in Our Personalities


Each of us has all Five Elements within us to one degree or another.  Just as we were born with DNA that produces lighter or darker skin, or a specific eye color, we were born with these five elements within us.  The percentage of one element compared to the others is what gives all people similar qualities, and simultaneously makes each individual different from another.  Very few (if any) people are equally balanced with 20% of each element being present within them.  The element with the highest percentage indicates the personality traits or state of being more dominantly present in each of us.  This identification helps to determine each person’s strengths, as well as (perceived) weaknesses in our relationships with others.  It also can help us identify when we’re not in balance and how that equilibrium might be recovered.


...can see the big picture and is skilled at communicating in a clear and concise manner. This person is often also good at setting limits and evaluation. This person tends to be an introvert, needing their own space and some solitude to be most productive. 



...is an infectious optimist who is very innovative and motivational. This person works well with others and is good at conflict resolution. People with a lot of wood often lack focus and the ability to follow tasks through to their completion. This groundbreaker personality is best suited for creating and transforming ideas, rather than carrying out plans. 


...is very perceptive and intuitive, usually able to shed light on situations with good judgment regarding people and situations. This person can provide a concise (although sometimes exaggerated) point of view. Known to be very charismatic, this person needs a lot of support from their many friends so that they don't have times when they feel burned out. 


...is dependable and accommodating, and their prime directive in life is to serve others, always striving to maintain harmony. This person has the ability to focus on group dynamics and physical surroundings. Skilled at facilitating and supportive roles, acknowledgement is very important.


...tends to be action-oriented and focused on accomplishment. Order and control are highly valued by this person, and thus are sometimes viewed as arrogant and/or insensitive. Because our culture values this person’s ability to get the job done, he/she is often rewarded with leadership positions, and is seen as an effective strategist. 

Treating Illness

Ancient Chinese shamans integrated the Yin Yang philosophy and Five Elements theories into their medical practices as early as 475 B.C. As integration of these theories took place, a more formalized system of medicine was established. Today this medical system is known as Traditional Chinese Medicine*, and you can seek out acupuncturists and certified herbalists to assist you with any physical imbalances causing conditions and disease.  The main component to appreciate about *TCM is simply that an acupuncturist seeks out means of balancing one's system, rather than giving one relief from symptoms of a medical condition or disease.  (How many times have you been watching an advertisement on TV or radio that says the drug advertised for one condition may cause other problems that are equally bad or worse than the condition it’s treating?)  When you feel good, you can be the best you can be!

In conclusion

Next week, we'll discuss how you might use the Five Elements Theory in your environment, both at home and in your work space to help you feel more balanced and therefore more stable and grounded.
If you would like to know more about yourself and others, and how you can create a more joyful and fulfilling personal or professional life, please contact us through this website via email, phone call, or text.  We’d love to help you understand yourself and those who make up your world of friends and family.

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