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Five Elements

Five Elements

The Five Elements or Five Transformations are: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.

The concept of the Five Elements is a further extension and refinement of the concepts of Qi, and Yin and Yang. It describes the world we live in as a dynamic phenomenon that is in a constant process of change and transformation.


Everything goes through the phases of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water and each phase – or element – has its own unique characteristics.

In the Wood phase, the energy increases and this is the phase of growth. In the Fire phase, energy expands while the Earth phase represents condensation. The Metal phase is concerned with contraction and sinking, while the Water phase involves sustaining, reflection and contemplation.


Since everything is composed of these Elements, it can also be said that the Five Elements themselves create all things.


Althea Feng Shui Five-Elements
five elements


Certain life phenomenon may reflect the influence of just one Element, but it is more common for the Elements to work together to create something.

The concept of the Five Elements however, is everything but static; Elements easily transform and change phases. In this concept, it is not about which is the better or more important Element, but more about achieving a balance or making use of a specific element and the qualities it represents.

When each Element reaches its peak, it naturally gives birth to another Element, thereby following the cycle of the Five Elements. In other words the Five Elements never end, just like Yin and Yang. This concept actually reflects the theory that energy never runs out, but simply changes its state.


Nature reflects the work of the Five Elements in many ways. One obvious example is that of the change of seasons.

The Wood Element represents spring and it is followed by the Fire Element that brings us the sunniest and warmest weather. The Metal phase occurs when energy starts to withdraw into autumn, while winter is a reflection of the Water Element and the phase of silence, when the life is sustained deep inside everything.


The Five Elements have their own unique characteristics, associated colors, shapes, directions, senses, tastes, and so on.

The Elements also govern time in general, including years, months, days, hours and even minutes.

Additionally the human body and psyche is “ruled” by the Elements as they regulate the work of all the organs and processes that continuously nourish and sustain life.


Althea Feng Shui Five-Elements-Health
five elements


The basic characteristics of the Five Elements


Wood (mù)
Wood represents youthful energy and growth phase in human life, being also the Element of longevity.

Fire (huǒ)
Fire is related to warmth, openness and passion; without Fire our lives would be gloomy and without hope.

Earth (tǔ)
Earth is the Element of nourishment, stability and persistence.

Metal (jīn)
Metal might appear as shiny or sharp and focused, and it is about altruism and justice.

Water (shuǐ)
Water is the source of intelligence, wisdom and adaptability.


This text is taken from Althea’s awarded book ‘A Course in Real Feng Shui’.


Copyright by Althea S.T.


To read about Ten Stems and Twelve Branches, click here.

If you want to learn more about Eight Trigrams, click here.

To understand the Five Elements, click here.

For Yin/Yang, click here.


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