Five Element Theory

According to Chinese Metaphysics and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the universe is made up of five elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood.    In Feng Shui, the five elements are used as remedies to correct imbalances in the energies of a building, as identified in the Flying Star school analysis.

Any physical object or form in our environment and surroundings can be classified as one of the five elements.  An object is classified according to its shape, colour and the material it is made from.  While objects can often contain the characteristics of more than one element, the dominating element prevails - that is, the element most noticeable upon first seeing the object.

Characteristics of the Five Elements

  • The Fire element is characterised by the colours of red, purple and pink.  Shapes are triangular and pointy, and materials include bricks, plastic and fire itself, such as in barbecues, fireplaces and candles.
  • The element of Earth is characterised by the colours of yellow, orange and brown.  Shapes are square and flat topped, and materials include ceramic, pottery, sand, stones and crystals.
  • The Metal element includes anything made from metal.  Colours include white and metallic, and shapes are characterised by circles, roundness and domes.
  • The Water element includes water itself, such as in fish tanks, water features, and rivers.  The water element is characterised by the colours of navy blue, grey and black, and shapes are organic and wavy.
  • The element of Wood includes plants, trees and items made from wood.  The colours representing this element are green and light blue, and shapes are tall and rectangular.

The five elements also represent the cyclical model of the universe.  Fire relates to summer, heat and the colour red.  The triangular shape reflects the fire element, and fire gives rise to ash, which becomes earth.

Earth relates to late summer or the monsoon period in equatorial locations.  The monsoon season is associated with humidity and dampness and the colours of brown, yellow and orange.  Square shapes are characterized by the Earth element.  Ore is mined from the earth, which is used to produce metal.

Metal is associated with autumn and dryness.  When metal is burned at high temperatures it becomes white hot, therefore white and metallic colours of gold, silver, bronze and copper are the colours associated with metal.  Round shapes characterize metal.  The production process of metal uses large amounts of air, from which clouds, and therefore water originates.

The element of water is characterized by irregular organic shapes and represents the coldness of winter and the colours of blue and black.  Water is required in order for plants and trees to grow, therefore water 'gives birth' to the element of wood.

Wood relates to spring and tall rectangular shapes.  Green is the colour associated with wood.  Wood 'gives birth' to fire as this element is required for combustion, and so the cycle continues.

Part of a Traditional Feng Shui consultation involves analyzing the Flying Star chart and floor plan, and making changes to the décor using the Five Elements, with the aim of bringing about harmony and balance.    Only the very dominant elements in a living space will have an impact from a Feng Shui perspective, so it is not necessary to become obsessed with every object in a home.

Sometimes more than one element can be used as a Feng Shui remedy, and this is because the five elements are interrelated and can either 'control', 'weaken' or 'feed' another element.  For example, if you require the element of wood, water will be complementary (water 'feeds' wood and makes it stronger, as plants require water for growth).  A consultation by Feng Shui Concepts will provide all of the information you need to help you balance the elements in your home or office.

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