Chinese Five Elements Wu Xing (五行)

The Chinese Five Elements Wu Xing (五行) are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.

  1. Wood (木 mù): Represents growth, expansion, and flexibility. It is associated with spring, green, and east direction. It refers to the planet Jupiter.
  2. Fire (火 huǒ): Symbolizes transformation, passion, and activity. It is associated with summer, red, and the direction south. It refers to the planet Mars.
  3. Earth (土 tǔ): Signifies stability, nourishment, and balance. It is associated with late summer or the transitional periods between seasons, the color yellow, and the center. It refers to the planet Saturn.
  4. Metal (金 jīn): Represents strength, clarity, and refinement. It is associated with autumn, white or metallic colors, and the west direction. It refers to the planet Venus.
  5. Water (水 shuǐ): Symbolizes adaptability, flow, and intuition. It is associated with winter, black or dark colors, and north direction. It refers to the planet Mercury.
ElementChinese NamePlanetQualitySeasonColorDirection
Wood木 (mù)JupiterGrowthSpringGreenEast
Fire火 (huǒ)MarsTransformSummerRedSouth
Earth土 (tǔ)SaturnStabilityLate SummerYellowCenter
Metal金 (jīn)VenusStrengthAutumnWhiteWest
Water水 (shuǐ)MercuryFlowWinterBlackNorth

Generation Cycle (生):

  • Wood feeds Fire
  • Fire creates Earth (ashes)
  • Earth bears Metal
  • Metal carries Water (as a container)
  • Water nourishes Wood

Restraint/ Control Cycle (克):

  • Wood parts Earth (tree roots penetrate the soil)
  • Earth confine and absorbs Water
  • Water extinguishes Fire
  • Fire melts Metal
  • Metal chops Wood

These elements are believed to interact with each other in cycles of generation and restraint. The generation cycle describes how one element supports and creates another, while the constraint cycle describes how one element restricts or regulates another.

Of course, within the restraint cycle, if the dominant element itself is weak, then it can be overcome or overthrown by the controlling object. For example, if the fire element is more vital than the water, then the fire can burn off the water into thin air.

Applying the five elements and Yin Yang duality is vast in Chinese Feng Shui, Chinese medicine, astrology, philosophy, business, and social ecosystem. One of the goals of Fengshui practice is to balance the five elements within living space and environment. For example, we want to have a southside window to allow the sun-fire element to enter a house to provide warmth and light; We like to see trees grow on the east side of a property, but we would like to cut down trees if overgrown and covers all the light coming into a home.

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