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The cycle of the five elements, or wu xing in Chinese, is one of the most important foundation concepts upon which many of the cures and remedies associated with Traditional Chinese medicine, destiny analysis and feng shui are based. When you understand the relationships between each of the elements - fire, water, earth, metal and wood - and how they are associated with the things of the Universe, then go yet deeper into the nuances of their relationships, you will begin to understand many of the cures and remedies that are recommended to overcome feng shui afflictions. In this issue, LILLIAN TOO explains the cycles, and highlights the importance of knowing when to use each of the three cycles to best effect.
|The Chinese believe that everything that exists in the universe, tangible as well as intangible, can be categorised as water, wood, fire, earth or metal. Collectively there are the five elements or Wu Xing. There are three cycles that define the relationships of these fiveelements - The Productive Cycle, The Destructive Cycle and The Exhaustive Cycle.|
With the ever-growing popularity of feng shui books in print all over the world, many people are now very familiar with the concept of the five elements and their cycles. Some are familiar only with two cycles - the Productive and the Destructive - but actually there is a third cycle. This is the Exhaustive cycle and it is the most appropriate when devising remedies to counter Chi energy afflictions. Wu Xing or five element therapy is applicable not only in feng shui, but also in improving one’s destiny based on the four pillars charts, as well as in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine.
According to the Chinese, everything tangible and everything abstract in the Universe can be categorized under five categories, so they are either wood, fire, earth, metal, or water. You will discover as you get deeper into the Chinese esoteric sciences that everything from compass directions to moods, feelings, objects, body parts, organs, plants, furniture, animals and so forth are labeled under one of the five elements, so learning how to categorize tangible objects and intangible items into one of the five element categories makes up an important dimension of the study of feng shui.
What Makes Up The Elements?
For the most part, many of these things are self-explanatory. For instance, plants, flowers and anything made of wood or have the appearance of wood would be labeled under the wood element. Similarly, anything that comes from the earth, or is made of earth, such as stones, dirt, ashes, crystal, glass, pebbles and so forth would be categorized as being earth element. It is the same with the other three elements of water, fire and metal.
Each of these elements is also unique in ways that have a bearing on their attributes and strengths. For example, wood is the only element that has a life of its own. It is growing and it is alive, so there is alive wood and there is dead wood - yang wood and yin word is easy to differentiate. As for water, it is always associated with a flow - so flowing water is yang water, while stagnant water is yin water.
Fire is an element that simply cannot be stored. One has to make fire for it to exist and fire is thus the element most associated with yang energy. For this reason, the fire element is generally regarded as the most efficient for energizing the feng shui of any space. Yin fire is said to be dying fire when it is in the form of embers, while roaring fires are yang fire.
Metal is the element that is dead and unyielding and it is yang only when it is moving and creates the sound of metal moving back and forth. Generally, metal in its natural state is yin metal.
Finally, the earth element is in the largest supply of all. There is plenty of earth and this being the period of 8, we are also in an earth period. Earth is also regarded as one third of the trinity of Chi energy of heaven, earth and man - which brings good feng shui - so the earth element is always important. Yin earth is underground earth, while earth energy represented by crystals, stones, glass, ceramics and so forth are regarded as yang earth.
The five elements are interacting with each other all the time and in any space, it is the dominant element that stands out. Generally speaking, no single element is good or bad. And it is always preferred if no single element is missing. The ideal situation at all times is to have all five elements present. And because all things in the Universe signify the five elements, usually this is not hard to achieve.
The Elements of Space
The thing to remember in feng shui is that based on ancient formulas, each of the 8 directions – North, South, East, West, NW, SE, SW and SE – are assigned an element, so the compass directions demarcate the element of space. Every corner of the home and every corner of the room therefore has a ruling element. You should learn up the elements of each direction if you want to be adept with feng shui. Look at the diagram on the left - it shows the element of each of the eight directions. Just looking at this diagram will help you to associate the elements with each direction and then when you want to identify the elements of the corners of your room, all you need is a compass to find out the direction of each corner.
You will see from the diagram that the North is water and the South is fire. The East and Southeast are wood; while the West and Northwest are metal. Finally, the center, Southwest and Northeast are earth. This allocation of elements to each of the directions holds true wherever in the world you live, be it in Asia or America, and whether you live in Australia in the Southern hemisphere or in Europe in the Northern hemisphere.
The following article is taken from the "Feng Shui World (July/August 2004)". To subscribe, please click here.