The Five Element theory is the backbone of all Chinese Metaphysical studies. It is believed that all matters as well as the sentient beings in our universe are composed by a blend of the Five Elements. This does not mean however, that the Five Elements are physical.
|Cubic shapes Flat
and broad shapes
|Tall & rectangular
|Spreads in every direction
These elements can also be represented by physical rudiments or objects:
|Mountain, rocks, bricks, stones
|Plants, trees, flower, grass, bamboo
|Sword, axe, jewellery, gold, iron, silver
|Fire, candles, red lamps, lightning, electricity
|Ponds, swimming pools, fountains, lakes, seas, aquariums
These Elements share three types of relationships known as â€˜Cyclesâ€™, through which an element can affect another element. Depending on the cycle, these elements Produce (grow), Control (counter) or Weaken one another.
The first is theÂ Productive Cycle
|WaterÂ producesÂ Wood
WoodÂ producesÂ Fire
FireÂ producesÂ Earth
EarthÂ producesÂ Metal
MetalÂ producesÂ Water
This cycle is rather straight forward. Water provides nourishment for trees (Wood), which is then used as fuel for Fire, resulting in ashes (Earth). Earth is mined for minerals, or Metal, which when melted, runs like Water. This is known as the productive cycle, where the elements produce one another.
The key point to remember for the productive cycle is that an element strengthens and grows the element it produces.
The second is theÂ Controlling Cycle
|FireÂ controlsÂ Metal
MetalÂ controlsÂ Wood
WoodÂ controlsÂ Earth
EarthÂ controlsÂ Water
WaterÂ controlsÂ Fire
In this cycle, the elements keep each other under control. For example, Fire melts Metal. An axe (Metal) cuts into Wood. The roots of a tree grip tightly onto Earth (Wood control Earth). Earth forms a barrier to control Water â€“ just like a dam holds back the massive amounts of water. Water extinguishes Fire.
In the controlling cycle, an element is countered or subjugated by its controlling element.
The third is theÂ Weakening Cycle
|WaterÂ weakensÂ Metal
MetalÂ weakensÂ Earth
EarthÂ weakensÂ Fire
FireÂ weakensÂ Wood
WoodÂ weakensÂ Water
This is the reverse process of the Production Cycle weâ€™ve discussed earlier. For example, we said that Water produces Wood (as in water is used to nourish plants). Conversely, we can say that Wood weakens Water. â€“ because Wood, absorbs Water. This is called the Weakening Cycle.
We say Metal is weakened by Water. Visualize it this way, Water contributes to the oxidation (rusting) of steel (Metal). Metal weakens Earth – the results of ore (Metal) mining weakens Earth. Fire is weakened by Earth. Why? Earth cannot burn, and limits the spread of Fire. Wood is used to make fire. Fire in turn, completely consumes Wood so Fire weakens Wood.
In the weakening cycle, an element is weakened by the energy of the element it produces. This is applied in Feng Shui: it has been discovered that certain Sha-Qi (Killing or Negative energies) is of the Earth Element, and is â€˜curedâ€™ by employing the use of Metal objects. This is because Metal â€˜weakensâ€™ the Earth.
It must be pointed out that if you plan to cure the effects of any element, do your best to avoid using the Controlling Cycle. Controlling the effects of a certain element with an opposing element is often unpredictable, and could easily cause complications later. In Feng Shui we seek the way of â€˜harmonyâ€™, going with the flow, and not against.
Instead, use the weakening cycle. It is the preferred way to lessen the negative effects of any element. You can think of the weakening cycle as a safety valve.
Memorizing the 5 elements and the three cycles is a must, if you plan to use Feng Shui even on the smallest scale. It is quite simple to memorize. To help you on your way here are some simple metaphors.
Water waters plant, producing Wood
Wood makes kindling, producing Fire
Fire makes ashes, producing Earth
Earth is mined, producing Metal
Metal is melted, producing Water
Water extinguishes Fire
Fire melts Metal
Metal cuts Wood
Wood roots tightly grip Earth
Earth contains Water
Water can be partly absorbed by Wood
Wood can be partly burnt by Fire
Fire can be diminished with Earth
Earth is weakened by mining for Metal
Metal is weakened by Water
The Five Elements
By Joey Yap