Definition Of Wu Xing In Feng Shui
Today in the West, some people think it is nothing more than a way to decorate their homes; nothing could be further from the truth. Wu Xing, most commonly known in Western translations as the five elements, is central to Feng Shui and nearly all Chinese philosophy. We will focus on the idea of five elements. Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art, science, and philosophy. It has been around for more than two millennia. Indeed, it would take years of study to understand all the intricacies of Feng Shui.
When the Chinese term, Wu Xing, was first translated into English, the translators looked to the Greek words and ideas for their four elements: fire, air, earth, and water. The correct translation looks like “universal Qi (or energy) qualities.” Indeed, no one word or word in English provides a direct translation. Like most philosophies, the five elements are complex; it is best to take apart the pieces and analyze them.
What Are The Five Elements In Feng Shui
The five Wu Xing elements are earth, metal, water, wood, and fire. When learning about the elements, recognize that there are three different cycles or relationships these elements may interact with each other in producing, weakening, and destroying.
The producing cycle (or cycle of creation) is one in which each element feeds the next positively. Earth creates metal (think of ore mined from the ground). Metal holds and creates water (think of the smelting process as it produces liquids).
Water nourishes wood (or plants). Wood feeds fire (by being fuel for the fire). Lastly, fire creates earth (think of the ashes that mix in with the earth after a fire). Most sites you look up will tell you this cycle came from humanity’s observations of nature’s pattern over a very long period.
The weakening cycle (or cycle of reduction) is the counter to a productive cycle. This is a relationship in which a descendant element diminishes the “parent” element. Again, this cycle makes sense when one observes interactions.
Earth weakens fire (fires need oxygen to burn brightly). Fire incinerates wood (it consumes the wood as it boils). Wood devours water (as it absorbs it, there is less water). Water oxidizes metal (we have all observed rust). Lastly, metal reduces earth (just read the headlines about mine collapses caused by over-mining).
The destroying cycle (or cycle of control) is not the actual destruction of one element by another but an alteration or the exertion of the power of one element over another.
Wood deteriorates the earth (watch how even seedlings push aside the dirt to grow). Earth restrains water (like an earthen dam). Water extinguishes fire. Fire liquefies metal. Metal cuts wood. Why study these cycles? First of all, some claim there are other sub-cycles worthy of study. It all comes down to balance.
This should not be a surprise to those who have studied Feng Shui. Balancing one’s Qi or energies is crucial. This is done by manipulating one’s environment. The elements do not exist in a vacuum. Each one has certain aspects and influences. We shall look at each element in detail and then explain how to achieve balance in the home.
Earth represents transformation, change, and alteration. Like all things in Feng Shui, this element is only good when balanced. If there is too little earth presence in the home, one may suffer from low self-esteem or a lack of energy.
The remedy is simple: add more earth elements. Rocks, sand gardens, stone jars, or colors like oranges or yellows will help. If it is too much, one will have money troubles. Adding metal elements will decrease the presence of the earth and address those problems. This is done by adding metal items or white, gray, or metallic colors.
Metal is the element of old age, turning inward, and experience. If too little metal is present in the home or life, one may not save and spend too much on things like money and life experiences. One misses out if one does not save up “teachable moments” in all aspects of life.
To remedy this, add more metal colors or objects: white, gray, or metallic colors. If the opposite occurs, hoarding becomes a problem. One may become a miser or struggle endlessly with unhappiness. To counter this, add water element colors or objects, such as dark blue and black, or fountains and fish.
Water Effect on Metal
Water is the element of introspection. It may submit, but it will eventually overcome all. If not enough water is present, rest (as in sleep) will be in short supply. This can also happen when one has distractions in the late hours of the day, keeping one from entering a restful state.
This gives the fire element too much control, and then insomnia and restlessness become an issue. To increase water, introduce dark blues or black colors, or add a water feature. If too much water is present, constant sluggishness and sleepiness are a problem.
Lack of movement creates health problems. Add earth element colors such as oranges or yellows or objects made from the earth, like rocks and earthenware, to contain the water influence.
Wood is the element of birth, growth, and expansion. If not enough wood is present, development is stinted, and a person’s uniqueness is crushed. One can see the pattern now; more wood presence is needed in colors and objects. Greens and light blues are good colors.
Plants and items are made out of exposed woodwork as well. If too much wood is present, growth is unruly and out of control. Promises are made but not kept, and ongoing projects start without being finished, for example. To control this, introduce more metal influence using white, gray, or metallic colors and items made from metal.
Lastly, there is fire. Fire is the element of passion, activity, and motion. In moderation, this is a good thing; a motivated, active life is good. Too little fire and a lack of drive (in all respects), motivation, and activity.
To increase the fire element, introduce reds and hot pinks, images of fire, or actual fire (candles, lamps, fireplaces, etc.). Too much fire and what was a good thing becomes anxiety, agitation, and exhaustion from insufficient rest. Remove fire’s influence if this is the case. Put away the candles and lamps, the images of fire, and the bright, hot colors.
Wu Xing is not just the five elements in themselves, but the relationship and energy flow between them. It is more about how those relationships and energies affect people and places. It is a way to empower people, give them away, and influence the world around them.