The five elements of feng shui are translated as “the phases of transformation” and incorporate everything that exists in nature: shapes, colors, matter, seasons of the year, times of the day, direction of the compass, and all-natural events, and structures created by man. Together, the five elements represent a unit – the tai chi.
Each element has its own characteristics:
- Wood – developing, rooted, pliable, rising. The nature of wood is to bend and be made straight again.
- Fire – soaring, in motion, hot. The nature of fire is to blaze and ascend.
- Earth – fertile, rooted, productive. The nature of earth is to make change stable and steady.
- Metal – hard, cutting, rigid, contracting. The nature of metal is to be obedient and to be shaped.
- Water – flowing, cool, descending, supple. The nature of water is to moisten and flow downward.
- An individual element does not exist in isolation but is interconnected – either to be supportive as in the cycle of creation, or to control as in the cycle of control.
In the cycle of creation, water nourishes wood, wood allows fire to burn, ashes created by fire nourish the earth, earth brings forth metals, liquid metal flows like water.
In the cycle of control, water extinguishes fire, fire melts metal, metal splits wood, wood wears out earth, earth dirties water.
Source: Feng Shi Symbols by Christine M. Bradler & Joachim Alfred P. Scheiner.