In Chinese philosophy, the Five Elements are the building blocks of everything in the Universe. The elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
Also known as the Five Transformations of Energy, each of the elements represent a different phase of energy and the Five Element Cycles show how these phases transform from one to the other.
One of the best ways to illustrate the energies are with the seasons:
- Wood represents Springtime and uprising energy, such as plants pushing through the soil.
- Fire represents Summer and ascending energy, such as flames reaching to the heavens.
- Earth represents Early Fall and stabilizing, grounding energy.
- Metal represents Late Fall and contracting energy, such as when trees lose their leaves to conserve.
- Water represents Winter and descending energy, such as falling rain or water seeking it's lowest level.
The Creative Cycle works like this (follow the black dotted line):
- Wood feeds Fire
- Fire creates ash (which is soil)
- Earth produces Metal (minerals)
- Metal condenses into Water
- Water feeds plants
To counter balance and keep harmony in the natural world, there is also the Controlling Cycle (follow the red line):
- Fire melts Metal
- Metal chops Wood
- Wood breaks through Earth
- Earth dams up Water
- Water dowses Fire
Every element has an element that "creates" it and an element that "controls" it. Therefore, balance and harmony are maintained.
For more information on each Element, click below:
Learn how the 5 Elements show up in personalities.