The Wu Xing: the five Chinese ‘elements’

Today Matthew and I are delivering a new workshop for the first time.  It’s always exciting and a little nerve wracking to teach something new, you never quite know if it will all work as you intend it to or which parts you might want to switch round and change.  This is particularly exciting because it’s the first time we’ve taught a workshop that isn’t just about astrology, but brings in some of our other interests as well.  The workshop is entitled Astrology and Vibrational Healing and will look at how the essences Matthew works with can be used alongside particular issues in the birth chart.  Until recently Matthew has always worked fairly intuitively with the essences, but earlier this year he headed to Canada to do an Energy Medicine training course to further his knowledge of the wonderful Pacific Essences.  By coincidence, (although we don’t really believe in these!) I have been completing a Feng Shui course, to coincide with my house move!  Both of these systems use the Wu Xing, also known as the five elements, phases and agents, amongst other names.images (2)

The five elements are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood and their relationship with each other underpins many traditional Chinese fields including Feng Shui, Chinese medicine, Chinese astrology and others.  All of these traditional fields are ultimately looking to create or restore balance in the elements for health, success and prosperity.  I’ll stick with the term element, as that is most frequently used, although phases or agents are also sometimes used as they are concerned with process and change.  Rather than elements in the western sense, they are really about energy or chi and how it changes and develops.  A starting point in the study and understanding of all of these areas is learning how the elements interact and react to each other.

The two cycles to learn are the production cycle,

  • Fire produces Earth
  • Earth produces Metal
  • Metal produces Water
  • Water produces Wood
  • Wood produces Fire

And the destruction cycle,

  • Fire destroys Metal
  • Metal destroys Wood
  • Wood destroys Earth
  • Earth destroys Water
  • Water destroys Fire

five-elements-cycleElements are strengthened by the presence of the element that produces them, but weakened by producing an element or the presence of an element that destroys them.  The diagram above illustrates this more clearly but as an example, the Earth element is strengthened by the presence of Fire as Fire produces it.  However, Earth is weakened by Metal as it produces Metal and also weakened, or even destroyed if there is too much, by too much Wood.

As I mentioned earlier, the aim is balance.  In Feng Shui people can be keen to increase wealth or concentrate on their career or relationships.  But imagine being wealthy with poor health?  Or a thriving career where your personal relationships suffer?  These are elements out of balance.

It’s exciting to start to blend some of these other ideas with astrology and play around with how some of the ideas may work together.  It definitely feels like this is another step on a very interesting journey!