By Kathryn Weber
There are five elements at the foundation of feng shui, and understanding them is key in feng shui. This knowledge helps you control the feng shui in your home and office. Understanding the five elements is an essential part of building the good energy in your home and controlling the negative energy — so learning about the five elements, or Five Element Theory, is an important investment of your feng shui time.
Five element theory begins with the elements. These elements include metal, wood, water, earth, and fire. They’re collectively called Wu Xing. Each element is related to an energy present in the earth and to a season of the year. For instance, fire is related to the summer months. Each element represents a different type of chi, such as growing chi, ripening chi, or spreading chi.
The way these elements interact with one another can either create harmony or disharmony. That’s because the elements correspond to one another differently. There are three ways in which the elements respond to one another: 1) Generating or productive, 2) exhaustive or reducing, and, 3) destructive. In a generating cycle, the elements enhance one another. For instance, water makes plants grow. Therefore, the water element enhances the wood element.
What does all this mean for you? Well, if you have an east sector that you want to enhance, you would improve it by adding water. The same is true for southeast, because it’s also a wood sector. If your home faces south (the fire direction), then what do you throw on a fire to make it grow? That’s right, wood. So, by painting your home brown, if it faces south, or adding plants in this area, you will be “enhancing” or producing more of your south/fire element.
Likewise, when you have a problem area, you’ll want to exhaust or destroy the energy. A good example of this is the bathroom located in the center, northeast, or southwest sectors of the house. These are all earth sectors. Plants, whose roots dive deep into the soil for nourishment, destroy the earth by using it up. Likewise, metal is also taken out of the earth, exhausting it.
So, in the earth sectors you can either destroy or exhaust the negative energy of the toilets by either adding more metal elements or wood elements. In this case, you could choose to paint your bathroom white, or simply add a plant in the bathroom. Either way, you’ll help to hold down the negative toilet energy.
Let’s go through the elements one by one…
1. Water: Water is the direction of the north. It’s color is black, blue, or deep purple. It’s enhanced by metal and destroyed by earth (dams contain water) and exhausted by wood (plants drink water). This makes having metal in a water location a benefit, and wood or earth a detriment. It’s associated with the number 1.
2. Earth: Earth is associated with the northeast, center, and southwest sectors. It’s enhanced by fire and destroyed by wood and exhausted by metal. It’s color is beige or yellow. It’s associated with the numbers 2, 5, and 8.
3. Wood: Wood is associated with the direction of east (big wood) and southeast (small wood). It’s enhanced by water, destroyed by metal (think of an ax against a tree) and exhausted by fire. It’s color is brown or green. It’s associated with the number 3 (east) and 4 (southeast).
4. Metal: Metal is associated with the west (small metal) and the northwest (big metal). It’s produced by earth and destroyed by fire and exhausted by water. It’s associated with the numbers 6 (northwest) and 7 (west) and the colors of white, gray, and gold (metallic gold, not ochre).
5. Fire: Fire is associated with the south. It’s enhanced by wood, exhausted by earth (think of throwing dirt on a fire), and destroyed by water. It’s associated with the number 9 and red is its color.
This diagram shows graphically how the elements work together
Now that you know how the elements work, you can begin making beneficial changes to the feng shui in your home.