About the Five Elements

The Five Elements system has been in existence in China for thousands of years. The system developed from the study of nature and natural phenomena. It has grown to be a powerful and yet relatively simple diagnostic tool to help people to reach a place of harmony.

There are five elements which each represent different emotions, physical tendencies, times of year, and behaviour patterns, and so on.

The five elements are: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.

Control and Creation Cycle
Control and Creation CycleThe elements are expressed as a circle with a five pointed star inside because this reminds us of how they interact together.  Each element feeds or creates the next element in the circle, but at the same time each element is kept in check or controlled by the element 2 back (ie along the diagonal line).

This is known as the Control and Creation Cycle.

For Creation Cycle – Fire burns to ashes, which is the basis for Earth.  Earth contains ores which can be refined into Metal.  Water will form on Metal through condensation.  Water is needed for Wood to grow.

For the Control Cycle – Fire can melt Metal. Metal can be sharpened into an axe to cut Wood.  Wood can break down Earth and consume it through the action of its roots. Earth can dam and soak up Water and prevent it from flowing.  Water can extinguish Fire.

In an ideal situation, all these elements are in dynamic balance with each other. When the elements within us are in harmony, we are well balanced and capable adults with good health and a sense of well being.

But all the elements have characteristics of their own and can be affected by outside influences, and then by each other. When the elements are out of balance, one element may be dominant over the others causing emotional disturbance leading to dis-ease, physical ailments and unhappiness.

Elements in Balance
You can read more about each of the elements in detail by clicking on them in the menu on the left, but briefly, when the elements are in balance, they represent:

Wood           Great overview of life, non-judgemental, flexible, strong and direct

Fire              Joy in living, warm, spontaneous energy, good communication

Earth           Grounded, well-nourished, stable, caring

Metal           Appropriate and clear boundaries, well-organised, clarity of thought

Water          Calmness, ability to go with the flow, good will-power, comfortable with own spirituality and sexuality.

When you read this whole list, you can see that is a brief, but good description of balance in a person.

Imbalance in Elements
However, unless we work on ourselves, there is often an imbalance present. Below is a list of a few of the imbalances for each element. The list is actually longer and more detailed.

Wood          Judgement, anger (too much or too little), resentment and inflexibility

Fire             Lack of joy, depression, compulsive, over the top, aggression

Earth           Worrying, needy, selfish, over-protective, stubborn

Metal           Prolonged grief, controlling, unyielding

Water          Fearful, full of guilt, poor memory, jealousy, recklessness

By checking carefully through the various correspondences and emotions that are attached to each element, it is possible to work out where our problems lie, and therefore to do something to change that.

Each element can be in excess (have too much) or be deficient (not strong enough), and there are different results to each of these. For example, too much Wood can give rise to excessive anger, whereas too little wood may give rise to a lack of anger (doormat behaviour).

Correcting an Imbalance between Elements
You can use various techniques to correct an imbalance – herbs, flower essences, acupuncture, shiatsu points, particular exercises, to name but a few.

Five Elements SetOn this site, of course, we are focusing in particular on the use of flower essences for helping to balance out the elements. Under each of the elements, we have listed the essences that can help, and also a few other ideas of things that you can do to support each element – colours to wear, food to eat, etc.

For more information on choosing essences using the Five Elements system, including diagnosis using the control and creation cycle, click here.

Often, as people get to know the elements, they will feel a resonance with one of them.  Sometimes therapists like to decide what your causative factor is, ie which element is strongest in you.  This can be mis-leading because it backs up the idea that we are born a certain way and that’s it.

In reality, we all contain all the elements.  We can use them as we need to and they work together for us.  Healthy movement between the elements is the dynamic movement of life.