Wood Element

Wood ElementWhen the Chinese Wood Element is in balance, a person will have a clear overview of their life and they know which direction things should go in.

They are logical and have great planning and decision-making skills. They have good vision and are idealistic and altruistic.

They are non-judgemental, co-operative, flexible, calmly in control, strong and direct.

When Wood is out of balance, we can work with balancing it out in a variety of ways. Acupuncture, shiatsu and other similar energy work can help. There are further suggestions of things we can do at home below, and of course, we can use flower essences.


Wood Deficient
When Wood is deficient, the presenting qualities may include lack of control, inability to plan, poor judgement, poor co-ordination, vacillation, no anger – doormat and no life/soul purpose. Use Wood Deficient flower essence to help.

Wood Excess
When Wood is in excess, the presenting qualities may include people being over-controlling, angry, resentful, bitter, opinionated, judgemental, stuck and inflexible. Use Wood Excess flower essence to help.

During the times of Wood (Spring time), or when our Wood energies are out of balance, it may well help to try out some of the suggestions below.

Take up some kind of meditative exercise, such as Qi Gong, T’ai Chi (try the Dance of the Five Elements), Yoga, Brain Gym, etc. because it encourages the smooth flow of qi through the whole body and brings about physical balance.

Do a cleansing diet. This supports the Liver and Gall Bladder which are the main organs for Wood. This is the energetic equivalent of weeding the garden – clearing out the old to make space for the new and to keep the existing plants healthy.

If you are out of balance in this element, you may find it useful to work with, look at or wear green in some way.

Above is a summary of the Wood element, but for those who are interested in learning more about it, we have written below an essay that more thoroughly covers aspects of Wood.

More Information about Wood Element

Oak flowersThe season for the element of Wood is spring time. In the spring, the buds burst forth with new life, leaves unfurl in their fresh green and energy rises. If we work with these cues, then the spring time is an excellent time to begin new projects, inject fresh energy into our lives and set the tone for the year to come.

The Wood element is not just in effect in the spring time, it is a part of our whole. Throughout the years, our Wood element and the characteristics it represents will move to the front as needed, and make way for the characteristics of other elements as needed. There is constant movement in life, However, sometimes this energy becomes stuck and we need some help to bring ourselves back into balance and movement.

In general, Wood is about growth and strength, flexibility, uprightness, durability, rootedness, vision, movement to Heaven, yielding, bending, direction and decision. It can also be to do with stunted growth, inflexibility, rigidity, disconnection, lack of rootedness, brittleness, lack of direction or too fixed in direction and vision and inability to make decisions, irresolution and vacillation.

In a well rooted tree, the roots are as long in length as the branches, in order to maintain its strength and stability. Trees without this extended root system are liable to be blown over. So we need to be in ourselves, firmly based in the physical body to give us our stability and safety from which to grow at other levels. The tree which can be flexible and yield to the strong force of the wind will bend and not break and then come back to centre. It is the same for us – the ability to yield to an inevitable force will preserve energy and leave us with strength to come back to centre without being damaged.

Laund OakWe can help to develop this quality of strength with flexibility by using movement. Practicing the art of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga or any other such art helps to keep the Wood energy moving and vital.

When we cultivate this rootedness, we have the power and strength to stand firm and not be blown this way and that by the “winds of fortune”.

If a tree is supported by a stake for too long in its early development, then the main anchoring roots will not develop as they should. They will receive the message that adequate support is already there and then at a later stage when the stake is either removed or rots away, the tree will be basically weak as the growth of the anchoring roots has been inhibited.

Inability to make plans or give directions because of a sheltered or protected upbringing corresponds with the tree which has been artificially supported. Although a tree may be damaged for life, it is entirely possible for the human condition to be reversed. Certainly using flower essences in conjunction with some personal growth work will help.

If a person is ill, it can be as a result of not being nurtured in their growth and that is often at an emotional level, but expressed in physical symptoms. An emotion, whatever it is, needs handling with compassion in order to be released. Someone who is ill as a result of this deprivation and lack of resolve can feel quite dead inside with no spark of vitality to continue. In such a case, the Wood element may need attention, or it could be that Water or Metal may need to be worked with (see the Control and Creation Cycles). Of course, flower essences are perfect in such a case.

Trees in the snow at HellifieldOur landscape would be a bleak and barren place without our trees and as in the element of Wood, there is a close inter-relationship with all the other elements and in nature. From Wood comes the fuel for Fire; the enrichment of the Earth through leaf mould; the feeding of the animals and humans from its fruits and nuts; the ability to float on Water and be used for transport and also to be cut and carved to make endless items for utility and objects of beauty. The nature of Wood still remains in its altered form and one can feel its strength and empathise with and see its beauty. It relates to all our senses; sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing – the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves and branches – the “rustling of bamboo”.   Each element is connected with different organs in the body. In Chinese medicine, each of these organs has a wider effect than those understood in Western medicine.

The organs connected with Wood are the liver and the gall bladder – “the liver has the function of a military leader who excels in strategic planning”, “The gall bladder occupies the position of an important and upright official who excels through his decisions and judgement” – Dianne Connelly. As with the tree whose influence is wide and far-reaching, so the liver is not confined in the way that the western mind would have it. It reaches so much further than its own apparent boundary. Its functions are numerous, between 40 and 60, and include storage, cleansing, manufacture of vitamins, blood storage and heat/energy storage. If there is too much energy, the liver will store it. The liver is the one organ in the body which can regenerate itself. Growth and regeneration happen at night. The Wood times are 11pm to 1am for Gall Bladder and 1am to 3am for Liver.

The function of planning extends to all areas of the body and mind where all the energy flowers happen according to a plan. If planning stops and the connected decisions are not made, then systems will become malfunctioning and can result in symptoms such as migraine, which is a typical condition resulting from frustration. A migraine feels just as though everything in the head has jammed up so preventing any thinking or planning. This frustration can take the form of arthritis which is a typical Wood symptom and outbursts of anger. It follows that if things go wrong in the planning department, then the gall bladder function which depends on this will also have problems and may result in the inability to make the right decisions or in fact any decision at all. Another manifestation of this is that of an attitude of irresolution and vacillation where thoughts and energy go this way and that.   The direction for Wood is East and if there is already an imbalance in the element manifesting as arthritis, for example, then an east wind could make things worse. This cold east wind can easily invade Wood and can be seen in the posture when someone hunches their shoulders to protect it. The wind is the climate for Wood. The wind it all its many strengths highlights certain characteristics such as flexibility, strength and movement, either positively or negatively.

The eyes are the sense organ for Wood – the sense of vision. Good planning needs to have a wide vision – so see the overall plan. Harmonious achievement in life is achieved when one is neither driven nor without vision. In contrast, there is “tunnel vision”, often leading one in a restricted or even a wrong direction. This tunnel vision is often accompanied by aggressive and dogmatic behaviour and a person’s insistence on their “right” point of view.

Wood’s emotion is anger and either too much or too little is a sign of imbalance. The ability to be angry is not bad so long as it can be used effectively when appropriate and then let go of. Excess and unreleased anger is injurious to the liver and the gall bladder. It can cause feelings of being stuck or paralysed by its build up. It can also show in being constantly on edge, either with oneself or with others – irritability.

The wood element in the negative often presents itself as resentment, particularly if a person has tended to allow themselves to be suppressed and a bit put down. Some Fire to burn up the dead Wood, would help to clear things. Wood Excess and Fire Deficient would be great to take in this case.

Close up of trunk of Laund OakControl is the power of Wood. The liver harnesses the power of the body mind and gives it direction in the form of strategy. This can show in a person who is authoritative and well organised, but if Wood is out of balance, there will often also be irritability. Problems could relate to lack of physical co-ordination, clumsiness and feelings of panic and desperation from lack of mind control – chaos. This could also show as indecisiveness, lack of vitality and mental exhaustion with life lacking in purpose and direction. There could be physical weakness in the limbs and the joints could be lax. The posture would be collapsed and lacking in vigour.

The essence of Wood can be seen and experienced in many different ways. I feel as though a tree expresses the soul of the earth because of its nature and the direction of its growth. It is rooted in its earth mother and through its growth and direction, reaches up to its spirit father – a meeting of Heaven and Earth. Through its growth and maturity, it becomes steadfast and wise and infinitely comforting.

Sit against the trunk of a tree or lie in its shade or climb into its branches and you will begin to feel this wonderful essence which is hard to put into words. Trees are not selfish and, if approached with respect, will share their strength and their healing. Like people, you need to choose your tree with care and awareness of their space and needs. Positive virtues in the element Wood are that of human kindness, generosity and tolerance.