Magical Elements✪Wu Xing

Written by probationideadlyi on September 20th, 2011. Posted in Elements

mastering the elements

Five physical elements in nature that represent the movement of qi. They are fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. The concept of the five phases is the backbone of Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and feng shui.

The Wu Xing, 五行 wŭ xíng also known as the

  1. Elements
  2. Five Phases
  3. Five Agents
  4. Five Movements
  5. Five Processes
  6. Five Steps/Stages

is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs.

“Wu Xing” as translation arose by false analogy with the Western system of the 4 quality  elements.Whereas the classical Greek elements were concerned with substances or natural qualities, the Chinese xíng are “primarily concerned with process and change,” hence the common translation as “phases” or “agents.” By the same token, is thought of as “Tree” rather than “Wood”.

Like  and , the five phases are five characteristics or types of qi that change over time. For example, ice, snow, steam, and fog represent types of water that transform over time. Similarly, the five phases are five physical elements in nature—fire, earth, metal, water, and wood—that represent different manifestations of qi. The operative word here is phases. The movement, transformation, and interaction of each phase are what is studied, not the particular element itself. Remember, a tree, a rock, and a human being are actually bundles of intertwining energy—phases interacting. From creation and birth to maturity and decay, everything revolves around the changes of  and 

The ancient Chinese believed that the interaction of the five phases creates all that exists on the heaven, earth, and human planes. Each phase has its own qi character, and thus interacts with other phases in different ways. Fire qi radiates, earth qi compacts, metal qi contracts, water qi falls, and wood qi grows upward. How the five phases interact with one another determines the balance of qi in nature, in our living/working space, and in our beings.


ying yang mirroring

If It’s Fire, It Must Be Summer

Each phase element is associated with a season, direction(s), weather condition, color(s), number(s), and a trigram . Referring to the following
table, you may question why earth can have three direction values, or how numbers correspond
to each element. This is because the five phases, the 8 trigramskukulkaninf, and the Luoshu, or magic square , “The Flying Stars, Part 1”), have been correlated into a nice, neat package.What does this mean? In the early Warring States period (475–221 B.C.E.), the principles of the five phases, the eight trigrams, and the nine numbers of the Luoshu magic square all existed separately. By the time of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.–220 C.E.), the principles combined, correlating into an integrated whole.

In Chinese, the five phases are known as wuxing or technically, wu zhong liu xing zhi
qi, meaning “the five kinds of qi prevailing at different times.”

  • earth positioned in the center
  • fire qi (south) dominates in summer
  • metal qi (west) in autumn
  • water qi (north) in winter
  • and wood qi (east) in spring

he five phases are usually used to describe the state in nature:

  • Wood/Spring=(72 days) a period of growth, which generates abundant wood and vitality
  • Fire/Summer=(72 days) a period of swelling, flowering, brimming with fire and energy
  • Earth=(72 days=4x18days (4 transitional seasons x 18days each) the in-between transitional seasonal periods, or a separate ‘season’ known as Late Summer or Long Summer – in the latter case associated with leveling and dampening (moderation) and fruition
  • Metal/Autumn=(72 days) a period of harvesting and collecting
  • Water/Winter=(72 days) a period of retreat, where stillness and storage pervades

Wu Xing


Void Elements chart of WU XING

Element Ray East Zodiac Vital Triads West zodiac
  Aetheic rulership Trigram
Metal   spider
Earth    kun-8     
Wood   spider spider


FIVE elements WU XING

According to Wu Xing theory, the structure of the cosmos mirrors the five phases. Each phase has a complex series of associations with different aspects of nature, as can be seen in the following table. In the ancient Chinese form of geomancy known as Feng Shui practitioners all based their art and system on the five phases (Wu Xing). All of these phases are represented within the Bagua. Associated with these phases are colors, seasons and shapes; all of which are interacting with each other.

Based on a particular directional energy flow from one phase to the next, the interaction can be expansive, destructive, or exhaustive. A proper knowledge of each aspect of energy flow will enable the Feng Shui practitioner to apply certain cures or rearrangement of energy in a way they believe to be beneficial for the receiver of the Feng Shui “Treatment”.

Wu Xing Tonalli board

Astral  vortex spirall ball      esher -gravitation  
Dir neogigaserv alarm neogigaserv controller neogigaserv iron neogigaserv water neogigaserv
chim DJed Tyet union jack chi4 astrolog tower bootes ox bear driver   chimfish
wood green ball flame earth break ball metal vortex aqua flow break
7 Rays 
Sound   violinmakershop       
 4     Re Mi X
plan moon ball phase change moon ball phase change  



semioctile vertex
Trigram kun-8 mex nome-human-5
Direction Expansive  out Asc   Y ing Contracting  Ying + Desc
Redirvertex eastern zodiac wheel eastern zodiac wheel eastern zodiac wheel eastern zodiac wheel eastern zodiac wheel
Season Spring Summer Late  Summer Autumn Winter
Climate Windy Hot Damp Dry Cold
Develop Sprouting Blooming Ripening Withering Dormant
Physical  left eye of Horus  right eye of horus
Taste   lime lucky rickey          
Body part  

Body fluid  
Finger  finger  finger  finger  finger  finger


We have excluded any unpleasant association through senses in  this table as per default Wu Xingkiwi presented.In this way we remodel all  influences in a new way of interpretation


Productive Generating Cycle

The productive cycle, shown in the following figure, is one of balance and creation. Each
phase produces, or enhances, the succeeding phase. This progressively producing relationship
of the five phases is known as the “mother-son” relationship. Each phase is the “son” of the phase that produces it, and the “mother” of the one it produces

As you can see, each phase follows a natural progression, the sequence of change creating
harmony and balance. On paper, this seems logical. It makes sense. Yet, we react much differently when confronted with, say, an out-of-control brush fire threatening to consume our home. We must understand that actually, things are in control. Rainfall produces lush greenery that dries, causing raging fires. End of story. Think about this next time you’re tempted to buy that mountain retreat or beachfront cottage!


fence flame alarm
wood green ball Widdershins earth break ball
water aqua flow break iron metal vortex controller

kun-8Generating –begets, engenders and mothers

  • wood green ball feeds flame
  • flamecreates earth break ball(ash)
  • earth break ball bears metal vortex
  • metal vortexenriches aqua flow break(as in water with minerals is more beneficial to the body than pure water)
  • aqua flow break nourishes wood green ball


Controlling Insulting Cycle

The controlling cycle, shown in the following figure, is just that. Each phase controls its
counterpart. It’s a cycle of imbalance. The controlling cycle sets into motion weakened
and depleted qi, which stagnates the environment and causes illness and other unwanted
effects in us

wood green ball  iron  fence earth break ball
controller alarm
aqua flow break metal vortex  


Overcoming-Controls, restrains or fathers

  • wood green ball parts earth break ball (such as roots; or, Trees can prevent soil erosion)
  • earth break balldams (or muddles or absorbs) aqua flow break
  • aqua flow break extinguishes flame
  • flamemelts metal vortex
  • metal vortex chops wood green ball



aqua flow break metal vortex
alarm fence
wood green ball  controller  water earth break ball


  • Fire evaporates Water
  • Water washes away (or penetrates) Earth
  • Earth (rocks) breaks Wood
  • Wood dulls Metal
  • Metal shields against Fire

This cycle runs in the upside down pentagram of the “overcoming” cycle and creates the Hidden Elements Cycle described above


Weakening Cycle

The weakening cycle, shown in the following figure, reduces the power of the controlling phase
and restores the sequential balance (the productive cycle) of the phases in question. In feng shui,more often than not, the weakening cycle is used to remedy negative, or controlling, qi.
The weakening cycle combines the productive and controlling cycles and is represented
in a counterclockwise motion of the movement  of Qi

alarm flame controller
wood green ball Deosil earth break ball
fence aqua flow break water metal vortex iron
  • flameburns wood green ball
  • wood green ball absorbs aqua flow break
  • aqua flow break corrodes metal vortex
  • metal vortexmoves earth break ball
  • earth break ballreduces flame


But, you may ask, how does a reductive phase remedy controlling qi? Good question. Let’s look at a few examples. If water controls fire, how would you propose to lessen water’s power? Would you add earth, metal, or wood? If you answered earth, guess again.

earth break ballwould certainly dominate (controlling cycle) water’s power, but it will also reduce (reductive cycle) fire. earth break ball would then become too dominant over water and fire. If you believe metal will reduce water’s control, this, too, is an incorrect assumption. metal vortex produces (productive cycle) water.

You would be adding to water’s power. The correct answer is wood.wood green ball both absorbs (reductive cycle) aqua flow break‘s power and fuels (productive cycle) the weakenedflame. By adding wood, the natural sequence of qi is restored.

Here’s another example. In this situation, let’s make earth the controlling agent over water. How would you propose lessening earth’s power? Would you add wood or metal? If you answered wood, guess again. wood green balldiminishes earth and reduces water. It would dominate over two weakened agents—earth and water. If you answered metal, you’re getting it! metal vortex both reduces earth and produces aqua flow break. For example, if a mudslide dams the little creek in your backyard, you’d use a shovel (metal) to clear the earth, allowing the aqua flow break to flow. Right? If this mudslide blocked a river, you’d use a bulldozer (a really big piece of metal). Get the idea?

The following table shows the relationship between any two phases and their corresponding
remedy. If the relationship is productive, a remedy is not needed . If one phase controls another phase, the reductive phase is used to revert the cycle to a productive one.

Remember, the weakening cycle creates balance, restoring the productive sequence of qi without creating any side effects. Metal’s contractive qi force and wood’s expansive qi are balanced with water’s downward pull. Fire’s rising qi and metal’s contractive qi are balanced with earth’s compacting force. And so forth.

Japanese traditions use a set of elements called the 五大 godai, literally “5 great”. These five are earth, water, fire,wind/air, and void. These came from Indian Vastu shastra philosophy and Buddhist beliefs; in addition, the classical Chinese elements are also prominent in Japanese culture, especially to the influential Neo-Confucianists during the Edo period.

  • earth break ball represented things that were solid
  • aqua flow break represented things that were liquid
  • flame represented things that destroy
  • vortex spirall ball represented things that moved
  •  or Sky/ represented things not of our everyday life


The Relationship Between Phase Elements


Phase Relationship Weakening Agent
flame and earth break ball Productive None
flame and metal vortex Controlling earth break ballcontroller
earth break ball and metal vortex Productive  None
earth break balland aqua flow break  Controlling metal vortexiron
metal vortex and aqua flow break Productive  None
metal vortex and wood green ball Controlling aqua flow breakwater
aqua flow break and wood green ball  Productive None
aqua flow break andflame Controlling wood green ballfence
 wood green ball andflame  Productive  None
wood green ball and earth break ball  Controlling  flamealarm

A Spoonful of Sugar

In feng shui, recognizing the correct remedy and selecting the proper remedying agent are key to promoting balance in your home. With balance comes better health, wealth, and relationships. But, you ask, how can I recognize what’s out of balance? How can you remedy invisible forces? Should a room include a representative of all 5 phases?

When correcting a controlling interaction you can use either the weakening phase itself or its corresponding color(s). Although using the actual phase is preferred,sometimes this isn’t always possible. For example, leaving a candle burning or a fire blazing in the fireplace is negligent if left unattended. When using color, it’s important that items such as walls, upholstery, carpets,
bedspreads, and drapes be of the same color for maximum benefit to your well-being. Following are suggested remedies for each of the 5 phases.

flameremedies a wood green ballearth break ball domination. Fire remedies include …
◆ A burning candle or working fireplace
◆ Lamps with shades light bulbs burning 24 hours
star blueprintThe colors plane  , and 

earth break ballremedies a flamemetal vortex domination. Earth remedies include …
◆ Rocks
◆ Ceramic, clay, or cement figurines, sculptures,table bases, or lamps
star blueprintThe colors plane   

metal vortexremedies anearth break ballaqua flow break domination. Metal remedies include …
◆ Brass, steel, silver, gold, copper, or bronze figurines,picture frames, bed frames, planters, exercise
equipment, pendulum clocks, filing cabinets,lamps, or fixtures
star blueprintThe colors plane 
◆ The metallic sound of wind chimes, a chiming clock, or piano playing

aqua flow breakremedies a metal vortexwood green ball domination. Water remedies include …
◆ Aquariums*, table fountains**, a container of clean moving water, or humidifiers.
star blueprint The colors plane  
A water bed is not a water remedy because the water is concealed

wood green ball remedies a aqua flow breakflame domination. Wood remedies include …
◆ A living plant or tree
star blueprintThe colors plane 

Dead wood such as hardwood floors and furniture cannot be used as a remedy

The Five Phases of Buildings apple one airplane

Building shapes correspond to the 5 phases, too.

  • Triangular buildings are associated with flame qi. Many churchesbabylon towerchi4 conform to this shape. So does your local International House of Pancakes!
  • Square and rectangular buildings represent earth break ball qi. Most of our homesastrolog tower are square, allowing qi to meander and spiral from room to room.
  • quadro ballsRound or domed-shaped buildings represent metal vortex qi. Sports arenas, coliseums, and observatoriesobservatory conform to this shape. New York’s Guggenheim Museum is an excellent example. Round on the outside, its inner art galleries are spirally arrayed, inviting onlookers to be swallowed along a circular path.
  • aqua flow breakWavy shapes correspond to  qi. Structures with variegated chimfishroof/ceiling lines conform to this shape.
  • Finally, tall buildings, like skyscrapers and towerspisa tower apple test moving bus big ben tower, correspond to wood green ball qi’s growth and expansion.

Is one shape better than the other? Do certain shapes promote a healthy well-being while others inspire illness and misfortune?


Mirrors have never been used as a remedy in classical feng shui. The belief that mirrors can ward off evil omens, absorb, deflect, or stimulate  movement is wishful thinking.

Mirrors only reflect light hitting its glass surface. So, where does the misconception about mirrors come from?

The precursor to the modern loupan compass was called a SHI PAN or Shi Qiang pan described as “the first conscious attempt in China to write history.”. Made of a round “heaven” disc that swivels on a squareNivou tower “earth” base plate,the shi pan was inscribed with various images of the cosmos, including an image of the Big Dipper&bootes ox bear driver (Beidou). Interestingly, the inscribedbootes ox bear driver&  is a mirror opposite from its true configuration in the heavens. This is because the shi pan “mirrors” the perfect and ideal world. In the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.– 220 C.E.), mirrors were made of polished bronze, also illustrating the model world. Both the bronze mirrors and shi pan were considered magical because they reflected an absolute balance between heaven and
earthkun-8. They were even buried in tombs to help the deceased into the next world.


In the philosophy of the seven chakras there are correspondences to the five elements as shared by both Hinduism and Buddhism as well as 2 other elements

elemental sahasrara
elemental adjna
elemental vishudha
elemental anahata
elemental manipura
elemental svadhistana
muladhara elemental



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