Five Elements & Your Qi

I’m sure many of you have heard of Five Elements, but do you know what they are, what it means, or how does it relate to you and your health?

Five Element Correspondences

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In Chinese culture, one of the major roots is Five Element theory. This theory is embedded in various modalities such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong and Chinese metaphysics. Cosmologically, it is seen that all matter is a mixture of the Five Elements. These elements are both physical and nonphysical at the same time. Ultimately the Five Elements represent a state of Qi.

All matter is a form of Qi. Qi is the “vital life force” or “energy” which flows through the universe. It is created from the dance between the primordial energies of Yin and Yang. Arising from the movements between both these polarities spring the five transformational energies. Each of these transformational energies have a different measurement of Yin and Yang. These five transformational energies are known as the Five Elements.

Each Qi has it own unique attribute and correspondence.  The table below shows a brief list of the Five Elements in relation to your body.

Elements Organs Emotions & Psyche  Color
Earth Spleen & Stomach Worry, Obsession, Generosity Yellow
Metal Lung & Large Intestine Depression, Clarity, Righteousness White
Water Kidney & Bladder Fear, Wisdom Dark Blue, Black
Wood Liver & Gallbladder Anger, Ambition, Planning, Direction Green
Fire Heart & Small IntestinePericardium & Triple Burner Connection, Warmth, Happiness, Joy, Mania Red


What are the four cycles and its relationship with Five Elements?

There are four cycles which these elements can interact with each other. The cycles are Birth-Growth, Control, Destructive-Over controlling, or Insulting.

The first cycle is Birth-Growth. For simplicity we will call this Phase 1.

Water generates Wood

Wood generates Fire

Fire generates Earth

Earth generates Metal

Metal generates Water

five-elements-cycle Water controls Fire

Fire controls Metal

Metal controls Wood

Wood controls Earth

Earth controls Metal

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This cycle is quite linear. Water helps trees grow (Wood), wood then becomes fuel for Fire, which then turns into ashes (Earth). Earth with enough time and pressure transforms into minerals (Metal), metal exposed to air then produces moisture (water). In this cycle, each element generates or produces one another. For Phase 1 the defining principle is: each element cultivates and bolsters the element it produces.

The second cycle, Phase 2 is Controlling.

In this cycle, the elements keep each other under control. For example, Fire melts Metal. An axe (Metal) cuts into Wood. The roots of a tree grip tightly onto Earth (Wood control Earth). Earth forms a barrier to control Water – just like a dam holds back the massive amounts of water. Water extinguishes Fire.

Phase 2 is defined by one element controlling another element. Water extinguishes Fire, Fire melts Metal, Metal chops down Wood, Wood via its roots restrains Earth, Earth absorbs & dams up Water. This cycle ensures there is a balance maintained between all the elements.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Five Element Phases where we talk about the other two cycles!