Five Element: what does it mean in feng shui?


Five Element Theory is a Chinese philosophy used to describe interactions and relationships between things. Therefore, to know more about this origin, follow this article immediately.

Table of Contents

1. Where does it come from?

According to ancient Chinese philosophy, all things on earth are born from the five elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth in the natural environment. These five elements are called the five elements. Since the Zhou Dynasty in the 12th century BC, the five elements have been applied to the I Ching – one of the greatest philosophical works in feng shui. Until now, the five elements still strongly influence the movement and development of human life. So, how do the five elements of life influence one’s life?

five element in fengshui
five element in fengshui

The theory of the five elements includes relationships of mutuality, contrast, reciprocity, and opposition. All of these factors exist in parallel, based on mutual interactions. Undeniably, apart from any aspect.

2. Characteristics of the five element

The characteristics of the five elements are Circulation, rotation, and constant change. The Five Elements are never lost, it persists in space and time, it is the foundation that is the driving force for the universe to move and all things to be born.

2.1 What is the mutual generation cycle in the Five Element?

2.1.1 Understanding the mutual generation cycle

Mutual generation means to create, promote, nurture, support, and enhance each other.  The principal rule of the mutual generation cycle includes two aspects, the one that generates and the one that is generated. This is why this rule is also referred to as the mother-child relationship. Specifically, the rules of the mutual generation cycle in the Five Elements are:

What is the cycle of five elements?
  • Wood generates Fire: Wood quickly burns and creates Fire; fire takes Wood as its making component.
  • Fire generates Earth: Fire burns matter into ash, creating Earth.
  • Earth generates Metal: Earth contains minerals from which metal is extracted.
  • Metal generates Water: When Metal is heated at a high temperature, it creates Water as a result of condensation.
  • Water generates Wood: Water keeps trees alive, nurturing the growth of Wood.
the cycle generation
the cycle generation

It can be said that mutual generation and mutual restriction are the two rules of the Five Elements that exist parallelly, intending to maintain the balance of the universe.  Were there only a generation without restriction, extreme overgrowth would be detrimental. On the contrary, the only restriction without generation, development, and growth could not continue. Therefore, generation restriction creates an inseparable institutional pattern.

Read more: Agate Stone: Overview, effects, feng shui meaning

2.1.2 Reverse-generation of five-element

As mentioned, mutual generation is a rule of creation in the theory of the Five Elements. However, excessive generation could sometimes cause harm. Dry wood is used to make fire, but abundant dry wood will create an enormously dangerous fire, putting properties and human lives at risk. This is why the rule of reverse-generation exists in the cycle of the Five Elements.

What is the reverse-cycle of five elements?
  • Metal is created within Earth, but too much Earth will keep Metal stay buried.
  • Fire generates Earth, but excessive Fire will turn Earth into ashes.
  • Wood breeds Fire, but abundant Wood will have Fire become destructive.
  • Water nurtures and provides growth to Wood, but extreme water will wash away Wood.
  • Metal generates Water, but too much Metal will make Water opaque.
the reverse cycle
the reverse cycle

It is undeniable that the rules of mutual generation and restriction exist in the Five Elements, but reverse generation and regulation rules are also vital. Having a clear understanding of such relationships will enable you to have a more comprehensive and delicate view of all things that exist.

2.2 Characteristics of the five element

The characteristics of the five elements are Circulation, rotation, and constant change. The Five Elements are never lost, it persists in space and time, it is the foundation that is the driving force for the universe to move and all things to be born.

2.2.1 Mutual generation of five element

  • Metal Element: 

According to the mutual generation, we have the following signs that are compatible with metal elements:

Earth generates metal: Earth is a place to cover and protect the metal.

Metal generates Water:  when it encounters high temperature, the heat will melt into the liquid metal, which is water. 

Water generates Wood: Wood relies on the water to grow and develop.

Wood generates Fire: Wood withering will form Fire.

Fire generates Earth: When the fire is burned down, it turns into ashes, Earth.

According to mutual relationship, we already have the answer: the mutual generation of Metal elements, and It is generated with Water, Earth, and Metal element. 

metal element
metal element
  • Wood Element:

According to the five elements in metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, Wood will give birth to Fire (generate), and water will support wood. Although they are all mutual, they have different meanings, so you need to distinguish them when using these in feng shui. Another thing is, even if there is a Wood that gives birth to Fire, if it is too prosperous, it can also extinguish the Fire. Similar to water, if it is too over, wood will not be able to live.


  • Water Element:

According to the Five Elements theory, the person of the water element is suitable with the metal, wood element, and itself.
If both sides are water, they can support each other a lot in life. Two people get along, business prospers. If you belong to the water element and combine it with people of the wood element, your family life will be harmonious and prosperous. However, you need to sacrifice more for the other side so that the other side benefits.

Five element in fengshui
Five element in fengshui
Water element supports earth element

If combined with metal elements, this is a highly beneficial relationship, and you will easily reach success with the help of the other party. However, why should we choose the person who generates with their element in marriage and business? Because if husband and wife are in harmony with each other, the house will be warm, the family members will be in balance, the company will be favorable, and even flourish like a kite in the wind. If the partner is in harmony, the two sides will share many views; the cooperation is also easy to come to a consensus, less often plotting, stabbing each other in the back.

  • Fire Elements:

The Fire element signifies summer, heat, and fire. In the positive aspect, Fire represents honor, justice, brings light, happiness, and slightly yin. However, if viewed in a negative part, this destiny symbolizes war and aggression. The order of the Five Elements Mutual Generation is a convention as follows. Wood gives birth to Fire, Fire creates to Earth, Earth generates to Metal, Metal creates to Water, and Water yields, to Wood. Thus, the people of Fire par are united with Wood and Earth element. 

  • Earth Elements:

The rules of the five elements of the mutual cycle state: Fire generates to Earth. Fire consumes everything, becoming ashes, which is earth. People with Earth Elements are suitable for Fire things to supplement mutual energy for their elements. Combining two earth elements creates a mountain, and the Earth combines to create a solid, unshakable mountain. The Earth Element is compatible with earth things. This relationship helps to increase vitality, improve physical strength.

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