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The Chinese “5 Elements” are actually more like Five Phases or seasons. They are winter, spring, summer, late-summer, and autumn or Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal.

Each “Element” or “phase of energy” is associated with one of several things:

  • Viscera – an organ that “stores” energy; Fire = heart, Wood = liver, Water = kidney, Metal = lung, Earth = spleen & pancreas
  • Bowel – an organ which “transports” energy and waste; Fire = small intestine, Wood = gallbladder, Water = bladder, Metal = colon, Earth = stomach
  • Flavor; Fire = spicy, Wood = sour, Water = salty, Metal = bitter, Earth = Sweet; bland goes also with metal
  • Spirit; Fire = emotions, Wood = soul, Water = Willpower and memory, Metal = unconscious mind, Earth = conscious mind
  • Emotion; Fire = joy & love, Wood = anger, Water = fear/fright, Metal = grief, ¬†Earth = empathy and compassion
  • Disease; Fire=summerheat & fire-toxin, Wood = wind-heat, Water = Wind-cold, Metal = warm-dry, and Earth = summerdamp and epidemic toxins
  • Time of day; Fire = 11am-3pm and 7pm-11pm, Wood = 11pm-3am, Water = 3pm-7pm, Metal = 3am-7am, Earth = 7am-11am

The 5 Elements are all blended together in everything. For example, in the brain, the wood energy gives it the dendritic structure, water gives it the white and pia mater, metal the gray/cortex, earth the glucose needed to power it (ATP), and fire the electro-chemical and hormonal stimulants which control it.

This can be repeated with any structure in the cosmos. 

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The power of the Wu Xing is also it explains what type of person you are. A person consists of usually 2 or three different elements which are in majority control or influence in a person, sort of how elements in chemistry have varying isotopes of different percentages (such as carbon 12, 13, and 14). A person has a “constitution” which is to say a weak physical and heightened psychic aspect (for example, a “Wood” person has brittle tendons but strong organizational skills, their out of balance emotion is anger/temper). They may sometimes have two constitutional elements, but most people favor their mother OR their father. Some get both in equal proportions. ALSO the person has a “CF” or causative factor [of imbalance]. This forms in a pathology the primary element, in a balanced person their underlying elemental state. It could be said to be an element which went out of balance either due to genetics, something that happened in utero, the birthing process, or shortly thereafter and through the growth process. Most of the time the CF is karmic in nature and represents some kind of spiritual aspect.

For example, a Wood-Metal person such as myself has a wood constitution, but a metal CF. My body and psyche are as described before… but my CF was inherited from my father, and when out of balance tends to make me short with people, arrogant, irritable, especially with issues of paternity and justice. Disrespect is my greatest short fuse to anger.

All of the elements can be combined to form different types of people. It is beyond this article to list them all as there are (3*2)*(5*4*3*2*1) types of people or ~720 main types… plus a number of various stragglers. Also, the fire element has 4 organs in it, of which any one can be out of balance (or all); just as all elements can be out of balance, greatly raising the number of types to over 1,000.

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However I did want to mention that often it is the main element and sub-element types that define if we will like a person by their “energy” and that alone can affect a relationship between people beyond and prior to any communication. For example, as water controls fire, highly extroverted people tend to fear highly introverted people. Metal types such as myself cannot tolerate disrespect from Wood types, and fear the dominance of Fire types. Earths are easily drained by Wood (alpha) types and so a great many nurses complain about doctors and surgeons. Certain professions lend themselves to one or two types of elements. As you can imagine, sports lends itself to highly competitive elemental types, such as Wood-fire, Wood-earth, Wood-metal, and double Wood or double Metal or double Fire (such as Bruce Lee).

This also means that in many situations, the holder of this knowledge can effect conflict-resolution, project-managment, team-balancing, and relationship-harmonization if they know and understand the WHY of an imbalance on a hidden level. For example, if a child is struggling in school or later in college with their path, a parent can assess their child’s element type and find a way to urge the person into something that will match their energetic pattern. Also, it can indicate which type of person is more likely to be susceptible to addictive behaviors re: gambling, drugs, and alcohol… by first determining their element type and then assessing their level of control and balance. Unfortunately, not everyone has very good balanced numbers of each type. I have seen people with 95% Metal type and so little of the others that they are to be considered negligible. This makes such a case very difficult to work on (or with). Also I have seen cases where the person had two CF’s and the other three elements were constitutionally out of balance, and by seeking to control it, they were making it worse. These are extreme examples.
For more information on the subject, the following three resources are “canonical” information:

  • Huang Di Nei Jing/Su Wen
  • the Feng Ch’ien – Mirror of Auras
  • Dr. Worseley’s Five Element Theory


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