The Five Elements
According to Feng Shui, there are 5 elements that are found in the natural world: Wood, Water, Earth, Metal, and Fire. Each element embodies a different aspect of chi. Bringing all of them into your space can make it feel more balanced, and reflect more harmony in your life. Too much or too little of any of the elements can have a negative influence on a space, making it feel uncomfortable in some way.
Each element has characteristic colors, shapes, materials, locations and directions associated with it. A deep understanding of the balance of the five elements is best, but you can start to balance and enhance your own space by noticing how the elements present themselves around you, and considering how it feels after you add or change elements.
The Wood Element relates to our inner guidance and intuition. Its movement is upward (like a growing tree). It is represented in a space by:
- plants (natural, silk or artificial ones)
- furnishings made of wood
- images of forests, trees, flowers or greenery
- textiles derived from plant materials
- anything taking the shape of a tree such as columns or stripes
- designs depicting leaves or floral patterns
- colors in the sphere of greens and blues.
The Water Element is associated with our spirit and inner essence. Its movement is naturally downward (like a waterfall). It is represented in an environment by:
- liquids of any type
- structures or furnishings made of glass (including mirrors)
- flowing and curvy shapes
- water features like pools, fountains, wishing wells, lakes or ponds
- images of water and water sources
- darker shades of blue and black.
The Metal Element relates to logic and intelligence. Its natural movement is to go inward or contract (as earth compresses into metal). Metal is represented by:
- Anything made out of precious metals including gold, silver, rod iron, pewter, copper
- Rocks, gemstones and crystals from the earth (not manmade bricks or pottery)
- Round or oval shapes
- Colors in the white, light or pastel spectrum
- Artwork, statues or sculptures depicting or derived from metal or stone
The Earth Element is associated with the body. Its movement is standing ground and connecting (just as the earth is stable and permanent). It is represented in a space by:
- Dirt, mud, potting soil
- Earthenware including tiles, pottery, bricks
- Images of landscapes and dessert settings
- Square and rectangle shapes
- Colors in the sphere of yellows, tans, browns and terra cottas
The Fire Element is reflective of our emotions. Its natural movement is outward (like fiery lava exploding). It is represented by:
- Candles, lights, fireplaces, sunshine
- Anything enlivened by electricity (televisions, computers, radios, telephones, lights)
- Colors in the spectrum of reds
- Shapes of triangles or pyramids
- Any living being including humans, fish, animals
- Anything made from a living beings including leather, fur or animal-print items
- Artworks depicting light, fire or life
Play with the elements in your space:
Take a brief look around the room you are in. Can you assign each of the items you see into the category of element it most closely represents? Do you notice that there is an abundance of some elements while others are not well represented? Think for a moment about how you usually feel in the space, or how you notice people interacting. Is it stressful, cold, disorganized or hard to concentrate? See if you can notice a correlation between the prominent feeling and which elements are present or lacking.