It seems that many people today who have heard about Feng Shui have heard about the Five Elements. These elements; Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water are the foundation theory for Feng Shui balance. There also seems to be some confusion about just what these elements really are and how they work. Actually, it is fairly simple and based on common sense. It is easy to understand the elements and their significance. Using them properly and in the correct proportion is what separates a master from a student. The following is a brief description of each of these elements and how they might be applied.
We start with the wood element since it is the beginning of new life. Just as spring brings new plants and new life, wood is the originator of the five elemental cycles. Lush and healing, the Feng Shui Wood element will bring the energy of health, vitality, and growth. It is also an expression of abundance, thus an ancient Feng Shui cure for wealth and prosperity. Trees shooting up from the ground radiate growth.
Their branches sway with the wind as energy weaves between each leaf. Roots break apart the earth below and serving as a strong foundation for the tree to build on itself. Bringing this lustrous element into your own home promotes the opportunity for growth and development of oneself. It is wood that has the ability to transform from a tiny seed to a towering mosaic of leaves and bark. Water is the source of all life therefore water aligned decor will enhance elements of wood. Wood in turn feeds the fire.
Many people mistakenly use wood furniture as a Feng Shui solution. The problem with wood furniture is that it is lifeless. To harness the Qi (chi) of wood, it is essential you use live wood! A shrub or bushy plant is ideal since it emits live qi and is also an excellent method of retaining Qi. Plants recycle the air we breathe and can provide a natural filter for the air. A common Feng Shui problem is the staircase that empties into a doorway. A bushy plant can retain some of that Qi, when it is placed either on the landing, or more ideally, at the bottom of the staircase. Remember that you want a live plant, so maintain it. A dead plant holds no Qi and is actually a “Sha” (unsightly or bad influence).
Wood shapes and designs are vertical. Rectangles that are taller than they are wide lift energy upward like the trees you find outside your home. Incorporating pillars into your decor strengthens the wood element of a room. Centuries ago pillars stood as a symbol to unite Heaven with Earth.
Wood represents the directions of East and the Zhen Trigram (3). It also represents the South East and the Xun Trigram (4).
Switch out short and wide bookshelves for tall, skinny replacements to increase your wood energy. Add big, leafy, potted plants that shoot upwards from the base.
Expansion, Enthusiasm, and Transformation
The fire element has always been a powerful tool for human beings. Harnessing this power changed the way we live by providing warmth. As our abilities with fire grew, we were able to expand beyond our limits, gas stoves, jet engines, and automobiles have sent mankind into the modern age. Bringing the fire element can add this expansionism and transformation to your own life. Fire increases the vertical flow of energy in your home tremendously. Too much fire can be chaotic and cause more harm than good. As always in Feng Shui, balance your home with your own persona.
The Fire Element is the most “Yang” of the elements. A balanced Feng Shui Fire element in your space will bring supporting energy in all your career efforts and will help you achieve recognition. It is a hot summer or a blast of heat. In Feng Shui, we usually use a candle or the color red.
Feng Shui Advisors recommends the color red more than a candle as we do not want our clients to risk the possibility of a house fire. Being that Fire is so yang, this is the one example where color does work well. If it is hot, it is even better. A red night light or a table lamp with a red shade makes excellent Fire remedies.
Bright, lively colors are key to fire element implementation. As you might expect, yellow, orange, and redwork great, however, any bright color will work. For instance sky blue, or baby blue, or anything that allows energy to “bounce” and flow freely. Any bright color can be a fire color especially if you add a semigloss or high gloss finish into the mix.
Semigloss and Highgloss finishes are reflective, bouncing light here and there while satin or eggshell finishes push the light around the room toning your fire down a notch.
An object’s shape can increase the flow of energy even more so than just the color. Shapes that send energy up and into the air represent fire. Diamonds, pyramids, triangles, and sunbursts provide this sort of upward lift to a room increasing the flow of energy.
- Triangles: A triangle no matter how it is displayed moves energy in a vertical direction because of its defined edges and sharp vertices.
- Pyramids: Pyramids are a little more grounded than a triangle but they still shoot energy upward in a vertical direction.
- Diamonds: Diamonds shoot energy up and down simultaneously.
- Sunbursts: Sunbursts radiate energy in nearly every direction, much like a vase full of seasonal flowers. Use real flowers to increase the effect.
Floral arrangements are a great way to add fire energy. Using real flowers will encourage you to change the arrangement as the flowers die off.
Fire represents the South and the Li Trigram (9).
Increasing the amount of sunlight that comes into a room increases fire energy, always try to use natural light. If this is not an option use lights that shoot upward instead of traditional hanging lamps. The same goes for plants, exchange overhead, hanging planters for plants that shoot upward. Floral arrangements are a great way to add fire energy. Using real flowers will encourage you to change the arrangement as the flowers die off. Hang pictures of bright flowers if fresh flowers are not a possibility.
Grounding Support and Security
A strong and harmonious Feng Shui Earth element in your home will help create stability, nourishment, and protection for all your relationships. Earth is an interesting element despite the rather commonplace conception of dirt. Many times Earth is recommended for a larger environmental solution. In this case, large granite boulders or a beautiful clay statue can be used. Terracotta pots filled with potting soil make a great Earth remedy. Earth also represents the Mountain.
The earth element radiates downward. Adding this element to your home quarters strengthens feelings of safety and security. The grounding support of earth energy should bring comfort to the soul and tone things down.
Earth tone colors can be used, but they are not nearly as effective as the actual element. Browns, sierras, olive greens, and any other color that is somewhat muted. Dull colors such as sandstone, or granite work well for the Earth. Avoid the bright colors as they excite the energy of the room instead of control it.
Integrate earth shapes into your floor plans by using squares, rectangles, and horizontal lines. Rectangles must be wider than they are tall, tables are usually inherently rectangular, perfect for increasing earthen energies. Furnishings made of earth materials are automatically classified as earth objects (brick, stone, clay, etc).
Earth represents the North East or the Gen Trigram (8). It also represents the South West or the Kun Trigram (2). Additionally, it represents the “Center” of the Master Trigram (5). Energetically speaking, Kun – Earth (2) and the center representation (also called a star) of 5 can have negative influences, whereas the Gen Trigram (North East – 8 – also referred to as the Mountain) can have a very prosperous influence.
Old fashioned, simple works, including older books, make great earth decor. Woven basket containers, large, antiqued pottery with or without engraved designs are a great way to bring energy downward for that cozy, “homey” feeling. Solid chairs made from finished woods with soft cushions are a great way to simplify a room. Granite table / countertops with a wooden base symbolize strength and security. Pay special attention to the walls of a room. Thick walls can be a great way to enhance the earth feel of a room, built-in furnishings thicken a wall giving it more support. This effect can also be simulated using layered painting techniques, use the colors of the earth.
Metal pulls energy together. It stimulates your brain’s intellectual abilities while bringing the energy of the room together. Increasing the metal energies of a room will allow one to focus one’s thoughts.
The most common solution, Metal can be found in all forms. Copper, Silver, Gold, and Bronze are a few variations of the Metal Element. Feng Shui Metal element brings the qualities of sharpness, precision, clarity, and efficiency; its balanced presence will help you live with clarity and lightness.
Using the Metal Element can take on all sorts of creative ideas. A cast silver deer is one idea. A bronze plate hung on the wall is another. Even iron weightlifter plates can be utilized as a metal solution. Weightlifter plates? Yes, when done properly. This can be done by stacking a few, then placing a brass pot upside down on top and creating a pedestal for a small plant or perhaps a metal statue. The quantity of the element is definitely there! The key thing to remember is that Feng Shui is about creating a beautiful environment.
When utilizing the Metal Element, ensure that it is rounded and pleasing, not sharp and pointed. Metal is the most commonly used remedy for the negative Earth energies as mentioned above. Ideally, the goal is to introduce Feng Shui elemental solutions that are not identifiable as Feng Shui remedies. Feng Shui objects that are unsightly or easily identified as a “Feng Shui Cure” are not recommended. It should blend into the environment and be beautiful.
The colors White, Silver, or Gold can be used. These colors are not neutral, they actually radiate vast amounts of intellectual energies.
Circles and arcs are the strongest forms of metal energy. They harness the energies of a room spinning them toward the center of the circle. Objects made from the metals of the earth, bronze, silver, tin, aluminum, etc also generate metal energies.
Metal represents the Dui Trigram (7) in the West. Dui is a soft metal such as gold. It is also the Qian Trigram (6) in the North West. Qian is a hard metal like steel.
Circular coffee tables, preferably with metal support or legs work great for bringing the energy of a room together. Replace plant pottery with metal planters. Shiny metal radiates a greater amount of chi than dull metals. Interior walls are usually white, if this is overwhelming try painting just a single wall to nullify some of the metal energies.
Release and Rejuvenation
Water is what gives life to our planet. Without it, we would not exist. Our bodies are mostly water. In Feng Shui, Water is a very useful element. A harmonious Feng Shui Water element will bring a refreshing energy of calm, ease, purity, and freshness. Water is also the ancient symbol of abundance, thus a potent Feng Shui cure.
Flowing water is Yang aligned. Water that moves begins its journey from an elevated position and drops or flows into a pool below. As you might expect bringing the water element into your home creates a downward flow of energy. Water’s innate ability to pool around any and every object brings stability and equalization to surrounding energies. Water energies help us let go of things that are no longer in our best interests.
It is still water (Yin) that is responsible for calming the surrounding energies. A still pool brings a sense of a fresh start, a new beginning, and the renewal of strength.
Water, when needed, should be clear and flowing. Stagnant water can create more problems than it solves. A simple aquarium or even a small “metal” fountain can be used. Do not use ceramic or other earthen fountains. This is a common mistake. The Earth element blocks water and neutralizes the positive effect of the Water. Outside, a metal trough, a fountain, or even a fish pond can act as an environmental solution.
Water has no definitive shape, it is very unique indeed. Pictures of still water including ponds, lakes, and reservoirs are great ways of bringing still water energies into your home. Traditionally, rippling waves, cascades, or terraces. These shapes force energy sideways or downward, which is characteristic of water. Fishbowls, low-pumped aquariums, and flower vases are other suggestions for water incorporation.
Water has always been synonymous with power. Water has been used as an elemental solution by the emperors in the form of moats and by placing their palaces near bodies of water. If you look at most capital cities today, they are either located near the water or have large lakes or rivers nearby. Most ocean-side and lake-side homes are sought after and usually more expensive.
We all know that the color of pure water is transparent, but the rules change in Feng Shui. Black, very dark grays, and dark blues are the traditional colors associated with the Water Element. Blacks play a key role in the study of oneself and the ability to build wisdom. Be warned that too much black does send that message to others that you are may not be interested in social interactions. Dark blues release energies associated with flowing water. These energies of moving water are said to influence your career and the flow of money.
Water represents the Kan Trigram (1) in the North.
Hanging items such as pots and pans, or tools engages the energies of flowing water. Indoor ponds have grown in popularity over the last decade and they too expand the energies of flowing water.
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