The Five Elements of Feng Shui
The five elements could also be called the five phases, or transitions. They indicate the way the world changes around us and how interactions between different phases can happen. They take the names of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. While on some occasions you can take them literally, that is not really the intention.
Wood is to do with growth. The Spring is closely connected with wood chi, as it’s when the world turns from what is apparently dead, back into life. Children or youth would also be represented by wood as growing is one common thing that children do.
This comes after wood and is to do with expansion, brightness and visibility. When things have grown from nothing into something, they have the chance to perform and do their intended job. This might be the plants flowering, or a younger adult becoming well known for doing a good job.
The earth phase is more to do with stability or non movement. In life, people generally tend to ease off a bit as they get older and become more comfortable; they are established and secure. In nature, the earth phase can be seen as the times when nothing seems to be changing.
The metal phase is to do with gathering in, and contraction or consolidation. Seasonally, it is represented by Autumn and the harvest festival; it is when we benefit from previous labours. Retirement, collecting our pensions, cashing in our savings plans is metal activity. Metal is much to do with older people, and so with that comes wisdom, so government and authority also goes with metal.
Water is to do with regeneration; it is the ending of one phase and the starting of the next. The winter season belongs to the water phase, where on the surface nature seems to die, but underneath it is regenerating ready for the following year.
The Five Elements in Human Life
Children are wood. They grow and move into fire as they become productive adults. Earth follows when they are more established. The contraction phase of metal follows, where people retire, often get physically smaller, and tend to be less outgoing. The water phase in human life is less easy to see, but it could well be to do with our returning to the cosmic melting pot to prepare for rebirth at a later date.
The Five Elements in a Product Life Cycle
As a product goes through its development, this is the wood phase. Its launch with all the publicity is Fire. As it becomes a household name, it is more in the earth phase. Eventually, it is no longer a product of its time, and its popularity declines; this is the metal phase. Water comes last when the product is no longer manufactured; resources are freed up to produce the “new improved” version.
The examples above
refer to the Constructive Cycle, where one thing leads to another. There is also the control cycle going on at the same time. The diagram below shows how the two fit together. The constructive cycle is shown in green, while the control is shown in red.
The Control Cycle in Human Life
Students (wood) are well known for their protests and demands for new ways. The establishment (earth) is who they protest against. This is how wood chi tries to control or influence earth.
When government (metal) gets too strong or stuck in its ways, a good scandal (fire/visibility) tends to get the things moving. A certain regeneration (water) usually comes about followed by growth(wood) in a new direction
The Control Cycle in a Product Life Cycle.
When a new product (wood), is in development, people will often stop buying the established model(earth), and wait for the new version; this is wood controlling earth. Competing companies will often promote upcoming products well before they are ready, just to put the dampers on competitors sales. If the product is very popular when it is launched (its fire is strong) then the declining model (metal) has no future at all; this is fire destroying metal.