When Feng Shui was still being in its infancy stage about 3000 years ago, there was only system that was based on the principles of Yin and Yang in conjunction with the Five Elements.
Yin and Yang are natural forms of energy that are in a constant state of change, movement and interaction. They are two exactly opposite and inter-relating forces in the Universe. The interaction is reflected by Night and Day, Positive and Negative, Active and Passive, Fast and Slow. This interaction of Yin and Yang subsequently relates to the Five phases of Chi which later came to be known as Five Elements.
The ultimate objective of Feng Shui is to attain a balance between this Yin and Yang interactions. Now, its not very difficult to conceive why ancient texts always recommend an ideal site to be a place where hills (Yin) and river (Yang) converge.
The Five elements theory is the backbone of all Chinese Metaphysical studies. All matters in the Universe are said to be representing this constant interaction and hence the 5 phases of Chi or the Five elements Viz: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire. These Five Elements share three types of relationships known as cycles – Producing cycle, Controlling cycle and Weakening cycle.
The Producing cycle is in this fashion: Fire produces Earth, Earth produces Metal, Metal produces Water, Water produces Wood, and Wood produces Fire. The Weakening cycle is the exact opposite because when one element is produced the “producing element” becomes weaker. So if we reverse the Producing cycle, we get the Weakening cycle viz: Fire weakens Wood, Wood weakens Water, Water weakens Metal, Metal weakens Earth, and Earth weakens Fire. The controlling cycle which forms a major factor of analysis while doing Feng Shui audits is: Water control Fire, Fire controls Metal, Metal controls Wood, Wood controls Earth, Earth controls Water. The five elements require accurate interpretation while doing a Feng Shui audit. Given below is a snapshot of the same:
Large amount of Wood demotes creativity and innovativeness. Wood can be pliant and bending (willow) or strong and unyielding (oak). Wood is sociable and community minded. Wood also represents the color green, the season spring, and the direction east. Wood represents birth and early childhood.
Fire gives energy, enthusiasm or a leader, but can also be a sign of danger. Too much fire could be destructive. Fire warms and cheers, but it can also burn and destroy. Fire represents red, summer and south. Fire represents the growing years before puberty.
Earth gives stability and also relates to real estate and legacies. Earth is patient, just, honest and methodical. However, it can also be smothering and demanding. Earth represents the color yellow, the center and the teenage years.
Metal means business and success especially financial success. On the negative side, metal can also indicate a sword or a knife and be destructive or violent. The color is usually white, silver or gold. It symbolizes autumn and the west direction. Metal represents the adult years.
Water indicates travel, communication, and learning. It also relates to literature, the arts, and the media. Water can be both gentle (soft rainfall) and violent (a hurricane). Water nourishes all living things, but can also gradually wear away the hardest rock. It represents the color black, winter, and north. Water represents the final years, old age.
Even though the Five elements theory is the most fundamental theory, it indeed forms the very objective of Feng Shui – that of balancing the elemental interaction. Though it is very easy to understand the theory through logic and common sense, its application in real life is what requires a qualified practitioner. Many commercial houses have already exploited the lack of proper understanding of the Five Elements and come out with symbolic objects and images, more from a fancy or a decorative perspective, than the true implementation of the Five Elements theory. Don’t be surprised if you haven’t got any results after religiously hanging those objects. They do not fully constitute the true spirit of this theory.