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The Importance of the Five Element

The core of Chinese sciences of the  Universe: Feng Shui, the Chinese Astrology and various other Divinity methods revolves around the understanding of the importance of the Five Elements. These elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal and are considered the building blocks of life.

According to ancient Chinese, these  Five Elements are interactive, shape and stimulate our daily life. Illustration showing the Productive Sequence

It is important to understand that there is a natural order in which leads to harmony, prosperity and happiness.

The productive sequence is as  follows: Water nourish plants and trees: producing Wood, Wood makes Fire which burnt into ashes to form Earth, Earth is the source of Metal. Metal can be condensed to water or can be melted into liquid i.e. `Water'. Therefore this process is known as the productive sequence.

Illustration showing the Destructive SequenceThere is also a destructive sequence,  which is the cause of bad events and calamities.

This is a result of an imbalance or a distrubance to the natural order. This is where: Water puts out Fire; Fire melts Metal; Metal breaks Wood; Wood (roots of plants) penetrates the Earth; and Earth is absorbed Water.

In some cases, Feng Shui experts will advice you to place a neutralizing element to avoid such harmful effects. We will get to hear more about the Five Elements in later chapters.

Buildings can be classified under one of the Five Elements:

Type of Buildings classified under the 5 elements

Watercourses can also be classified  under one of the Five Elements:

Types of Watercourses classified under the 5 elements



The Five Elements : Water, Earth,  Fire, Wood and Metal and their relationships with the TEN Heavenly Stems: 


Heavenly Stem



JIA (hard wood) 

YI (soft wood) 


Hewn timber 


BING (sun fire) 

DING (kitchen fire) 


Burning incense 


WU (mountain earth) 

JI (sand earth) 




GENG (rough metal) 

XIN (refined metal) 

Metal ores 



XIN (refined water) 

GUI (rain water) 

Salt water 

Fresh water 


The Ten Heavenly Stems reflect the plane of Heaven on the Chinese compass. This Ten Heavenly stems by  combining with the Twelve Chinese Zodiac animals (Earthly Branch) forms the basis of the Chinese Calendar System.

The relationship between the Ten Heavenly stems and Twelve Earthly Branches are as follows:



Heavenly Stem

Earthly Branch


JIA (hard wood)  & YI (softwood)

Tiger & Rabbit


BING (sun fire)  & DING (kitchen fire)

Horse & Snake


WU (mountain earth) & JI (sand earth)

Dog & Ox


GENG (rough  metal) & XIN (refined metal)

Rooster & Monkey


REN (sea water)  & GUI (rain water)

Pig & Rat



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