The Five Elements in Feng Shui

Feng shui is all about balance, harmony and energy. How do we achieve balance in feng shui? One of the ways is through the use of five element theory. Below you will find a short description of each element; wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

The elements represent the different qualities of energy present in our environment. The elements are not necessarily the actual article but a form of energy and have additional aspects to those described here. Each element has its own characteristics and relates to the other elements in particular ways. These elements are used to remedy any qi imbalance that may be present in your home and are also used to enhance positive energy aspects.


Wood is the originating point of the five element theory. It represents spring and the beginnings of new life.
Living plants are used as wood remedies and not the dead wood of furniture. A dead or dying plant holds no Qi and is actually a negative influence, but a bushy shrub or healthy growing plant is a fine example of wood element Qi. Plants enhance our surroundings with their beauty and filter the air, creating a more healthful environment.

Wood is represented by the color green. Color is a less effective remedy and when possible living wood should be used. The element of hard wood resides in the East (the Zhen trigram 3) and soft wood in the Southeast (the Xun trigram 4).


Fire is next in the productive cycle. It is the most active or yang element. The heat of high summer illustrates fire accurately.
Because it is so active this is the one place where color is effective. Actual fire can be dangerous to use, so red objects such as a lamp with a red shade or red night light are suggested. The heat from the lamp enhances the effect. Electricity is also considered fire in the form of computers, television and other appliances.

Use red, orange, purple and their shades for fire. The colors of red are actually very strong, use them with caution. Fire resides in the South ( Li trigram 9).


Earth is the center. It acts as the anchor and pivot for the seasons. It bridges high summer to early fall, also transforming winter to spring. Fire produces earth.
Outdoors we often use earth in the form of a brick wall, landscaping with boulders, or earth berm construction. Inside, beautiful clay pots, ceramic decorations or tile will serve as an earth remedy.

Yellow, tan, beige, brown and terra cotta are the colors of earth. Earth residing in the Center (5) and Southwest (Kun trigram 2) can have negative influences. While earth residing in the Northeast (Gen trigram 8) can have a very positive effect.


Metal is derived from earth and follows next in line of the productive series. It is the most used remedy in five element theory. Late fall and early winter are represented by metal.

Gold, silver, bronze and copper are some of the metals used in remedies. You can be very creative in your use of metal, from beautiful statues, wall sculptures, bed frames, to key wound clocks and weights.
Use the colors white and gold to represent metal. Soft metal resides in the West (Dui trigram 7) and hard metal in the Northwest (Qian trigram 6).


Water is the most yin or inactive element. It is the deep of winter when all things rest and wait for the return of spring.
Water remedies are sometimes used outside in the big environment and sometimes indoors. An aquarium, with or without fish, a table top fountain or even a swimming pool can serve as a water remedy. Caution should be used when using water remedies.

Blue and black are the colors of water. Water resides in the North (Kan trigram 1)

This is a basic introduction to the 5 elements you will often hear about in feng shui. There are many other aspects to the elements and their use including but not limited to shape.

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