The 5 Elements

The 5 elements and how they interact with each other are fundamentally what the practice of feng shui is all about.

In any feng shui consultation, home audit or research reports, the presence of the 5 elements and how they behave will be a critical criteria to determine whether a house or certain space has good energy or negative vibes.

The five elements consist of:

  1. Water
  2. Wood
  3. Fire
  4. Earth
  5. Metal

There is no particular order or sequence which they should line up as each element has it’s own set of unique characteristics. Never making one more powerful than another.

What each element represents

While each individual element have their own chemical properties, in feng shui we are not very concerned with what are the atoms and molecules are made of with reference to the periodic table.

What practitioners and learners need to know are what they represent so as to better decipher the energy in a space, how to harmonize it, and how to control it, etc.


  • Number 1
  • North
  • Winter
  • Trigram Kan (坎)
  • Blue, black
  • Wavy lines, curves
  • Cool
  • Mercury

It can also be associated with things like wealth, money, middle aged man, kidneys, ears, etc.


  • Number 3, 4
  • East, southeast
  • Spring
  • Trigram Chen (震), Sun (巽)
  • Green
  • Rectangular, slim, tall
  • Wind
  • Jupiter

It can also be associated with things like romance, academic achievements, conflicts, eldest son, eldest daughter, liver, feet, buttocks, etc.


  • Number 9
  • South
  • Summer
  • Trigram Li (離)
  • Red, purple
  • Triangle, sharp, pointed
  • Hot
  • Mars

It can also be associated with things like status, recognition, passion, middle daughter, intestines, heart, eyes, etc.


  • Number 2, 5, 8
  • Southwest center, northeast
  • All seasons
  • Trigram Kun (坤), Ken (艮)
  • Brown, orange yellow
  • Square, flatness
  • Wet
  • Saturn

It can also be associated with things like health, wealth, old women, youngest son, stomach, spleen, hands, etc.


  • Number 6, 7
  • Northwest, west
  • Autumn
  • Trigram Chien (乾), Tui (兌)
  • Gold, silver, white
  • Circle, round, dome, sphere
  • Dry
  • Venus

It can also be associated with things like friends, old men, youngest daughter, intestines, lungs, head, mouth, etc.

Relationships of elements

There are various relationships between the 5 elements. But the 3 most commonly referred to and applied in practice are:

  1. Cycle of birth
  2. Cycle of destruction
  3. Cycle of exhaustion

Depending on what are the goals of the residents in a home, a harnessing a particular relationship will often be better than another.

Cycle of birth

The cycle of birth is basically a reference to which elements are support and enhanced by which other elements.

And is as follows.

Water > Wood > Fire > Earth > Metal > Water

Cycle of destruction

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The cycle of destruction indicates which element destroy a particular other element.

Water > Fire > Metal > Wood > Earth > Water

This can be useful when trying to identify what is causing bad luck and adversity.

Cycle of exhaustion

The cycle of exhaustion is the cycle of birth in reverse order.

It shows which element can cause another to lose energy and potency.

For example Water nourishes Wood creating a great environment for it to grow bigger and stronger. But during this process, Water is getting weaker as Wood is drawing on the energy of Water. Thus, Wood exhaust Water.

Seasonal strength of 5 elements

Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Death Earth Metal Wood Fire
Trap Metal Water Fire Earth
Weak Water Wood Earth Metal
Strong Fire Earth Water Wood
Prosper Wood Fire Metal Water
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