The Elements of Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire

Updated November 21, 2018
the four elements in water glasses

Many Eastern and Western philosophies teach the universe is made up of elements that need to be harmoniously balanced in order to support proper flow of spiritual and life force energy. The elements of earth, wind, fire, and water are a variation of the four classical elements of nature, while the elements of water, fire, wood, metal, and earth are the five feng shui elements.

The Earth Element

The earth element is found in both classical and eastern philosophy. In both traditions, the properties and representations of this element are similar.

Characteristics of the Earth Element

Feng shui practitioners consider the element of earth to be the most stable of all the elements. Specifically, earth energy is:

  • Grounding
  • Supportive
  • Stabilizing
  • Nurturing

Productive and Destructive Earth Element Cycles

In feng shui five element theory, it teaches elements can be balanced through their interactions with the other elements. This includes productive and destructive cycles, and the earth element is part of both of these. In the productive earth element cycle, the fire element feeds earth, so if you have insufficient earth energy, you can strengthen it by adding fire energy. In the destructive cycle, metal exhausts or destroys earth and earth extinguishes fire. You can use the elements in a productive cycle to enhance auspicious energy (productive) and eliminate negative energy (destructive) in the gua of a certain area of your home. The gua areas associated with the earth element are:

  • Love and relationships
  • Health
  • Creativity and children

Materials That Represent the Earth Element

To enhance these areas of your life, add an earth element. Here are a few items that symbolize the earth element:

  • Jade
  • Clay
  • Terra cotta
  • Pottery
  • Rocks and crystals
  • The color yellow

The Fire Element

The fire element is also recognized in both Eastern and Western philosophy, and it is the most powerful and active of all the feng shui elements.

Characteristics of the Fire Element

The fire element represents:

  • Passion
  • Energy
  • Enthusiasm

Productive and Destructive Fire Element Cycles

In the productive fire element cycle, the wood element feeds fire. In the destructive cycle, fire destroys wood, and earth extinguishes fire. The gua areas ruled by fire are:

  • Fame and reputation
  • Love and relationships

Materials That Represent the Fire Element

To enhance the gua areas of your life ruled by fire add one of the following items:

  • Anything the color red
  • Dragons
  • Diamond shapes
  • Pyramid shapes
  • Triangular shapes

To incorporate those shapes or the color red in your home, think pieces of art or figurines.

The Water Element

The water element is the third element of three elements that appears in both classical and feng shui philosophy.

Water Element Characteristics

In feng shui, the water element represents:

  • Harmony
  • Prosperity
  • Balance
  • Growth

The Productive and Destructive Water Element Cycles

Because water is a feng shui element, it appears in the productive and destructive cycles of elements. Metal nourishes water in the productive elemental cycle. In the destructive cycle, water destroys metal. The gua areas ruled by water are:

  • Prosperity and wealth
  • Family
  • Helpful people and travel

Materials That Represent the Water Element

To enhance the gua areas ruled by water, add one or two of the following items:

  • Water fountain
  • Artwork depicting water scenes
  • The color blue
  • The color purple

About Wind

Wind is neither a classical nor an eastern element, although some people mistakenly believe it is. However, in the classical elements, wind most closely corresponds with the element of air. In feng shui philosophy, the term feng shui translated means wind and water. Wind is the movement of air, and wind itself can help to move chi or energy in a gentle and flexible way.

Wind Trigram

wind trigram
Wind trigram

One of the trigrams found on the feng shui bagua and in the I Ching Book of Changes is the Xùn trigram, which in English is called the wind trigram. It is associated with the element of wood and represents wealth and prosperity.

Materials That Represent Wind

Wind socks, kites, and wind chimes can all represent the wind. You can use any of these to facilitate movement of chi or to help cleans negative chi.

The Elements of Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire

While there isn't a set of elements in eastern or western philosophy that contain earth, wind, water, and fire, this grouping most closely corresponds to the classical elements. However, although wind is not a specific element in feng shui, it does play an important role in the practice of this form of energy work.

The Elements of Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire