The Five Feng Shui Elements and How to Harness Their Power

Updated November 5, 2018
View that includes the five feng shui elements

Five elements of feng shui are important principles governing this Chinese philosophy of placement. The feng shui elements need to be balanced in order to create a harmonious environment.

The Five Elements of Feng Shui

Feng Shui philosophy states that chi (energy) lives in all things. It's the life force of nature. This energy is comprised of two opposite forces yin (female) and yang (male). The balance of these two energies is the ultimate perfection of bringing earth (yin) and heaven (yang) together in harmony.

Creation of Chi Energy Cycles

Chi energy is pure when it first enters the earth but quickly goes through various transformations when it manifests into the physical. This manifestation creates five expressions of the chi energy that you know as feng shui elements. These five elements must interact in order to recreate the perfection of chi energy in the physical.

Properties of the Feng Shui Elements

The five elements of feng shui each have their own individual properties and they must be balanced correctly.

Feng Shui Fire Element

Candle representing the feng shui element of fire

The fire element is considered the most powerful of all the elements and represents energy, passion, expansion, and transformation. When using the fire element in your home, it can be represented by a candle, or by color, such as a red lampshade.

  • Color(s): Red, orange and yellow
  • Season: Summer
  • Direction: South

Wood Element in Feng Shui

The element of wood helps to develop creative energies such as inspiration, motivation, and passion. It represents personal growth and renewal and purifies and redirects chi. Wood can be represented by plants, trees, or by green objects, for example green pillows.

  • Color(s): Green and sometimes purples, not pastels
  • Season: Spring
  • Direction: East and southeast

Water Elements in Feng Shui

The water element of feng shui is directly related to the flow of money and career. Flowing water helps you release things you no longer need. Still water helps the surrounding energies to be calm and offers the feeling of a new beginning and renewed strength. The water element can be represented by a water feature, aquarium, or pond. Crystals, wavy statues, or artwork and paintings of water scenes are other ways the element of water may be represented.

  • Color(s): Blues
  • Season: Winter
  • Direction: North

Feng Shui Metal Element

The element of metal draws and unifies all elements. They act as transmitters, conducting the various energies to different areas. Metal stimulates mental strength and intellectual abilities, making it easier to focus and think clearly.

  • Color(s): White, silver, gray and black
  • Season: Fall
  • Direction: West and northwest

Feng Shui Earth Element

Representing permanence, stability and home, the earth element is solid, giving a sense of security and grounding support. It strengthens the feelings of safety and adds a sense of comfort from within. Rock features, thick carpet, antique pottery, and old books help to bring the earth element indoors.

  • Color(s): Brown, beige, sierra and other muted colors
  • Season: End of summer
  • Direction: Center, northeast, and southwest

Cycle of Chi Through Five Elements

In feng shui, the chi cycle is the perfect manifestation and movement of chi energy through the earth plane. Everything in life recreates this same cycle in order to maintain balance. Through the application of feng shui principles for chi energy, you can bring balance to your home and your life.

  • Chi first transforms into water as it falls from the heavens.
  • When the transformed chi meets the earth, it undergoes another transformation as it begins to nourish plant life.
  • The next manifestation of the chi energy is into plants (wood).
  • From this incarnation, chi transforms once more, this time into fire as the plant or wood feeds it with powerful energy.
  • Out of the fire, chi transforms into ash (earth).
  • The final stage is chi recreating itself into metal. The cycle then repeats itself with metal drawing water from the heavens.

Elemental Cycle of Life

Elemental Cycle of Life

The chi moving through the world to create five elements has a byproduct of three distinct cycles of energy.

Creative (Productive) Cycle

The creative cycle is the first energy cycle created by chi. When chi falls to the earth, it creates water that becomes the creator of all life. Without chi transforming into water, there would be no life. The creative cycle continues through the rest of the elements in order of creation.

  • Fire strengthens earth.
  • Earth strengthens metal.
  • Metal strengthens water.
  • Water strengthens wood.
  • Wood strengthens fire.

You can make use of this cycle to strengthen elements in other sectors. For instance, to strengthen fire energy, you can also place elements of wood in fire-driven sectors.

Controlling (Destructive) Cycle

This cycle reveals that each element has the ability to destroy the other elements when the creative cycle is out of balance.

  • Water controls fire.
  • Fire controls metal.
  • Metal controls wood.
  • Wood controls earth.
  • Earth controls water.

You can use this cycle if you have an element that is too strong in a certain sector of your space so you need to control it. For example, if you have extreme fire energy in a sector, you can add water to weaken the fire.

Reducing (or Weakening) Cycle

The third cycle of chi is a weakening one. This occurs when the chi energy can no longer nourish the elements. A weak chi cannot support the natural cycle and therefore all of the elements also weaken. In this cycle, the energy cycle operates in reverse.

  • Wood reduces water.
  • Water reduces metal.
  • Metal reduces earth.
  • Earth reduces fire.
  • Fire reduces wood.

Use the reducing cycle to calm the impact of an element. For example, if you have too much earth in a sector and need to calm the energy without overcoming it, you can add elements of metal.

Working With the Five Elements

Now that you have a better understanding of the five elements and the roles each places in balancing the chi energy, you can begin working to balance the chi in your home. Remember that the key to successful feng shui is achieving yin and yang balance. Unless there is a natural element like an outside land formation or a missing corner in your home, you should be able to achieve balance by using the less is more theory.

Directions and Elements

Compass directions and elements have matched energies that will help you when you begin balancing the energies in your home. Although compass school of feng shui requires greater math calculations to determine the kind of energies residing in your home, you can use basic feng shui principles and applications to help lessen any negative effects.

  • North: Water
  • Northeast: Earth
  • East: Wood
  • Southeast: Wood
  • South: Fire
  • Southwest: Earth
  • West: Metal
  • Northwest: Metal

Less Really Is More

You don't need to take a minimalist approach to your interior design, but when adding feng shui elements, it's always best to do so in moderation. Depending on the school of feng shui you practice, you can place elements into your rooms to strengthen a weakened energy. This will take some practice, and you may have a few false starts, but if you are persistent, you'll learn and soon find the correct remedies or cures found in element principles.

Restoring Element Balance

Traditional feng shui practitioners believe working with the five elements of feng shui is the only true way to restore or correct positive chi flow to your home.

The Five Feng Shui Elements and How to Harness Their Power