elements are believed five basic elements consisting of
the universe namely as metal, wood water, fire and earth. They produce
each other and overcome each other.
The English word "element" has a somewhat fixed connotation
that is not the same with the Chinese. Hence the Five Elements theory
is often known, more accurately, as the Five Transformations or
The Five Elements theory views the Universe and its function as
being cyclical and interactive. Accordingly, all of the things in
universe are interdependent.
Everything in existence contains some quantity of all five elements;
however, according to the theory one of the five so particularly
predominates or manifests itself in each thing, and may thus be
Taoist physicians and sages further determined that each element
had special relations with particular organs in the human body as
well as to other things such as colors, flavors, the time of day,
the season of the year, and the way we respond physically and emotionally
to external influences and all of the forces of nature.
The Five Elements theory identifies the five different modes (elements)
in which chi energy may manifest itself. The five (Wood, Fire, Earth,
Metal and Water) are arranged into a cyclical sequence that represents
the flow of energy between these elements as 'phases'.
Each phase of an element characterizes a stage in a cyclical process.
The characteristic of each phase is determined by the 'energy dynamic'
personified as the never ending round of the seasons
in the natural world.
It is not to say the passage of time that changes things; everything
changes anyway. Thus the 5 elements theory is simply an observation
on natural changes; everything can be in constant and harmonious
transition from one phase to another - just as one season 'becomes'
Wood is the most human of the elements. It is the element of spring;
the creative urge to achieve - which can turn to anger when frustrated.
It is associated with the capacity to look forward, plan and make
decisions. Wood energy is rising, expanding, and is the force of
growth and flexibility.
This element represents all the activities of the body that are
self regulating and/or function without conscious thought; i.e.
digestion, respiration, heart beat and basic metabolism.
The liver (which converts
food into fuel which is then supplied to the muscles, tendons and
ligaments) is associated to the Wood element.
Fire is the element of heat, summer and enthusiasm; nature at its
peak of growth, and warmth in human relationships. Its motion is
upward. Fire is the symbolic of combustion and this represents the
functions of the body that have reached that fleeting moment of
maximum activity; indicating that decline is then inevitable. The
element is associated with the heart and related to the tongue.
Earth is the element of harvest time, abundance, nourishment, fertility,
and the mother to child relationship. This element is also regarded
as central to balance and the place where energy becomes downward
in movement. It is the symbol of stability and being properly anchored.
Earth is associated to the spleen and related to the sense of taste.
This category includes the Western idea of the air element. It is
the force of gravity, the minerals within the earth, the patterns
of the heavenly bodies and the powers of electrical conductivity
and magnetism. Metal has structure, but it can also accept a new
form when molten. Metal energy is consolidating and with inward
movement, like a flower closing its petals. The symbol of metal
is one of a cutting and reforming action, but it is also regarded
as a solidifying process. The element is associated with the lungs
and related to the nose.
Water is the source of life on this planet. Likewise it is the fluids
(the main component of the body), which nourish and maintain the
health of every cell. Water corresponds to the vital fluids, i.e.
blood, lymph, mucus, semen and fat. The kidney is especially linked
to this element. Its motion is downward. Water has the capacity
to flow, infinitely yielding yet infinitely powerful, ever changing
and often dangerous with the capacity also to nourish and cleanse.
Water is the ultimate yin; quiet, cold; representing the resting
time of winter. It has a waiting, silent; still quality that can
be described as "stored potential". It has flexibility
(think of water filling up any shape of vessel), yet it has great
power (think of the devastation caused by floods). In human psychology
the element governs the balance between fear or being exploited
and the desire to dominate.
According to the 5 Elements theory - which is of itself no more
than just one element in a far greater united theory of traditional
Chinese medicine - your internal organs, tissues, other parts of
the body and their associated activities, all correspond to one
or another of the Five Elements (phases). Thus, the relationship
between the internal organs is like the relationship between the
seasons. Accordingly, in healthy people the elements are said to
be balanced and in sick people they are said to be unbalanced. Indications
of an imbalance may appear in signs as varied as an unusual skin
color or body odor, or as the recurrence of a particular symptom
at specific times of the day.
The characteristic of each phase (new yang through to full yin)
is determined by what happens in the natural world during each associated
season. One season after another plays its role in the cycle of
the year by just doing what it does when it does it and then smoothly
moves on to the next. It is the smooth and harmonious transition
from one phase to another that is important, along with the balance
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