Balancing Feng Shui’s Five Elements: The 3 Cycles

Feng Shui’s Five Elements — Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water — bring balance and harmony into your life in almost limitless ways.

For example, have you ever had acupuncture treatments or used Chinese medicine?  If so you’ve heard your practitioner speak of meridians or harmonizing the networks in your body.

In much the same way you can use the Five Elements to enhance your life, when you learn how they work together in your space to create balance and harmony.

The Feng Shui Five Elements work together in three distinct ways, the Creative, Controlling, and Draining (or Reducing) cycles.


In the Creative Cycle, clockwise on this diagram, each element nourishes, or creates, the next one in the cycle:

  • Water nourishes Wood.
  • Wood feeds Fire.
  • Fire, when it turns to ash, creates Earth.
  • Earth, as it condenses over time, turns to Metal.
  • And Metal enhances the life-giving properties of Water.

How can you use these elemental relationships to balance your life? Let’s take a closer look at the nourishing relationship between Wood and Water.

Say you wish to dedicate your Intention to personal growth. First you would enhance your space with the appropriate element for this Intention — Wood (learn more about using the Wood element here).

To reinforce this Intention, nourish the Wood with Water to instantly enhance, strengthen and fortify its power.

Each element has the same type of creative relationship with the one next to it on the diagram.

Now let’s look at how each element “controls” another element.

The Five Elements - Controlling Cycle

Click to enlarge.

  • Wood controls Earth — by breaking it up as roots take hold and break through the surface.
  • Earth controls Water — by damming it, keeping it between its banks, and muddying it. 
  • Water controls Fire — need I say more? ;)
  • Fire controls Metal — by melting it.
  • Metal controls Wood — by cutting it with its sharp edges.

Perhaps you live or work in a space that’s “very Metal,” for instance: white walls, metal furnishings, spherical shapes.

This environment can be brought into balance by adding the warmth of the Fire element: reds and/or animal prints, warm lighting and pointed shapes.

Or maybe your environment is too Wood-y: shades of green, lots of plants, wooden furniture, vertical columns or artwork. Cut back the forest by bringing in the Metal element.

One more way to bring harmony into your space is by employing the Draining Cycle of the Feng Shui Five Elements.

This cycle flows in the opposite direction of the Creative Cycle as each element “drains” the element that precedes it.

The Draining Cycle goes counter-clockwise on the diagram below.


This is a lovely elemental cycle to keep in mind because it serves to calm things down, rather than control them.

It may seem confusing at first but bear with me :)

The kitchen gives us a perfect example of how to use the Draining Cycle because it’s often over-burdened with the Fire element — hot stove and oven, red utensils, pointed knives etc..

The element that drains Fire energy is Earth: as a fire burns, the earth absorbs the ashes it creates, draining Fire of its energy and calming it down.

If your kitchen feels overheated, use the Earth element to bring in a calmer feeling: ceramic tiles, square shapes, earthy colors like yellow and sand.

These are easy things to add to a kitchen, aren’t they?

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