Feng Shui 5 Elements: Shapes & Colors

The Wood element has the energy of a healthy, growing tree.

Vital and strong, Wood helps you move your life upward while anchoring you to your roots, the source of your strength.

  • Its shape is tall and vertical: columns, vertical stripes and other strong verticals all represent Wood
  • Its color is green or greenish blue
  • The Wood element is present in live (and high-quality silk) plants. But it is NOT present in furniture or objects made of Wood because it is not alive, it has become inert.
  • Wood has qualities of flexibility and strength, and adds healthy vitality to your life.
  • It is the element of springtime growth and represents a gentle breeze that gathers abundance to it.
  • The archetype of the Wood element is the Pioneer, breaking through barriers as it moves upwards.

On the Feng Shui Bagua Map, Wood is the element of New Beginnings & Family, and of Wealth & Gratitude.

The Wood element is present in all things botanical: live (and high-quality silk) plants, botanical prints, artwork that includes trees….

Look around your space and start to notice which objects, furniture, and pieces of art may represent the Wood element.

Now, let’s look at Wood in the Cycle of the Elements:

  • Wood is nourished by Water in the Creative Cycle.
  • Wood in turn nourishes the Fire element
  • Wood is controlled by Metal in the Controlling Cycle, just as an axe cuts down a tree in the forest to control its growth.

Important note: When you are considering which element might be represented by a particular object, Shape takes precedence.

For example an object that is tall and vertical (like a tall floor lamp, perhaps), mainly represents the Wood element. Depending on its color and other aspects, other elements may also be represented, but Wood predominates in that particular object.

Let’s look now at the warm, charismatic and joyful qualities of the Fire element.

Fire feels magical and transformative, creating a warm atmosphere for a life that’s dynamic, expansive and happily social.

  • Fire’s symbolic shape is the triangle, evoking the shape of a merry fire burning in a cozy fireplace. So pointed shapes such as stars do a great job bringing Fire into your space.
  • Good lighting is another important way to evoke the vitality of Fire.
  • Its color is red: a wise use of red accessories create instant warmth and life to your space.
  • Another great way to bring Fire into your environment is with the evocation of living things: leather, animal prints, art featuring animals or people and even your pet dog or cat all represent the warm, social nature of Fire.
  • The Fire element is closely related to your emotional health: Fire is passionate and enthusiastic, and loves to be nurtured with a good laugh every day 🙂
  • It is the element of the fullness of mid-summer and high noon. Be careful to modulate your use of Fire: don’t get burned!
  • The archetype of the Fire element is the Wizard. The magical, magnetic qualities of Fire have always inspired a faith that dreams can come true and desires fulfilled.

On the Feng Shui Bagua Map, Fire is the element of your Fame & Reputation.

The bright and lively Fire element is key to your social life, the way you are seen in the world, and your ability to connect meaningfully with the important people in your life.

Look around and start to notice which objects, furniture, and pieces of art may represent Fire in your space.

Now, let’s look at Fire in the Cycle of the Elements:

  • Fire is nourished by Wood in the Creative Cycle.
  • Fire in turn nourishes the Earth element, as the ash from a fire transforms itself into the earth under your feet.
  • Fire is controlled by Water in the Controlling Cycle, just as a dose of water calms or extinguishes a fire in everyday life.

Important note: When you are considering which element might be represented by a particular object, Shape takes precedence.

For example an object that is triangular (like a 5-pointed star ornament, perhaps), mainly represents the Fire element. Depending on its color and other aspects, other elements may also be present, but Fire predominates in that particular object.

Let’s look now at the stable, nurturing qualities of Earth.

The Earth element creates a “home base” in your life.  Its unique mothering quality makes you feel balanced and secure, giving you an inner place that supports your efforts to care for yourself while caring for those around you, too.

  • Earth’s symbolic shape is a square, the most stable and grounded of shapes. Anything square or rectangular evokes the Earth element in your space.
  • Flat surfaces and horizontal lines also symbolize the endless visual expanses of Earth.
  • Its color is yellow, along with other earth tones such as light brown and sandy colors.
  • Earth-y materials like ceramics, pottery and brick create a tactile sense of Earth’s comforts in your home.
  • The Earth element is very much a tangible, visible, physical element: your physical health and that the physical state of your home are both associated with Earth.  Clutter and weight-gain can be addressed by bringing the Earth element into balance.
  • Earth represents the “in-between” seasons like late fall’s Indian Summer and “mud season” in early spring.
  • Earth helps you create boundaries, just as earthworks like a dam or the banks of a stream control and steer the flow of water.
  • The archetype of the Earth element is the Peacemaker. Earth is the “go-between” of the Five Elements; if this is your “type” you may find that you sometimes have a hard time saying No. Clear boundaries help Earth stay in balance and do the most good in the world.

On the Feng Shui Bagua Map, Earth is represented in three different areas: Relationship (upper right), Knowledge & Self-Cultivation (lower left), and Health (in the center).

Follow the links above to find out more about each of these three sectore, and how to use the Earth element to enhance them.

Now you can look around and start to notice which objects, furniture, and pieces of art may represent Earth in your space.

Now, let’s look at Earth in the Cycle of the Elements:

  • Earth is nourished by Fire in the Creative Cycle.
  • Earth in turn nourishes the Metal element, as it condenses and solidifies into gems and precious metals.
  • Earth is controlled by Wood in the Controlling Cycle, just as the roots of a tree break up the earth as they grow and expand.

Important note: When you are considering which element might be represented by a particular object, Shape takes precedence.

For example an object that is square (like a square wall tile, perhaps), mainly represents the Earth element. Depending on its color and other aspects, other elements may also be present, but Earth predominates in that particular object.

Let’s look now at the focused and meticulous Metal element.

Metal has a sense of refinement, logic and decisiveness that make it easier to cut through life’s complications.

As the condensing, “organizing element,” it helps you set up and successfully execute your plans and important projects.

  • Metal’s focussed, structured qualities make it the element that helps you most to suceed in business, so be sure to include it in your office or workspace.
  • Metal’s symbolic shape is the circle, the purest shape whose line never ends. The circle carries with it qualities of Heaven, especially the all-powerful Sun, which is considered the Father of the world in Feng Shui.

In China circles and squares are frequently used together to symbolize the Yin/Yang relationship of the Mother (the square Earth Yin element) and the Father (the Heavenly, Metal Yang element).

This iconic symboism is used in everything from architecture to the design of metal coins; Beijing’s Forbidden City — and the 2008 Olympic arenas — provide just two prominent examples of how bringing them together creates a sense of harmony in the environment.

Here’s some more about the Feng Shui qualities of Metal:

  • Anything circular, oval or that has rounded edges brings the Metal element into your space.
  • Metal’s color ranges from pure white to light greys and soft pastels.
  • Metal and metallic objects have a gleaming and shiny quality, rather than reflective (which characterizes the Water element). Gemstones, shiny metal, and subtle reflective surfaces all bring Metal into your space.
  • As opposed to the physicality of the Earth element, the Chi of Metal creates a more intangible, invisible energetic charge in your environment. It helps you create structure and boundaries in your life, and stay “above the fray” when things around you seem to be getting out of control.
  • Metal represents autumn in the cycle of the seasons: think of the crisp, cool air of fall when you want to conjure a sense of what Metal is all about.
  • The archetype of the Metal element is the Alchemist, who has the power to create great things from small materials.

On the Feng Shui Bagua Map, Metal is represented in two sectors: Children & Productivity (center right) and Travel & Helpful People (lower right).

Follow the links above to find out more about these two sectors, and how to use the Metal element to enhance them.

Look around and start to notice which objects, furniture, and pieces of art may represent Metal in your space.

Now, let’s look at Metal in the Cycle of the Elements:

  • Metal is nourished by Earth in the Creative Cycle.
  • Metal in turn nourishes the Water element, as it liquifies and takes on more more sinuous shapes.
  • Metal is controlled by Fire in the Controlling Cycle, just as the high heat melts any metallic object.

Important note: When you are considering which element might be represented by a particular object, Shape takes precedence.

For example an object that is round (like a spherical ornament, for example), mainly represents the Metal element. Depending on its color and other aspects, other elements may also be present, but Metal predominates in that particular object because of its shape.

Let’s look now at the flowing, truth-seeking Water element.

Water is unstructured. It flows and meanders wherever it wishes to go.

Water’s movement, or lack thereof, closely replicates the flow of Chi energy in your life.

The way you arrange your space speeds up, slows down or can even stop the flow of your vital life energy, so wise use of the Water element is essential to creating auspicious Feng Shui.

  • Water gives you a place to regenerate yourself, a spiritual and physical wellspring of refreshing nourishment.

But because its inky depths are dark, cold and deep, Water is also considered the element of mystery and courage.

  • Despite its nourishing qualities, in ancient China the presence of Water felt dangerous: it froze in winter, its depths were unknowable, it created an almost impossible-to-traverse boundary for the country.
  • So Water came to be known as the element of “the Abyss,” an element that it took courage to traverse in any season.

Water can be moving or it can be still; this means that there are many different ways to represent Water in your space.

Water’s symbolic shape is a sinuous, flowing line that evokes its smooth yet unpredictable path. To symbolize its reflective qualities, Water also shows up in highly polished surfaces like mirrors and clear glass.

Here’s some more about the Feng Shui qualities of Water:

  • Any shape that’s wavy, flowing or sinuous brings the Water element into your space.
  • Water’s color is black or other very, very dark colors.
  • Water-y objects create pure reflection: mirrors, glass and crystal all evoke the Water element in your home or office.
  • Water itself, of course, also brings this essential element into your space. A water fountain near the entry to your space improves the flow of Chi energy — and healthy finances — into your life.
  • Water represents winter in the cycle of the seasons: the darkest season in the northern hemisphere.
  • The archetype of the Water element is the Philosopher, whose calm, gentle nature helps to explain the mysteries of the world.

On the Feng Shui Bagua Map, Water represents the Career/Life Journey sector at the bottom-center of the map.

Follow the link above to find out more about this important sector, and how to use the Water element to enhance it.

Look around and start to notice which objects, furniture, and pieces of art may represent Water in your space.

Now, let’s look at Water in the Cycle of the Elements:

  • Water is nourished by Metal in the Creative Cycle.
  • Water in turn nourishes the Wood element, just as you might expect :).
  • Water is controlled by Earth in the Controlling Cycle. Earth controls Water both by creating boundaries or dams to control its flow, and by muddying it to slow it down and reduce its power.

Important note: When you are considering which element might be represented by a particular object, Shape takes precedence.

For example an object that has sinuous patterns in it (like a carpet with flowing patterns), mainly represents the Water element. Depending on its color and other aspects, other elements may also be present, but Water predominates in that particular carpet pattern because of its shape.

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