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The Five Elements of Feng Shui

Updated on July 15, 2012

Feng shui is the ancient art of arranging and decorating your home to encourage positive energy, contentment prosperity and well being. Feng shui is around 5000 years old and and is based on the idea that everything around you will influence your life in either positive or negative ways.

One of the basic principles of feng shui is the use of the five elements. Within feng shui these are defined as wood (or tree), fire, earth and metal. Each element can be represented in a variety of ways including using colours and materials associated with them. The presence of all five elements is important for balance and good health.

Each of the five elements also interact with each other and this can be a positive or negative interaction. Positive interaction is also known as the circle of creation and is as follows:

Water nurtures wood, wood nurtures fire, fire nurtures earth and earth nurtures metal.

If you want to increase a feng shui element you can do so by using more items directly linked to it but by also using those associated with the element that nurtures it. So for example if you wanted to increase the wood element you could use wooden items such as vases or pots and the colours green and brown. It would also help to use water related items as water nurtures wood.

If one element is very strong you can either remove items relating to it or if that isn't possible use the negative interaction cycle or destructive cycle to help lessen it. The destructive cycle is,

Water weakens fire, fire weakens metal, metal weakens wood, wood weakens earth and earth weakens water.

So to calm a strong wood element use items associated with metal such as silver, spherical or metal items.

Combining several aspects of an element such as using a yellow ceramic vase to represent earth can provide more powerful feng shui benefits.


The five elements

Element - Wood (sometimes known as tree)
Colour - Green or brown
Shapes - Rectangle, tall, thin and vertical
Materials - Wood, wicker, bamboo and paper
Direction - East
Associations - life, expansion, energy and movement


Element - Fire
Colour - Red
Shapes - Pointed, triangles, zig zags or pyramids
Materials - Red flowers, star shapes and fabrics
Direction - South
Associations - Passion, enthusiasm, communication and warmth


Element - Earth
Colour - Yellow and brown
Shapes - Low, flat, wide and horizontal
Materials - Plaster, china, bricks, ceramics and natural fibres and materials such as cotton, hemp, wool or silk
Direction - North
Associations - Comfort, security and reliability


Element - Metal
Colour - White, silver and gold
Shapes - Any rounded or aches shapes
Materials - Any metal, eg. stainless steel, gold, silver, brass, bronze or iron
Direction - West
Associations - Wealth, strength, leadership and orderliness


Element - Water
Colour - Black
Shapes - Any wavy, curved or irregular shape
Materials - Glass
Direction - North
Associations - Depth, power, peace, tranquillity and flexibility

Tips for Using the Five Elements of Feng Shui

Earth - green plants, bamboo,

Fire - red candles, star shaped candle holders, red flowers, pillows or furnishings such as curtains.

Earth - Terracotta pots, low growing plants, plants with yellow leaves or flowers, brown, gold or yellow fabrics.

Metal - Metal framed mirrors, metal or silver/gold picture frames, wire sculptures or metal plant pots.

Water - glass paperweights, bowls or ornaments, black furnishings or furniture.

Crystals bring positive energy into a space. Crystal sun catchers are a nice and decorative way to incorporate them into your living spaces.

Sound creates positive energy. Wind chimes are good for this and also keep energy moving and stop it becoming stale. Wind chimes are available in many materials and colours so can also be coordinated to match with an element if desired.

Dishes of sea salt are believe to absorb negative energy. Place the salt in white china bowls in the northeast and southwest corners of your home.

Flowers are believed to encourage good luck.

Rearranging furniture and objects in your rooms will help break up any stagnant old energy and help you move forward in life.

© 2012 Claire


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    • Elderberry Arts profile image

      Claire 5 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      You're very welcome. Mine too but I try to do little things to help and hopefully build up to bigger things over times.

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 5 years ago

      Thank you for a great explanation of five elements of Feng Shui. I have always been interested, but I don't seem to be able to put my house together that way! Maybe some day!