Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. ~ Unknown

The FIVE ELEMENTS are a Chinese concept of conceiving the world in dynamic states or phases. It is the natural observation of the continual dance between rising and falling energy. The natural world, confirming all forces and energies in nature, can be in a constant smooth and harmonious transition from one phase to another. Just as the seasons are a progression of one to the next in a constant progression, the Five Elements are in a state of interconnectedness and flowing from one to the other in either an upward motion or a downward one.

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Change is the only constant. ~Heraclitus


In my opinion, the Five Elements are an expansion of the Yin Yang theory. The Five Elements are a way of describing the interaction between all material things in our world. Also known as the Five Phases, or Five Processes, the Five Elements are a way of describing the interaction between many things from cosmic cycles to the interaction between our internal organs, used in Chinese medicine, Feng Shui and Astrology and Martial Arts.
The basic substances in the Five Elements include: Earth, Water, Wood, Fire, Metal.
Each of the Five Elements represent the following types of energy:
  • Earth: Transformation
  • Water: Contemplative energy
  • Wood: Rising energy, expansion
  • Fire: Dynamic energy, action
  • Metal: Sinking energy, contracting
The Five Elements work in harmony - either building up or breaking down each other.

The Five Elements work in harmony – either building up or breaking down each other.

Some keys points to consider when learning about the Five Elements include the following:
  • Natural Elements
  • Cycles
  • Interconnectedness
  • Patterns
  • Generating Order
  • Transformative Order
  • Control
Everything in our world is made up of energy. If this is the basic premise, the reason the balancing of the Five Elements matters to you is because once you can control the energy around you, you will have more peace of mind, learn how to increase your energy, be able to maintain a stronger field of energy to protect you plus you will be able to attract the correct things into your life and repel the ones that will not be so beneficial for you. Simply put, it gives a resource to manage the energy surrounding you.


Knowledge is power. ~Frances Bacon


Understanding the Five Elements can be implemented in everything from the design of your spaces, the food you eat, the clothes you wear, to the selection of your next vacation. All of these items within your immediate sphere have a great effect on how you show up in the world.
All material items are made up of the elements or a combination of them. The elements are either expanding or declining in their own energy. The balance between the Five Elements can be best described as the universal cycle of life, which all things experience. There will be a growth cycle (enhancing) where there is an expansion of the energy; then there will ultimately be the ebbing, or destruction, of that energy. Like the ebb and flow of all living things, the Five Elements is the way to describe this concept.
The generating, enhancing or otherwise called the controlling phase is the expansion or enhancing phase of the elements. One element enriches the next, strengthening it and promoting its growth. This is the supportive and helping cycle.
  • Fire creates Earth
  • Earth bears Metal
  • Metal collects Water
  • Water nourishes Wood
  • Wood feeds Fire
One element deconstructs or restrains, the others, in fact weakening one element with the other for nature’s balancing act. This is like a “checks and balances” in nature, preventing any one from gaining too much power over the others. This is the transformative and controlling cycle.
  • Fire melts Metal
  • Earth soaks up Water
  • Metal cuts Wood
  • Water controls Fire
  • Wood breaks Earth
As shared above, this is the natural balancing act in nature; a sort of feedback system of the Universe to keep things in check. The ultimate goal is for all the elements to operate in harmony with continual ebb and flow (growth and decline) that dances like the daytime and nighttime or the flow of the seasons.
San Sebastian, Spain, is a seaside town, surrounded by rolling hills and small mountains that are covered in jagged exposed rocks and an abundance of foliage and trees. It has three beaches, a large bay with a small island in it, and has La Belle Epoque style buildings built over the last few hundred years from sandstone, bricks and concrete. This city is a great example of a place that has a clear representation of the Five Elements in abundance.
The sea represents the Water element. The mountains represent the Earth element. The trees and foliage represent the Wood element, and the abundant sunshine represents the Fire element. The elements are working in harmony most of the year, with the wintertime often exhibiting an over-abundance of the Water element for a few months that is then balanced by the abundance of the sun or Fire element in the summer.

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I need the sea because it teaches. ~ Pablo Neruda
The people of this region of the Basque country are characterized by the strong Metal and Water elements, in my opinion often displaying the traits most known of these two elements. The Water element is apparent in the very changeable nature of the people being a very happy and sociable crew, which can also become very quiet and reserved. They are a close knit and very opinionated group with sharp tendencies that can sometimes be seen and felt as brusque and harsh, which is representative in the Metal element. Given the geographic nature of this part of the world, where a lot of stone is jutting up from the earth in a manner that geologists call “the Basque” are a unique part of Spain that is not at all like the other regions in this large country.
I use the Five Elements in my design. A good designer uses these principles intuitively. You can feel the energetic difference between when a space has the elements in balance and when one is overly dominant in a space. This can often be described as an uneasiness or a space feeling slightly “off.”
Trees on the wallpaper represent the Wood element in their representation of growth and vertical shape.

Trees on the wallpaper represent the Wood element in their representation of growth and vertical shape.

Some keys things to note when using the Five Elements in the design of your space:
Wood is not the wood of our designed spaces. Wood floors, for example, are considered the Earth element since they are not alive but dead wood. Therefore, they represent the grounded element versus the rising, growth energy represented in the Wood element.
The Five Elements can be found in not only the materials, but also in the colors, the shapes and the seasons.
  • Rising energy
  • Color: Green
  • Season: Spring/East
  • Shape: Rectangular shapes in a vertical position.
  • Family, ancestry and community.


  • Kinetic energy
  • Color: Red
  • Season: Summer/South
  • Shape: Triangular
  • Fame or reputation
  • Healing energy
  • Color: Golden brown
  • Season: Autumn/All
  • Shape: Square
  • Grounded and balanced
METAL: (Air element)
  • Determined energy
  • Color: White
  • Season: Autumn/West
  • Shape: Round
  • Solidifying and condensing
  • Ever-changing energy
  • Color: Black
  • Season: Winter/North
  • Shape: Wave
  • Potential to nourish and devastate
WANT TO LEARN MORE?Join me at my upcoming event in NYC on March 15th.
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Looking forward to helping you make the most of the Monkey Year.

Looking forward to helping you make the most of the Monkey Year.