The Five Elements

The Five Elements Model

Like any useable model, the Five Elements model from Chinese medicine takes a grandiose idea and reduces it to a simple design. At its core, the Five Elements model is used to describe phases and interactions found in the natural world. The phases are represented by Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal and can be used to describe anything in the world, including people. Actually, they are especially useful when describing people.

We each have the energy of all five elements in our wiring, but based on that wiring, we’ll have a natural affinity for one of the elements. It’s like we’re born into a secret club and our club membership affects everything in our life: the colors we like, the foods we crave, the roles we take on in life, and how we relate to each other. Yes, it’s that significant!

Knowing what element we are — what club we belong to — instantly helps us better understand ourselves, and others. So what are Waters, Woods, Fires, Earths, and Metals like as people? Read below for a brief description of each element.

Water corresponds to winter, when most of the activity is below the surface. Water people are like that; almost nonchalant outside, inside they are a flurry of thoughts, ideas, and creativity. Unlimited potential and hope sit in Water. The favorite question of a Water is “Why?”

Wood corresponds to spring, a time of manifestation, growth, and expansion. “Bigger, better, more” typifies the way Woods interact with the world. And it works – Wood is where accomplishment sits. The favorite question of a Wood is “When?”

Fire corresponds to summer, the most energetically active season of the cycle. Fun, celebration, visibility, and enthusiasm all typify Fire people, who are very charismatic and spontaneous. The favorite question of a Fire is “Where?”

Earth represents times of balance, neutrality, and transition. It’s associated with both Indian Summer, the pivot point between spring/summer and autumn/winter, and the transition times of the solstices and equinoxes. Earth people value connections, are caring and compassionate, and love anything having to do with people and home. The favorite question of an Earth is “Who?”

Metal corresponds to autumn, the time for releasing what’s no longer necessary and moving forward with whatever is. Metal people are able to synthesize the wisdom from any experience and create form and protocol that they believe must be followed. The favorite question of a Metal is “How?”