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Feng Shui Elements and Directions

October 17th, 2009

five-elements-feng-shui.jpgAccording to the feng shui system of aesthetics, the five traditional Chinese elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water can be expressed in the forms of different materials used to decorate or construct our homes. The amount and arrangement of these elements can affect the energy (often referred to as chi or qi) that flows through the house or other building. The goal of feng shui practitioners is to bring these elements into balance and achieve the maximum amount of harmony and comfort. This article from my PLR collection describes the five feng shui elements in terms of the colors, shapes, materials, directions, uses, and emotions that are associated with them.


Fire can be expressed by …

Color: Red, the color of a flame. Energizing, engaging, and compelling.

Shape: Triangle, the shape of a flame. Dynamic and volatile, as in a love triangle or the Bermuda triangle.

Material: Although fire is hardly an appropriate material for a building or furnishing, a pattern of a material can express this element. Tiles laid in a chevron pattern, fabric with a flame-stitch design, or napkins folded into a triangle shape all engage the feeling of fire.

Use: To warm internally or externally. While an oven warms food, a napkin folded in a triangle starts the digestive juices flowing through its dynamic shape.

Direction: South, toward warmth and the sun, is the direction of fire in the Northern Hemisphere.

Emotion: To incite or initiate. Energy needed for intellectual, emotional, or spiritual pursuits is augmented by fire. Fire is often used in ceremonies to commence important events. Carrying the flame at the Olympic games, meditating before a candle, and adorning a dining table with candles all invoke a sense of opening oneself up to an experience, be it athletic achievement, spiritual awakening, or receptivity to nourishment. Fire in an emotional sense does not still the heart but rather sears it apart to receive.




Earth can be expressed by…

Color: Primary colors are as basic to life as the elements of earth, fire, and water. Because fire and water are associated with red and blue, respectively, and because the earth is a fusion of tones that are filled with hues of the colors yellow, terra cotta, and brown, it seems fitting that the earth be associated with these colors.

Shape: Square represents the spirit of earth, since we view the earth as a container for human life. Our basically straight physical form requires mostly uninterrupted lines; we cannot comfortably sit or sleep on a curved surface. As our home, the earth is designed to protect us and make us feel secure; straight equal lines feel stable and firm. A low square home, a square room, a squat chair, a short sofa, and a square table are earth shapes.

Material: Clay brick, mud, and cement.

Use: Any object that adds stability, boundaries, and unification can promote a feeling of the earth element. A low square coffee table, a double bed, trays, computer and TV screens, and the wells underneath a stove’s burners can add stability, boundaries, and unification to the territory they dominate.

Direction: The earth is associated with a center. We are centered in ourselves; therefore, the earth represents self.

Emotion: We feel peaceful and secure when we are near earth’s elements. Earth attaches and roots us in place and is a compelling material to add in an environment.




Metal can be expressed by…

Color: White, the absence of color, reflects whatever surrounds it. Metal, because of its potential to be shiny, is like white insofar as it mirrors or reflects. The colors of steel gray, copper, silver, and gold can reflect the emotional properties of metal because they actually are the colors of different alloys.

Shape: Round. Metal will bubble into round beads as it is heated by a welder’s torch. The bubbling molecules will blend with those of the welding rod. If heat continues to be applied after that point, the metal vaporizes. Therefore, when metal becomes round it is at a critical point. It will either blend with another metal and become stronger or disintegrate.

Material: Many earth materials have metal as a component, since earth contains the ingredients for metal. Computers, TVs, refrigerators, radios, clocks, and concealed items like electrical wiring, framing studs, and nails contain the attributes of metal.

Use: Metal can be represented by curved architectural details, pathways, and furniture or by round windows, seating groups, tables, doorknobs, cabinet and drawer handles, and dishes. Steel gray, copper, and gold can be represented in fabric, paint, and stain.

Direction: West. We gain the strength of metal by building on our experiences. Since the sun sets in the west, this direction can be associated with the potency of the aggregate of experience.

Emotion: Discernment, control, and deep sorrow. Metal has many divergent personalities. Many cultures, including ours, have assigned a certain status to some metals. Adornment in gold and silver, for example, implies a lifestyle purged of the mundane. On the other hand, metal is often used to restrain. Prison bars, handcuffs, and metal stays in bras are used to control us.

The drama of metal’s transformation from a solid into a gas through extreme temperatures parallels life’s intensity. Grief is the result of extremes like metal’s fiery mutation.




Water can be expressed by…

Color: Blue and black are the colors of water, for light is absorbed by large volumes of water.

Shape: Like waves during a storm, the water shape is mercurial. Undulating lines best represent this element.

Material: Glass, like water, is fluid. If a piece of glass stands on its side, over time it will become thicker at the bottom. The molecules at the top will flow toward the bottom. Like water, glass can be transparent and can block but not necessarily shield. The sun’s rays penetrate glass and water, but the wind’s momentum is blocked.

Use: A room with glass tables, sinks, toilets, tubs, fountains, and fish tanks or many windows evokes the water element. A serrated knife, a free-flowing line in a pattern, confetti, or a garden hose tossed across a lawn all can assume the properties of water.

Direction: As we go down into a cave or body of water or go up into space, all things become darker and colder. North, the direction of cold in our hemisphere and prolonged days of darkness, represents the element water.

Emotion: Water can by non-action consume. By its volume alone it can wear away stone mountains; by its proximity it can rust metal to dust and rot wood to disintegration. When a stream of water encounters an obstacle, it yields and finds another path. We can become open to experience and understanding by acting like water and yielding. Water can give us peace of mind and a feeling of oneness, for it ultimately connects all living things. When we are as one with the current we can find true contentment.




Wood Can Be Expressed By…

Color: Green represents life, growth, and health. The green of a tree’s leaf is a sign of its vitality. A dormant or lifeless tree does not express a bright color.

Shape: Rectangle. The silhouette of a tree expresses growth. As it matures, a tree’s trunk soars into a larger and larger rectangle.

Material: Wood, cardboard, paper, and composite products made with wood, like particleboard, plasterboard, doors, and certain roof tiles.

Use: Many of our building materials and furniture are made of wood products. In fact, it is odd to be in temperate-climate housing that has not used wood in some form. Environments that don’t support the growth of wood are often hostile to human habitation.

Household items such as chairs, cabinets, headboards, cutting boards, knife handles, pencils, banisters, picture frames, decorative boxes, and lamps are typical uses of wood.

Direction: Beginnings herald the promise of growth and change, the kind of growth and change manifested by a tree. Since the sunrise is the beginning of each new day, east is wood’s direction.

Emotion: Wood, as the Goliath of vegetation, conveys desire for transformation, growth, and change. Its permutations are evidenced by visible yearly changes. Successful change inspires us to hope, risk, and adventure. Wood gathers strength through what is obvious and what is hidden. With its capacity to expand under pressure, wood inspires us to grow even though the change may not be easy. It is both a leader and a follower, for while it surges toward the light, wood can bend to circumvent whatever is in the way.



One Response to “Feng Shui Elements and Directions”

  1. comment number 1 by: Feng Shui Elements

    Prior to becoming a feng shui consultant, instructional materials for some of America’s leading corporations.

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