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Chinese Zodiac Horoscope

2018 - The Year of Dog

The Five Elemental Energies

The system of Five Elements (Wu Xing) as a manifestation of Yin and Yang provides a theoretical framework to structure the cosmos, to describe interactions and energy flows, and finally to make qualitative predictions of future development. All things in the cosmos are thought to contain all of the following Five Elements in various proportions. Their combination and recombination in innumerable ways produces the manifest existence:

  • Wood (tree)
  • Fire
  • Earth (soil, rock
  • Metal (gold)
  • Water

Here, the interpretation of the word element is different from our todays view as small part of a bigger system, or basic constituent of matter. The Chinese elements (better called Elemental Energies ) were interpreted as prototypes of dynamic states of change. They were assumed to be movements or phases in time domain, which emphasizes the aspect of temporal development of a dynamic system.

Cycle of Fife Elements The Five Elements are forever interdependent and each of them is controlled by another in a cyclic manor to form the chain of life as an everlasting cycle. Their interaction has different aspects as explained below and sketched in the figure:

Generating (conducive, creating, engendering; outer ring in the figure)

  • Metal creates Water; water condenses on metal, or metal changes into a liquid when heated.
  • Water nourishes Wood.
  • Wood feeds Fire.
  • Fire produces Earth as ash or lava from a volcano.
  • Earth bears Metal as gold nuggets and ore.

Weakening (consuming; inner ring in the figure)

  • Wood absorbs Water.
  • Water rusts Metal.
  • Metal breaks up (or is extracted from) Earth.
  • Earth quenches Fire (open fire or glowing lava).
  • Fire burns wood.

Controlling (overcoming, restraining, destroying; inner circle with star shaped arrows in the figure)

  • Metal is controlled (melted) by Fire (great heat).
  • Fire is controlled (extincted) by Water.
  • Water is controlled by Earth, e.g., rocks force the water to flow around them or between them in canyons.
  • Earth is controlled by Wood; roots of trees intrude soil and hold it together.
  • Wood is controlled by Metal; the metal blade of an axe cuts wood.

The Weakening Cycle is merely the reverse Generating Cycle. All cycles counteract and balance each other steadily.

The concept of the Five Elements was applied to many areas, such as science, astrology, traditional medicine, arts, or geomancy (Feng Shui), and last but not least to mental and personality traits. Some important correlations are summarized in the following table.

Property Wood Fire Earth Metal Water
Planet Jupiter Mars Saturn Venus Mercury
Color Green Red Yellow White Black
Direction East South Center West North
Yin and Yang Develop­ing Yang Strong­est Yang Balanced Develop­ing Yin Strong­est Yin
Energy Gener­ative Expan­sive Stabiliz­ing Contract­ing Conserv­ing
Animal signs Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon Snake, Horse, Sheep Dragon, Goat, Dog, Ox Monkey, Rooster, Dog Pig, Rat, Ox
Heavenly Creature Azure Dragon Vermilion Bird Yellow Dragon White Tiger Black Tortoise
Develop­ment Sprout­ing Bloom­ing Ripening Drying Resting
Season Spring Summer Change of season (every 3 months) Autumn Winter
Weather Windy Hot Humid Dry Cold
Organs Liver, Gall­bladder Small Intestine, Heart Spleen, Pancreas, Stomach Lungs, Large Intestine Kidney, Bladder

As shown in the above table, the character of animal signs is also shaped by the Five Elements. Ox, Dragon, Goat, Dog are each related to one of the elements Water, Wood, Fire and Metal, but all together also to Earth. Earth is seen as the change of season. Therefore, the last animal of a season belongs to Earth as well. The following diagram gives an overview of these relations. The diagram also shows the colors, directions, planet glyphs and Chinese Characters related to the Five Elements.

Five Elements and Zodiac