Chinese Medicine & the 5 Elements
The Five Elements
The Five Elements, or Five Phases, are aspects of Qi. These are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. In the poetic language of the Five Elements, health is a harmonious balance of all the elements. The Qi of the elements waxes and wanes in daily and seasonal cycles. Each one of us is a unique and characteristic blend of the influences of all the elements. This system serves as an aid for understanding the limitless correspondences that pervade every facet of life.
Each element attunes itself with internal organs, seasons, emotions, body parts, colors, environments etc. Each element is linked to the next and are an interdependent cycle of life which can function in either a creative or destructive force.
WOOD burn to make
FIRE whose ashes decompose into
EARTH where are born and mined
METALS which enrich
WATER which nourishes trees (WOOD)
WOOD is cut by METAL
FIRE is extinguished by WATER
EARTH is penetrated by WOOD
METAL is melted by FIRE
WATER is contained by EARTH
Chinese Body Clock
Thousands of years ago Taoist sages observed chi flow and various mood changes, body functions and disorders along the meridians at different times of day and year, complementing the complex and precise structure of traditional Chinese medicine.
Introduction of the Water element.
Water is the most feminine of the five elements and therefore is considered very yin. In Taoist cosmology, femininity is not considered weak. On the contrary, water is the most powerful element for it can move around any obstacle in its path without losing its essential nature. Water can, in time, dissolve the hardest mountains.
Water’s planet is Mercury. The metal Mercury exists in a liquid form, like water. Water’s season is winter and therefore corresponds to the three earthly branches of wintertime: Boar (November), Rat (December), and Ox (January). Water’s direction is north. Water’s position on the feng shui ba-gua represents career and the life journey. As we have two kidneys we have two symbols for the water – one is a black Tortoise (representing longevity) and the other is a deer (representing sexual vitality).
Embracing the Wood element.
The element wood is masculine and considered less yang than fire. Wood’s planet is Jupiter, the largest planet, symbolic of wood’s growth in springtime. Wood’s season is spring, the time of planting seeds, beginnings, and new growth and the warming up from complete Yin-cold to Yang-hot (i.e. from water to fire). It is everything that grows, expands, enriches, warms and multiplies. The phase from seed to blossom, from roots to sprouts and stems to branches.
Wood corresponds to the three earthly branches of springtime: Tiger (February), Hare (March), and Dragon (April). Wood’s direction is east. Wood’s position on the feng shui ba-gua represents ancestors and family relationships. Wood’s symbol is an azure Dragon.
Looking into the Fire element.
Fire is the most masculine of the five elements. Therefore, it is considered very yang. Fire’s planet is Mars, the intense red planet. Fire’s season is summer, the time of heat, growth, warmth, and increased light. Fire corresponds to the three earthly branches of summertime: Serpent (May), Horse (June) and Sheep (July). Fire’s direction is south. Fire’s position on the feng shui ba-gua represents fame and illumination. Fire’s symbol is a red Phoenix.
Touching the Earth element.
Earth is that place of stillness between Yin and Yang – the center of the cosmic wheel of eternal motion. Earth is here and now, the present moment and the power that harmonizes everything and gives us gravity and support. The element earth is yin, feminine, like Mother Earth in the West. Earth’s planet is Saturn. Earth is the place where we stand, the mid-point of balance and for this reason, can be found in all places between stages and phases and thus corresponds to all twelve earthly branches, and its “season” is the last eighteen days of each of the four seasons, the time of seasonal transition.
The Qi of the earth element, however, flourishes in Indian Summer, those golden moments of fullness before the waning of the light. The earth color is yellow, like the sun, and the ripened crops, and the root vegetables. Earth’s location (direction) in the center. Earth’s position on the feng shui ba-gua represents unity and balance. Earth’s symbol is the pheasant or all other birds who prefer the comfort of earth rather than the vastness of sky.
Opening up the Metal element.
Deep in Earth resides metal, the most intriguing of the elements. It represents the entire cooling down phase from extreme Yang to extreme Yin. It is everything that condenses, contracts, conserves, shrinks and freezes.
Metal’s planet is Venus. Metal’s season is autumn, the time of harvest, completion, and the beginning of rest. Metal corresponds to the three earthly branches of fall: Monkey (August), Phoenix (September), and Dog (October). Metal’s direction is west. On the feng shui, ba-gua metal correlates to children and creativity. Metal’s symbol is a White Tiger.
During the “Thai Massage & the 5 Elements Course“ with Krishnataki, we learn about the therapeutic application of Thai massage, in accordance with the five elements of Chinese Medicine. Each day we focus on a different element and understand the internal organs, meridians, acupoints, and practices associated with it and use Thai massage sequences to address imbalances there.
Together this course is an exploration; it is an invitation to get to know yourself better and the physical, emotional and spiritual issues which are holding you back from living your full potential. When you have a deeper, more intimate awareness of yourself, then you are able to understand and help others. We are using the ancient wisdom of the sages of the East, who, through endless observation, patience and first-hand experience have created a complex, flawless system of understanding mind-body health to give a deeper understanding of how we can harmonize our existence here on planet Earth.