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Chinese 5 Element Theory: How It Works

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posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 03:42 AM

Originally posted by Bybyots
Okay, to get the whole machine working, we need to introduce the 5 phases in to either the Creation Cycle, The Destruction Cycle or The Control Cycle. All three go clockwise with the elements stationed evenly at points around the circumference of an imaginary circle.Try to keep in mind that we have an extra layer of complexity operating with the Yin and Yang aspects of the elements; each has a Yin and a Yang; yin earth, yang earth, and so on.

In the Creation, promotion, generating or mother cycle we have:

Wood fuels Fire

Fire develops Earth (potash)

Earth fosters Metal

Metal enriches Water

Water develops Wood

In the Destruction, overwhelming, controlling or father cycle we have an interesting chain of events.

Wood infiltrates Earth (roots)

Earth restricts Water

Water kills Fire

Fire incinerates Metal

Metal chops Wood

With the Destruction cycle we need to be aware of a fine point so as not to get confused. Notice as we go in our circle that the elements all skip one place this time. For instance, in the promotion cycle we see that they come in sequential order but not so here. That's because it is a grandparent relationship, as we shall see, and grandparent elements "control" the outcome for their grandchildren.

Those are the two basic cycles that we can put the phases through, and then there is one more that is not as commonly seen, but has a more direct bearing on fortune telling (Tzu Ping, Feng Shui) when it comes to family dynamics and fine tuning other applications for the system, like medicine and boxing.

This was taught to me as the 'Control' cycle and you will see right away how it works; it's the same as the D cycle only with familial associations:

Water is the parent of Wood (yin or yang), the grandparent of Fire and is child of Metal.


Earth is the parent of Metal, the grandparent (controller) of Water and the child of Fire.

Each element's own element is called a sibling.

It's that simple. I hope now that the grandparent-controller relationship reflected in the D cycle is clear now. So, now we can get a rudimentary idea of how the elements and their correspondances influence, support, control, destroy and promote one another.

Now, that we have all of that together, let's look at some of the ways that this system may be applied in some of the traditional Chinese cultural arts I mentioned above. I am going to generalize broadly upon how this is done. I need to be sure that you know I am not meaning to represent myself as any kind of authority on Traditional Chinese Medicine. I offer this whole thread merely as an introduction and simplification of the subject in order that we may have fun with it and learn about another culture.

As you can see, each element has a unique familial relationship with each of the other elements including its own kind, for 5 relationships in all. For instance:

Metal's parent is Earth

Metal's sibling is Metal

Metal's child is Water

Metal's grandchild is Wood (controls/destroys) Wood

Metal's grandparent is Fire (controlled/destrroyed by)

For the case of astrology and Feng Shui, a person's birth chart, face and palms provide a snap-shot of what the elements were doing at the time of a person's birth. Using the system described above, the Feng Shui expert will look to see how everything is situated elementally so that weaknesses/deficiencies or strengths/excesseses can be revealed.

Here's why: The 5 familial relationships described above can be thought of as Ying/Yang differentials of the 'energies' of Giving (parent), Recieving/Taking (child), Supporting (self/sibling), Controlling (grandparent) and Being Controlled (grandchild).

If there are excesses or deficiencies in any of these elemental energies they can be balanced. Excesses and or deficiencies in any of the elements are treated, basically, in two ways; there is what you could think of as 'the main plan' and the plan to support 'the main plan'.

In the case of deficiency or Weakness: In this case, the main plan is to pump up the parent and sibling elements to get them good and strong. As a back up, we give a nudge to the grandparent element so that the parent element is in a better position to support the child and a modicum of control is added.

In the case of Excess: Here, the main plan is Control, so the grandparent element is encouraged and promoted. As a backup plan of support, the child element is added to take from the over-excited element and deplete its excess

this is very interesting

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 08:11 AM
reply to post by rickymouse

Actually ,if you have a western medical background ,the more you understand eastern theory ,the more you can begin to put them together .
For instance ,I find some patients with high blood pressure are easily treated ,when its just kidney exhaustion .
When the kidneys go awry ,the water element is off .
There is a direct connection between the kidneys are the heart ,and when kidneys have no water ,the fire overcomes them .
Simply put ,yang over takes yin ,and you have an excess yang condition . This in turn can send the fire up the heart channel .
The heart is already a fire organ,so fire plus more fire ,leads to an external manefestion . In many cases ,Hugh blood pressure .

I've also found some episodes of acute pulmonary edema ,or chronic chf ,the opposite .
It's where fire has been extinguished by an over abundance of water ,and water overwhelms the body .
Yin eclipsing yang .

The Chinese system has many things,the west discovers very late .
For us ,bone material is a product of the kidneys . The Chinese have said this for thousands of years .
In the last 15 or so years ,its been discovered erythropoetin I believe,which comes from the kidneys ,assists in the manufacture of bone cells.
I may have the wrong substance ,so dont quote me. I will check later .
Also ,ming men ,gate fire,where our reproductive strength comes from ,is the exact spot where Epidurals are done during child birth ,which facinates me somehow.
Many correlations like this.

Ayeurvda is a bit different though . You would think it was akin to Tibean medicine wheel traditions too ,but its not.
It's closer to chinese medicine .

You may want to read The web that has no weaver,by Ted Kapchuck

edit on 6/17/13 by PtolemyII because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 08:43 AM
reply to post by PtolemyII

I actually think Ayeurveda and Chinese medicine are great medicine techniques. Like I said, trying to translate what they are saying is the hard part. My daughter studied Yoga in India for four terms....basicaly four different years along with working with a mentor. She doesn't have a USA certification though...that is an inferior certification anyway to what she has. I need to sit down and talk to her when she gets back, she was trying to show me what Khafa, Pita, and Vatta are. That is more complicated because all have ties to desires and nature in their practice. Something that is seperated here in America. I'm beginning to understand the associations though, that is why I feel that Chinese and Ayeurvedic medicine is better, it ties everything together.

In America, they are taking everything apart into pieces and wasting their time examining the pieces. If we eat the companion food chemistry to balance the body and mind, we do not need treatment. Proper cravings at appropriate times are essential to good physical and mental health. The American Health Industry has severe flaws in their knowledge, we do not need to be sick. Most diseases come from eating things where our genetics does not understand the food chemistry and the bodies enzymes are not created properly for the food we eat. We are taking apart food improperly. Our bodies are poisoning themselves because of the improper digestion of these foods.

If you are planning on eating steak for supper and you create enzymes all day to take apart the steak, then you have spaghetti, the enzymes become a problem. On top of that, if you smell food and order something different than what you smell, you create improper enzymes. The mind can override some of this if you understand that the mind controls the body but this is not always the case if foods and spices that are not companions are not consumed at the same time, especially if body reserves of companion chemistry are not present.

I am not interested in treating illness, I am interested in finding ways so that we never get sick in the first place.
edit on 17-6-2013 by rickymouse because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 09:10 AM
reply to post by rickymouse

I did an ayeurveda seminar when I was in acupuncture school . They gave it as a mini seminar ,if you wanted to familiarize yourself with it.
The ayeurvedic practioner shared her office with an acupuncturist that did Japanese style acupuncture ,and they used to consult and refer back and forth all day .
They are similar ,but different .
In Chinese medicine ,just as there are five elements ,they sort of define people.
In five element style acupuncture ,people are basically broken down into five types .
Same with the three types in ayeurveda .
That's how they taught it to us anyway .

I use the fingernail diagnosis from ayeurveda ,quite a lot.

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 09:33 AM
reply to post by Bybyots

Thank you Bybyots for refreshing and extending this philosophy. Here is my tribute to your thread, and the great Tao that is filled with so much wisdom. We forget too easily that Nature has its own way and goes about its work with far more patience and persistence that we can ever muster.

I look forward to more interesting interaction on the thread

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 09:56 AM
reply to post by PtolemyII

Oooh. Fingernail diagnosis. The fingernails on my right hand are much tougher than the ones on my left hand. The left hands one peel loose to easy like there isn't enough glue holding them together. Do you know why the ones on my left hand are like that and not the right?

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 10:27 AM
reply to post by rickymouse

Well in ayeurveda ,you look more at ridges and deformities . In Chinese medicine however ,nail strength and Ned color are important .

Nails come from liver . Strong nails mean strong liver . If the right side is weak ,you think of a liver issue in relation to spleen deficiency .
So here we have a way to test your five element knowledge .
You try first .
Spleen is Earth ,Liver is wood .
Where are they in relation to one another on the five element pentagram here ?
Does one generate another ,or have a position to over act on the other .

If you have what I think you have,there's a specific name for it .
Do you ,and think carefully ,have mostly left sided issues ? Even Musculo skeletal ones ?
Or more right ?
And is your digestion crap
,or do you have a bad temper ans yell a lot ?

You tell me .

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 10:41 AM
reply to post by PtolemyII

Well, I had carpel tunnel surgery on my right hand but never got the left done. That could be a problem. Being a construction worker much of my life it was hard on the hands. I am not so sure that is a cause of this though. My right hand used to be the same way years after the surgery but taking a mineral tablet daily actually made the nails stronger. Color and texture of all my nails have got better since I started this journey but the left fingernails still get spurs that I pull and peal the nail with. I don't know the answer.

I noticed you said liver and issues with the right side nails. I have a liver that was a quarter calcified from taking meds I was allergic to. Some of the liver function seems to have returned but I still need to repair it more. Since that happened, I need a lot of salt and pee out salt a lot. The kidneys seem to be making up for the damaged liver. The medications I took were a lot worse on the liver than if I would have drank a lot, although it calcified instead of dying which is better. My left hand also hurts sometimes, like my right used to do when I had carpetunnel. I have been making wood so that is a possibility.

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 10:56 AM
reply to post by rickymouse

Ahhh,we have discussed this before . I think I mentioned kombucha tea.
You really should look into drinking it daily .
So you have what's called,liver invading spleen .
The liver is very overactive ,and its sort of imposing itself on the spleen .
Look at the star chart there .See where wood and earth are right across from one another .

Probably quite mild. It's why the nails on the left are weak .

When issues are more liver ,there are many right side of body ailments .
When its more spleen ,its left body side ailments .
The fact the right side nails are tough ,means the liver is tough .So its picking on your spleen a bit.

Liver overacting on spleen will cause digestive issues ,and I think you maybe do have a temper ...I could be wrong ,since I cannot actually see you ,but you have huge liver issues .
Kombucha . Trust mother ....

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 11:17 AM
reply to post by PtolemyII

Actually I have a very controlled temper, I seldom get mad...Disappointed but not mad....When I get mad though, I never lose a fight, and the authority radiates from my voice which has scared almost everyone who has challenged me. I had a guy pinned over the hood of a car by poking him with one finger in the chest. I can break off my temper in an instant also, the mind can control the body under all situations. If you ask ninety nine percent of the thousand or so people I know well if I have a temper, they will say I am the mellowest and fairest of people they long as I am not pushed too much. The other one percent avoid me.

Actually, I have a hereditary disease called AIP, I have the liver that is scared like a bunny. As soon as I eat the wrong food it shuts down. When I am working it works great, as long as I am doing something to heat it. I have a normal body temp of 97.0. My brothers temp is 96.8, my parents were both 97. Definitely genetic.

Along with that I have a normal heart rate of between 110 and 120. One daughter has the same rate, the other one has a slow rate of ninety. Low blood volume because of the inability to make enough red blood cells properly because of the AIP...I cannot donate blood or plasma.

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 11:26 AM
Thanks everybody,

I am a little short on time today so this will be a short post.

Gee, how can I say this without sounding weird? I love systems!

Systems of all sorts, their neat, and when a person has a system, they are more efficient. A system provides a framework with which to absorb the changes that an unpredictable world might throw at us with more grace. When you have a system, you bring can more of you to bear on solving problems quickly.

So that's one of the reasons that I really like the Wuxing and it sticks, because it's like a swiss-army-knife symbol set that can be brought to bear on all sorts of things.

Like Chinese boxing.

I'm going to keep it short. I think that those that are in to this sort of thing will get it right away.

Wood: Timing

Fire: Speed

Earth: Distance

Metal: Power

Water: Changing

Thanks ATS,

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 11:41 AM
reply to post by rickymouse

Ahhh...that's one I have never heard of. Let me do a bit of research and get back to you .
A controlled temper can be an odd opposite response to liver excess.
Like heart excess can be joy,or mania ....

Your issue seems extra ordinary .Kombucha might be too much for your liver ,unless you took minutia doses .
The heart rate is a concern .
My temp is 97 too. Told its because I have alien DNA .

I will get back to you .
Read the Web that has no weaver .
It is the quintessential first book . As you learn more ,you re read it ,and every time ,as your understanding grows,it becomes a different book .
edit on 6/17/13 by PtolemyII because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 11:45 AM
reply to post by Bybyots

I do a martial art call Xing yi chuan .
It's based on the five elements,as is tai chi ,but in the case of Xing yi ,its applied differently .
We are pro active ,where as taichi is passive ,unless of course you want to make it pro active.

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 11:50 AM
reply to post by PtolemyII

I do a martial art call Xing yi chuan .

I like that one very much. I picked up a Hsingyi form called 9 Cannons from a teacher once and I hold it to be very dear.

edit on 17-6-2013 by Bybyots because: .

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 12:26 PM
reply to post by PtolemyII

The low body temperature is possibly from an ancestor having heavy metal poisoning in your ancestors past. When it is copper that caused it it's called Wilsons disease, when it was other heavy metals, especially lead, mercury, or is usually a porphyria. It's not really a disease, it is an eating lifestyle that has to be observed. The body can't produce as much enzymes so you need to warm up the liver to digest stuff right. Here is a

I have tested on myself and extensively researched most of the stuff on that link, most if not all of it checks out. In theory the reduction of the body temperature should extend a person's life but the problems with the lowering of enzymes produced can cause a lot of sickness and reduce a persons lifespan. My daughter is studying different ways than I am to address this problem, she learned of her problems separate than I did. It's intriguing how her system is so much different and it works. We have been comparing notes and I have more time to think and research so I do. Ginger and Cinnamon work great, a contribution from her. The Sauna was probably originally designed to deal with this problem also.

None of this stuff turns into a disease unless you eat wrong.....I need different foods than what they say is good for most people, all the foods they are saying is good suppress liver function. It appears that they are trying to make people with high liver function mellower, for the people with low liver function it becomes problematic and causes the disease to manifest. My ancestors, and a lot of the ancestors of these mining towns in the Upper Peninsula, have this problem. There are many ways to deal with this, one is to either drink booze or beer high in tyramines. Or you can just eat Italian sausages and smoked on dried meat. Beer actually does the best job, a couple of beers also lowers copper levels, the hopps have a lot of molybdenum in them. Or if you don't like to have a beer a night, then cream of wheat or cocoa puffs in the morning and balogna sandwiches for lunch. Avoid this and then you need antidepressants. Surprisingly similar chemistry is in antidepressants.

edit on 17-6-2013 by rickymouse because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 12:32 PM
reply to post by Bybyots

I don't think 9 cannons is Xing yi .
Most instructors teach other forms . Just my experience .
Cannons forms and cannon fist, is shaolin I believe .

My sifu used to teach us long fist style ,and the 12 animals forms. Not Xing yi at all .
Most Xing yi forms are based on the five elements.

That being said,its entirely possible there is such a form in Xing yi ,and I don't know it .
It is based on an element movement ? Do you recall the names at all ?

Pi chin ,pung chin etc.

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 12:39 PM
reply to post by rickymouse

I don't have liver issues per se,but I don't do well with alcohol .
I can have a drink ,but any alcohol on an empty stomach puts me into near alcohol poisoning .
My liver isn't fond of booze .
I do have a degree of celiac disease though .
No one else in my family had odd temp issues. Either side .
Just me.

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 12:52 PM
reply to post by PtolemyII

Most of the people they are treating for thyroid issues have liver issues.
The low body temp started in one of my ancestors lives, the fact that it was passed on from generation to generation means that it is genetic. Are you sure that none of your relatives have a low body temp? I wasn't even aware my brother had one till about seven years ago, I never asked him I guess. Since I have been asking around, I have found many people with a lower body temperature.

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 01:05 PM

Originally posted by PtolemyII
reply to post by Bybyots

I don't think 9 cannons is Xing yi .
Most instructors teach other forms . Just my experience .
Cannons forms and cannon fist, is shaolin I believe .

My sifu used to teach us long fist style ,and the 12 animals forms. Not Xing yi at all .
Most Xing yi forms are based on the five elements.

That being said,its entirely possible there is such a form in Xing yi ,and I don't know it .
It is based on an element movement ? Do you recall the names at all ?

Pi chin ,pung chin etc.

Yeah, that's funny, I had gone to the guy for a Long Fist form that he knew and ended up doing a sort of smörgåsbord tour for a couple of years through a lot of the stuff he taught. I am not a terribly dedicated student of the Northern stuff, but I love long pole and spear, so when I saw him do that 9 cannons thing I had to have it.

It has a bunch of Pao and Beng in it, as well as a lot of stomping, it's super explosive. I imagine the cannon reference is to all the Pao Chuan (lifting arm, cannon fist) present in the form.

Look, believe me, there are tons of variations on all of these styles that neither of us have heard about. I have a DVD that that same teacher compiled of Hsingyi spear and empty-hand work that has some of the weirdest stuff you have ever seen presented as Hsingyi. There is, for instance a clip of this guy in these big wooden shoes like clogs, hammering the ground, slightly ala Chen style Taiji, with this huge pole. Go figure.

That's why I grabbed it; it was the most spear-like hsing-yi form I had never heard of.

posted on Jun, 17 2013 @ 01:07 PM

reply to post by rickymouse

Actually, I have a hereditary disease called AIP, I have the liver that is scared like a bunny. As soon as I eat the wrong food it shuts down. When I am working it works great, as long as I am doing something to heat it. I have a normal body temp of 97.0.

What reaction do you have to ginger, fresh or ground (dried)?

Some interesting comments on the "martial arts". That term itself could be said to be a misnomer. For example, I do not think people head off to battle with tai chi skills and attack others. But that is a debate for some other time and place.

However, if tai chi is viewed as a self preservation system, it makes sense to be "passive" (also not really a quite correct term as there is a strategy in this seeming passivity). When the purpose is to turn the opponent's strength against him, it is a matter of using mind to try to influence the where and when of the attack, and thereby take out some of the uncertainties.

But interesting how the philosophy of five elements can be related to all matters of life and death. Anyone familiar with The Waxing and Waning of Ch’ien and K’un? The more one explores, the more one realises how the many cycles of everything influence us. The I Ching may be used as a book of divination, but is effect, it is an excellent treatise on how each and every thing in the great Tao follows the laws of Nature.

Which brings us to
the most enigmatic of all aspects of Taoism, the five element and all related issues,
Lao Tsu's

Do nothing and everything is done
This is a tough call for us driven moderns and not easy to explain or believe without a lot of searching.

Last words

"See the small and develop clear vision;
Practice yielding and develop strength;
Use the outer light to return to the inner light
and save yourself from harm." —Lao Tsu

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