Feng shui literally means ‘Wind’ and ‘Water’. It has evolved with centuries of trial and error methods applied to different aspects of life. The big question is even if its origin is attributed to China; the aboriginals of different cultures in different parts of the world practiced it in their own way. The Africans, Red Indians, Asians, Europeans all had their own understanding of natural surroundings and commonsense application had them practicing Feng shui with perhaps another name.
Dealing with the natural environment physically, mentally and emotionally must have been the aim and objective of the Sages who worked and coined Feng shui for us in its present form. Its depth is still mystery to our minds.
It goes without saying that a student of Feng shui is learning with every case be it a house, office, factory, farm —– the list can be endless.
Let us look into the basics of this intriguing subject with the understanding of the five elements; which with their interplay create the fascinating environment around us.
The Five Elements
The five elements in nature keep transforming changing their nature from one to another. These energy forms can be categorized into five types represented by WATER, WOOD FIRE, EARTH and METAL. It is very to note that these elements have been thus described to better understand the nature of these energies and should not be mistaken to be the energy itself.
WATER: Let us try to understand this element; firstly by enumerating some of the characteristics of water. Water is transparent, cool, malleable, deep, spreading, always flowing, gets easily polluted, has no boundaries, water can be channeled not controlled. Water seeks its own level; it can find its way out of any place. Water can put out a fire, it can generate electricity; in vast expanses water can make one fearful. The major portion of earth surface comprises of water. These attributes make it easy for us to understand the energy identifying it with different imageries created by the physical association of water. So it can now be clear that water is the closest example to understand the energy; not the energy itself.
WOOD: The active growth of creepers, plants, trees, shrubs and bushes create the images of the potential of this form of energy to boost growth. Wood here is akin more to green foliage than actual wood. Wood has persistence for growth; we can see this aspect in creepers and trees which will climb over to get sunshine or go deep into earth to get water for sustenance. Wood is tenacious; it can hibernate in winter and bloom again when spring arrives. It can be supportive, protective; say like a huge banyan tree which allows smaller trees to grow under its shelter. It can protect birds and life forms; nurture them with its fruits and offer shelter to them. However it is also true that trees will stand tall and fight for their share of sunshine as in an equatorial forest, hence it comes across that ‘Trees’ are survivors.
FIRE: Images of fire can give its various attributes, fire is separating, it may start on a spread out surface but tends to gather up as it goes higher. Fire can char, it can melt metal burn down many things to ashes, fire is a purifier, and you cannot go too close to it. Fire can be the blazing sun, it can be mellow sunshine; it can be a kitchen fire or a volcano. Fire can mature crops; there can be no life without fire. It can spread quickly; as in a forest fire. It can have the soothing sight of a candle flame, or comforting like a bon fire. The fire of the mind can be; Words of wisdom, spiritually enlightening people who hear them. Thus represented fire comes closest to the most hyper active type of energy of the creative cycle.
EARTH: The element of earth is the expression of our physical existence. It denotes all that is tangible, material and nurturing of growth around us. Right from dry earth, mountains, valleys, mud, clay, silt to the many manifestation of nature you can think of. The dry earth projects the building material for shelter and the soft moist earth for growth of life forms. Earth can be giving and receiving all at once, like Mother Nature it takes everything in its fold. Our worldly possessions are the manifestation of earth. Earth can be stubborn unyielding and unrelenting; it can be like a brick wall, protective but unmoving. It is the first element in the reclining cycle after the peak at which fire stands.
Earth projects the slow steady pace of energy needed for growth; say like a germinating seed; its nature is as if every thing is at a standstill yet the growth is taking place silently.
METAL: Metal represents the sedimentation of energy, it is active but its force is focused inwards, this form is like concentrated existence of energy. It may have a malleable form like gold or silver or appear like ore in its raw form. It can also manifest in the tough form as steel for building bridges or homes. Metal is like a focused mind, which can by its level of focus search inwards to discover mysteries of existence, like in research and invention. Unyielding and unrelenting it is tough and tenacious. Metal is like gas or clouds. It can condense to generate water