In my previous articles I have explained the origin and the philosophy of the authentic Feng Shui. Now is the time to go into the core of the theory and see how Feng Shui really works.

The Qi… Or Yoda’s words!

At the heart of everything Feng Shui, and moreover in all Chinese metaphysics, there is the theory of the Qi. The Qi is the life force: called prana, pneuma, ki, etc. in other cultures. It surrounds us, and it is both internal and external.

Without Qi, there is no life; and where there is life there is Qi! If you remember the old Star Wars movies (the good ones) when Yoda talked about the “force” that penetrates everything and is everywhere, he was talking about the Qi! Wisdom where you least expect it…

On one hand, acupuncture, Chinese medicine or Qigong techniques, to name a few, are working on the flow of internal Qi. On the other hand, Feng Shui and Chinese oracles deal with the external Qi – the one the affects us through our environment, or through the will of Heaven (luck we can tap in with the use of Chinese oracles).

Now it is time to move to the next level, which is the five elements theory.

The Five elements

Knowing that there is a universal energy is a good thing. However knowing the pattern of this energy is a more advanced step. This is where the theory of the five elements comes into the picture.

“Five elements” is a rough translation – a more accurate one would be the “five phases” of the Qi. They have to be understood as five aspects the Qi takes in our physical world. They are water, wood, fire, earth and metal. Their characteristics are as follows:

• Metal: Contracting Qi
• Water: Going to the lower point
• Wood: Expanding Qi
• Fire: Rising Qi
• Earth: Compiling

The relations between those elements are ruled by different cycles.

1. The creating cycle:
Wood generates Fire – Fire generates Earth – Earth generates Metal – Metal generates Water – Water generates Wood

2. The weakening cycle:
Fire weakens Wood – Earth weakens Fire – Metal weakens Earth – Water weakens Metal – Wood weakens Water

3. The controlling cycle:
Wood exhausts Earth – Earth stops Water – Water extinct Fire –Fire melts Metal – Metal cuts Wood

Then let us have a look at the shapes, colours and directions associated with those elements.

Elements and shapes:

• Fire: Triangular, pointy shapes.
• Water: Irregular shapes with soft angles.
• Wood: Rectangular shapes.
• Metal: Round shapes.
• Earth: Square shapes.

Elements and colours:

• Fire: Red, orange, pink, maroon, violet, dark blue
• Water: Shades of blue, grey, dark
• Wood: Green, beige
• Metal: White, silver, gold (shiny), copper, metallic shades
• Earth: Brown, yellow

Elements and directions:

• South: Fire
• North: Water
• Southeast, East: Wood
• West, Northwest: Metal
• Southwest, Northeast, Centre: Earth

The elements are the BASE of all Chinese metaphysics. No matter how complicated a formula is, how advanced a Feng Shui solution is, they always relate back to the five elements.

Now the mistake of a very superficial Feng Shui, like the western version of the Ba Zhai (or 8 mansions), is to assume that as the elements are coming from such directions you can simply enhance all of them by putting corresponding artefacts in their specific corners. This approach doesn’t take you very far for several reasons:

1. The eight mains sectors are subdivided into 24 sub-sectors, called the 24 mountains. The flux of energy based on this mapping is much more subtle. For example one of the directions in the North sector, called Ren (North 1), contains the fire element even if in a water sector

2. By enhancing everything you enhance… nothing! Let’s draw a comparison. The dish you have cooked is way too salted. You then decide to double the proportions you have used to cover the salt, but you still double the salt amount as well. Do you think you will end up with a less salty result?
Those energies are already here. Trying to boost all sectors in your house does not convert it in any way – it just put everything on the next level of “wrong”!

3. Such an approach is particularly detrimental for businesses. A business relates to one or two elements, and the conversion has to be done based on those elements only. For example the hospitality industry relates to the water element. A successful conversion will enhance the metal and water element to create a natural money flow and a customer appeal. Trying to strengthen other elements like wood or fire for that business would be very counterproductive.

4. There is no proper Feng Shui if it is not connected to the people. Treating a house by itself has no effect; the cure is the link between the house and the people who live in it.
Through the BaZi (4 pillars), a Feng Shui master can understand which of the five elements each person can take. The house conversion will then be based on the supporting elements of the chart only. This is really a tailor-made approach – a bit like determining what body type, what allergies and what illness someone has before choosing the appropriate holistic treatment.

The trick is also to determine what really influences each element. For example putting a lot of metallic furniture in a room is not going to transform it in a metal room; however using a conversion through colours, based on the directional Qi received by the room, will do it. A metal direction is therefore stronger than a metal artefact…
Fascinating fact about the elements.

Now fasten your seatbelts. The theory of five elements is easy to understand; however the applications are truly mind-blowing and surprising! The elements have many layers to them.

For example, the elements represent physical directions and locations – this is the first step. They also represent colours, and material – another aspect we have seen. However the elements are also a timing factor.

In the Chinese calendar, a year is divided in 24 sub-seasons – all combinations of elemental Qi. The same concept of element equals timing applies to the Ba Zi. The four pillars of a chart are the year, the month, the day and the time of birth. Each pillar is a combination of a stem and branch: a “surface” and a “deeper” Qi. They all have an element and a polarity (Yin metal or Yang Fire for example). The complete chart picture draws the elemental affinity of a person: a strong fire person will for example favour earth and metal to balance the fire in their chart.

Remember that the elements are also related to physical location. This is how Feng Shui works: the same symbol is an energy that is part of you (in your chart) but also a precise space in your living place. This is how you can trigger powerful changes of action-reaction through the interactions of the five elements…

And there are much more to the elements but we will see that in our next article.

Author's Bio: 

Laurent Langlais is an accredited consultant in Feng Shui, Chinese asrology and date selection. He was trained by a Chinese lineage in Asia. He has helped countless businesses and home owners to improve their lives and invite prosperity for good. No case is too small or too big for him.
He is based in London UK and in Vancouver BC, Canada and consults internationally.

Please visit his sites