Five Elements

Primary Correspondences within Five Element Theory

The Five Element theory is based on the observation of the natural cycles and interrelationships in both our environment and within ourselves. The foundation of the theory rests in the correspondences of each element to a variety of phenomena. The most common correspondences are listed in the chart below:

Yin Organs Heart &
Spleen Lungs Kidneys Liver
Yang Organs Small Intestine &
Triple Heater
Stomach Large Intestine Urinary Bladder Gall Bladder
Sense Organs Tongue Mouth Nose Ears Eyes
Tissues Vessels Muscles Skin Bone Tendons
Tastes Bitter Sweet Pungent Salty Sour
Colors red yellow white blue/black green
Sounds Laughing Singing Crying Groaning Shouting
Odor scorched fragrant rotten putrid rancid
Emotions Joy Worry/Pensiveness Grief/Sadness Fear Anger
Seasons Summer Late Summer Autumn Winter Spring
Environment Heat Dampness Dryness Cold Wind
Developmental Stages Growth Transformation Harvest Storage Birth
Direction south center west north east
Body Types pointed features
small hands
quick energetic
large features
strong legs
calm generous
triangular features
strong voice
meticulous, strong willed
round features
strong digestion
loyal, enjoy movement
tall slender
strong bones and joints
hard workers

Five Element Cyles, Relationships and Interactions

Within five element theory there are four main relationships or ways in which the elements interact. The first of these is the generating (sheng, mother-child) cycle. This cycle describes the ways in which each element, serving as a mother, promotes the growth and development of the following child element.

Examples of this cycle are the Wood element providing the generative force for Fire, Fire providing the generative force for Earth, etc. This relationship provides the foundation for understanding five element theory and, consequently, where imbalances may arise within the cycle. If Earth, for example, is weakened from a poor diet and overwork you will see that more nourishment is requested from the Fire element to nourish Earth. Additionally, if Earth is weakened the Metal element may also be effected.