Household items that represent wood are often made from it – bookcases, cabinets and hallstands are all typical.
East, the direction of wood is the direction of new beginnings and the promise of growth. It signifies the life force energy ascending at the beginning of the day or in the spring, which, in the Chinese calendar, is the beginning of the year. This is a Yang time, when the Chi is rising, the day is beginning or spring has arrived.
The colour of fire is red. In fact all the reds, from pink through to deep magenta and burgundy are the colours of fire.
The direction of fire is south, where it symbolises noon and the height of the day, summer and the fullness of the year… life at its most yang.
Objects in the home, which represent fire, apart of course from fire itself in the shape of a roaring stove or lit candles, are anything in fire colours – red rugs, pictures, red painted walls. Triangular shapes – the shape of flames - are the shapes of fire.
The earth element represents the gentle transition between the seasons – between the changing parts of the day. As wood and fire represent rising and full yang and metal and water declining and complete yin so, in the middle, there is earth and earth is unchanging. Earth has no season.
The location of earth is in the centre; its colours yellow, orange, ochre, beige, caramel, light brown or terracotta. Curiously, the shape of earth is not round but square. It is the universe that is represented by the circle; the earth is represented by the square - the container of life.
The materials evinced by earth are clay, brick, ceramic, mud and cement. The objects that signify earth are. Items such as teracotta objects, pottery, porcelain, crystals, rocks, stones, sculpture, all signify earth.
Metal represents the transformation of the chi from fullness towards decline. This is the afternoon of the day, the autumn of the year when natural chi begins slowly to diminish. It is the cooling off period; the time of declining Yin. Metal is the process of gathering in, a dense inward moving energy, which can feel oppressive if it is not in harmony with its surroundings.
The direction of metal is west where the sun sets and the shapes for metal are round or arched. When metal is heated to a high degree it bobbles into round beads – so any shape with well-rounded curvatures signifies metal.
Metal’s colours are white or gold, silver, bronze, copper, platinum – any metallic colour. The objects that signify it are anything metallic or that has metal - particularly an object of a round shape and that is crafted from some form of metal.
Water represents the winter months, a time of hibernation at the end of the year and is represented by the north. Water is complete Yin.
The colours of water are black, grey, charcoal, and, as water flows and meanders, so therefore its shape is wavy. Undulating lines represent water. In the kitchen, refrigerators, sinks even toilets and tubs represent water.
The materials for water are fountains and fish tanks, ponds and swimming pools. To evoke water in a room, any of these features can be used.
Water is often used to promote prosperity, consequently once the most useful auspicious energy is located a water feature is used to stimulate it.
The five elements of Chi are a fundamental part of Feng Shui and understanding them and their relationship to each other is vitally important. The permutations of the elements in their cycles of birth and destruction are endless; sometimes they work to cancel one another out - sometimes they enhance one another. When combined in different amounts they can cause either good or back luck.