Wu Xing


Wu Xing is the five states of change. Western thought developed the elements as substances. Indian though developed elements as emanations. Chinese philosophy developed the five elements, Wu Xing, as dynamic states of change. Wu Xing, in Chinese thought, includes science, philosophy, medicine, astrology, and Feng Shui.

Although the term is usually translated as “five elements,” this is incorrect. Wu means “five.” However, there is no simple translation for Xing. Xing can also be translated as: “agents,” “qualities,” “properties,” “states of change,” “courses,” “phases,” and “elementals.” Master Joseph Yu explains:

“Wu Xing” is actually the short form of “Wu zhong liu xing zhi chi” or “the five types of chi dominating at different times”. Water dominates in winter, wood in spring, fire in summer, metal in autumn. At the intersection between two seasons, the transitional period is dominated by earth. It is customary in Chinese writing to summarize a longer phrase into a couple of characters. Sometimes the meaning is completely lost in the abbreviated form if the original phrase is not referred to. Wu Xing is one such example.


  • Symbol: Cube, square
  • Colors: Yellow and brown
  • Season: late summer, between seasons
  • Direction: Center
  • Movement: Attracts and concentrates
  • Astrology: Dragon, Rat, Ox
  • Emotional/Physical Attributes: Meditation, stability, spleen, stomach, humidity, and sweetness


  • Symbol: Sphere, round
  • Colors: White, gold, and silver
  • Season: Autumn
  • Direction: West
  • Movement: Pierce inwards
  • Astrology: Monkey, Rooster, Dog
  • Emotional/Physical Attributes: Worry, sorrow, sharp, pointing, lungs, large intestine, dry, and pungant


  • Symbol: Rod, beam, rectangle
  • Colors: Green and blue
  • Season: Spring
  • Direction: East
  • Movement: Grows upwards
  • Astrology: Tiger, Rabbit Dragon
  • Emotional/Physical Attributes: Anger, endurance, liver, gall bladder, wind, and sour


  • Symbol: Triangle
  • Colors: Red, orange, purple, and pink
  • Season: Summer
  • Direction: South
  • Movement: Spreads in all directions
  • Astrology: Snake, Horse, Sheep
  • Emotional/Physical Attributes: Joy, bitter, radiance, heat, heart, and small intestine


  • Symbol: Waves, curves
  • Colors: Black and dark blue
  • Season: Winter
  • Direction: North
  • Movement: Runs downward
  • Astrology: Pig, Rat, Ox
  • Emotional/Physical Attributes: Fear, liberal, kidney, bladder, cold, and saltiness

They are all interconnected. They can create and destroy. Each element has negative and positive aspects (yin and yang).


Posted on June 27, 2012, in Concepts to Think About, Religion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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