5 Chinese zodiac elements: Origins, Role & Uses

Role and use of the 5 elements in Chinese astrology: compatibility, balancing, remedies
By KarmaWeather - 20 September 2022
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The main object of this article is to introduce the main concepts behind the theory of the 5 elements.

We approach here the link between the 5 Chinese elements, how to calculate the Chinese element attached to the Chinese zodiac sign of one's year of birth, the compatibility of the 5 Chinese elements, how do the 5 elements really interact and finally for what purpose?

Introduction to the theory of the 5 Chinese elements of Nature

In Chinese astrology, an astral theme based on Chinese cosmology (or Wu Xing 五行) combines a harmonious quantitative balance of the five Chinese elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water) with the existential well-being of a person. According to the theory of the 5 Chinese elements, each element is an energetic flow whose direct link with the other elements depends both on its position in the cycle of creation, filiation and destruction of the 5 elements, but also on its excess or its deficiency, which disrupts the balance of the whole. Thus, our date of birth is a key marker of the energy flow of the five elements of Chinese cosmology. Indeed, in the same way that our year of birth associates us with the annual element of the same year according to a specific calendar cycle of Wu Xing and the 12 zodiac animals of the Chinese horoscope, the same goes for the month, the day and the hour of our birth.

In the Chinese lunar calendar, the duodenal cycle (the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac follow each other in the same order for 12 years) is combined with the deion cycle (the 5 elements of WuXing follow each other in the same order in pairs for 10 years) to form the sexagesimal cycle. Indeed, every 60 years, the same cycle "animal + element" starts again, which corresponds to a Chinese century.

The theory of the five fundamental elements of Chinese cosmology presupposes that each element (also called agent or movement) must feed on one element and feed another in parallel, thus allowing the good circulation and the good distribution of the energy resources for the body and for the spirit. According to the law of the five elements of Wuxing, a person who has the 5 Chinese elements in sufficient quantity and without excess in his horoscope is stronger and luckier, but also less exposed to imbalances and psychological, physiological or social problems.

What Chinese element am I?

Calculate the Chinese element associated with the animal of your year of birth

Your main Chinese Zodiac element is the element of your birth year associated with your Chinese zodiac animal. For example, a child born during the Year of the Earth Dog 2018 (between February 16, 2018 and February 4, 2019) is an Earth Dog. Calculate your Chinese element of birth by consulting our annual calendar of 12 Chinese zodiac signs or take the test with our free Chinese sign and element calculator, which displays your Chinese zodiac animal and birth element, from your date of birth (on the right column in the web version or at the bottom of the page in mobile version, our calculator of the Chinese zodiac sign displays the Chinese animal and element according to your date of birth).

The other components of your energetic chart are extracted from the other time frames of your date of birth, all of which are associated with a specific animal and element: season of birth, month of birth, day of birth, hour of birth. As such, your yearly element might be the main element which influences your personality, but it is also part of a broader pool of elements, whose weakness or excess in one or several elements shall also influence your personality.

Eventually, it is important to remember that each Chinese zodiac animal can symbolically be reduced to the sum of their intrinsic elements. For instance, the Rat is exclusively a Water sign, while the Dragon, though mainly an Earth sign, also has Fire and Metal inside of him.

Which Chinese elements are compatible?

In order to find out the relationship between the 5 elements and how to achieve harmony, one needs to study the interactions related to each element. Indeed, not every element is compatible with the next, as Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water each have a dual relationship with one another which either drains or strengthens their initial energy.

To learn more about 5 elements balancing, you can read our article about harmonization techniques, which, in addition to further explanations on the subject, includes graphic charts describing the full relationships between the 5 elements.

The compensatory element: How to achieve harmony among the five elements

According to the theory of the five Chinese elements, it is essential to always maintain a harmonious balance of the 5 Chinese elements calculated from your date and time of birth, which correspond to your energy identity card. Thus, in order to fill the lack of one or several elements of a Chinese astral theme - and to recreate on this occasion an energetic chart beneficial to the individual - there are several techniques that make it possible to "manufacture" the missing element, which can also be called the compensatory element.

When one wishes to balance the energetic chart of the five Chinese elements when one of the elements is weak or deficient, several techniques of energy rectification, or cures, can be envisaged, among which:

  • The choice of a first name or a nickname
  • The choice of the color of a garment or accessory
  • The choice of a trade or of a leisure activity
  • The choice of the wedding date and of the year of birth of a child for a couple
  • A suitable diet (spice, fruit or vegetable)
  • A fragrance (aroma, essential oil)
  • A particular movement in the Chinese martial arts (WuShu 武术)
  • Traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, thalassotherapy
  • The vocalization of a sound during a session of healing meditation (Taoism)
  • The choice and positioning of objects, furniture and decor for your home (Feng Shui)
  • Compatibility in love and friendship: The choice of a relationship based on the comparative energetic chart of your lover or your friends with you

In the same way, it is possible to reduce the presence of an element when it is in excess, thanks to the identification of its corrective element, which is also a compensatory element. It is then a question of "tiring" or "exhausting" the element in excess by using the element that feeds on it. Thus, the same techniques previously listed are applicable when it is question of the excessive presence of an element in the Chinese horoscope.

The 5 Chinese elements, a theory of well-being

In conclusion, we can say that the theory of the 5 Chinese elements, applied to a person, to the relation between two persons or of a person to his environment, is a philosophy of life which aims at finding harmony thanks to a peaceful and understanding relationship with Nature and other living beings. This requires a better understanding of our place in the cosmos according to immutable precepts applicable to all, which connect us all together through the flow of the 5 elements of Nature.

➔ Learn more about the 5 Chinese elements

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