The translation from the Chinese 五行 (wŭ xíng) into Five Elements does not convey its essential meaning of movement. The character 行 is composed of two parts, 彳on the left and 亍 on the right. They are actually the same radical drawn differently. The radical means a step made by a human foot. 行 is composed of a left and a right footstep. It means walking, or movement. Understanding Chinese ideas is easier if one remembers that they are about process and change.
Five Element Correspondences with Nature
|Stages of Development||birth||growth||transformation||withdrawal||storage|
|Seasons||spring||summer||long (late) summer||autumn||winter|
Five Element Correspondences with the Human Body
|Yin (treasure house) Organs||Liver||Heart||Spleen and Pancreas||Lungs||Kidneys|
|Yang (processing) Organs||Gallbladder||Small Intestine||Stomach||Large Intestine||Urinary Bladder|
|Body Tissues||sinews||blood vessels||flesh||skin and hair||bones|
The Five Elements interact with each other by exerting promoting and inhibiting forces on one another. Promoting means to create, to nourish, to enable growth, to make stronger. Inhibiting means to control, to inhibit growth, to make weaker, to diminish.
The Five Elements promote one another in this order: wood > fire > earth > metal > water > wood
The Five Elements inhibit one another in this order: wood > earth > water > fire > metal >wood
The promoting and inhibiting forces are working constantly and simultaneously in nature and in the human body. Natural and human events are the results of Five Elements interaction. Everything is evolving and changing. Some changes are quick and immediate, others are so slow as to give the illusion of permanence.