Wu Xing (The Five Phases)

Wu xing also referred to as the five elements, five phases, the five agents, the five movements, five processes, and the five stages is a concept from chinese philosophy. The five phases are used not only in philosophy but also in occultism, mysticism, traditional medicine, and martial arts, along with many other things. It is an interesting understanding to be aware of, because it shows the relationship between certain elements of existence, which can be worked with to affect the world in very interesting metaphysical ways. Wu xing teaches a universal pattern that is in everything, which you will be able to recognize, and adapt to anything that you are partaking in. The five elements, or phases are known as wood, fire, earth, metal,and water. These five phases are not the same as the greek western classic elements, and are completely two different metaphysical understandings. Though the greek western classic elements of fire, water, earth, air, and spirit do share some understanding between the wu xing system, especially when it comes to the understandings of fire, water, and earth. The western elements are more of an understanding of specific parts of existence and how they work separately from each other, and the metaphysical properties that they have. Wu xing is more an understanding of how the five phases work together, interact, and influence each other in the world based upon the phase in which a construct is in.

The five phases of wu xing:

Wood:

Wood is very optimistic, and expansive. It also supports growth, idealism, and new beginnings. It is outgoing, impulsive, generative, and is sensitive. The energies of wood has yang characteristics. It is also connected to the direction of the east.

Fire:

Fire is very passionate, and aggressive. It also supports intensity, ambition, and vitality. It is creative, powerful, strong, and persistent. The energies of fire has yang characteristics. Fire is connected to the south direction.

Earth:

Earth is grounded, and stable. It also supports inner reflection, hard work, and balance. It is orderly, fortified, hard, and strong. The energies of earth have balanced yin, and yang energy characteristics, and is connected to the directions of center, up, and down.

Metal:

Metal is very determined, and willing. It also supports control, forcefulness, and firmness. It is business-oriented, wise, courageous, and intuitive. The energies of metal has yin in characteristics. Metal is connected to the west direction.

Water:

Water is very witty, and resourceful. It also supports flexibility, stillness, and softness. It is spontaneity, gentleness, calmness, and contemplation. The energies of water has yin characteristics, and is connected to the direction of north.

In wu xing all the phases interact with each other, and this can be seen in shēng sometimes referred to as the cycle of creation, or generating, and kè sometimes referred to as the cycle of destruction, or controling.

Shēng, or the cycle of creation, or generating:

Wood creates fire, wood supports fire, and fire will release wood’s power.
Fire creates earth, fire supports earth, and earth will release fire’s power.
Earth creates metal, earth supports metal, and metal will release earth’s power.
Metal creates water, metal supports water, and water will release metal’s power.
Water creates wood, water supports wood, and wood will release water’s power.

Kè, or the cycle of destruction, or controling:

Wood can breaks through earth.
Earth can controls where water flows.
Water controls fire.
Fire melts metal.
Metal can chop down trees.

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