Chinese five elements theory

A theory of elements, with colors associated.

From http://chinesefood.about.com/library/weekly/aa041900a.htm

The Chinese believe that we are surrounded by five energy fields: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. However, the elements are not static: they are constantly moving and changing.   (In fact, some scientists think the term “element” is misleading, and prefer to refer to the “five phases” or “five forces.”)

Once the Chinese identified the five elements, they set about categorizing all phenomena within the five categories. Everything, from a river to sounds to the organs in our bodies, can be described in terms of the five elements.  How things are characterized depends on their individual qualities.  For example, earth is associated with growth and nourishment, so the spleen, which monitors the blood – digesting debris and producing antibodies when necessary – is categorized as an earth element.

Just as an imbalance between yin and yang can produce destructive forces, keeping all elements in balance promotes harmony both in our surroundings and ourselves. Of course, balancing five elements is a little more complicated than achieving harmony between two opposing forces. According to Chinese belief, each element acts upon two others, either giving birth to it or controlling it. For example, wood gives birth to fire and controls or suppresses earth.  Similarly, fire gives birth to earth and controls metal. All the elements are constantly interacting with other elements – none stand alone.

Element Yin Yang Feelings Colors Tastes
Wood Liver Gall Bladder Rage Green Sour
Fire Heart Small Intestine Happiness Red Bitter
Earth Spleen Stomach Thought Yellow Sweet
Metal Lungs Large Intestine Sorrow White Spicy
Water Kidneys Bladder Fear Black Salty


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