The Laws of the Five Elements

The five elements manifest in known ways because they follow natural laws. These natural laws determine how the elements interact and their relationships. Here are a two of the most important laws the five elements follow.


The Law of Mother and Child

As we see all around us, every healthy mother nourishes and cares for its child. The same is true within the five elements. While the elements mutually arise in the subtle realms in a non-linear fashion, they also have specific nurturing relationships with each other.


The Creative cycle is where we see the Law of Mother-Child in action. Each element is considered the "mother" of another element, and each element is the "child" of another element. It looks like this:


Water is the mother of Wood

Wood is the mother of Fire

Fire is the mother of Earth

Earth is the mother of Metal

Metal is the mother of Water


These relationships are evident everywhere.


Wood without Water is dry, brittle, and inflexible. 

Fire cannot burn without Wood.

Without Fire, Earth is wet, cold and barren. 

Without Earth, Metal cannot form.

Without Metal, Water lacks important trace minerals.



The Law of Grandparent and Grandchild


In cultures where extended families live within a single home, grandparents and grandchildren relate differently than is often seen today. In these cultures grandparents provide boundaries and structure for children still too young to be in school, while the parents are working to provide for the family.


In this same way, the elements provide checks and balances for each other. The Control cycle is where we see the Law of Grandparent and Grandchild in action. Each element is considered the "grandparent" of another element, and each element is the "grandchild" of another element. It looks like this: 


Water controls Fire

Wood controls Earth

Fire controls Metal

Earth controls Water

Metal controls Wood


These relationships are evident everywhere we look. 


Without Water, Fire runs rampant. 

Without Wood, Earth is destabilized. 

Without Fire, Metal is cold and unmalleable. 

Without Earth, Water would flow without boundaries.

Without Metal, Wood would be untamable.


The Human Spirit

Chinese medicine considers the spirit the defining characteristic of the human being. It is what enables us to bridge heaven and earth, embodying the highest virtues of each, and integrating them within.


Five element medicine focuses on treating the spirit, because it is considered the highest form of medicine. Why? Because your spirit is the vital connection between you and the Tao (the underlying universal law whose nature is unity). Through deepening your relationship with the Tao, you become more present and able to authentically respond to each moment. Our bodies, hearts and minds naturally heal with this type of treatment. 


Many people find that their entire lives change when they receive spirit level treatment. They are able to open to their destinies in a new way, and they find happiness and personal fulfillment.


A Little History

The first written document which mentions the five elements in a medical context is the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (Nei Jing). This foundational work was written in 100 B.C. and is studied by acupuncture students of all traditions. Five Element theory is also evident within the I Ching (Book of Changes), which was written as early as 1100 B.C.


In the 1970's, J.R. Worsley brought five element acupuncture to the United States. He described five element acupuncture as the classical method of acupuncture handed down by oral tradition from antiquity. To learn more about him and the development of five element acupuncture, read In the Footsteps of the Yellow Emperor by Peter Eckman.


To learn more about the elements and how they manifest uniquely within you...
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Sunshine Acupuncture

1140 University Blvd, Suite 20

Jupiter, Florida 33458

(561) 762-3600

© 2015 Shams Wesley, A.P., M.Ac., Dipl.Ac.


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