Wu Xing began as early as 500 BCE and attempted to interpret the
structure and origins of all things in the universe. Wu means five and
xing means “to act” or “to do,” with Wu Xing translating as five
phases or five elements. According to the book, Hung Fan, or “Great
Plan,” the five elements first created were earth, metal, water, wood,
and fire. Hung Fan states that the human and natural worlds are
intertwined by these interactive, dynamic substances. Between 350 and 270 BCE, Zou Yen and his followers first systematized the five element concept. Below is a simplified list of the elements and their attributes.
According to Chinese philosophy, we are constantly transforming
from one element to another. By understanding how we relate to
each element and how we navigate between elements, we can move smoothly through life’s changes.