The Elements of Earth and Chi: Metaphors for Life

By Rev. Spencer Rouse

Chi (prana) is the vitalizing force that penetrates every living thing. Most of us have only a vague understanding of this subtle energy. However, the ancients of Chinese medicine and other Eastern practices scrutinized the patterns of nature and learned that these same designs are present in the cosmos, the human body, relationships, music and art. They then classified this universal (subtle) energy into five separate patterns in nature: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Nature became metaphors for explaining all of life!

When the five elements are balanced in our lives, we experience health and prosperity.

When they’re out of balance, we experience disease and disharmony. This balance must occur in our bodily processes, but also in our surrounding environment. Following is a brief description of these patterns and how they influence our being.

Visualize a tree growing during its lifecycle. It is rooted, flexible, yielding to the wind (air), yet strong and durable. The season associated with wood is spring, with new beginnings and new growth. The color is green. Wood energy helps with “birthing” new ideas and setting goals. One quality of wood energy is leadership—the ability to formulate a plan and take charge until completion. With deficient wood energy, we may feel stagnant with a lack of creativity. The positive feelings of patience and altruism are connected with wood energy; the negative is anger.

Dynamic, moving, full of vitality, love, creating warmth and light: this is fire. To be “on fire” is to be full of excitement about life. To be “all fired up” is to be propelled by enthusiasm about something. The sun is fire, the life giver. The season is summer, representing luxurious growth. The color is red. Under Fire energy, projects ripen and come to fruition. There is abundance. Joy and happiness are the positive emotions of fire. Hate can be the negative expression. The heart represents fire energy. Consider happy heart, whole-heartedness, broken hearts, lion-hearted, heart attacks, etc. Heart problems almost always have their root in a relationship of some sort. Lack of fire energy could result in a person not being able to finish what he or she starts, a general malaise.

The earth is the ground beneath our feet, the connection we have with the world in which we live and the entire universe. We receive our nourishment, support, and life from Mother Earth. Earth energy represents fertility, stability, the core of what is essential.

Cycles of life are within her jurisdiction. Earth is special among all the elements, because she is the source of them, the center from which they arise. Each of the elements is in constant relationship with her. When a person’s earth energy is out of balance, there is a disruption of cycles and the natural flow. Instability, lack of physical or environmental balance, even homelessness could be symptoms. Being insecure with self and depending upon someone else to provide stability could be related to earth energy. The season is Indian summer. Yellow is the color. The emotion associated with earth energy is compassion. Positive qualities are patience, thoughtfulness, practicality, and hard work.

The usual ideas about metal may give impressions of cold, hard, not life-giving or nourishing in any human way, but it is important to look deeper. The minerals of the earth provide richness to the soil from which food is grown. Ores provide fuel for heat; other materials for structural strength; gems for beauty and scientific processes. Metal conducts electricity and wires connect many things. The season associated with the element of metal is autumn, and the color is white. The three months of autumn represent a period of transition. Within our own energies, it is a time for pulling together all of one’s resources for harvesting, just as this is true in nature. Consolidation and strengths become clear, as well as fragmentation and weaknesses. The positive emotion corresponding to Metal is courage; the negative one is grief.

The key words with the element water are fluid and flow, and the colors are blue and black. Think of the correspondences: “I feel blue,” deep blue sea, and blue waters. The season is winter. Winter symbolizes the energy necessary to conserve one’s resources and economize on the expenditure of personal energy. Adaptability is a key characteristic.

Picture a gentle stream moving slowing around and over pebbles along the way. The emotion associated with water is fear. Fear can be thought of as a holding on, rather than a flow and letting go of things that we feel anxious about. If energy is flowing well, we can experience life like the flow of a river. If it is not flowing well, we can feel dammed up or inundated.

Water represents intelligence and wisdom, flexibility, softness and pliancy; however, excess can create difficulties in sticking to a plan. Water can also become overwhelming when it rages in a tsunami or rises mercilessly in a flood. The negative emotion associated with water is fear, while the positive emotion is calmness.

By examining more deeply the characteristics of these five patterns, we gain an interesting perspective on the influences in our lives, our relationships with others, our knowing of self, and how everything is intertwined. May you enjoy all the blessings of nature.

Rev. Spencer Rouse has been a psychic medium, teacher, counselor, writer and healer for more than 25 years. She recently completed her Level 1 and 2 studies of Acoustic Sound, Color, and Body Movement with Fabien Maman (Father of Vibrational Sound Therapy) at the Tama-do Academy in Malibu, and Switzerland. Spencer teaches “Soul to Soul” classes in Sarasota, FL, which focus on how to tune into the true self through the tools of sound, color, and ancient teachings. She also will be presenting an interactive class focused on color, sound and Chi in relation to healing this winter. For more information visit, email or call 941-706-1005.

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