Chinese Five Elements 中国五行 – Mystery Revealed

Among the lights at Edinburgh Zoo, you can find the bogles from the Scottish legend. It is said that bogles are Elemental sprites born from a flicker of fire, a droplet of water, a pinch of earth or a breath of air, combined with an act of human kindness.

Perhaps they echo the Chinese elements?

The Five Elements, known in Chinese as Wu Xing 五行 are:

Wood – 木 mù

Fire – 火 huǒ

Earth – 土 tǔ

Metal – 金 jīn

Water – 水 shuǐ

Some elements complement each other and some elements work against each other.

Like the classical Greeks, ancient Chinese believed that the world consisted of several elements. Moreover, Chinese philosophy uses this special conceptual scheme to explain a wide array of phenomena. If you come to the Chinese world, you’ll find with surprise that in the solar system Mercury is known as the Water Star 水星 (shuǐ xīng),Jupiter, the Wood Star 木星(mù xīng) and Saturn, the Earth Star 土星(tǔ xīng)…

If you have a fever, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine would describe your skin (which belongs to Metal) as not working well.  As you would be lacking in Metal, a Wood medicine would be prescribed. From cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicines, you can see the Five Elements everywhere.

With the rise and fall of the five elements, nature changes and the fate of people flows. The universe constantly circulates. Humans have tried hard to explain why. The Chinese Five Elements are a kind of crystallization of human wisdom.