5-Element Theory comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine and was used as a way of explaining natural phenomena as well as processes within the body.
The 5-Elements are: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and they are usually depicted in a circle with Fire on the top and the rest following in this order.
There are three patterns of energy at work here:
- the Shen Cycle, also called the mother-daughter relationship as each element feeds the one that comes after it in a clockwise direction: fire creates earth from its' ashes, earth creates metal ore within it, metal creates water through condensation, water grows trees, and wood feeds fire.
- The KO cycle, also called the grandmother-granddaughter relationship as each element exerts a controlling influence on the element 2 away from it in a clockwise direction: fire melts metal, metal chops wood, wood penetrates earth, earth contains water, and water douses fire.
- The last energy flow is between Meridians within the same element: each element is associated to 2 meridians (with 4 associated to Fire Element) divided in Yang and Yin.
These three patterns generate a “dynamic equilibrium”: if the system is working normally, everything constantly changes but homeostasis is maintained.
Many modalities work by restoring balance in the flow of energy from one element to another.