The 5 Elements of Traditional Feng Shui

In traditional feng shui, practitioners only use the 5 Chinese alchemical elements to harmonize the qi of a space. In most cases, the actual element is preferred over the use of its associated color, as the color is less energetic than the actual element. These 5 elements are intentionally placed within specific sectors of a space, according to the individual and unique qi map of that space.

Traditional feng shui does not use the same grid map for all spaces. The unique qi map is calculated for each space using precise calculations and formulas based on the construction year of the building and the precise compass direction to which the building sits.

So, what are the 5 alchemical elements of traditional feng shui? In what situations are each element recommended? Read on for a very brief and general explanation to each element’s use.


Wood is represented in the form of trees and large potted plants, think floor plants with large green leaves. It is also represented as the color green, in all its glorious shades and tints. Wooden furniture is not considered a wood remedy, as the wood is considered dormant, not living.

Wood is generally recommended when fire qi needs to be supported and/or when water qi needs to be diminished. If we find a situation where water qi is dominating fire qi, then we place a wood remedy in that sector of the space, to support the fire qi and diminish the water qi.


Fire is represented in the form of fire colors. Traditional feng shui does not recommend the actual use of fire. An obvious reason being the safety of the space’s occupants. Secondly, for fire, or any element, to be effective, it must be radiating its elemental energy 24/365, and at the appropriate strength. We cannot create such intensity of fire energy by utilizing candles and fireplaces etc., nor would we want to burn them 24/365 and unattended. Thus, we utilize “fire colors” of red, burgundy, purple, red-orange and their varying shades and tints. The more intense the hue, the more intense the energy emitted.

Fire as a remedy is generally indicated when we want to subdue the wood qi and/or support the earth qi. If we detect a situation in which the wood element is dominating the earth element, we will add fire colors to this sector of the space to support the earth element and diminish the wood element.


Earth is represented in the forms of terra cotta, crystals, flowers, bricks, ceramics, etc. It is also represented by the colors, brown, yellow, yellow orange, and their various shades and tints.

Earth is generally indicated as a remedy when fire qi needs to be tamed and/or metal qi requires support. In situations where we identify that fire is dominating metal, we add earth to subdue the fire qi and enhance the metal qi.

Additionally, earth is required to remedy a Double Facing House type, and a Reversed House type.


Metal is represented in the forms of loose change, metal art, sculptures, weights, and the like. Brass, iron, steel, copper, gold, and silver are common forms that metal takes. It is also represented by the colors white, gray, silver, and gold; however, the colors are rarely strong enough to render the strength of the remedy necessary. Additionally, metal is the most common elemental remedy. A topic for another post 🙂

Metal is generally indicated as a remedy in sectors where the earth qi requires correcting and/or where water qi requires support. In spacial sectors where we find that earth qi is dominating water qi, we place a metal remedy to support the water qi and reduce the earth qi.


Water is represented as water fountains, pet drinking fountains, and aerated fish tanks. The important factors of water are that it must be moving 24/365, and it must be able to communicate with the energies of the space in which it is placed. In other words, it cannot be standing water and it cannot be covered. Water is also represented by the colors blue and black, and their varying shades and tints.

Water is generally indicated as a remedy to support wood qi or to diminish metal qi. In situations where we identify a domination of metal qi over wood qi, we place a water remedy to support the wood qi and weaken the metal qi.

Each year, there are two directions for which everyone can place water to enhance prosperity; we call these Universal Water Directions. Additionally, water is required to remedy a 1 year or 20 year “lock” on a house or building. It is also required to correct a Double Sitting House type, and a Reversed House type.

It’s all Elemental!

Traditional feng shui is a simple concept; harmonize the energies of a space utilizing the 5 Chinese alchemical elements. Pretty straight forward, right? However, the process in determining which elements are to be placed in which spacial sectors is a complicated and precise process. It requires intuition and calculated formulas. It takes into account the energies of the space itself, the personal energies of all occupants, the energies from interior and exterior influences, and the influences from the changing annual energy.

Even so, life is complicated, as are the energies of qi. Feng shui is a multi-layered metaphysical practice. We start with the Comprehensive Appraisal and annually adjust for the change in energies; however, we keep in mind that we are dealing with forces of Nature and we do our best to respectfully harmonize these forces, through the feng shui appraisal process, to create an environment that best supports the current occupants.

Additionally, remedying the space with the 5 elements is only a part of the comprehensive appraisal. Traditional feng shui also includes determining each individual’s personal directions for optimal sleep, focus, and relationships.

Contact me to schedule your Comprehensive Appraisal. Comprehensive Appraisals can be conducted remotely, if necessary. Visit my website to learn more.

Published by Lindsey Foose

Lindsey is a Wellness Empowerment Coach and the founder of Zententional Living. She is the author of Awaken your Zenses, Nature Meditations and Mantras. She is a Level II Reiki practitioner, traditional Feng Shui practitioner, and Essential Oils Specialist dedicated to empowering individuals and families to live mindfully through intentional practices of self-care and self-healing. Visit to learn more! Follow on Instagram and Facebook via @zententionalliving

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