Feng Shui & Five Elements

Feng Shui and the Five Elements

Feng shui uses a system of five elements to classify forces of nature and their transformations. The five-element system is an ancient Chinese system using the elements of fire, water, earth, wood and metal. These five elements can be used to classify types of artwork, personalities, food and much more!

Five Elements Feng Shui Graphic

Table of Contents

Introduction to Feng Shui

Feng shui is a 5,000 year old art aimed at aligning buildings with the fundamental forces of nature, is a unique approach to indoor environments. Feng shui works much like acupuncture, using “cures” to reestablish the proper energy flow in a building. This is done by  by removing energy blockages and stimulating stagnant areas.

According to this system, each area of the home relates to an area in our lives. By increasing the energy, or chi, in these areas, a corresponding improvement can take place in the life of the occupant. Instead of acupuncture needles, it uses objects as diverse as wind chimes, mirrors, plants, fountains, lights and crystals.

One of the most exciting aspects of feng shui is creating healthy environments by imitating the balance of the five elements that occurs in appealing outdoor settings. Adding an indoor pond to your front entrance, a large mural of a forest to the wall of your living room, or stars and constellations to the ceiling of your bedroom can give your home and your life a significant boost!

Some aspects of feng shui are common sense. For example, removing clutter from your home makes accidents less likely. Other aspects of it have been researched scientifically. In any case, an understanding it deepens our understanding of our own lives and psychology and can lead to a more energetic and vibrant life in every way.

Major Types of Feng Shui

There are three major types of feng shui. The Form School emphasizes the building site and the shape of the surrounding landscape. The Compass School is similar to western astrology and focuses on mathematical calculations related to the direction the building faces. The Black Hat School uses the building’s entrances as key elements in determining the energy flow.

The Black Hat School has evolved through geographic and historical stages in India, Tibet and China. Now the most popular form in America, proponents of the Black Hat School claim that this approach is the most aesthetic, intuitive and spiritual.

By orienting a building around the main entrance, the Black Hat approach it quickly establishes nine power areas. This configuration, known as the bagua, divides the building into areas related to wealth, fame, marriage, children/creativity, helpful people/travel, career, knowledge and family.

The ninth area is representative of health and is in the center of the home. Since health is often a combination of social, psychological and physical factors, this central position is affected by all of the other areas.

Nature Symbols Mountains

Springtime in the Mountains by Kathleen Karlsen
See All Art and Products

Nature Symbols and Feng Shui

The five-element form of feng shui classifies various aspects of interior design according to their relationship to the predominant forces in nature. The Chinese five element system views wood, fire, earth, metal and water as the primary natural elements.

Homes and interior decorative objects may be balanced through it with one or more of the five elements in the following ways: using the actual element for construction (i.e. wood), using something that is symbolic of the element (i.e. fountain) and using colors or shapes representing the element.

The five-element system of feng shui is both a philosophical and practical approach to assessing human wellness on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. This unique classification system helps to explain patterns of behavior and how our own energy levels mirror the transformational cycles in the natural world.

By analyzing your compatibility with the five elements-wood, fire, water, earth, and metal-you can determine excesses or deficiencies in these energies in your personality and your surroundings. Understanding the five elements and balancing them through the use of this can thereby increase your vitality. Let’s examine the five basic types of energy.

Vedic Five Element System

The Vedic five element system is similar to Chinese feng shui but developed separately in India. This system is known as Vastu. Vastu is used to determine the placement of buildings, the orientation of temples and other aspects of architecture and interior design.

Like feng shui, the Vedic system also uses the elements of water, earth and fire. However, There are a few key differences between Vastu and feng shui. The fourth and fifth elements in Vastu are space and air (rather than wood and metal). Space is sometimes referred to as ether.

In the Vedic system, there are sounds and deities associated with each element. Each deity has mantras and symbols to represent their unique energy. The summary below links to additional information about each element:

FIRE ELEMENT (Vedic System)

Natural Materials: leather, wool
Gems & Minerals: ruby, garnet, carnelian
Shape: triangle, pyramid, cone, radiant patterns
Artwork: animals, people, fire, lightning, sunshine, candles, fireplaces, campfires, wood stoves
Symbols: flames, animals
Quality: very yang
Colors: red, orange, yellow
Deities: Durga, Kali, Rama, Skanda

EARTH ELEMENT (Vedic System)

Natural Materials: soil, adobe, ceramics, tile, stucco, brick, wood, earthenware, rocks
Gems & Minerals: lapis, amber, jade, emerald, agate, diamond, bronze, gold, copper, silver
Shape: square, rectangle, plaid patterns, floral prints, stripes, scallops
Artwork: landscapes, mountains, hills, gardens, fruit, plants, flowers, herbs, trees, fields
Symbols: mountain, tree, lotus, goat, elephant
Quality: balanced
Colors: orange, brown, yellow, earth tones, purple
Deities: Ganesha, Indra

ETHER ELEMENT (Vedic System)

Natural Materials: lace, veils
Gems & Minerals: pearl
Shape: sphere, dome, unbounded patterns
Artwork: angels, stars, fairies, spiritual beings, astronomy, galaxies, universe
Symbols: stars, mythical or celestial beings
Quality: extremely yin
Colors: white, golden colors, rose
Deities: Isana

WATER ELEMENT (Vedic System)

Natural Materials: glass, crystals, sand, pebbles
Gems & Minerals: quartz, aquamarine, sapphire, turquoise
Shape: asymmetrical, free-flowing, curved, smooth, wave-like, circle, oval, ellipse
Artwork: rivers, rain, waterfalls, oceans, streams, lakes, ponds, water basins, mirrors, birdbaths
Symbols: turtles, water lilies
Quality: very yin
Colors: turquoise, aqua, blue, green, black
Deities: Lakshmi, Sundari, Vishnu, Krishna

AIR ELEMENT (Vedic System)

Natural Materials: fabric
Gems & Minerals: opal
Shape: amorphous, swirled patterns
Artwork: flags, kites, sailboats, tents
Symbols: birds
Quality: cool air/yin, hot air/yang
Colors: grey, dark blue, dark red
Deities: Hanuman, Shiva, Buddha, Saraswati

Feng Shui Five Element System

The five element form of feng shui classifies various aspects of interior design and feng shui artwork according to their relationship to the predominant forces in nature. The Chinese five element system views wood, fire, earth, metal and water as the primary natural elements. Homes, interior decor and feng shui artwork may be balanced through using one or more of the five elements.

Natural element systems describe the relationship between different energies and phenomena in the world around us. Many traditional cultures categorize various aspects of life according to a system of natural elements. Finding your natural element compatibility can help you to create an environment that is the most supportive and healing for yourself and those around you.

This can be done by using feng shui artwork depicting one or more of the five elements, by using the actual element for construction (i.e. wood), or by using something that is symbolic of the element (i.e. fountain) or by using colors or shapes representing the element. The water and wood elements interact with each other: water causes wood to grow and wood absorbs water.

Most people have affinity for a combination of natural elements. Knowing your natural element affinity can help you to adjust various aspects in your life for greater harmony. For example, if you feel cold and sluggish, you may want more of the fire element in the artwork around you. Images of the sun could be a good option. See Sun & Moon Art.

Achieving balance through five element feng shui is a matter of emphasizing one or more elements for an intended purpose. Each of the five elements support or nourish each other in some way and can also limit or control each other in other ways. Creating your own personal paradise in your surroundings with an appropriate balance of the five elements will result in a strong foundation for increased happiness and success in all areas of your life.

Universal Fire Symbolic Art

Universal Fire by Kathleen Karlsen
See All Products in Our Shop

The Fire Element

Fire energy is characterized by its ability to give off warmth and attract others. Predominately “fire” types place a great deal of emphasis on interpersonal relationships. According to five element feng shui, they are romantic and idealistic, enthusiastic and emotional.

Fire energy is the energy of life, represented by sunshine, warm-blooded animals and people. To strengthen your fire energy, art including people and animals is appropriate. On the other hand, if you tend to be overly excited and overly dependent on relationships with others, fire energy can be balanced by emphasizing the other four elements, especially water.

The Earth Element

The earth element is able to absorb excesses of the other elements. Earth personalities are forgiving and compassionate. Earth types are wonderful friends and great listeners. Earth types have an affinity for ceramics, tile, stucco, bricks and adobe. To strengthen earth energy, use depictions of deserts, fields, and farms.

Silver and Gold Nature Art Metal Element

Silver and Gold by Kathleen Karlsen
See All Products in Our Shop

The Metal Element

Metal is characterized by exceptional strength and endurance. According to the traditions of feng shui, people with metal as their predominant compatibility are disciplined and strong-willed. Metal types are often creative and seek to out picture the highest aspirations of life in their work and art. To strengthen metal energy, chose images that include majestic mountains that are firmly grounded but reaching towards the heavens.

Achieving balance through five element feng shui is a matter of emphasizing one or more elements for an intended purpose. Each of the five elements support or nourish each other in some way and can also limit or control each other in other ways. Feng shui elements and symbols are sometimes called cures.

Metals are used to enhance, control and balance energy within a home or office. The metal element is represented by rocks, stones and metallic colors or objects including bronze, copper, gold and silver. Design motifs for metals are smooth, rounded patterns akin to the fluid forms that metals take when melted. Metals have a very yang quality, helping to attract physical wealth and abundance into your life.

The natural materials associated with the metal element are rock, stone and anything metallic. The gems and minerals used as symbols for metal are diamond, bronze, gold, copper and silver. The shape associated with the metal element is a circle.

The reason for this is that metal can be melted into a myriad of shapes, often including circular aspects: snaps, nail heads, screws, bolts, and washers. Although metal is solid when cooled, one of the most important aspects in terms of feng shui symbols is its ability to take any shape when molten. When cooled, metal is usually smooth rather than textured. Thus, the design motif is smooth, rounded patterns.

Using Metal in Interior Design

Metal decor has become a permanent part of modern homes. Stainless steel appliances, light fixtures and metallic frames for artwork are all part of popular decor. Decorative metal wall art has long been used in professional or commercial settings such as banks, airports and offices. Now metal décor is moving firmly into the home.

Metal décor can have a cold, harsh feel if not balanced by softer colors and other elements such as wood and fire. Metal décor can also be created through artwork featuring some of the newer metallic paints. Artwork can depict the metal element in static form or in molten, liquid form.

Metal decor adds touches of excitement in businesses and homes. Metal decor can work well in bathrooms and kitchens, complementing the faucets and appliances. Metal decor can also add sparkle and fun to game rooms, bedrooms and entranceways. 

The Metal Element in Artwork

Feng shui metals can make for very exciting images. The possibilities for images of metals in a liquid state are infinite. Images can concentrate on one or two metals or depict multiple metals so that the colors can blend and contrast with each other for greater visual interest.

Metals in smooth, flowing patterns can symbolize the ease with which abundance can flow into your life when your energy is aligned with a deep purpose that benefits life. Consider putting a painting featuring metallic colors where the sunlight will reflect on the surface and add a shimmer to the room.

Artwork containing feng shui symbols for the metal element include metal or stone sculptures. Artwork actually depicting solid or molten metals is another powerful way to bring this element into your environment. The use of arches, archways, and arched bridges will also bring this symbol into whatever space is occupied by the arched form.

The Metal Element as a Symbol of Wealth

Using gold leaf in art has been the ultimate symbol of wealth and affluence for centuries. The palaces of kings, queens and empowers has been graced with metal decor throughout history. Now even the most modest home can feature artwork and other decor emphasizing the metal element. Add some sparkle to your life and to your home or office!

Metal decor symbolizes permanence and is appropriate for all genders. The metal element can be symbolic of longevity and lifelong promises or commitments. Metal represents achievement: golden anniversaries and the completion of a career (i.e. the gold watch). Metallic paint graces trophies and plaques given in honor of accomplishments and success. 

Feng shui metals are especially useful for home offices and kitchens since these are the places where you usually want to expand your money (particularly gold and silver) or the abundance of your food. Feng shui metals can include artwork created using metallic paints, objects made of these metals or photographs of metallic objects.

Metals in a free-flowing form are more powerful than solid items created from metal. This is because an images of metals in liquid form adds to the symbolism of wealth flowing into your life. An image of flowing metals also helps to counterbalance the coldness often associated with metals.

Colors and Symbols for the Metal Element

The quality of metal as a feng shui symbol is yang. This is one of the most concentrated of feng shui symbols next to fire. Depictions of molten metal are more yang than images or objects that are solid metal. The colors for the metal element include gold, bronze, silver and copper. Other colors associated with the metal element are white, light blue, light pink and violet. All of these colors symbolize transformation and the ability to take a new shape or form.

The feng shui symbols for the metal element also include the tiger as the most prominent element. The tiger is featured prominently in Chinese mythology and ranks second behind the lion as a badge of military rank. The strength of the tiger combined with feline stealth make this animal a fearsome enemy but a tremendous ally. The tiger is also a symbol for fighting hard to maintain a friendship. See more on metal personalities below.

A fortunate Wind Painting with Ocean and Ship

A Fortunate Wind by Kathleen Karlsen
See All Products in Our Shop

The Water Element

Water has the ability to change effortlessly without losing its essential character. In five element feng shui, water types are resourceful and single-minded, flowing over problems like a river. Water types also have the ability to pool their resources to be in a position of strength when opportunities arises.

The feng shui symbols associated with the water element reflect the ideas of clarity and reflection. The feng shui symbols in the natural materials category are glass and crystals. Placing crystals or glass objects in a room will help to increase the water energy. The gems and minerals associated with the water element are quartz, aquamarine and sapphire. The connection is the clear of blue colors in these gems.

The art that is useful for strengthening the water element depicts rivers, waterfalls or the ocean. Any design with asymmetrical, flowing shapes or curved lines is representative of water. The feng shui symbols for the water element in terms of shape include all free flowing shapes such as irregular circles. Think of the shapes that a lake or a body of water night take. Likewise, design motifs for the water element would be smooth, flowing patterns without angles or straight edges. To bring water symbolism into your environment, you can incorporate glass, crystals, fountains or mirrors.

Structures that can serve as feng shui symbols for water include mirrors, birdbaths, fountains and aquariums. Be careful with mirrors that the object being reflected are objects that you want to increase in your life. For example, you might want to have a mirror in your kitchen that reflects that stove or dining table so that an abundance of food will be emphasized. You would not want a mirror placed where it would reflect an alley, a bathroom or a place for garbage disposal.

The quality of the water element is very yin, meaning that it is very light, feminine and expansive. The feng shui symbols for water in the animal kingdom are tortoises. To multiply this effect, statues often include multiple tortoises, such as smaller tortoises riding on the back of larger tortoises. The colors associated with the water element are black, blue and grey.

The Wood Element

Wood energy is constantly in motion, driven to grow and expand like the green shoots bursting forth in spring. A person with a predominantly “wood” personality seeks new challenges and adventures. The wood element represents intuition, luck, confidence, and trust. 

Wood personalities tend to be competitive, bold, direct and ambitious. If you desire to strengthen the qualities of wood in your personality, the most appropriate art would include landscapes, florals, and gardens. Abstract art utilizing the colors of wood and mimicking the patterns of bark, growth rings or other aspects of wood would also be useful.

Wood is associated with the colors green and brown. The wood element is also associated with the tiger and rabbit in the Chinese zodiac. In the constructive/destructive cycles of nature, metal cuts wood and wood moves earth.

Understanding the creative and destructive cycles of nature also help to balance the elements by increasing or decreasing one or more elements. For example, if an environment has too much wood, you can decrease the wood element by adding feng shui artwork featuring the metal element.

Beyond the Five Feng Shui Elements

There are some elements that go beyond the five basic elements, creating a larger set of nine elements. These elements could be viewed as etheric or spiritual. In some cases, they are subsets of one of the five elements. For example, the element called “lake” is s subset of the water element. The element of “mountain” is connected to the earth element. The four additional elements are lake, mountain, heaven and wind.

The lake element is a unique combination of characteristics that can be used to add subtle accents or energies to an indoor environment. Natural materials associated with lakes include sand and pebbles. The oval shape corresponds well with the lake element but is not as aligned with other bodies of water such as the ocean or rivers.

Likewise, the mountain element is connected to the triangle shape whereas the earth element is associated with a square. Mountain structures include A-frame homes and teepees. The mountain goat is the animal that corresponds to the mountain element. on the other hand, the lotus flower represents the earth.

The heaven element can be expressed with materials like lace and veils. Images of angels, celestial beings and the universe bring the heaven element into indoor spaces. Colors associated with heaven are white and gold and the structure is a dome.

The element of wind can be symbolized by swirling patterns and depictions of flags, kites and sailboats. The animals associated with the wind are the many species of birds that grace the sky. The wind has no definite shape.

Complete Chart of Feng Shui Elements

Click for a full size PDF of the Complete Feng Shui Element Chart.

Feng Shui Element Chart

Feng Shui Tips for Apartment Dwellers

Feng Shui is also known as the art of placement or the art of flow and has been updated for modern environments. This ancient practice helps to maintain positive energy in living spaces. The tips below will help to make your apartment a special space for everyone who enters!

The science is based on an outline called the bagua, a grid that represents major areas of our lives in indoor spaces. Using the bagua can help enhance your relationships, creativity, wealth or knowledge. For example, as you stand at the entry to your home or apartment, the far-left corner represents your area of wealth and prosperity. Tips to enhance this corner include items that represent richness to you, such as gold items and the use of the colors red and purple.

Apartment dwellers have special challenges to meet. The entryway to your smaller home should be open and create a welcoming feeling. Make use of all the natural light you can and install good lighting so there are no dark corners. Create definite pathways between your areas of activity, even if your bed is in the living room.

This can be accomplished by using curtains, screens or tall plants. Rather than large, heavy furniture in smaller spaces, use lightweight furniture such as wicker or items with clean lines. A few green plants can refresh the space and properly placed mirrors, reflecting the outdoors, can expand the space.

Walls can be painted vibrant and uplifting colors. Inspiring pieces of art and objects of beauty will enhance your environment. Walk through your apartment and make sure that all the areas represent you and give you a feeling of positive energy.

Feng Shui Colors for Success

Feng shui colors are related to each of the five elements. Colors can be incorporated in your environment for greater balance and success through painted walls, artwork, furniture, and other accessories. Different rooms in your home or workplace can benefit from a balance of feng shui colors with particular rooms emphasizing one set of colors over another.

An intimate living room might emphasize fire colors while a peaceful bedroom might emphasize water element colors. Offices and places where business is conducted can benefit from the use of metallic colors representing wealth and success. Recommendations for colors can vary from practitioner to practitioner, but the following are generally agreed upon:

Fire Element Colors

Colors for the fire element are all shades of red and orange. An environment strong in feng shui colors for the fire element supports those who are passionate about life and relationships. Fire needs to be balanced with water (black, blue, and gray). Excesses of the fire element can cause problems with the heart and small intestines.

Earth Element Colors

The earth element is orange, brown and yellow. The earth element is able to absorb excesses of the other elements. Earth personalities are very supportive and helpful in all of their relationships. To keep the earth element from stagnating, also include the wood element and water elements to give the energy a place to grow and flourish. Use other colors for accents such as artwork featuring metals and water element colors.

Metal Element Colors

The metal element is gold, silver, copper, bronze, white, violet, pink and light blue. The metal element is characterized by discipline, strength and endurance. Metal can be molded into almost any shape when liquefied by the fire element.

Try to include fire (shades of red and orange) in a strong metal environment. Artwork emphasizing the molten state of metal is always useful. Metal personalities are idealistic and intent on quality in everything they do and everything around them.

Water Element Colors

The water element is black, blue, and gray. The water element needs to be balanced with warmth and fire. Excess water element and excess feng shui colors for water can result in cooling or freezing conditions such as arthritis. Using water colors in your environment can create a place for meditation or introspection.

A strong water environment helps you to “pool your resources” to achieve great things. On the emotional level, too much water element and too much of the water-related colors can lead to depression, brooding and a sense of foreboding

Wood Element Colors

Colors for the wood element are all shades of green and blue. Wood energy is constantly moving and growing. The wood element needs to be balanced with metal or fire. Both earth and water colors will feed the wood energy, possibly leading to greater imbalances.

Environments predominantly featuring wood colors and wood energy are places of strength, encouraging clear and direct communication and bold action. Wood energy needs to be balanced so that it does not become overly aggressive.

Finding Your Element

Individuals may have affinities for one or more of the feng shui elements. The factors in the list below will help you to decide which elements are part of your own fundamental nature. This helps you to choose colors, images and structures in your environment that will bring the optimal balance in your life. For example, metal types may want to soften their environments with earth, water and wood. 

Click for a full size PDF of the Five Element Personality Survey.

The following information can be used as a survey. See which of the descriptions in each section fit you best. You may not fit all the characteristics listed for a particular element. Pick the one that has the closest correlation to your physique and personality.

Keep track of your score separately or print out the PDF linked above to get a total tally for wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The highest score is your predominant compatibility. The next highest score is your secondary compatibility.

Then experiment with balancing your compatibilities with the symbols, colors and other aspects of the elements in your environment in the Complete Feng Shui Element Chart. If you have health issues, please consult a qualified practitioner. This survey is for educational purposes only.

Physical Characteristics & Feng Shui Elements


□ Fire: graceful, willowy physique; long neck, hands and fingers
□ Earth: rounded physique with broad hips and shoulders; short hands and feet
□ Metal: asymmetrical physique; small bones with long arms, legs; narrow shoulders
□ Water: lean physique; narrow shoulders, wider hips; long fingers and toes
□ Wood: muscular, athletic physique; well-proportioned extremities


□ Fire: eyes predominant; delicate features; yellowish hue around mouth or temples
□ Earth: mouth and lips predominate
□ Metal: nose predominates; chiseled features
□ Water: ears predominate; darkish hue around or under deep-set eyes; sculptured features
□ Wood: jaw and chin predominate; greenish hue around eyes and mouth


□ Fire: soft, warm skin; acne, boils, rashes; red, blotchy or ashen complexion
□ Earth: soft, smooth skin
□ Metal: dry, itchy skin; scaly pimples on nose, cheeks; eczema, rashes or hives
□ Water: normal skin
□ Wood: thick, sometimes coarse skin; oily around the face, nose and scalp


□ Fire: rapid or irregular heartbeat; erratic pulse; heart palpitations when stressed
□ Earth: varicose veins, hemorrhoids; strokes
□ Metal: normal circulatory system
□ Water: low blood pressure
□ Wood: high blood pressure


□ Fire: speech problems; stammering, stuttering, slurring; speaking too quickly
□ Earth: normal sensory function
□ Metal: sensitivity to weather changes, especially excessive humidity or dryness
□ Water: hearing problems
□ Wood: blurred vision; dry, red, itchy or teary eyes; high-pitched ringing in ears


□ Fire: sore, inflamed, swollen or red tongue; diverticulosis (inflammation of colon)
□ Earth: gain weight easily; anorexia/bulimia; indigestion; acid stomach, ulcers
□ Metal: food allergies or sensitivities; diarrhea, constipation
□ Water: problems with teeth; excessive thirst
□ Wood: heartburn, constipation, ulcers; abdominal pain; difficulty swallowing


□ Fire: shallow breathing; spontaneous sweating, hot flashes; seizures
□ Earth: gum problems; hypoglycemia or diabetes; thyroid problems
□ Metal: chromic joint pain; brittle joints; inflexible or stiff spine
□ Water: sore feet; aching lower bac, tendency to “throw back out”; osteoporosis
□ Wood: tension in neck, shoulders, spine; cramps, twitches; muscle or tendon injuries


□ Fire: strong preference for bitter foods
□ Earth: strong preference for sweet/starchy foods
□ Metal: strong preference for pungent and spicy foods
□ Water: strong preference for salty foods
□ Wood: strong preference for sour foods


□ Fire: frequent urinary infections; sleep disturbances; dizziness and fainting spells
□ Earth: frontal headaches; misshapen nails and cuticles; thick mucus in sinuses
□ Metal: warts/moles; psoriasis; dry throat/nasal passages; sinus infections, bronchitis
□ Water: urinary/prostate problems; yeast infections; aching/swollen lower abdomen
□ Wood: sudden, sharp pains; cysts or lumps; nails split/crack; headaches, migraines

Emotional Characteristics & Feng Shui Elements


□ Fire: preference for red
□ Earth: preference for yellow
□ Metal: preference for white
□ Water: preference for blue or black
□ Wood: preference for green


□ Fire: preference for the season of summer; hot climates
□ Earth: preference for the season of late summer; damp climates
□ Metal: preference for the season of autumn; dry climates
□ Water: preference for the season of winter; cold climates
□ Wood: preference for the season of spring; windy climates


□ Fire: being alone or abandoned
□ Earth: being lost or far from home
□ Metal: crowds, corruption, chaos, contamination from others
□ Water: heights, water, people, darkness, death
□ Wood: loss of control; being helpless, confined, stuck, unable to move


□ Fire: overly emotional, doubt yourself; energy high between 11am and 3pm
□ Earth: difficulty being alone; eat when uncomfortable; energy high from 7-11pm
□ Metal: restrained, not spontaneous; appear unfeeling, energy high from 3-7am
□ Water: introverted; tendency towards depression; energy high from 3-7pm
□ Wood: impulsive, stubborn; tendency to anger; feel restless between 11pm and 3am

Psychological Characteristics & Feng Shui Elements


□ Fire: dreams of romantic encounters
□ Earth: dreams of houses, backyards and grassy fields
□ Metal: dreams of mountain peaks, snow; interior of boats, cars or trains
□ Water: dreams of lakes, rivers, oceans; dark, mysterious places and caves
□ Wood: dreams of forests, plants, competition, trying to reach a goal


□ Fire: charismatic, enthusiastic,  optimistic; thrive in stimulating environment; absentminded
□ Earth: problem solver, mediator; thrive in peaceful settings; may be disappointed or worry
□ Metal: efficient and methodical; organized, perfectionist; disciplined, dislikes superficiality
□ Water: prefers to work alone; patient, persevering; attentive and observant; intellectual
□ Wood: confident, moral, competitive, leader; workaholic; creative, risk-taker; bold


□ Fire: uncomfortable with conflicts; may be inappropriate; anxious, flustered
□ Earth: easily upset by conflict; needs stability; obsessive/compulsive tendencies
□ Metal: feels overwhelmed with sorrow or grief in difficult situations
□ Water: avoids social situations; values privacy; sense of dread in difficult situations
□ Wood: comfortable in conflicts and under pressure; enjoys public speaking and recognition


□ Fire: empathetic, intuitive, communicator; affected by others; enjoys intimacy
□ Earth: nurturing, likes to be needed; loyal, puts the needs of others first
□ Metal: content with a few close relationships or friends
□ Water: avoids intimacy; willing to be at odds with others for the sake of principles
□ Wood: direct and straightforward; critical; sometimes insensitive towards others

Fire Element Feng Shui

Fire Element Personality: The Radiant One

Fire types are passionate about life and relationships. If your predominant compatibility is with fire, you attract others through your warmth and intuitive empathy. Your sunny, summer-time disposition makes you popular in any crowd. You work hard at creating and sustaining relationships.

Your sensitivity to others is highly developed, and you often sense what others are thinking and feeling, sometimes even before they do! You are devoted to your loved ones and experience a great deal of pain when separated from them. You are idealistic and classically romantic, yearning for a relationship that fuses two hearts into one forever. You are enthusiastic, full of energy, vivacious, warm-hearted and emotional.

You constantly run the risk of losing a sense of self when you are deeply a  nd intensely involved in a primary relationship. You need to remain connected to friends, family and the larger community to maintain your balance. When your intelligence and passion are channeled, you are highly creative and may be gifted as a public speaker, actor, politician or writer.

Challenges for the Fire Element

You may have a tendency towards nervousness, agitation, and fidgeting. Problems arise for you when you feel disconnected from others or when you are constantly over excited or over stimulated. You need to set boundaries that will protect you and help to conserve your energy.

Excesses of the fire element can lead to irrational thoughts, phobias and fears. Restlessness, panic attacks, anxiety, heartburn and an accelerated heart rate can result. You may experience unpleasant mood swings and a lack of appetite. The heart and small intestines are the organs most affected by imbalances in fire energy.

If your fire energy becomes deficient, you may have a sense of lost direction, of being overwhelmed by circumstances or out of control. Eventually this can lead to emotional instability, depression and hopelessness.

Feng Shui for Fire Element Personalities

Creating an environment that gives you a place of retreat can be critical for replenishing your abundant natural energy. you need to be able to withdraw for precious moments of peace and quiet on a regular basis to refocus. In this way, your tremendous talents in communication will be nourished through a balance of opportunities for gentle self-care and self-reflection.

Earth Element Personality: The Peacemaker

Earth types are tolerant, forgiving and caring. If your predominant compatibility is with the earth element, you are naturally sympathetic and have great difficulty saying no to people in need. You are a wonderful friend, willing to listen to other people’s problems. You possess a good disposition and the necessary patience to go with it. You are a loving parent, a spokesperson for peace and cooperation, and the one who tries to create harmony in all situations.

People feel safe with you, and you establish connections with many different types of people. Kinship with others and companionship are essential for your health and happiness. You are thrown off-balance by discord and strife. Your own natural non-judgmental attitude makes you a fine teacher, especially for young children.

You are likely to derive a great deal of pleasure from gardening. You love to harvest your handiwork as gifts for others. In fact, you particularly enjoy the season of late summer, sometimes known as Indian summer. The familiar comforts of the seasons as well as your home environment give you a sense of grounding and stability.

Challenges for the Earth Element

Imbalances in earth energy often affect the stomach and spleen. These organs are related to your center of gravity as well as to physical digestion. If you allow the desire to solve other people’s problems to become an obsession, you may have little time to care for yourself.

This is a key signal that you are suffering from excess earth energy. The boundaries between yourself and others are no longer clearly defined. your natural need to nurture others can become a suffocating over-protectiveness for them and an energy drain for you.

Your natural concern for people and situations can also degenerate into constant worry and fretting. As a n earth type, you are likely to turn to food for gratification, especially sweets. you may be plagued by blood sugar problems such as hypoglycemia and have difficulty losing unwanted weight. You can become hypersensitive to criticism from others, have difficulty with changes and transitions, and feel sluggish in general.

If your affinity to the earth element becomes deficient, your connection to others becomes dependence on them rather than a desire to help. A fear of abandonment or deprivation can lead to deep emotional insecurities.

Feng Shui for Earth Element Personalities

Learning to take care of yourself is a key for the earth element personality. Using feng shui to create environments at home and at work that help you to maintain essential boundaries between yourself and others can be a tremendous aid for your ongoing well-being.

Metal Element Personality: The Artist

Metals are characterized by the qualities of strength, endurance, idealism, discipline and will. People with strong metals in their personality have high aspirations and are often involved in creative expressions that seek to uplift life. Metals draw the viewer to the core issues in life such as ethics, morality, philosophy, religion and the underlying principles revealed through the best of higher learning. Those with a strong affinity to metals seek quality rather than quantity in life.

Ideally, metal types have strong lungs, representing the ability to take life in and let go in a healthy, invigorating way. The element of metal can be symbolized by majestic, snow-capped mountains. Mountains are firmly grounded. At the same time, they reach towards the heavens. If your predominant compatibility is with meatal, your are precise and tranquil, yet adaptable to changing circumstances.

Metal types seek to develop their character through the study of culture and higher truth. You appreciate conciseness and have a special understanding of the temporary nature of life. You find the season of autumn exhilarating and refreshing. Metal types enjoy intellectual discussions. They avoid small talk and superficial chatter.

The organs most associated with metal energy are the lungs and large intestines. On both the physical and the emotional levels, meta types have to balance the ability to hold on and let go, to yield and demand, to give and take.

Challenges for the Metal Element

Too much metal can result in rigidity, tight scheduling and a level of order that inhibits rather than supports accomplishments in life. When metal energy is excessive, order and discipline are rigidly maintained. Rules and routines become inflexible. Emotions are kept under tight control. As a result, the body begins to stiffen and creativity becomes limited. In addition, the ability to maintain loving relationships is eroded.

Unfortunately, metal types may become even more rigid as they seek to regain control in their lives. They may turn towards the accumulation of material possessions, greater outward success or adhere irrationally to a fixed set of beliefs. This is an attempt to bolster a lack of self-esteem.

When the fluid strength of metal has hardened to become solid and unyielding, spine and joint problems can result. hay fever, allergies and respiratory symptoms can develop. Metal types can become highly uncomfortable with conflict and disorder, and sometimes fanatical about cleanliness.

If metal energy is deficient, the need for outside support begins to replace the native inner strength of the the metal personality. Criticism from others becomes unbearable. you begin to revert to social conventions such as good manners and surface beauty rather than adhering to a structure of deeper meaning.

Your immune function may suffer and you may become plagued by recurring or chronic illness. Rather than tightly scheduling every minute of the day, you need to create order in your life without going overboard.

Feng Shui for Metal Element Personalities

If you have problems with either your lungs or large intestines, images of metals could be beneficial for you. In particular, images of flowing metals can help to soften the rigid, cold aspect of metals. Order in your surroundings can be a key for your well-being. Arranging furniture, closets, and drawers, and decorating in a simple and esthetic fashion can help you to refocus on the core issues and personal meaning in your life.

Water Element Personality: The Philosopher

Water types have the ability to change effortlessly without ever losing their essential character. if your predominant compatibility is with water, you are resourceful, dependable and sing-minded in the pursuit of your goals. you have a strong sense of self and follow your path with purpose in spite of difficult or demanding situations.

Water types often have a spiritual focus in life, or at least a dedication to quiet introspection. If you are a water element personality, you are curious about the underlying mechanics of the world as well as the underlying meaning of life and are gifted with an active imagination. you are an intellectual and a visionary. Logic and analysis come naturally to you, including the solving of complex mathematical or political problems. 

You flower over problems like a river and have the ability to pool your resources and strengths when necessary. This puts you in a position of readiness and strength when the opportunity to move forward arises again.

The organs most associate with the water element are the kidneys. As the regulators of blood quality, the kidneys metaphorically supply the energy required to continue moving forward in life. Depression, coping difficulties and a sense of foreboding can result when the blood is not filtered and warmed sufficiently by the kidneys. 

Challenges for the Water Element

Excess water energy can result in a cooling or “freezing” effect. Arthritis, tumors and high blood pressure can result. on the emotional level, excess water energy can result in intolerance and a tendency to be overly opinionated. Refusing to change your course, you can become paranoid about the contrasting views of others and fear persecution. Eventually this can lead to antisocial tendencies, marked withdrawal from others and pessimism.

Deficient water energy types are melancholy and feel arid, empty and alone. Excessive dryness of the skin and mucus membranes can occur on the physical level, as well as deterioration in hearing and vision. Urinary or sexual problems can also arise.

The deficient water type can become absentminded. procrastination and laziness can replace the natural quality of single-mindedness. Although winter is the season with the most affinity for water element types, deficiency can result in an aversion to cold weather.

Feng Shui for Water Element Personalities

Water types need an environment where they can be undistracted.  quiet, still place of beauty aids contemplation on the deep mysteries of life. Water types need to maintain a connection to something greater than themselves, whether a higher power or a cause and means to creating a better world.

Water types need warmth in their environment, both literally and figuratively to maintain their fluidity. in this way, they can retain their native reservoir of energy.

Wood Element Personality: The Commander

Wood types are constantly in motion. They are driven to grow and expand like the green shoots bursting forth in spring. If your predominant compatibility is with wood, you appreciate being firmly grounded with deep roots at home. From this place of stability and strength, your potential is unlimited and you have the ability to succeed against all odds.

As a personality with a fundamental affinity to the wood element, you tend to seek out new challenges and adventures. You are bold and ambitious. You are direct and forceful, with clear and effective self-expression. At times you are fiercely and perhaps overly competitive.

You are adaptable and imbued with a sense of strength and purpose. You are blessed with insight, vision and the ability to plan ahead. Your determination is strong. You react to stress, frustration and injustice with anger. Releasing and channeling anger effectively is  key to maintaining your balance and pliability.

Challenges for the Wood Element

Problems arise for you when you live for long periods of time with chronic, unrelieved stress. This can be complicated by poor health habits: unhealthy diet, too many medications and lack of exercise. All of these poor habits will tend to burden your liver and gallbladder. A tendency towards impulsive or reckless behavior may result, as well as difficulties with decision-making.

When your affinity to wood becomes excessive and is not balanced by the qualities of the other five fundamental elements, you may become unpleasantly aggressive. You may cause damage to yourself and others by pushing ahead without adequate planning or thought. your behavior can become inconsiderate towards family and friends, but their protestations will only meet with angry self-defense and pointed denunciations.

Increasing physical and emotional distresses may test your independence and self-reliance. Physical symptoms can include tight or cramped muscles, migraine headaches and digestive disturbances. you may become exceedingly serious and have difficulty relaxing. you may become obsessed with a particular goal and develop self-destructive, workaholic tendencies.

If your affinity to wood becomes deficient, you may be faced with an internal weakening and eventual collapse. You have depleted your energy reserves and your personal power begins to wane. Rather than focusing anger outward, you may fall prey to inwardly-directed shame and humiliation. This will result in stagnation.

You may find your powers of concentration have lessened considerably and you are becoming exhausted and despondent. If your deficiency of wood energy is uncorrected for an extended period of time, sleep disturbances, allergies, eye problems and digestive difficulties can result.

Feng Shui for Wood Element Personalities

By recognizing possible wood-related imbalances within yourself and actively correcting them in your lifestyle and environment, you can quickly restore you native health and harmony. Items composed of metal or earth (clay, bricks) will help to tone down the excess wood energy. Fire can also be used in small amounts. This might involve using the color red or having images of the sun in prominent places in your home.

Kathleen Karlsen Video Resources Thumbnail

Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.

Share this article with a friend today!

Scroll to Top