The Metal element enhances mental acuity and independence, and strengthens presence of mind, even in times of stress. Too much Metal creates mental rigidity, stubbornness, lack of teamwork, and the inability to compromise; while too little Metal promotes indecisiveness, procrastination, and confusion.
The Metal element is found in:
· all metals, including stainless steel, copper, brass, iron, silver, aluminum, and gold.
· cement, rocks, and stones—including marble, granite, and flagstone.
· natural crystals and gemstones.
· art and sculpture made from metal or stone.
· circular, oval, and arched shapes.
· white and light pastel colors.
The Earth element enhances physical strength, sensuality, order, practicality, and stability. Too much Earth in a home creates an atmosphere that is heavy, serious, or conservative, while too little of the Earth element promotes instability, clutter, and chaos.
The Earth element is found in:
· adobe, brick, and tile.
· ceramics and earthenware objects.
· square and rectangular shapes.
· art portraying earthy landscapes, such as deserts or fertile fields.
· yellow and all earthtones.
Energetically, the Wood element fosters your intuition, creativity, flexibility, and expansion. When there’s too much Wood in an environment, it can promote a sense of being overwhelmed and a feeling of overcommitment, while too little Wood can stagnate growth and impede intuitive and creative flow.
The Wood element is found in:
· wooden furniture, paneling, and accessories.
· all plants and flowers, including silk, plastic, and dried plant material.
· plant‑based cloth and textiles such as cotton and rayon.
· floral upholstery, wall coverings, draperies, and linens.
· art portraying landscapes, gardens, plants, and flowers.
· columnar shapes, such as pillars, pedestals, and poles.
· blue and green tones
When the dominating element is Wood:
Bring in the Controlling element of Metal,
Highlight with Earth and Fire,
Refine as needed with touches of Water.
When the dominant element is Fire:
Bring in the Controlling element of Water,
Highlight with Metal and Earth,
Refine as needed with touches of Wood.
When the dominant element is Earth:
Bring in the Controlling element of Wood,
Highlight with Metal and Water,
Refine as needed with touches of Fire.
When the dominant element is Metal:
Bring in the Controlling element of Fire,
Highlight with Water and Wood,
Refine as needed with touches of Earth.
When the dominant element is Water:
Bring in the Controlling element of Earth,
Highlight with Wood and Fire,
Refine as needed with touches of Metal.
In the Controlling Cycle, we see how the elements dominate and control each other. In this cycle, Wood consumes Earth; Earth dams Water; Water extinguishes Fire; Fire melts Metal; and Metal cuts Wood. The Controlling Cycle is regarded as a powerful guide for establishing elemental harmony, and is present in many of the places we consider the most beautiful. A palm tree oasis in the desert is a perfect example of Wood consuming Earth, while a tropical island in crystal-clear water is essentially Earth damming Water. Nature constantly provides us with examples of how the Controlling Cycle of the elements can create harmony and beauty.
It’s also very useful to be aware of the Controlling Cycle when you’re balancing the elements in your home. When one element is especially dominant, the Controlling Cycle will show you the element that can quickly balance the Ch’i. Once you have balanced the dominant element with its controlling partner, you can turn to the Nourishing Cycle and further refine your elemental work.
I worked with a home where the living room was dominated by Earth. The decor included square tile floors, stucco walls, dark beige-checked couches, brown chairs, small square area rugs in various earthtones, and many small earthenware accessories. The furniture was arranged in a tight square around a large rectangular table made up of ceramic tiles. On the wall behind the sofa hung a painting of the desert. So much Earth gave the space a heavy, boxed-in feeling, which matched the way the owners felt in their home.
To balance the Earth, they needed to first introduce the element that controlled Earth, which is Wood. They added turquoise pillows to the sofa, a large textured rug in blues and greens beneath the coffee table, and several large plants. Turning to the Nourishing Cycle, they fed the Wood element with Water by replacing their desert painting with a large mirror and adding a small tabletop waterfall. They also introduced the Metal element by framing that mirror in a gilt frame and arranging the plants in round metal pots. Lamplight, natural light, and touches of coral painted on their ceramics brought in plenty of Fire, which by nature strengthens Earth.
They also opened up the boxy “Earthy” furniture arrangement by turning the two brown chairs at a diagonal, giving them a peripheral view of the door. As a finishing touch, they ran a turquoise table runner diagonally across the coffee table to soften two of the corners. With these changes, their once-constricted living room became very comfortable, inviting a more spontaneous and enjoyable lifestyle.
Elemental extremes abound in our architecture and rooms. Monochromatic motifs, and the constant repeating of one shape, are two things I often see in people’s homes. Although the effect may be perceived as quite trendy or dramatic, most people will not find comfort there, because on the elemental level, one is dominating while the others are missing. Remember, your ultimate goal is to bring all Five Elements into balance in every room. It’s remarkable to witness the difference this makes in the perceived comfort of a room.