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The Five Elements
Five Element Interaction
Usually known as the Five Elements,Wu Xing is also named the Five Movements, Five Phrases or Five Steps. The five elements are jin (metal), mu (wood), shui (water), huo (fire), tu (earth). The five elements in daily life were regarded as the foundation of everything in the universe and natural phenomena. They have their own characters and they can generate or destroy one other.

Generating Interaction (also begetting, engendering or mothering)
Metal generates water; water nourishes wood; wood feeds fire; fire creates earth/ash; earth bears metal.
Overcoming Interaction (also destruction)
Fire melts metal; metal chops wood; wood break up earth; earth absorbs water; water quenches fire.

In ancient China, newborn babies usually got their name from the 'eight characters of birth time' consisting of year, month, day and hour which is represented by two characters each, one character from the Heavenly Stems and one from the Earthly Branches. The four pairs of the birth time reveal the elements in one's life. Then the parents will give the baby a name containing the element, as compensation, which doesn't exit in the baby's eight characters. The tradition is still followed by some people nowadays.

Characteristics of the Five Elements
Wood – Benevolence
The wood pronounces the fate, lowliness or nobleness, representing extractive, luxuriant, brilliant, blooming, flourishing etc.
Fire – Propriety
The fire pronounces the feature, strength or softness, representing power, influence, bravery and intense.
Metal – Righteousness
The metal pronounces the life span, longevity or abortion, foretelling any penalties, dangers, difficulties and dead end.
Water – Wisdom
The water pronounces the talent, sage or fool, representing aptitude, brightness, agile mind and accuracy,
Earth – Fidelity/Honesty
The earth pronounces the status, rich or poor, representing the birth and growth of everything.

The Five Elements Grid

Elements Metal Wood Water Fire Earth
Zodiac signs (yang) Monkey Tiger Rat Horse Dragon/Dog
Zodiac signs (yin) Rooster Rabbit Pig Snake Ox/Sheep
Colors White Green Black Red Brown
Seasons Autumn Spring Winter Summer Intermediate
Hours 15-19 3-7 21-01 9-13 1-3,7-9,13-15,19-21
Directions West East North South Central
Organs (Yin) Lung Liver Kidney Heart Spleen
Organs (Yang) Large Intestine Gall Bladder Urinary Bladder Small Intestine Stomach
Sensory Organs Nose Eyes Ears Tongue Mouth
Diseases Dry Wind Cold Hot Wet
Tastes Spicy Sour Salty Bitter Sweet
Planets Venus Jupiter Mercury Mars Saturn
Heavenly Creatures White Tiger Green Dragon Black Tortoise Vermilion Bird Yellow Dragon
Heavenly Stems Geng Xin Jia Yi Ren Gui Bing Ding Wu Ji
Year Ends with 0, 1 4, 5 2, 3 6, 7 8, 9

As mentioned in the grid, the five elements can be regarded as the symbols of the five planets, Metal, Wood, Water, Fire Earth corresponding to Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Saturn. They are thought to be the ruling planets or elements affecting the compatibility between two astrological Chinese zodiac signs.