Earth (Wu Xing)
Wŭ Xíng (五行)
Earth is a balance of both yin and yang, the feminine and masculine together. Its motion is inward and centering, and its energy is stabilizing and conserving. It is associated with the color yellow and the planet Saturn, and it lies at the center of the compass in the Chinese cosmos. It is associated with the turn of each of the four seasons and with damp weather. It governs the Spleen, Stomach, mouth and muscles. Its negative emotion is anxiety and its positive emotion is empathy. Its Primal Spirit is represented by the Yellow Dragon. Colour Yellow, Golden (Sun)
The Chinese think Earth is associated with the qualities of patience, thoughtfulness, practicality, hard work, and stability. The earth element is also nurturing and seeks to draw all things together with itself, in order to bring harmony, rootedness and stability. Other attributes of the earth element include ambition, stubbornness, responsibility and long-term planning.
Earth plays an important role in Chinese astrology. In Chinese astrology earth is included in the 10 heavenly stems (the five elements in their yin and yang forms), which combine with the 12 Earthly Branches (or Chinese signs of the zodiac), to form the 60 year cycle. Yang earth years end in 8 (e.g. 1988), while Yin earth years end in 9 (e.g. 1989). Earth is the central balance of the elements and therefore lends qualities to all 12 animals as well.
The element earth is associated with the planet Saturn on account of its yellow color. However, some Western astrologers have suggested that the Western associations of Saturn give it greater affinity with the rigid, controlling Chinese element of Metal; while the Chinese conception of earth as a centring, harmonizing element has more in common with the Western notion of the planet Venus.
As I Ching and Feng Shui described, Earth generally contains all elements including Fire, Water, Wood and Metal. These four types of Earth are Earth-of-water (wet Earth), Earth-of-Fire (dry Earth), Earth-of-Metal (Wet Earth) and Earth-of-Wood (dry Earth).
Yellow, orange, beige and brown colors represent Earth.
Cycle of Wu Xing
In the controlling cycle, earth controls water by damming or absorbing it; wood can overcome it by breaking it up (by the roots).
In the conductive cycle, earth is produced by fire's ashes, and in turn melts to produce metal.
- 千古中医之张仲景. Lecture Room, CCTV-10.
- Wolfram Eberhard, A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols, pp238 -9, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1986