Wouldn’t you love a bit of insight into yourself and your loved ones? Whether it’s tarot cards, Ayurvedic doshas, Jungian archetypes, or the Myers-Briggs personality assesment - we all want to know more about ourselves.
I’ve been really enjoying Dondi Dahlin’s work and fresh take on 5 element theory. Here’s a link to her quiz!. Although the psychology of Traditional East Asian medicine over 2,000 years old, it was transmuted by the groundbreaking work of Professor JR Worsley and continues to evolve.
Remember - life is never as tidy as a short quiz on the internet. Within each element there are both excess and deficiency conditions (for example - excess fire can appear as mania and deficient fire can appear as depression). Also - different times in our lives call for the greater expression of one element, such as the nurturing Earth element after having a baby.
Still, most of us are predominantly working with the themes of one or two elements. This helps to explain why even siblings raised in similar circumstances react so differently to the same conditions.
Enjoy! And if you’ve received treatment with me, send a note or comment below with your quiz results so we can compare them to my observations!
Here is some more on each element:
Metal Element: (Associated with: Autumn, Lung/Large Intestine & Grief)
Metal is precise, systematic, meticulous and judgmental. It represents our ability to be even tempered and to control our emotions. Taken too far this can lead to inflexibility - physically as well as in our thinking and temperament. The emotion of metal is grief and the sound is weeping. Pathologically it can manifest as the inability to move on from a sad experience, to cry too much, or be unable to cry. The Lungs are the most vulnerable organ, this can make a metal dominant person prone to catching colds, developing asthma, or lymphatic congestion. This is the element that can allow us to feel things internally before they manifest, and is linked to premonitions. Healthy metal thrives on order, communication, and has a generally positive view. Under stress, we can become constricted, reserved and withdrawn, prone to pessimism.
The color associated with Metal is white, like the fire used to forge steel.
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Water Element: (Associated with Winter, Kidneys/ Bladder & Fear)
Water is the beginning of all life, and this is the element of endurance - of the deep reserves we pass on to future generations. Associated with winter, Water represents our ability to conserve energy, reflect, and consolidate resources.
Self reflection can be unknown territory without clear boundaries - and the emotion of Water is fear. Processing this fear is where strength and courage are forged. Water dominant personalities can be shy, timid, and less engaged with others. They may appear as dreamers or philosophers, lost in their own worlds. In extreme cases, this can turn to phobias, or depression. A strong and harmonious water element is determined, resourceful, prudent, unwilling to waste energy on what is unnecessary. Deficient Water feels apathetic and powerlessness, is easily discouraged, lacks confidence, and retreats from life. Someone with excess Water has unrestrained will. They are restless and driven, unsettled, work too much, and are compelled by insecurity to succeed at any cost. They will eventually deplete Qi and burn out. (Adrenal Fatigue)
Both Excess and Deficient Water Conditions are rooted in fear. Either the fear is external, or the fear is internal, of deficiency and failure.
The color associated with Water is dark blue or black, like the dark surface of a lake.
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Wood Element: (Associated with Spring, Liver/Gallbladder, & Anger)
Spring is the season of rebirth. The wood element is teeming with creative force. Wood is the timekeeper looking into the future, always planning ahead. The sensory outlet of wood is the eyes, enabling us to look into the future and be optimistic. Wood is affected by the emotions of others and can be very empathetic, however Wood people are also susceptible to addictions. The Wood element likes to be in charge, first in line, ahead of others. It’s energy moves up like a tree and the emotion is anger, which is why pathologically Wood people can be prone to headaches, high blood pressure, outbursts of anger, repressed anger or the inability to feel anger.
Wood rules the sinews and tendons and thrives on exercise. If Liver Qi becomes stagnant, we may experience: spasm, distention, constriction, pain, upset stomach, constipation, headaches, PMS, painful menses, nervous tension & frustration, moodiness, & irritability. Deficient Wood types lack purpose and assertiveness, and experience disharmony stemming from unexpressed anger and resentment. Excess Wood types can be rigid, compulsive, controlling, or explosive.
The color associated with Wood is green, like a new shoot in the spring.
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Fire Element: (Associated with Summer, Heart/Small Intestine, & Joy)
The Fire element burns bright - and is excited, creative and idealistic. As the most Yang of the elements, it fluctuates between extreme expressions of life. Fire loves strongly, but can be deeply wounded. The dominant emotion of fire is joy, but easily becomes over-excitement or anxiety. The tongue is the sensory outlet and when the heart is out of balance this element is prone to inappropriate speech or laughter. Pathologically, fire imbalance can manifest as sleep issues, hot flashes, and heart pain. Fire has the most exuberant expression of Qi, like a flower - it represents radiance, attraction & fulfillment.
Someone with deficiency of Fire lacks enthusiasm, vibrancy & affection, becoming apathetic or despondent. This can turn into emotional insecurity and distance. An excess of Fire is an agitation of the heart which can appear as palpitations, night sweats, or insomnia. Note that menopause is a time of relative Fire excess and Yin deficiency, and is considered normal and treatable in this system of medicine.
The color of the Fire element is red, like ripe strawberries and roses.
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Earth Element: (Associated with Late Summer, Spleen/Stomach, & Worry)
Earth is about balance, it is the great harmonizer. The associated organs lie in the center and metabolize food as well as emotions, information and experiences. How we take in life and transform it for our growth is the concern of Earth. Pensiveness or worry is the related emotion. Excessive thinking can lead to obsession and distress, taxing this element. Earth is the nourisher, the caretaker, the mother in us all. An earth dominant person out of balance can care for others to the detriment of their needs. Emotionally, this can be expressed as either an excessive need for support, or a fixation on caring for everyone else. Earth deficient types struggle to contain themselves. Healthy boundaries are important for this element.
Earth governs the flesh and prefers sweet flavors. Balance is important as there is a tendency to either over or under nourish, leading to issues with weight.
The color of the Earth element is yellow, like fields of ripe wheat or corn in late summer.
I hope that these ways of seeing yourself and the world are becoming more familiar as you learn and expand. May you find comfort in each season!