Wednesday, January 9, 2013

五行生克 Five elements Engender and Counter


Five elements Engender and Counter,

Perhaps of most readers are already familiar with the five elements - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, but many may not know that the five elements is already categorized into Yin and Yang before they were assigned Heavenly Stems.

According to ZPZQ,
木者少阳也 - Wood is young Yang
火者太阳也 - Fire is great Yang
金者少阴也 - Metal is young Yin
水者太阴也 - Water is great Yin


And earth is Yin and Yang, old and young, wood, fire, metal and water moving Qi combined. 

The are 2 types of interactions between the elements namely 
相生 (mutually engenders / generates / births / begets / mothers) 相克 (mutually counters / overcomes / suppresses / controls / fathers)

The word 相 mutually is not a good translation in English and is confusing. It takes into consideration all the five elements together and not just the two elements interacting with each other. So, let's just call the interactions 'engender' and 'counter'

The interactions of the five elements can summarized by the diagram above (taken from wikipedia)

Engendering interaction                     Countering interaction
Wood engenders Fire                           Wood counters Earth
Fire engenders Earth                            Fire counters Metal
Earth engenders Metal                        Earth counters Water
Metal engenders Water                       Metal counters Wood
Water engenders Wood                        Water counters Fire

These interactions are easy to memorize with a little tad of imagination. 

For the engendering interactions, it's easy to remember that
Wood fuels Fire
Fire produces Earth (when something is burnt to ash)
Earth produces Metal 
Cold metal allows Water condensation 
Water grows trees (wood)

For the countering interactions, it's easy to remember
Wood can part earth, like tree roots
Fire can smelt metal
Earth can contain or absorb water
Metal can break wood
Water can extinguish fire. 

The five elements could represent a number of things, wikipedia has a good table for this. 

势 Intensity

Each of the elements is given its own season, and the elements prosper in its own season. Seasons are important in determining how strong an element is in a chart. 

Wood in spring
Fire in summer
Earth on the last month of seasons
Metal in autumn
Water in winter.

In Spring, 
Wood is prosperous 旺 because it is its own season, prosperous is the strongest intensity. 
Fire is strong 相 because wood engenders Fire, strong is the next strongest intensity after prosperous.
Water is resting 休, as water engenders wood, wood drains water's intensity. Resting is considered as a weak intensity.
Metal is trapped 囚, as prosperous wood is difficult to be overcome by metal. Trapped is weaker than resting.
Earth is dead 死 because it is countered by prosperous wood. Dead is the weakest of all the intensities. 

In summer,
Fire is prosperous because it's in its own season.
Earth is strong because fire engenders earth
Wood is resting, as fire drains wood's intensity
Water is trapped
Metal is dead

On the last month of a season
Earth is prosperous at the end of the season, 
Earth is prosperous, metal is strong as earth engenders metal,
Fire is at rest,
Wood is trapped
Water is dead

In Autumn,
Metal has its own season so it's prosperous
Water is strong because metal engenders water
Earth is at rest
Fire is trapped
Wood is dead

In Winter
Water is prosperous
Wood is strong
Metal is at rest
Earth is trapped 
and Fire is dead. 

The five states of intensity - prosperous, strong, at rest, trapped and dead is important in determining how strong an element is in a Bazi chart, but it is not the sole factor, other factors must be taken into consideration as well. 

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