Chinese Zodiac Elements

Heard about the concept of Chinese zodiac elements? Find out what they mean and their significance in the Chinese zodiac.

The Chinese are known to possess a deep love for nature. One of the things that we find when we delve into the history of Chinese philosophy is the concept of the five elements. This relationship of the Chinese with natural elements manifests itself in many different aspects of their culture. The Chinese philosophers have drawn many connections between the five elements of nature.

The history of the use of the five elements dates back to the earliest Chinese civilization. Not many people outside of China are aware of the significance of these elements in Chinese tradition. The most prominent use of the elements is found in the Chinese zodiac sciences.

Five Elements

The five elements used in Chinese zodiac are wood, earth, fire, water and metal. According to Chinese philosophy these elements are associated with five planets namely; Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury and Venus. These elements are supposed to be naturally interlinked with each other and tend to have a changing effect on each other which is sometimes complimentary and at other times overcoming.

This can be illustrated with the example of wood which can be used to spark a fire. Water can then be used to overcome fire and fire can help in the production of metal. Thus we find that the Chinese philosophers drew out their parallels from the natural behavior and processes of the five elements with each other.

There are many other parallels related with the five elements. They include different elements such as the seasons, colors, direction, body parts and the different human senses. According to Chinese tradition wood represents East as well as the spring season and the colors blue and green. When it comes to human senses wood represents the sense of sight and when it comes to body parts wood is taken as a representation of the liver, the gall bladder and the ring finger. In this way each of the different elements are taken as a metaphorical representation of various things.

When it comes to the zodiac sciences the assigning of the five elements to each zodiac animal gives them different characteristics. The Chinese concept of time is based on a twelve year repetitive cycle that is represented by twelve different animals. When the five elements are attached to each of the twelve animals you actually get sixty different cycle combinations.

The Yin and Yang is another prominent Chinese concept that has found popularity around the world. This symbol seeks to represent balance which exists in nature in many different forms such as the alteration of night and day and the creation of everything in pairs. The Yin and Yang is also closely associated with the zodiac sciences as it assigns opposing forces and characteristics to each of the signs. What this means is that each of the five elements has a Yin version and a Yang version.

Hence we find that the five elements have been part of the ancient zodiac tradition of China and actually give it a lot of diversification and color.

 

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