Tree of Life: The Wood Element
Article extracted from Asian Geographic Issue 02/2020 (141) Text: Shreya Acharya
It is durable and strong, warm and cosy, and lasts up to hundreds of years. It is found in cities, villages, and, most likely, even in your own home. It’s relatively cheap, it’s flexible, it’s environmentally friendly, and it’s quite possibly the most useful and versatile material on the planet. You often hear people grumbling about money and all kinds of other things that “don’t grow on trees”, but this one certainly does.
Can you guess what it is?
It is wood.
It takes ten years to cultivate wood, and a hundred years to cultivate man.
– From the works of Guan Zhong, a politician in the Spring and Autumn Period, on education
But other than its diverse physical nature, in Chinese philosophy, wood, sometimes translated as “tree”, represents the growth of matter. Wood is the first phase of wu xing, and in Taoism, its attributes are considered to be strength and flexibility. Trees and bamboo are our closest concept to the element of wood. Wood corresponds to spring, and is referred to as “young yang”. It covers and penetrates the earth, growing, rooted, and proliferating rapidly. Wood is flexible, yielding, strong and durable. Wood expands away from its centre, grasping the deep Earth essence and drawing it toward heaven. It also burns to make fire.
Wood is in the east and southeast, representing the numbers three and four. It is early morning, sunrise and new beginnings. It is birth, rapid growth, and development.
The organ systems that correspond to wood are the liver (yin) and gallbladder (yang); the liver is said to be the home of the soul.
This element also governs the inner legs, groin, diaphragm, eyes, eyebrows and eyelashes, the ring finger, tendons, ligaments, sinews, connective tissue, nails, the small muscles that move your joints, peripheral nerves, the vagina and labia, and the penis and scrotum. Bile and tears are the bodily fluids dictated by the wood element.
Since the elemental frequencies of wood were observed through the senses of farmers and people who lived directly in Nature, the seasons are based on the agricultural calendar. These ancient people saw the subtle movements of Nature and built their lives around this cycle. When we see the wood element in Nature we associate it with spring. It isn’t, however, akin to the Western version of spring. Wood is all about rising qi – spring starts when qi begins to rise in Nature. We can see that beginning in February when the sap begins to slowly rise in trees. The Chinese New Year is on the first day of spring as well. This is the season where “rising qi ” is seen all over. Flowers that were dormant all winter burst forth and grow quickly, and life begins to rise up to its eventual peak in summer.
The Wood Element in Feng Shui
Feng shui offers a multitude of ways to create balance and benefit from the wood element. The wood element energy relates to good physical health, mental focus, and an abundant sense of prosperity. It is represented by the green color family, trunk-like columnar shapes, wooden accessories, textiles, and plants of any kind.
Tip: The areas of your home that specifically relate to the wood element are the Health and Family area (located at the middle one-third portion of the left quadrant of your home from the entrance) and the Wealth and Prosperity area (located at the far left corner of your home from the entrance – just above Health and Family).
Look around your space and start to notice which objects, furniture, and pieces of art may represent the wood element!
Here are three ways to enhance your feng shui by adding the wood element to your space:
1. Green is the colour for wood, so the most straightforward thing to do is paint your walls a beautiful, subtle shade of green.
2. Wood is present in healthy plants, and plants are great additions – especially to balance out a kitchen where a lot of “metal elements” are present.
3. Vertical stripes add uplifting wood energy to space, and a classic striped wallpaper is one way to bring in wood’s representation of verticality.
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Read more about the Wood element in our latest issue, “The Wood Edition” here or download a digital copy here!
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