The 5 Chinese Zodiac Elements And Their Meanings

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chinese zodiac element symbols and signs

In Chinese astrology, there are five zodiac elements — wood, fire, earth, metal and water — that influence the nature of each zodiac sign and create interesting combinations that vary year after year.

All of this is grounded in the Five Elements Theory (also called Wǔ xíng), which is a philosophy that describes the relationship between all things and how everything is interdependent on everything else.

According to this philosophy, there are no hierarchies. When one energy waxes, another energy wanes, and balance and harmony permeate the universe.

The five Chinese zodiac elements interact with each other in a specific order of creation and destruction, which makes it easy to remember the cycle.

Photo: Monica Panjaitan’s Images and Clker Free Vector Images / Canva

In the creative cycle, wood starts fire, fire creates earth, earth holds metal, metal carries water, and water feeds wood.

In the destructive cycle, fire melts metal, metal chops wood, wood separates earth, earth absorbs water, and water puts out fire.

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1. Wood

If the last number of your birth year is 4 or 5, your element is wood.

People born during wood years are patient, nurturing, compassionate, and warm.

Like a tree with extensive roots and mighty boughs that shelter many tiny creatures, wood people are good at communication and social at heart. They believe in growth and learning and are known to be wise beyond their years.

But wood people can also be very competitive and obsessed with achievements. And in their negative manifestation, they can intrude and disrespect people's boundaries.

Mostly though, people ruled by wood are good at planning things and are powerful visionaries.

The element of wood is associated with the color green, the season of spring, and the planet Jupiter.

2. Fire

If the last number of your birth year is 6 or 7, your element is fire.

People born during fire years are thrill-seekers and pioneers with a massive restless streak inside of them!

They are deeply passionate about life and love to share their passions with others, bringing them along for the ride.

In the negative manifestation of this element, fire is known to persist until it burns everything down. So these natives are often advised to take it easy, go for walks, and try not to get angry so quickly.

All in all, the element fire blesses people with extreme motivation and drive. And if channeled into the right things, Fire people can accomplish extraordinary things.

The element of fire is associated with the color red, the season of summer, and the planet Mars.

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3. Earth

If the last number of your birth year is 8 or 9, your element is earth.

Like the steady, life-giving earth under your feet, those born during earth years are known for their steadiness, responsible nature, and desire for justice. They are also natural peacekeepers and helpers.

It's widely known that if you need to get something done on time, contact an earth person.

On the flip side, earth people can become extremely self-centered and controlling if they manifest the negative side of this element. This is why they do well in social environments that value friendliness and foster gratitude so they do not feel overburdened and receive credit for the work they do.

The element of earth is associated with the color brown, the season between summer and autumn, and the planet Saturn.

4. Metal

If the last number of your birth year is 0 or 1, your element is metal.

People born during metal years can have a polarizing effect on their peers with some people loving them and others not so much.

It's because they can be unyielding, rigid, and obsessed with getting the work done in the most efficient manner possible.

Metal people do well in careers that are regimental or require high degrees of focus and accuracy. And — you guessed it — they do poorly in bureaucratic systems that collect lazy individuals and reward inefficiency and corruption.

In their negative manifestation, metal people can be extremely harsh and ruthless, forcing people to stick to the rules even if the rules are abrasive.

The element of metal is associated with the color white, the season of autumn, and the planet Venus.

5. Water

If the last number of your birth year is 2 or 3, your element is water.

People born during water years are sensitive, romantic, and introverted. They do not do well in stressful situations and have a tendency to get lost in daydreams and become reclusive.

Water people love their own company and are at their creative best when left alone. But that doesn't mean they do not like people.

These natives are very empathic and friendly. But they are known to draw clingy or emotionally-turbulent people who overwhelm them with personal tragedies and sob stories. Water people isolate themselves a lot to protect themselves from emotional vampires.

The element of water is associated with the color black, the season of winter, and the planet Mercury.

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Valeria Black is a tarot reader and astrology nerd with a dash of wicked humor on the side. Follow her on Instagram @queen.of.vands for more.