Wood (mu 木), Fire (huo 火), Earth (tu 土), Metal (jin 金), Water (shui 水)
These five natural elements are known in Chinese as 五行 (wu xing). Adopted from the Western System of the Four Elements, when translated into English, they became the Five Elements, but traditionally and more accurately, they should be called The Five Phases.
Simon Gao used these 5 Phases as the basis for his Cosmic Energy collection.
They were employed as a device in many fields of early Chinese thought including Feng Shui, astrology, traditional Chinese medicine, music, art, military strategy, and martial arts. The source of these ancient beliefs comes from the I Ching ( Book of Changes) and is a branch of Taoist philosophy.
They were used in traditional Chinese theory as a way to explain phenomenon of the world, from cosmic cycles-hence Gao’s choice of title for this collection- to the workings of our inner organs, from the succession of political regimes to the properties of internal medicines. Each phase has a complex relationship with a different aspect of nature, which is the theory upon which Feng Shui is based upon. Without diving into too many details, the order of the elements work in the following sequence:
- Wood feeds Fire
- Fire creates Earth (ash)
- Earth bears Metal
- Metal enriches Water (as in water with minerals is more beneficial to the body than pure water)
- Water nourishes Wood
And they work in two different cycles:
- Wood feeds fire;
- Fire creates earth (ash);
- Earth bears metal;
- Metal collects water;
- Water nourishes wood.
- Wood parts earth;
- Earth absorbs water;
- Water quenches fire;
- Fire melts metal;
- Metal chops wood.
The structure of the Cosmos mirrors that of the Five Phases. Each element or phase is aligned with a different aspect of nature, color, season and shape. Aligned with Yin and Yang and based on a particular directional energy flow from one phase to the next, the interaction can be expansive, destructive or exhaustive.
I think what’s important to take from this, is that although Gao chose Universal Cosmos as the eye of his collection, each and every corner of the world, tangible and intangible is interconnected. What happens in one realm does not limit us to what happens next.