The Five Elements in Chinese Astrology


The 5 elements used in Astrology - Earth, Fire, Metal, Water and Wood - stem from the historic cultural belief that the universe consisted of these materials. With each element, a series of qualities is associated, often linked to aspects of the materials themselves. For example, the power and perceived invulnerability of fire translates in its Chinese Astrology element as being forward, confident and using one's abilities to achieve great things. Similarly with each of the five elements, these attributes are asserted, and may then be used in understanding a person's personality traits or fortunes through the practise of Chinese Astrology.


Below you'll find each of the five elements, and the qualities associated with them in Chinese Astrology.




As the Earth itself plays a somewhat passive role; acted upon as opposed to taking action itself, people born under the Earth element in Chinese astrology are considered to take a step back in event - preferring to take an observorial role in the action as opposed to causing controversy themselves. They take a disliking to radical or unexpected events, and are often better suited to stability and predictability. The other side of the coin with respect to Earth people is their keenness to help and assist when a person is in need of a helping hand.  They refuse to watch a person suffer, and will do all they can - even if out of not in their own interests - to assist, just as the earth provides a home and food for the plants that grow upon it. Earth people offer an ear to talk to and are respected by others for the advice they give. The traits of Earth people are often considered feminine or maternalistic.


Governs: Dog, Dragon, Sheep and Ox.

Seasons: The change of seasons; inter-seasonal activity.




People with Fire as their element in Chinese astrology certainly share some of the attributes of their flaring element - they are outgoing, very personable and loved by the people around them. They were born to take the limelight and take every opportunity to make new friends. Yet with the limelight comes the criticism - they are subject to the charge of narcism - perhaps not listening as much as they speak, and shrugging off some people for their own benefit, unaware of the harm they are doing. This negative side combines with a fallibility when it comes to decision making: Fire people are liable to change their mind a lot, succeptible to the persuasiveness of their inner circle. In this respect, their own downfalls can be their own worst enemy, and sometimes exaggerated self-respect and and obsession with others' perception of them can restrain them from true happiness.


Governs: Horse, Sheep and Snake.

Seasons: Summer.




If you were born under the Metal element, you are reputed for your hardiness. Once you set your eyes on a result, you are determined to achieve it and won't let anything or anyone get in your way. This focussing of energy enables you to save your intellect for when you really need it. Metal is associated with the autumn in Chinese astrology, suggesting the end of an effort and reaping of results. You dislike relying on others, and are sometimes a little too distrusting. On the other hand, your independence can also be an asset - you work well by yourself and are not disadvantaged by others not being up to the task.  However, you do have a fun side and make the most of social opportunities.


Governs: Dog, Monkey and Rooster.

Seasons: Autumn.



If you were born under the Chinese element of Water, you may be surprised at the qualities astrology attributes to your personality. Where water is often considered peaceful, passive and predictable in the rivers and streams that it fills, in Chinese astrology this element takes on the attributes of its wilder side. Water people are independent, indeed choosing their own path as a river does over millions of years. They often make tough choices and are not afraid to take them alone, yet second-guess their own innate gut-feelings in doing so. They take on an inner concern regarding their own abilities. This may interpret as a person being anxious and lacking self confidence - always wanting to socialize more, but taking a hard line against those who criticize them or they perceive to be doing so, and this may not always work in their own interest.


Governs: Ox, Pig and Rat.

Season: Winter.





Notice that wood is the only 'living' among the elements - it is often associated with the Spring season in which the growth of plants expands and new life is generated. The element represents the creation of new opportunities, the generation of new ideas and approaches, and a general youthful energy. A person born under the Chinese Astrology element of Wood will often be ambitious - shrugging off doubts as to their abilities and believing that the path they choose to take is the right one. Their enthusiasm may sometimes be perceived as over-confidence, but they productivity isn't achieved through routhless arrogance and single-mindedness: rather, their achievements are enacted by a willingness to work with others and nuture their project and ideas, always with what seems to be a never-ending supply of energy. Born under the element of wood, a person's enthusiasm shows itself in a number of ways - they develop their own ideas through a keen attitude to learning, and though it may not always show, they are essentially open-minded and always thinking of others.


Governs: Dragon, Rabbit and Tiger.

Season: Spring.



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