I recently completed a 40 hour Qigong immersion course on the five elements, which is a core principle of Chinese medicine. When the elements water, wood, fire, earth and metal are balanced physically, mentally and emotionally within ourselves we feel calm, happy and healthy. Each of the five elements is present in nature, as well as within us. As well as theory, Qigong techniques and mediation we also learned that we tend to favour one (or more!) of the five elements in our personality type as well.
In the book Between Heaven and Earth there is a quick quiz you can do to find out your psychological five element type. Do you have one type that you are strongest in, or two or three that are all about the same strength? Find out with this online version of the quiz from the book. Once you've taken the quiz, find out what type you are most like on the "results code" tab in the quiz.
Looking into what type you are is not only a little fun, it can help define why we struggle in some situations and excel in others.
The following descriptions of the personality types of the five elements are taken from the book Between Heaven and Earth:
Wood - The Pioneer
Striking into the wilderness with a bold adventurous spirit to break new ground, face challenges, overcome difficulty and conquer the unknown. The pioneer is action orientated.
Water - The Philosopher
Preoccupied with seeking the truth and exploring the hidden mysteries through the medium of his own imaginative mind.
Earth - The Peacemaker
Stable, centred and relaxed, drawn towards being a mediator in the service of harmony and unity.
Fire - The Wizard
Magnetic and exciting, inspiring faith that dreams can be realised and desired fulfilled.
Metal - The Alchemist
Observes, studies and analyses phenomena to extract fundamental laws and principles in the service of universal order.
How do the five element archetypes interact?
Wood does well under intense competitive pressure that upsets Earth and paralyzes Water. Water prefers to have time to think things through and Earth feels most comfortable when people are working together cheerfully. So Wood thrives on the challenge and fast pace that threaten Water and Earth.
Metal appreciates the same order than can hastily be case aside by the impulsiveness of Wood and the excitability of Fire. Earth can be hurt and discouraged in attempts to be warm and friendly with Metal and Water types who remain detached and withdrawn. Yet Earth may also be just the animated, imposing social force those types need to be included in events that would otherwise pass them by.