The Five Element System

The Language of the Elements

The Principle of Graduated Materiality

The five elements reflect all of life in varied degrees of interconnectedness, some complementary and some antagonistic. Each element is an energy vibrating at a different frequency, from slow (earth), to quick (air). Earth, the most dense manifestation, can be seen and touched, and represents a primary stage of evolution. Through increasing levels of refinement, to water, which can be touched yet has no form without being contained by earth, to fire, visible yet formless and untouchable, to invisible formless air, we have in chi, the association to the discrete and intangible spiritual essence of life.

This suggests a natural law of elemental progression of the grading of matter (earth) toward that energy which is intangible (air/chi). This graduation of the elements, and the qualities, principles and correspondences of each element to human life is fundamental to the interpretive language of chirology. The principle of graduated materiality reflects and symbolises our ability to evolve from ignorance to consciousness.

Chi has no manifestation of its own and is not discernable by ordinary means of perception. Ether can only be understood in terms of the other elements. In a sense chi is the complete element, and the container and the space for all elements. The rest are manifestations which are each a different vibrational frequency of chi. Chi (ether) is that which never dies, the innate principle which synthesises, integrates, and unifies earth, water, fire and air.

All life is permeated and animated with the energy of chi. Some of the names given to ether by different belief systems and cultures are ether, qi, ki, prana, spirit, prima materia, holy spirit, spiritus sanctus, elan vital, aqua vitae, life force, manna, akashya and orenda, representing the highest evolutionary states of spirituality, higher consciousness, transcendence and enlightenment. The principles of ether permeate the hand reader’s craft, symbolising intention of the Highest Order. Expertise in identifying and encoding the meanings in the markings of the hand is developed by studying a five element system, which forms chirology’s interpretative language.

Earth, water, fire and air each have many associated principles. For example, one water principle is cohesion. Water in nature will always seek water, and flow to the lowest point, in the attempt to connect and to pool together. Therefore for the owner of a pair of hands with many water characteristics, connection to, and merging with their friends or group is very important to them. They would be good networkers, often found working in public relations, human resources or in social services.

This richly textured vocabulary of element principle provides the accuracy needed for hand readers to define people’s predominant character traits. From this foundation deeper matters needing attention emerge and can be articulated. These encompass every realm of human experience, from health, to family matters, to intimate relationships, career choices, spiritual issues and many more.

There are different five element traditions. The Chinese / Taoist constituent materials of existence are earth, water, fire, wood and metal – composing a system that is integral to Chinese medicine and acupuncture. In Chinese medicine the syndrome of correlates relates to each organ system, and associated energy feeds into and is related to the other systems and energies.

This system differs from the ‘Pancha Maha Bhuta’ or ‘five great elements’ of the Vedas, earth, water, fire, air and prana (chi), which are fundamental constituents of being (wood is not a fundamental constituent of being). These are the elements used in chirology; they are basically Indian / Buddhist in origin. The five element system of hand reading is more Buddhist than it is Taoist (or European) in origin.

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