The Five Elements
The Five Elements (Wu Xing)
The Five Elements,Wu Xing is also named the Five Movements. The five elements are jin (metal), mu (wood), shui (water), huo (fire), tu (earth). The five elements in daily life were regarded as the foundation of everything in the universe and natural phenomena. They have their own characters and they can generate or destroy one other.
Generating Interaction (also begetting, engendering or mothering)
Metal generates water; water nourishes wood; wood feeds fire; fire creates earth/ash; earth bears metal.
Overcoming Interaction (also destruction)
Fire melts metal; metal chops wood; wood break up earth; earth absorbs water; water quenches fire.
In ancient China, newborn babies usually got their name from the 'eight characters of birth time' consisting of year, month, day and hour which is represented by two characters each, one character from the Heavenly Stems and one from the Earthly Branches. The four pairs of the birth time reveal the elements in one's life. Then the parents will give the baby a name containing the element, as compensation, which doesn't exit in the baby's eight characters. The tradition is still followed by some people nowadays.
As mentioned in the grid, the five elements can be regarded as the symbols of the five planets, Metal, Wood, Water, Fire Earth corresponding to Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Saturn. They are thought to be the ruling planets or elements affecting the compatibility between two astrological Chinese zodiac signs.