Dear Vicki: I’ve read about the Five Elements personalities and usually think I’m a Water. I spend a lot of time alone, am a fairly good artist, but can’t seem to get anything going with my work. One person I do hang out with sometimes is my cousin Ellen, who I’m pretty sure is a Fire. She’s always happy, busy, and popular. When I’m with her, I think I might be a Fire because I sure have fun, but on my own, it doesn’t last. I’ve also had times when I think I could be an Earth because I often feel a real need to be outside in the garden. Or in the fall I think I could be a Metal because I want to get rid of everything around me and start fresh. But all that seems to go in phases because most days I don’t want to do anything but stay inside and paint. Why do I seem to be different elements at different times? I’ve heard it said that we can’t change the element we’re born with, but I seem to be changing. Is that possible? Signed: Maybe a Water
Dear Maybe: Great question! The short answer is that we can’t change what is called our primary elemental affinity. I think of our elemental affinity as a secret club we’re born into that affects almost every aspect of how we live our lives. I also think we select our club for a given lifetime based on what we want to accomplish during that life and/or what we may still need to learn. And while we can’t change the club membership we are born with, we can – and do – visit other clubhouses during our life. Sometimes we seek out these visits and sometimes life circumstances create the visits. I think this is what’s happening for you.
Liking time alone, artistic talent, and an unfortunate inability to make things happen with ease does sound like Water. And as a Water, you represent pure yin energy. This means you have come to experience the profound depths and imagination of the inner focus so common to Waters, yet learn not to go so deep as to lose sight of the fact that you have to function in the outer world, too.
Give this, it’s probably not a coincidence that Ellen, the person you most like to hang out with, is a Fire. The wild and crazy yang energy of a Fire is the exact opposite of your inner world and therefore balances you. Hanging out with you probably also balances Ellen – you share with each other a perspective on life that’s exotic and strange. Waters rarely experience the warmth of the sun on their own, and Fires rarely experience the coolness of the water on their own. Together, you bring balance and broaden each other’s experience of life, but that doesn’t change who you are at your core. You’re still a Water and she’s still a Fire.
And while you probably aren’t really a primary Earth either, the days you feel a strong need to be outside make complete sense if they follow times you have been especially alone. It is Earth energy that makes sure Waters don’t go so deep into themselves that they lose touch with reality. In nature, it’s the earthen banks of rivers and streams that keep water channeled and directed. Earth energy does the same for Waters, so your desire to be outside is a wonderful attempt to balance out your own Water. I applaud your wisdom to follow these needs and spend time in the garden so you stay a functional part of the world. Keeping plants or flowers around you inside will also help on days the weather makes it harder to be outside.
We’ve been discussing times you have consciously (or instinctively) sought out the energy of another club to help you live life successfully. But there are times that life events or seasons force us into another club for a short time. I think that maybe what happens to you in the fall when you want to get rid of things. Autumn is Metal time, a time for letting go, and you probably feel the urge to visit the Metal club because of the stronger Metal energy surrounding you. It isn’t just the seasons that can cause this response in our lives, either. Years ago, I went through a Metal phase and it wasn’t something I tried to do. It happened because several important people and animals in my life passed away, so I experienced the grief that’s one of the hallmarks of Metal. And while the grief wasn’t too surprising, I was amazed that during this Metal phase I came to value process and precision. It was a deeply learning time for me.
The point here is that each of us can and will go through phases that are different from our normal elemental affiliation. And while these can happen because of life circumstances out of our control, it’s important to remember that because we have all of the elements in our energetic make up, we can choose to lead from different elements at various times in our lives. If you want to get something going with your artwork, visit the Wood club. That’s where things get done. You can do this either by building your own Wood energy (we’ve discussed many ways to do this in previous blog posts) or by making friends with a few Woods and hanging out with them like you hang out with Ellen. You can also hire a Wood to promote your work.
Bottom line? You will always be a primary Water, and that is as it should be. But as you have seen in your life, you can and will have temporary shifts in that affinity. The trick is to embrace the gifts when these shifts happen on their own and learn to create the temporary shifts when you need them. It will be especially easy for you to do this because Waters are so fluid they can take on many shapes and colors. Blessings!