Dear Vicki: My sister and I have been very close most of our lives. We both love the Five Elements and I’m pretty sure I’m a Wood and Sami is an Earth. Several years ago, Sami married Dave, who is definitely a Metal, and it’s been a good marriage for her. I realized early on that my brother-in-law will feel controlling to me at times because Metal chops Wood and have dealt with that. But almost a year ago, Dave’s mother became quite ill and moved in with Sami and Dave. Since then, Sami and I don’t get along. She’s acting more like a crazy Fire, and we’re fighting in ways we never used to. She’s fighting with Dave and his Metal sisters, too. I want to support her, but she just seems really different. Can life situations like this change our elements? Signed, Wondering Wood
Dear Wondering Wood: The short answer to your question is that it’s very rare for anyone to permanently change primary elements during a lifetime, even if their life situations dramatically change. However, circumstances in our lies can cause us to use the energy of a none-primary element, and this certainly will cause us to act differently from our “normal” self. For example, when someone close to us passes on, the grief we feel will cause us to be more of a Metal than we might otherwise be. Or when something wonderful happens in our life, we might celebrate in a very Fiery way. But these are temporary changes. And I think this is what’s happening for Sami.
Prior to her mother-in-law’s illness, you and Sami related on the Controlling Cycle (Wood controls Earth), but Controlling Cycle relationships that involve Earth (Wood/Earth and Earth/Water) are rarely diminishing relationships the way other Controlling Cycle relationships are. While Metal chops Wood and diminishes it, Wood anchors Earth, it stabilizes Earth, it doesn’t diminish it. And Earth “controls” Water by guiding it, not diminishing it. That aspect of your Wood/Earth relationship is why the two of you got on so well. But that all changed when Sami’s ill mother-in-law moved in.