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Discovering the Five Chinese Elements

By Jim Nymeyer

The Chinese five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water find their origins in ancient Chinese alchemy. Known as the five agents of change, they were popularized by sage and alchemist Zou Yan (305 BC – 240 BC) and have since become a fundamental part of traditional Chinese medicine and Taoist philosophy.

I was first introduced to five element theory in a lecture by Harriett Beinfield and Efrem Korngold, authors of Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine. I remember taking my seat as an excited young herbalist, primed to learn the medical significance of a powerful diagnostic tool. To my surprise (and delight) I learned that the five elements encompass something so much richer and deeper than a mere medical theory.

The instructors began by showing how these elements express themselves very prominently in our personalities and in the ways we emotionally relate to the world. They went on to introduce how each  corresponds to a Jungian archetype, explaining that by discovering which element is most prominent in us, we can gain a more profound understanding of ourselves and our relationships.

My interest piqued—I wanted to know more. Was I an introspective and philosophical Water element? Or perhaps pioneering, innovative Wood element? Did the wizard archetype of the Fire element burn within me, driving me to seek joy and connection with others? Instead, was I a gentle, steadfast peace-maker of the Earth element? Or maybe a mysterious and sometimes misunderstood alchemist of Metal? Are some elements stronger or weaker at certain times? What would it look like if my element went out of balance? How would I restore harmony?

That day it turned out that instead of a dry, clinical lecture, I felt enlivened and inspired–guided through a process encompassing both learning and self-reflection. I left with a beautiful lens through which to view the world and gain a deeper insight into myself and the world around me.  

On August 19th at 1 pm I want to bring this same process to life for you. We will walk through a journey to finding your element and explore strategies for harmonizing elemental influence on our interactions and relationships. We will learn how they affect us during different times of day and during different seasons, as well as acknowledge our strengths and evolve past our limitations.

Want to learn more?
Check out Jim Nymeyer’s class on Finding Your Element on August 19!

Jim Nymeyer is an herbalist, wellness educator, and meditation teacher. Jim studied traditional Chinese herbal sciences at the East West School of Herbology in California, holds a certification in cannabis science from the Larner School of Medicine, and received training in Tibetan herbalism at the Shang Shung Institute of Tibetan Medicine. He holds an advanced certification in Himalayan Sound and Vibrational Healing Therapy and has over 25 years of experience leading trainings and workshops in various physical, energetic, and spiritual healing systems. Jim and his wife Stephanie are the founders of Jade Forest Healing Arts, which offers a variety of services including herbal wellness consultations, classes, in-depth intuitive guidance, personal energy healing sessions, space clearings, and a line of fine hand-crafted botanicals.

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