• Dina Smirnova

5 Element Theory: Metal




One of the basics of altar building is an inviting the elements onto your altar and into your space. By doing so, you acknowledge the elements and the role they play in Great Nature, as well as how they show up for each of us on the physical plane. Depending on the intention of your ceremony or altar, you may choose to highlight particular elements, as the elements can activate your space and the energetic frequency you are working with.

Creating a sense of balance in the altar is very important; however, in referencing “balance,” this does not always mean that there will be an equal “amount” of each element. Some intentions and frequencies may require you to highlight certain elements, making them the stars of the show, while you may choose to minimise the presence or position of particular elements in certain cases where you feel their presence is disrupting the balance of your altar in a holistic sense.

Metal is the final elemental phase according to 5 Element Theory. We’ll explore how the element of Metal might show up (or influence) your altar and ritual space in this blog post.

Qualities of Metal

As we touched upon in our previous 5 Element Theory post, the Metal element can be seen more as a process, or phase, rather than a classic element as most of us are accustomed to. Keeping this in mind, the Metal element can still be a huge part of creating an intentional space or used within ceremony.

Imagine Metal as the moment where leaves start falling in Autumn. After the height of summer and the last few odd days of warmth, the heat of the Sun has finally burnt out, reaching its tipping point, and we are invited to transition to a slower pace. The moment you might feel the first suggestion of cool breeze is also likened to the subtleness of the Metal energy coming into your strasosphere.

If we looked at the life journey of the Carbon periodic element, in its pure form it would be considered Wood, and as it is photosynthesised and pressurised, it eventually turns into a diamond. The process of refinement of the Carbon element, where it becomes a diamond, can be seen as the Metal element, as “Metal” doesn’t (but can) refer to metallic objects. Rather, the Chinese traditionally view Metal as the minerals that have been extracted from the soil (Earth).

Common Metal qualities & metaphors:

  • Minerals and precious stones that have been refined over time or extracted

  • Metal is the period of old age, autumn (especially late autumn), the “descent” of life

  • Introverted, refined, analytical, intuitive, sensitive

  • Symmetrical and precise

  • Masterful: Metal invites us to find our expertise (the kind that can only be cultivated with time and practice)

  • The cardinal direction of Metal is West

  • According to the I Ching, Metal is the Archetype of a Lake

  • In terms of the 5 Element cycle, Metal can be shaped/melted by Fire (and also de-energise Fire), can cut Wood, can over-extract Earth

  • Metal energy can be harnessed to upgrade your aesthetics and taste to align with regality, assist with detail-oriented tasks, gain refinement or discernment, invite greater precision, or to connect more deeply to what you hold as sacred

  • Metal is the archetype of Autumn and is extremely potent, therefore, to invoke on the Autumn Equinox

  • Metal is also the Archetype of the Visionary, Heaven, the Sky, the Seer (and sometimes, the Alien or the Other)

Inspiring Your Space, Rituals + Process with ‘Metal’ Energy

I want to bring in a different flavour when it comes to connecting with the Metal energy inside of you. After all, we are all composed of each of the elements and it is valuable to know what we have an affinity for, what we have learned to cultivate, and if there is any element or energy that we tend to glaze over.

To see how you connect with Metal, you may ask yourself: Where can I access a great refinement? Where might I require better boundaries? Where can I let go of perfectionism? How do I relate to my inner queen/king? Where do I require more space? What is my relationship to space itself? Where do I yearn to cultivate my mastery and expertise to greater serve humanity in my life purpose?

If you ever are feeling “low” on Metal energy, the Chinese would suggest to connect with the Feng Shui of your home/room/space. A little hint: the cardinal direction of Metal is West. According to Lo Shu’s Magic Square, this direction corresponds to Room 7, “The Home Office” (note that the link to the image is the Katonah Yoga Magic Square, which has been flipped from the traditional Magic Square). For this, you may take a look in your workspace (or home office, if you have one), or at the areas of your life in which you do your work or “make deals.” Is this space organised? Is there enough space (if you’ve been reading the previous elemental posts - you might sense a theme with space here ;)? What does your work desk, if you have one, look like (or are you doing your work in other areas of your home that are designated for eating, sleeping, relaxing, etc.)? In terms of rituals, you may choose to invoke the Metal energy specifically during Autumn (on the Autumn Equinox would be especially potent), and using pieces of metal, precious stones, or minerals can further connect your ceremonial space to Metal. Remember: Be creative! Allow yourself to reflect on the Metal qualities mentioned and see if there are any objects that resonate with you to inspire your space and ceremonies.


#altar #ceremony #ritual #elements #practice #tcm #metal

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