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Water is the most yin in character of the five elements. Its motion is downward and inward, and its energy is stillness and conserving.
Water is associated with certain colors, with the planet Mercury, with the moon (which was believed to cause the dew to fall at night), with night, with the north, with winter or cold weather, and with the Black Tortoise (Xuan Wu) in the Chinese constellation Four Symbols.
In Chinese Taoist thought, water is representative of intelligence and wisdom, flexibility, softness, and pliancy; however, an overabundance of the element is said to cause difficulty in choosing something and sticking to it. In the same way, water can be fluid and weak, but can also wield great power when it floods and overwhelms the land. In Chinese medicine, water is believed to govern the kidney and urinary bladder, and is associated with the ears and bones. The negative emotion associated with water is fear/anxiety, while the positive emotion is calmness.
The colours black, blue, and grey also represent water.
In Chinese astrology, water is included in the 10 heavenly stems (the five elements in their yin and yang forms), which combine with the 12 Earthly Branches (or Chinese signs of the zodiac), to form the 60 year cycle.
Cycle of Wu Xing
- In the regenerative cycle of the Wu Xing, metal engenders water, as it traps falling water from a source, and water begets wood as "rain or dew makes plant life flourish"
- In the conquest cycle, water overcomes fire, as "nothing will put out a fire as quickly as water"
- 千古中医之张仲景. Lecture Room. CCTV-10.
- "Indian astrology: Grahas (Planets) & their significance". FindYourFate.
- Lau, Theodora (2005). The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes. London: Souvenir Press. pp. pxxix–xxx.