Elemental Characteristics and Birth Year

Find your birth year in the chart on the right to determine your elemental characteristics. Finding your dominant element may require a more thorough inquiry — many birth years are not a match. But, see if any of the descriptions below resonate for you.

Wood characteristics

Confident, assertive, competitive, ambitious, powerful, comfortable in the midst of conflict or pressure; likes being first, best, and unique; sticks to opinions even if faced with strong opposition; comfortable directing or leading others; doesn’t take criticism well.

Wood represents spring, rebirth, sudden and spectacular growth and movement. Archetypes for the wood person are Explorer, Warrior, Champion and Hero.

Interiors: Wood floors and furniture, green colors, plants and flowers, oblong and rectangular shapes, art work representing trees, plants and flowers.

To build yourself up: add ingredients from the water element which is the nurturing element for wood. (Water feeds wood)

If you are overly woodish (you are overly competitive, bossy, bullying about your opinions, hyper-sensitive) introduce ingredients with metal element components. (Metal cuts wood)

Compatibility*: a water dominant person will be the most nourishing; a metal dominant person might undermine you.

Fire characteristics

Animated and enthusiastic, enjoys the pleasure of the senses, enjoys being completely open and exposed, enjoys physical contact and emotional intimacy, remains optimistic and hopeful despite the opinions of others, becomes easily involved in the events going on around you, lives in the here-and-now without worry about future or past, sees the humorous side of life. Fire represents early summer—heat, acceleration of life forces. Archetypes for the fire person are Magician, Magical Child, and Storyteller.

Interiors: Fire places, candles, red colors, triangular shape, animals, people and representations of same.

To build yourself up: Add the wood element (wood feeds fire)

If you need to curb your enthusiasm, settle down your sexual activity, have been depressed (fire people can feel the highs and lows more deeply than others), use more of the water element to help balance your energy. (Water extinguishes fire)

Compatibility*: note that a wood dominant person will feed you, and that a water dominant person could drown you.

Earth characteristics

Nurturing and supportive, puts the needs of others before own, enjoys socializing with friends and family, enjoys being relied upon for reassurance and help, agreeable and accommodating, enjoys mediating—diplomatic and tactful, team player, gets involved in other people’s lives, enjoys creature comforts, loyal and dependable. Earth represents late summer—ripening and maturing. Archetypes for the earth person are Nurturer, Great Mother.

Interiors: earth tones, terra cotta, square shape, cozy, comfortable furnishings.

To enhance these characteristics add the fire element (fire makes earth).

If you need to balance your earthiness if you are too much of a caretaker, too accommodating and forget to take care of yourself, find yourself without the energy to get off the comfortable couch: add more of the wood element (wood consumes earth).

Compatibility*: remember that a fire dominant person will build you up, and that a wood dominant person could consume you.

Metal characteristics

Maintains a neat and orderly lifestyle, meticulous and discerning, enjoys tasks that require logical, analytic, and systematic approaches to problem solving, shows restraint in expressing feelings or emotions, strongly committed to moral principles and a standard of conduct, self-contained and not overly involved in other people’s affairs, enjoys temperance and moderation, tasteful and discriminating. Metal is represented by autumn—elimination and a return to the source. Archetypes for the metal person are Alchemist, Architect, Engineer, and Mathematician.

Interiors: metal in furnishings and accessories, gems, round shapes, whites, metallic colors, modern and contemporary styles.

To build up your metalness add some earth (the metal element represents things made by the earth).

To tone down a tendency towards coldness or inflexibility minimize the metal elements in your space and add fire (which melts metal).

Compatibility*: note that an earth dominant person will help you grow, and that a fire dominant person could overwhelm you.


Elemental Characteristics by Year
Wood Fire Earth Metal Water
1944 1946 1948 1950 1952
1945 1947 1949 1951 1953
1954 1956 1958 1960 1962
1955 1957 1959 1961 1963
1964 1966 1968 1970 1972
1965 1967 1969 1971 1973
1974 1976 1978 1980 1982
1975 1977 1979 1981 1983
1984 1986 1988 1990 1992
1985 1987 1989 1991 1993
1994 1996 1998 2000 2002
1995 1997 1999 2001 2003
2004 2006 2008 2010 2012
2005 2007 2009 2011 2013
This color indicates a Yang year. Yang (the light side of the mountain) refers to active, creative, hard, and bright.
This color indicates a Yin year. Yin (the dark side of the mountain) refers to passive, receptive, soft and dark.


Water characteristics

Cautious and sensible, enjoys solitude and introspection, enjoys indulging imagination and curiosity, considered unusual or eccentric, involves self in intellectual pursuits, content with a few good friends and minimal social activities, careful about what is revealed to other people—private, self-sufficient, in or out of relationships. Winter is the season associated with water—on the surface this appears to be a time of quiescence, hibernation and sleep, yet it contains the hidden potential of the new. Archetypes for the water person are Shapeshifter, Thinker, Artist, and Healer.

Interiors: blues and blacks, irregular or wavy shapes, actual water features, mirrors, glass

To encourage your water qualities add metal (which holds water)

To temper your overly cautious nature or inclination to become a hermit, add earth (which dams water).

Compatibility*: a metal dominant person will hold you, and an earth dominant person could hold you back.



*While we usually have a dominant element, as you can see from the different characteristics of each element, it is likely that you have ingredients from other elements as well. (A perfectly balanced person has a little of each.) Therefore, the compatibility information should be fun, NOT determinative.