The Water Element holds the energy of Winter: “Nature moves into its coldest, darkest, stillest and most contracted and internal state. External signs of life disappear as plants become dormant, expending minimum energy. In this time of rest, seeds and roots are nurtured and replenished. So it is this period of doing nothing that prepares them for emerging – once the weather again starts to warm – into their next cycle of vigorous growth.”

The Water phase takes the inward-turning movement of Metal to its extreme. It invites us to return to source, to flow gently downward and inward to the darkest, most Yin, recesses of our being and to bathe in the nutritious soup of absolute rest.

Water’s cool darkness is the essential counterbalance to Fire’s intense heat. It is in its state of acceptance, of non-doing, of just being, of reverie that we nourish our essence, connect to our deepest knowing and resources, and replenish our cup of vitality, creativity and wisdom ready for the next cycle of doing.

The quiet, internal virtues of the Water phase (and the universe’s Yin feminine principle) are much overlooked and dishonored in our culture, with just being regarded as laziness and acquiescence seen as capitulation. Value is placed instead on the masculine Yang qualities of being active, productive, ambitious, wealthy and successful (or at least appearing to be).

But it is, in fact, Water’s darkness – which brings us in contact with our deepest fears and vulnerabilities – that offers us the opportunity to return to the source of true power and success (ie fulfilling the potential of the person we really are). For those tender places that make us feel weak and unacceptable are actually the gateways to the essential parts of ourselves that we have kept hidden away, and thus portals to returning to wholeness.

When we submit, as most of us do, to cultural pressure to keep going and to push on through – even when our body is screaming at us to stop – we never give ourselves the time or space to explore and to walk through those portals. Instead, we keep moving further and further away from our true selves and become paralyzed, not guided onwards, by our fears. Rather than recognizing them as signposts pointing us along the road to wholeness and destiny, they become self-imposed limits that we dare not venture beyond.

If we are not progressing in life towards becoming the person we were born to be, then we are depleting our precious inborn reserves and moving steadily towards ill-health and death.

Our Kidneys (the organs of Water, along with the Bladder) are the guardians of those original reserves – the life force granted to us at conception and the source of the energy animating all our other organs. Our Kidneys are our batteries and they (together with the adrenal glands that sit above them) are drained by our constant doing and failure to recharge, as we try to live our lives in a linear way rather aligning ourselves with nature’s cyclical flow. 

When we do settle into that flow, the very act of doing nothing in the Water phase becomes itself the pregnancy that births the up surging energy, creativity and flourishing of the Yang aspect (Wood and Fire) of the next cycle. Without dropping into it regularly, our cup eventually runs dry.


Some additional Yin Energy Examples: Phobia, panic, timidity, shyness, nervousness, restlessness, wired, anxiety, effortful striving, hyper-tolerance, spiritual laziness, indifference, non-opinionated, scatteredness, fantasy.


Some additional Yang Energy Examples: Gentleness, fluidity, effortless-flow, pleasure, receptive, yielding, acceptance, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, vulnerability, intuition, deep-knowing, connection to source, reverie, contemplation, imagination, sub-conscious, introversion, solitude, deep rest, just being, reunion.


***Text taken from The Five Elements and Our Inner World