There are five elements that we work with in feng shui-wood, fire, earth, metal and water. We use these elements in various combinations to solve problems. Wood resides in the East and Southeast, Fire in the South, Earth in the Southwest and Northeast, Metal in the West and Northwest and Water in the North. Don't forget that the elements are more than their names; they also include shape, color and more. These elements interrelate with each other in various ways, namely in the productive, reductive and controlling cycles. Each of these cycles can be explained by using a family relationship. Understanding the cycles is basic to implementing feng shui improvements.
Think of the productive cycle as the relationship between mother and child. The mother gives to the child everything it needs to grow. In this cycle an element produces or feeds the next one in the sequence. You can use this method to strengthen a weak condition.
Wood feeds fire - keeps it burning
Fire creates earth - resulting in ashes
Earth creates metal - think iron ore or crystals
Metal creates water - condensation or when melted a liquid
Water feeds wood - allowing it to grow
The reductive cycle can be understood as a child and mother relationship. The child takes from the mother her time, energy and emotions, thus reducing her strength. Each element in the cycle reduces the strength of the next in the sequence. By using this cycle you can reduce the effects of an overly strong situation.
Wood reduces water - by using it up
Water reduces metal - corrosion
Metal reduces earth - removing metals reduces the soil, think mining
Earth reduces fire - throw dirt on the campfire
Fire reduces wood - it destroys wood
The controlling cycle is more like a grandparent who interferes in the parent and child relationship, always telling the parent how to handle the child. This will also reduce an overly strong situation but it does it in a very harsh manner. We prefer not to use this cycle to effect change.
Wood controls earth - the roots of a tree disrupt the earth
Fire controls metal - it melts metal
Earth controls water - think of a dam
Metal controls wood -it chops wood
Water control fire- it puts fire out
In conclusion use the productive cycle to strengthen a weak situation. Use the reductive cycle to weaken an overly strong situation. Try to avoid using the controlling cycle as it is too harsh.