Some time ago I had the opportunity to ask several practitioners who were all of the Wood element what was important to them in terms of their interactions with others. After some discussion amongst themselves they all agreed that what they always wanted was to “engage” with people. Interestingly, two of the definitions given in the dictionary for the word are “to interlock” and “to bring troops into battle”. Engagement is making some kind of direct contact with another person, and also implies some kind of physical contact, like boxers engaging in a fight. It represents to me quite the reverse of somebody “walking on by”, which is more the action I associate with the Metal element’s desire to avoid just the kind of close encounter which the word “to engage” seems to describe. In their description of what they feel most comfortable with, this group of Wood people gave proof of their element’s enjoyment of face-to-face encounters. They are at ease with meetings with other people which contain some quality of a contest. Again, we can contrast this with another element, Fire’s encounters, which lack this sense of competitiveness.
Fire wants of its interactions with others is instead not a contest, but to set
up relationships, gifts which the Heart, buried within this element, wants to
offer all it encounters. The challenges
which Wood offers those it meets become in Fire’s hands offerings it hopes to
give others, ultimately of course the gift of love. The warm smile with which Fire greets
everybody is in itself such an offering, and if this is not responded to warmly
in return it will be viewed as a rebuff, a rejection of this gift. Often we will see Fire people persist again
and again with their offerings of smiles and laughter in an attempt to draw
some reaction of warmth from the other person.
Wood, in the same position of being denied the engagement it looks for
from another person, will simply metaphorically shrug its shoulders and move
on, something Fire will find difficult to do, as it will judge the lack of
response to its approaches to be a reproach to itself and will therefore try
even harder to extract a response.
is not a response of any kind which Metal wishes for. Far from this. It will view all encounters with other people
as a test of its judgement. They are
still challenges, as in some respects all meetings with other people are,
because they demand responses from each person’s elements, and in particular
responses with which a guardian element feels at ease. Metal’s challenge lies in the area of how
accurately it assesses the value of any encounter. This assessment will also consist in
evaluating its own reactions, for all that Metal does includes a high level of
self-evaluation, its task being to weigh up all things, itself included, on the
scales of some value they assign to them.
judges itself as harshly, if not more harshly, than others. And to judge you have to stand back and
observe as impartially as you can. So
there is nothing here of the close involvement of one person with another that
Fire strives for, or the challenging encounters Wood enjoys. Instead, there is always a space around Metal
which it builds for itself so that it can give itself some distance from which
it hopes to view things in as detached a way as possible. Of course, the degree of detachment and the
amount of space depends upon the level of balance within a Metal person. The more unbalanced the Metal element is, the
less it can stand back and observe as impartially as it should, and the more
its judgement will then be affected.
what about Earth and Water, then? That
is for another blog.