Five Archetypes

In Chinese medicine, we all have a predominant archetype that determines our body type and temperament, as well as our strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to health, knowing your archetype is beneficial because it can help you understand your inner nature and how to customize things like diet and lifestyle in a way that will keep you, in particular, more in balance. Archetypes explain things like why some of us are lean and lanky while others are curvy and thick, why some of us prefer spring while others prefer winter, or why we all have so many particular preferences when it comes to food. In short, your archetype is your unchangeable genetic constitution and represents who you truly are on the most fundamental level.

Archetype Characteristics

The Wood Archetype: A Thick Forest

To understand the wood archetype think of the metaphor of a forest thick with trees. Like trees, wood people are determined, perseverant, and aggressively competitive with others. This makes wood personalities quite successful in business but, when imbalanced, can lead to workaholism and prioritizing success at any price, even if it means being unethical. Naturally Type-A, wood people love to tackle challenging tasks and work very well under pressure, though their strong sense of purpose can lead them to become overly driven, craving alcohol or other unhealthy ways to relieve their building stress. Just like forests grow step by step over time, wood people have a strong work ethic and are excellent at setting and reaching long-term goals. However, they tend to think things over too much. Please click here for more information about the wood archetype.


The Earth Archetype: A Bountiful Garden

The metaphor for this archetype is Earth's bounty - the garden. Like a garden, earth people are generous, nurturing, and love to take care of others; they are also compassionate and empathetic, so they often go into fields like environmental conservation or healing professions like medicine. However, their desire to be needed by others can cause them to give too much of themselves, leading to depletion, or get them into unhealthy codependent relationships. Just as a healthy garden is harmonious, they are natural mediators that excel at helping others settle disputes and negotiate disagreements, but when out of balance can worry way too much about what might come to be. Since the earth is the solid foundation that underlies everything, by nature earth people are grounded, calm, reliable, and practical. Please click here for more information about the earth archetype.


The Metal Archetype: A Medieval Knight

A good image for this archetype is the medieval knight, with his shiny sword and metallic suit of armor. Like knights, metal people are known to be naturally brave, honest, upright, and honorable. However, when they get out of balance they tend to become overly self-righteous, convinced that they are totally correct or morally superior even when they are not. Just as metal is structured and geometric, metal people like to be organized and prefer regular schedules. On the other hand, they can quickly become rigid in their ideas or overly focused perfectionists, obsessed with details, or micromanaging others too much. Metal people are also good at "cutting to the chase," getting right to the central point, so they excel at problem-solving, teaching, and counseling. However, they can also be too frank, hurting others unintentionally with their piercing observations. Please click here for more information about the metal archetype.


The Water Archetype: A Winding River

To understand water, think of the metaphor of a winding river meandering across the landscape. Like water, these types are especially adept at going with the flow, able to determine the best path through or around an obstacle. When depleted, though, they can stagnate and lose this ability, just like how water pools in a river as it dries out. Water people are also powerfully motivated and can forge ahead like a rushing river to get things done when needed. On the other hand, they can be quite strong-willed,  determined to do what they want even when others are cautioning them against it with good reason.  Please click here for more information about the water archetype.


The Fire Archetype: A Blazing Bonfire

To understand this archetype just think of a blazing bonfire. When in balance, fire people are vibrant, passionate, and dramatic, but when out of balance they can become volatile, short-tempered, and destructive. Like fire, they are bold, daring, and full of energy, with charismatic personalities and an infectious enthusiasm that makes them natural leaders and motivational speakers. However, if they are not careful, they can easily take on too much and burn out. Fire types can connect with others with ease so, like a flame that flickers around, they tend to be social butterflies. However, they can also become scattered and are easily pulled in too many directions. On the one hand, they love to speak and are quite eloquent and expressive, but on the other hand, they tend to get over excited and can talk too much or too quickly. Please click here for more information about the fire archetype.

Five Archetypes Yin and Yang
"Experienced numbness in two fingers on left hand and atrophy in muscles between thumb and forefinger . Diagnosed as ulnar nerve blockage. Using acupuncture and massage, was able to eliminate numbness and return normal sensation to left hand, and avoided the surgery my primary physician recommended." ~Dan C.
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