“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant…..
And ending with:
………………Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
I see each phase of this circle of life as imparting its own quality to that life, each adding the quality of the element which it represents to those whose guardian element it is. There will therefore always be something of the child in a person with Wood as their guardian element, as there will be something of the exuberant joyfulness of the young adult emerging into the wider world of the adult in all Fire people, whatever their age. Each Earth person will show something of the mature adult throughout their life, as will a young Metal person show something of the wisdom of those approaching old age even in childhood. Water, always the most mysterious of all elements, the beginning and end of all things, will show both the naivety of the child which Wood always shows and the age-old wisdom of those living at the end of their days, which Metal hints at.
If a five element practitioner is unsure which element dominates in one of their patients, and they are unable to get enough information from their five senses to point towards one element, an attempt to see their patients in terms of how they appear in relation to the kind of stage of life they represent is a further way of helping our diagnosis. In my book Keepers of the Soul I gave the example of my mother, definitely of the Wood element, who showed a childlike enjoyment of life at nearly 90 years of age, and I have a Metal son who I turn to to put me right about decisions in my life which my Fire element does not appear mature enough to make.
In this context, it is interesting to note the emotional ages of the friends we choose. I seem mostly to have chosen those who are further along the cycle of the elements than me, predominantly the Metal element. I notice, too, that other people’s choices of friends reflect something about the need for their own element to receive support often from an element not their own which stimulates them.
I have never made a statistical survey of people’s elements compared with the elements of their friends. This would indeed prove an almost impossible task, given that we need to treat a person for some time before really being sure of their element. But I suspect that many of us choose friends from amongst elements other than our own. I have always certainly done so, because, I have decided, I do not wish to have to observe in my friends the weaknesses I see in myself.