Think mountains, rock, crystal, granite and diamonds. When a muscle is tensed it is harder than bone, harder than wood. The first artillery missiles were rocks; and they worked very effectively. Stone is solid, stable and immutable; it drives through.
Stone or Earth is central. It is this element that takes water and energy from the sun and is the catalyst for all growth, as plants all need the soil to grow in. Stone represents different times in one’s life as we move through different cycles. Earth is associated with late summer/autumn and harvest, a time for gathering and receiving the fruits of our labour. It is a time of hard and productive work. It is this element that represents our long traditions, slow to change, but give us a sense of who we are in terms of our past, our heritage, our ancestors.
Yin Earth represents the nourishing and nurturing of all plants and in particular all our food. It is all about the potential for growing things. Recall ideas like being close to the earth. Think of a farmer who knows and cherishes the qualities of the soil that he plants his crops in.
Yang Stone represents the harvesting of that produce; including the use of stone in construction of buildings and such that last. This element is about being resolute and reliable. The time for watching the crops grow through lazy summer days is over and the time to get down to the hard work of harvesting is here. Stone typifies a sense of long tradition in the way a family can identify with the land that their forefathers farmed. Or even a sense of heritage in the way that stone buildings sit in a landscape for millennia.
Stone nourishes Metal and is nourished by Fire. Metals are all found in stone in the ground. So, it is as if Metals grow in the medium of stone. Of course, to produce a metal tool it requires resolute hard work which is represented by Stone. Burning of forests in many parts of the world is essential to feed nutrients back into the soil. But in an everyday context, it is passion or emotion that is needed to drive you to embark upon any endeavour involving hard work or to create a custom that will become a tradition.
Stone is controlled by Wood and controls Water. A small seed that lands in a crack in rock will grow and break it apart, so with traditions that structure society, it is new ideas that grow gradually breaking them apart. Or the way a forest will take over a building and smother it eventually; it is normal that old traditions can still exist in any society but be disguised and half hidden behind new and dynamic cultural growth. Stone dams a river, but the very geology shapes a river’s course and this is a good image to explain how the cultural traditions guide and direct the chaotic exuberance of youthful energy into safer and more constructive paths. The young always rage against the traditions that limit their behaviours but as people age, they start to see that the structures are being eroded and changed, but slow steady transformation of societies structures are normally the safest way to do it. When a levee breaks and a river bursts its banks it’s rarely productive.