5 Elements Constellation Workshop
5 Elements Constellation workshop
In Person workshops in London
10 to 17.30h 5 Five issue places – £85 9 Representatives £50
Saturday 31 October
Saturday 5 December
Saturday 23 January
Saturday 6 March
Saturday 3 April
Saturday 22 May
Saturday 3 July
Future Workshop Dates
5 Elements Constellation workshop (online) 3 issue holder places £70 Up to 13 representative places £ 40
Saturday 30 January 2021
Saturday 10 April 2021
Saturday 19 June 2021
Introduction to Constellating the 5 Elements
Organised by: Marion Balsenti and Corinne Devery
7 & 8 November 2020
Due social distancing, in person workshops will have maximum 14 participants. Additional safety measures will be in place.
In this work the elements represent five aspects of the Self. Each of the 5 elements, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire have many associations and significance and it is an intra-psychic type of constellation. Additionally, there are two cycles that help and promote health and harmony, similarly to the ‘Order of Love’ from Bert Hellinger. When these two cycles are affected or disrupted these lead to internal dynamics that support ways of being, issues, and patterns that weigh us down or holds us back. These are further explained at the beginning of the workshop.
Constellating the elements allows us to reveal the inner and ‘hidden’ dynamics internalised earlier in life or we are unconsciously entangled in systemic, parents and ancestors events or situations. Many, maybe even most problems we have in life are often times symptoms of these unconsciously internalised dynamics. Dynamics that thus far have had an influence or hold on us and have been making life more complicated or difficult or confusing. The constellation approach allows these inner dynamics to be seen and help us to be aware of them. This process is insightful, diagnostic, and expands the person’s view of pertinent life issues. From this new expanded awareness the work progresses towards a resolution, towards a more harmonious, strengthening way of being. By seeing the deeper reality beneath presenting problems is enlightening, hugely relieving and creates real movement. When these movements are supported and happen, we are more integrated, congruent and calm. These help us gather more of ourselves and our resources, easing our way forward in life. This approach supports us experience life with a greater level of harmony with ourselves and with everything and everyone who is important to us.
What happens in a 5 Elements Constellation Workshop
On a day workshop we usually have four constellations sometimes five, all other participants are representatives. Being a representative in a constellation workshop means, being part of the circle, witnessing, experiencing and personally benefiting from the constellations that take place. Representative participants often remark how much they gained, how much inner work they have done by being part of the group or being a representative in the constellation of others.
I start the day by explaining, contextualising what a five elements constellation, what each element represents and is associated with and the two cycles that ensures health and harmony.
We will then have a round, when all participants will have the opportunity to introduce themselves.
Once the person who is going to have their constellation is chosen, this person sits next to me I’ll will ask how he/she wants to starts his/her work: The person has the choice to constellate the five elements or an specific and important issue.
If they chose the 5 elements I give them five cards. On each card is written the name of one of the elements. This person then choses five people from the group, if you are asked to be a representative you can either accept or not. If you accept the invitation to be a representative this person gives you a card, you, without seeing which element you will be representing place this card in your pocket and you are placed as representative in the circle. This is what is called a blind constellation. This is so to prevent mental contamination of the process. Once the five people representing the five elements are placed, they will be given few minutes to move to where they are drawn to. Once this movements settle I write on the board the positioning of the elements. This helps to begin to understand the dynamic/s that are being brought to the surface. This, together with the feedback from each representative, reveals some important information about “hidden dynamics’. Once the person whose constellation it is understands and recognises what is happening and the effects the dynamics being shown has on their life, the work progresses in a way of finding a more supportive, harmonious, healthier inner relationship and a better flow in life.
On the other hand, if the person choses to look at an important issue, the work continuous as in a traditional systemic/family constellation way.
What happens during the workshop
The participants who are going to have a constellation done have a choice: They can constellate the five elements or constellate an important issue. If this person choses to constellate the 5 elements I give them five pieces of paper. On each piece of paper is written the name of one element. The person chooses five people from the circle. Each of the five representing one of the five elements and place them, one at a time, somewhere in the circle.
Initially it is a blind constellation. Blind constellation is when the representatives don’t know who or what they are representing. After placing all the five representatives they are given sometime to follow any spontaneous urge to move. When the movements are settled I will take note of their positioning. What happens is, even though the representative don’t know which element they are representing they begins to feel what is happening to this element and how the element they are represent feel in themselves and how this element is relating to all other elements. The positioning together with the feedback, posture and demeanour from the representatives reveal some of the unconscious hidden dynamics. This is the information that informs,guides the work. Based on these, together with the person who is working we will try and have a clear focus for the work to continue.
This process is related to tuning in to the ‘morphic field’. This is a field where, we and everything that exists are interrelated, interconnected and interdependent. I usually compare the morphic field to the force of gravity. Wether or not we know of it, agree with it or not, the force of gravity is what it is and we are part of it and exist and function within it.
Participants can benefit from this work in three ways:
- By having their own constellation
- By being a representative in somebody else constellation
- By witnessing. experiencing the work as part of the holding circle
“This was an amazing day today. You provided safety and much more to allow this to happen, happy to recommend you. You deserve it.”
“What a great workshop on Saturday? Profound and quite magical. And I thought you led it brilliantly, gentle but penetrating. As you said, good to just be with afterwards. Thanks very much. I have recommended to various people and given your web address.”
The 5 Elements constellation is combination of two approaches which works in an insightful, supportive, and healing way.By participating in the workshops you agree to be willing and able to take full responsibility for yourself during and after the workshop and that you will not make demands for any consequences of your participation.
How did the 5 Elements Constellation approach came about
The first documents related to the five elements or five phases theory is from the fourth century B.C.E.¹. The elements, associations and cycles were a way that the rural culture of China observed nature’s natural processes. The result of this empirical process was the awareness that each element relates to the other elements in a similar way internal organs relate to other internal organs, as well as different parts of the body, mental and emotional states. The awareness of the interconnection, interrelatedness and interdependency of every part of the body, mind and emotions².
Each element, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood have each their own characteristic and associations², some of these associations are illustrated in the diagram. Furthermore, there are two cycles, the creative and controlling cycles, that ensure harmonious and healthy relationship between the elements, similar in nature to the ‘Orders of Love’³ from Bert Hellinger. The Creative cycle is when one element creates and nourishes the next as in this sequence: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire again, forming the circle in the diagram, similar to parent-child relationship.The Control cycle, which I prefer to refer to as the supportive cycle is when one element controls and supports the second element in a clockwise direction: Earth, Water, Fire, Metal, Wood, and Earth again. Similar to grandparent-grandchild relationship. Thus, forming the internal cycle in form of a star.
At the thought of using constellation process with the five elements I felt a rush of energy and excitement, as well as anxiety and doubt about the validity of combining these two unrelated approaches. After pondering for a good while I decided to go ahead with the experiment. In order to avoid intellectual and rational interference from myself or others, I would explain the procedure to the group and not the concepts, at least to start with.
I explained to the group of students that I would choose some people from the group for an experiment. I would choose one person at a time, give this person a small piece of paper with something written on it, but for them not to look at what was written on it, simply to put this piece of paper in their pocket. On each piece of paper I wrote the name of one of the elements. I had these pieces of paper to ensure I would not forget who I chose to represent each element. I would ask a person to stand up and I would stand behind them and place my hands on their shoulders and place each one spatially in relation to one another. Once I placed them, all they had to do was to notice how they experienced themselves in that place and in relation to one another. If they felt they wanted to move they could move. If anyone else moved position, to notice if their moving had any impact on them at all, better or worse, more tense or more relaxed.
I purposely placed the elements in a different position to the Creative and Supportive cycles. I was anxious, apprehensive and even nervous about how this would go. I wanted to see what the feedback from each element representative would be and if the creative and supportive cycles would be manifested in this experiment, and how. This was a big question and I was far from sure what the outcome would be. What would it mean if it didn’t work at all. What if this experiment showed no relevant relationship between one element and the other, as I had learnt and have been applying in my shiatsu practice ever since I learnt it? Would it mean that applying two different and unrelated processes cannot work together, or that, there is no morphic resonance⁴ in the field of the elements and the theory of the 5 elements is just that, a theory. I had more questions than answers and was afraid of what would happen and the possible meanings I could extract from what would be revealed.
The initial response from the five representatives was that they were not feeling well in themselves, apart from one who said it was sort of ok where she was. Additionally, most of them said, they didn’t like that much the person who was placed next to them. “It doesn’t feel right” was the common response. I encouraged them to try and find a place, if possible, where they might feel better. Also to notice how it was for them when they moved and to notice if anything changed for them when someone else moved. This process took some minutes and participants moved and changed positions many times. Slowly, one by one, they began to find a place where they felt better, where it felt ‘right‘ to be. They slowly formed a circle and felt it was good to have the people who were on their left and right hand side. As they felt settled and happy in their position, I had a look at the piece of paper each participant was holding without sharing with them what was written on it. I then realized they were exactly at the correct creative cycle positions. I was impacted by the realization that the five participants got themselves in the correct positions even though they had no information about the content of what they were doing. At this point, as all of them were looking towards the centre of the circle, I asked them to look at the person standing on their left hand side, which is the creative cycle. They all, in unison said, ‘this feels really good’. I then asked them to look at the second person on their left hand side, which is the supportive cycle. They once again in unison said, ‘this feels even better’. I was amazed with what I had just witnessed. At this point I asked the five participants in the experiment to look at what was written on the pieces of paper they were holding. They read it and slowly it dawned on them what the experiment was about. They realized they were representing the elements and that they, with no information whatsoever about what they were doing, formed and experienced the creative and supportive cycles of the five elements theory. This for them was no longer a theory, it was a felt experience. We were all flabbergasted. Some of them were asking ‘what has just happened here?’.
We had moved from cognitive, intellectual mode of learning to a way of experiencing and learning that happened somewhere much deeper in ourselves and we were having difficulty in verbalizing our experiences. As a group we took time to digest and integrate the experience and learning.
For me personally, the process of understanding and integrating the experience took much longer. I did not expect the experiment to show so clearly, faithfully and strongly the elements and the two cycles as it did. It took me about two years when I felt ready again to experiment with combining these two processes. At the beginning of 2012 I run few evenings of 150 minutes each with mainly shiatsu students when I constellated the 5 elements. The second time the whole group was aware that we were looking at the five elements using the morphic resonance field⁴. In one of these evening groups I demonstrated how to place the elements in a blind constellation. No sooner had I placed the five representatives for the elements, each of the representatives started giving feedback about their experiences. I realized that they were representing my five elements. I realized to my shock that they were my own inner dynamics being expressed by the five people who were representing the elements. I recognised the truth of their feedback. I was very surprised and impacted. This experience repeated itself each time a person in the group placed representatives for the five elements. The representatives of the elements would share their experiences and the person would recognise the feedback as their own inner dynamics. These experiences informed me that the elements do indeed represent different aspects of the self. How a person representing an element feel in themselves and how they relate to the other four representatives indeed reflected inner, often hidden dynamics that the person has internalised, carry in themselves and are active in this person’s life, usually in a detrimental way.
The discrepancy, the difference between of what shows up in a 5 elements constellation to the ideal creative and supportive, is information. The discrepancies is an internal dynamic and shows where interruption/s to the ideal cycles is/are. This innovativecombination goes directly to the core dynamic and is proving to be a very reliable tool. Additionally, constellating the five elements could help enhance the person’s awareness levels of these inner dynamics and, similarly to family constellation, these dynamics can be experimented with in order to release stuckness, in order to support a movement towards integration, harmony and health, and, as much as possible, try and restore the two natural creative and supportive cycles. Often easing the way to a healthier and more harmonious way of experiencing life.
After this experience and much reflection and a certain amount of supervision I felt confident enough that constellating the five elements could be a intra-psychic type of constellation worth pursuing. The first 5 elements constellation workshop was in October 2012. I have since been running 5 elements constellation workshop in London, roughly every quarter. I am having the opportunity to share this work in Sheffield and I regularly go to Argentina, three different cities in Brazil and three cities in Greece too.
In a workshop when a person chooses to constellate the 5 elements there is not an initial interview and the constellation is usually blind. Constellating the 5 elements is an organically evolving process. Each workshop and individual session I facilitate informs me and new insights reveal themselves as to what each element represents and is related to in a person intra-psychic dynamics.
For instance Earth element in oriental medicine is related to how the body processes and extracts life force energy from fluid and food as well as rational, intellectual processes amongst other things. Constellating the 5 elements, it soon became clear that earth element intra-psychically represents how we have internalised our mothers, and if and how we are receiving her life force. Wood on the other hand shows how we have internalised our fathers. Water, the source of life, how we relate to our source of life, our ancestry. Fire is the Id⁵, the part of us that feels, and Metal our ego, that important part of us that deals with everyday issues and specially difficult situation and has a clear sense of who I am, who I am not, our boundaries and limits, knowing that we are an unique relational individual and part of a family and a wider community and culture. With this understanding and together with the feedback from representatives, a difficult or stuck dynamic soon becomes visible. So far everyone who constellated their five elements has related to the dynamics manifested during this innovative combination.
Constellation work in general, and specially to me the 5 elements constellation, never cease to amaze me. The work evolves and grows organically and there is a significant compatibility of the five elements association and cycles with constellation work. I feel very inspired and excited by how the 5 elements constellation workshop keeps evolving and attracting people from all walks of life. My short term future plan is to continue running the workshops and to finish the Gestalt Psychotherapy Master’s training course. After that, it would be great if I can share and train other constellation facilitators how to constellate the 5 elements.
- Kaptchuk, Ted 1983- K Chinese Medicine – The Web that has no Weaver First printed by Rider – Printed by Mackays of Chatham PLC, Chatham Kent
- Liangyue D, Yijun G, Shuhui H, Xiaoping J, Yang L, Rufen W, Wenjing W, Xuetai W, Hengze X, Jiuling Y, 1987 Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion – Beijing, China
- Hellinger, B. Love’s Own Truths Bonding and Balancing in Close Relationships 2001 Zeig, Tucker & Theisen, Inc. Phoenix, AZ USA
- Perls, F., Hefferline, R., Goodman, P. Gestalt Therapy Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality 1951 The Julian Press Inc. USA