Fall is just around the corner and it made me want to review how the philosophy of the 5 elements makes sense of this time of year.
5 element acupuncture is an understanding of the interconnected relationships of things in the world and their relation to humans. Recognizing these relationships came about because of hundreds of years of observation of the natural world. The philosophy grew out of a time when more humans were more intimately connected to nature. In other words, enough people sat around observing their surroundings long enough to realize there are unique connections between certain things, people and the seasons. Acupuncturists use the knowledge of these relationships to help diagnose and treat their patients but the information can be used by everyone to better understand themselves and also to lead a more harmonious life.
For each of the five elements (earth, metal, water, wood, fire) there is a group of related things. The element of fall is metal. Metal represents functions in a declining state much like the season fall is the time of the decline of the energy of the year’s growing season. Or, as we humans sometimes say as we get older, that we are in the autumn of our years. The ancient Chinese observed that the character of metal is to descend and be clear. Within the human body the metal element is concerned with the balanced health of the lungs and large intestine. Imbalance of respiratory health or large intestine health would be diagnosed as an imbalance of the metal element. The following is a fairly complete list of the other observed items of connection to this element taken from the Student Manual on the Differentiation and Treatment of the Zang Fu Syndromes by Tyme L.Ac. How best to use this information? Start with seeing if there are there any aspects of metal that stand out for you. Do any play significant roles in the story of you or you in connection to the world around you? Think about it!
Tissue-skin and mucous membranes
Physiognomy-cheeks and nostrils
Eye- the sclera (the white part!)
Tongue-posterior of tip
Odor-rotten, as in fishy
Flavor-pungent and spicy
Metal is strained by- lying
Metal’s sound in relation to an emotion-weeping or wailing
Sound emitted in relation to an illness-coughing
Metal’s sense is smell
Climate-dryness and cold
Numbers- 9 and 4
Wild animal- bird
Grain- rice, oats
Veggie- tall green ones
Cooking- to bake