This fall, the USA seems to have sunk to a new low in our national character. Value, respect, and esteem – the spirit of the Metal Element in Autumn – have been lost from the body politic and society at large. In these divided times, we need a healthy Metal Element more urgently than ever. Autumn is the season for spiritual purification, releasing old toxins and recovering what is most precious in human nature. The Metal Element calls forth the best in each of us, our higher consciousness.
The Metal Element in Autumn
Five Element theory is a roadmap, handed down to us from the ancient Chinese. It can help us understand the cycles of life at work within us and around us in nature and society. The Five Elements govern every aspect of our being – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The spiritual level refers to the cultivation of human character. In this article, we focus on the spirit of the Metal Element, but you can learn more about it by reading earlier posts and watching the video.
If we look to nature and the season of Autumn, we can understand why value, respect, and esteem embody the spirit of the Metal Element. The energy of Autumn has an obvious quality: decline and decomposition. Plants die back, wither and rot. Trees lose their leaves. But, decomposition serves a double purpose. On the one hand, it allows living organisms to survive the Winter by letting go of what no longer serves them. On the other hand, it frees up precious nutrients and returns them to the soil, so that they can nourish the next annual cycle of life. Nature wastes nothing, and everything is recycled.
It is this aspect of Autumn – recovery of what is precious and valuable – that helps us understand the Metal Element in the human spirit. Metals – gold, silver, platinum – are not naturally found in a pure form. They typically occur as mineral ores in the earth’s crust. They have to be mined, refined, and purified to be of use to humans. This is why we place high value on many metals, and use them as money. Even in the internet age, gold is still the global standard of currency.
Purification and Inspiration
In the human body, the process of decomposition and recycling – letting go of the old and taking in the new – is expressed in the functions of the Lungs and Colon. The Colon is the Great Eliminator, allowing us to get rid of toxins and waste at the end of the digestive process. Likewise, the Colon helps clear us of mental and spiritual toxins that pollute our “information diet” – disinformation, “fake news,” conspiracy theories, hate speech, and paranoia. On a physical level, we quickly become uncomfortable if the Colon gets overwhelmed. So, too, if it has to handle an excess of mental and spiritual rubbish.
The Lungs and breath bring us vitality and inspiration, the capacity to take in new life and new ideas. Respiration is a continuous process of letting go of the old and taking in the new, exhalation and inhalation. Yet, breathing is more than just the physical exchange of gases. Breath is unique in that it is both involuntary and voluntary, linking the conscious mind to the unconscious. It is a gateway that allows us to tap into our higher consciousness, and bring out the best in ourselves.
Value, Respect, and Esteem
The Metal Element connects us to the divine inner spark of higher consciousness. It gives us the inspiration that makes us feel that life is worth living. When we are truly able to see value in ourselves, we can also see the value in others. When we treat others with respect, it inspires them to respect us in turn. Genuine self-esteem and respect for self and others are the gifts of a healthy Metal Element within.
J.R. Worsley, Classical Five Element Acupuncture, Volume II: the Five Elements and the Officials, 1998
Inner Works Acupuncture is a Five Element acupuncture clinic in northwest Portland. Contact us at 503-227-2127 for more information or to make an appointment.