The Fire Element in Summer surrounds us. Dry leaves and grass bake under the hot summer sun. A spark, a flash of lighting, or perhaps the heat of the sun itself, ignites the blaze. In Five Element Acupuncture, the Wood Element is called the “mother” of the Fire Element. There has to be an initial spark to light the flame – the Fire Element in potential form – but without Wood to fuel it, the spark goes nowhere. In any form – petroleum, coal, gas or timber – wood is our most plentiful source of fuel for fire.
In acupuncture treatment, we can nourish the energy of the Fire meridians by accessing Wood energy. Just as surely as dry leaves ignite in the hot summer sun, the Wood Element (Spring) creates and nourishes the Fire Element (Summer). The ancient Chinese called this the “sheng”, or creation, cycle. Each season and Element nourishes and “mothers” the one that follows.
Spring is a time of new beginnings, regeneration and hope for the future. The essence of Spring is embodied in the image of plant life (Wood) bursting forth with new growth. Fields are plowed, fertilized and planted. Seedlings emerge, grow and develop according to plan. Wood energy within the human body/mind/spirit is directed toward planning, decision-making, goal-setting and starting new projects. Wood is the hard work of laying a foundation.
In Summer, the hopes and plans of Spring begin to be fulfilled. Crops, once planted, mature and ripen in the long, warm, sunny days of Summer. Much of what the gardener has to do is simply wait, and perhaps water the soil. The maturation process that takes place in Summer relies on the hard work of Spring, along with the right conditions of weather and soil. If the Spring is poor, there may be no crops to mature in Summer.
Likewise, in the human body/mind/spirit, a healthy and vibrant Fire Element (the capacity for warmth, joy, ease, connection, and the ability to mature) relies on a robust Wood Element (ability to make plans and carry them out) to nourish it.
For more on the Fire Element in Summer and in the human body/mind/spirit, read the next post (Part II).