Vernal Equinox and the Five Elements
On March 20th, and throughout this entire week for that matter, mother Earth will be going through her cyclical metabolic process or climatic shift called Equinox. The Vernal Equinox is the transition from Winter to Spring, or in the words of 5 elements theory, from Water to Wood. As children of Mother Earth, our Body, Mind and Spirit also go through a metabolic shift as we adjust to the energies of the season. This year, the onset of Spring coincides with the first day of the New Moon, a propitious time for new beginnings and or finding new views in that that still feels current to us…
When ancient Chinese physicians spoke of the Five elements, they not only referred to the elements as found in Nature: wood, fire, earth, metal and water but also to Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water as the symbolic expression of how life moves and manifests on our planet and in our bodies and psyches.
Winter time is a propitious season to dwell and look deeply into our fears and habitual patterns. It’s during that time that some of us hold tight to the aspiration to transform that energy into Wisdom, the virtue of Water, in the knowing that the manifesting power of the Spring would follow.
According to some scholars and practitioners of the Chinese meridian system the first acupuncture point on the Wood channel located very close to the Earth, around the area of the big toe, is called “Great Esteem”. It refers to “self-esteem as the ability to stand up for the vision that emerges from the depths of the self”. Remember that during the Winter season the seeds are nourished and protected by Mother Earth until it’s the right time, Spring, for them to manifest their potential into the world.
Wisely, the Chinese chose to give the name of “Gate of Hope” to the last point of the wood meridian located on the “rib basket”, under the diaphragm. The Gate of Hope empowers the quality of aspiration. You can picture yourself growing out of your safe shell or seed of potential and joyfully stretching out towards your Heart, your inner sun and from there manifesting your true potential into the world around you.
Sometimes the transition from Winter to Spring may feel a little uncomfortable for some of us since the force of wood will push us to acknowledge and get in touch with areas or aspects of ourselves carefully swept under the rug during the dormant season of Winter. This may translate into a feeling of urgency to finish or start that one project already overcooking in the cauldron of our dreams. Luckily, the Equinox is also a very propitious time to exercise equanimity, compassion and kindness to ourselves and others!
It is also a time in which anger may come out a little bit easier than at other times; that is why the ancient ones advise us to arise early and go walking (or in modern times, we may go jogging, cycling, rowing…) in order to absorb the fresh, invigorating energy of the season so as to be able to course and transform the powerful energy of anger into discernment and understanding. Expressing ourselves both physically and emotionally is also a healthy way to course the Yang energy of a new sprout.
The Spring is a propitious time to attend to the Liver and Gall Bladder. Good time to cleanse the body of the fats and heavier foods of the Winter.
Some of us will undergo some form of “flu” that will invite us to make a pause and allow the junk to come out in the form of phlegm, loose stools and a bit of more sweating.
You may choose to to go on a Cleanse (either a lengthy 21 days one or a more moderate one-day cleanse), if you feel that your liver is somewhat burdened after the wintery heavy foods. You can also use the following herbs to cleanse and tonify your wood element:
• Dandelion is an overall liver cleanser and tonic. Particularly effective for PMS (pre menstrual syndrome), mood swings, bloating and breast tenderness
• Peppermint is a mood-elevating, invigorating herb that can aid digestion, bloating and poor appetite.
• Milk Thistle is the premier herb for anyone who has been exposed to toxic chemicals and should be taken for at least two months after exposure. In addition, for those who work with chemicals or are routinely exposed to pollution, milk thistle can be taken on a regular basis with a one week break every six weeks
The diet should be the lightest of the year and contain foods that emphasize the ascending and expansive qualities of the spring like:
~ Young plants
~ Fresh Greens
~ And immature wheat or other cereal grasses.
Of course, always listen to your own needs, especially in cases in which you may have certain food allergies!
Salty foods such as soy sauce, miso and sodium rich meats all have a strong component of sinking energy and it’s best to limit during this season. Instead, you can use pungent cooking herbs such as:
~ Bay leaf
Certain intensely pungent flavors are employed in the spring by Western folk healers as medicine: a week long daily dose of raw onions and garlic acts as a potion to rid the body of parasites (no romantic dates that week!).
Food preparation becomes simpler in the spring. Cook your food for a shorter time but at a higher temperature, in this way the food is not as thoroughly cooked, especially the inner part. If oil is used, a quick high-temperature sauté is appropriate. When cooking with water, light steaming or minimal simmering is ideal.
Treat yourself with a soothing and delicious tea!
Since coffee is not the most appropriate beverage for this time of the year, I suggest that you treat yourself with this “Liver calming” tea. It’s very simple to make; just gather the following ingredients and make an infusion.
* Mint leaves (fresh when possible)
* Goji berries (look for the ones that are red and not orange since the latter are treated with sulfur), and
* Rose buds
If you want, you may also add a few drops of fresh lemon to your tea. I truly enjoy this combination of herbs especially during Spring time!
According to Chinese Medicine, this is the most appropriate time of the year to reorganize our internal space by cleansing and nourishing our bodies and mind. This invitation will create a “pause” in our habit-energy which will allow us to shed new light into old assumptions about ourselves and others.
Through the “Gate of Hope”, the energy of this season as manifested by the Wood element presents us with the opportunity to discern our path, to stay clear on our direction, to move forward toward manifesting our dreams and to take a stand for what we believe is wholesome and in accordance to our Destiny.
This is certainly a time for birth and renewal; may you enjoy every bit of it!
To our Health!
Yamin Chehin L.Ac, Dipl O.M
“Nourishing Destiny” Lonny S Jarret
“Love of Mother Universe” Hua-Ching Ni.
“Five Spirits” Lorie Eve Dechar.
“Healing with Whole foods. Oriental traditions and modern nutrition”, Paul Pitchford