Wood is the element of spring. What are the conditions of spring and how do we notice, align, and incorporate with this season? This blog churns up a few notions about Chinese medicine from an elemental/seasonal perspective.
We are all of this earth, so we have earthy elements. Studying the elements is a way to integrate with nature. It’s a way to channel the current element, thus align and sync with the season.
Each season gives us a chance to notice where we are, how we are moving, where we are going, and generally what is going on. What is our place?
A long time ago, in China, they talked of wood and fierce growth. It quickly got a little more detailed.
To see the elements of spring through the lens of this theory, look at the list below.
The featured organ of spring is the liver.
tissues: ligaments and tissues
wild animal: tiger
instrument: compass (direction)
pathology of this time of year:
pain in chest or sides of chest
redness, swelling of eyes
Personality of wood:
We have the wood element in us all year long, some more than others. Strong wood personalities are often leaders, people who get things done.
Like all the elements, it helps when wood is in balance. If out of balance, it can lead to extremes on either end. Too much wood: argumentative, short tempered, overbearing, inflexible. Too little wood: lack of drive, direction, vision, and hope.
People who lack woodiness are looking for a plan, structure and vision for them to feel the strength and flexibility inwardly, to then manifest outwardly. They need to harness direction and movement forward.
Those with too much woodiness, can be overly controlling and pushy; therefore, could use softening, flexibility, and a willingness to not demand so much control.
Imagine we are all trees. Different trees, tall, short, bushy, bare, smooth, rough. Our human bodies and tree bodies are blended in this season, and one message is: be strong, yet flexible. Allow your branches to bend. Bending is favored over breaking. Try not to snap.
Trees and humans are both seen as connecting heaven and earth, dirt to sky. Branches and limbs are like tendons and sinews. We want to have a good supply and flow of sap, like healthy trees. This goes for emotions too. We can see and touch rigid sore muscles, but what about rigid attitudes? Short tempers? This makes for a dry and brittle personality that turns to fiery anger quickly (extreme anger is called “liver fire”).
In school, we were taught that it is best to be moveable, changeable, bendable. How do you balance growth, or try new things, while also maintaining a way of creative adaptability- to thrive more readily with what is. For us trees and people, we need unobstructed fluid/sap circulation, bendy limbs, flexible attitudes, and branches that let the air and light flow through.
Try to encourage supple muscles/ supple mind.
This is an active season. Growth! It is not a passive or reflective time of year.
Questions and tips of this season
- what makes me feel alive?
- what can I do to be a more fully alive person?
- Am I moving my body enough? It’s time to move and disperse stagnation.
- If you feel you are off-track somehow, it’s time to get back on. Don’t worry too much about mistakes, just try things and move on.
- Stretch your tendons and sinews. Move stagnation, yet remain stable.
- Organize and restructure routes or habits that are inefficient, or no longer effective.
- Grow toward the light. Follow light like plants do. Be aware of your direction.
* List from Thea Elijah, LAc., from her wood integration series.
Spring is the season of birth and growth…. it also has its share of death and decay. Yet, in spring, grief and fear are overtaken by the sheer force of optimism and vitality.
It’s a great time to make massage oil with spring elements to soothe tendons and sinews. Soften the limbs, relax the attitude.
Mood boost massage oil:
Base: sunflower oil
Add: bergamot, lemon, and orange essential oils. Amount added depends on amount of oil. If it’s 8 0z., I’d recommend 10-20 drops of each. Experiment. Start small if you don’t like a strong smell.
Balance massage oil
Base: sunflower oil
Add: orange, patchouli, and ginger essential oils.
I chose sunflower oil as the base, but you can choose something else. I love sunflowers, their booming vitality, color, and sunniness. They provide beauty, pollination for bees, and fuel for birds. Sunflower oil is also rich in vitamins A, D, and E.
In conclusion, I’m told that horses do these three things the most in the spring: buck, fart, and roll, sometimes as a sequence. Go for it!
J.R. Worsley, Classical Five-Element Acupuncture
Thea Elijah, LAc.