“The wood element is as forceful and determined as the wind and as supple as a spreading aspen stretching into a bright cloudless sky.”Between Heaven and Earth
Natures intrinsic cycles influence everything around us and everything within us. We can discover tremendous depth studying nature within the 5 elements. Centuries of wisdom through Traditional Chinese Medicine and Taoist practices can help us understand patterns that emerge from the seasons. Paying attention to these patterns can give us a deeper understanding of our spirit. As spring energy moves upward we begin to shift into the Wood element. Lets celebrate the arrival of spring by exploring the essence of wood.
Transformation of Water into Wood
As we transform from winter, known as the water element, into the wood element we begin to feel spring emerge subtly. Where I live in Colorado, I begin to feel the change of season happen in February. The shift out of winter begins with more warmer days mixed in with brutal days of cold. Like winter and spring are dancing with each other. Then at the beginning of March the wind picks up and begins to circulate the stagnation of winter. The energy of the wind awakens new energies within us. Influencing our bodies to start moving so our blood can circulate and move any internal stagnation outward.
Spring is all about rapid expansion, new growth, creativity and ascendance of power. Re-awakening from the winter slumber brings excitement. After what may have felt like a long winter there is anticipation for spring. The fluctuations of the weather, may cause impatience that can lead to tension. Here we have to remember the teachings of water to stay fluid through the ups and downs of the wind.
If you stay aligned with the rhythms of water in the winter time, you were able to rest and rejuvenate. Following the water into the depths with meditation working through blockages and fear. This inner work allows you to develop into a more interconnected being that is reliable, humble, mutable, dependable, grounded, steady, and established within oneself. Flowing into spring with solid roots that keeps you strong through change and new life.
The Archetype of the Wood Element
The archetype of spring can be explained in many ways. The pioneer is one way it is described by the book Between Heaven and Earth. “Driven by the adventure of penetrating the unknown, contending with fate, deliberately battling adversity to tame the wilderness.” Wood types are independent creatures, that easily adapt and live life fiercely and limitless. Taking action without fear. Freely envisioning and executing what they want. They are typically entrepreneurs, revolutionaries, innovators, politicians, and warriors. Assertive, charismatic, go-getters that struggle to stay still. Constantly remaining motivated, strategic, resourceful, ingenious, naturally wielding power and influence.
This archetype also explains the liver which governs movement and pressure by regulating the flow of qi. Just like the sap arising in the wood of trees the qi and blood also arise within the liver. By storing and releasing blood. Pressure and tension help project us into motion. Channeling our internal force. Someone with a lot of wood energy can see muscle spasms, exaggerated mood swings, and high blood pressure.
Wood types need to prioritize avenues of release. Other wise the qi in the liver can become obstructed not allowing proper circulation of the blood which nourishes the heart, eyes, and muscles. This can also lead to disrupted sleep, anxiety, blurred vision, cramps, delayed menses, PMS, tremors, hypersensitivity, body aches and fatigue. An over exaggerated wood personality can look like boldness becoming hostile, decisiveness becoming impulsive and unyielding. Tyrant behavior can develop especially in cases where there is emotional or physical trauma.
Manifestations of Springtime Energy
Tree branches reaching toward light. Strength of the roots in the wind as the trunk sways, holding its ground. The energy of wind penetrates into the earth, waking up the plant spirits telling them it is time to enter form, space, and time. Form emerges from formlessness, manifestations emerge from possibility. We are all susceptible to the influences and limitations of the Earth.
Vision, imagination, clear direction, capacity for justice help us discern our path, stay clear on our direction, imagine new possibilities, move toward goals, and take a stand for what we believe is right. Eyes help us see clearly and make wise decisions that help direct our actions toward our soul’s purpose. The wind carries this essence into the liver at night. Our sleep and dreams become activated so we can imagine and plan for the future. Informing the shape and the direction of our lives. Just as the wind determines the growth of the trees.
Dreams are energized by coming and going of our hearts energy. Functions of the essence of wood are peaceful dreams, emotional balance, decision making, and planning. Our emotions need to remain balanced so we have a sense of direction and vision for our life. If we lack vision anger can arise. Finding our true path can be tricky which can cause a slew of emotions and impatience. Repressed emotions block the qi in the liver causing indigestion, bloating, and headaches that can lead to emotional states like depression.
The Liver’s Relationship with The Wood Element
We organize the chaos of random possibility into meaningful patterns, just like the liver does. Just like the wind clears the clouds from the sky, the liver cleans the blood, giving us enough clarity to see the big picture. So we can create strategies for the future. Disturbance or weakness in the liver can throw off the equilibrium in our body and mind. Overwhelm by longstanding emotional distress, causing chaos, confusion, and dullness of spirit.
Without the spirit of wood we struggle to know our true selves. We lack the capacity to organize, plan, and set actions in motion. Losing the spark that helps us implement bright ideas and carry them through. We loose our inner light. Leading to feelings of guilt, irritability, anger, blame and over criticizing our selves. Spiritual imbalances can look like timidness, lack of courage, lack of color, wandering aimlessly, lack of direction, not finishing projects, running into walls, and obsession with injustice.
This can be caused by constitutional or “karmic” issues due to apathy of inner work. Or exposure to criticism, violence, drug/alcohol abuse, and early trauma. Malnutrition, eating disorders and anemia can also be a cause as well as exposure to toxins and pollutants.
Developing Equilibrium Within The Wood Element
Alignment with the spirit of the wood element allows us to feel grounded in a deep trust in the intrinsic wisdom of the cosmos. Allowing our decisions to unfold organically through inner wisdom. This state of being creates a healthy, free flowing liver. Harmonizing the health of the liver can be done through herbs, nutritional support, meditation, mindfulness practices, acupuncture, and qi gong. If you find yourself out of equilibrium during the wood element it is important to re-center, create awareness around whatever may be causing the internal wounds. Practice reversing the negative voices in your head. Look at your “weaknesses” reversed as your special gifts and talent. Be honest about your true natural make up with in. And let the spirit of spring guide you down your path.