by Kachina L. Smith, D.Ac., L.Ac.
The Chinese recognize five elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. Each element has correspondences associated with nature, our bodies, minds, spirits, and how they all influence each other. Everyone has each of the five elements represented within us, and we often have more of some elements than others. In this first installment of our Chinese element seasonal series, we are examining the Fire element and its corresponding season of Summer.
As I sit and write this, outside my window the air is hot, sun is bright, and life is brimming with possibility! There are so many possibilities for enjoying the season of Summer and each year we all get excited about things to do now that there’s so much more…time. What do I mean? You may notice not only do we become more active, looking to fill the days with all kinds of activities, but there is also more actual day time to enjoy all these things. First, we must consider, where does this come from and how does it show up in life?
Out of the whole, the oneness, there is the balance of two: yin and yang. In nature for example, yang is the Sun and yin is the Moon; yang is hot, dry and active, while yin is cold, wet, and still. One is necessary to balance the other. Within each element there are yin and yang organ pairs for this reason. If we imagine a circle, the cycle of life and seasons if you will, right now we are at the very top. Summer is the peak of yang and exemplifies the fire element. Conversely, winter is the deepest depth of yin and the water element.
Within the fire are two sides, what we consider “high” fire (more yang) and “low” fire (a little more yin). “High” fire is what we think of as a party busting at the seams with dancing, music, food, and fun. Fire is associated with this emotion of joy and the sound of laughter which we often hear at these events. Fire can be big and blazing, scorching, wild, flickering, and as small as a glowing ember. That glowing ember is the “low fire.” Sitting around outdoors during twilight with a small group of people talking and enjoying each other’s company is an example. Other things that may come to mind with the idea of Fire are passion, intimacy, relationships, and even our blood pumping through our veins with vigor and vitality. Therefore, red and love are specific to the fire element too.
When we look within and at others, can you think of how the fire is present? Are you the “life of the party,” the detailed “party planner,” the “host with the most,” or the “social butterfly”? These are personality examples of Fire and their associated organ networks of the Heart, Small Intestine, Triple Heater/Energizer (which is thought of like our personal temperature system), and Pericardium.
Can you also think of where you may need a little more fulfillment? Perhaps your fire needs stoking? The fire element is also associated with the time of maturation, like a ripening peach on the end of a branch. An exciting image, yes? Life is becoming worth savoring like that peach and, like all of life, is best enjoyed in the present. Yes, enjoying life in the moment right now is a way to get in touch with the fire. Stop and take the time to do something you love, and when you do, stop again to enjoy it in the moment. There’s no time like the present to light your inner fire, and better still, don’t let it go out. Creativity, associated with the Wood element, helps feed the Fire. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Don’t forget to balance your yang with yin too. Eating cooler foods like cucumbers and watermelon, and drinking a cool beverage while having quieter, more still moments in the evening breeze are ways to do so.
Harvest time and the lazy, hazy days of Late Summer are coming next, which correspond with the Earth element. Look out for my next installment in this series about this important time in nature and ourselves when savoring is paramount as we begin the transition toward yin.