Autumn: The Season of the Metal Element
Opening up the Metal element
“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.”
Deep in Earth resides metal, the most intriguing of the elements. It represents the entire cooling down phase from extreme Yang to extreme Yin. It is everything that condenses, contracts, conserves, shrinks and freezes.
Colors: White (Yang) and Silver (Yin)
Earthly branches and months: Monkey (August), Phoenix (September), Dog (October)
Body organs: Lungs (Yin) and Large Intestines (Yang)
Power Animal: White Tiger
Meridians: Lungs & Large Intestines
Metal’s planet is Venus. Metal’s season is autumn, the time of harvest, completion, and the beginning of rest. Metal corresponds to the three earthly branches of fall: Monkey (August), Phoenix (September), and Dog (October). Metal’s direction is west. On the Feng Shui ba-gua metal correlates to children and creativity. Metal’s symbol is a white Tiger.
Although Metal is a lesser Yin element, it can exist in either a Yang or a Yin state. When Metal expresses masculine Yang energy, its color is white and is symbolized by a weapon. When metal expresses feminine Yin energy, its color is silver and is symbolized by a kettle. Metal qualities include strength, independence, focus, intensity, righteousness, and fluency in speech. The Metal personality is very determined and powerful. Metal types succeed by being less opinionated, accepting change, and gracefully releasing the past.
The emotion associated with metal is grief. Other Metal emotions are insecurity, inability to achieve parental or spousal expectations, and lack of confidence. The challenge for a Metal type is to learn how to express grief and find healing.
It is the symbol of refinement and presentation, of perfecting and finishing, cutting (knife, sword, scissors), selecting, distinguishing the good from the bad and reflection (mirror). More so than other elemental forces of nature, metal is the symbol of alchemy, ingenuity and refinement. Metal is not naturally found in nature and ready to use. It first needs to be extracted, refined, forged, molded, shaped, sharpened and polished in order to be used to its fullest potential. Metal is thus the power of the blade that can cut right through things clearly and of the mirror who reflects perfectly. Most traditional knife makers were the priests or the shamans of the tribe, shaping the metal and receiving messages on how to slice through the ego of illusion.
Metal Element & Chinese Medicine
Metal is the surface tension between the elements and manifests inside our bodies through our system of skin and fascia – an unbroken connection that runs from the depth of our bones to the surface of our skin. Our meridian system flows through this system, carrying vital Chi to every cell, tissue, and organ. In traditional Chinese medicine, metal’s body organs are the lungs and large intestines (and colon). Metal, thus affects our ability to breathe and to eliminate. It is our ability to differentiate what we need from what we don’t. Metal is our breath; our bridge that connects us differentiates on all levels – with our breath we hold the lock and key to our healing process.
Metal types must take care of their lungs for they may be susceptible to colds, cough, flu, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other respiratory problems. Cigarette smoking is extremely harmful for metal types who could also develop intestinal problems that result in constipation or poor bowel function.
Function of the Lung:
Lung governs circulation of Qi & respiration; It controls descending & dispersing of Qi; Regulates water metabolism; It controls skin & body hair – for body resistance; It opens into the nose & controls the nasal discharge; It houses the corporal soul & physical strength
When Metal is in balance
A person with well balanced Metal energy is well organized, self disciplined, and conscientious. They like structure in their life. They are most comfortable in situations when they know the rules and can succeed by following them. Metal Qi bestows a deep inner strength, like ore mined from the mountains. When Metal Qi is abundant we get in touch very easily with ourselves and with others. We have a very precise sense of how other people feel and how we feel. Being true to our feelings, we have the courage to own them. This is the power of honesty.
Positive emotions are: sensitive, honest, courageous, cool, firm, proud, uplifted, resonant, pure, pardoning, forgiving, cultivated, refined, faithful and loyal.
When Metal is out of balance
A person with Metal Qi imbalance may be grief-stricken, steeped in sadness. They may be overly critical. They may have trouble letting go. When Metal Qi is deficient we lose touch. We lose our ability to know our feelings and are unable to care about the feelings of others. This is what can lead us into a depression, that we are sometimes not even aware of – we just don’t feel anymore! When the Metal energy is weak, there can be illnesses of the lungs – asthma, allergies, frequent colds. The Lung meridian rules the skin, so rashes, eczema, and problems with sweating can be related to Metal imbalance. The Large Intestine meridian can be affected by chronic constipation or diarrhea, or other bowel diseases. A sunken chest or labored breathing are signs of weak metal. Also, lung illness and metal imbalance may result in a pale, sickly complexion.
Negative emotions are: reactive, hypocritical, cowardly, hesitant, treacherous, deceitful, sad, depressed, tedious, confused, unreliable, irresponsible, petty, jealous and resentful.
The Spirit of Metal Element
The Po is the buried light of the spirit. The Po is the Yin, materialized aspect of the soul. For example in the mountains, the Po spirits are found beyond the dark gate that leads to the caves and labyrinths of the underworld where it can play in the secrecy and shadows. Amongst the minerals, stones and compost matter the Po exists in a state of half slumbering silence.
The Po is our embodies knowing, our animal wit, our streetwise – that can sniff out what is right or wrong, good or bad, safe or unsafe. The Po is created from the essence of our parents at conception and until birth directs the creation of the physical body. Once born, the Po is the representation of the wisdom of the earth and the body. The Po is the messenger of lower spirits – the silver luminosity of the essences and spiritual light of the earth. Po is our animal instinct and somatic response to life and situations and people – we need to be aware that often our Po doesn’t want what the Shen wants.
When the Po is upset… we see many signs of an unbalanced metal element and problems in the lungs and colon.
Common symptoms – obsessions, depression, anxiety, chronic tension, pain, eating disorders, lumps, benign tumors, impaired balance, lack of coordination, stress-related skin problems, asthma, bowel disturbances, restlessness, clouded mind.
Spirit level signs – a vague feeling that something isn’t right but no clear sense of why, physical pain that takes over entire life yet has no identifiable cause, extreme sensitivity to other people’s negative energy, unexpressed emotional issues.
Possible cause – maternal vitamin & nutrient deficiencies during gestation, insufficient touch and tactile stimulation during infancy, restrictive childhood practices that did not allow for freedom of movement & expression, ancestral family issues that have not been dealt with, refusal to face our shadows while trying to e all goodness, resistance to life’s changes.
When the Po is disturbed we can feel that something is not right. How to help bring back the Po, balance the metal and take care of the breath and lungs? The Po needs to be seduced and tempted into coming back to you…this is what the Po needs…
- FEED THE SENSES – listen to beautiful music, eat fresh beautiful food, wear colors that go with your mood, have flowers in a vase, use aromatherapy, go in beautiful landscapes, enjoy touching and being touched, come into contact with the elements of air, water, sunlight and earth.
- ANIMALS – Observe animal interactions and reactions – watch fish swim, birds fly, and other creatures around you. Ask your own inner animal instinct what to do and listen to the response.
- NOURISH YOUR LIMBS – Stretch, move, dance, get massages, swim in the ocean, moon baths, skin brushing, yoga, tai chi, qi gong.
- MEDITATION & BREATHING – find a conscious breathing practice and when your breath becomes calm you may hear the voice of the somatic soul more clearly.
- PSYCHO-SOMATIC RESPONSES – notice where you feel your strong emotions in your body – heart beats faster? Legs go weak? Breathlessness? By simply becoming aware of these reactions and allowing them to pass using nice calm breathwork you create space and access the wisdom of the Po.
Click here to listen to the Metal element meditation.
May you forgive and release your pain
Slice through ignorance and blame
See your reflection clear and true
Be honest & loyal; be YOU
Om Asato ma sat gamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotir gamaya
Mrytyoma Amritam gamaya
Find out more about Chinese Medicine and the 5 Elements here.