Spring: The Season of the Wood Element
“Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth” .
– Bryant McGill
Embracing the Wood Element
Wood is our intelligence. Once we conceive ideas with water, then we can develop them into theories, plans and strategies with Wood. Wood is everything that grows or that can be cultivated. It carries the power of the mind, the thinking mind. In our body, it is our nervous system. Even though we lose neurons every day and continue to grow old, our nervous system continues to grow connections. Wood can only grow and grow, like our ability to think, analyse and clarify and everything can only evolve without end. Wood is abundance and generosity. The symbol of wood is a tree, which grows and bears fruit from one single seed. It is an entire ecosystem in itself.
The Wood Element is masculine and considered less Yang than fire.
Colors: Green (Yang) and blue (Yin)
Earthly branches and months: Tiger (February), Hare (March), Dragon (April)
Body organs: Liver (Yin) and Gallbladder (Yang)
Power Animal: Azure Dragon
Meridians: Liver & Gall Bladder
Wood’s planet is Jupiter, the largest planet, symbolic of Wood’s growth in springtime. Wood’s season is spring, the time of planting seeds, beginnings, and new growth and the warming up from complete Yin-cold to Yang-hot (i.e. from Water to Fire). It is everything that grows, expands, enriches, warms and multiplies. The phase from seed to blossom, from roots to sprouts and stems to branches. Wood corresponds to the three earthly branches of springtime: Tiger (February), Hare (March), and Dragon (April).
Wood’s direction is east. Wood’s position on the Feng Shui Ba-Gua represents ancestors and family relationships. Wood’s symbol is an azure Dragon.
Although Wood is a less Yang element, it can exist in either a Yang or a Yin state. When wood expresses masculine Yang energy, its color is green and is symbolized by a pine tree-sturdy, upright, and enduring. When Wood expresses feminine Yin energy, its color is emerald green and is symbolized by the flexible bamboo that gently bends with the wind.
Wood qualities are bold actions, planning, initiating new projects, idealism, imagination, compassion, and competition. Wood types possess decision-making skills and the ability to create change. The emotion associated with Wood is anger. Other Wood emotions are tension, criticism, discouragement, regret, excitement, dislike of self and others, negative judgment, and repressed anger related to thwarted affection. The challenge for a Wood type is to learn to control anger and channel it into positive work that benefits all people.
Wood Element & Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, wood’s body organs are the liver and gallbladder. Drinking alcohol is like drinking poison for green and blue signs, because alcoholic beverages heat (overstimulate) the liver and cause severe wood imbalance. Avoid greasy, fatty foods that antagonize the gallbladder.
Function of the Liver:
Liver stores blood (for regular activities & menstruation); It ensures smooth flow of Qi (for energy, mental state & digestion); It controls the tendons – in charge of movement (muscles, ligaments, tendons); It manifests in the nails; It opens into the eyes; It corresponds to tears – moistening & protecting the eyes; It houses the ethereal soul (Hun) – finding direction in life, visions, planning.
When Wood is in balance
We have clarity of mind and a high power of focus. The mental strength fed by creativity (water feeds wood) allows us to cover the full spectrum of possibilities, theories and strategies and our capacity for problem-solving is acute and precise. People who have strong energy of the Wood element have a clear vision and goals and know how to bring them into being. They excel at planning and decision making. They can be forceful in disagreements and can strongly argue their opinions. Their piercing, penetrating eyes may attract you but avoid their wrath.
Positive emotions are: clear-minded, generous, kind, intelligent, cool-headed, pleasant, humble, discreet, relaxed, progressive, constructive, cooperative, open-minded.
When Wood is out of balance
Liver illness and Wood imbalance are indicated as furrowed lines at the brow. When the Wood Qi is weak, people can be indecisive, without strong direction in life, and stuck. They may be constrained emotionally, unable to express anger. When the Liver Qi is congested or stagnant, people can be arrogant, over-controlling, and have angry dispositions. They may have a tendency to be workaholics or have addictive personalities, including the possibility of abusing drugs and alcohol. They may have digestive problems like bloating, gas, alternating constipation, and diarrhea. Excessive frustration and irritation can be especially difficult when the Liver meridian is out of balance. Physical exercise and reading can help restore balance. The fall is a vulnerable time, as well as the winds of March, and extremely hot weather.
Common signs of Liver meridian stress include dry, brittle, thickened nails, pain just below the ribs, migraines, eye problems, addictions, intoxications, allergies, bad digestion, bad breath, pimples, sirosis, gallstones and sinus problems.
The Liver meridian circles the genitals, and rashes and discharges are associated with its imbalance, as well as hernias. For women, menstrual problems are common including PMS, painful periods, and heavy bleeding. Uterine fibroids may be related to an imbalance of the Liver meridian as well. The Liver and Gallbladder meridian pathways traverse the top and sides of the head, the most common sites for migraine headaches.
Negative emotions are: vindictive, aggressive, stingy, violent, explosive, hotheaded, obsessed, dogmatic, arrogant, competitive, antagonistic & narrowminded.
The Spirit of Wood Element
The Hun is the ethereal soul; the Yang, the breathy spiritual aspect of the soul. It inhabits the vaporous, ever-changing, region of our visions, dreams and imagination and is the animating agent of all mental processes. It is said that the Hun enters the body shortly after birth and follows us back to the heavenly realms after death.
With the Hun, we see from beginning to emerging from formlessness and manifestation arising from pure possibility. The realm of the Hun is the transitional world that exists between heaven and the horizon, where Qi solidifies into matter and form. Hun is a free-flowing, shape-shifter in amongst the clouds, mist and winds of heaven.
The function of the Hun
- Sleeping & dreaming – The Hun is responsible for maintaining sound, peaceful sleep with dreams that are beneficial to the soul.
- Emotional balance – The Hun maintains the balance of the emotional life, so that emotions are not repressed or overly expressed.
- Decision making & planning – The Hun supports the psychological function of decision making and planning, giving us a sense of direction and vision for life.
- Vision & imagination – The Hun is responsible for our ability to see the colours of the world through our eyes and for our internal vision and imagination.
When the Hun is upset we see many of the signs and symptoms of an unbalanced Wood element or toxic liver/gall bladder….
Common symptoms – depression, insomnia, excess dreams, absence of dreams, erratic emotions, disorganization, repressed emotions, excess sleeping, anxieties, emotional digestive problems, lack of clear vision, outbursts of anger.
Spirit level symptoms – timidity, inability to take a stand, lack of color to life, wandering aimlessly with no direction, starting projects but moving on before they are done, always running into brick walls, obsession with injustice.
Possible causes – Karmic issues, exposure to violence/drug abuse/alcoholism in childhood family, lack of guidance and direction from family, recreational drug use (especially marijuana & alcohol), malnutrition & eating disorders, repressed anger, exposure to environmental toxic pollutions on a daily basis.
When the liver is disturbed the Hun flies away and the soul is confused and disorganized.
How to help bring back the Hun, balance the Wood and nourish the liver, gall bladder, and skin?
The Hun needs to be seduced and tempted into coming back to you. This is what the Hun loves:
- HERBS – cleansing and tonifying herbs such as dandelion, peppermint, chelidonium & milk thistle.
- NUTRITION – dark leafy greens, grains, fish
- LIFESTYLE – adequate sleep for dreaming, meditation, moderate exercise, taking time to paint pictures of your dreams or fantasies
- NATURE – breezes in the air, movements of the trees, birdsong, watching the clouds take shape.
Click here to listen to the Wood Element Meditation.
May your anger dissolve into dust
May you have clarity, vision and trust
Feel your feet in the earth taking root
And grow like a tree, bearing fruits
Find out more about Chinese Medicine and the 5 Elements here.