The Wisdom of Fall
September 22nd marks the Fall Equinox in the northern hemisphere, as the Sun enters Libra, its sign of debilitation. The movement of the Sun and Moon pattern the movement of life-energy in our bodies. Thus, seasonal shifts are a time when our life-force is undergoing a change in its dynamic. So long as we do not interfere with this natural change, harmony is maintained.
In today's world, we live habitually rather than dynamically. Our lifestyle is primarily determined by the demands of work, family, etc. We live to fulfill our many responsibilities and obligations. However, in doing so, we often abstract ourselves from the laws of nature, living in a world of our own virtual laws or of no laws at all. Living in this way, we remove ourselves from the intelligence of nature, failing to accommodate the most essential aspect of life: the living force of nature which would give us a most benign and powerful vitality. For this reason, we must shift our perspective, especially in these times when our actions are having grave consequences for the Earth itself. Our society values progress, ambition, and success--and we think that living in harmony with nature is incompatible with those things. We must now come to see that living in harmony with nature is in fact the superior approach to the ideals of progress, success, and accomplishment. This is why the medical systems of the East all emphasize the wisdom of seasonal living.
Fall Season, Metal Element, & The Breath of Life
In Tibetan Medicine, Fall is the season of the Metal element. Metal corresponds to many things, but most essentially to the breath. The Sanskrit word for life-energy is "prana" which translates as "breath". The Tibetan word for life-energy is "rlung" which means "wind or breath". The Greek word "pneuma" is also an accurate term for describing the nature of the Metal element. Pneuma is defined as "the vital spirit, soul, or creative force of a person" and literally means "that which is breathed or blown". The breath is simultaneously the natural life-energy, the creative inspiration within us, and our connection with the cosmic spirit. The Hawaiian syllable "ha" means breath, and this syllable is found in many Hawaiian words, including the well-known "aloha" which means "the presence of breath", The breath is therefore our most fundamental and essential food, feeding not only our body but equally our mind and spirit.
It may feel strange to associate something as subtle as breath and energy with the Metal element, but this equivalence is precisely the key to its meaning. Fall signals physical decay as nature prepares for the dormancy of Winter. It is a time to focus our attention and energy in the power that precedes appearances. Nature is always changing, but that which enlivens them remains constant. The Fall season teaches us that the health of our spirit determines the health of our body and mind.
The Organs of Metal Element: Lungs & Large Intestine
The breathing process illustrates the polar functions of life-energy: inhalation-exhalation, assimilation-elimination, reception-release. A breakdown in this natural dynamic on any level results in disease, evidenced as enervation (failure to receive) and toxicity (failure to release). We see this process further illustrated in the organs which traditionally correspond to the Metal element: the Lungs and Large Intestine. It is via the Lungs that we receive pure life-energy from the air and via the Large Intestine that we release waste, or those things which hold no value for us.
The Metal element also corresponds to the skin, the largest organ of the body. We breathe through our nose but also through all the pores of our skin. The skin can thus be considered an organ of respiration, like the Lungs. Yet, the skin is also a major organ of elimination. Internal toxins that are not eliminated through the Large Intestine are forced to eliminate through the skin, creating rashes and other skin afflictions. The skin also forms the protective boundary between the body and the outer environment, providing a form of immunity.
We can see that the Metal element has the overall function of maintaining the harmony, strength, and quality of our life-force. During the Fall season, the leaves change color and fall from the tree. Nature is calling us to release all that we have accumulated in order to feed the next cycle of growth. When we hold on to those things which are past their maturity, we begin to feel heavy, stuck, and disconnected. We lose breath, and the emotions of grief and sadness predominate.
Psychologically, Metal gives us the breath of inspiration and the strength to follow it. The leaves that fall from the trees do not merely decompose, but enrich the soil in which new life takes root. Inspiration is not only those things we feel excited to do in the mundane sense. Inspiration is simultaneous with connection to life and the conductivity of its energy. Its expression is the vibrancy that is the true value and essence of all things.
When we are in harmony with Metal element, we understand that gain does not come from accumulation, but in releasing. The more that is released, the more that is gained again. It is a narrow consciousness that seeks to store what is of value merely within itself. The greater wealth is in being a vehicle of abundance. This time of year can help us understand that we are not the owners of life, but the conveyors of it.
Metal Element, Astrology, and Cards of Truth
In Medical Astrology, the Metal element corresponds to Saturn. Saturn is associated with the functions of elimination, immunity, and lifespan. Saturn is the descending energy which removes toxins, keeping the body healthy and strong. Remaining healthy and strong, longevity increases. In the Cards of Truth system, Metal element corresponds to the Diamond suit.
If Saturn is weak in your chart, consider doing a cleanse. If you are a Spade birth card, then this is a time to rest in the cycle of growth--take a breather! If you are a Club birth card, then this is a time to record all the insights and inspirations that have ripened for you--your next inspiration comes from a new perspective. If you are a Diamond birth card, this is your time of year--share your spirit and understanding with others.
Wishing everyone an auspicious Fall Equinox!