Autumn, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is representative of the phase or element of Metal. It is a time of letting go and opening to new possibilities. In the Northeastern United States, the trees are great teachers. After a season of lush green, the trees begin to go internal in preparation for the winter season. As they do, the once lush vibrant green leaves begin to wither. It is not a time for grieving, as this is the natural order of Mother Nature’s divine play. In the letting go process, the trees display such brilliance as their leaves turn crimson, golden, chocolate, and various shades in-between. The limbs of the trees just simply let go of a part of themselves. The leaves float gently to the earth and dance with the wind. The air chills and the trees go to sleep.
In our human experience, we encounter the Metal phase when we let go of something that no longer supports us or when the time comes to let go of someone we love; whether that be in the natural process of death, when a beloved child goes off to college, or when a relationship is no longer healthy no matter how hard you try. How we accomplish this can show the health of the phase of Metal in ourself. Do we experience the natural and beneficial period of grief, remember the positive and love and lessons of the situation or our loved one and then take steps to move forward with openness for the new that awaits or do we stay in grief and sadness with the inability to move on?
In TCM and Meridian Theory, the Metal phase is represented by the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. The lungs take in oxygen (Ki, Chi, Prana, Life Force) to support our body and the Large Intestine lets go of what is no longer needed. The Metal phase represents our ability to receive life, new experiences, ideas and also the ability to transmit and release.
Imbalance or blockages in these meridians may manifest physically as issues with elimination, digestion, sinusitis, sinus headache, hay-fever, common cold, acne, and boils to name a few.
The energy of Metal flows inward and downward. Emotionally, Metal displays as grief, sadness, depression, openness, letting go, and enthusiasm. It is represented by the color white, the odor of rotten, the pungent taste in foods, the climate of dryness, and a weeping or crying voice. Metal’s sense is smell and the flower is represented as the nose. The peak of day for the Metal meridians is 3am to 7am – a time of rising and of elimination and in greeting the wonder of a new day.