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Dialogue - issue #2

The Water Element of Five Element Taoist Medicine

Words by Lori Hillman
Illustration by Fernando Leal

The energetics of the five elements are a constant presence within the cosmos, our solar system, our earth and the vital life force behind everything we do.

Each element governs a season, an organ system and an emotion. If we understand these five elements and live in harmony with the seasons, we will understand how to work with our health, not against it. We will understand our emotional vulnerabilities and capabilities, we will understand the energetics of the foods that nature provides for us each season, essential for our vital health. Understanding these energetic laws of connection, we will understand what nature needs from us in return. We will understand with our mind, our feelings, and our bodies.

WOOD: Spring, Liver/Gallbladder, Anger/ Assertiveness

FIRE: Summer, Heart/Small Intestine, Joy

EARTH: Late Summer, Spleen/Stomach, Pensiveness

METAL: Autumn, Lung/Colon, Letting-go

WATER: Winter, Kidney/Bladder, Survival, Wisdom, Will

Water represents will. It wants to manifest the unconditioned world’s vision into the future of the conditioned world. Water/winter is both the beginning and ending of things: the source of life, the deepest, darkest utmost yin from which spring bursts upward with the rising yang, bringing new life into the world. Spring gives way to summer, opening our hearts to the warmth and joy of an array of colourful blossoms. Summer blossoms transform into the abundant harvest of late summer. Yin, waxing, returns to autumn, looking back at the seasons with gratitude, letting go to fulfil its task of raking where the leaves fall alongside the fallen fruits on the forest floor, leaching deep into the earth, stored as essence,transforming valuable trace elements and minerals that provide the vital nutrients of new life in spring. Winter is the time for turning within, conserving our energy so that we are available to make that supreme effort, like the tiny spring bud, to fulfil our responsibility towards great nature.

It is a time for reflection on the year gone by, our creative vision of spring,relating our vision to the world in summer. Late summer nurtures the harvest of our efforts before letting go in autumn, retaining only what has value for us, saving the seeds of our earned knowledge and experience to be distilled and stored as wisdom in our water element. A continuous cycle of beginning and ending: the mountain stream’s journey to rejoin the great oceans, which rise to the sun’s warmth falling back to earth, starting the cycle again. The water element gives all of nature this time in winter for reflection. Water governs our life phase of old age and death. We have a choice when we reach our own autumn: either we look at our reflection, seeing only old age and the approach of death, or we see the reflection of our essence, new life that will be our legacy for generations to come. At this time more than ever, it is up to humankind to reflect and conserve energy, tapping into water’s wisdom if the cycle is to continue. We can learn to be receptive to the unconditioned world, sensitive to its need to manifest in the conditioned world and play our part as creators - givers not takers

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