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Dialogue - Issue #3

The Wood Element of Spring

Words by Lori Hillman
Illustration by Fernando Leal

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

Spring is the time to make the effort after the inactivity ofthe long winter months,out ofthe deep and reflective water element. Our preserved and stored energy is now under the influence of yang rising, waking us to rise and shine with all of nature. Why? Because we are nature. Wood is visionary and creative, feeding the spirit of summer’s fire element, warming the fertile earth. It represents birth and youthfulness. Wood impregnates earth with green life that blossoms in summer and produces the abundant harvest of the earth element, fulfilling nature’s purpose to nurture and nourish the life cycle.

There is an incredible exchange of energies in the underground community of organisms and plantroots, working together; the mycorrhizal network does not leave any plant or tree out of the support loop, making nutrient exchange and messaging throughout the plant community possible. Green is the colour of the wood element, so we want to start juicing the tender new green vegetables of spring including plenty of the blood cleansers like chlorophyll-rich watercress, parsley, nettle and milk thistle. Sour is the taste that influences the liver/gallbladder. Sour foods help the liver to produce bile, cutting through fats by supporting its contracting and astringent action for digestion.

We can use the sour taste to aid the liver when out of balance. Symptoms of wood out of balance are acid reflux, irritable bowel, wind and bloating. If the liver and kidney are blocked and sluggish, then the toxins that should be eliminated make their way through the lymphatic system and the kidney, or through the digestive system,to the skin. This results in spots, greasy skin, rashes, blurred vision, migraine, dizziness, stiff neck, sciatica, and tendonitis. All of these are common symptoms seen in spring because liver blood nourishes the eyes, tendons and sinews. Like a tender green bough of a tree, we can be flexible, swaying like a supple young sapling in the gentle breeze, or we can be inflexible and dry like an old stiff plank.

Foods that benefit the liver, and even sooth and calm the emotions, are amaranth, rye, aubergine, beetroot, broccoli, carrot, celery, chicory, dandelion leaf, leek, onion, parsnip, plantain, spinach, tomato, and water chestnut. Anger is the emotion of wood when out of balance, the flip side is assertiveness. Wood gives us our ability to be assertive as nature is assertive in spring, giving energy to the tiny bud to burst up and out after the cold contraction of winter. If our emotions flow smoothly, our higher emotions of compassion, hope, wish, gratitude and love neutralise the lower emotions that harm our health. We will be in touch with our creativity, and manifesting our vision will flow easily. Wood is nourished by the wisdom of the water element, which guides its vision to manifestation. If wood’s taproot is deep and secure in water it remains connected to its source. It is said that health is authenticity and disease is losing the way of authenticity, hence the analogy of the taproot, our connection to conscience.

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