Autumn is the time of withering and decomposition, the life cycle is completed here. Leaves fall, decompose and return to the earth, rotting down to fertilise the soil for crops the following year. In Autumn we gather what we have grown, putting food aside for the coming Winter. As we move into Autumn we enter the Metal Element.
The Metal Element corresponds to the colour white, the taste is pungent, the sound is weeping, the emotion is grief and also letting go. If grief becomes stuck we may end up in a joyless, even anxious state. Too much control may need to be balanced with a little passion and spontaneity.
The Lung and Large Intestine meridians belong to the Metal Element. These organs take in and let go – the Lung sucks in Qi and pushes it down through the body spreading nutrients, and on each out breath there is a release of toxins. The Large Intestine lets go of waste from the body it is known as the “drainer of the dregs” extracting any remaining nourishment and then excreting the waste.
The Chinese character for the Metal Element “…suggests something small in quantity, but of great value, buried deep within the earth.” (Hicks, Hicks & Mole, Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture) If we look at the action of breathing as inspiration – breathing in spirit we can have a different view of this element. It is here that we may be able to uncover our own “nugget of gold,” our inspiration.
The archetype for Autumn is the Alchemist whose guiding principle is transmutation. The Alchemist “seeks the perfection of form and function. Through his power of discernment, he distills what is good and pure from what is coarse and primitive… providing the structure that enables people to apply the metaphysical to the mundane.” (Beinfield and Korngold, Between Heaven & Earth)
Nutirition for the Metal Element includes vitamin c rich foods for the Lung meridian and yoghurt, buttermilk, honey and carbohydrates for the Large Intestine meridian. Pungent foods such as garlic, cinnamon and ginger can move energy in the lungs when “invaded”and can produce sweating to shift any pathogens present.
Autumn is also a good time for any sort of breathwork – getting the energy of the lungs moving, taking in a deep breath of spirit and perhaps finding that nugget of gold.