After a time of withdrawal and rest in Winter, we enter Spring – a time of new growth. In Spring, seedlings push up through the earth demonstrating the power of the Wood Element, its Yang energy giving us the vision, drive and initiative to change and grow.
The Wood Element corresponds to the colour green, the taste is sour, the sound is shouting and the emotion is anger. Anger is often seen as a “negative” emotion, but the energy of anger is necessary to bring about change, it forces the Qi to rise, pushing us into activity.
Anger or frustration become a problem when they turn into either depression/apathy or rage, both of these extremes shut down the possibility of finding an alternative way to proceed. Here we may slip into chronic patterns of overactive or underactive Qi. “Balanced Wood, however, usually manifests with the ability to express frustration, assert one’s needs, consider alternative plans, go to higher ends, and not move too strongly towards rage or apathy.” (Hicks, Hicks & Mole, Five Element Acupuncture)
The Liver and Gall Bladder meridians sit in the Wood Element. The Liver produces bile which is then stored and secreted by the Gall Bladder; they are dependent on each other. The Liver has the function of a military leader who excels in strategic planning; the Gall Bladder occupies the position of an important and upright official who excels through his decisions and judgements. (Nei Jing) Any disruption to the flow of the Liver will affect how the Gall Bladder secretes bile. In terms of our activity in the world the Wood Element organs influence our ability to make decisions and will lead us towards either rash decisions or timidity and indecision. As discussed above we need the ability to see alternatives paths of action in order to maintain flexibility.
The archetype of the Wood Element is The Pioneer. “Metamorphosis is the organising principle for the Pioneer…Inexorably drawn to travel roads not yet mapped, she treks wild mountain ridges, explores star-clustered heavens in an astronaut’s suit, launches a business from scratch, or embarks upon research in yet unrecognised fields.” (Beinfield & Korngold, Between Heaven & Earth) The Pioneer reflects the drive inherent in the Wood Element.
Nutrition for the Wood Element includes eating liver and other vitamin A rich foods such as yellow and green vegetables, leafy greens, green pepper, carrots. It is good to reduce or avoid fatty foods and alcohol – things that the liver has to work hard to process.
Spring is a great time for a cleanse. You could drink green smoothies or green soups. Get up and get active again, shift the sluggishness of Winter hibernation and move into an energetic Spring.