Category Archives: Transitions

Season Travel

I was recently invited by my publisher Singing Dragon Press to write a blog as part of their marking of World Acupuncture Day on November 15th. As is my usual way of working, I chose to write about the current season. The wrinkle is that the current season in London where Singing Dragon is based is winter, while I am inhabiting summer in the Adelaide Hills.

Therefore it was an interesting exercise to write about winter and the Water Element without feeling its manifestations around me. It required a kind of inner travel to the cold, wet, dark of the northern winter where nature’s energy is shrinking, folding in on itself and withdrawing within. All this while experiencing warmth, brightness and energetic expansion as my sensory experience.

It took a few days of contemplating this polarity before, quite unexpectedly one day, the winter muse led me to the computer and poured out a Watery musing on the nature of fear. I was transported to the bleak winter landscapes of the UK and the resonances of that season.  It was not easy to hold the dual experiences of outer summer and inner winter, but it did work. I wonder if I was tuning into that same discombobulation that occurs when we physically transport ourselves to the opposite hemisphere and season. One of the ways of working with that seasonal upheaval is to hold points of the Element to which you are travelling, pulling yourself forward to your destination in a seasonal rebalance. While I didn’t actually hold Water points on myself when doing the inner season travel, my conscious focus on the qualities of winter and Water had a similar effect.

The blog is now the property of Singing Dragon so I can’t repeat it here, but you can read it at this link, whatever your hemispherical condition.

Finding Wisdom in Water’s Depths

The Next Chapter of Your Life

Zhangmen – Chapter Gate – Liver 13

As we move into spring in the antipodes, the energy of the Wood Element is all around us. Time once again to roll out Wood points to smooth our passage through this sometimes jerky season.

New chapterI struggled a bit with getting this blog out. You may have noticed that it’s a week overdue. So it was with some amusement that I discovered that the Wood point I wanted to write about, Liver 13, is good for writer’s block!

One of the point’s many names, Chapter Gate, suggests support for the start of a new chapter, whether it be a piece of writing, or metaphorically a new chapter of your life. Zhangmen helps us to move to new beginnings.

The point is a meeting point, a place where the Liver, Gall Bladder and Spleen meridians converge. It is therefore a great harmoniser of the relationship between Wood (Liver) and Earth (Spleen). It smooths away the frustration and irritation that can be caused by stagnation in the Liver Qi; and it supports Spleen’s capacity for clear, productive thinking. Altogether, this makes for the ability to see the road ahead, think clearly, make plans for the future, and move forward with purpose. When you’re at a crossroads, Zhangmen helps you to navigate the next stage in your life.

From Chapter Gate the Qi moves upwards to Gate of Hope, Liver 14, which we looked at two springs ago. These two Gates are often treated together, mutually supporting the freeing of stuck energy and moving smoothly through transitions. This combination can be a powerful support for depression that is caused by stagnant Liver Qi.

At the physical level, the point treats abdominal pain and distension, gurgling tummy, loss of appetite and diarrhoea which may alternate with constipation. It supports the Spleen in its function of transforming food into Qi and transporting its energy around the body. Good for those times when overindulgence in food leaves you overfull and nauseated.

Another name for the point is Camphorwood Gate. Zhang denotes the camphor laurel tree and by extension any valuable wood. This point is where Wood receives Earth and The Book of History teaches, “When Wood receives the virtue of Earth it becomes a thousand pieces of valuable lumber.” Wood’s ability to see the way forward is united with Earth’s capacity to transform plans into manifestation. A valuable product is the result.

When you’re having trouble turning the page to reveal the next chapter of your life story, try holding Zhangmen.

Location of Liver 13

LV 13Located at the tip of the 11th rib. Another of the point’s names is Elbow Tip: if you let your arms hang at your sides and press your elbows in, the tip of the elbow locates the point. Another method is to palpate downwards along the fixed ribs. As you get towards the side of the body, the fixed ribs give way to a gap. Keep going and you’ll touch the tip of the 11th rib.

On the Origin of Seasons


Ex rock star and pin-up physicist Brian Cox is making headlines in Australia again. Crossing swords with a climate sceptic on Q&A, speaking at a conference during Science week, and starring in the television series Forces of Nature on ABC. I’m a bit of a fan of this lad from Oldham who grew up just three miles down the road from where I was born. But I was particularly touched this week by something he said in Forces of Nature. Speaking about a fisher family in Greenland in relation to the seasons, Cox observed,

‘Our planet’s motion leads to something beyond the shifts in the thickness of the ice and the lengths of the days. It’s reflected in the ever deepening relationship between father and son.’

This led me to reflect again on the profound influence that the seasons have on us at all levels. I was reminded that the fact that we have seasons at all derives from a cosmic accident that changed the Earth

Not long after the Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, a planet the size of Mars crashed into it in a glancing collision, throwing rocks and debris thousands of miles into space. Over time, those rocks coalesced to form the Moon. The collision had a dramatic and lasting effect upon the Earth because it tilted the axis of rotation by 23.5 degrees. Now as the Earth orbits the sun, at some points the northern hemisphere points towards the sun and at others it points away from the sun, creating alternating periods of heat and cold, light and dark, indeed of yin and yang.

This random event in the distant past has shaped the character of our planet ever since. And we experience its legacy every day. These spins and orbits have had a deeper effect because they are an essential part of the stage upon which life evolved. The plants and animals that have evolved have done so in response to this celestial clockwork.

The seasons offer us continual annual changes to which we must respond. Each season provides its particular characteristics that shape our activities, our sleeping and eating patterns, our moods and emotions, and above all our relationships. We relate to the Earth in her changing moods, and we relate to other people in the context of these seasonal changes.

All of this completely underpins the Five Element model that guides my work and my life, and about which I write in these columns. It astounds me that the whole course of human history, indeed the trajectory of all of life on Earth was determined by an ancient planetary crash and a 23 degree tilt.

As we move into the season of spring in the southern hemisphere, we begin pointing more towards the sun. While if you live in the northern hemisphere, you are moving into late summer and autumn because you are beginning to point away from the sun.

As the seasons change, I invite you to reflect on your relationship to the Earth, its animals and plants; and also to reflect on your relationship to others and how this is influenced by the changing season. How are these changes shaping the very humanness of your being?

Some of the material in this blog has been quoted from Episode 2 of ‘Forces of Nature with Brian Cox’. The series is currently showing on ABC and available on iView.