Tag Archives: Fire Element

Maypoles in November

I’m a little late in getting this blog to press. The La Nina weather pattern has delayed the hot weather that normally foreshadows the entrance of summer, affecting the normal rhythms of nature that propel me to write.

The southern hemisphere summer and its associated Fire energies begin to make themselves known at the point midway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. This “cross quarter” day is November 7th. In the northern hemisphere, the equivalent date is May 5th. At least as early as the 14th century, and probably earlier, folk in northern Europe celebrated May 1st as the herald of warmer weather and the first hints of summer. The Gaelic people of Scotland and Ireland celebrated May Day as the festival of Beltane which translates to “lucky fire”, an interesting echo of the ancient Chinese view of summer as a resonance of the Fire Element.

One of the features of these May Day festivals was dancing round the Maypole. In this traditional dance, people would wrap ribbons around the pole by weaving in and out of one another in the dance. The celebrations would probably include drinking and cavorting which might lead to more intimate contact between the participants. We know that Maypoling was banned by the Puritans in 17th century England because of these “ungodly” activities, but was reinstated by Charles II, the merry monarch who was well known to enjoy all of these associated goings-on.

With the advent of modern psychology in the shape of Sigmund Freud, the Maypole acquired another symbolic reference: the phallus. Of course, Freud saw phalluses under every bush and every bed, but most historians agree that the Maypole was not one of them. Rather it was symbolic of the central point of reference of the four directions.

Here in Australia in modern times, we celebrate the arrival of summer in similar ways. It is the start of the cricket season, the annual signal that summer is here. (Coincidentally, cricket commentators refer to the stumps as poles.) Other summery events are barbeques and other outdoor parties which can stretch into the night with the later and later sunsets. It is also the start of the festival season when crowds of people get together – more socially distanced now of course, but still in groups. People begin to wear fewer clothes and show more flesh, casting some minds to closer contact.

Celebration. Fun. Dance. Playfulness. Socialising. Relationships. Sexuality. All of these are resonances of the Fire Element and ultimately of the Heart. Summer is the time when the Fire and Heart energies come to fore, like an instrument in a jazz band taking its turn to play its solo. Nature is encouraging us to pay attention to these Fire Element aspects of ourselves, that we may further flourish as humans.

I’ll be back in six weeks when we reach the zenith of the Fire Element, the summer solstice. In the meantime, go ahead, play with Fire!

Flashback to some earlier Fire blogs

Light Your Fire!

Fun Fun Fun

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

Neck Problems Sorted

Tianchuang – Heavenly Window – Small Intestine 16

neck problemI am currently rewriting the manual for my Five Element Acupressure courses. In doing so, I am making a change to one of the points in the palette of 50 points introduced in Level 1. For over 30 years I have been practising and teaching the basic neck release which I learned in the first acupressure class I took in 1985. One of these points, known as the Extra Neck Point, is not a meridian point, and serves as a kind of surrogate for the many other meridian points in the neck. The change I am making is to replace the extra neck point with the meridian point that is anatomically closest to it. This is Small Intestine 16, Tianchuang (Heavenly Window).

The Small Intestine meridian is the go-to meridian for neck and shoulder pain, so it is appropriate to choose the SI point in the middle of the neck. It fits well with two other SI points of the neck and shoulders release, SI 10 and SI 11. It treats neck pain, shoulder pain which radiates to the neck, and stiffness of the neck which causes difficulty in turning the head to the side. Also at the physical level, Tianchuang treats throat pain, loss of voice, lockjaw, deafness, tinnitus and ear pain.

This point is also important as one of the category of points known as the Windows of the Sky, or Windows of Heaven. (The tian part of the name means heaven.) Modern TCM texts tend to prescribe these points to clear congestion in the sense organs, interpreting tian as a reference to the head, rather than anything mystical or spiritual; and disorders where the Qi of the head is in disharmony with the Qi of the body.

Five Element practitioners have come to regard these Windows of Heaven points as also having a deeper psyhoemotional, or even psychospiritual effect. When a person has lost connection to True Nature, that which transcends the body and the small self, then these points are called for. By ‘opening the window’, the client is supported to see beyond the obscurations that have clouded his view. Each Window point is used in the context of the issues of its corresponding official. The primary function of the Small Intestine official, the Sorter, is to sort the pure from the impure. The small intestine organ itself sorts the nutrition from the waste of the food we eat. At a higher level, if we are unable to sort out what is good for us at emotional, psychological and spiritual levels, then Tianchuang can help. Ultimately, the Sorter’s role is to protect the Heart, Emperor of the kingdom. A healthy Sorter knows what is good for us and can therefore be let into the inner sanctum, and what is not good for us and needs to be kept out.

Location of Small Intestine 16

SI 16

 

At the back border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, at the level of the laryngeal prominence (Adam’s apple). If you turn your head to the left against resistance, the muscle on the right side of the neck becomes prominent.