In early October, I gave a short overview of the Five Element sheng (nourishing) cycle and discussed the transition from late summer to autumn (see How Earth Feeds Metal). Now we are coming to the end of autumn when we can most clearly see Metal feeding Water.
In nature, it is not always easy to see how Metal feeds Water. One example might be the minerals held in colloidal suspension in rivers, streams, lakes, oceans, and even rain, which determine internal molecular flow patterns in the water, and the crystallization patterns when the water freezes.
The scientist Masaru Emoto wrote Messages in Water, which illustrates how incredibly variable the flow and crystallization patterns in water can be. Both prayers and trace minerals are examples of the ways in which the invisible “values” of Metal can influence something as seemingly mysterious as the flow of water.
Another example of Metal feeding Water in nature is the effect of condensation that occurs during times of cooling. As the autumnal energy cools and condenses the atmosphere, droplets of water appear, especially on metal objects.
In autumn, trees and other perennial plants go through a “hardening off” phase in which they develop thicker bark, divest of everything tender and perishable like leaves, and set tough, compact buds that can withstand the cold winter, protected by their armor until their shells crack open in the spring.
Energetically, autumn is a time of sobering as the days grow shorter and cooler. Metal brings the energy of ending, or coming to a close. This sense of completion is necessary for Water’s rest and repose.
Our rituals around ending our day before going to bed, saying goodbye before we part ways, or funerals, all mark the transition between Metal and Water. Have we acknowledged the value and internalized the essence of that which is ending, so that we can take it with us, inside, as we move forward into the mystery? When Metal is weak, it’s like not having taken a full breath of air before diving underwater.
As we go into the darkness, where is our connection to Heaven? Do we know our core values as we ask our deepest questions, and face our most challenging uncertainties?
Weakness in Metal may include a feeling of loss that has not been grieved fully or well, a sense of emptiness or incompleteness that can lead to restlessness and unease in Water. Conversely, Metal that feels lonely, isolated, and unable to connect with Heaven may lead to Water that is paranoid or feeling doomed, or very deeply depressed.
Sometimes a parent element has a hard time letting go and feeding the child, like a season that does not want to move on to the next season. When Metal is not feeding Water in this way, one might see values expressed as rigid dogma, and an inability to say “I don’t know.” One might see a sense of public honor that is unable to forego praise and recognition in order to serve life anonymously. One might see a love of beauty, order, and precision that is unable to admit that what creates “evil” is our idea of “good,” and that most of life simply… is.
We are moving into Water time—but don’t forget the health of Metal.
To join the discussion, find us on my Perennial Medicine discussion listserv (all are welcome)