Living the Elements
Arts and Culture Section
Knowing the Seasons, Knowing the Elements
Welcome to the Living the Elements Arts and Culture Section! Each season, we feature songs, poems, and images that resonate with the season and its corresponding Element. We hope that you’ll find these examples enjoyable, and we hope that you will be inspired to share in our comments section some examples of Metal Element music and art that you are enjoying these days.
Autumn and the Metal Element
Autumn is a time of external loss, but it can also be a time of internal gain. As light and warmth wane, we prepare for the coming of winter. There is a last burst of color, and then the earth is stripped bare of signs of life. That which is transient is now gone forever; the vitality which endures is now held deep inside. The teaching of autumn is that all things pass, but that what is truly precious lives on inside of us. Grief is the recognition that something of beauty and importance is gone from the outer world, but inherent within grief is the capacity to identify clearly what we most value, even in its material absence. Righteousness is the capacity to prefer what Heaven values—to align ourselves with its vaster beauty and be fully graced by it—even when this involves personal loss.
Song: October Project – Return to Me
Listen on Youtube
Lung pathologies are so beautiful that it’s hard to be motivated to heal them—why not just languish forever after the elusive essence of a perfection that is always just out of reach? If, as you listen to this song, you can feel Lung 1 and Lung 2 aching, consider a Lung yin tonic this autumn—and definitely get a humidifier for the winter.
(For more about Lung yin tonics, see our Mai Men Dong Tang video CEU.)
Song: Maura O’Connell – If I Fell (Beatles cover)
Listen to MP3
Here is another beautiful Lung pathology, but this one is an overcast sky, full of mist and rain. Isn’t it astounding how an upbeat Beatles song can become as thick and heavy as damp phlegm asthma when sung by an Irish woman who comes from a place where it is pretty much always raining? The swirling mist unifies the mood of both the inner and outer sky.
(For more about the shifting boundaries of our inner and outer worlds, see our Lung 6: Regulating Interior and Exterior CEU.)
Song: Francis Cabrel – Octobre
Listen on Youtube
You don’t have to know French in order to enjoy having your Lung qi poignantly wasted by this song. Watch the falling leaves, the delicate sensation of loss as each moment passes, the elegance of appreciation mixed with regret…
(For a comprehensive look at all the ways that the pathologies of our Metal Element can be transformed into virtue, see our Spirit of the Herbs: Metal audio CEU.)
Art: Rogan Brown
Rogan Brown – Paper Sculptures (artist’s page)
(For more about the perils and virtues of a keen appreciation of detail, see our article Zhe Bei Mu and the Lung: Heaven Entering a Small Personal Space from the Five Element Archive Metal book.)
Poem: Galway Kinnell –
Saint Francis and the Sow
Read on Poetry Foundation
For many years I had this poem on the wall in my treatment room, because on days when I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, I would read this poem and think, “Yes, at least I can do this.”
It reminds me of something that my Sufi teacher Nura Laird would ask us about how we were together in community. She would ask, “Are you reminding each other to unveil?” Meaning, was our presence a reminder to each other to let the beauty of our essence be seen? The re-teaching of loveliness is a holy art.
(For more about Beauty as consummation of the marriage between the spirit and the flesh, see our Lung 10 in the Context of Lung 11 and Colon 1: Truth and Beauty CEU.)
Saint Francis and the Sow
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
Join the Conversation
Do you have songs, poems, or images that really exemplify autumn or the Metal Element for you?
Let us know in the comments!