When we announced in a recent blog post that the Metal energetic season—the energy of the Fall—started on August 7, a number of you were surprised since early August feels like the peak of Summer with no Fall in the air yet.
The start of an energetic season means that a new and invisible energetic influence is at work and that in time its manifestations will become tangible. The start of the Metal season does not mean the Fall is here. It means that a new influence is at work and will bring about a change. Yet, when Metal energy comes into play, the manifestation of the Fire/Summer energy is still being felt although the energy of Fire is no longer at its peak.
A metaphor might help:
You push a stroller in front of you and decide to give it an extra push and let it roll in front of you on its own. What you have done is create a momentum for the stroller making it move as if you were still pushing it although you are not. You can see two phases in what happened: First is your “energetic” action and second, the result or manifestation of it.
While the analogy is not complete, it might help differentiate between the start of a season that initiates a change and the remnant of the manifestation that lingers on over the next energetic season.
Since it is the energetic “push” that has an influence on humans, animals and plants, in order to maintain a state of balance—wellness—we need to focus on the period of the “push” rather than simply when the manifestations are evident. This is the reason we make available to our clients the dates of the five energetic seasons, because we cannot act simply when the seasonal manifestations are felt.
It is also worth reminding that the energetic seasons are entirely based on the apparent movement of the sun at it travels between the zenith of its course in the northern hemisphere, and the nadir of its course in the southern hemisphere, and back; making the same trip every year. In fact, it is the timing of that trip that defines the yearly calendar. In other words, the calendar is framed by set dates: the two solstices and the two equinoxes. That is the reason the energetic calendar has fixed dates year after year, contrary to the Chinese calendar based on the movement of the moon, yielding different dates for the Chinese New Year, every year.
Tao is a composite of everything, the intrinsic order of all things. The way we interact with Tao, with nature, is described by Yin-Yang and the Five Phases. Chinese cosmology suggests that life’s movement is like a spinning ball on a flowing river, a tide of wind and water, a vortex revolving while rhythmically contracting and expanding (Yin-Yang) as we are varied along by the currents of Tao….
The Five Phases identify stages of transformation, patterns of expansion and contraction, proliferation and withering. Each Phase has an intrinsic primal energy, an ontological influence that shapes events. For example, human beings go through cycles in their lives similar to the seasons in nature—beginning in birth and ending in death, with stages of growth, maturity, and decay in between. Within the life cycle, the power of each Phase can be observed.
—Beinfield, Harriet, and Efrem Korngold. Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine. New York: Ballantine, 1992. Print.