If you are familiar with the fundamentals of the Phytobiodermie method (energetic skincare) practiced with the Swiss-made PHYTO5® energetic products, you understand the concept of the energetic seasons. It is fundamental to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that anchor the energetic skincare method.
The ancient Chinese, in their search to understand the world, from the universe to the human, were keen observers of nature. They saw the daily and yearly cycles affecting everything in nature as an evidence of predictable forces that they referred to as energies.
They surmised that these energies so clearly affecting nature had to have a powerful influence on humans, both physically and psychologically. Thus, these concepts made their way into Chinese medicine and all their concepts of how to live a balanced and happy life imbued with wellness.
From the day/night cycle they extrapolated the concept of yin/yang, not as opposite but complementary forces. From the seasonal cycle, they conceived the Five Elements, sometimes called Five Phases, or even Five Aspects (of energy). Both concepts are fundamental to the philosophy that evolved as Taoism with influence in all subsequent Asian cultures and to traditional Chinese medicine to this day.
The traditional Western seasonal calendar has four seasons; as one ends, the next one starts. For example, the last day of Spring is followed by the first day of Summer, every year around the 21st of June. This is when the apparent movement of the sun leaves the southern hemisphere to enter in the northern hemisphere bringing with it an increase in sun exposure with longer days.
But as keen observers of nature, the ancient Chinese knew that changes in nature, such as transitioning from the Spring to Summer, would never happen in only one day, but over a transitional period of time. Understanding the transitions was important for its implications such as for the health and well-being of humans and animals as well as for agriculture, in particular.
The transitional period would necessarily happen four times a year. The sum total of these periods would constitute the fifth season. On an average, with variations depending on what band of latitude we live in and given that a year has about 365 days, it can be calculated that each season would have 72 to 73 days each. If the in-between-season happens four times yearly, each transition period would be about 18 days each.
Each season having its particular characteristics, and accordingly, a particular aspect of the universal energy that the Chinese call “chi,” a representative name was given to each to illustrate their dominant energetic aspect:
Spring was called the Wood season. Wood would be the name of the element during which the yang of chi would rise in strength displacing the yin that was at its peak during the winter or Water season.
Summer was called the Fire season as it is the time of strongest heat from the sun. Fire would become the name of the element when yang energy is at its peak and correspondingly the yin at its lowest point.
Fall was called the Metal season. Metal became the name of the element that describes the phase when the yang energy diminishes to allow the growth of yin.
Winter was called the Water season. Water became the element when the yin aspect of chi is at its greatest and the yang at its least.
From further observation of nature such as which plants grow well and flowers bloom during the transitional season as well as the effects it has on humans, it was revealed that the transition was a time when the departing energy was said to “return to the earth to be transformed into the next seasonal energy.” Thus, Earth was the name given to the transitional season, and to the fifth energy.
Source: Energetic Skincare, Naturally by PHYTO5® President Jon Canas
Having identified the five aspects of universal or “vital” energy and wanting to portray them as part of a cyclical process, they were placed on a circle, with Earth between Fire and Metal.
Why? Earth is seen as a moment of balance between yin and yang or at least of rebalancing their respective positions going forward. If you draw an imaginary line from the center of Earth to be extended between Wood and Water, you would see that it divides the two phases of dominating yang (Wood and Fire) from the two dominating phases of dominating yin (Metal and Water). This justifies its position on the circle.
There might be another reason. The clue is given by "Indian Summer," that period of time between typical Summer and typical Fall–a period when it might feel as warm as it does in the Summer for part of the day with clear signs of approaching Winter at other times.
During the time of "Indian Summer," some flowers will even go into bloom as if in Spring. It might feel dry or humid or it might rain. It is as if all seasonal energies wanted to express themselves at the same time.
This describes the Earth, only magnified it seems, in parts of the globe when the Indian Summer so richly bids farewell to the sun on its apparent trip towards the south pole. That is, for anyone living in the northern hemisphere. But the same is true for people living in the southern hemisphere–the only thing being that the dates, not the sequence, are reversed:
- In the southern hemisphere, the Spring occurs when it is Fall in the northern hemisphere.
- In the southern hemisphere, the Summer occurs when it is Winter in the northern hemisphere.
- In the southern hemisphere, the Fall occurs when it is Spring in the northern hemisphere.
- In the southern hemisphere, the Winter occurs when it is Summer in the northern hemisphere.
But the dates of Earth season are always the same in both hemispheres.
To know more about the aspects of the Earth season, check out this blog post on the Earth energetic season and learn about the seasonal products and treatments recommended for that period of time as well as the foods that help us stay in harmony with the seasonal influence.