Though we cannot speak of the Tao...
we can speak of the Five Elements composing the Tao - Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood.
The Five Elements give us a map on how to look at the universe around us
and a language to describe it. We can speak of how external / seasonal
changes influence our internal landscape. We are able to create a
dialogue based on these elements that describe the body when it is in
health and when it has fallen out of health.
We have entered autumn, the season of METAL.
Metal’s color is white, its sound is weeping, the odor is rotten, and its emotion is grief. What does this all mean?
It is a resonance. The color white represents the color of the metals of
earth. It is the color that reflects off of one’s skin who has a strong
Metal influence. It is usually seen around the temples or sides of the
mouth. It is the color reflected, not absorbed. A Metal person’s voice will have a weepy or breathy quality (think Marilyn Monroe) independent of the content of the words.
The odor of Metal is rotten. Not in a “ewww this person smells rotten” but
in the way autumn leaves begin the process of adding minerals back into
There is a downward and inward direction to Metal. Fall is a time to come in-doors, cozy up by the fire, prepare for the
winter to come.
How do we prepare for winter in autumn?
Do we strip off our clothes and run around outside? Or is it time to come
in, internalize, begin the layering to keep warm. It is the time when we
determine what is important. What do we need to make it through this
winter? What do I truly value?
Confucius speaks of the transformation of virtues for each element. Metal is the transformation of virtue from grief to righteousness. Grief being the acute awareness of what is not beautiful, what is not heavenly. Grief highlights for us
what is important, and what is not. Through acceptance we transform
grief into righteousness. Righteousness is not, “I am more lofty and
closer to God then you” but as having the ability to see beauty in all
things (even death). It is the ability to see the divine in ALL things.
An exercise for strengthening our Metal in autumn. My mentor, Thea Elijah, gave this exercise that I love doing and thought I would pass it on. An
attribute of Metal is to have clarity on what we value. For the next
week, whenever you see something of beauty, stop, and bow. If bowing
“randomly” in public when you see a beautiful leaf makes you feel a bit
self-conscious, simply stop and feel that sense of deep internal
gratitude. The physical act of bowing may help make those moments more
obvious, but play with doing both. How does physically bowing feel
different from an internal bow? Can you have that sense of deep heart
without physically bowing?