” The three months of summer are called the period of luxurious growth. The breaths of Heaven and Earth intermingle and are beneficial. Everything is in bloom and begins to bear fruit.” – Nei Jing *
We enter Summer with the summer solstice, when the sun is at its northernmost position relative to Earth and with the longest daylight of the year. This is the high point of Yang in the Yin/Yang cycle of the seasons and the summer solstice is a quarter day when a strong new influx of energies provides us with opportunities to grow and evolve in our health and well-being if we attune ourselves to their gifts.
It is Nature’s season of growth and maturation, an expansive time. During our walks in the countryside, or even in our gardens we can witness that, although not as rapidly as in Spring, everything continues to grow steadily. Spring’s quick spark gives way to the steady flame of Summer.
The Fire Element follows the Wood Element in the cycle of creation, like Summer naturally follows the Spring. As mentioned in the previous posts, while Wood has to do with direction, setting aims and goals, and with feeding our spirits with hope and a vision for the future, Fire is that future becoming real – the stage which sees our hopes and dreams fulfilled.
Relax in the present, feel free and light after the rigours of recent months.
The Fire Element is about the present. Feel how time stands still in the heat of the summer – the sun rises high in the sky and everything reaches its peak of bloom and brilliance. Everything is now ripening ready for the harvest – there is nothing more to be done than to take it easy and enjoy the warmth. There is a sense of freedom and a lightness of spirit in the air. Delight in these wonderful qualities and share them with your friends.
Love and Joy – the essence of the Fire Element.
Love and joy are the expressions of the Fire Element in us – two of the greatest gifts we can possibly receive. Both are a manifestation of the highest point which the movement of energy reaches in its ceaseless cycle of the seasons. In the cycle of the year, each Element has a peak when its pure essence is abundant, allowing a specific part of us to be re-energised. Fire Element’s essence/gifts, if we attune to them, will warm us throughout the year to come – without it, the rest of the year would be dark and without spirit.
Love, and that sense of being in the moment, that we receive from the Fire Element bathes every part of our lives. It fires our spirit and gives us an inner communion with the Divine Love present within us, meaning we can share in a sense of unity with the spirit that pervades the entire universe.
Relationships in and with life – a sense of unity and oneness.
Love flows through all our relationships – partners, family and friends and has the power to transform ourselves and one another, such that we can feel a unity with all people and creatures, and the earth herself, who provides us with such beauty at this time. We can put aside pride and prejudice and reach to the heart of everyone and everything – truly a healing experience that can carry us through the seasons to come as they unfold their gifts that challenge us to grow into our potential.
This love and joy feeds all the best aspects of our community. Our feelings radiate outwards, and spread to our friends and acquaintances just as the summer blooms unfold and spread. Observing Nature can inspire us to action in this way and to be generous in our spirits. If alive within us, we will naturally reach out to other people to share. Contact and communication are enhanced and friendships are formed thanks to the feelings the Fire nourishes within us. This represents the very highest aspect in our relationships with others.
Fire – energy, enthusiasm and fun!
So, we can see that when we are in touch with the essence of the Fire Element, it is a source of great joy in us. This gives us the heart to engage ourselves fully in everything we do. It gives us the necessary energy and enthusiasm and makes light of our tasks – our work, duty and play in life can be filled with fun, even the most trivial aspects!
The best representation of the way the Fire Element manifests in our body, mind and spirit is that of the fire of the sun. Remember that we are talking of the movement of energy through the seasons and the different qualities which that movement has. Just like the tree embodies the spirit of the Wood Element in the growing phase of energy, the sun symbolizes the spirit of Fire and the zenith of the cycle of energy within us. The summer sees the sun at its highest in the sky for the longest time, similarly the energy of the Fire Element is the fullest and warmest.
Guidelines for the Fire Element:
- Expansive movement – Go dancing with friends or at one of the many festivals this summer. Work up a sweat and keep going until you feel looser.
- Expansive time – “After a night of sleep people should get up early (in the morning). They should not weary during daytime…” Nei Jing*. Get up early, at sunrise if possible, at least once this week and see how much more you can accomplish with your longer day. (In our area today sunrise was at 04.57 and sunset at 21.30, a total of 16hours and 33minutes).
- Maturity and the steady flame of summer – Choose a task that has been hanging over you for a long time and aim to finish it by using your Fire energy to steadily make progress toward your goal.
- ” The supernatural (powers) of Summer create heat in Heaven and fire upon Earth.” Nei Jing * – Relax and enjoy the present moment as you sit in the sun and feel its warmth on your skin.
- “Red is the colour of the South…” Nei Jing * – Summer is associated with the colour red, an obvious tie-in, just as blue is the colour of Water and Winter. The colour red inspires a sense of heat, liveliness, excitement and warmth. Watch the sun setting on a hot summer’s day and how it reddens as it nears the horizon, you will see where the Chinese got this connnection.
- “Nourishment and growth come from the South…” Nei Jing * – South is the direction of the compass associated with the Fire Element and the season of Summer – for us in the Northern hemisphere that makes a lot of intuitive sense and other philosophic systems from the Northern hemisphere climates have correlated the direction of the South with the energy of Fire, including Native American traditions and Celtic practices. In buildings, windows facing South let more sunlight in all year round. A south-facing plot is ideal for our vegetable garden. Lie on a sunny, grassy hillside facing South and watch the clouds pass overhead.
- “ShalI I compare thee to a summer’s day?” William Shakespeare – In early adulthood, the Fire/Summer phase of our life cycles, our focus shifts from self-development to relationships; from learning to expressing; from latency to sexual maturity, from Wood to Fire. The tasks of Fire include: finding one’s sexual identity and expression; making friends and forming committed relationships based upon trust and sharing; assuming adult responsibilities; making a household; and doing one’s duty for the community in the form of work or other activity. According to this definition of maturity, how is your Fire energy in terms of your life cycle? We manifest all of the Five Elements during all of the seasons and during all stages of life – however, in this season it is useful to see how our Fire energy is manifesting in our lives, as one Element fulfilled to a greater of lesser degree allows us to move on into the next phase of life: what is called the Creation Cycle in acupuncture. If certain aspects seem in need of change, our Fire can effect change and transformation if so desired. If not, we can be at ease with our own sense of our individuality that emerged from childhood.
In the next post we will look at the organs and functions associated with the Fire Element. In the meantime enjoy all that summer is now bringing us.
* Nei Jing – the short form of Huang Ti Nei Jing Su Wen or The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine – the essential text of Chinese Health and Healing.