The essence of the wood element is that power and strength to burst out of hibernation and put plans into action. The wood element is about new beginnings, rebirth, growth and the rising sap of spring. The wood element is full of hope and optimism for the future.
The Season associated with the wood element is spring. It is when those first shots push through the hard ground and first burst open with colour after the deadness of winter, it is the first buds opening on the blossom trees, the tiny lambs born and then let into the fields, the lengthening of the days and the upsurge of energy which symbolises new beginnings, hope and optimism. This season for me is the most exciting, energetic and dynamic. I always feel enormous relief when it finally arrives as it gives me a new burst of energy and I feel at my happiest during the months of spring.
When I first learnt about the wood element I thought it was only about anger and was the causative factor of all those people who attend anger management classes. After the workshop I realised that the wood element is much less simple that this and is to do with that frustration of being held back, it is about a lack or excess of assertiveness rather than pure anger. Anger is something that all elements show but for wood it is an anger that is caused by a build up of frustration. The exercise we did during our workshop really showed me what being a Wood Causative Factor feels like as we had to think about something we really wanted and then imagine it being taken away. The feelings that this exercise invoked in me were classic wood responses; frustration, anger and despair.
Anger is a vital part of life and is required to create and strive. By looking at the natural world in spring I can see the importance of wood frustration as it enables the first roots of spring to shoot through to the surface and burst into first life. The very act of creation is through a powerful outwards movement, the very same energy that is associated with this element. So what happens when this anger is subverted? A wood imbalance can lead to two ends of the scale, someone who is extremely assertive and will always try and push for their own way. This can be very domineering, aggressive and difficult to live with. I have dated someone who is a wood causative factor and found that every time I wanted to disagree with him about anything I needed to almost go into battle. Whereas the other end of the spectrum are those who blow in the wind who can’t assert their will at all, and are often dominated by others.
A wood causative factor will often have problems with boundaries and others controlling them, so they can rebel and fight against rules. Although wood causative factors like to make rules themselves and suit working within boundaries, they will rail against any injustice. They feel others should behave with respect and dignity to others and the angriest I have seen a wood causative factor friend of mine was when she saw a horse being maltreated. Often wood causative factors will use this anger positively and stand up for the rights of others.
For the wood element, vision and purpose are an integral part of their ability to grow and in order to be able to achieve their goals they needs to plan and then have the ability to implement this plan into actions. This is the job of the two officials associated with this element.
The spirit that is part of the Wood Element and is housed in the Liver is the Hun, it is the ethereal soul and gives a person the ability to make plans, decisions, and have a sense of purpose and hope for the future. The Hun is said to leave the body when a person dies and some people can suffer from nightmares and out of body experiences because of disturbances of the Hun.
The Liver is the yin organ and is according to Worsley (the father of five elements) the architect of the body. The Liver makes sure that all systems of the body smoothly flow like clockwork so things like digestion, homeostasis, fertility and breathing happen effectively and unconsciously. The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi through the mind, body and spirit, if there is Liver Qi stagnation then a patient can suffer from headaches, frustration, abdominal pains and poor coordination. The liver is also responsible for the blood, which it stores at night and then sends out to nourish the body in the day.
If the liver is stressed you will find that a patient may display various difficult problems, be it having difficulties making plans, being inflexible, having no sense of purpose or being hard to know as either hold back or push themselves onto you. The liver gives a patient the power of reason and logic and without this a person can lose vision and hope, which according to our tutor at our workshop can led to the worst type of depression.
The other organ associated with the liver are the eyes, because from the liver comes vision and if the liver is suffering this can affect vision, not only of future plans, but also in the physical eye. Eyes affected by the liver can suffer dry, sore, red eyes and the inability to hold a direct gaze.
The Liver also nourishes the tendons and ligaments and like an old tree, a person can become inflexible and stiff (they may also be mentally inflexible). It is therefore good for a Wood causative factor to exercise. Nails are seen as an extension of the tendons & ligaments and show the health of the liver and can, if there are problems with the Liver, can be weak and brittle.
One system that is particularly affected by the liver official is the reproductive system. Wood is all about regeneration and the new born, and this explains why wood can affect sexual function. Liver can also be linked to problems with menstruating, and it is interesting to note that the Wood meridians cross the genitalia.
The yang official of wood is the Gall Bladder and it is responsible for decisions. It is the official who puts the Liver’s plans into action. If a gall bladder official is in great distress, total and utter chaos can ensue. This is the only yang official, which works with pure essence (bile) and it is constantly at work. It is the official that fulfils plans and dreams. Without the gallbladder decisions can’t be made and you can see a patient becoming lazy and inactive with no desire at all, they can let others take over and plan for them or go the other way and make rash snap decisions, having no compassion for others or making very poor decisions which put others or themselves in danger, such as joining religious sects.
The relationship between the officials of the Liver and Gall Bladder are integral to the workings of both officials, without the Liver to plan then there is no blue print for the Gall Bladder to work from and without the Gallbladder there is no workman to put the Livers ideas into action. The Wood element is about that energy and drive to make vision into successful achievements. A Wood Causative Factor person can be driven, loyal, organised, creative, flexible, dynamic and most often at the hub of the action.
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