Donna Carey, LAc and Ellen F. Franklin, PhD
East Asian Medicine, Metal/Fall, 2014
Living and working on 35 acres in the mountains of rural Northern New Mexico provides a living laboratory to explore the principles, traditions, and spirit of East Asian Medicine and the Five Elements. Being located in a rural community 45 minutes from a grocery store and 2.5 hours from an airport has posed many challenges. However, these appear insignificant when compared to the richness of our lives – the beauty of the landscape, the ability to grow our own food and produce exceptional wines, and the ability to teach health care providers how to promote optimal health and well-being through the use of specific sound vibrations that are in alignment with the cycles of nature, the Earth, Moon, Sun, and Planets.
For nearly twenty years we have been engaged in research, writing, and teaching about the specific applications of sound vibration to the physical body. This work has extended into agriculture and wine production, for which we use specific frequencies and musical intervals to enhance the growth, quality, and taste of the many foods we grow. For everything from improving the quality of the soil, seed, and rootstock, to pest management and pollination, we incorporate the use of specific sound vibrations produced by tuning forks, hand chimes, and gongs. In addition, we enhance wine production by applying specific sound-based frequencies designed to change the quality and character of the vintage.
Eco-theologian Thomas Berry recognized that the Earth in all its diversity is the mother of our higher consciousness. The natural world provides life-giving nourishment that supports our physical, emotional, and spiritual existence. This is a sacred relationship. When we become alienated from the natural world we become destitute, and if we damage the earth we diminish ourselves. Our relationship to the natural world is infused with the tension of opposites contained within the principles of East Asian Medicine and the Acutonics methodology that we developed and teach. A significant part of our mission is to help people come into right relationship with the natural cycles of the seasons – and to more deeply understand the emotional, physical, and psychic implications when we fail to do so.
The upper portion of our hilly terrain is at 8,100 feet – these forested acres have many varieties of pine, birch, spruce, cedar, and cottonwood trees. Living at this altitude, even in New Mexico we have four distinct seasons. The lower portion of the land houses our office, extensive outdoor seasonal gardens, and a geodesic growing dome where we grow cold hardy plants throughout the fall and winter, and where thermophiles, heat loving plants, thrive in the summer. The mountain waters that we use for irrigating our pasture and crops are conducted through a vast network of irrigation channels that contain gates, so that the water can be released to irrigate or dammed up to hold back the waters. This vast network of channels works in a way that is analogous to the meridians of the body, where specific points are accessed to increase the flow of energy through the body or to hold back areas where there may be excesses.
Our relationship to the natural world is infused with the tension of opposites that resides in Five Element Theory of East Asian Medicine. The Earth element for example, represents the mother, the late summer, which leads into the harvest; and the emotion associated with it is sympathy. If the earth has provided for us, we have a sense of security and stability. If the Earth has withheld, and the harvest is poor, we feel rootless, ungrounded, and hungry for what we cannot have. As late summer ends, there is decay as the remains of the harvest go back into the Earth. However, this decay can also result in rich compost, leaving us fertile and open to new possibilities. This is the tension of opposing yet complementary forces that resides in East Asian philosophy. The biophilia hypothesis proposed by Wilson states that humans need to affiliate with nature, and nature can be used as a health promotion intervention. If research supports the idea that the natural environment can improve health, then it should follow that well-being will suffer if the environment is being destroyed. In this article we explore ways to work with both the energy of the Moon and the bounty of the harvest to prepare for the shifting seasons and the gathering of both our inner and outer resources.
Working with the Energy of the Moon
The Moon, Earth’s companion and only natural satellite, has captured the minds and imaginations of scientists and artists since prehistoric times. Our Moon is the second brightest object in the sky after the Sun. It orbits the Earth once per month. As the angles between the Earth, Moon, and Sun change, so do the cycles of the lunar phases. Since ancient times the daily rhythms and cycles of the Moon have guided timekeepers, farmers, and physicians. Although the Moon is actually quite small in comparison to the Sun and Earth, she is worshipped and revered in myths and legends from around the world and shares many traits with her brother the Sun god and her sister the Earth goddess.
In the mountains of northern New Mexico, the cool winds have arrived and white tiger clouds gather in the sky. The Moon in all her phases graces our night sky and shines boldly down upon us. The Autumnal Equinox has passed, and the balance of light and dark has shifted. We have been blessed with an abundant harvest, and the richness and beauty of autumn colors blaze boldly across the mountains. As the warmth declines and cold increases, their meeting produces early morning mist that rises over the mountains, sending a chill reminder that we are approaching the time of contraction, that long sleep that winter brings forth. As Yin steps up to become more dominant, Yang retreats in the journey toward dormancy.
The Moon represents the essence of Yin. As the seasons shift into autumn it is time to go inward, adapting our bodies to the changes unfolding in the natural world. Autumn asks us to reduce the expenditure of energy and let go of all that is extraneous in our busy lives. This is the time to gather inner and outer resources and to prepare for winter’s long hibernation.
The season of autumn is also related to the Metal element and corresponds to the Lung and Large Intestine, paired Yin and Yang organs. It is the Lung that helps us to discriminate, evaluate, and organize, from an inward perspective. The Large Intestine helps us to let go of those things that no longer serve us, such as blockages and patterns that prevent us from being at our best. The Metal element is also associated with the color white, grief and sadness, the sound of weeping, and dryness. The sense organ of the skin, the western direction, our dreams and visions, and the planet Venus also correspond to this element. For just a moment, think about a tree dropping its beautiful autumnal leaves, the bright oranges, reds, and yellows drifting down toward the ground on autumn’s wind. These vibrant colored leaves come to rest at the tree’s base. In time, they will decompose and lend their support to the trees through the long winter months. Decomposed they protect and send vital energy into the roots so that new life will come forth in spring’s rebirth. This is a qi cycle that is in flow with the cycles of the season and the natural world. What would you have to change in your life to be in flow with the qi cycle of the seasons? Are there things in your own life that you might let go in order to move inward during this time of change?
The luminescence of the moon’s shining light permeates our minds and hearts, offering us a vital and deep fullness. When the moon is full, our consciousness is heightened – round, whole, complete, reflecting divine awareness, and enlightenment. In the moon’s bright fullness, our awareness is heightened, and we are blessed with a deep understanding of spiritual presence, the mysteries of a life well lived revealed. In the infinite ultimate expression of yin, the mother calls us home. Fluid movement guides our dance in the light of the moon. The full moon, the lunar archetype of the mother, pulls us gently toward our true home. The following treatment protocols provide some basic techniques that you and your patients can use to promote balance in the face of the physical, environmental, emotional, and psychic stresses related to autumn and the Metal Element.
Chang'e - Moon Goddess (Wikimedia)
Self-Care Treatment Protocol for the Season
Activate the tuning forks indicated below, and apply the tuning fork interval directly to the acupuncture point, in the provided sequence. Allow the vibration to completely run out, and apply 1 to 3 times per point.
To Strengthen The Lungs: Apply Earth Day 5th, Solar 7th, Mars/Venus 5th to LU 9, Great Abyss, source point of the lungs, and UB 13, Lung Shu Point
To Moisten The Lungs, And Protect Lung Yin: Apply New Moon 5th, Full Moon 6th, Ohm Venus 6th to LU 5, Central Eminence, LU 7, Broken Sequence, LU 9, Great Abyss
For Grief And Sadness: Apply New Moon 5th to LU 3, Celestial Storehouse
For Eliminating What Is Unnecessary And Toxic, Whether Physical, Emotional, Or Attitudinal: Apply New Moon 5th, Zodiac 3rd to LI 4, Union Valley, Large Intestine Source Point, LIV 3, Great Surge. When combined, these points are also known as the Four Gates of Heaven
To Work With The Entry And Exit Points On The Lung And Liver Channels To Release The Old Patterns And To Allow A Pure New Breath To Be Taken Into The Lungs: Apply New Moon 5th to LU 1, Union Valley, and LIV 14, Cycles Gate
For Constipation: Apply Full Moon 6th, Ohm Venus 6th to LI 4, Union Valley, Large Intestine Source Point, and ST 36, Leg Three Li
To Build Kidney Qi: Apply Earth Day 5th to KID 3, Great Ravine, Kidney Source Point, REN 4, Origins Pass, and REN 6, Sea of Qi
To Nourish Kidney Yin And Yang: Apply Full Moon 6th, Solar 7th, Mars/Venus 5th to KID 3, Great Ravine, UB 23, Kidney Shu, REN 4, Origins Pass
To Tap Into Our Stores Of Yin And Access The Inner Mountain: Apply New Moon 5th, Full Moon 6th, Ohm Venus 6th to HT 6, Yin Cleft or Yin Xi Cleft Point to support the flowering of our inner nature
The Myth of CHANG’E, Spirit of the Moon
From ancient China and in more contemporary collections, there is a lovely myth of the Moon goddess, Chang’e. As with all myths, there are many versions, with common themes and characters, at the heart of this legend of the moon. Perhaps the most important is that Chang’e has come to represent not only the spirit of the Moon but the beauty, elegance, gentleness, and quietness associated with women.
The Legend Of Chang’e – The Goddess of the Moon
In the not too distant past, ten fiery suns rose up in the sky and blazed down upon Earth and all its people. The extreme heat ignited fires in forests and fields, and a terrible drought plagued the planet. As volcanoes spewed molten lava and ash, the rivers ran dry. The land became cracked and barren. Bountiful harvests were in the long-ago past, food and all sources of water were disappearing, and many died of hunger and thirst.
The King of Heaven, not wanting all of the people, animals, and plants to perish from this unbearable heat, sent the hunter Yi down to Earth to help humanity. Seeing the devastation wrought by these mighty suns, Yi, a great archer, drew his red bow and white arrows and shot down nine of the ten suns. One by one, as Yi removed the multitude of suns from the sky, the weather began to change. As the temperature dropped, the cooler air brought heavy rains. Clear, fresh water flowed once again in the rivers and streams. Soon the lands began to green, trees and flowers sent up bright shoots, and seeds long dormant sprouted. New life emerged through Yi’s actions, and humanity was saved from extinction.
Yi continued to wander the Earth to ensure that all was well; and one day, he saw a beautiful young woman, bending to gather water from a mountain stream. Just as he observed the woman, she too saw someone observing her. Her bamboo container filled with clear fresh water, Chang'e turned away from the stream to begin the long journey home. Yi, no longer content to stay in the shadows, stepped forward to request a drink of water. Ever observant, Chang’e noted the red bow and white arrows hanging from Yi’s belt. She quickly offered him a drink, but felt such a sense of gratitude that she also extended a beautiful white flower to him as a token of gratitude. Yi, in turn, selected a beautiful silver fox fur as his gift for her. As their eyes met a spark shone out, and a great love match was kindled. Soon they were wed.
Yi’s love for Chang’e was so great that he did not want their sacred union to end; yet he understood that the life of a mortal is limited. Seeking the elixir of life itself, Yi traveled to Kunlun Mountain, home of the Western Queen mother.
Recognizing and respecting the goodness in Yi’s heart and all that he had done for the people of Earth, the Western Queen Mother Xiwangmu, rewarded Yi with a special elixir, a fine powder made from kernels of fruit that grow on the tree of eternity. She cautioned Yi that he must take the elixir at the same time as Chang’e for them to share and enjoy eternal life. However, if only one of them took it, then only one of them would be able to ascend to heaven and achieve the life of an immortal. Yi returned home excited to share this great gift with Chang’e. Together they decided that when Yi returned from the hunt on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, when the moon was full and bright, they would drink the elixir together.
Unfortunately, unknown to them both, Yi’s apprentice Feng Meng heard about their plan. He became obsessed with stealing the elixir of immortality from Yi and Chang’e and carefully laid out a plan to steal the elixir while Yi was off hunting. Patiently he waited. As planned by Yi and Chang’e, when the full moon was rising, Yi went off to the hunt with an open heart. He knew that upon his return he and Chang’e would drink the elixir together. While Yi was out hunting, Feng Meng seized his opportunity. He broke into the home of Yi and Chang’e and tried to force Chang’e into giving him the elixir. Instead, she outwitted him. Not wanting the elixir to fall into his evil hands, she quickly swallowed it all and flew into the sky. Filled with grief that Yi had been left behind, she chose to inhabit the Moon so that she may remain close to Yi and to all the people of Earth who had shared their sadness and happiness.
When Yi came back from the hunt and discovered what had happened he was distraught at the loss of Chang’e. In her honor he set out the fruits and cakes that she loved. Today, during the night of the Mid-Autumn festival, families still offer sacrifices of Moon cakes and round fruits to Chang’e. It is said that when the Moon is full you can see Chang’e, the cassia tree, and the Jade Rabbit who pounds the elixir of immortality there. Farmers still celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season, gathering to appreciate the beauty of the autumn moon.
Chang’e in Popular Culture
Today as China takes an active role in space exploration, they continue to honor the Moon goddess, naming their unmanned lunar space probes in her honor. The have launched three spacecraft bearing her name. Chang’e 1, launched in October of 2007, was able to create extremely high quality and accurate resolution images of the lunar surface. Chang’e 2 launched in October of 2010 and built on this knowledge with even higher resolution images of the moon. Change’e 3, China’s 3rd lunar mission, landed a rover named YuTu, the Jade Rabbit, on the surface of the moon. Despite being damaged on landing and unable to rove, YuTu has proved to be resilient in other ways, sending back images and surviving far longer than anticipated. Future plans reported by China include the launches of Chang’e 4 and 5.
Mid-Autumn Festival Mooncakes
Another way that Chang’e continues to be honored in China is the tradition of making and eating Mooncakes. These sweet round cakes are about three inches in diameter. While there are hundreds of varieties of Mooncakes, they are typically filled with nuts, melon seeds, lotus-seed paste, Chinese dates, almonds, mince meats, and/or orange peels. This rich filling is held within a golden-brown pastry crust, and a cooked egg yolk is placed decoratively right in the center. The crust is often adorned with symbols associated with the Mid-Autumn festival. It is traditional to pile thirteen Mooncakes into a pyramid, symbolizing the thirteen moons of a complete lunar year. And of course the best place to eat these yummy Mooncakes is outside under the moon!
Oven Roasted Fall Veggies
Cut up onions in chunky one-inch slices, and let them have some girth. Toss them in olive oil and lay as a bed in a roasting pan.
Chop carrots in chunks—we use atomic reds, yellows, and orange varieties.
Chop golden, red, and pink beets in chunks.
Chop purple potatoes, Yukon golds, reds, and whites.
If your winter squash and pumpkins are ready, put some of those in too.
Chop fennel bulbs.
Put a head or so of garlic in the mix— break into cloves, but no need to peel.
Toss everything in olive oil, salt, and generous amounts of pepper.
Lay all the veggies on the bed of onion, and sprinkle with thyme, a little dill seed, and fresh parsley.
Roast in the oven at 425F for about an hour. We cover them the first hour and then brown them.
Serve topped with fresh goat or feta cheese and sour cream.
Complement with a glass of light-to medium-bodied red wine, such as Mothership Winery Tempranillo infused with plums or a smooth Sangiovese. These are truly New Mexico’s grapes of abduction.
Berry, T. (2009). The sacred universe. New York, NY: Columbia University Press
Carey, D., Franklin, E. F., Ponton, P., Ponton, J., & Michelangelo (2010). Acutonics from galaxies to cells, planetary science, harmony and medicine. Vadito, NM: Devachan.
Wilson, Edward O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press