Symbol of the Tao
Health Through the Seasons
by Dr. Joseph Odom, OMD, L.AC.

The rise of energy which occurs as winter becomes spring is the generative force of life. It is also a movement away from original nature and self. The opposite happens in the fall. The expansive outwardly expressive "yang" energy begins to turn inward. In the five-element model of Oriental philosophy, the metal element is associated with the season of fall. (The other four elements are water in winter, wood in spring, fire in summer and earth in late summer.) Now, in the time of fall, we are returning to our essential true self, having (at least in theory) fulfilled our destiny in summer.

We are taught that on an unconscious level, grief is the emotion of the fall time. This year perhaps more ever before, grief is what we feel. The ancients teach us to examine closely during this time of year all that we have lost. They remind us that it is in losing that we return to our essential spiritual selves.

The physical organs associated with fall are the lungs and large intestine. The lungs function to bring in quality air and life force while keeping out the impure. The lungs and large intestine work to empower us to be in touch with the essential spirit of things and let go of their superficial natural form.

We are asked now to stay connected to the essential spiritual form even after the natural form has disappeared. Most cultural traditions reserve the fall time for remembering the dead and what we have lost. Reflection on what is essential and real is the challenge we all face now. This can be seen as a "fall" into the barrenness of winter, or a return to connection to our authentic self.

[ Joseph Odom, O.M.D., L.Ac. photo ]
Dr. Joseph Odom, O.M.D., L.Ac. is an acupuncturist in private practice in San Anselmo, California. He can be reached at (415) 258-9551 or