Or, "Why does autumn feel so sad?"
Do you get that too? I mean, fall is beautiful here in Pennsylvania. The rolling hills that burst into bright golds and reds, the slanted sunlight coming through the trees, the crisp air tinged with the smell of firesmoke.
It's gorgeous and yet... I can't help but feel a little melancholy and suddenly connected to every other autumn past.
Peter Jackson caught that feeling perfectly in "The Return of the King"... that scene where Arwen gazes upon her beloved, but dead husband, Aragorn... the dry leaves swirling around her as she disappears into the forest.
Autumn, in all its glory, and in high celebration of the last harvest, is indeed bittersweet.
Traditionally, all would come together to reap the last of the fruits of the year's labors. Partying, working, more partying... a celebration of life, but of death as well. Because after all, everyone was aware that the cold harsh killing frost was just around the corner.
What you scooped up from the earth was what you had to live on through the winter.
Those you were celebrating with would eventually part ways, in hopes of coming together again in the spring. You had to say good-bye for while. You had to let go of the hopes for the seeds you planted in spring to take root. You had to trust that what you had in store was enough to sustain you and yours for the winter.
Here's what's cool.
In Chinese Medicine, Autumn is associated with the Metal element (hence the title of the post). Metal governs the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. Metal is associated with the emotion of grief. And, psychologically, the Lung meridian is about trust, and the Large Intestine meridian is about letting go.
Autumn with its colder, drier air can be injurious to Lungs, which need to stay warm and moist in order to function optimally.
Even the dry heat that we kick on to stave off the chill makes us more prone to colds and other lung conditions when fall arrives. Grief and melancholy, which as we can see are natural to this time of year, can get stuck in the lung area in the form of coughs if we get stuck in those emotions.
See how it all comes together?
So, how to adapt to the season?
~ Keep the natural climate of the lungs and air passages warm and moist with a neti pot and humidifier.
~ Make sure the upper back and neck stay warm. It's believed that Wind and Cold enter the body at points located here which bring on colds and flu.You may have noticed how your upper back muscles tense up when you're coming down with something.
~ Stimulation of the "Bearing Support" points on the back (along the spine just off the upper inside tips of the shoulder blades) which will stimulate your Wei Chi (immunity).
~ Lung and Large Intestine Makka Ho stretches to open the lungs
~ Incorporate the pungent taste into your diet: garlic, horseradish, wasabi... to stimulate immunity and promote digestion
As I said this is a time for letting go.
We tend to want to avoid feeling sad and blue, so it's not always desirable to get into that space, but it's an optimal time to grieve if you need to, so that you can move on through the rest of the year and clear the way when Spring comes round again.
Take stock of your internal garden. Clear away the brush, compost the plans that didn't take root so you can start fresh again. Grieve what didn't get realized. Allow yourself to let it all go and trust that what you have right now is just what you need. Give thanks.
(And a note from my herbal dabblings... ground ivy tea, a "weed" that grows in abundance here in PA, does wonders when taken as a tea for relieving coughs deep in the chest manifesting as unexpressed grief...)