I call upon the powers of South, the Fire element, the spark of inspiration. Shen brings us joy, compassion and love. It brings us closer to our true self. Welcome South.
This is how I might invoke the Fire element when casting a circle. I am Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner and a Witch. A few years ago, I started calling the Five elements and incorporating spiritual acupuncture points in ritual as a way to deepen my knowledge and practice of both. I also began teaching my covenmates in Circle of Cerridwen about TCM by doing rituals for each element during its appropriate season.
This post will focus on the Fire element in Chinese Medicine. (For a general overview of the 5 elements, click here. For a chart of the 5 element associations, click here. And for a visual, here is a chart that shows the five element pentagram and how each element balances the others.)
The healing sound for the Fire element is: Hawwwww
I remember this by the sound I make when trying to heat my cold hands up in cold weather.
Close your eyes and feel a glowing red light and say the healing sound. (If you’d like to hear a wonderful musical interpretation of each of the healing sounds, I recommend Six Healing Sounds by Yuval Ron and Dr. Richard Gold.)
The Heart and Small Intestine belong to the Fire element. The Heart, in Chinese Medicine, is in charge of governing Blood, controlling the blood vessels and sweat. The Heart opens into the tongue and we can see the state of the Heart in the complexion.1 Each element has a spirit and this one is called shen, as beautifully described by Lorie Eve Dechar:
“During our life, the shen is said to reside in the empty center of the heart from where it guides us along our path through life. Although it is invisible, the shen’s presence is reflected in the light that shines from the eyes of a healthy human being. In the presence of healthy shen, there is a luster and brightness to the disposition, a feeling of connection and awareness. Most of all, the presence of healthy shen results in a life that is uniquely suited to the individual and a person whose actions make sense within the context of the surrounding environment.”2
Each acupuncture channel has points with spiritual properties. Here I’ll discuss two points each on the Heart and Small Intestine channels.
Heart 7 “Spirit Gate” is at the wrist crease, on the radial side of the flexor carpi ulnaris. Heart 7 allows the Shen to “travel freely and rest within the heart.” The spiritual function of this point is expressed clearly by Jarrett here, likening it to keeping a metal gate oiled:
“If the spirit gate is rusted closed, the mind can focus excessively on its unfulfilled desires, causing agitation and the accumulation of heat within the heart. In this scenario, oiling the spirit gate can help empower the spirit to feel less constrained and to enjoy a greater freedom of expression.”3
“Treating [Heart 7] can help restore the boundary between self and the world to establish a basis on which a healthier sense of self, grounded in the absolute, can be built.” The elemental association of this point is Earth. So here, we have the power of the Earth element within the Fire element (Earth within Fire).
Small Intestine 4 “Wrist Bone” is located on the ulnar side of the wrist between the base of the fifth metacarpal bone and triquetral bone.
“The wrist is how we extend ourselves to make contact with others with a handshake, placing the world at large within our grasp. Similarly, the small intestine must convey the heart’s essence into the world via speech and action, as well as reach out into the world to bring nourishing essence into the inner realm of the heart.”4
Heart 8 or “Lesser Palace” is on the palm where the tip of the pinky rests when you make a fist. It is the Fire point on the Heart channel (fire within fire). It can both quell and reignite Heart fire depending on what is needed, especially from 11am-1pm on the Summer Solstice. This point “diminishes the habituating force and urgency of repressed or unfulfilled desires . . . Excessive heat in the heart can evidence as a red tip to the tongue. Such heat often results from repressed desires that lie in the heart unexpressed.”5
Small Intestine 5 “Yang Valley” is below Small Intestine 4 between the head of the ulna and the triquetral bone. The best time to do this point is from 1-3pm on Summer Solstice. It
“empowers the fire of conscious awareness at its peak in life. This fire mediates our ability to perceive reality through the process of sorting and assimilation . . . As the fire point on its channel, “yang valley” excels at reigniting the fires of the small intestine to promote clarity of consciousness and transformation.” 6
How do I use these points ritually? This year, on the day of the summer solstice, I put small stick-on acupuncture needles on these points from 12pm until about 2pm, right in the middle of the 11am-3pm window described for the points above. And then I waited as spirit gave me the message “Do what inspires you, child.” So I started writing about things that inspire me, beginning this post and another one about acupuncture. I also spent time working on an spiritual photography project. The experience of trying to write and type with a needle, albeit a very small one, in Heart 8 is very intense.
I have in the past also made devotional “cakes and ale” appropriate for the fire element. Cold cherry soup with creme fraiche, and Hibiscus and schizandra soda from Nishanga Bliss’ Gastronicity blog were a hit with my covenmates. (They are both a labor of love. Fair warning: making the cherry soup will get your hands and your kitchen red, red, red.)
These are some ways to incorporate the Fire element into ritual. Next up, look for my blog on the Earth element in late summer.
1Maciocia, Giovanni, The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, p. 73
2Dechar, Lorie Eve, Five Spirits, p. 171
3Jarrett, Lonny S., The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine, pp. 347-8
4Jarrett, p. 358
5Jarrett, pp. 348-9
6Jarrett, p. 360