I call on East and the Wood element. Bamboo bends in the wind. It is Springtime and growth. Hun, our ethereal soul, teach us benevolence. The Hun show us our direction in life and helps us make decisions. Welcome East.
This is how I might begin casting a circle with the Wood element. This post will focus on the Wood element (For a general overview of the 5 elements, click here. For a general overview of the five element associations, click here.) For a visual, here is a chart that shows the five element pentagram and how each element balances the others.
There are healing sounds associated with each Chinese element, as taught by Taoist Master Mantak Chia. The sound for the Wood element is Shhhhhhh. I like to think of it as a calming sound for our Liver and Gallbladder, which are also associated with the Wood element. Close your eyes and feel a glowing green light. Take a breath and say Shhhhhh. If you’d like to hear a beautiful musical interpretation of each of the healing sounds, I recommend Six Healing Sounds by Yuval Ron and Dr. Richard Gold.
According to Chinese Medicine, the Liver and Gallbladder help to make our Qi flow smoothly. They help keep our tendons and ligaments flexible. The Liver stores our Blood and influences our sleep. The Liver regulates menstruation. The Gallbladder helps us make decisions. The emotion associated with the Liver and Gallbladder is Anger. The Virtue is Benevolence.
The Hun are the spirits associated with the Wood element. They are our ‘ethereal soul’. They enter our body a few days after we are born and stay with us until a few days after we die. The symbol for Hun in Chinese includes the characters of ‘cloud’ and ‘ghost’. The Hun guide us in our dreams and visions. They also guide us in our daily lives to help motivate us to get out the door in the morning and fall asleep at night.
According to Lorie Eve Dechar, the Hun
represent the psychological faculty of vision, imagination, clear direction and the capacity for justice. They endow us with the ability to discern our path, stay clear on our direction, imagine possibilities, move forward toward our goals and take a stand for what we believe is right.1
There are acupuncture points with spiritual properties on each acupuncture channel. Here I’ll discuss a few of them on the Liver and the Gallbladder channels.
On the Liver channel, in the webbing between the big toe and the second toe, close to where the toes meet the foot, is Liver 3. This point is called Tai Chong, which has been translated to mean “Happy Calm” and “Supreme Rushing”. This point “can help support growth to occur more freely in a way less burdened by anger and resentment.2” By doing so, it helps to empower benevolence. The elemental association of this point is Earth. So here, we have the power of the Earth element within the Wood element (Earth within Wood).
The Gallbladder is a Yang organ in Chinese Medicine. Gallbladder 40 is the Source point on the Gallbladder channel. It is called Qiu xu which is translated as “Wilderness Mound”. This point is on the outer ankle, in a depression to the lower right side of the ankle bone or lateral malleolus. It is about making decisions, to help someone who can’t see the forest for the trees. According to Jarrett, Gallbladder 40
empowers clarity of vision relative to our interpretation and judgements regarding the external world and our relationship to it. Such a perspective can empower the realization that our personal opinions are always contextual, relative, and never absolute. With this realization the virtue of benevolence may become manifest as our vision becomes aligned with the absolute self.3
Liver 3 and Gallbladder 40 are also Source Points. Each acupuncture channel has one of them. They help tap into the Original Qi which is the “source of all of the Yin and Yang energies of the body”4.
Gallbladder 41 (Zu Lin Qi “Foot Near to Tears” – see the right side of this image for location) and Liver 1 (Da dun “Great Esteem”) are called Horary Points. Gallbladder 41 is associated with 11pm-1am and Liver 1 is associated with 1am-3am. These points are most powerful at those times of day. Their most powerful time of the year is at Spring Equinox. Horary Points have the function of transmitting the virtue of each element to another element. (Note: horary points can also be used to help with time travel, er, jetlag.)
Ritually, I use the acupuncture points mentioned here during the Spring in my version of an Ostara ritual. They can also be used magically at any time you want to tap into the meaning and spirit of those acupuncture points. Here’s an example of how to use a point in ritual if you’re not an acupuncturist: Having trouble making a decision? Do acupressure on Gallbladder 40. You can also put an essential oil on that point. You might also use Liver 3 and Gallbladder 40 if you are trying to get clarity about visions and goals. (I have not yet tried using Gallbladder 41 and Liver 1 on the Spring Equinox during ritual. I will have to try that next year.)
I also like to have food and drink that represent Wood element in the the ‘cakes and ale’ part of a Spring ritual. For example, I’ve had Fizzy lemonade and Carrot and Green Tea matcha cake. Lemons are sour and are good for the Liver. Carrots are good for the eyes and the Liver is said to ‘open up to the eyes’ in Chinese Medicine. Green Tea helps move Qi and the Liver is in charge of Qi movement. I like the fizzy lemonade from Trader Joe’s but you can also make your own using lemons, maple syrup or sugar, and fizzy water. The matcha cake recipe I used comes from acupuncturist Rhiannon Griffith and is quite tasty.
These are some of the ways to incorporate the Wood element into ritual. This is meant to be an introduction to the spiritual aspects of the Wood element – there is much more information in the cited texts. For me, this is not just an experiment, but a way to deepen my understanding of the spiritual aspects of Chinese Medicine as well as my Wiccan traditions. And yes, this is how I geek out about my love of acupuncture and of magick. Next up, be sure to look for my blog about the Fire element and the Heart this Summer.
1Dechar, Lorie Eve, Five Spirits
2Jarrett, Lonny S., The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine, p. 555.
4Maciocia, Giovanni, The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, p. 41.