Every single astrological article I read at the beginning of the month labelled October as varying degrees of extremely ‘intense’, and as we approach nearly (but not quite even the) halfway point through the month it would appear that they were right.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine autumn correlates to the metal element. Perhaps not one of the immediate elements that spring to mind when conjuring up this somewhat abstract concept, at first glance I didn’t like it. Symbolic of structure, boundaries and precision, it sounded a little too cool and clinical for my liking, but on closer inspection this isn’t necessarily the case.
Make the like the trees and let go of the leaves...boundaries 101
Autumn is a strange kind of time energetically. As the chill crisp bite seeps into the air and the trees begin to shed their summer finery we start to undergo a similar process, reviewing our harvest from the brighter, more yang half of the year and deciding on what to compost and what to plant as a seed for the next cycle as we turn inwards and prepare for the inward drawing, yin, darker months.
In order to do this, however, we need to undergo this process of review and begin to implement new structures which support our decisions, creating stable foundations from which we can create ways to nest, reflect and temporarily rest for the months ahead. This preparing of the nest takes time and a flurry of energy, which we muster despite the light beginning to draw in. A harmonious metal element facilitates this process, allowing us to harness the precision needed to tune into our intuition and cut the wheat from the chaff, slicing away the superfluous.
“Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.”
Boundaries are often presented in a negative and distorted light. A set of concrete walls, guarding your heart or your head from the fears you’re running from, but this does not have to be the case.
Boundaries are a fluid and responsive set of parameters which can be designed to let love in, depending on the care, skill and tenderness with which they are built. Building boundaries in the first place, however, can be the hard part, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Co-creation is a beautiful thing, but how to navigate two sets of heads and hearts if we know not where you end, or I begin?
Separation may be the biggest illusion of all, but if we are not comfortable within our own skin then how can we coexist harmoniously with others? Knowing ourselves and our basic and more subtle physical, emotional and mental needs and taking steps to continually meet these is an important act of self care, and boundaries are needed to create these safe containers.
“Your boundary need not be an angry electric fence that shocks those who touch it. It can be a consistent light around you that announces: I will be treated sacredly.”
Setting boundaries takes courage and strength, testing our mettle, helping us to identify and draw upon our deep reserves of strength, akin to the earth’s ore. How we protect these and transmute and alchemise our struggles is all part of our journey, and an ongoing process.
That said, if our metal element is out of balance and we revel too much in structure and routine we kill any creativity and spontaneity, losing out on much of the joy and zest of life, a tin man caricature. This is why alongside structure and routine, ritual is also important.
'Do not be friends with anyone you wouldn't let near your altar'.
An incredibly important task is to pay reverence and gratitude to all the seen and the unseen, to that above and below. Rituals we create, whether full blown full moon ceremony or afternoon coffee and cake serve as important anchors and act as markers amid a sea of the mundane.
“Rituals give us practical tools to anchor us to our intention & structure our practice.
Routines give life order, whereas Rituals give life meaning.”
Maria Kirsten & Shuck & Bucy in Segal, 2004
In TCM the metal element corresponds to the lungs and the large intestine, both of which govern the processes of assimilation and letting go. Learning how to discern how and when to let go, however, is the art form, especially when it comes to the chronicles of the heart (of which anything can really be a part...).
Expansion & Contraction: A Habitual Dance
On matters of the heart and letting go, Michael A. Singer in the Untethered Soul, advises:
“How you learn to stay open is up to you. The ultimate trick is not to close. If you don’t close, you will have learned to stay open. Do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it. When your heart starts to close just say, 'No. I’m not going to close, I’m going to relax. I’m going to let this situation take place and be there with it.' Honour and respect the situation,and deal with it. By all means deal with it. Do the best you can. But deal with it with openness. Deal with it with excitement and enthusiasm. No matter what it is, just let it be the sport of the day. In time, you will find that you forget how to close. No matter what anyone does, no matter what situation takes place, you won’t even feel the tendency to close.You will just embrace life with all your heart and soul.
If you really want to stay open, pay attention when you feel love and enthusiasm. Then ask yourself why you can’t feel this way all the time. Why does it have to go away? The answer is obvious: it only goes away if you choose to close. By closing, you are actually making the choice not to feel openness and love. You throw away love all the time. You feel love until somebody says something you don’t like, and then you give up the love...You can either close because you don’t like what happened, or you can keep feeling love and enthusiasm by not closing. As long as you are defining what you like and don’t like, you will open and close. You are actually defining your limits. You are allowing your mind to create triggers that open and close you. Let go of that. Dare to be different. Enjoy all of life.”
Here's to staying open, letting love in and continually remembering that we are boundless love and bliss itself.
Let’s keep our inner flames burning bright, turning always towards the light. The darkness is coming, but light always exists, there is no yin without yang. Let us embrace it all with arms open, dancing in the dark, however clumsy.
Sending love to all this October and beyond.