The Gifts of Autumn and the Metal Element

The Gifts of Autumn and the Metal Element

Autumn is my favourite season. As the daylight comes later and the rains return here on the NorthWest coast, I can feel autumn laying it’s cloak upon me, it is thick and cool made of fog, wind, dimming light and vibrant decomposing leaves. It reminds me that nature is preparing for its winter slumber and urges me to do the same. Everything needs time to rest and rejuvenate, to return to source and realign with who it is and how it serves. With modern technologies and our seemingly never-ending drive to do more, be more, have more, we no longer allow ourselves to enjoy this movement inward, as our ancestors, not so long ago, did. I, for one, wish to reclaim the powers of the seasons and not become another burned out, frustrated, hormonally imbalanced, directionless human. I want to live a life in alignment with my natural cycles and spirit and working with the seasons aids me in doing that.metal

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Autumn is the transition time moving from the hot fiery yang energies of summer to the cold watery yin energies of winter. It is governed by the element of metal that allows us to cut away what no longer serves, just as the trees drop their leaves and these will decompose and become the fertilizer for the new growth of spring. The Metal element helps us discriminate what is precious and what needs to go. It shows us, if we are listening, where the golden nuggets lie and which are the real gold, nourishing our self worth and connection to spirit and which are fools gold, hiding our dragons of self-deprecation, arrogance, self-destruction, martyrdom,…… Shamanism also sees the fall as a time of letting go and of great dreaming and if we can let go of feeding our dragons, we can dream a new dream that serves our highest purpose and all that live on this planet with us. lung

In our bodies, Metal is reflected in the paired organs of the lung and large intestine. They are the organs that filter the precious from the waste. Our lungs inhale clear qi from the heavens and exhale old turbid qi. They are connected to the skin, body hair and nose and protect us from external pathogens. They are also responsible for grief. The lungs capacity for grief allows us to honour and have gratitude for what we are letting go of and recognize that our lives will be transformed by this process. This is the gift of grief and how the decomposing of the old becomes the new life of the spring. If we do not allow our lungs to inspire and expire and move through grief naturally, our lung qi becomes stagnated and we may produce excess phlegm, become short of breath, get sick frequently, have chronic nasal issues, asthma or a chronic cough. On the other side if we get rid of too much and see nothing as precious our lungs may become deficient and we can have similar problems marked with more dryness and weakness. li

The large Intestine also acts as a discriminator for us, when our colon is healthy we are able to reabsorb the precious minerals and water we need and expel the waste. When we can’t let go we become stagnated with toxins, emotions, and old habits and these can show up as pain in the lower abdomen, constipation or weight gain and just like with the lung when we let go of too much we become depleted of our own nourishment.

In the five element cycle, healthy metal nourishes our water, which is reflected in our kidneys and bladder and controls our deepest resources, our ancestoral essence/genetics, as well as our fear. Metal also helps control the wood element, preventing our livers from overacting on our other organs with anger, aggression and fire. When we work with our metal it assists us to make the long stretch of winter with ease and strength, which encourages a fertile and vibrant spring guided by spirit. five-element-foods

There are several things we can do to nourish our metal during this season:

  • Slow down and take stock of our lives, reflecting on what no longer serves and what is most precious in our lives and begin to release through gently cleansing our bodies and minds, saying goodbye to relationships and old stuff, creating a simple releasing ritual to honour this process and your grief.
  • Allow grief and sadness a place in your life. When it comes up recognize it and let it flow through you, letting it go through breath, crying, movement
  • Eating warm, seasonal, easily digestible Pungent foods. These help promote circulation and digestion and release excess phlegm, Such as: ginger, onion, leeks, green onion, black peppercorn, garlic, celery, cilantro, fennel, spearmint, radish, chile pepper, sweet pepper, turnip, taro, cinnamon, cabbage, cardamom, cloves, oregano, mustard seeds, wine. Also eating yin nourishing foods to help protect against the dryness and winds of the fall, such as: pears, apples, mushrooms, tofu, seaweed, almonds, pine nuts, oils (olive, grapeseed, coconut, sesame), pork. As with any eating make sure you don’t over do it on any one kind of food.
  • Wear a scarf to protect yourself from external pathogens, especially wind
  • Take herbs that clear, moisten and nourish the lungs and intestines: A simple tea made of some of the pungent herbs above to clear phlegm and warm the body like the always classic lemon, ginger and honey or a nice moistening blend with slippery elm, marshmallow and licorice root.
  • Practice gentle movement practices to keep your qi moving but also build your qi and strength for the winter like qi gong, yin yoga, tai chi, walking,
  • Spend time outside breathing in clear qi from the heavens
  • And of course get some acupuncture! For low cost acupuncture, check out the local acupuncture schools or community acupuncture clinics in your area. For more psycho-spiritual assistance look for a five element or alchemical acupuncturist.

If you wish to go even deeper into your process and the process of the cosmos, the autumn/metal time of year is supported by three primary astrological signs:

  • Libra- Sept. 23 to Oct. 22-  the sign of balance, justice, beauty, truth, perfection and relationships. A wonderful time to delve into your relationships with self, other, spirit, work, body and the planet.
  • Scorpio- Oct. 23 to Nov. 21- the sign of self-will, taboo, secrets, transition. A time to go deep within and look at our shadowy places around emotions, love, sex, secrets and taboos. What needs to be brought up to the light and what needs to be let go.
  • Sagittarius- Nov. 22 to Dec. 21- The sign of higher knowledge, learning, wisdom, spirituality, philosophy. This sign helps us to start to dream a new dream and find the wisdom in all of our letting go, helping us to make the transition to winter.

Wishing you all a gentle, nourishing and deep Autumn,

Marika Reid Hall

References and Resources to go deeper:

Wild Spring Recipes for the Wood element: Ponderosa Pine Resin Chocolate

Wild Spring Recipes for the Wood element: Ponderosa Pine Resin Chocolate

A few years ago when I was doing a  three day solo during my shamanic apprenticeship, I was gifted with several large chunks of resin from the Ponderosa Pine trees that lined my solo site. These trees had kept me company, aided me in anchoring myself to the earth and growing up to the heavens and even gave me a song to use in ceremony and healings. Since that time the resin has sat in my medicine box just waiting to be turned into medicine and finally I have come up with an amazing and delicious way to use some of this precious tree essence.

As apart of an equinox/eclipse ritual I have been preparing I wanted to offer the participants some delicious treats that invoked the season of spring, the spirit of wood and support the liver/gallbladder. What better way to invoke the spirit of wood, than to ingest it in some delicious raw chocolate. You can find more other recipe for Nettle Pesto Layered Panigacci here.2016-03-21 16.19.11

Pine is incredibly medicinal:

  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-infectious
  • Anitfungal
  • Antidiabetic
  • Neurotonic
  • Decongestant of the lymphatic system
  • Parasiticide
  • anti-catarrhal
  • stimulant
  • tonic

“The pine may be used in cases of bronchitis, sinuitis, or upper respiratory catarrh, [cough], both as an inhalant and internally.  It may also be helpful in asthma.  The stimulating action gives the herb a role in the internal treatment of rheumatism and arthritis.  There is a tradition of adding a preparation of the twigs to bath water to ease fatique, nervous debility, and sleeplessness, as well as aiding the healing of cuts and soothing skin irritations.”

  • The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 124

Pine Resin Raw Chocolate

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup raw honey

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

pinch of sea salt

1 Tbsp Pine essence

  1. In the bottom of a double boiler heat up some water and add your coconut oil and honey to the top of the boiler, whisking it until it melts and combines.
  2. Once honey and oil are fully melted and combined, add the vanilla, cacao and salt and mix until completely combined.
  3. Next slowly add the cedar essence, 1 Tbsp the way I have prepared it is enough to just give the faintest taste without the bitterness. Even with this little amount you are still taking in this precious medicine.
  4. pour the chocolate into a flat glass dish or chocolate molds and put in the freezer. It usually takes about a hour to freeze depending on the thickness.

While you eat these make sure to fully embody the cedar and witness how your body responds to it.

Quick Pine Essence:2016-03-22 07.22.37

1/4 cup Coconut Oil

1 tsp Pine resin

Slowly heat oil and add resin, stirring until it is melted but don’t leave it too long as lots of the essential oils will be burned off.

Strain into a glass jar and let cool. It should keep indefinitely.

If you have more time. You can break up the resin into bits and put it into a glass mason jar and fill it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grapeseed oil or liquid Coconut oil and leave it for two to six weeks. This will keep all the essential oils.

Wild spring recipes for the wood element: Nettle Pesto layered Panigacci

Wild spring recipes for the wood element: Nettle Pesto layered Panigacci

Here in BC, Nettles are growing everywhere at this time of year. You can find them in the local parks and out in the rainforest. Nettle is an amazing healing wild food and I love to go and pick it each spring. Drying some for tea through the year and making it into soup, spanakopita, pesto, really anything that greens go in.nettle

Here are some of the amazing nutritional facts about Nettles, you can find out more info at Organic Facts.

Some of the most important health benefits of stinging nettle include its ability to detoxify the body, improve metabolic efficiency, boost immune health, increase circulation, improve energy levels, manage menstruation, minimize menopausal symptoms, heal skin conditions, protect kidney and gallbladder health, lower inflammation, increase muscle mass, regulate hormonal activity, prevent diabetes, lower blood pressure, soothe hemorrhoids, and improve respiratory conditions.

In preparing for my equinox/eclipse ritual I wanted to include some recipes that would help us to ingest and align with the energies of spring and the wood element. So I revised a favourite old Italian farmhouse recipe of mine with nettle pesto! You can find my other recipe for Ponderosa Pine Resin Chocolate here.

Nettle Pesto

3 cloves garlic2016-03-21 16.12.39

1 red thai chile

1 loose handful basil leaves

100g nettles, blanched

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 handfuls cashew nuts

1 handful Parmesan Cheese

1 handful Asiago Cheese

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and pepper

First boil a pot of water and add the nettle leaves, allowing them to gently boil for a few minutes to remove the Formic acid. Remove it from the water, rinse under cool water and drain. Use a cheese cloth or paper towel to squeeze out the extra liquid. (You can save the liquid that you boiled and use it to cook pasta or as a tonic drink)

Next, Combine all ingredients into a food processor or Vitamix, starting with about 1/2 a cup of Olive Oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Adding more oil and salt and pepper till you get the desired taste and consistency you like.

You can substitute several things in this recipe, use only nettles or add another green instead like parsley or cilantro. You can use only Parmesan or another mix some other hard sharp cheeses. You can use the traditional pine nuts or another nut. And of course you can omit or add more chile and garlic.

This sauce can be used for all sorts of things; on pasta, with spaghetti squash, as a dip or sandwich spread. I have chosen to use it with layered Panigacci. Panigacci is much like crepes and so I like to use a basic crepe recipe substituting wheat for Spelt.

 

Spelt Crepe Recipe2016-03-22 07.28.10

2 large eggs

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup spelt flour

1 1/4 cups milk (I use almond milk)

Butter for melting

Whisk eggs and salt in large bowl. Gradually whisk in flour, then 1 1/4 cups milk. Let stand 1 hour.

If necessary, add more milk by tablespoonfuls to batter to thin to consistency of heavy whipping cream.

Heat 8-inch-diameter nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush with melted butter. Pour 3 tablespoons batter into skillet and swirl to coat bottom evenly. Cook until top appears dry, loosening sides of crepe with spatula, about 45 seconds. Turn and cook until brown spots appear on second side, about 30 seconds. Turn crepe out onto plate. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with butter and stacking crepes on plate.2016-03-22 09.51.48

Now that you have your pesto and your crepes you can begin the magic of layering them!! lay one crepe down on a plate and cover generously with pesto, place another crepe on top and cover with pesto again, continue this process until your tower has reached your desired height.

To serve cut into triangles.

 

 

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