The Fire Element is linked to early summer, south and the colour red: ‘Insects dart and buzz continually until the air itself seems to be in motion, while butterflies duck and rise like flames. Through it all, light and heat bear down with an intensity that sears the senses.’(Reichstein, G. 1998, p.52) This is the time of maximum yang and the Fire Element CF will carry echoes of this in what is likely to be a passionate, friendly, enthusiastic and compassionate nature. The sun, at its zenith at this time of the year, fills us with warmth. The Fire Element has the power to transform things and this season has that quality: ‘The term ‘fire’…also means ‘to transform’…; the yang Qi are in charge and the ten thousand beings undergo change and transformation…’ (Rochat de la Vallee, E. 2009, p.71)
Often with a rosy or red complexion, the Fire person’s dominant emotion is Joy. Like the emotion of anger for Wood, this can manifest at either extreme as an excess of joy or a lack, leading to sadness. Problems in relationships can also derive from an out of balance Fire Element, either from not letting others in or by being too open, without determining whether someone is trustworthy.
A Fire CF is likely to be naturally tactile, flirtatious and at times inappropriate in what they say. When they are in balance, they can be happy, playful, great communicators and full of genuine laughter. It is then that this Element has the ability to truly listen to the needs of people in their lives.
The Officials of the Fire Element
Unlike the other Elements the Fire Element has four Officials:
The Heart is the ‘Supreme Controller’ and that is exactly what it does; this Official should be protected at all costs. All of the other Officials are likened to the ministers in a court, who take their orders and allotted duties from the Heart. The Western medical view of the Heart is very important, but it is only really considered to be a pump, the Chinese perspective is far greater; you rely on your Heart to instruct the other Officials in the tasks that they should carry out, but these can only be the wishes and desires of the other Officials.
The Heart is also the home to our Shen, this is our spirit. When our Shen is strong, then this will show in our whole presence, the way we act and conduct our lives. Governing the distribution of Blood throughout the body, the Heart, when its flow is strong, will reach every corner of our physical being:
…Shen, which is Yin in character and said to correspond to the mind. It is responsible for
complex mental, emotional and spiritual feelings and affecting areas like consciousness,
mental activities, memory, thinking and sleep. It receives its input from the senses, thus
the events outside the body are directly related to a change in Heart rate. (Hermann C-M.
The other view of the Heart is that of the Official of love and other emotions. This is very clear when traumas and feelings are evident, we are always hearing how the Heart was broken or how someone has given their Heart to someone. The Heart may be the Supreme Controller, but it is also very vulnerable to attack from the emotions and needs to be protected at all times.
The Small Intestine is known as the ‘Official Who Separates Pure from the Impure’. It is the Sorter.
The Stomach passes on the rotted and ripened food to the Small Intestine, whose role is to extract the pure Qi energy and then pass on the waste to the Large Intestine for disposal. This sorting helps to maintain a pure Mind and Spirit. If this Official is not functioning properly it may become evident, in extreme cases, in depraved or degrading behaviour. The Small Intestine’s link to Fire is that this Element helps to warm the positive Qi energy, to give warmth and joy to our lives.
There may be times when things seem confused and in a mess, this can be a sign that the Sorter is not working correctly. On a physical level, the Body can then become sluggish and slow, it becomes bogged down with bile and rubbish that is not being sorted by the Small Intestine. The stagnation of waste within the body can show in the symptoms of a tummy ache, especially in children, or as pains, such as in the lower back. If this Official is not functioning properly it can lead to not only stagnation or pollution of the Body, but of the Mind and the Spirit too.
Also known as the ‘Circulation Sex’ and the ‘Heart Protector’, it protects the Supreme Controller from insult and injury. The Heart is so busy organising the other Officials; it does not have the time to watch its own back. That is where the Pericardium comes in; it is the bodyguard to the Heart.
The Heart Protector stands in the way when we suffer from physical or mental shocks:
…The Heart Protector’s role should not come as a surprise to us since there are many
parallels in nature around us of the same function. The bees protect their queen with
millions of workers, so that she can be allowed to do her work without fear of invasion
and attack. Herds gather themselves around their leader, and fend off threatening attacks.
(Worsley, J.R. 1998, p.11.3)
This is the ‘Official in Charge of the Three Burning Spaces’ within the main trunk of the Body. The interesting thing about the Triple Heater is that it is the only Official that does not manifest itself in any particular organ. It has a title, but no form as such; it is still an immensely important Official within the system. The main job of the Triple Heater is to maintain an even balance of heat across the three main areas of the Body; this sustains an even climate for each of the other Officials to perform at their optimum level. The nickname for this Official is the Heating Engineer; picture him running around your system maintaining the organs’ output and reliability. If this Official becomes out of balance and too much heat accumulates, this can cause lethargy and laziness. Also, the Mind and Spirit start to overheat and we lose our tempers and patience. If it goes the other way and we begin to freeze, then things will eventually grind to a complete stop.
This Official also monitors the conditions that are around us; either in the climate or those that we may subject ourselves to, like hot baths or cold drinks, it then adjusts our Body’s thermostats to suit.
So, although this Official has no form, its presence is felt throughout the body, if it is sick and not performing its duties properly, then the whole system of Officials will cease to work correctly.
Herrmann, C-M. (2000) The Five Elements Volume I: The Movement of Life Through Body, Mind and Spirit. Coventry: Paul Coughlin Ltd.
Rochat de la Vallee, E. (2009) Wu Xing The Five Elements In Chinese Classical Texts. Cambridge: Monkey Press
Reichstein, G. (1998) Wood Becomes Water Chinese Medicine in Everyday Life. New York: Kodansha America, Inc.
Worsley, J. R. (1998) Classical Five-Element Acupuncture Volume III: The Five Elements and the Officials. J. R. & J.B Worsley