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The Metal Element is linked to autumn, the time of rising Yin. Metal is about connection, inspirational quality, and purity. Autumn is considered to be the time of winding down, getting together a storehouse ready to see you through the winter. If you do not get the reserves together in autumn, then it will be a very difficult winter to get through.

It’s also a time of reflection, when one looks back and perhaps takes stock of things and issues that have happened in the past. It can be a time when a person may put their thoughts onto paper or may paint and want to leave a more permanent record to pass on to their children and family. This can all sound a little bit sombre, but it’s not all like that at all. Autumn is also the time when nature has a last burst of colour and energy, as the trees and plants give an exhibition of wonderful hues.

People who experience an imbalance in this element will often suffer from symptoms such as diarrhoea or constipation. These are signs that they’re unable to let go and look forward, they’re always thinking of the past and perhaps what might have been, they need to let go of their fruit and let it drop to the ground. What they’re doing is hanging on and this fruit is rotting and causing them an imbalance:

“The Autumn is also a time where nature, one last time, comes out with a glorious show of colour. The beauty and luminosity of a Vermont (North Eastern USA) or Canadian Autumn; or the colour nuances of a Japanese mountain landscape in autumn, are beyond description. Similarly the inner riches of a person’s life might be summoned up at this stage in a display of talents never seen before; they may reveal insights and visions of great beauty.”
Herrmann Christa – Maria (2000) p117

It’s very true that this time of the year is a time of reflection and you may find yourself looking back on what might have been and whether the year has lived up to your expectations. This is not always surprising as there may be times when we set goals that are hard to achieve. It’s very difficult not to dwell on the past but this is really wasted energy, as what’s gone is history and cannot be changed. What we really need to do is look to the future and be positive in our attitudes, which is sometimes easier said than done.

Metal is attributed with the qualities of discernment and quality and also that of purity; this can be likened to the rich minerals and ore that are found in the earth. These can then be processed to form precious metals such as gold and diamonds. A diamond is a perfect object which is flawless and pure, something which is untouched and untainted by anything bad; it’s of great beauty and quality. These types of qualities in a person are something very special to have. They will come across, perhaps, as a perfectionist or as someone who wants things done properly and in order. They will be someone who’s outspoken about their beliefs and has very high ethical and moral views.

“When minerals or ore are purified in intense heat, they give us the most precious substance, such as gold and diamonds. Yet often not only heat is needed for this process, but pressure, intense pressure that forces them to contract. The humorous remark that a diamond is just a piece of coal is perfectly accurate. They are both the same mineral i.e. carbon, yet one has been under heat and pressure and contracted infinitely more than the other. Similarly air in our lungs changes under pressure; some oxygen is removed, the air we breathe out is condensed.”
Hermann Christa – Maria (2000) p107

Air is also linked with the Element of Metal and obviously this is one of the greatest gifts that we have, as without air there would be nothing. Air is what gives us life and vitality and what feeds our lungs. We must be continually looking for that clean, fresh air that we require to develop and go forward. We don’t want to become bogged down with impure and stale air, which can be likened to the old memories and feelings from our past that may stop us moving forward. As we have discussed a Metal Element is very pure and inspirational, someone who’s organized and very straightforward with no messing. A challenge to someone of this Element would be disorganization and irresponsibility; they would find it very difficult to tolerate scruffiness. They like to see things as cut and dried and would not want to see a ‘don’t care, do it tomorrow’ type of attitude. You could sum it up by saying that you know where you stand with a Metal Element.

The Organs of the Metal Element are the Lungs and Large Intestine

The Lung is of the greatest importance to us. It’s the first sign of life when we’re born and it’s also the last sign when we pass away. It takes the energy from the outside of the body to the inside, it takes what goodness it needs from the air it’s inhaled and it then expels what it doesn’t need when it exhales. The Lung Official then circulates this vital energy throughout the body, mind and spirit. It breathes fresh air and life into our whole being and it also gets rid of the stale and tainted air that resides in us. However, we do seem to take even the act of breathing for granted. We have to eat, breath and drink to survive and we find that we soon panic if we cannot find something to eat or drink. This is very strange, as we can go for days without food and water, yet we can only survive for a matter of minutes without air.

Do we really take much notice of the air that we take into our lungs? As a society we’re always polluting what we take in. We inhale cigarettes, either by choice, or secondarily by the environment that we put ourselves in. We are forever breathing in pollution from cars and factories and yet we don’t seem to think twice about the consequences. If, however, we eat one too many cream cakes, then it’s as if the world has come to an end.

“As soon as he leaves the surface and descends, a diver is exposed to an increasing partial pressure of nitrogen. At the same time the effects of nitrogen narcosis begin. At shallow depths the effects are mild, but as he descends the effects increase, altering his awareness of events and his own behaviour. The danger in nitrogen narcosis lies mainly in the effect it has on the diver’s awareness. Like a drunk who refuses to believe he has had too much to drink, a diver with nitrogen narcosis may not accept that there is anything the matter with him.”
British Sub Aqua Club Manual (1991) p100

The Lung Official is crucial to throwing away rubbish as it expels the carbon dioxide that builds up in our bodies. This pollutant is harmful and deadly and is very important that it’s removed from our systems. The other Official associated with the Metal Element is the Large Intestine. This Official along with the lungs are interrelated, as one brings goodness and vitality into the body and the other expels the waste and bi–products from the body.

“The functions of the officials of the metal element are in many ways the easiest to follow; they share a great many similarities with the physical functions of their equivalent organs in western physiology.”
Worsley, J.R. (1998) p14.1

The Large Intestine is the Official of Drainage and Dregs. It’s responsible for getting rid of the waste from the body that can cause blockages and problems when things are not running smoothly. Of course this also applies to the mind and spirit, as if things are allowed to build up and are not cleared out on a regular basis, then they will rot and become stale. This can lead to the spirit and mind becoming clogged up and not able to move forward.

This Official is the dustman for all of the other Officials. When it’s working properly and on time, then the rubbish is cleared away and everything can run smoothly. If we think back a few years to the refuse collector’s strikes in the UK, we can remember the devastation that was caused as the rubbish began to build up in the streets for many weeks. The danger of disease became very serious and eventually society would have ground to a halt. This is what happens to the mind, body and spirit if this Official is not functioning correctly. Eventually everything will seize up and stop working. Even when it eventually starts performing correctly there will be a back log to clear up, so a complete balance may take some time to achieve.

Does this Metal Element description resonate with you?

Your 5 Element Acupuncturist will choose specific acupuncture points to bring the Metal Element into balance, if required and seasonal tune-ups are recommended.

Suggestions for balance during autumn include decluttering, letting go of what you no longer need (both materialistically and mentally) and breathing exercises. Use these activities to build your storehouse in preparation for the winter season ahead.

© Copyright 2003 – 2012 Paul Adkins Lic.Ac., BA(Hons), 1st Dan, FEA, MBAcC, MCAUK, MMNTUK


British Sub Aqua Club Manual (1991) Hutchinson; Revised ed of 10Revised ed edition
Worsley, J.R. Proffesor (1998) The Five Elements and the Officials
Volume III
Maria Herrmann,C.(2000)The Five Elements
Volume I
Paul Coughlin Ltd – Coventry