For thousands of years the I Ching has provided guidance for decisions about our health, relationships, finances, work, and play. Predictions from the I Ching follow the lunar year and are based on multiple, overlapping cycles that govern the heavens and earth. A variety of stems, branches, directions, and phases also have their say, each creating a trail of portents, probabilities, and possibilities, so let us begin…
In the Chinese horoscope, August is the seventh lunar month in a phase called Shén 申 whose character usually refers to “spirit” but can also represent spirituality, god, deity, consciousness, or awareness. Shen resides in our hearts—it is a channel for spiritual transformation, and it connects us to magic, inspiration, intuition, joy, love, and compassion.
August is a strong Metal Element month in which the heat of high summer begins to subside and as we journey toward autumn. In August, our energy also begins to decrease or contract which is our cue that it is time to let go of things, ideas, attitudes, and feelings that are no longer of use. It is also time for us to reflect on that which we have sown, and to consider what our goals are for the future.
In the Chinese lunar calendar, seasons change earlier than in the west. In the lunar calendar, for example, the seasons begin when the first faint whisperings of change in the natural world appear, hence spring begins in early February, summer arrives in May, autumn begins in August, and winter arrives in November.
The Chinese image for August is “full ripeness.” In the west, we think of August as still being summer, but in traditional agrarian cultures, farmers are well aware that the solstice is more than a month behind us and that daylight hours are becoming shorter. Before we know it, Labor Day will be here!
August’s Metal energy compels us to look back and reflect, but it drives us forward toward spiritual pursuits and personal transformation. You must be curious to know what else the I Ching reveals about your Element this month… so check it out!
In the Five Element cycle, Metal separates that which is spent and impure from that which is new and pure. Metal manifests itself in our body’s Lung organ system. The lungs bring in air, extract its essence, and exhale impurity. There are many Chi Gong practices that can teach us how to breathe deeply and efficiently, slow and steady our hearts, calm our spirit, and bring nourishing oxygen to our tissues and organs.
The Metal Element is classically associated with grief. Because it hurts, most of us try to avoid letting go of ideas, behaviors, and relationships; jobs, possessions, or loved ones that are no longer available to us. When we try to avoid processing grief, we have to become emotionally rigid to control our feelings, but when we anesthetize ourselves against pain, we also lose the ability to feel love and joy, and that’s not good either.
Resolve is the gift that comes from acknowledging grief—that whatever we have lost will be forever implanted in our hearts and our memories. It is resolve that gives us the ability to feel good again, to enter a new friendship, or a new marriage, with enthusiasm and happiness even though we may have lost someone or something that we loved. When we resolve our pain, our regrets, and our losses, we become more deeply human.
Fixity is a characteristic of the Metal Element; it is in marked contrast to the Wood Element’s adaptability. The Metal Element is the Sage in classic Chinese medicine, a wise person who turns inward and relies on past experiences as you plan ahead for the future. There are times however when reliance on the past keeps us from applying creativity to our finances that is due to normal Metal fixity and fear of change.
When people are deficient in Metal energy, they have difficulty completing projects. Are you a procrastinating perfectionist who just can’t let go? Are you afraid of being harshly judged for any mistake you might make? Or are you someone with excess Metal energy, a rule-bound neatnik who is afraid to be creative because you would be unhappy if it does not out perfectly? Do you see a theme emerging, here?
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