Most everyone in Minnesota is floating on cloud nine about the early spring we are having. It is seriously beautiful, 50 some degrees, bulbs poking through the soil, buds on the trees and so on. Personally, I am still hoping for a monster snow storm, since I loooove snow and we had only one blizzard this winter – and it was in December! How unsatisfying…
We have late springs, so why not have an early spring? I guess I gotta accept it is here. I’ve already talked about Wood, the Chinese element of spring, in an emotional, symbolic and philosophical perspective in the past. The funny thing is I published that entry on May 19th, and now it is March 16th. Did I say spring was early?!
The Liver and Gallbladder represent the element of Wood in the body (these nouns are capitalized to remind us of their symbolic, not literal, meanings). Here is a brief list of qualities associated with these organs. See if you can recognize the thread of Wood qualities like growth, healthy ego and self-esteem, the creative spark among them.
The Liver, a Yin organ:
- Rules smooth flow – “The Liver is exquisitely sensitive to boundaries and demarcations and maintains the smoothness and harmony of movement throughout the body” (Kaptchuk, 81).
- Stores the Blood – Menstrual cycles can be influenced by the liver.
- Controls the tendons, ligaments and nails – A healthful circulation of blood ensures that the connective tissue and skeletal muscles remain supple without excessive spams or tightness.
- Opens to the eyes.
- Absorbs what can’t be digested - Blood flows through and is filtered through the liver, so everything excess in the blood could be absorbed by the liver through the detoxification process.
The Gallbladder, a Yang organ
- Makes and stores bile – Bile is the body’s natural lubricant of the bowels; in this way the Gallbladder may affect digestion.
The Yin organs store fluids or energy, and their function is to transform and regulate the activity of that particular organ. Chinese medicine puts more emphasis on the Yin organs than the Yang organs. The Yin organs are often deeper in the body while the Yang organs are closer to the bodies surface.
On the other hand, Yang organs are more active in getting our body the energy it needs to be active in the world. They tend to act to break down and absorb food, and transport and excrete wastes.
Organ pairs, and associated season:
- Liver and Gallbladder – Spring – Wood
- Heart and Small Intestine – Summer – Fire
- Spleen and Stomach – Late summer – Earth
- Lungs and Large Intestine – Fall – Metal
- Kidney and Bladder – Winter – Water