At the still point of Winter, a black line cracks the ice. January thaws and deep below the Earth, seeds stir and turn in their underworld beds.
In Chinese Medicine, now is the season of Water. Water’s medicine is gestation – the capacity of the yin to carry an embryo, seed, or new possibility, safely sequestered within a womb-like vessel, until it is ready to emerge from darkness into light.
Water is yin but it is also the birthplace of the yang. This yang within yin is the blue spark that re-ignites the engine of the life cycle as we move through Winter back to Spring. It is the mysterious force that re-animates the soul, the impossible miracle of resurrection after devastation that is hidden at the heart of the alchemical quest.
Water tells us that this renewal is possible but it can only come through a descent into darkness. It cannot be forced through the personal will and its timing is not under conscious control.
Winter is the season of faith. It is a time to reach down to the deepest reservoirs of our being, to trust that in this darkness there is a seed preparing to sprout, a hidden vitality waiting to activate, a potency that transforms …
… will into wisdom,
fear into fierce and dedicated courage,
and not knowing and despair into timely, skillful and effective action in the coming Spring.
Kidney 7 – Returning Current – fu liu
“After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns. There is movement but it is not brought about by force.”
I Ching, Hexagram 24, Return
When we open this point, it is as if we have cleared away a blockage in a stream. Without force or effort, the current once again begins to flow.
This Water point brings vitality back to our being. On the spirit level, it is a point of rebirth. It restores our faith in our own resiliency and re-awakens our desires, drives, and will to live.
Returning Current is the turning point. The point is located on the Kidney Meridian where the current of the qi that has reversed downwards at Kidney 3 – Greater Mountain Stream – turns back up toward the yang, the torso, and the light.
As the Metal in the Water of the Kidney Meridian, this point has the power to pull the qi back from the right yin to the left yang side of the sheng or life cycle of the Five Elements.
The character liu, meaning stream or current, has embedded in its ancient etymology a picture of a newborn baby upside down with four strands of hair hanging down from its head. This character tells us that this point is related to the moment of crowning during a birth. It brings us the gift of faith in the renewal of life, the awesome thundering of the soul that comes when the baby’s head first emerges from the mysterious darkness of the birth canal.
Consider this point when a person is disheartened, exhausted, or has completely lost touch with the river of their Tao. Consider it when there is a need for someone or something to be reborn. Consider it when action proceeds without the stabilizing influence of wisdom and when the light of faith no longer illuminates the darkness of the world.
Through this point, the yin’s tendency towards entropy is reversed. We can once again dare to stand against the forces of disintegration and death. The streams, rivers, and oceans of life begin again to flow. As we read in Hexagram 24 of the I Ching, “The transformation of the old becomes easy. The old is discarded and the new is introduced.”
Essential Oil: Juniper
Juniper essential oil is a primary oil for the Water Element. The English name “juniper” is derived from the Latin juniores, which means “young berries” and the name attunes us to the plant’s capacity to rejuvenate and reverse the affects of aging, also a part of the Water Element’s medicine. The blue berries stay fresh at the tips of the evergreen branches through the winter and are another reminder of the plant’s tenacity and resilience. Juniper warms and stimulates Kidney Yang. In the process, it strengthens the will and our capacity to stand strong and upright in the face of adversity. It drives out negativity and relieves the fear of failure. Applied to Kidney 7, this oil activates the forces of life and brings vitality back to the soul.
We can offer the gifts of Returning Current and juniper essential oil to ourselves and our patients this week as we face the uncertainties and the challenges of the future. It will gracefully support our steadfast courage and undaunted commitment as we continue the work of healing ourselves, our patients, our nation, and our planet.
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