In the past few weeks I have become very aware of the Fire element, particularly as here in England we hardly seem to have had a summer before late summer is in the air, and even, oh horror, so early, a hint of the autumn to come. Perhaps my own Fire element has craved more of the warmth and sunlight it needs to fill it before its season passes, but, whatever the reason, it is at Fire that I find that I am looking with somewhat new eyes.
For what I have noticed increasingly, in a way that I did not do before, is the sheer energy this element shows in all it does, like a spring within it always coiled and ready to be released at each new encounter with the world. It is even there in its smile, an outpouring of warmth towards others, very unlike the timid, passive or more withdrawn smiles of other elements. I don’t think I had realised until now quite how much yang energy is contained in this most yang of all elements, whose season, after all is high summer, the yang high-point of the year.
I think we often regard Fire as being a gentle element, perhaps because we believe that the love that it brings to bear on all things is a gentle emotion, which it so rarely is, just as Fire is far from being as gentle as the impression it likes to give of itself. I have recently been looking at videos on YouTube of famous Chinese people to take as examples close to home for when I teach in China, and this is when I was struck, so unexpectedly, by the weight of energy pouring out in all Fire’s movements. Watching yet again the Chinese pianist, Lang Lang, it is so vividly clear in the way he plays. Through his playing he reaches out forcefully to the conductor in front of him, the orchestra around him and the audience beyond him, almost as though trying to capture them with his joy. I compared this with other pianists I know, some of whom will sit quite still and withdrawn at the piano, so yin-like, as though communing silently with the music and apparently, during these moments of their playing, unaware of the world beyond them.
So if you are a five element acupuncturist and are trying to work out ways of recognising Fire, watch out for the energy you feel coming towards you. And then learn to compare this with the very different energies of those other two powerful elements, Wood and Water. Wood does not try to share anything with you in the way Fire so ardently would like to do, but wants more to force itself on to you. Water’s energetic thrust is much more elusive, being apparently so gentle at one moment, and then, like flood water, sweeping you aside in its rush to survive.
I am always delighted to discover yet again the elements’ ability to surprise me with the variety of ways in which they reveal their differences.