Summertime and the living is easy, or so the song goes. Integrating the Oriental five element theory and the Indigenous People’s Medicine Wheel is one way to cross culturally develop a universal language that is inclusive of the Family of Life, its seasons, its symbols, and its metaphors. South on the Great Wheel the area that represents family, love, communication, one’s physical health, the Mother Earth and all her family. The very essence of the WBM Times is to empower individuals to feel connected with the sense of local to global community in a wholistic manner that includes the body, mind, heart, and spirit.
In every philosophical culture I have studied, a common thread or theme appears that when the people have forgotten why they have chosen to walk and participate on this Good Earth, a messenger will appear to remind us. Many are familiar with the fair haired one, the elder brother, Christ as one such messenger but there is a female one known by many tribes as White Buffalo Calf Woman. She too is said to have come to these lands and taught The People about Right Relations— relations that included honoring the rites of passage of a human beings, honoring committed relationships, honoring the knowledge that everything that grows, swims, flies, flows, walks, crawls, stands still (birds, plants, rocks, four-legged, two-legged, water, wind, trees, minerals, etc.) is related. What happens to one member of the Family of Life affects all the members, informed White Buffalo Calf Woman.
Another way of saying this is that we are a Circle and within the circle we are as strong as the weakest link. If one component of the whole is harmed, diseased, ignored, violated, destroyed etc. we are all affected. The Summer season focuses on the Heart, Small Intestine, Triple Heater and the Pericardium (the liner of the heart) which makes up the Fire Element.
Simply stated, the heart is the spiritual center/fulcrum of the body. Our life must have heart and meaning. Literally the heart receives and disperses blood, the essence of aliveness. The small intestine receives nutritional matter and then with help from the kidneys disperses its contents. The healthier foods we consume, the more peace we have while taking in the nutrition and the easier it is for the small intestine to process and move on the fuel for our vitality. Another way of talking about the small intestine is it is responsible for digesting our emotions. Consuming food when distressed results in health complications. Eating foods that are ‘dead’, laden with toxins or oils or in poor combinations create a great challenge for our body to be nourished. Being dependent on chemicals, whether we call it false spirits (alcohol), strong medicines or sugars challenge our internal organ and glandular system greatly.
The fire element in the Five Element health system is quite complex as it has a component called the triple heater which roughly translates as our ability to heat up and cool down with the changing of the seasons and passions. We in the Western world may find this quite foreign. The pericardium, the liner of the heart, figuratively connects with one’s ability to have healthy boundaries, safety. In life through challenging relationships with self, with others, with nature, with spirit and so on, one sometimes incurs violations, misconduct and illness. Many, after repeated chapters of mistrust and hurt, either consciously or unconsciously go about barricading the heart, putting up blocks that prevent us from feeling connected to another being or situation. I have heard that one of human’s greatest challenges is trusting that one fits on this good earth.
Summertime, the South on the Wheel, the elements of heart, passion and assimilation all demand that each of us stop and reconnect with the universal heartbeat that makes us register that if one part of the Circle of Life is hurting, we are all hurting. It is the time to support that which has heart and meaning and can be felt through our senses.
I love the Cherokee teachings of the guardians of the directions. My teacher Dhyani Ywahoo, a 27th generation Cherokee medicine women, once told me about the three grandmothers, called guardians, who watch over the South on the wheel. She described them as swaddled in cloth wraps such that only their noses and eyes can be seen. They are in the South because they want to help families, children, loving, and the way of healing harmful patterns to the family of life. Then Dhyani’s voice would soften and she whispered, “You know that the guardians are really grandfathers who are tired of the way of war, maiming, misuse of power and killing. They have come from the North, the home of the Warrior, to the South, the home of the Healer, where they feel they can be more effective.”
Ah, maybe it is time for each of our own warrior natures to show up in the South to help in the healing process for the sake of all our relations.