1st Energetic Level – Survival
LARGE INTESTINE (CANCER)
The level of survival represents that which is autonomic, skills that are almost innately creative, innately connected to the external, innately developed to demand and ensure survival.
Am I at the level of survival? In the history of the development of Chinese Medicine there have been many postulations regarding “what is Qi”, as well as the origin of Qi within the body. The development of the Primary meridian system was informed by these theories, and scholars and diagnosticians used their experiences to extrapolate greater body dynamics. It was postulated that if you could understand the origin of Qi, the place where it emerges within the body, you could have greater influence medically and spiritually in the realm of the individual’s health. There is an extensive system of Chinese medical astrology based in this postulation, where the birth chart describes the overall “elemental” influence of the individual’s life, denoting most superficially that the more prominent an element, the more that element represents a weakness in the individual. The lesser represented that element, the more “lucky”. The chart is broken up into elements associated with the year, the month, the day, and the time of day. This is not unlike Western Astrology. However, in China, this system is extensively extrapolated. In the future on this website, we will discuss comparison and contrast in regards to the two systems. For now, our main interest is in this so-called “origin of Qi”. The earlier schools of thought articulated that life begins with the metal element. Metal, in the generating cycle, gives birth or generates the water element, and water represents the Kidneys, and gives generation to all of the other elements. When we are born, our first experience or act is breath, breathing. This invitation of the external into the internal via the Lungs, is what invites the Kidneys to “grasp” the Lung Qi, and the autonomic mechanism of life moves forward.
GEMINI – LUNG
When we consider Gemini, we consider the transition of Metal into Water. Water is about origin, death, the mother of life (wood). Metal, then, is the origin of origin. We consider the way in which there is an origin of Qi, and that intelligence is the capacity to not simply recognize that, but to contribute structurally a framework around Qi itself. The Lungs are said to “disseminate” the Qi, they govern the descension of Qi to the lower part of the body, as well as govern the movement of fluid to the exterior. Equally, they govern the opening and closure of the pores of the skin. They also govern the capacity to form the various types of Qi, which as we discussed in other sections, changes is form and density according to the region/level of the body associated. And all of this is done without much thought. Intelligence is defined as not simply the capacity to acquire skill and knowledge—but is more refined in the capacity to apply it to the task at hand. For the Lungs, for Gemini, this survival level is denoted by one’s capacity to apply sensory information in real-time. The Lungs (LU) are said to open to the nose, and to manifest in the skin. Gemini has the capacity to see their environment, prior to physically seeing it. This means that the capacity to smell, similar to the way in which dogs especially are capable to smelling, can follow trails of sensory information like they are trails of sustenance. This is why human interaction/connection is extremely valuable and employed by Gemini, as they thrive on the Qi of the external, the “Da Qi”. The survival level means there is no question as to whether the connection they encounter feeds their need. The practice/employment of the vocal mechanism is, in and of itself, a challenge to the autonomic breathing mechanism. Remember that the body desires mostly to maintain what is autonomic, that which can keep the system alive. Speaking, communication, is directly opposed to the capacity for one to breathe in and out smoothly and predictably—something that the LR thrives on (this will be covered in the second on the Liver-3rd Energetic Level). When we communicate, we are modifying the automation of breath in some way, which, in essence, means we are modifying our capacity to sense. As the Lungs govern not only all of the pores, but all sphincters of the body, by virtue of the Ren Mai (another meridian system), we have the capacity to shape our perceptions with our breath. For Gemini, an exercise in communication is an exercise in landscape modification—a quest into the origin of all things. Geminis are extremely invested in “who” “what” where” “when” and “how”. These inquiries inform their versatility of intelligence, their capacity to adapt, their capacity to mirror their environment.
A statement for Gemini is: What is the level to which I easily breathe in and out my environment. What hinders my breath? Where is the breath going? Where am I stuck?
The survival level gives you the capacity to have something, i.e. the capacity to breathe, the capacity to see, the capacity to hear. This level is intimately related to sensitivity. Whereas the differentiation level is more related to specificity. The interactive level is more emotional, and contains elements of both sensitivity and specificity, but only to an extent to continue circulation and movement.
Survival: This is the level where we are most affected by wind. When we are unwilling to adapt to change. This will manifest in wind-cold, or wind-heat.
When wind, synonymous with wind-cold is not resolved, it becomes wind-heat, and what is heat? Heat is desire; it is the expectation of what should be rather than what is. Cold is what is, and wind is what changes. Wind-cold represents the changing of what is. Wind-heat is the resistance to the change of what is.
What does heat do? Heat dries up fluids, and specifically in this level it affects the sensory orifices. The lack of fluids means your capacity to have sensitivity to your environment is compromised. This is how people see only what they want to see, hear what they want to hear. The lack of moisture to the sensory orifices shuts off the capacity to respond to what changes, and can appear as “coming out of nowhere”. This is when wind becomes visible. Or rather, we become visible to wind. This is precisely the mechanism around the HT as emperor. The HT innately is emptied. But the desires of other organ systems, the other officials fill the heart orifice, and obscure the capacity to rule.
Heat prevents us from experiencing things in real-time. They become sped up, certain regions of the body begin to lose the capacity to meet what is happening, and the body perceives invasion.
· The natural response of the body is to vent change, to course it in a way, to become invisible to it.
· The signs associated with the Survival level are how we remain invisible to our environment.
o Gemini – become one of many- social
o Cancer – hide self away – familial, cloister self within group
o Leo – become invisible to self –
o Virgo – describe the world. Speech and language have an especial neutralizing factor. Virgo attempts to essentialize the steps necessary to understand the way one survives within the environment. This is often done by acknowledging what one is not. This is the initial separation of the pure and the turbid. Which leads into the interactive level. Virgo is an interesting pivot given that, ST-LEO represents the capacity to still reject what is coming from the external. Virgo begins to consider the benefit of the change. This is the beginning stages of materialization in the body, i.e. the creation of blood.
When we consider Gemini, we consider the way in which our communication is governed merely by Qi. Blood is not yet a consideration. Qi means connection in its most basic sense. The intelligence of Gemini is the capacity to show up where the sensory dictates you go—without any further anticipation. This is informed by the changes dictated by the seasons. Seasons can manifest as all that is fashionable—Geminis are often externally attractive—though sometimes this manifests as a certain magnetism or charisma. Gemini is the “Bird of Paradise” in full mesmerizing blue and black. Their movements, their skill have the capacity to take our breath away, to modify the movement of our Qi.
The Lungs/Gemini represent the way in which we become “invisible” by our appearances, the overall expression of Qi on the external. When an individual conforms to the fashions, to the change of seasons, they become less of a “prey” to the threat of that change. By dressing appropriately, the cold will not kill you. But, each sign/organ has a pathological or shadow aspect to it.
Remember, that the Lungs are the largest organ, the most expansive, covering the greatest amount of surface area. They are also the most external, and are the first-line to encounter the injury of the world—of weather, other personalities, other perceptions. This means that external pressures can readily depress the Lungs, or fill them to an extent that survival can mean an abundance of fear-based perception. When the Lungs are full, or when there is an overabundance of sensory information, one of the techniques used, specifically with Acupuncture, is to tonify the child, and reduce the mother. The child of Metal is Water. When we tonify water, what can manifest is more fear, as fear caused the KD to strengthen the structure, to preserve “self”, and to reject “other. At the same time, the Lungs need to “reduce” and therefore the pores close. The borders turn off, and this, in combination with fear, can manifest as a sensorial/perceptive xenophobia.
Remember that the Survival Level is marked by sensitivity, and not specificity like the Level of Differentiation. Thus, any sense of challenge on the external becomes enemy #1. The blame, the perceived threat can really look like anyone or anything, and the perception will modulate itself around anything that demands from you. Thus, the origin of Qi, or “mouth of Qi” as it is also known, is an aspect of relationship with environment that really can transform any otherwise pleasant sensation into pain, perceived threat, even torture.
This, of course, is the mark of Gemini-and often why they are misunderstood or develop a reputation for being “two-faced”. As, their threshold for what is “good” and what is “bad” is as thin and delicate as human skin. Remember that the pores need to have a very developed, skilled mechanism to open as well as close regularly, predictably, without any intellectual/bodily discussion. In other words, you want to be able to breathe, to bring oxygenation to the heart and the rest of the body without having to think about it. The Lungs really represent the way in which the body can “gather” Qi, to grasp Qi. The most fundamental mechanism of living is the capacity for the Lungs to communicate to the Kidneys to “grasp” the Qi, to, in essence, grasp the external, and invite it in. Thus, the balance between what we perceive external and materialize internally is a very, very refined one. As soon as the autonomic system perceives something to be a threat, and by threat, it could simply mean “I can’t breathe fully”, the pores close, the internal/external aerodynamics modulate, and maybe we cough, or we sneeze, or we mutter, comment—maybe even talk about the weather—we perpetuate superficialities to prevent anything from having to go more external. It is an indication, that we want whatever is occurring to remain at the external. The clothes we wear indicate we want the wind to keep away from the levels of interaction and differentiation—we don’t want every little circumstance to have to be processed or to challenge the structural integrity of who we are. We simply want to experience our world in real-time, and have the capacity to survive and thrive within our skillset, practically, and with versatility.
CANCER – LARGE INTESTINE
As we began to describe before, the Lung represents the first-line barrier between exterior and interior, specifically the way in which we meet “wind” or “change” as it comes to us. We are sensitive to this, vulnerable, and we do what we can to adapt through sensory mimicry, until we become invisible, undetected-until that external threat sees us as simply an extension of the landscape.
When we get to the Large Intestine, in a certain way, the capacity to thrive simply through our skill to close the pores, or meet the change have failed. Wind-cold becomes wind-heat. In its most basic sense, the Large Intestine represents a failure to let go. Specifically, it is the inability to let go of the sensory experiences, the change that challenged our breathing within the Lung. When there was not resolution, the fluids governed by the Lungs were exhausted on the exterior attempting to bring warmth to vent them, and the Large Intestine developed into dryness. This dryness develops terrain that is unable to readily hydrate the regions of perception. Heat begins to develop in the throat, in the nose, and in the face. Below, the abdomen can become distended, the stools dried and resistant to movement, because the fluid usually available to moisten the alimentary canal has become depleted. In other words, what becomes less moistened, rounded, universal on the exterior, becomes a little more barren, desertous, and more susceptible to the negative changes associated with external wind. Where moisture typically meets the warms that nourishes the skin, and the digestive terrain, develops into inflammation, regions that become overly sensitive to even subtle changes. Cancers are notorious for their shifts in moods, and this is one of the sources of it. Mood is a very interesting phenomenon that is typically mistaken for emotion. From a Chinese Medical perspective, at least according to Jeffrey Yuen, and my teacher Josephine Spilka, emotion is separate from mood in that it involves the Blood. When the blood is involved, it has movement, it has weight, it has consciousness. Mood, is like blood without consciousness. And consciousness without blood is Qi. This, is simply known as awareness. You can be aware of something, but not necessarily conscious of it. Consciousness indicates the capacity to change it. In the case of heat or inflammation in the region of the Large Intestine, due to the depletion of fluids, and the presence of wind, the body is merely aware that something is off, something aches, something is on fire, but it cannot pinpoint where. Remember the level of survival is more associated with sensitivity and not specificity. Thus when someone is moody, say, you walk into a room, and suddenly you feel yourself change somehow, without necessarily being able to pinpoint why—the mood is what has changed you. Mood is still associated with the external—in a sense, it is the residual of the changing external.
Cancer is often associated with the nostalgic, with what is gone, but somehow still present. The best description I ever heard in regards to a Cancer was from a Cancer friend who, at the time, was dating another Cancer. She said: “Sometimes I feel like he’s the kind of person who would pine over our love letters years after we’d broken up. That, he’d prefer to live in the reminder of the experience, rather than what we are together now.” James Cameron, the director of Titanic, for instance, has Jupiter in Cancer conjunct Uranus and trine the Moon (associated with emotions). Titanic is a story of the epic residual of loss associated with some historical event. His moon is in Pisces, ruled by Neptune, associated with the deepest and darkest depths of the ocean. Not unironically, the character Jack is an individual who, to Rose’s character, comes into her life and simply leaves. She declares sadly that she does not even have a picture of him—he exists only in memory. This is the nature of moods, and moods themselves are residual to external events that human beings hold onto and linger. The usual moisture that is met with warmth within the body ensures that mood offers a dynamic quality to the way in which we sense and perceive—an innate diversity of senses. But without the moisture, certain experiences becomes painful and migratory, leaving us somewhat as victims to the energy left behind circumstances, situations, places and people. It is not unironic that houses and buildings are described as among the most “haunted” of places. Why is this? Where we described the LU as the way in which we modulate what we perceive, the Large intestine becomes somewhat of the amorphous form that develops from this encounter. The body and mind want to formulate experience into predictable, useable shapes, geometry, with which it can develop directionality for Qi. This becomes more apparent within the Stomach and Spleen, where blood begins to form. Homes, structures, modulate the Qi of the environment, and when a structure stands within a space for periods of time, it begins to create a residual form. You might call it an energetic form. When human beings habitate these places, their capacity to “form” becomes heightened, more specific, less amorphous. However, when they cease to be in these places, their energetic form, likened to the house, their Qi, can still remain housed. Just like the Lungs, these places modulate the Qi around them, like wind instruments, and the remnants begin to behave like that of “moods”, wind with amorphous trajectory. When an individual is unable to let go, they become “haunted” internally by stagnant Qi. This stagnant Qi then creates heat. The body, innately maintains a certain level of warmth, and the Qi stagnated heat can begin to bind with the internal warmth, and the fluid dynamic becomes easily changed. Cancers, therefore, are potentially more susceptible to Heat pathology, as there is a tendency to find it difficult to let go, mentally and physically—especially when it comes to relationships. What is interesting, is that we are still in the level of survival here. We have not reached the level of interaction. There is an element at play here, of connection without interaction. This is nostalgia. People may watch a movie and have nostalgia for a particular period of time. I have a lot of nostalgia for the 1920s and 1930s, without really any understanding as to why. There is very little directionality, if even elementary when it comes to one’s emotions, with the LI/Cancer. Yes the LI descends, but it’s almost more the work of gravity, allowing substance to do what it needs to, fluid to moisten, gas to rise, Qi to gather etc.
This is often why Cancers make great artists, because form is given to the moods that hijack their Qi. In fact, the pointer finger and opposable thumb working together to write, is an extremely powerful mechanism in linking the metal element together. The mechanism of gathering Qi for the sake of forming, in this case, forming stool, is the basis for creating the vacuity necessity for the ST and SP to develop earth. In an interesting way, Cancer is almost an elementary recognition of the formation of space. By creating space, say, in the bowels, you equally create the necessity for earth, or something to fill that space. It is as if the LI and ST create simultaneous masses, one with pure useable matter, and the other excretory waste—and this, in and of itself is a mirror to how the Lung gathers Qi, and the Large intestine gathers matter below. Thus, like James Cameron, Cancers can take something that is dead and gone, and bring it to extremely vivid life. Once the Cancer can give form to what they sense—I hesitate to say feel—though it does not go to say that Cancers cannot feel—it is simply more that there is an almost autonomic relationship to their capacity to feel, leaning it more towards sense and sensitivity. It also makes them seemingly more “cold”. Rather, there is a similar element as we saw with Gemini, where the individual finds it very necessary to protect themselves from the volatile external. With so much sensory information, the individual has to begin to practice discretion. Where the skin represents the external for LU, the alimentary canal represents the landscape of the internal. Likened to the pores, the canal has linkage to regions where nutrients are more readily absorbed, where fluid is more readily reabsorbed and reused by the body.
Hence, Cancer, or the 4th house, is associated with Home, with family—as not only does the presence of wind make the individual aware of their body, but it sets into motion the beginning development of self-consciousness. There first has to be established a secured container where one can readily retreat from the world. Home represents an even more refined gathering of Qi, only in this case, it begins to welcome survival with more specificity, and that is what we eventually will call “Interactive level”. With the Lung we learn to animate ourselves, the Large Intestine, we house ourselves. In a strange, perhaps esoteric way, we become visible within the invisible. We become invisible to family—the family is the greater family represented by the external—and within our domicile we recreate this dynamic, but hidden and available only to ourselves. We therefore become visible to ourselves, though hidden from the family. Thus, when an individual has a lot of LI issues, it is potentially important to look at their family dynamic, family history—in addition to the earth element, as we will see in the next discussion.
What is important to remember is that change innately inspires within us the phenomenon of heat. Once internal, in the LI and then ST, we start to see physical changes to the terrain, to such an extent that morphology changes. You begin to see where the survival level starts to move closer to interaction, where there is a lot of magnetism, attention, but not necessarily blood behind it. In this case, there is such the presence of heat that blood starts to move with it.
Once home is established, we create space to move comfortably around. This is the establishment of ego—but we are still in the survival level, and thus the ego is amorphous—it is not anchored, it is simply magnetism. This is the stage of Leo.
LEO – STOMACH
From day one of exploring the role of Leo within this system, something that has always emerged or been intuited is this idea that Leo is the true, eternal Child. When home is established, what then becomes possibility within those borders? Earth. Earth is where Qi gathering becomes consolidated into a more specific form. In Western Astrology, Leo is ruled by the Sun. In Chinese Medical theory, Large Intestine and Stomach are known as “Yangming”, which can translate to “Great Brightness”. The image is that at the peak of the afternoon, Yang is at its peak. It is where we have the capacity to receive the most Yang of the day, the image being an individual with arms in anatomical position, receiving the bright sun along the “peak” of the front of their body. In essence, it is where “you” become most revealed, or perhaps filled with the abundance of both Qi and Blood. This is due to the concept that the Stomach is in charge of the rotting and ripening of food, from a Chinese Medical perspective. It is where the right combination of ecological factors, met both internally and externally, manifest together. What emerges is somewhat of a perfect storm of collecting external information, and formatting the information to personal benefit (shadows of Gemini). Interestingly, the LU is said to originate in the ST, and when you see diagrams of the LU channel, there is an internal pathway that first connects with the ST organ, and then “opens” at LU-1 in the upper chest. This, is, I believe in part, due to its relationship to the “rotting and ripening” factor associated with the ST. Where we saw the sensory awareness of the LU within the sensory orifices, a certain sensitivity to the environment, the ST begins to bring “clear yang” to support more specificity to the portals. This manifests in a certain “recognizability” or form to the face, as the ST channel travels from the foot into the face. There is a testament to where an abundance of Qi is beginning to gather and collect along with the formation of blood, completed in the SP. This becomes possible with the morphology of the face. Where we saw the LI associated with the inner terrain, the ST begins to develop the capacity to change the terrain of the “perceiver” of the terrain. With the morphology of the face changing, the external begins to change the way it interacts with us. We become invisible to ourselves, which means that internally we have created the capacity to form self, by shifting our perceptions through the sensory to reflect the world as an image of family, and we do so by becoming the child. There is some research that suggests that “roundness” incites within human beings the instinct to coddle, to take care of whatever it is that is round. For human beings, this is most prevalent in babies, who most often have very chubby, rounded faces. There is some “survival” aspect, in terms of evolution at work here that speaks to fundamental ways of ensuring survival—thus, the roundness of the face is an indication to protect, and not abandon, not let go. And this is precisely what occurs with ST/SP. Where Cancer was about letting go, the SP and ST is about consolidating, and holding onto. The chiseling of the face into more specific features is a testament to the strength of Yangming, namely the abundance of Qi and Blood. When an individual laughs, or frowns, there is often an innate mechanism through which we mirror these phenomena. In later sections, we will discuss the development of consciousness through the advent of written language, and its relationship to the concept of mirror neurons—linked extensively in recent research to our capacity for empathy. Thus, you can see a theme: empathy, consolidation, child, providing.
Leo, associated with the fifth house, has a strong relationship to not simply home, but creativity, with children, with the consolidation of space with nutritive form. It is as if the vessels in the body become full to the brim with what is formatted internally, that it pushes up and into the head. The truncation of both Qi and Blood in the confined space of the head, mixed with the heat from such pressure, causes a certain mutation, a change in conformation. Thus, you may notice that girl looks just like her father, but there is something different, still. With Leo, however, there is a LOT of attention.
Another interesting thing to consider with the ST is its relationship to the Chong Mai- which represents our DNA, our lineage. However, the movement up into the face, the change in conformation, the association of the Chong Mai with what is called “rebellious Qi” is perhaps a statement regarding our resistance to simply accepting our heritage autonomically. If this were the case, our every expression would be the result of our parents and grandparents before. The LU originating in the ST suggests an deep and intimate rootedness, a foundational connection between the way in which we start to challenge that which is autonomic within ourselves, such that it informs our perceptions, and shapes the way in which we can take in the world. Thus, the face contains not only the first point on the ST channel, ST-1 directly below the eye, but it also wraps around the mouth, aiding a certain morphology through which we “consume” the world, or how we acquire substance to add the the sea of food and grain, as the ST is called.
With LEO, with the SUN, attention is called to the unique way in which the insubstantial Qi, begins to take specific form. But, much like the moods we discussed with the LI and LU, there is a certain magnetism regarding LEO that we are unsure as to why we are attracted. Sure they may be attractive, but something pulls us even more into them. And with Leo, they often become an almost family-maker in and of themselves. People are drawn to Leo because they are so truly whatever they are, and know it, often without even being so aware of it. The same way that an individual is sometimes more attractive when they don’t realize it themselves. This manifests for LEO as a gathering factor, where people simply enjoy being around them, and are not always sure why.
Leos often have disdain for this fact, as they often represent the sensitive child who becomes embarrassed when they get too much attention. Over time they get used to the ease with which families seem to consolidate around them. However, as was suggested before, like Cancer becoming invisible to the family, Leo becomes invisible to the self. They, more often than not, are not as selfish as people tend to claim. Leos can be extremely giving individuals, desiring to be that earth/center that others demand of them. It is almost by accident that they get so much attention.
We will see eventually how intimately connected the KD and the ST are, as KD Yin is the source of ST Yin, and ST Yin is the basis for Wei Qi. Wei qi, as described in earlier sections, is the most Yang of forms of Qi, the most insubstantial. It is called into action to meet the offense of the external. In conjunction with our languaging of Leo, this makes sense, as this “ego” described has the tendency to comes to the surface, where individuals mistake it for the person, whereas it is perhaps an expression of the autonomic protective mechanism of the self summoned to thrust off anything that desires to challenge the individual. Thus, when people call them out as having big egos, there is sometimes surprise that comes from their end. Remember, we are still in the level of survival. “Self” still moves the way climate or moods move. The energetic still moves and challenges people, and there’s a residual quality to their personalities—think of Steve Carell as Michael Scott in the show the Office. Carell has a Sun in Leo, and he plays his character with such precision it is difficult to understand where he begins and his character ends. Notice how quick the comedy is changing, how he seemingly thrusts upon his employees whatever it is he is feeling. This is an extreme caricature.
However, there is, in essence, a depthlessness to Leo, an aspect, perhaps associated with Yangming, LI, that is completely and eternally inaccessible to others. In a profound way, within the ST is the spark, the something that everyone sees but cannot articulate. The capacity to nourish the self with alone time, personal desires, and lots of sleep is common to Leo. This is because that spark that is ineffable is forming within the material mixing and rotting and ripening within the ST. It is not so much the individual parts that make the meal good—but the flavor and the aroma that begins to emerge in their mixing. In essence, people begin to see their own context within the delicate recipe that is Leo. They begin to sense the Sun, the spark in themselves, the child within, perhaps, but still cannot articulate it. When we get to Virgo, we begin to develop the capacity to articulate just that. The human face is the perfect metaphor to describe this spark. It is intricately unique to each individual, and the first thing that people look to, often, is another person’s face. Even in the landscape, we have the tendency to notice face-like features, such as eyes, even describing the “mouth of the river” or the “eye of the storm”. Therefore there is developing consciousness, awareness that begins to take shape more specifically. We first witness that “alpha” quality, that magnetism in others, and in the subsequent levels and organs, we begin to infer that quality within ourselves. The face is how we learn to “present” our personality, informed by the moods, emotions and differentiation that flow within the Primary sequence.
The last aspect of Leo/ST that is worth noting is that there is still an external relationship to this part of the Primary progression. Of all that is coming into the ST from the external, we still have an autonomic capacity to reject it. As we discussed in regards to the heritage received from our ancestors, this earth pivot is so complete that within it contains the capacity to reject, to vomit out the incoming food/air/experiences. In an interesting way, we might look at how this can manifest in the classical symptoms associated with what is called “Yangming Fu” or Yangming organ disorder in the Six channel theory. The shift from channel disorder, meaning the pathogen is stuck in the channel, as an intentional mechanism to divert it from the internal organ, indicates that this contingency has failed, and now the pathogenic factor (PF) has access to the internal organs. When this happens there is a collection of symptoms that, for lack of a better word, are reminiscent of a tantrum. The unresolved heat enters the bowel and the individual becomes constipated, they experience a sense of pain and fullness, namely abdominal distention, they may become feverish, almost delirious, irritability, all worse at dusk-specifically the fever. These all seem to describe a very similar phenomena experienced by children. For children, the tendency towards tantrum is potentially more common due to their exuberance of yang, and insufficient yin. For this particular stage of the Primary meridians, we witness the body struggling with the resolution of heat. It is not until the Pericardium/Aquarius, that the body develops a specific system for reckoning with heat. When the heat is still at the level of the ST, it still has access to the external, and one of the most basic methods of resolving this is through vomiting. This could manifest not simply as physical vomit, but aggression, a certain sense of aimless, delirious pushback often seen within a tantrum. Leo is the true eternal child, through and through.
VIRGO – SPLEEN
The Virgo/Spleen pivot is an incredibly important shift within the body. It is not only the last of the organ systems within the survival level. But it is also where we begin to “create” usable substance within the body. It is where we begin to comprehend the value of our own materialization.
Virgo from the Western Astrological perspective is one of the only figures depicted as human. More so, Virgo is depicted as a maiden, associated with the earth, with the harvest, associated with the way in which we cultivate relationship with our environment. This is important. We are not simply encountering our environment from a level of survival. It is beginning to shift into how we connect, relate to what and who we encounter. From a Chinese medical perspective the SP is intimately connected to the Chong Mai, the Penetrating vessel, also called the Sea of Blood. When we are in utero, we are formatted through the combined energetics of both of our parents, as well as the lineage of our ancestors. This informs much of our morphology, and we receive an unfolding of DNA from our lineage that decides how our own DNA will unfold. However, from a Daoist perspective, we are the ones who chose our parents. When in utero, we are developing the “map” or “blueprint” of the way our life will unfold once born. This is considered “Pre-natal”. Once born, we begin to carry out or fulfill that blueprint, according to a curriculum we’ve decided before birth. The SP emerges at this particular moment to reckon with the confusion that comes with the dichotomy of fate/free will. We do not encounter quote unquote “freewill” until we encounter the differentiation level. Until we encounter the interactive level via the Heart, Small Intestine etc, we cannot yet know who we are, and thus cannot take full responsibility for what we are given.
When we get to Virgo/SP, we encounter the way in which the external starts to change us internally. We develop very elementary ways of approaching what comes inward: what is good, and what is bad. There is a certain level of judgment here—but only to serve the purpose to reveal the latter, or to bolster the former. In other words, Virgo is about the separation of the pure and the turbid. I have always been intrigued by this pivot, as there is not quite the “self” or “essence” associated here, though in the future, we will discuss how the Kidney supports the Spleen. In survival, we had the capacity to reject with the ST. But what happens when that thing was not fully rejected. In a small way, the body has to assimilate it, or at least make use of it. This pivot is where we are essentially forced to transform our experiences to support the day-to-day functionality of the body. The most potent form or metaphor of this day-to-day is found in the creation of Blood. Blood, created by the SP, is like extremely fertile soil. In order to develop this soil, the environmental factors have to be just right. The cultivation of what is planted has to also be just right. In order to ensure quality control, the gardener, for lack of a better metaphor, has to walk through the area and prune and weed, to become hyper conscious of the subtle changes in the wind and rain, and the color and texture of the plants and the soil. These subtleties become refined and practiced within the interactive level.
For Virgo, the most apparent aspect is knowing what one is “not”. In the survival level, we do not yet know that we are protecting “self”. It is more of an innate protection for the sake of protection. The sensitivity described in Gemini emerges equally here, when the individual declares “that’s not me”. What we witness externally informs us almost inversely or accidentally, cluing us into what we are, first by cutting off the portions, separating the pure and turbid within ourselves, that obscures the most efficient survival system. In Chinese medicine, there are elemental relationships, as well as organ relationships. Lung and Large Intestine share a metal relationship. Lung and Spleen share what is referred to as “Taiyin”. The Six levels are described in the Shang Han Lun and refer to a level that a pathogen has gained access to. When the Yang regions of the body have failed, and the internal terrain is accessed, the capacity to maintain the survival level, LU-SP is compromised. Thus, the SP can no longer focus on the separation of the pure and the turbid, and we lose our desire to take in more nourishment, we lose our appetite. We vomit attempting to reset the survival mechanism. We have chronic watery diarrhea, as a testament to the SP’s inability to recognize what it is not. We become cold very easily.
Virgo is really about compartmentalization: the capacity to put things in their place. The SP’s relationship to the creation of blood really comes from its capacity to consolidate Qi within usable shape. The SP has a major function of holding blood in the vessels, allowing the shapes of the internal terrain to be maintained. Truth, to Virgo, must maintain a particular shape. As we shall see, once we have blood, awareness can become consciousness. Whatever we become sensitized to within the environment, we develop a certain predictable awareness to that process. We are able to plant crops knowing that depending on the season, the quality of light and temperature, we are going to see a particular yield. It is the capacity to first observe what happens, and simply mimic how the natural landscape thrives. Where Cancer revealed perhaps the cycles of the moon, Virgo reveals the application (shadows of Gemini) of these cycles into whatever is encountered. In such a way, our experiences get filtered into a certain “truth” as to how the world works.
Once working within, and comprehending the occupation of space, namely “Qi”, Virgo begins to not simply master these cycles or truths, but begins to truncate them, to hold them closer, more purely. Virgo begins to essentialize the process, to make more efficient the way in which they navigate the environment. This is the hunter, keen to witness the preferred and specific bush of the buffalo. All they need is to show up at the preferred hour, and their meal is provided. It is obvious here, that there are elements of consciousness, elements of relationship, elements of differentiation. However, within the survival level, we find the “focus” to be externalized. We are still moving according to what changes on the outside. Like Gemini, Virgo is still very much motivated by what they are sensitized to. For Virgo these are often systems of truth, systems of an almost more refined or abstractionalized perception.
This becomes more apparent in the development and cultivation and practicality of language. The SP is said to open to the tongue. The SP is also said to govern the flesh. This means that the SP is responsibility for holding the intregrity of the flesh, the form, the shape of Qi. Language becomes an especial method through which we “shape” our environment in predictable ways. If the SP represents our capacity to “name”, to call out, then the HT, as we will see, and the interactive level, become more associated with the capacity to distinguish how what we have named is different from the other. Virgo gives names to what it experiences, giving an elementary quality of contrast from one to the other. This is that, this is this, those are those. From a Chinese Medical perspective, the SP has a strong correlation, though not direct analogy to the immune system from a Western Medical perspective. Still associated with the survival level, we have the capacity to meet the offending external with heat, with fluids, perhaps a more non-specific immune response. With the SP, there is memory that is developing. This becomes more of a specific immune response, where the second time around becomes that much more potent. However, Virgo is also extremely pragmatic/practical. It is concerned memorially only with what can create resolution in the moment, where it can finance an experience with blood the second that it is needed. This is equally reminiscent of the coagulation cascade. The capacity to not simply be aware of what may break the surface of the skin, but to provide a series of materials that can be laid to prevent further leakage of blood. In a similar way, Virgo models itself within the intelligence of the earth, the landscape that admits a certain collectedness, an ability to always even itself out. To Virgo, there is a right way and a wrong way, but these are informed mostly by what is efficient. To Virgo there is no actual waste. What is separated in terms of the pure and turbid may appear to describe how the body excretes waste. But what it really describes is the way in which the incoming material of the external, as it combines with one’s Qi, as well as air/oxygen, creates blood, but also ascends “clear yang” up into the face to support the moisture that keeps membranes substantial, but permeable in certain situations. The SP also sends the turbid below to supplement the marrow, the supplement the bones. Thus Virgo is not simply about naming what something is, what one is not—but also represents the capacity to demarcate and maintain the space that those things occupy.
Language works in a very similar way. We speak “about” something in such a way that it occupies a particular logic that organizes any other “idea” that enters the mind. The SP houses what is called the “Yi”, which is also known as the mind or the intellect. As was described in the previous sections, agriculture emerged in China potentially concurrently with the introduction of more standardized writing systems in China. This is not coincidental. The capacity to articulate language, to compartmentalize thought into more “essential” concepts is an of itself an extension of the way in which food and grain is more readily truncated and essentialized into products such as blood, or saliva or tears. As our bodies become more accustomed to nourishment that is more readily available, we develop rituals and recipes around this nourishment. As a result, Virgo is almost an incantive sign, one which has the capacity to “control” the environment, including other people, through its language. The more efficient the language, the greater the capacity the SP is able to “hold” the nutritive quality of the blood. When an individual eats at irregular times, or during times that are governed more by storage, than transformation, the body tends to create more dampness, confusion according to the presence of the new substances in the body. Thus, as we saw with Gemini, what can at first appear as so beautiful, can almost immediately become the enemy, especially when it has to do with the digestive system. The SP is really where the potency of metaphor, of feedback systems, of languaging, begins to “command” the blood. Once the blood is commanded, the organ systems begin to have consciousness. Qi within a system or framework, is no longer only about sensitivity or awareness—it is about consciousness—and consciousness is about transformation. But this can only happen via the phenomena of relationship, or interaction.
The next section, we begin to see how what the SP has named begins to reveal a certain essence of its own. Intelligence becomes marked by the capacity to distinguish sameness, and by proxy, difference. In fact, this is precisely how the SP is able to distinguish what it is not—by first recognizing what is same. Earth is marked by what consolidates, like attracts like, warmth joins with warmth, cold with cold. There is a certain element of affinity here. However, the pivot of SP to Heart, is one of movement. When one thing consolidates, becomes heavy, it merely highlights the discrepancy of the light, and that light ascends, the heavy lowers. Within the Heart, we discover the absolute love that life falls in with itself. The survival level is like a drawing. But the interactive level is like a black and white photograph. The Heart reveals the way in which the realizations we’ve come upon with our intellect have such beautiful weightedness, contrast and the Heart desires to feel the dichotomy to the beginning of the substantial and the end of the immaterial.