Fire – key resonances

11. Fire – key resonances

Chapter contents

Fire as a symbol78

The Fire Element in life78

The Fire Element in relation to the other Elements79

The key Fire resonances79

The supporting Fire resonances83

Fire as a symbol

The character for Fire

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The Chinese character for Fire, huo, represents ascending flames (see Weiger, 1965, lesson 126A). This is a simple representation of a fire, such as might be used for cooking. When this character was chosen to represent the Element, fire would have been used for cooking and undoubtedly for warming too. People would gather around fires as a source of heat and social contact would result. The hearth is symbolic of the heart of the home in all cultures.

The Fire Element in life

Fire in the world

The sun is clearly the Fire Element of nature. As the central focus of our solar system, it is the ultimate Fire. It burns and provides heat and light for almost all animals and vegetation. People are totally dependent on the sun for warmth and even minor variations in temperature can have catastrophic effects. Too much sun (and too little rain) can cause crops to fail, resulting in famine. Polar caps can melt, causing land to flood. Established species that are accustomed to a particular range of temperature are suddenly vulnerable and poorly adapted.

Fire within the person

The Fire Element manifests on a physical level through people’s sensitivity to heat and cold. One of the most crucial variables in people’s ability to function is being at the right temperature. Everyone has an acceptable range and as they go beyond that range their performance deteriorates. Personal range of temperature is often widest when people are young. This is because they have a balanced source of Fire within and a balanced source of Water to control the Fire. As people get older, their Water decreases and their Fire becomes less steady. They may discover that their ideal range of temperature has narrowed.

Emotionally the Fire Element manifests in being joyful. There are many factors contributing to people’s happiness, but the joy associated with Fire is significant. To be with others, sharing and communicating, generates and maintains the Fire within us. The pleasure in having satisfying human contact both nourishes the Fire Element and is made possible by the Fire being balanced.

An upward or downward cycle occurs according to the health of the Fire Element. Balanced Fire enables people to reach out and be nourished by human contact. The human contact, in turn, helps to keep the Fire nourished and in balance. Diminished Fire can discourage people from reaching out for more human contact and the lack of Fire nourishment further depletes the Element.

Strengthening the Fire Element with acupuncture treatment can make profound changes to a person and enhance their ability to connect with others. From this contact they become more able to nourish their own Fire. Chronic loneliness is not life enhancing. People need to allow the emotional rays of the sun to touch them. Those with depleted Fire Elements begin to crave for the rays of the sun to penetrate and warm and even melt them at their core. Such are the issues associated with Fire.

The Fire Element in relation to the other Elements

The Fire Element interacts with the other Elements through the sheng and ke cycles (see Chapter 2, this volume).

Fire is the mother of Earth

On the sheng cycle, Fire creates Earth. This relationship is not as obvious as Wood creating Fire, but when Fire burns, ashes are left and they become Earth. This means that when treating patients who have obvious Earth Element symptoms, such as digestive complaints, they may have originated in the mother Element, Fire. A practitioner may treat the mother to assist the child.

Wood is the mother of Fire

On the sheng cycle, Wood is the mother of Fire and creates Fire. For those who have built a camp fire by gathering wood, it is easy to understand how Wood creates Fire.

That Wood is the mother of Fire means that a symptom, for example, heart pain, which apparently arises from the Fire Element, may be the effect of the Wood Element upon the Fire Element. Thus, when a symptom is manifesting from the Organ of one Element, it is always wise to look at the state of the previous Element (for more on this, see Chapter 2, this volume). This is the ‘mother’ Element on the sheng cycle.

Water controls Fire

A fire hose illustrates how water can be used to control fire. In general, there are many body–mind functions that involve heat and which can be spoiled by too much fire. The control of inflammation, the drying out of joints and the rising up of excessive joy and excitation are all examples. In these cases, Water will contain, control and regulate the excesses of Fire.

Fire controls Metal

Fire controls Metal. It softens it and helps to shape it. When fashioning beautiful objects in gold, the gold must be heated in order to mould it to the desired shape. Should the Fire Element become deficient, then the balance of the Metal Element is harder to maintain. In this case the Lung itself is more likely to weaken, fail to distribute protective qi and fail to receive qi from the Heavens.

The key Fire resonances (Table 11.1)

The colour for Fire is red

The character for red

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The character for red is chi (Weiger, 1965, lessons 60N and 126B). As well as being a simple colour word, this character is also used as the technical term for the facial red that accompanies too much heat in the Heart. ‘Heart-fire’ is a pathological pattern where the Heart has accumulated excess heat.

Table 11.1 Key Fire resonances
Colour Red
Sound Laughing
Emotion Joy
Odour Scorched

Colour in nature

Had a divine artist painted the world, she or he used red sparingly. Sometimes the sky manifests beautiful tones of pink and red. Within species of flowers, red and its various variations appear frequently. The most common association with the colour red is probably blood. Later in the chapter it will be described how Blood is clearly connected with the Fire Element.

On an emotional level, red is associated with passion and especially with the Heart. No one draws a valentine with a green or blue heart on it. The Heart and the colour red are associated with love and relationships in many cultures. Significantly, the Chinese traditionally married not in white, but in red, the colour of love. In the West, it is a common custom on Valentine’s day to give red roses or cards with red hearts to our loved ones.

Facial colour

Fire can manifest either as too much red on the face or too little. This facial colour manifests under and beside the eyes, in the laugh lines or around the mouth. When red appears on the face in other areas this may indicate excess heat and may have nothing to do with an imbalance of the Fire Element. Because of this, where there is a red colour, the practitioner’s observation needs to stick strictly to the relevant facial areas. Practitioners rarely see red under the eyes, beside the eyes in the laugh lines or around the mouth, however. It is more common for patients to manifest ‘lack of red’.

What is lack of red? Practitioners expect there to be a normal amount of pink or red in the face. At certain times, for example when someone faints, people may say that the blood has drained out of someone’s face and the person has become ashen or grey. The practitioner is noticing an absence of the normal pink of a complexion, a rather dull bloodless colour. With respect to a longer-term and serious Fire imbalance, the dull lack of red can become greyer. This is generally the colour practitioners are looking for when examining the face. They look to the side of the eye and there is a patch where the usual pink seems to have been drained. On some patients lack of red is detected by a general dullness and lack of vitality in the colour of the face overall.

The sound for Fire is laughing

The character for laughing

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The Chinese character for laughing is xiao. On the top of this character is the radical for bamboo. Underneath this is the character for a man who is bending forward, possibly as someone having a belly laugh (see Weiger, 1965, lessons 77B and 61B).

Laughter in life

Laughter is the sound that naturally emanates from the Heart. The Chinese have many expressions about happiness and laughter. For example, one proverb states that, ‘A person should laugh three times a day to live longer’. Another says, ‘A good laugh makes you ten years younger, while worry turns the hair grey’. This suggests that laughter eases the Heart, increases relaxation and restores balance.

This principle is used in Chinese qi gong exercises. For example, ‘the inner smile’ is a simple exercise to smile and then let the feeling of the smile drop downwards in the body to relax the Organs. Laughing is an extension of this feeling. A good belly laugh can massage and relax our organs and raise our spirits. One well-known qi gong teacher purposely laughs loudly in his teaching sessions in order to increase the relaxation of the group.

The context of laughter

The time for laughter to be present is when pleasure or joy is being expressed. This may be during personal interaction where warmth is being exchanged or people are talking about remembered pleasurable experiences. Inappropriate contexts would be when there is loss, fear or feelings of anger or sympathy.

The voice tone of laughing

When a person has a laughing voice there is not necessarily actual laughter present, as in the notion of a belly laugh. The sound of laughing is almost a ‘pre-laugh’ without an actual laugh emerging (although it might). Fire is a very yang Element, so it is natural that in the same way that laughter seems to rise upwards and outwards, so does this sound. It is close enough to a laugh that listeners might easily feel that, were they to apply a gentle tickle, the sound would develop into a laugh. It doesn’t have to, however, because laughter is there in the sound of the voice.

The quickest way to appreciate this voice tone is to listen to people who are talking about enjoyable events or exchanging funny stories. While doing this they will usually have a laughing sound in their voices. If this sound is missing from their voices, the event or story sounds less funny. Another way to detect a laughing voice tone is to talk out loud as if enthusiastically telling someone you like about a really enjoyable time you had. You will feel your voice rise up and feel your face on the edge of a smile.

Five Element practitioners listen and notice if the voice tone and its content matches. For example, laughter should be present in the voice when a person is talking about things that are funny. If a person is often laughing out of context this is inappropriate. For example, a person may laugh whilst talking about painful experiences, or laughter may be completely absent when the subject is one of enjoyment or pleasure. In this case the sound in the voice may be indicating that the person is a Fire CF. There is a tendency for people to laugh in order to hide their nervousness. Practitioners need to be aware of this and not succumb to thinking all nervous laughter is evidence of the person being a Fire CF.

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Nov 30, 2016 | Posted by in PHYSICAL MEDICINE & REHABILITATION | Comments Off on Fire – key resonances

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