What does it mean for Autumn to be in the Metal Phase?

white tiger image from @yuji_musashihara, http://www.musashihara.com

With the Fall Equinox we welcome Autumn Season. We start to observe in our environment a slowing down of growth. This season reflects the conclusion of the seeds we have sown, both figuratively as well as in the material world. We will spend the next months harvesting and preserving flora and fauna in preparation for the coming winter. In the tradition of early Chinese medicine, life and seasons are organized into different elements, also referred to as phases. Autumn is categorized as a metal phase. It has a strong association with the Lung and Large Intestine Meridians. Imbalances within these meridians may become more prominent in this season. Physical imbalances of these organ systems often show up as dryness. For skin dryness I really like hydrating the skin with this Tremella mushroom extract before applying an oil or lotion. Bei Mu Er, or Tremella mushroom, is a popular beautifying yin tonic in Tradition Chinese Medicine often added to soups in Autumn. Pears are another Autumn yin tonic that can be beneficial to constipation.

Psychologically the element of metal is about letting go. When applied to the lungs and breathing, this phase is the exhale with knowledge of the coming inhale. Exhale/let go or inhale/take in too much and there is disharmony and a loss of health. This can be applied to the bowels (large intestine) as well. The emotion associated with the metal element is grief. Healthy grieving is part of the process of unwinding and letting go. It creates an opening in us. When there is imbalance we stay stuck in the grief and are unable to transition into the next phase.

Many dislike autumn as it portends the “death” that winter shows us. I think appropriately this phase has a strong connection to the Shadow. The shadow is that which we reject in ourselves. It includes the desires we deem socially unacceptable and too uncomfortable to acknowledge in ourselves. Many of my teachers have expressed that when we learn to work with our shadow we also find repressed strengths. Our fears often keep us from reaching our full potential.

A simple yet challenging tool for working with your shadow: When you are upset with the actions of someone else, try to see where you have these qualities as well. It is easier to see “ugliness” in others than ourselves. What we strongly dislike in others is often something we are desperately rejecting in ourselves. I remember when I first started this practice I once had to keep reflecting on an incident for 3 months before I was finally able to recognize where I was doing that as well!

Two acupuncture points you can work with this season:

Lung 1 can help us surrender to grief and overcome resistance to new possibilities. It can awaken hope, inspiration and vision.

Large Intestine 20 can be worked with to clear the mind, reinvigorate the senses, and bring us back to ourselves. Due to the way memories are linked to scents, it can be utilized for work on releasing and shifting trauma held in the body.

Scots Pine essential oil helps reconnect us to our inner fire and make peace with change and the cycles of life.


Dechar, L. E. (2021). Kigo: Exploring the spiritual essence of acupuncture points through the changing seasons. Singing Dragon, an imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

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Published by Amanda Wellman LOM

Amanda is a practitioner of Oriental Medicine and the Arvigo Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Therapy. She specializes in Women's Reproductive Health and Autoimmune Conditions. She pulls from her strong background in meditation and energy cultivation to educate on self-healing techniques.

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