• Color of Blue
• Sound of Groaning
• Odor of Putrid
• Emotion of Fear (or lack of )
• Taste of Salty
• Sensory organ – Ears
• Manifests in the Hair
• Tissue – Bones
• Season of Winter
• Power of Emphasis
• Direction of the North
• The Climate of Cold
• Time of Day – 3pm – 7pm
The list above is just that, a list. Though what lies in commonality within it, are some of the different manifestations of qi embodying the Water Element. They can be observed in all things, because ‘the 10,000 things’ are all just different forms of qi that came from an expression of the Tao millions of years ago. We can observe it in nature, people, music, animals, and even ‘seemingly’ inanimate objects. For the sake of this website – in terms of discussing the Element itself, my spirit is drawn to discuss these observations through a particular microcosm – within the various Waters surrounding us and the season of Winter. When it comes time to discuss the Officials, I will refer to the very same observations, though how we see them manifest in people.
The leaves, fruits, flowers, all of Nature’s gifts have fallen to the ground, and found their way back into the earth, back to its source… the Tao. The cycle of life has reached both an end, and a new beginning. This new beginning, both literally and metaphorically, starts with a seed. A seed that is deep and still… and simultaneously gathering power, amassing tremendous potential, to finally manifest its will in the coming of the Spring. We see this same potent power in the deep ocean – wherein also lies the capacity to be still, deep, and reflective… yet at a moment’s notice, it can be turbulent, unyielding, and even destructive.
As for us during the year, this is a time of going inward… connecting with our own capacity to be still and go deep within ourselves. It is a time of reflection, cleansing, and cultivation. Reflecting on this year’s harvest – its moments of growth, connection, nourishment, inspiration along with its moments of chaos, loneliness, starvation, and letting go. Then can we look in the pond and see ourselves staring back at us in the present – who am I today, what have I become, and finally… what is to come?
What I describe above may not be an easy place to be – to see a true reflection of one’s self can give rise to tremendous fear and panic. Especially, the last part… what is to come? The future is full of unknowns… and can be seen as a cold, deep, and dark Void. It is only when the Water within us is fluid and pure, can we grow, flourish and cultivate wisdom in the unknown and within ourselves. Also in talking about cultivation, this is a time of replenishing… our vast reservoir for our day-to-day activities, as well as paying careful attention to the tending of our storehouse of inherited essence. We have spent all year cultivating an abundant harvest for this very time.
If we have brought in a healthy harvest, conducive to calm Water… we can be still, and gracefully draw from and build up our reserves. If we haven’t and if our Water is stirred… fighting for survival could be a significant and dangerous theme – and its major players will be fear combined with an unhealthy will. Nothing can hinder the will of water… it is fluid, adaptable, powerful and has the capacity to be incredibly patient – look at how it wears away solid rock. We can see its manifestations in nature as hurricanes, tsunamis, tidal waves, floods. This incredible power lies within us as well, and it must be treated with reverence… for when this occurs within a person’s mind or spirit, the results can be just as catastrophic as that of its impact on a village or city.
THE BLADDER OFFICIAL –
Official Who Controls the Storage of Water
The Bladder Official is likened to a reservoir, on various levels. Our body is 50-60% water, it is our vital fluid and courses its way through our entire body. At its most basic physiological level, it is a reservoir of not only water, but also filtrate products from the Kidneys such as urea, excess acids, and alkalis. Then through its functions of storing and regulating how much is retained and expelled – proper balance is achieved so that all our muscles, organs, joints, tissues, mental activities, etc. can be properly irrigated with the highest quality of this simple, yet vital fluid.
This is by no means a passive role – processes need to be monitored and decisions need to be made. In maintaining an adequate reservoir… how much fluid has been lost via perspiration, breathing, defecation as well as how to handle the impure waste products must be managed appropriately. These primary functions are key in dictating the health of our Water element – whether it is a stagnant boggy marsh, a dried up parched desert, or a beautiful sparkling calm that is filled to the brim with potential.
On the level of mind and spirit, it is the reservoir of Water lain down in the meridians allowing for the fluidity in which we are able to tap in to our inner selves and reflect, how we let thoughts and ideas flow, and the grace by which our spirit is able to move with the Tao. It is by the virtue of these gifts of movement and fluidity that we are able to grow and flourish as individuals and as One. These reserves, when healthy is what gives us security, promise, a deep inner strength, and not only will, but endurance… enabling us to persevere through the harsh winter and bringing forth an explosive, exuberant spring full of new life, color, and vision. And as we talked about the body, with our reservoirs of mind and spirit… our Water can be dried up, a muddy pond, or out-of-control like that of a tsunami.
THE KIDNEY OFFICIAL –
Official Who Controls the Waterways
When talking about the Earth element, the Stomach is seen as a reservoir of sorts, in charge of receiving and then its raw usable end-products are passed along to the Spleen to be distributed to the rest of the body. There is a similar relationship among the Water Officials. Whereas the Bladder may be likened to the Stomach (a reservoir), and now here, one of the roles of the Kidney is to transport the body’s “water” to every cell, every corner of the mind, body, and spirit. And just as we found with the Earth element, a vast reservoir (or truck full of beautiful produce) doesn’t do us any good, if the waters aren’t being distributed out (or not being distributed evenly) to irrigate our cells, tissues, joints, thoughts/ideas, and our soul.
The Bladder has the job of maintaining a healthy water supply…this is largely accomplished by monitoring how much water is being excreted via other processes, but also being able to separate the pure from impure (like The Sorter) and then excreting the impurities. The Kidney Official has a more direct role on the latter function – in other words, it actually has more of a “cleansing” function. We see this on a physiological level, as it is responsible for cleaning our blood and fluids, while maintaining a proper balance of salts, minerals, hormones, chemical messengers, etc. within us. This is especially true on the level of spirit – there are many practices which talk about a spiritual cleansing, and it is this purity of mind and spirit that allow us to move fluidly along our path and cultivate wisdom in the deepest and darkest of places.
So is important to note – if there is stagnated or toxic waters, it may be important to figure out whether it is coming from the reservoir itself or the one controlling the waterways.
On a level not taken into account from a western perspective – the Kidneys are the storehouse of our ancestral energy or essence. At the time of conception, there is a finite amount of this ancestral qi that gets passed down from one generation to the next. It is rich, super-concentrated, and powerful, but it is also precious, and should be expended mindfully… for once its used, with the exception of certain forms of “cultivation”, it cannot be reclaimed. This makes for a different kind of reserves than that maintained by the Bladder official. On a day-to-day basis, our reservoir of “Water” is being tapped into and then replenished via the food we eat and the air we breathe… but when we need to go beyond our everyday limits, it is this storehouse of ancestral reserve that needs to be invoked. And while it can be summoned on a physical level, more often than not, there tends to be more of a mental or spiritual need.
From the classics, the Kidney Official has a special relationship with various aspects of the body. It is said that this Official is the creator of bone and bone marrow, and is specifically in charge of governing and sustaining the low back and spine. The term marrow has a dual meaning – of both the marrow contained within the bones, as well as what is known as the “sea of marrow”… which has been likened to thought, mind, memory, and ultimately, brain. From this perspective, when this Official is strong, not only is our physical structure great but our mind is fluid and adaptable – it is able to flow, glide, and weave around any obstacle with stream-like efficiency… one of clever and wit, and proficient functional capacity.
The Kidney is said to open up to the ears, and when it is healthy, our hearing is as well. In part due to the path of the meridian, this official also has a powerful effect on the reproductive organs as well as the anus. Regarding the former, this makes sense when we think about the Kidney being the storehouse of our ancestral qi – the seed, carrying our very DNA, an inheritance of concentrated potential passed down from generation to generation. As for the latter, we can observe this through the manifested emotion of fear – when one is experiencing sheer terror, much of our energy drops down, and we can see both the bladder and the bowels let go.