Wood

The last phase in this introductory series is Wood.  By process of elimination, you may have already deduced that the Wood phase corresponds with the season of Spring.  Like the other phases, by examining the season that corresponds with the Wood phase we can extrapolate many of the attributes and tendencies of Wood, including personality traits of Wood-type people.

Spring is the time when the energetic potential incubating in the Water phase bursts forth as new life and growth, like a plant sprouting from a seed.  This is the basic drive behind the Wood phase: growth.  Like the refreshing return of the warmth on the buds of the trees, the Wood phase directs and focuses our energy to make something tangible out of our potential.  A Wood-phase person embodies this restless, driven energy.  In some ways, the Wood phase is the most admired and sought-after in our American society.  We admire and value the outspoken leadership and clear vision of a Wood person; we applaud the Wood phase person’s ability to see a vision of truth and success and unerringly fight for the realization of that vision.

Wood is a phase of action along with vision.  Your Wood-phase friend is the person who, on a day off, cannot sit still to just watch a movie.  She will watch the movie while ironing clothes for the next week or fixing something or cleaning the house… In short, relaxation for its own sake does not come naturally to her.

In many ways, the Wood phase also embodies what we in Western culture describe as “fiery.”  Because Wood energy is directed upwardly and outwardly, and because Wood is essentially the expression of the potential formed and stored in the Water phase, any impediment to its directed expression can cause pressure to build, like shaking a can of soda.  When enough pressure has built up, Wood will explode through the barrier.  In the case of a Wood type person, the buildup can appear as emotions of frustration and irritability, and the explosion can come in the form of outbursts of yelling and anger.  Alternatively, the explosion can be directed internally, producing symptoms ranging from headaches to dizzy spells to digestive upsets.

The power, direction and action of Wood must be properly, efficiently harnessed in order to make the most of it.  And while the Wood phase enjoys taking charge and might love nothing more than to use its natural sense of clarity and purpose to just do everything itself (there’s also the tendency for the Wood-type person to always think they are right), with a little help from the other Phases Wood can find itself operating even more efficiently and effectively.

Allowed to completely take over, the Wood phase person can harden, becoming totally inflexible, intolerant and unable to see anything other than their own point of view, like the massive trunk of a tree: stable and strong, but unable to move or adjust to life and therefore at risk of simply breaking entirely if put under stress.

Alternatively, without adequate support from the other phases, the Wood phase person can dry out and wilt, like a young plant without water.  Clear vision, resolve and sense of purpose can be utterly lost, and the person seems to float, rootless, like a leaf in the wind or just stay motionless like the wilted little plant fallen over, unable to hold to its own purpose, drive and direction.

For all of us, but especially for Wood phase people, it is important to remember both of these extremes and strive to keep a healthy Wood phase by both feeding our own sense of purpose and drive and taking time and space to keep ourselves flexible, relaxed and responsive to the ever-changing conditions and demands of life.

Posted in Chinese Medicine, Five Phase Theory.

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