The Five Phases are the poetic framework of Chinese medicine and other holistic medicines. They are also called the Five Elements, though I prefer to call the “Phases” to convey their transformational nature. If you are unfamiliar with the Five Phases of Chinese medicine and have not read the “Medicine as Poetry”, you can here before continuing for a brief introduction to the Five Phases.
Both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Taoism embrace the ecological reality that the macroscopic seasons of nature, and all their correspondences (represented by the Five Phases), are embodied in the microcosm of each human being. For this reason, the Five Phases are the perfect model for which to understand and heal our modern-day rift with nature. Arranging poems within the Phase whose feeling tone and essence they most closely represent joins human nature with the rhythms and characteristics of Nature. Experiencing poems within the universal context of the Five Phases nourishes and brings out the rich flavors and passion of what it is to be fully human and alive.
Through this broader orientation to poetry we can more directly enter the universal life energy on which holistic medicine was originally realized. Poems that express the energies of the Five Phases breathe life into human being and enrich our relationship with greater universal forces. Experiencing poetry in this rich context encourages a root level of ecological wholeness as our greater health and celebrates the seasons of our lives together as one life.
Contexting poetry within an ancient holistic model such as the Five Phases, poetry can be appreciated as “medicine” to nourish specific aspects of ourselves, similar to how herbs, acupuncture, Qi Gong, and dietary therapy are employed in Chinese medicine to nourish and balance the Five Elements that comprise who we are.
Please click on the symbols below to view a poem representing each of the Five Phases. Preceding each poem is a brief description from Chinese medicine of the Phase that poem represents. Following each poem is a personal account of that poem’s creation and how the poem is healing to the corresponding season of life it represents.
All the poems are taken from my upcoming book, Nature of the Heart, which contains many more healing seasonal poems, as well as in-depth discussions for how to use poems and the poetic gems of the Five Phases and holistic medicine to live more passionately, meaningfully, and wholly.
(Click on the Elements below)