Allergies, Acupuncture & Climate Change

Spring time allergies? Looking for a more sustainable solution to anti-histamines or medications?

Spring is here! Bringing its promise of a new beginning. Spring is the dawn of seasons, budding gifts of vision, clarity and directive purpose! Itchy, red eyes and sneezing from allergies can get in the way of seeing clearly the beauty of this time of year. Acupuncture, herbs and proper nutrition are natural ways to heal the body and relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.

Data is suggesting that spring is arriving a good ten days earlier than it did just twenty years ago. With rising CO2 levels and climbing temperatures, plants and trees are putting out more pollen than ever before. This is being documented alongside rising numbers of allergy sufferers.

In addition,“…studies have shown that the human immune system responds more dramatically to allergens in plants grown at higher temperatures, which suggests that global warming will intensify allergic reactions.” (1)

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Allergies result when there is a hypersensitivity of the immune system and can be attributed to an acquired weakness in the Lung, Kidney, and/or Spleen organ systems in the Traditional Chinese Medicine model. The Liver, the organ of Spring, can be over-taxed as well. Organ systems can be depleted by many factors including overwork, poor diet, emotional stress, and toxicity.

Acupuncture: Anti-inflammatory & Immune Regulating

Acupuncture has the ability to treat the symptoms of allergies like sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat as well as more severe issues like chronic rhinitis, sinusitis, and ear infections. Acupuncture has very strong anti-inflammatory effects on the body; it helps to regulate our energy meridians, clear and strengthen our organs and move our blood. Acupuncture has the ability to up-regulate or down-regulate the immune system, as needed – a very unique quality! This means it can be used for auto-immune conditions as well as low-immunity.

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Allergic rhinitis (congestion and mucus in the nasal passageways) has been linked with things like asthma, chronic low immunity, reflux, and sinusitis. Treating one can often help to control the other.

Acupuncture can also treat the root of the imbalance by strengthening the underlying organ systems. According to a study published in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, acupuncture proved more effective at treating seasonal allergies than traditional antihistamines.

It’s best to start acupuncture treatments before the onset of Spring (or whichever season is worst for your allergies). It can take the body time to shift. Expect to come 1-2x/week for 6-12 weeks. Everyone is different and this is an average. Combining herbs, supplements, and proper nutrition with acupuncture can speed up the process significantly.

Plants & Nutrients: Re-establishing Order

Chinese herbal remedies are ancient formulas designed to treat the system as a whole, functioning entity, and are being employed successfully in the treatment of many modern illnesses including allergies. Uniquely tailored formulas “talk” to the body’s organ systems, helping re-establish “order” in the body’s landscape.

A whole foods diet free of foods that are genetically modified or conventionally grown with pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides is emphasized. This type of toxicity can affect the neuroendocrine pathways (hormones and nervous system) of the body which can lead to systemic dysfunction of the immune system. (2) (3) Eliminating toxicity from the body is foundational in regaining a vital immune system.

Traditional Chhinese dietary wisdom would emphasize Avoiding damp and phlegm causing foods – as they can increase the production of mucus in the body. These include dairy, sugar, cold/raw foods and food allergens/sensitivies.

Stinging Nettles for Allergies

Stinging Nettles is a very special plant that is safe to use for adult or childhood allergies. Research has shown that nettles has anti-inflammatory effects that treats allergic rhinitis with itchy watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Not to mention its high levels of Vitamin C and A, loads of trace nutrients and protein; ability to detoxify the kidney system and purify the blood. Pick your own or purchase at a local herb shop or health food store. Seek professional advice before wildcrafting any plants for proper identification and handling safety 🙂

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Nettles can be made into an “infusion” properly by pouring boiling water over the nettles and letting it sit for 6-24 hours. It should turn a black color. Strain the nettles out and drink the infusion. Freeze dried nettles, nettle soup and other recipes are also great ways to get nettles into the body. Specific dosages are different for age and weight of child, but can generally be taken safely as spring tonic or during acute allergic flare-ups.

Pediatrics

Kids get allergies and acupuncture too! I treat children ages 1 month and older with Shonishin (Japanese non-insertive acupuncture), pediatric style acupuncture, and tuina massage.

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Continue reading “Allergies, Acupuncture & Climate Change”

The Neurophysiology of Shonishin Pediatric Acupuncture

The Neurophysiology of Shonishin Pediatric Acupuncture

Acupuncture for kids is a growing holistic modality in the United States. “Shonishin” is a gentle, non-invasive form of Japanese acupuncture for children. This type of acupuncture does not use needles like the ones commonly associated with adult acupuncture, but various tools that are used to gently activate acupuncture points and energy channels. The treatment consists of pressing, rubbing, tapping, or light scraping of the skin to provide a gentle stimulation.

It is so gentle, how could it work?

Recently the healing power of touch has has stirred up a curiosity into the realm of how the nervous and endocrine systems responds to touch. What are the physiological responses of the body to this type of therapy? How does modern research support this technique?

The Nervous System
The skin contains touch receptors from the most superficial to deep layers, of epidermis and dermis, respectively. These respond to nearly infinite levels of touch pressure. The nerve impulses from touch travel from the skin to the spinal cord and brain and are also interconnected with other parts of the body like the internal organs. Modern research has discovered that traditional acupuncture, where needles are inserted into the skin, muscle and deeper tissues, nerves are activated creating a systemic response from the body – increasing the tone of the parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest” state). In other words using Shonishin has a direct effect on the nervous system, an important component in how we act, think, and emote, as well as how are organs and other systems function.

The Endocrine System
The soothing, nurturing stroking of the skin with shonishin tools shows both physical and psychological shifts in children indicating a direct relationship with the endocrine system. Research has demonstrated that particular nerve endings in the skin called C-nerve fibers are activated by “delicate stroking” leading to release of the hormone oxytocin by the hypothalamus. Oxytocin is known as the love and bonding hormone and has a generalized, system effect via the amygdala which is “…responsible for emotional assessment of situations and social interactions.” In other words it allows for fine tuning of emotional states and seems to reduce anxiety and stress!! And we all know stress and anxiety play a huge role in systemic imbalance, pain, disease, and the quality of our immune system.

This information was gathered from Shonishin: Japanese Pediatric Acupuncture by Stephen Birch

Detox & Renewal: Acupuncture for a Magical Spring

Detox & Renewal

This spring with Cadie Federmeyer, LAc

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are powerful and magical ways to enhance your body’s ability to surrender the old of winter, detoxifying both body and heart-mind, so that you can follow the energy and symbols of spring:

Renewal: new growth and new beginnings
Planning: for the future and the planting of seeds
Movement: the longer, warmer days give energy for movement

Constitutional Chinese herbal formulas prescribed
for detox and renewal

Uniquely tailored acupuncture sessions with the addition of
specific detox protocols

What you can do at home:
Ancient wisdom for springtime diet and lifestyle

In addition to detox and renewal, current health issues are also addressed

Heart of the Forest Acupuncture accepts most health insurance plans. Please call the clinic to inquire if your benefits cover acupuncture.

Don’t have insurance that covers acupuncture? New patient springtime detox package: 3 sessions for $195 or 5 sessions for $320. Packages need to be purchased by May 31st, 2015. Sessions expire November 31st, 2015.

Call the clinic today at 738-7654.

To Your Health,

Cadie

Acupressure for Stress Class

Acupressure for Stress

~A Hands on Class~

ALIGNING WITH THE ELEMENTS

Come learn the poetry and power of East Asian Medicine
through self-care with acupressure!

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Our focus will be what you can do at home (or anywhere) to shift moods
and ease pain and discomfort in the body

IN THIS CLASS WE WILL:

Reclaim our power to heal our own bodies

Balance and relax mind and emotion

Explore resources and tools for self-care

Access and activate your energy body

Simple ways to align with the elements

WHEN: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11th, 2015
TIME: 5-6pm

WHERE: FAIRHAVEN COLLEGE AUDITORIUM
ROOM 300

Location: 516 HIGH STREET
BELLINGHAM, WA

COST: FREE & open to the public!

About the Teacher:
Cadie Federmeyer is a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) in the state of Washington and earned her Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine through the National College of Natural Medicine, in Portland, OR. Her special areas of interest include pediatrics, women’s health, chronic and acute pain conditions, chronic disease, and mental, emotional, and spiritual disharmony. Cadie utilizes a diverse array of tools in her practice including traditional needling, non-insertive shonishin acupuncture tools, cupping, moxibustion, bodywork, aromatherapy, dietary and herbal therapies, as well as lifestyle guidance. Cadie practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Bellingham Natural Family Medicine in Bellingham, WA.

Green solutions for picky eaters

Are your kids picky eaters? Do you have trouble getting enough greens into your own diet? I was recently inspired by the idea of green smoothies as a great way to make your greens go down “smoothlie” (or at all). They make a great breakfast or snack, are easy to digest, and can be packed with nutrients.

I highly recommend thawing the fruit you use or serving smoothie at room temperature, as cold drinks and food weaken the digestive fire over time.  Only give small amounts to your toddler or small child, as too much sweet can also weaken the digestive system.

The following is an excellent recipe to start with, of course, feel free to use your own variations.

VERY CHERRY CHOCOLATE GREEN SMOOTHIE

1-1/4 cups coconut or almond milk

1-1/2 cups organic baby spinach leaves

1 cup pitted cherries or strawberries (room temp.)

1/2 banana

1 Tbsp unsweetened raw cacao powder

1/2 Tbsp honey or a few soaked raisins to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Blend milk and spinach together until leaves are incorporated and smooth. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth, about a minute. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

Seasonal Attunement: Winter Edition

Seasonal Attunement

&

The Five Elements

 

This is the Winter 2014-15 installment of my Seasonal Attunement series meant to serve as a guide post for good health in each season during the year.

“The ancient Chinese believed that the seasons have a profound cyclical effect on human growth and well-being – that we are influenced by climatic changes and should live in harmony with them.”

~Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods

A Winter in Wonder: Woven willfully like bones and water

As we seek to maintain good health in winter, lets harmonize ourselves with the principles of this season. Reading the underlying energy and patterning, we can hear the wisdom of our ancestors. The yin is strongest in winter and correlates with introspection and receptivity.

Chinese medicine and wisdom employs the 5 Element model, a functional wheel that connects the characteristic of the different earthly elements with that of the human body. Times of the day, month and year occupy their respective corresponding positions on this circular “map”. The elements are:

WOOD-SPRING

FIRE-SUMMER

EARTH-LATE SUMMER/HARVEST

METAL-AUTUMN

WATER-WINTER

Water is the element that belongs to winter time. The Ancients saw water as a source of infinite energy. The Kidneys and Bladder are the water organs in Chinese medicine and therefore it is the best time of year to heal and strengthen your kidneys and adrenals.

Winter is the dark time of the wheel. The best medicine for your adrenals is to slow down; doing less, sleeping, and paying attention to dreams unify one with this yin time of the year.

Practices that regenerate and rejuvenate:
meditation, restorative yoga, qi gong, and of course the best kind of meditation, SLEEP 🙂

How do you nourish your water element?

What are your spiritual practices?

A DIET FOR WINTER

Diet and lifestyle have a direct impact on your spirit, your emotional life as well as your physical body. They are not separate entiities, all is connected. Bone Broth is an easy food to make that fortifies the body because it contains stem cells within the marrow. Because bones correspond to water, kidneys and winter, the principle of “like treats like” applies here. One of the vital nutrients in marrow is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, required for brain, eye and other organ development in infants. It offers this same healing as fortification in adults. Marrow is considered “jing” in chinese medicine which is the source of kidney vitality. Jing is a deep essence that determines one’s vitality, resistance to disease, and longevity.*

Broken Bone & Marrow Longevity Broth Recipe  

Use Bones from organically raised animals, poultry is best.
Break the bones and cook just below boiling (use a crock pot!) for 18 hours

Add water as necessary.

Root vegetable should be added:
Carrots, celery, squash, beets, parsley

Slightly acid vegetables help to extract minerals
and nutrients from the bones and marrow
A tablespoon for two of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
may also be added.

When cooked, filter out the broth and store in glass jars in the fridge.

Drink a cup or two per day or use as a liquid base for other foods.

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Winter time eating principle:   Eating warming food

We want to keep our core warm and our skin cool in the winter time.

Warming food helps to:

• disperse cold

•helps to restore yang qi

• warms digestion, nourishes qi, replenishes fire

Here is a list of warming foods, great to eat in the winter time. (Always remember diet should also follow intuition and foods that may not agree with you should be avoided.

Beef, chicken, lamb (hot)

Chestnuts
Cloves
Coffee
Fresh ginger

Egg yolk

Leeks

Peaches
Raspberries
Rose
Rosemary
Sunflower seeds
Sweet basil
Walnuts
Wine
Garlic

Beans and seaweeds are great for the kidneys and the bones and both contain a high content of magnesium and calcium. (Pitchford, p220) Also, beans may be cooked with a little bit of seaweed to make them more easily digested.

NATURE AS GUIDE

It is profoundly important to spend time in nature at all times throughout the year. Time close to the water can be an excellent choice in the winter months. Try to take regular visits or dates to the ocean or lake or pond. Still water. Connect with your own water element.

Stars. On a clear, cold night find yourself wandering outside taking in the light of the stars with your eyes, breath, and whole body. Store that light in you power center, just below your naval. Star light in the night can be a welcoming sight and feeling when our own star the sun is so low and dim in these darkest days of the year.

thank you for reading and I truly hope you take what most resonates with you and apply it to your life.

I will end with a list of keywords that might help you remember the wisdom of winter… Water, kidneys, adrenals, rest, rejuvenation, hibernation, sleep, meditation, qigong, bone broth, warming foods, oceans, lakes, ponds, stars….

 

Warm wishes in the New Year,

Cadie Federmeyer, LAc

 

 

*Factors that deplete jing include stess, fear, insecurity, and overwork, too much semen loss in men, women bearing too many children, toxins in food and water, intoxicating substances like alchohol, marijuana, cocaine, coffee, and tobacco; heavy metals; excessive sweet flavored food, too much dietary protein (Pitchford, P361-2)

Children’s Wellness Days

Preventative Care with Acupuncture

 

As the summer comes to a close and the school year begins, it is important to keep your child’s immune system strong! Instead of fighting pesky colds, coughs, ear infections and the like, we can take some preventative measures!

 

Acupuncture for kids is a growing holistic modality in the United States. “Shonishin” is a gentle, non-invasive form of Japanese acupuncture for children. This type of acupuncture does not use needles like the ones commonly associated with adult acupuncture, but various tools that are used to gently activate acupuncture points and energy channels.

 

Shonishin was developed in Japan over 250 years ago. Shonishin in Japan is offered once per month during the week of the full moon and is a primary way they utilize to strengthen vitality and maintain wellness in children. This type of therapy is also very effective for symptoms and diseases that have already arisen in a child and treatments are typically done more frequently in addition to the use of herbs and dietary therapies.

 

RHYTHM OF HEALTH CARE

 

With regular monthly health care, both parents and children begin to see that the rhythm of caring for self is an ongoing process that continues throughout life. Instead of tending to the symptoms of disease states that have already arisen, the allopathic perspective, acupuncture for kids (and Chinese medicine in general) emphasizes wellness and the care that it takes to maintain.

 

When a child receives 12 treatments per year at one per month, problems that might arise due to weather, diet, emotions, or lifestyle can be avoided and/or clearly seen by the practitioner and the child’s treatment can be tailored for these specific issues and tendencies.

 

COMMUNITY & PLAY

 

The once per month Children Wellness Days are created with emphasis on community and education. Children can be themselves and are invited to play and be silly while parents who are unsure of the process of shonishin will be invited in to see treatments of other children. This creates openings for networking for parents and foundations for long-term friendships. Also, regular Shonishin treatments help strengthen the parent-child relationship and can improve the spiritual and emotional development of the child.

 

15 MINUTES IS ALL IT TAKES

 

Children’s Wellness visits are usually very short, appointments being only 15 minutes with the actual shonishin treatment taking no more than 5 minutes. Occasionally, a more in-depth lifestyle or dietary counseling or home treatment teaching is needed with the parent and a follow-up appointment (sometimes via phone) is scheduled. This allows the parent to spend the time needed to become part of their child’s ongoing care.

Children’s Wellness Days

call 738-7654 to schedule your appointment

walk-ins welcome

sliding scale $15-30 (cash or check only)

 

bring/schedule all your kids for same time treatments!

all children welcome any age, any condition!

 

Tuesday, September 9th, 1pm-5pm
Tuesday, October 7th, 1pm-5pm
Thursday, November 6th, 1pm-5pm
Thursday, December 4th, 1pm-5pm
 

Bellingham Natural Family Medicine

1810 Broadway

Bellingham, WA 98225

(360) 738-7654

Spring Time Bliss – Part 1

Wisdom for staying healthy & happy during the changing of the seasons!

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the spring energy that has arrived here in the Pacific Northwest by sharing with you all ancient wisdom of traditional medicine and symbol science. What follows is sound guidance for aligning one’s body, mind, and spirit with the changing of seasons in order to strengthen our connection to ourselves, to the Earth, and to the universal energies that are at work all around us. This conscious alignment will facilitate a greater sense of well-being and help to ward off future imbalances in the seasons to come.

Spring is Wood Energy & New Beginnings

Spring is the time of Wood energy on the 5 phase cycle of Chinese medicine. This wood energy represents birth, growth, expansion, vision, and movement.

Awaken with the Sun

Spring corresponds to the dawning of a new day, so awaken with the rising sun, greet the sun with an offering for bringing the light to another turn of the wheel!

Go for a Walk!

We are entering a “yang” time of year – a time for both planning and action. The act of walking meditation or simply walking is symbolic of this time of year. Chinese wisdom advises taking brisk walks with your hair down. Try to walk everyday, even for just 15 minutes. Walk to work or school a couple days a week (if reasonably close). Go for a walk around the neighborhood before breakfast or after dinner, or on your lunch break. Get to the woods, the lakes or even just the park! Get outside and get your energy moving for this is what Spring is all about!

Vision & Intention

The spring brings clarity and vision: set your intentions for the year. How do you envision your life? Make a plan for the year, create goals for the short-term and the long-term. Set milestones to mark your progress. Though autumn is generally considered the time of year to let go of the old and release what is no longer serving, the spring also serves as a time to detoxify. The emphasis in spring is on embracing the new – focusing our energy on what is working and what we want to manifest, rather than on what is not serving us. As we make energetic progressive in the “good”, the “bad” will inevitably fall way because their is no energy to sustain it.

Be Like a Tender Sprout

As the tender sprouts emerge from the ground and the green begins to flush the landscape, it nourishes the soul through the eyes. Spend time in nature, plant a garden and allow the “life force”, the qi of the greening landscape to enter your being and nourish you to your core. Through this natural process, your appetite for food should be lessened, allowing your body to gently cleanse itself. Deep listening to your body and the changes of the season may hint to you to simplify your diet or to do a light detoxification. And just remember, as we detoxify our physical bodies, so too must the emotional body be engaged. Tend to feelings of anger, frustration and impatience as these are symptoms of an “unhappy” liver. These may come as we detoxify through diet or lifestyle or perhaps they will come if we are not attuned to the turning of the season. When these emotions come up acknowledge, honor and thank them. Track what it’s about and take note. Then let them go. Do not indulge in these emotions, especially during the Spring, as it is harmful to the free flowing of qi in the body.

Diet & Herbs

Spring Principle:  To detoxify, open and expand, to free flow of energy, pungent foods

Spring Cooking: Cook foods for less time. Stir fries or short steams are good for veggies!

Spring Foods: Eat more foods that are pungent and sweet such as:

basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf, grains, legumes, seeds, starchy vegetables, dandelion greens, onions and garlic.

Raw foods: Increase the amount of live, fresh and raw foods such as sprouts and eat less meat.

Learn how to sprout your own!

Just remember raw and uncooked foods are cool in nature and can weaken the digestion and trigger excessive cleansing reactions when taken in excess. Moderation is key. If you have an already compromised digestive or immune system or have symptoms of cold, even less raw food is recommended.

 

Recipes!

Congee: This is a rice porridge traditionally eaten throughout China as a breakfast food. Use a crock pot to simmer one part rice to 5-6 parts water. This is a simple and healing meal that is easily digested, strengthening the blood and qi energy as well as the digestive system. It is slightly cooling in nature and therefore helps to gently detoxify, decrease inflammation and other heat symptoms as well as build fluids in the body. It is common to add other ingredients to the congee to attain the healing properties desired including vegetables, other grains, herbs, or meats.  Congee is good in the spring to strengthen the Earth element- to ground all of the yang energy. Try adding mung beans, goji berries, honey, basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, beets, carrots, other sweet/starchy roots, spring onions/scallions, garlic, chicken, or substitute chicken broth for water.

 

Mint tea with honey to cool, detoxify and expand the energy. Mint is invigorating and will help you get out the door for your daily walk.

Stay Tuned

Part 2 of Spring Time Bliss will talk about the psycho-emotional and archetypal energies connected to the Spring and how we can better access these inner resources for personal growth, healing, and creativity.

Resources:

Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford

Bellingham Food Bank: Garden Project: Get a Garden!

The Elements Live Within Us

The elements live within us. hummingbirdworld

Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water…visionary.flower

Alive and powerful forces upon the planet, the elements are innate healing forces within each of us. 2013graduationquark 054

They are 5 phases of the cycle of life, creating the sacred territory of our inner landscape.

The soul is a vast landscape. butterflysoul

Harmony and balance of the elements determines health and vitality. dancing trees

Chinese medicine is an ancient lineage

that has passed down the wisdom

of how to align

the microcosm of our body microcosmmacrocosm

with the macrocosm of the universe.

2014: Year of the Horse

Happy New Year, Let’s Celebrate!

The Chinese New Year is actually known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year in China and other parts of Asia. It begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice and generally lasts two weeks. There are numerous folk traditions that are practiced during this time including eating certain foods and avoiding certain activities. For example, everyone’s birthday is celebrated on February 6th!

The Chinese calendar is a very complex and sophisticated science. Every year the animals and elements of the calendar change creating a unique energy for the year. Last year was a Water Snake year while the year before that was a Water Dragon year. This year is Wood Horse. The element and animal are based upon two aspects: the heavenly stem (yang wood) and the earthly branch (horse) and follow the natural sequence of the cycle. Upon examination of this combination, adept cosmologists and those who are versed in the energies of the cycles can make predictions about the weather, disease, and social and political tendencies for any given year.

This year the prediction is a cold spring and ice storms in late March and April. There will be an excess of Earth energy because wood feeds fire and fire produces lots of earth. People who are prone to digestive issues should give this special attention and self-care this year. All people should take preventative measures to maintain good digestive health – which directly correlates to brainpower, the nervous system and the immune system. As too much earth element results in “dampness” we will see this in both weather patterns as well as in our bodies. Limit intake of mucus producing foods like dairy and cold, raw foods. Get some herbal support during the spring and summer especially. Ginger and atractylodes are good general digestive supports. Seek a qualified Chinese or western herbalist for medical advice. Qigong practice is another way to strengthen the digestive and immune systems and enhance overall vitality. (http://www.examiner.com/article/2014-year-of-the-yang-wood-horse)

As Wood feeds Fire in the 5 Element cycle, it is clear that this year will be a potent year for movement, action and manifestation. Yang Wood is the phase that actually begins the cycle. It is found both in the Eastern direction and the Northern direction. The East carries energies of the dawn, new beginnings, planning, strategizing, birth, upward movement, idealism, generosity, fertility, growth, leadership, and determination. The image of wood in the East is bamboo or a tree with deep roots. The tree is firm yet yielding and flexible. Yang Wood is the Gallbladder and can also be found in the Northern direction on the “organ clock” -another perspective of the wheel of life in Chinese zodiac form. Yang Wood Gallbladder is located at the very bottom of the zodiac, directly opposite the heart.

The image of a seed sprouting in the soil is another adept metaphor for the energy of Yang Wood: the courage, strength, and magic that it takes to burst forth from it’s shell and reach it’s roots downward, just as its first stem and leaves are branching skyward. It is this downward rooting that is made possible through the potential, infinite energy and life force that is found in this Northern part of the wheel (and within the seed itself). This position also correlates to the Winter Solstice – the return of the light. Again another example of the dawning energy of wood.  The fact that the gallbladder and heart are “clock opposites” is significant because the horse is the animal that belongs to the heart. Not only are wood and fire a harmonious pair in the 5 phase cycle, but also do they mutually support each other: yang wood as the birthing and bringing forth the energies of the unseen world, the heart of the Earth; and horse (heart) is the manifestation of this energy into the physical world. A north south polarity is created and is seen as the “axis of power” – a channel of energy that connects earth and sky. Likewise, this “light pillar” polarity represents the synthesis of two archetypal energies: the warrior and the healer. The former exudes a sense of power, firm rooting, strength, and courage; while the latter enables an ability to nurture, care-take, love, and have compassion. Balancing our strength and softness is a key to health and healing this year.

Ken Cohen, Qigong teacher and shamanic practitioner, eloquently states: “Because the Horse is related to fire, this is a Wood Fire Year. The first element symbolizes heaven and spirituality. The second element, fire, symbolizes the physical world, especially the environment and economy… this year spirituality has the potential to feed and transform our physical, earthly existence…there are good opportunities for people to make better, ecologically-informed choices, so that their lifestyle is more in harmony with their spirituality. (Ken Cohen, 2014 Chinese New Year newsletter Jan. 24, 2014)”

The Horse has a long and rich history in both the development of civilization and in the mythology of most cultures. This powerful animal represents good luck, supernatural powers, adventure, travel, wildness, intuition, healing, self-expression, free spirit, sensuality, sexuality, impulsiveness, and connection. The horse was domesticated and played a role in bringing people together – people began to travel long distances and learned of other cultures, trading and communication grew. Horses also have connotations of bravery, war, battles, and heroism. They say a horse year can end in triumph or tragedy and to be careful: is this a year for you to lead the way or a year for you to follow in the footsteps of others’ success? Horse, Tiger, Dog, and Sheep people can benefit the most from the energy of a Horse year.

The Horse correlates to Fire, the heart, summertime, and spirit in Chinese medicine. Just as the heart keeps the rhythm, the beat of the heart is akin to the sound of a galloping horse. Drumming is a powerful practice that helps strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system. Because the spirit is said to reside in the heart of each human, this year is perfect for aligning and talking with your heart. Your spirit knows why you are here on earth – it carries great wisdom and guidance – are you listening? Are your actions in alignment with your heart? One of my Chinese medicine teachers, Heiner Freuhauf, says that all disease comes from the heart (http://www.thelightclinic.org/literature/fruehauf_alldisease_1.pdf). This is a way of saying that when we are not aligned with our spirit – and hence the dream we came here to weave- the body, mind and emotions become diseased. The element of fire and the heart organ are both associated with the archetypal energy of healing as brought forward by Angeles Arrien in her teaching about cross-cultural wisdom of the 4 Directions (The Four-Fold Way, 1993). These four aspects: Fire, Healing, Heart, and Spirit are all intimately linked together and the horse embodies these like no other creature on Earth. Making healing a priority in your life can go a very long way this year.

The heart is known as the primary organ of perception and emotion. The state of the heart is directly correlative to our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Scientific research show that “…the positive heart-based feelings of appreciation, love, compassion, and care ‘generate the smooth and harmonious heart rate variability rhythms that are considered to be indicators of cardiovascular efficiency and nervous system balance.’” (Plant Spirit Healing by Pam Montgomery) Gratitude is a simple and profound spiritual practice that actually increases harmony and feelings of well-being in the physical, emotional, and mental bodies. In a horse year, this practice can be particularly useful in healing, especially issues around abundance, finances, and relationship.

To get an idea of the power of the heart and hence the horse, listen to this: it is known that the electromagnetic field of the heart is about five thousand times greater than that of the brain and can be measured up to ten feet away from the person! (The Heartmath Solution by Doc Childre) This is decidedly a year to come into a deeper understanding of living life from a heart space – it is a place of love and compassion, but also of great power and guidance! Learning how to communicate – to give and receive from each other and nature- is a skill and gift centered upon heart consciousness. Perceiving with the heart we are able to deepen our sensory capacity. For more information on this process please read Plant Spirit Healing by Pam Montgomery.

The Horse is a sensuous animal. This year is a good year to really take it all in – divulge in sensory pleasures, eat good food, drink good wine, enjoy the feel of your own skin. Think chocolate and sunsets and long, steamy baths. In a horse year things are going to get sexy! Not only are the senses ready and willing to expand their horizons, but also expect unexpected romance. The Horse is a symbol of desire, especially sexual desire, as noted by the representation of the stallion (Andrews, Ted: Animal – Speak). With the energy of impulsiveness and freedom, it is wise to use caution this year: watch out for unrestrained desires, not just with sex, but also in spending and other activities. It will be easy to run full speed ahead on a whim. So use your intuition and the integrity of your heart to make decisions. Heart, mind and action need to be in alignment. With that said, the year of the horse can be a great time to buy that home, launch that business, travel the world, make a big purchase, or a have a breakthrough. Keep your eyes open, take off your blinders and make sure it’s a good thing: denial can be an issue in a horse year, so face reality and don’t ignore details! The Horse is fun loving, social, friendly and needs ample room for self-expression. It’s okay to not work so hard this year. Remember balance – work and play – enjoy yourself and celebrate life!

A horse meditation is perfect to come back to routinely through the year for guidance and healing. Some questions to ask include: What color is the horse? Is it running or standing? Are you riding or watching? Are there fences or open fields? What word(s) come when you ask her for advice? The answers that come are symbolic and can help you understand where you are energetically and where you would like to be.

The ‘green horse’ brings new journeys. Are you ready? Is it time to assert your freedom and your power in new areas of your life? Or is it simply time to awaken your own freedom and power? Overall this Yang Wood Horse year is great for planning and enacting new beginnings in your life. We have “…the potential to channel the powerful new upthrust of Wood’s Ch’i through the Horse’s Heart energy of Fire and into every project we start, every desire we reach for.  It will keep our eager plans from being dominated by too much ‘head’ and not enough ‘heart.’” (Wood horse article). This is a year for emotional and spiritual healing of the heart, reconnection with your wildness and self-expression, a time to have fun and be bold and time to really manifest abundance! Pay special care to your digestive and immune systems with herbs, drumming, and diet modifications. Use your intuition, get inspired and communicate with your whole heart.

Many Blessings to you and yours this year.