Although Western rationalism has taught us that man and nature are separate, Eastern Taoism has taught the connection between man and nature, especially as regards the seasons. So basically whatever you see happening outside in nature, rest assured that it is happening within all earth’s creatures as well. What does that mean?

Let us start with the seasons. Spring is the season of rebirth. Every spring the plants which have been sleeping beneath the ground come back to life. The energy of spring is an upward, yang energy – it pushes up from the sleepy earth, awakening all the plants and creatures which have been garnering rest. So the nature of this energy is to push, up and out! Hence we have Spring fever, spring cleaning, and other euphemisms for awakening activity.

Spring, in turn, gives birth to summer. Summer is the beneficiary of spring’s pushiness. Summer is the high point of the year, the most yang of the seasons. Summer does not need to push, it has already reached its zenith. Summer is a time of activity. With the pure yang of the sun beaming down upon us, we are like water molecules in a pot, dancing about, interacting, absorbing all the energy the Sun has to offer. The days are long and light and we have the ability to absorb and enjoy their bounty.

Late summer is considered a separate season in Taoist culture/Oriental Medicine. In late summer, the zenith is beginning its inevitable decline. If you have ever had a garden you might notice that the plants have begun to droop, the leaves are yellowing, the fruit or flowers are in decline. Bittersweet are the waning rays of late summer, still sweetening yet foreshadowing the onset of fall and winter. Although we are enjoying the warm rays today, we know they are fast coming to an end.

Fall follows Late Summer. Aptly named, fall describes the action of the Earth’s qi as it begins its descent back into the ground. Leaves float down, down, down, cascading home. We begin to slow down as well, gathering stores, just as the squirrels collect their winter sustenance. The coming descent into the earth is mirrored both in mythology (Persephone story) and in the holiday of Halloween, and All Saints Day. These represent the descent into death (winter) before our rebirth in Spring.

Winter is when the Earth begins its sleep. We also need more sleep as well. The pace of modern society does not allow us the rest the season mandates however. As an agrarian society we had no choice but to lay low, sleep, and shepherd our qi for spring activity. When we fail to do this, as frequently happens in modern society, we risk not being able to rise to the heights we might otherwise reach in spring, or have the necessary energy to initiate new activity or give birth to fresh ideas. Thus Spring will suffer if it’s mother (Winter) has not parented well.