The law of mother and child expresses the interdependent relationships between all Five Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each of the elements holds the role of mother to one element and the role of child to another element. The law of mother and child relates to the Sheng, the Creation Cycle. Thus Water is the mother of Wood, yet the child of Metal. Wood is the mother of Fire, and the child of Water. Fire is the mother of Earth and the child of Wood. Earth is the mother of Metal and the child of Fire. Metal is the mother of Water and the child of Earth. The cycle of the relationships are a continuum.
In nature, we see these relationships in effect time and time again. For example, let’s think about water becoming polluted. Water is the mother to Wood, the water that nourishes the wood is now compromised, which indicates that the wood is not getting what it needs, as the child. The child suffers. The seeds, the plant life and the trees that reflect the wood element can be seriously compromised by water being polluted. Water is the child of Metal, making Metal the mother of Water and the grandmother of Wood. Metal may use extra resources to compensate for the problem working with the Sheng Cycle, offering energy, to help Water and the Ko Cycle, offering silent control, to help Wood. This isn’t an ideal scenario for the mother, the child, the grandmother, or the rest of the cycle; as the grandmother, Metal does not have unlimited resources to offer for an unlimited time.
If the pollution within the water continues, it can lead to a complete compromise of all of the elements over time. Not only do the seeds not sow well, but we do not experience the bountiful blossoms of summer, the abundance of earth in late summer, the harvest of autumn, the renewal of essence in winter, the potent seeds of the next spring, or the blossoms of the next summer. Nature strives to correct these imbalance to produce a harmony of the elements. In humanity, because we have all of the elements within us, we are a microcosm of the magnificent macrocosm of the universe. We experience similar relationships within ourselves. In Five Elements Acupuncture, our medicine is based upon locating the source of the imbalance within a human being and treating that source.
As humans, we also experience relationships with others. When a child is very very sick, the mother will very often exhaust herself in taking care of the child. She becomes depleted. As the child ages and continues this path of illness, if she has her own child she will not be able to offer her full resources as she is compromised. The same happens as in nature: the grandmother tries to take care of her child and perhaps the grandchild, yet utilizes her precious resources. The mother takes care of her child from a limited place, and the child suffers as a result. It is perhaps not as concise as the Cycle of Elements to imagine the lineage of mother/children, but the interdependent relationships among mothers and children and grandmothers is clear. Furthermore, the other relationships in the person’s life will be impacted, so too, would the way they live and experience their life in relation to the natural world.
In our own lives, we witness these pulls of energy. There are times when we find ourselves depleted, yet being called to offer energy to a child, an aging parent, a client, or a partner. What we offer in those moments is far less than our best. Even if we give all the energy we have, it still amounts to less than we offer on a day when we are feeling at our best or closer to our best. When our energy is limited, our body is reminding us that we must conserve and cultivate energy rather that offering it outwardly. When we listen to these calls of nature, we have an opportunity to find alignment and receive the healing we need to restore our energy. As a result we can easily return to our responsibilities and desires, fully engaging with them.
In applying the Law of Mother Child to our practice, we must remember that it is not the element that cries the loudest that we treat, but rather the source of the imbalance. Treating the source is the key to finding the balance point for that individual. In our society, we very often are called to treat the suffering child before treating the mother. The child’s imbalance, however, is a direct reaction to the mother’s imbalance. Treating the child can be likened to treating the symptoms, rather than the cause. These symptoms are referred to as distress signals. Nature and our bodies are miraculous creations and they offer a myriad of signals long before things go completely out of balance.
As practitioners and as humans in this natural world, awareness to our bodies signals is paramount to our health, well being and consciousness. When we understand the Law of the Five Elements and the Law of Mother Child within the microcosm of the macrocosm, we can facilitate healing within our self and others. With ourselves, we realize that we must be cared for, before sharing our efforts outwardly. With others, we gain insight to depths of the source and offer support from where the imbalance began.