The Liver is the Official in charge of Planning, which includes making plans, allocating, organizing and adapting. The Liver is often likened to the General who knows the plan and strategy, mobilizes the army of body, mind and spirit, and has the vision for the future. Decisions, which are a function of the Gall Bladder, cannot be made without a plan. The Liver holds active energy toward the future, which can be considered upward rising. The Liver helps us to see the light at the end of the tunnel, giving us hope and direction. Every conscious and unconscious process contains a blueprint for its unfolding, the Liver serves as the creator of the blueprint, or the Architect.
A common analogy that used to represent the Liver and Gall Bladder is the idea of the Architect and the Foremen. The Architect creates a picture of the bigger plan, a blueprint. He senses how things will unfold. He designs this plan with the outcome in mind, but stays flexible with the unfolding of the plan. He has a wide range in vision to give plans to all the other Officials in the body. The Gall Bladder has the skills to bring to fruition the the vision of the Liver.
JR states, “These blueprints are more than mere marks on a page; they enshrine the vision and hope of the architect and give everyone involved in the project, an aim, a goal and a purpose. Without such a plan there can be no structure and order in what everyone else does.” The plan that the Liver creates is vital to the whole system carrying out its functions on the levels of body, mind and spirit.
The Liver Official has a special job as a protector, guarding the other Officials from insult. This appears directly related to the Liver’s physiological capacity to detoxify and break down harmful chemicals. The Liver is the storer and mdetoxifier of blood. The Liver is strongly affected by drugs, as it has the primary responsibility of breaking down these drugs (kidney holds secondary responsibility). Drugs can lead to poor plans and poor decision making. The Liver looks out of all the other Officials and the whole of mind, body, spirit and emotion. The Spirit must be involved with unfolding of the plan, bringing a sense of fulfillment to the plan and a sense of aliveness.
The Liver has a distinct relationship with the cycles of development as well as the thousands of rhythms of the body and the smooth unfolding of the plans, even when obstacles present themselves. When the Liver is not working well, there is a lack of smoothness in the cycles. The menstrual cycle is associated with the health of the Liver. The Liver is also associated with the smooth release of hormones. When out of balance, the Liver can cause jerky movements in the body, a lack of flow, stagnant Liver Qi (according to TCM). Ligaments and tendons become less supple and flexibility is decreased when the Liver is unhealthy. Problems with the eyes may be related to the Liver. Liver health can be assessed in the governance of the nails. Exercise is important to our filters: Liver and Kidneys, as activity moves blood through these filters at a faster rate than at rest. When the Liver is out of balance, there is a stiffness, lack of freshness or militant quality. The deep pathway of the Liver meridian loops around the genitals, thus reproduction and creation of new human life, fertility and virility can be affected by an imbalanced Liver Official. Mentally, Liver imbalances can be seen as frequently changing plans, switching the plan, and fads or, quite the opposite, being unable to adapt the plan to new circumstances. The Liver and Gall Bladder not working well together can lead to the inability to metabolize fats which gives way to the rancid smell associated with the Wood Element.
When things go according to plan, however, there is smooth flow and an accompanying sense of confidence and self esteem. A false sense of esteem can occur when out of balance which will present through the Ego. In balance, the Liver adapts to circumstances, not getting carried away by emotion, alternative plans, or contingencies. Determination is a faculty of the Liver. It is our survival mentality, our drive to get something done, ‘come hell or high water’. This determination is coupled with persistence and perseverance. The Liver gives us the ‘powers of reason’. The Liver gives us the opportunity to get our feet on the ground, being present in the movement, while looking ahead toward the future. Further healthy qualities of the Liver include: good vision, grace, flexibility, resilience, integrity, hopefulness, endurance, flexibility, adaptability, patience and a good sense of time and space. The power of the Liver is birth, associated with the freshness and aliveness that we see in Spring.
The direct correlation between the Liver as the Planner and the Gall Bladder as the Decision Maker and Judge is paramount. When the Liver is not well, there are no plans to carry out. When the Gall Bladder is not well, there is no one to carry out the plans. This dysfunction occurs on a body, mind and spirit level. This imbalance creates trouble in the body which can lead to frustration, anger and shouting. There is no longer a light at the end of the tunnel, the plans aren’t coming to fruition.
The Nei Ching reminds us that the Liver causes the utmost wariness and is the dwelling place of the soul or spiritual part of man that ascends to Heaven, the Hun.
The correspondences of the Wood Element and hence the Liver and Gall Bladder Officials are:
Fortification: Ligaments and Tendons
Classical Five Element Acupuncture, Volume 3 by JR Worsley
Personal Class Notes ITEA 2019
The Liver Official by Neil Gumenick