In Daoist metaphyics, as in Pythagoreanism, the manifest world is preceded by number. As you increase in number, you increase in complexity – moving away from the unmanifest (“Heaven”) and into manifestation. The One, the Two, the Three, and so on represent archetectonic forms into which the manifest world conforms as it is expressed by Spirit.
“One starts, Two opens, Three orients itself around something, Four extends in all directions, Five takes those directions and orients them around an organizing principle, and Six takes that organization, spins it, and introduces time into the equation.”Brandt Stickley, private lecture, January 2017
One, Two, and Three are quite Heavenly – with the third iteration of Spirit being a trinity of Tian-Ren-Di – Heaven, Man, and Earth. Here we have humankind coming into the picture, as the mediator between the manifest and unmanifest world. Add an extra dimension of spin and you are given the four – the four directions, the four seasons. Earth is in the center of this matrix of four.
The sage faces South. The Metal Tiger in the West and the Wood Dragon in the East.
What does this all mean? It’s important to think of these notions as archetypes that are writ into the fabric of reality. The idea of number is universal, as is the directionality of North, South, East, and West (at least if you’re on the surface of a planet). However, where a certain degree of abstraction takes place is where the “elements of nature” are superimposed onto this matrix of meaning. I invite you to keep in mind that what we are talking about are fundamentally functions of the world that can express themselves in myriad microcosmic and macrocosmic ways.
In Chinese metaphysics, Wood is associated with that which grows, reaches, pushes away, extends, and spreads. Think of the blood vessels branching throughout the fascial planes of the body. Think of the effort it takes for the plants to push themselves up through soil in Spring.
Metal is associated with that which divides, cuts, separates and subsequently allocates, distributes, and stores. Think of chopping wood. Think of taking your root vegetables and storing them in the root cellar for winter.
In the four directions, we see an expression of the axis mundi (the Two, yinyang) both longitudinally and vertically. This pole upon which the world is situated is so persistent in its expression that the Chinese understood the fire-water dichotomy as existing not only as a core representation of the dance between yin and yang as the Two, but also of Heaven and Earth, North and South, and when we get to the Six it re-emerges as the fire-water pairing of taiyang and shaoyin.
This is why in this blog here I correlate this cosmological and alchemical dynamic with water’s ability to pull charge from the Ether and use it as the momentum necessary to orchestrate life. It’s important for this discussion that we consider that this is the very means by which piezoelectric technologies work, like quartz clocks and crystal antennae. What to a man-made device is a means of providing constant voltage from the piezoelectric properties of a stone is to water the means by which it self-organizes carbonates, nitrates and other materials into thermodynamic non-equilibrium (life).
Therefore, the taiyang-shaoyin pair and what it means for biology is an expression of a cosmic principle, not something unique to biology. It is the natural way in which biology leverages the relationships established by the fine-structure matrix of space-time.
What I also mean to say is that the East-West axis is the North-South axis turned on it’s side (as well as one notch further down-to-Earth).
We see the manifestations of this East-West axis in the body as the liver/gallbladder, blood, tendons, and eyes as Wood and the lungs/large intestine, skin, and to some extent the hair and the blood vessels themselves as Metal.
In wuxing (Five Phase) theory, the phases keep one another in balance in a cycle of co-creation but also by influencing and being influenced by phases elsewhere in the cycle. This is called “controlling”. The relationship between Wood and Metal in this respect is one of control. Metal chops wood.
This got me thinking about cell division.
Take this image of embryological cell division as a representation of Metal controlling Wood.
Cellular growth controlled and encapsulated (Metal). Cells pushing away from one another as plants from the earth in Spring (Wood). The hun (Liver) seeks expansion and growth but requires the scaffolding of the po (Lung) for the mandate to be carried out.
What you are seeing when you see this cell division is the longitudinal nature of the East-West axis spreading itself out across space and time – multiplying – taking it’s organization from Shaoyin-Spirit, the North-South axis. We perceive this cell division as a 3-dimensional phenomenon in time (which it is) but I’d like for you to imagine that what you are perceiving as the Wood-Metal axis is in fact being orchestrating by it’s alignment along a second, invisible axis, the Shaoyin-Spirit. The reason this Fire-Water axis is invisible is because it is a hyperdimensional supervening influence rather than the expression of that influence in space-time. It is the information necessary to organize the organism which interfacial water extracts from the ether. It is the growth of Wood contained by the boundaries of Metal, organized by the intelligence of Fire through the substantiality of Water – the Four directions (dimensions?) to which all matter and energy is oriented.