Energy of the Seasons
Throughout the year, yin and yang energy ebb and flow in the natural world. How the seasons present in the northern and southern hemispheres is itself, an example of the opposing nature of yin and yang. While the northern hemisphere enjoys warmer, longer summer days, the southern hemisphere is experiencing the shorter days of winter.
Spring: Yin Recedes; Yang Grows
Emerging from the coldest, darkest time of the year, most mammals give birth during the spring. Food for their young will be at its most abundant now and during the summer months. The warming air and soil stimulate hibernating insects and snakes to emerge and reproduce. Flowering plants and trees unfurl their blossoms and also reproduce (with a little help from the birds and the bees). All this activity and expansion is yang energy emerging and dominating the natural cycle, reaching its peak at the summer solstice. For people, it is time to start to increase activity and play and to enjoy the lengthening days and spring veggies.
Summer: Greatest Yang
Summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is the time when yang energy is at its peak. The days have steadily been growing longer and brighter. Increased heat give rise to proliferation of insects, food for small animals and birds, who spring into action to eat them. Plants expand upward and outward, taking advantage of the increase in sunlight. At the same time, yin is at its most minimal. Drying out or becoming overheated is a possibility for plants, animals, and soil. For people it is time to stay up late, enjoy the long days. If ever there was a time to work and play hard - this is it! But stay hydrated and rest when needed - yin is at its most minimal, and its most vulnerable.
From the winter to summer solstice, yin has been receding, reducing to its most minimal at the summer solstice. But just as waves recede to an extreme at low tide, then shift and begin to swell, yin energy will once again begin to grow after the summer solstice, reaching its peak during the winter solstice.
Autumn: Yang Recedes, Yin Grows
Yang has reached its peak and now begins to recede, making way for yin to emerge. Over the next few months, plants will send their energy from their above ground parts, down into their roots and interior. For this reason, herb growers and wild-crafters harvest medicinal roots at this time. Deciduous trees drop their leaves, which will decompose and provide nourishment for the soil and soil dwelling lifeforms below. Animals gather the last of the summer harvest and prepare for the winter. For people, it's also a time to start winding down our higher energy activities. Sometimes it's hard to tell when summer ends and fall begins - the days will grow cooler and then, BAM! We have another hot one. Be mindful of over-exertion during this time.
Winter: Greatest Yin
The nights are growing longer and colder and as the days shorten and nights lengthen, it is easy to see yin beginning to dominate. Hibernating animals prepare for their winter sleep. Insects, reptiles, and amphibians burrow into their winter homes. Perennial plants have focused their resources on preserving their roots and interior structures. While the annuals may be dying, they have ensured their proliferation by dropping their seeds. For people it is time to begin to stay warm and conserve energy too.
*For more on the yin and yang of seasons and Chinese Medicine, read our "Solar Terms" page here.