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Autumn and the Metal Element

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Autumn and the Metal Element
Photo by Autumn Mott Rodeheaver on Unsplash

It is that time of year when the trees start to change colour and fall. The days are getting shorter and colder. It also becomes more damp and mushrooms start to sprout. This is the season is for us to assess what we need to let go of, what we don’t need. It is about loss and grief but also respect for self and self worth.

Metal, in Chinese Medicine, is the element which governs confidence, intuition, and our ability to let go. Metal people tend to be very organized, disciplined, calm, and reserved. Those who are governed by metal tend to be very tidy and keep their homes and workspaces well-organized and neat.

When in balance, Metal element types are faithful, well-organized, and detail oriented. Metal types can use their intellectual sharpness and self-disciple in order to achieve great success. In balance, they are excellent problem solvers and are capable of decisive action when necessary.

When out of balance, they can become too attached to rules. They become too restrictive and are overly concerned with dogma and following rules to the letter. They can also be overly critical and can become addicted to being right. Sometimes, Metal imbalance shows up as sloppiness, hypocrisy, and feeling sad/grief-stricken.

Metal is closely linked to the Lungs and the Large Intestine. Emotionally and physically, the Lungs and Large Intestine are responsible for helping you “let go” of whatever you don’t need – from life experiences to emotions to actual metabolic by-products. These organs govern respiration and elimination. An imbalance in Metal can also manifest physically as respiratory problems (such as asthma), poor immunity, skin rashes, and constipation.

How to Support Lungs and Large Intestine

1. The essential oils of most trees, including Eucalyptus, Pine and Cypress support the Lungs Getting out into nature among the trees in the same way helps support this system and the Metal energy in general.


The flavor associated with the fall is “pungent”, which means aromatic and spicy. Pumpkin spice lattes and chai teas fall under this category. Spices likes cinnamon, ginger, clove, and anise help clear the lungs from congestion and phlegm, open the airways, and stimulate proper respiratory functioning. It’s important to keep the lungs strong as they are the first line of defense against illness.


Say goodbye to salads and watermelon. Eating raw, cold-natured foods during the cooler months contributes to damp accumulation, which feels like congestion, heaviness, and lethargy. It’s time for nourishing soups, stews, and stir-frys.

White is the colour associated with the Metal Element – look for foods that temper and support Meta. Add foods like cauliflower, onions, daikon, turnips, pears, scallions, leeks, horseradish, and garlic into your cooking.

4. Metal is also nourished by breathwork. Deep, cleansing breaths are necessary for stress release, clear thinking, and proper physiological functioning. Deep breathing exercises stimulates lung qi, which contributes to a strong immune system and an uplifted spirit. Include chest opening essential oils like pine, eucalyptus, or frankincense into your breath work practice. Or try a yoga class that is focussed on breathing exercises.

As we follow the inner-focused energy of autumn, and undertake the work of self-inquiry, balanced Metal energy is essential. We need it to examine our personal harvest with a healthy detachment that leaves room for self-forgiveness. It also ensures that the boundaries we set - the structures that honour & reflect our sense of self-worth - can be flexible without losing their integrity, and allow us space to breathe.

The wisdom of the Metal element, and of fall, guides us to temper our routines with spontaneity, to balance our solitude with connection. It reminds us to sweep away the clutter that hides who we are, the debris that stills the fresh air of inspiration, so that you may see what next wants to be born within you.


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