Changing seasons – Autumn

I was inspired to share some ancient Chinese wisdom I just read about the changing of seasons and Autumn in particular. What we call ‘seasons’ are, in Chinese medicine, considered to be a certain quality of activity and movement of Qi. There is a kind of exchange and permutation, transformation with everything moving the right way…

Summer takes what’s been started in Spring and progresses to the highest point (equinox). Then, suddenly, in order to protect life, it has to reverse its movement. We see and feel that in the changing quality of air and light. The Yin which has been there, but covered, is now able to rise in its own right. And the Yang is receding.

Here’s a beautiful extract from the Chinese classical text, Su Wen, chapter 2, about Autumn

 Harmonize the Spirits with four Breaths

The three months of Autumn are called overflowing and balancing

The Breaths of Heaven become urgent

The Breaths of Earth are resplendent

One retires early

One rises early

One ‘does the cock’*

Exerting the will peacefully and calmly

To soften the repressive effect of Autumn

Gathering in the Spirits

and storing up the Breaths

Pacifying the Breaths of Autumn

without letting the vitality be scattered outside

Making the Breaths of the Lung

clear and fresh

This is the way that is proper

to the Breaths of Autumn,

Which thus correspond

to the maintaining

and gathering in of life.

To go counter-current

would injure the Lung

Causing in Winter diarrhoea

Through an insufficient contribution

to thesaurization (storage)

 *An expression used to describe keeping your strength inside (yin) ready to move just as and when it’s necessary (yang)


We store in Autumn so we can live through Winter. Remember to harmonise your spirit with four breaths this Autumn!




Larre, C & Rochat de la Vallee, E (1992)

Chinese Medicine from the Classics, The Lung, Monkey Press

Rochat de la Vallee, E (2009) Wu Xing, The Five Elements in Chinese Classical Texts, Monkey Press