Beginning of Autumn – Liqiu 立秋
In ancient China, 24 solar terms, or Jiéqì, existed to guide farmers in agricultural affairs and activities throughout the year—each of these periods lasting approximately 15 days. The Jiéqì are based on the sun’s position in the zodiac and reflect changes in climate, agricultural production, natural phenomena and other aspects of living. This is often referred to as the farmer’s calendar.
On August 7th, we entered the period of Liqiu 立秋, also known as the Beginning of Autumn. Liqiu is the thirteenth solar term and the first node of autumn. It occurs annually on August 7th and marks a polarity change from yang to yin. In ancient times, Liqiu was divided into three phases with five days in each phase. From this point, the days will gradually become shorter as we move towards the Autumnal Equinox in approximately six weeks—a time of equal light (yang) and dark (yin). With this in mind, although August weather may still be hot, yang is in decline. In contrast, we will see the growth of yin and a contraction within our natural environment.
With our bodies existing as a microcosm of the outside world, autumn (the Metal element) is represented within the human body as the Lung—the Chancellor. Within Chinese medicine, therefore, while Liqiu is a season of harvest and a crucial time of growth for autumn crops, it is also the beginning of a movement inwards towards the stillness of yin and the water element (winter).
Autumn is a season associated with the Lung. While we should continue to avoid very spicy foods, mildly acrid foods are good for Lung function this time of year; for example, ginger, spring onion, leek and black pepper. Mildly sweet and slightly sour fruits also help moisten and benefit the Lungs These include watermelon and stone fruits, which are in season; for example, plums and peaches.
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