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Earth Phase in Dragon Rises Red Bird Flies

April 18, 2017

A phrase has come back to me over and over lately, or perhaps an image, a sense of what life looks like as Life, the greater one living and breathing through me – that phrase has been simply “one body.” The play of the wind in the trees not other than that same rise and fall of my belly and chest, inhalation, exhalation. The density of stone under my foot the same as my own bones. The warmth of the sun that same warmth of the heartbeat in my chest, our hearts all beating, together. Just one great body, moving in harmony, despite or perhaps within and unavoidably part of the seeming discord, an unfolding of life that is never other than the earth from which everything I think I am has come, and to which it will ultimately return. The literal “stuff” of us, alive before and after and through, whatever my confusion and however badly I mess up – this life, this same earth, the one body. Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies has a unique take on what the Earth Phase can suggest to us, in terms of what we are, and what our relationships one to another are composed of, and how they can be made to last, or to fall apart and decompose when they no longer help us. This is the fourth installment of this series on the Phases in DRRBF, so feel free to catch up on the Water, Wood, and Fire phases as well.

Earth Phase

brown green sand with grass
The Dust of the Earth, Not Other than Our One Body

Earth Yin Deficiency

DRRBF describes a number of ways in which Earth Yin deficiency can manifest, but each of them, unsurprisingly, are expressions of the same general principle – Earth Yin is the “substance” of bonds, their density, their durability, and their resilience. When Earth Yin is deficient, these bonds, and their attendant boundaries, are insubstantial, easily damaged, or shattered, or unhealthily mutated. Because our bonds and boundaries are only ever illusorily truly “internal” or “external”, and are instead always reaching in, through, around, and even as “we ourselves”, any deficit of Yin in terms of the substantiality or resilience of these bonds will be reflected both in self-relationship and social-relationship, simultaneously. That is to say that whether the manifestation is a “schizoid” type who cannot sustain bonds with others, or the full schizophrenic who has more primary confusion of self-relational bonds and boundaries, the underlying deficiency is of the same stuff, changing only in matter of degree or orientation.

While I often attempt in these small bits of analysis to look for what needs a person with these kinds of difficulties is expressing, and where and how we can understand and meet them, Earth Yin deficiency presents an interesting and potentially challenging case. The very substance of the bonds that compose us as unified selves and as social beings are undermined in this case. This is less a scenario in which this person is needing a particular response or a particular kind of sense of security from the practitioner, than it is that they may well be needing some more deeply spiritual form of healing, some way of re-establishing the possibility of vitality to the substance of their bonds and boundaries. This is not at all to suggest that these cases are without hope, so much as it is a recognition that the development and rebuilding of Earth Yin at such a profound level will of necessity take time, patience, as a long and potentially arduous experience of establishing and maintaining trust, as trust of this kind in relationship is itself bound up with the same “Earth Yin”.

Earth Yin Excess

The narcissism of an Earth Phase excess person suggests to me not “too much” substance of a bond and attendant boundary, but rather a stagnant kind of hardening of that bond. As suggested above, it seems to me that bonds and boundaries are never truly “internal” or “external”, but rather that they represent only different pathways, different expressions of relationship, that extend through and about us in dizzyingly complex ways, making us what we are while simultaneously allowing us to recognize that we were never only what we think ourselves to be. The Earth Phase excess person has, at some point and due likely to experiences in childhood as DRRBF suggests, hardened their bonds and boundaries at the surface of what they believe to be “themselves.” The excess of Yin here is not too-much-substance, but instead a heaviness and a density that becomes immobile and inert, utterly stagnant, such that the natural flow of awareness and connection that would flow through the Earth-phase bonds into ourselves and beyond to others becomes narrowed to the point of being nearly cut off. Ideas stagnate, there is no momentum or capacity to be vivified by those sources of inspiration beyond oneself, which leads to an inability of the self to grow. It is as if the ideas of oneself were given no challenge far too early, and they solidified before there was ever the possibility of learning adaptational techniques for incorporating necessary change and permeability and even mutability into one’s self-bonds and bonds with others.

Whenever momentum and flow is cut off, there is stagnation, and frustration. This frustration is likely to be felt by both the Earth Yin excess person as well as by those who attempt to reach out to connect to this person. Frustration can easily become anger, and the reactionary impulse may well be to crack and break the brittle bonds that this person has ossified around themselves. Even that impulse in anger is, more fundamentally, one driven by a compassionate need to connect with another. But the cracking open and breaking of those bonds will ultimately be damaging, will cause too much trauma, and can even disorder identity, causing intense distress. What is needed is the nourishing softness of the Water phase to bring suppleness and mobility back to these bonds, so that they can begin to shift and transform again.

Earth Yang Deficiency

Here the difficulty is not with the substance of the bonds, whether insufficient or excessive, but instead the capacity to separate the bond. While harmonious with the Metal-phase energies of the transformation of bonds, which will be involved of course, Earth Yang is, in some ways, the participation of bonds in a natural kind of segmentation over time, where bonds begin, expand their substance and place in our lives, and then again attenuate. I would suggest that this has less to do with “breaking” a bond, than it does with the rhythmic expansion and contraction (again, involving Metal-lung phase, as Taiyin energies mutually support one another) of certain bonds, so that there is space in one’s life for the establishment and elaboration of other bonds. The bonds that narrow do not need break, but in some ways may simply change configuration, retaining strength and stability while drifting from the primacy they may have previously enjoyed. Separation does not need to be, in all cases, severing, but simply a natural diminishing, which can be, in the proper season, revitalized. For the Earth Yang deficient person, this ability to allow certain bonds to diminish so that there will be space for new bonds to begin is stunted – like a sapling which does not grow tall enough from the earth, only a certain number of branches can effectively form from the smaller trunk. What is needed is for this person to feel safe enough with the stability of existing bonds to not need to cling to them so tightly, and allow themselves to grow, so that there is opportunity for new bonds to begin.

Earth Yang Excess

The Earth Yang excess person, as DRRBF suggests, was forced early to learn to sever bonds in order to survive. If they did indeed survive, then they have kept this skill at the ready. It is not that they are unable to form bonds, or even that the bonds that they have are necessarily insubstantial. It is rather that because they know that they may have to, for needs of survival, at any moment utterly sever a set of bonds between themselves and another, they are unlikely to deeply invest themselves in any specific bond with a level of intimacy and trust that might lead the them needing to harm themselves too when cutting off a connection. This is not a question of their sincerity in the bonds they do establish, but a question rather of the degree to which they can invest themselves wholly in those bonds. What is being needed is an awakening to the reality that not every bond has the same potential to do them violence, that many bonds are not likely to be severed and hurt them in the same ways as they were hurt before, and that there is a depth of experience and genuineness to deeply bonding with others that they are not allowing themselves access to by remaining in a state ready to cut off and abandon relationships so dramatically.

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