Astrology in Chinese Medicine
The last 3 articles have covered arguably the most important aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Meditation, exercise and nutrition are considered to be the most important of our 8 branches because they represent treatment practices which must be done by the patient. In TCM, the patient has more to do with their own healing than the provider because healing comes from within. TCM practitioners can make several recommendations and provide multiple treatment options for the patient but it is the patient who will ultimately eat the right foods, exercise, and maintain the proper mental attitude to achieve the health they desire.
The next treatment method in our 8-part series focuses on probably the most obscure method and that is the study of Chinese Astrology. Chinese Astrology in the practice of TCM is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and has been so for thousands of years. It governs everything from when it is ok to make certain business transactions to the kind of luck a person will have throughout their life and it utilizes the concept that whatever occurs above also occurs below. This philosophy supports the macro cosmic/microcosmic relationship TCM practitioners have referenced since before the writing of the first TCM texts in the second century BCE and forms the basis for treatment methods according to TCM astrology. In this method, it was believed that by observing the patterns existing in the stars one could better understand the patterns existing within their patient. In Chinese culture there is a whole system that combines 24 divisions of the year with a 28-part lunar zodiac, as well as 12 branches that correspond to an animal. So, every person born has an animal and an element associated with their birth, for instance if you were born in 2019, after February 5th, you are considered an Earth Pig. This delineation corresponds to certain characteristics that one possesses and gives information about what their year may bring and how they may live their life. The Chinese culture also seeks advice from the stars on when to move furniture in the house, when to sign contracts or open a business and even when to fly.
This method has had considerably less value placed on it here in the United States primarily because our culture sees this practice as a superstition more than a legitimate science. Like many other things TCM, however, if we pay attention to modern scientific discoveries and compare them with our understanding of TCM philosophies we can certainly draw some very interesting parallels. For instance, there have been many articles written about the discovery of a “new” organ system western medicine calls the interstitium. The descriptions of it and its functions essentially describe the San Jiao, an organ system in Chinese Medicine, which first started appearing in TCM medical texts thousands of years ago. We could also reference the use of the word Qi (chee) and how it translates loosely into the energy which courses throughout our bodies and makes life possible and relate it to the recent discovery of the presence of electricity among the cells within our gut by a lab in Berkeley, CA. These discoveries are new to western science but have long been the mainstream of thought prevalent in TCM since its first writings centuries before the common era.
If we open our minds to ‘outside the box’ and we look at planet earth’s rich history, we find that the time we’ve spent on this beautiful planet is like a blink of an eye along with all of our ‘discoveries’. People have turned to the stars for thousands of years to gain information about navigation, localization, counting hours and days and the seasons including when the rains will come, however there is also a rich history into the mythical world lying in the stars. One can look at the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Assyrians and the Chaldeans to find a rich history of astrology. Chinese astrology however does not have a religious tone, rather in Chinese culture we look at patterns, it is believed that people are affected by the movement of the planets just like nature is. For example, just like the moon affects the currents in our ocean, so does it affect the people that reside on earth. We can simply understand this by talking to anyone who works in a hospital on a full moon night, how much busier it is and the interesting cases that come into the ER.
With the discovery of 715 newly verified exoplanets around 305 stars by the Kepler Space Telescope along with the already verified 3,944 exoplanets and another potential 2,420 exoplanets we are simply a grain of sand in the big ocean of our solar system and within this lies more information than we can possibly imagine.