One of the reasons why I love Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) so much is it is super witchy. TCM relates everything to the elements, just like we do when doing witchy work. So when I started learning elemental correspondences in my TCM theory classes, I felt right at home.
When I teach the energetics of our menstrual cycles, I harp on relating each phase of your cycle to a season. Here is the very basic idea: your bleed is your inner winter, follicular phase is your inner spring, ovulation is your inner summer, and luteal phase is your inner fall.
In TCM, these seasons or phases also correspond to an element. So our bleed is water, follicular is wood, ovulation is fire, and luteal is metal.
These phases cycle over and over and over again for all of our bleeding years (unless, of course, we are pregnant). Each phase has an overarching theme of energetics. For example, you should feel more energetic during your follicular phase than in your luteal phase. However, no one ever talks about the "in between."
This idea hit me when I was casually drawing out the star pictured above to study the elements for a TCM exam and how they relate to each other. With being me and loving all aspects of menstrual cycles, I was relating the elemental energetics to the phases of the menstrual cycle to help me memorize them.
Then I hit a brick wall: Which phase relates to Earth? I started wracking my brain to see if maybe there was potentially two parts to our luteal phase so that I could justify squeezing Earth into the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle.
After some frantic rifling through my theory notes and a brief conversation with my husband who is a TCM practitioner, I realized I was looking at this idea all wrong.
Instead of placing Earth to the right of fire, I should have been placing her in the center of all the elements. All of the elements affect Earth, therefore she is the center.
After redrawing my diagram this way, it was clear. Earth is not a phase in herself. She is the in between. Earth energetics are present in the transitions from one phase to another.
This makes SO much sense. Personally, I always experience a "funk" around Day 6 and 7 of my menstrual cycle and many of my patients experience the same during transition periods.
In TCM, the emotion relating to Earth is worry and anxiety. Again, this was a lightbulb moment. I ALWAYS feel worried and anxious on those transition days. I could never quite pinpoint why until now.
SO, our in between days are just as important as our main four phases.
I challenge you to notice when in your cycle you feel worried, anxious, or in a "funk" and take note if it is during your in between.
This is something that I will be exploring further as I Cycle and I will be experimenting on how to nourish our bodies during the in between.