- A fiber-optic cable.
- A vein of quartz.
- A snow-capped peak.
- A steel knife edge.
Call it Metal or Mineral; it’s the element that connects and conducts, gleams and inspires. And it cuts, freeing the kernel from the chaff. Sharp and hard, clean and clear is Metal. An open channel between heaven and earth.
Before stepping into the shining realm of Metal, a brief reminder of the purpose of this series of articles. It is an invitation to approach the elements directly as living forces of nature, rather than abstractly as intellectual constructs; to deepen our relationships with them through honoring them as conscious beings, for in so doing we open space for their medicine to course through us.
Now for some this may sound like a stretch. Conscious beings? It’s true that from crystals to alloys to mountains, our images of Metal tend to be static. Bright, yes, even brilliant, but also hard, sharp, and cold. Not exactly bursting at the seams with life-force, seemingly. And yet this perception may have little to do with the Metal element itself and everything to do with us. They may not do so overnight, but crystals grow (most anyone at Breitenbush can tell you that). And as native peoples worldwide insist, mountains are themselves powerful sentient beings. Such thinking is nearly universal; modern Western cultures may be the first in history with the hubris to deny it. Not coincidental, perhaps, that we’re the most sped-up culture the earth has witnessed. Metal’s pace may simply be–well, glacial is the word that comes to mind.
Metal consciousness is on a whole ‘nother wavelength.
Clarity and Release
Metal inspires us and to puts things in perspective, like the sight of a spectral peak cutting through urban exhaust fume soup. Metal can bring things into focus for us, and equally it can pare away that which obscures or clogs. This is the painful side of Metal, the part that can feel like punishment; but harvest is part of the Metal mandate, and we must let go of old structures in order to move forward. Metal dissolves what is ready to pass, and when we are in harmony with Metal the past-oriented emotions of grief, sadness or nostalgia move through us like light through a pane of glass.
In the Odyssey, the heroes weep freely at the mention of fallen comrades and battles fought, then return to their feasting, the storm of tears passing as suddenly as it came. Healthy Metal allows us to cry when it is time to cry, experiencing grief fully, then moving through it to return unburdened to our work or play.
The Power to Conduct
Metal, we sense, is powerful. Yet the power it conducts, lightning-like, comes down from above; Metal is only the conduit for this charged light. Metal pathology begins as soon as we identify with the power, growing proud or haughty instead of humble to be in the presence of such power. If we don’t keep our focus on channeling it on through, the power can all too easily go to our heads and kick off a bout of Yangming pathology: the dictator syndrome. There is little uglier in this world than the abuses that follow megalomania, the result of blockage in our Metal channels.
Metal is the cleanest and clearest element, yet in our beautiful world of polarity, it can also be the shittiest, quite literally. In balance it is the most righteous and aligned, yet that quality of knowing one’s place under heaven can be twisted into self-righteousness, arrogance, judgement, and aloofness. (I should know, as a Metal type who’s been guilty of all of these sins). And yet Metal is simple, too. When one has gone astray, re-orienting along the vertical Heaven-Human-Earth axis can be enough to restore alignment. Metal reminds us to look up–and to bow down, as its descent leads us down into Water.
Metal: Deepening the Relationship
As a networker and transducer, Metal’s is the realm of the subtle. Information, light, and the silent vibrations of our thoughts are its stock and trade. In working with Metal, we can go to a rock-filled place in nature, sure–it would be awesome to honor Metal inside a giant geode or stalactite-filled cave, and mountains pilgrimages are ideal for learning from this element. But Metal exists inside us as much as we exist inside it. And just as our love honors Fire, our clarity and alignment honor Metal. One of the simplest but most direct gestures you can make to Metal is an offering on the inner altar of the mind.
Here’s what I mean. Clear away clutter (physical and mental!), wash your face and hands, smudge, and set aside a few dedicated moments as you enter into a ritual space. Within yourself, acknowledge the four cardinal directions, then the vertical axis that passes through the center of this cross. Align your spine with this vertical so that it becomes a bridge between the heavenly and earthly realms. Let your breath be natural. Take a moment to appreciate the clarity of the mind, a mirror in which so many images can appear. Recognize that within this moment, lucidity is possible: this dream can proceed as you like. Now, on the screen of your consciousness, go ahead and create: words, images, ideas.
There are no rules or limitations. You might choose to conjure up in your mind’s eye a perfectly cut diamond, then to rotate it, viewing it from all angles, appreciating its many facets and the way they reflect the light. Or you might go back through your memory and recall the most pristine, Metallic moments of beauty you’ve experienced. Next, once you’ve honored metal through your thoughts, comes the most important part: offer your creation up to heaven. That’s it.
You’re returning a tiny piece of the infinite creativity of pure consciousness back to its source.