Dear Vicki: The Winter Solstice is approaching and that means the start of winter. I hate it. The dark and cold always make me very unhappy, but my sister (a writer) loves December: The darker and colder, the better for her. I think she’s crazy, but how can we be so different when we’re just one year apart? Could this have something to do with our elements? I don’t even know what element I am, I just know that I hate winter. Can you help me understand why? Signed: Hates the Cold and Dark
Dear Hates the Cold and Dark: Winter Solstice does indeed herald the start of winter in the northern hemisphere; December, January and February are usually the coldest months here. But within the Five Elements model, the Winter Solstice represents a pause in the year-long journey from longest day to longest night, then back again. December 21 is the shortest day of the year, thus the longest night. Beginning the next day, the nights shorten and the days lengthen. So if you hate the dark, Winter Solstice is actually good news for you because beginning December 22, the days get longer. But the cold? Well, that is around for several more months.
To answer your question, how we respond to a time of year absolutely can have to do with our elemental personality, especially since (as was mentioned in last week’s post), each elemental personality has a seasonal affiliation. On the surface of things, it seems logical that each personality would resonate with their own season – and that can be true – but it isn’t always so straightforward. If someone’s primary element is unbalanced in their personality, they may not do well with their own season, so could really need what another season has to offer. Let’s look at how this might work and perhaps you will recognize yourself in one of these elemental personality descriptions.
We’ll start with Water, the element with the most yin energy of the Five Elements. Yin is associated with cold, darkness, inner direction, and stillness. Not surprisingly, Water equates to winter in the Five Elements model. Water people usually do enjoy winter because they like cool temperatures and time alone to ponder deep issues. As a writer, your sister could well be a Water personality, which means she would love winter and find it a comforting and productive time. However, if she is ever stressed in a way that creates too much Water in her personality, winter might feel overbearing to her. Too much winter energy can make a stressed Water person intolerant and unhappy.
The fact that you hate winter could mean that you’re also a Water person, but perhaps one that is stressed with too much Water energy. Conversely, if a Water person has low Water energy, which might show up as depression or unreasonable fears, the Water energy of winter will usually feed them and help them re-establish balance. The other elements will respond to winter in predictable ways, too, depending on how balanced they are within their own elemental personality and how that personality relates to Water/winter. Let’s take a look.
In the Five Elements model, Wood relates to Water on the Nurturing Cycle (Water feeds Wood), so Wood people often enjoy winter as a time to plan what they’ll accomplish once spring (their season) hits. As long as they’re feeling productive and can stay warm, Woods usually roll with winter weather pretty well. However, since Water feeds Wood, too much winter can create a state of excess energy for some Woods. This can lead to outbursts of anger and frustration at everything winter has to offer, like getting stuck in the snow, cancelled events, or just being uncomfortably cold. That said, Wood people with deficient Wood energy usually find winter healing as the focused Water energy feeds their Wood personality and helps it grow.
Fire people usually have the biggest problem with winter, which means you could be a Fire personality. Water and Fire related via the Controlling Cycle (Water puts out Fire), so too much Water can quite literally stop Fires cold. Compared to Water’s full yin energy, Fire is full yang, which means Fire people usually want to be out doing things and connecting with people. They also like warmth, which isn’t a natural state in winter. However, a balanced Fire personality can usually find aspects of winter that they like: sitting by a fire, holiday parties, and celebrating with friends (old and new). Fire people are resilient that way. And for a Fire with excess Fire energy, winter can be a blessing. The forced slow down during winter helps decrease their manic ways and brings a sense of balance. Winter also offers Fire personalities a glimpse into a world that’s the direct opposite of theirs because Fire’s season is summer. Interestingly, most Fire personalities appreciate the deep mysterious ways of Water. But for an already-depleted Fire, someone who appears scattered or unstable, the cold and draining energy of winter will only make things worse. So perhaps you are a Fire who has run out of steam.
Earth represents the transitions between the seasons, so Earth personalities usually do well any time of the year. For Earth people, life is about deep connections with others anywhere they can find them. Earth relates to Water on the Controlling Cycle, which means it is Earth’s job to gently guide Water and help keep it in balance. To the degree that winter offers fun activities that can be enjoyed with others, Earth people are thrilled to participate. The holiday season, which falls during winter in the northern hemisphere, is a favorite of most Earths and a key time to connect with the people in their lives who matter most. But for an Earth person with too much Earth energy, the holidays can become a time to meddle and insert themselves where they aren’t needed as a defense against the solitude of winter. And an Earth with too little energy will find the demands of winter depleting and difficult to manage. They will probably stay inside, indulge their passion for good food, and worry that no one cares. If this resonates with you, it’s possible that you’re an Earth personality with deficient energy.
People with primary Metal personalities usually appreciate winter. Metal people like alone time to synthesize and study, and the quiet of winter affords them this opportunity. Part of Metal’s comfort with winter comes from the fact that Metal and Water relate on the Nurturing Cycle (Metal feeds Water), which means that the energy usually flows well between them. Metal represents autumn, a time when energy is consolidating and moving toward yin, which is another reason that Metal people often have a simpatico connection with winter, the time of full yin. That said, Metals don’t like to be uncomfortable. If the weather’s too cold, a balanced Metal will usually just stay inside. But a Metal with too much energy, someone who is slightly controlling or dismissive, will often throw themselves into winter sports as a way to offload energy during Water time. And a Metal with too little energy, someone who appears overly critical, will find the demands of winter threatening. They usually withdraw from winter any way they can, including extended vacations somewhere warm. This is another possibility: You could be a Metal with slightly depleted energy.
As you can tell, each element personality has its own way of relating to winter in proactive, and reactive, ways. In fact, each elemental personality has it’s own way of relating to every season. That’s the beauty of the Five Elements model – the elements are five discrete parts of a whole. Interconnected and interdependent, they are each responsible for keeping the whole healthy and balanced. Does that mean that everyone has to like every season? No. But it does mean that there’s information for us in the seasons we love, and the seasons we hate. I hope the information here helps provide you with a greater understanding regarding your aversion to winter. And from that understanding, may you grow to enjoy the quiet beauty and rest that winter offers us all. It really is one of nature’s greatest gifts. Solstice Blessings to you!