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. My sister (a writer) loves December, the darker and colder, the better for her. Personally, 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 elemental personalities? I don’t even know which personality 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 they are not the darkest months. The Winter Solstice represents a pause in the year-long journey from longest day to longest night, then back again. And while it’s true that December 21, the Winter Solstice, is the shortest day of the year and the longest night, it’s also a turning point. Beginning the very next day, the nights shorten, and the days lengthen. So, if you hate the dark, the Winter Solstice is actually good news for you because beginning December 22, the days get longer. But the cold? Well, that’s 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 and may need what another season has to offer.
Bottom line, each elemental personality will respond to winter in predictable ways depending on how balanced they are within their own elemental personality and how that personality relates to Water in the Five Elements model. Let’s look at how this might work and perhaps you will recognize yourself in one of these elemental personality descriptions.
The Five Elements Model
Water: 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 (shown above). 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 primary Water personality, which means she would find winter a comforting and productive time. However, if she is ever stressed in a way that creates too much Water energy in her personality, winter might well 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 with too much Water energy. And it’s important to note that if a Water person ever has too little Water energy (which might show up as depression or unreasonable fears), the increase of Water energy during winter will usually feel really good and help them re-establish balance.
Wood: In the Five Elements model, Wood relates to Water on the Nurturing Cycle (the big circle in the model), 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. That said, since Water feeds Wood, too much winter can create a state of excess energy for some Woods. This could 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. However, Wood people with deficient Wood energy usually find winter healing because focused Water energy feeds their Wood personality and helps it grow.
Fire: People with a primary Fire personality are usually the ones who have the biggest problem with winter. Water and Fire relate via the Controlling Cycle (the big star in the model), 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 personality 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. But for an already-depleted Fire, someone who appears scattered or unstable, the cold and draining energy of winter will only make things worse. This means you could be a Fire personality who has run out of steam.
Earth: The transition times between the seasons are represented by Earth, so Earth personalities usually do well any time of 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 energy 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 Earth personalities and a key time to connect with the people in their lives who matter most. However, 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 if an Earth personality has too little energy, they could 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.
Metal: People with primary Metal personalities usually appreciate winter because Metal people like time alone 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, 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. But Metal people don’t like to be uncomfortable. If the weather’s too cold, a balanced Metal personality will usually choose to stay inside. 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, could 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 personality 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 its own way of relating to every season. That’s the beauty of the Five Elements model – the elements are five discrete parts of a singular 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, as well as the seasons we hate.
I hope the information here helps provide you a better understanding regarding your aversion to winter. And from that understanding, may you find ways 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! Stay safe and well!