2nd Month of Spring

  1. In the second month of spring, the tail of the Great Bear points to the east.
  2. Spring occupies the east. The fullness of power is in Wood.[1] Its will of life is anger, its power birth and its virtue benevolence.
  3. The correspondences of this month are the days jia and yi, the Sovereign Taihao, his assisting spirit Goumang, the creatures that are scaly, the musical note jue, the pitch-pipe known as Pressing Bell, the number eight, the taste of sour, the smell of rancid, and the sound of shout. The domestic animal is the goat; the weapon is the spear.
  4. Sacrifices are made to the spirits of the door; in sacrifice, the spleen is offered first.
  5. The trigram of the east is Chên, Thunder. “The Arousing is decisive and vehement, it is bamboo that is green and young, it is reed and rush[2]…All living things come forth in the Arousing.”[3]
  6. In the period of Awakening of Creatures, the snowdrops begin to bloom, the red-wing blackbird sings and hawks transform in wood doves.[4]
  7. In the period of Spring Equinox, the hawks return to the north. They carry thunder in their wings and herald the return of lightning.[5]

 

  1. The Son of Heaven is the Lake Sturgeon.[6] He wears blue-green robes and azure jade pendants. He rides in a chariot pulled by blue-green dragons and flies an azure banner. He resides in the chambers of the east. He drinks waters gathered from the eight winds and cooks with fires kindled with fern stalks. His dishes are open, resembling the unfolding of the plants[7]; from them, he eats wheat[8] and mutton.

 

  1. His consorts also wear blue-green garments and play upon lutes, zithers and fiddles.[ix].
  2. The hexagram of this month is Ta Chuang, the Power of the Great. At this time, thunder resounds in the heavens, thus the authentic man walks in alignment with the Tao and honors the burgeoning of life.[x] “The authentic nature of the Dao consists in safeguarding one’s own person. Its fringes and leftovers are used for the nation. Its shards and weeds are used to govern the world.”[xi]
  3. The Son of Heaven orders those in authority to inspect the prisons and jails, to release prisoners and complete cases in the courts of law. In this month, day and night are of equal length. At this time, the Son of Heaven orders that all weights and measurements be made uniform.
  4. At this time, thunder returns and lightning begins to flash. The yang qi awakens creatures within the earth and they emerge from their burrows. Three days prior to the return of thunder, a great bell is sounded, warning the people that the union of clouds and rain[xii] brings danger and calamity during times of thunder and lightning. Also in this month, the trumpeter swans arrive thus heralding the matchmaking ceremony.
  5. In this month of birth and growth, the task of all the people is to nurture life. “In this month, protect sprouting shoots, nurture the delicate young and preserve all orphaned things.”[xiii] Ponds and marshes may not be drained nor may forests be burned. The furtherance of life can only happen if the ten thousand beings are nurtured within the proper environment.[xiv]
  6. In this month, the Son of Heaven makes an offering to the spirits of the cold that they may be appeased. He orders the people to make sacrifices and offerings of cloth, stone, and furs to the spirits of the soil.
  7. If in this second month of spring, the rituals of autumn were enacted, the people would suffer great floods and cold. Bandits would rampage the land. If the rituals of winter were enacted, the Yang qi would not overcome Yin, the crops would not prosper and the people steal from one another. If the rituals of summer were enacted, the rains would not arrive and heat would prevail, bringing insects to devastate the crops.
  8. The tree of the second month is the maple.[xv]
  9. The medicinal plant is celandine.[xvi]
  10. The messenger of Heaven is the red-winged blackbird.[xvii]
  11. This month governs the granaries.


[1] This reference is found in the Yueling.

[2] I Ching, p.272. References to the trigrams were not included in the original almanacs.

[3] I Ching, p. 268

[4] The Yueling, Liji and Lüshi chunqiu are in agreement that ‘hawks transform into doves’, the latter being numerous and visible at this time of year. Fruehauf detours from this by stating ‘hawks transform into cuckoos’. See “Correlative Cosmology in Chinese Medicine”.

[5] In all the almanacs, there are references to “Omens and portents from the world of living creatures: signs of the changing year [monthly]. See p.220 of Major, J. S. (1993). Heaven and earth in early Han thought: Chapters three, four and five of the Huainanzi. Albany: State University of New York Press. I have modified the omens and portents through personal research and observation of Nature in these periods as well as reference to Heiner Fruehauf’s “Correlative Cosmology in Chinese medicine”.

[6] Given that the original texts describe the thearch’s steed as a dragon, I have continued this “aura of ritual magic” (Major, p.226). The emperor in each season is represented by a resonant North American species.  The creatures of spring are scaly, thus the sturgeon- the largest fish in this region, able to “grow to nearly eight feet and weigh hundreds of pounds.” http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09200/984887-358.stm

[7] While the Lüshi chunqiu speaks of the vessels as “porous” and “carved with openwork”, the Li chi’s reference is more in keeping with the correspondences. This is also seen in the summer period where the vessels are tall and large as is consistent with the encouragement of maturity in the natural world.

[8] The Lüshi chunqiu has millet; however, the Li chi and the Yueling are in agreement as to wheat as the grain of spring.

[ix] It is interesting to note that the musical instruments of spring are resonant with the seasonal pulse quality. This quality is felt on the liver, gallbladder and stomach pulses and is classically described as ‘bowstring’.

[x] I Ching, p.133-134. While references to the hexagrams relating to each month were not included in the original almanacs, I believe they bring another layer of understanding to the movement and manifestations of qi in the relevant month.

[xi] Lüshi chunqiu, p.82- “Valuing Life”

[xii] Gulik, R. H. (2004). Erotic colour prints of the Ming period: With an essay on Chinese sex life from the Han to the Chʼing dynasty, B.C. 206-A.D. 1644, Leiden: Brill, p.13. “The sexual act was considered as a reproduction of the union of Heaven and Earth which mate during a storm ‘when the clouds receive the rain’.

[xiii]  Lüshi chunqiu, p.77

[xiv] Lüshi chunqiu, p.76

[xv] The second month of spring heralds the tapping of maple trees for sap.

[xvi] The addition of medicinal plants is purely my own- it is based on the actions of the plants and their resonance with the season. Celandine was originally known as swallowwort. Roman tradition held that mother swallows dripped it into the eyes of their young to improve sight. Its action is upon the liver and gallbladder.

[xvii] The ‘messenger of Heaven’ is another addition based on personal observation of Nature. Birds are chosen by their arrival times, characteristics and resonance with the season. In the second month of spring, the red-winged blackbird arrives in the north.

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