At first I think Nick is slipping into that place we often come to where a natural sort of composting occurs. I wake terribly early after a party on the solstice, by the sea. Sober and excited while people sleep off wine and fun. All the necessary ingredients; foxes in the garden, wine, huge paella cooked outside, bright eyed youth and tossled haired women with silvery laughs and later, fine raspberry vodka brought that afternoon from Ukraine, safe from battle.
I creep guiltily through the sound of gulls, into the studio and see the fresh smears of water and froth on the palettes, rows of largest zinc tubes squeezed by strong hands, painting on painting of cliff and pool and wave. The sun shines through the clerestory from the Hastings East. Outside roses tumble and zucchini burst from old tins and pales. A fine mother fox eyes me and, not wishing to be late, slips around the side into her sandy den underneath the kindly shed.
All around is energy, purpose and kindliness.
at Nick Snelling’s, Hastings, 5am June 22nd 2017
“JR” Worsley returned from Korea, Japan and Taiwan and after studying Soulié de Morant and others adapted Traditional Chinese Acupuncture so that it became the elegant system that we have in the West today where it sits so appropriately as Five Element Acupuncture with our modern sensibilities, psychologies and indeed neuroses. The essential aspects of the Spirit and emotional energies which the oriental ancients took so for granted and which were suppressed in the development of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Mao’s China, are in the beautiful system of Five Element Acupuncture, made most manifest. I am sure that “JR” the wise yet somewhat hubristic young man from Coventry did not come into direct contact with the artistic ferment that was Abstract Expressionism in New York from the 1940s to the early 1960s.
However, everything is acupuncture and the blockbuster exhibition at the Royal Academy is a wonderful, enormous explication of energy, light and dark, elemental nature and our need to express that and to mediate those forces in the built environment. Nowhere is the history of the modern city so strongly represented as in New York City and it is there that the artists who collectively represent Abstract Expressionism boldly played out the interaction of natural forces in the city.
For the Abstract Expressionist energy could flow or shatter, take all the forms of water or light; diffracted, swirling or be straight as a laser beam, constantly in motion with the human subject/object striving at times for an impossible point of elusive stillness.
Illustrations; 1. Clifford Still PH-247. Still’s work has only recently been released for general view. 2. Barnett Newman Midnight Blue. It has been suggested that The Queen of the Night was inspirational, an Audley vinyl soc med to follow?! Imagine this vast canvas to Mozart! 3. Joan Mitchell, Salut Tom 1970. 4. Pauline Latham. 5. The East River Sunrise on Jet Lag. 5. “One of those” with “JR” centre and my erstwhile teachers and now friends including David Arditti and “Dr” Tim Gordon top right and the wonderful Meriel Derby bottom right and too many to mention from the Leamington Spa College “in the Dawn of Time”.
What happens in Acupuncture? I am occasionally asked. Sometimes I go to the Colon point and press quite gently on “Joining of the Valleys”, the point Colon 4 on the Colon channel in the web of the thumb and finger, to demonstrate some sort of Gate Theory of pain, flow and release where most anyone will experience a dull ache as the restriction of flow is felt (audleyburnettacupuncture, Autumn in the Treatment Room, Nov 7 2016). Sometimes I will describe a more escoteric point such as Ming Men, Gate of Life, a Kidney point on the lower back or I might refer to a little social media film I have made on gutter clearing in Autumn ( https://youtu.be/9J1G7IMZ6KM).Yet again, once every fifty years an Abstract Expressionism exhibition will mean that all that remains is painting!
The power of Winter in Chinese Medicine is to contract, consolidate, reveal the inner structure of things and to nurture the essence. All is stripped away and we return to the dark. Of course that is only part of the story. Ming Men, the point right in the centre of the low back on a level with the kidneys is referred to as the “hottest” point in the body. While being on the Ren Mai, Governor Vessel channel which is a Yang channel, it also relates to the cooling yin aspect of the kidneys. While this seems contradictory to the Westerner, the strength of Chinese medical philosophy is the ability to reconcile opposites and to accept the apparently contradictory and random presentation of a patient’s symptoms. For life to be, the balance of hot and cold must be just so. Even one degree change of internal temperature may throw things out. Light and dark, yin and yang are in constant adjustment. So the kidneys have access to “life fire” and the first spark of life. The acupuncturist will often support the kidneys
with burning moxa on this point. All is acupuncture, all is poetry and for the Abstract Expressionists all is paint.
The illustrations are as follows; 1. The spark of life from an exhibition in the St Pankras Kerk, Leiden, Summer 2016, artist to be credited at a later date I hope. 2. Summer and Winter Solstice light 2014 courtesy of a friend of Caroline Seymour, Photographer. 3. Light on a patient in the treatment room above the town, with permission. 4. The St Pankras or De Hooglandse (Highland!) Kerk. Light as good as it appears anywhere.
The Quinces in mid November speak about processs, placement and time.
I have four Quince bushes that I can think of. Brought on from the fruit of different plants, at least one from Mog’s flinty London garden where they grow abundant as grapes and big as apples tight up against a Clapham wall. Philip was pleased with one he found when hedging this week which is growing in the hedge as a standard. Quite straight and tall and thus easier to harvest from. The fruit hide, protected by foliage and fearsome thorns until leaf fall in the first cold wind. Some stay tight and close to the twig and some fall to be caught in thorny clefts. You must allow time in order to be delighted and surprised in the search as the lovely golden green conceals them cleverly in the autumn colours and courage is needed as you crouch and reach into the bush to be speared everywhere, balding head included!
The rewarding promises begin to manifest a week later as the wonderful scent pervades the kitchen. Smell is one of the diagnostic tools in Chinese Medicine and survives in the toolbox of the modern Five Element practitioner along with Sound, Colour and Emotion. Such a sensual practice! The smell of Quince is extraordinary and I flare my nostrils lustfully and breathe deep when I first realise that it is the little quinces that smells so delicious in the warm kitchen. Quince is the foundation of a best selling range of candles and cosmetics (google Quince scent!). As we know from sexy pheromones, smell has physiological effects. Recent research has shown that even the smell of rosemary improves mental retention by 15%.
The Quince and its relatives, the Chinese and Japanese Quince form a most specific genus in the larger Rosacea family. The red brown colour developed on heating is also specific to the genus. Both fresh and dried fruit keep through the Winter. In Chinese Medicine Quince is known as Mu Hua or Wood Melon and is used to clear Wind Damp (rheumatoid arthritis), to relax the muscles of the back and to clear digestive stagnation and pain. It enters the Liver and Spleen channels. Similar delicious use can be made of citrus peel, Chen Pi, roasted till it is a little burnt and bunged into casseroles.
Recent research has suggested that the Quince contains strong antioxidant and antiviral pytochemicals, specifically anti influenzal. (Hamauza et al, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2007).
If that is not enough, there is some evidence that Quince acts as a Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor. For the lay person that means more extra cellular Dopamine is swilling around for the feelgood factor. If you want an idea of that safely, find a Quince, brave the thorns, keep it a while and breathe deeply. Oh while flaring the nostrils fully!
The deaths of teachers, lovers, friends are gifts that pull us up sharp to see what is important outside. Poignant and allowing of space that nearer deaths cannot offer. So clear today as I awake alone in a room at a time when we are suddenly tipped into the Grand Guignol. Only three days ago I took Beautiful Losers off the shelf outside my treatment room. Leonard Cohen prepared his lovers for this. His songs of longing, loss and arrival have been reliable companions. I, my sister and some friends remained loyal in the decades when the troubadour was out of fashion.
Leonard Cohen has been an ally on many occasions. Recently I went for evidence to The Energy of Slaves in one of those you can’t say that moments of correctness.
As a teenager I penned the words in a slim blue spiral notebook and learned to strum the chords of Susanne and Bird on a Wire in a room in which I longed for depth and complexity and intimacy. Now at another end of the journey I want the simplicity of that room Cohen inhabited. His songs from that bright hot room still resonate.
Without my sorrow
To where it’s better
At this time of the year I can hear the cock pheasant calling in the thicket. He surprises and delights with his single, paced call. Prosaically I could describe it as the sound a large can makes as the lid is pulled back, a metallic piercing of the clear Autumn air. I think it’s territorial now rather than the mating call of Spring.
I’m moderating my own post and allowing it for its connecting function with Autumn and the Metal Element. And as Autumn moves to Winter we approach the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Sidney Keyes was killed age 2o in Tunisia in 1943. My own father at the same age fought in the Battle of Gazala in May and June 1941 and spent the rest of the war in captivity. Gazala was carnage for the Allies. 50,000 allied troops died as Rommel’s Panzers swept all before them. Like Alexander, Caesar and Napoleon, the Field Marshall audaciously relied on capturing fuel, munitions and food so as not to slow his swift advance.
Sidney Keyes had been influenced by Jung, Rilke and Wordsworth in his youthful reading at Dartford Grammar School and was a friend of John Heath-Stubbs at Queens College, Oxford.
His body was never found.
Thanks to the charity Poems in the Waiting Room for the following.
Cock stubble-searching pheasant, delicate
Stepper, Cathayan bird, you fire
The landscape, as across the hollow lyre
Quick fingers burn the moment: call your mate
From the deep woods tonight, for your surprised
Metallic summons answers me like wire
Thrilling with messages, and I cannot wait
To catch its evening import, half-surmised.
Others may speak these things, but you alone
Fear never noise, make the damp thickets ring
With your assertions, set the afternoon
Alight with coloured pride. Your image glows
At autumn’s centre—bright, unquestioning
Exotic bird, haunter of autumn hedgerows.
Sidney Keyes (1922–1943)
First frost on the roof. 8.30am.
Edward Chaffers, 1734-1810. A kindly relation from the “other side of the bed”. Low sunlight sometimes gilds his friendly old face. Someone today kindly said that he is like a benevolent receptionist.
A candle lights up the short days cheerily and in the dark, slightly neglected corner a patient noticed the charming etching given to me in exchange for work 30 years ago by the artist Llewellyn Thomas. “Up river she whispered” (The Map of Love, Dylan Thomas)
The potter Mick Morgan with “Minty” who is installed in the bed outside the little farm building where I treat. I think her Cycladic elegance sets things off. Sun, rain and frost clothe her and sparrows perch on her. To be fair, 40 years ago the farm yard was a little straitened.
Another detail noticed for the first time. A French vinyard tool, picked up for a few sous, on a willow pattern lacquer table. The best lacquer never reached the merchant ships but none the less the imagery on all those bits of blue and white tell the tale of Heaven and Earth and Man’s voyage between.
(Click or drag or hum or something for captions!)
Monday November 7th in West Wales and the first cold Autumn day with frost on the roof. Chinese Medicine tells us that the Element of Autumn is Metal, the sound is weeping and the organ systems involved are the Colon and Lung. The sound is a falling sort, a sigh. The diseases pertaining to Autumn can be hard to shift should they become embedded. This might have something to do with the falling into the yin that happens at this time of year. In the Spring some of us are more comfortable with the outward rising energy of yang and working with that energy can be easier, stronger and more direct. So it is important to attend to the health issues that arise at this time.
You might find that your acupuncturist treats simply at this time of year. In my Five Element Tradition I may only use a few points which usually include the Colon point in the web of the thumb and finger and that wonderful source point for the yin Qi of the Metal Element of the lung, found on the inside of the wrist. I might needle particularly lightly as the lung point brings enormous clarity, purity and access to Qi and would thus be treated with respect. As patients will know, the colon point can be used for pain relief and stuck things and can have a characteristic ache. This is even felt on using it as a pressure point and I will often demonstrate what Acupuncture is about by demonstrating the resistance we can feel as pain when something needs to be processed, moved or let go of.
We all have different relationships with the seasons. For some Autumn brings a sadness and sense of anxiety. Things undone. Short days. The first cold days. For others it offers space, balance and a stillness. The Lungs receive and the Colon lets go. This space is elusivein as we can never quite stop completely. But we can find meditative moments, moments to stand and stare or even to catch the sound of that lone leaf waltzing down in the still air. Even to nap or to sleep earlier!
Today I found some patients at Ty Hen were observant of details they had not noticed before. Perhaps the Autumnal clarity had opened up some space for them to see.