|Posted on April 21, 2014 at 12:10 AM|
Yesterday was Easter, as well as the solar term gu-yu, Grain Rain. It took me a little while to figure out that, unlike the (neo-)pagan Ostara, Grain Rain does not always coincide with Easter Sunday. Last year, for example, Easter Sunday was March 31, four days before qing-ming, Clear Brightness. Sometimes I wonder how I never noticed that the days and nights get longer and shorter with the seasons before I started studying Chinese medicine.
There are 24 solar terms in a year, also know as jie-qi. 4 of these belong to earth, which transitions us between the elements corresponding to the 4 seasons. Grain Rain is one; the others are Great Heat (da-shu), Frost Descends (shuang-jiang), and Great Cold (da-han). Interestingly, there are also 24 ribs in the human body. Even more interesting is the fact that these 24 ribs form the ribcage that protects the lungs, which is in charge of "governing the jie"--the same character as in solar terms (jie-qi), festivals (jie-qing), rhythm (jie-zou), and moderation (jie-zhi). My textbook in Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine claims that this jie refers to the act of regulation (tiao-jie). However, it's somewhat vague about what exactly is being regulated. Also, if you consider the grammar of classical Chinese, there is very little chance that jie is being used as a verb in the sentence "fei zhu zhi jie" (transliteration: lung master govern section); it's much more likely that jie is a noun here, since compound word-phrases (like tiao-jie) had not yet been invented.
I think it definitely has something to do with the 24 jie-qi of the year. When our bodies have trouble transitioning from one season to another (or one solar term to another), the most common thing that happens is...we 'catch cold'--AKA upper repiratory tract infections, which affect the lungs.