Seasonal Cultivation : Vernal Equinox


This year the Vernal Equinox Seasonal Node starts Thursday March 21. The actual Equinox was exactly at 5:58 pm EDT on Wednesday, March 20th here in Avondale PA. Last year this time we were in the middle of a particularly snowy March, but this year does feel more like Spring despite the cold mornings that we’ve had this week. Daffodils and Crocuses are blooming!

In the Chinese calendar we are now in the middle of Spring, but in the western calendar we celebrate Vernal Equinox as the beginning of Spring. Why then does the Chinese calendar regard Vernal Equinox as the midpoint of Spring? Because we are now at the balance point of Yin and Yang. If the height of Yang is the longest day (Summer Solstice), and the height of Yin is the longest night (Winter Solstice), then the midpoints and thus points of balance are the Equinoxes. Even though the weather is still cold and there is snow on the ground, the gradual awakening of all life in nature is clear.

The three 5-day periods in this seasonal node are Swallows Arrive, Thunder Starts Resounding, and Beginning of Lightning. Spring is the time when Yang of the natural world is slowly starting to push itself up and out of the Yin of Winter.

The main thing to focus on during this 15-day period is “Nourishing your Liver". One of the ways we nourish the Liver is to ensure normal Liver function, and ensure Qi is freely coursing which is one of the main functions of Liver. Another positive option, is to clear and calm the liver. This can be done by mild fasting and cleansing. Warm broth soups with spring vegetables such as asparagus are excellent for this still chilly time of the year. We want to protect the warm-Yang in the body at the same time we clear the Liver or supplement the Yin-Blood. 

As we mentioned, the Vernal Equinox is the time of balanced Yin and Yang. It is important to also have a balanced state of mind. Thus, one of the “avoids” during the Vernal Equinox is that Spring is the time to not be angry. We should try to relax, and not allow our emotions to run too far in any direction. The second thing to avoid during this seasonal node is overdoing “bedroom activity.” Since sex stirs the Yang to mobilize Jing-essence. To keep an overall balance in health we need to seek a balance in sex. Too much sex may deplete the Yin-Jing. That said, no sex at all can lead to stagnation in the circulation of Qi and Blood.


Diet for the Vernal equinox should mimic the balance that is present in nature at this time. The continued use of mildly acrid foods such as ginger and scallions help ensures normal coursing of Liver Qi. This is especially useful for patients with Liver depression patterns. This year since the weather is cold, we should continue to eat slightly warming foods. However, it is best to avoid very greasy or heavy foods, such as fatty meats, or very salty meals. While salt and grease is ok in the cold of Winter, right now in Spring we need to be concerned with the normal and smooth movement of Qi and Blood in the body. The basic combination then is warming and acrid, so ginger is an excellent choice!

A simple tea to enjoy during this time is rose bud tea. It courses Liver as well as gently quickens the blood. It is especially useful for females who have menstrual irregularities due to Liver stagnation and for injuries. Since Spring is related to the Liver it is a time for tendon and ligament injuries - so take time to stretch, reduce emotional tension, and do lots of deep breathing!