Understanding the Po, Spirit of Autumn - Root + Bones

Understanding the Po, Spirit of Autumn

There are five spiritual archetypes in TCM that each correspond to a primary organ and element, offering deeper wisdom into the mysterious forces that characterize our existence, and the Po is the governing force of Autumn. The Po, or “Corporeal Soul,” corresponds to the element of Metal, which lives in the Lungs and Large Intestine – the organs associated with the fall season. Responsible for our feelings, sensations, and stored memories, the Po has much to do with the ways in which the unconscious manifests in our lives. Ruling over this season of thin veils, as characterized by other traditions, we can nourish the Po in order to support the metabolism of that which has heretofore been unconscious. 


The Corporeal Soul can be understood as “that part of the Soul which is indissolubly attached to the body and goes down to Earth with it at death,” according to Herbert Giles. While it is closely linked with the body, and could be “described as the somatic expression of the Soul… it is important not to interpret the Corporeal Soul in terms of the Western duality between the inert, physical body and a ‘soul’ that inhabits it and gives it life. From the point of view of Chinese medicine, the Corporeal Soul is the physiological activity of the body and this, itself, is the soul,” as explained by TCM expert Giovanni Maciocia.


The Po is closely connected to Jing, the constitutional essence we inherit from our parents and give to our children, which determines both longevity and quality of life. The Corporeal Soul is derived from the mother and arises at conception; without it, Jing would be inert, which is why it is understood that the animating force of Po facilitates all physiological processes. In the first month of life, a baby is considered to be primarily composed of Corporeal Soul, nourished by the mother’s Corporeal Soul through touch and breastfeeding. This helps explain why it is Po that holds our somatic memories from childhood, as well as unconscious feelings.


While all emotions affect the Heart, it is specifically suppressed or unconscious feelings that affect the Corporeal Soul. Unexpressed grief especially constricts the Po, as do other energetic signatures of emotional stress, like worry and sadness. The Corporeal Soul also facilitates the manifestation of grief through weeping and crying, supporting a sense of expression and release. Supporting the Lungs is particularly helpful in resolving emotional issues in that doing so nourishes the Po, helping to bring feelings up and out. Both the Lungs and Large Intestine are primary organs of elimination that help us in letting go – on both the physiological and emotional levels. Interestingly, the Large Intestine, too, can be supportive in metabolizing grief, as well as compromised by its suppressed expression. 


Support the Po by nourishing the Lungs and promoting elimination, with these tips:


  • Drink warm tea throughout the day to help to keep the body warm. 
  • Practice any form of meditation that focuses on the breath. 
  • Pears and apples can help to nourish the Lungs and keep Yin balanced. 
  • Our Beauty blend contains many of the best herbs to support Po, including Goji Berries, Schizandra, and He Shou Wu. It also contains Tremella which supports Lung Yin as well as Pearl to support proper hydration and therefore optimal elimination.
  • Steam or boil foods to retain more of their moisture and enhance Yin. 
  • Acupuncture can be extremely helpful for emotional regulation and release. 
  • Incorporate Jing tonics with an affinity for the Lungs, like Pine Pollen, Cordyceps, Reishi Spore, and Turkey Tail.