A solar term is a period of about two weeks and is based on the sun’s position in the zodiac. Solar terms form the traditional Chinese calendar system. The calendar follows the ancient Chinese belief that living in accordance with nature will enable one to live a harmonious life. This article series explores each of the year’s 24 solar terms, offering guidance on how to best navigate the season.
Solar Term: ‘End of Heat’
2021 Dates: Aug. 23–Sept. 6
“End of Heat” is the 14th solar term. It signifies the end of the hot season, and it begins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 150 degrees and ends when it reaches the longitude of 165 degrees. Although the sun has moved further away from the Earth, the heat accumulated within the planet remains plentiful. So according to the folk saying in Chinese, “People will still sweat for 18 days after the arrival of the ‘End of Heat.’”
According to Chinese tradition, three things happen in this solar term: Eagles display and worship the birds they’ve captured before they eat them; Heaven and Earth begin to withdraw, alluding to the end of summer; and grains become ripe.
Symbolically, it’s the end of a season, and Mother Nature is turning a new page.
“When the weather becomes cool, it is good autumn” is a famous poem in China, and it reflects both the external world and our minds, which is the inner world for an individual. At this time of year, we’ve just passed the hottest weather, and as we are calming down, we can relax, refresh, and anticipate the harvest that’s around the corner.
This is the time to review and reflect on all the hard work we’ve done for our health early in the year and what outcome it has produced for us. Our body is preparing to turn toward yin and away from yang, with the help of the rich yields and produce from all of the seedlings we started earlier.
Some people may experience dry and irritated skin or dry hair, and some might even suffer from constipation. This is because the long heat of summer has made our body “toasted,” both internally and externally. Yin energy is naturally mild and slow to come out, so there may be a gap or disconnection between yang and yin, as the yang energy may have become too dominant.
Living in Harmony With the ‘End of Heat’
Among the 12 energy channels, the organ to be focused on during this term is the stomach. What a wonderful arrangement that we can eat plenty of food at this time without feeling guilty! The key is to select the right cooking method, the right seasoning, and the right types of food.
The stomach is like the roots of a plant—it processes the food to support our bodies. As our body still holds a lot of the heat from the summer, we might feel hot and thirsty and tend to consume a lot of cold drinks. When we consume low-temperature drinks or food, we might feel very cool and nice as the temperature drops inside our overheated bodies. But right after this, according to Chinese medicine, the warm blood and energy from the surface of our body will travel to our organs to warm them up, so the skin will then cool down and close our pores. Once our pores close, the heat and sweat will be blocked inside our body and may cause inflammation and congestion inside.
Seasonal Foods and Scents
Food to Eat: Light tea, soy milk, almond milk, oatmeal milk, lukewarm water, honey, fresh-squeezed juice—drink small portions frequently. Spinach and bell pepper, plus all the root vegetables such as carrots, beets, potatoes. Avoid spices such as peppers, garlic, chili, ginger, shallot, leek, anise seed, and fennel.
Essential Oils: Chamomile, nutmeg, cardamom, orange sweet, caraway, dill, ginger, patchouli, melissa, and fennel sweet. The use of ginger and fennel externally produces different results than the internal consumption of their constituents.