This article has been taken quite in its entirety from the beautiful course of the AMCC: symbolism of the human body.
The liver transforms food into the Self. Everything absorbed by the small intestine is transferred to the liver to undergo a final transformation before entering the bloodstream and becoming absorbed by the cells. The liver also contributes to the production of important enzymes and hormones.
On a psychological level, the liver represents four important elements:
- – The desire to appropriate and make things our own.
- How we adapt to situations.
- The neutralization of toxins.
The Concept of Desire and Making Things Our Own
As already mentioned, the liver accumulates glycogen, which is converted into glucose by the pancreas. This energy helps the pancreas fulfill desires; however, any breakdown will prevent it from fulfilling these desires due to a lack of energy, for example, in the case of hepatitis, where we experience great fatigue. Note also that the liver, like desire, has a tremendous capacity to regenerate itself. This organ is the site where the Self adapts to the exterior to make it its own. Disorders manifest in the liver when this psychologically crucial behavior overflows into our attitudes towards others, such as lovers, friends and children.
The liver is often overburdened by disorders such as bulimia and inadequate food intake. Hepatitis A is caused by eating “bad” food; the Hepatitis B virus is also caused by contaminated blood transmitted from one person to another, which results in problems in sharing yourself with someone else, which constitutes a “bad” encounter as a result of multiple sex partners.
This excessive behavior of wanting to make something our own “at any cost” can lead to confusion between having and being. We try to relieve the suffering of the Self and the Being through multiple external possessions, such as food or partners.
Note also that the liver supports muscular activity through the redistribution of glucose. Inversely, a way to effectively drain the liver is to perform regular physical activity. This means we must keep circulating energy and avoid hoarding it, as problems begin as soon as energy becomes blocked through accumulation.
The Liver and Self-Image
The liver is affected when we reconsider our self-image. Remember that the liver also represents faith in us.
A hepatitis infection is obviously caused through infection from the virus, but this contact always occurs when we experience a sense of emotional loss and a complete lack of confidence in ourselves.
One example is Jean-Pierre, who develops hepatitis following a break-up with a woman he loves deeply. Already in a relationship with the mother of his daughter, he leaves the other woman because his girlfriend learns of the affair and threatens to leave with his daughter. Even though he and his girlfriend have a somewhat open relationship, he feels guilty about his daughter and is afraid of losing her. At the same time, he feels guilty about the other woman he loves and how much pain he has caused her. His suffering does not matter to him, and he is unable to “make love his own” or to make a choice along specific ethical lines. This experience therefore leads him to develop very severe hepatitis.
The Liver = an Adaptive Capacity
The liver adapts the food we take in to make it our own. It is also involved in our adaptation to life experiences and governs how we integrate them into our profound inner being. For example if we refuse to integrate an injustice, we may end up contracting hepatitis. This refusal can also lead to a self-destruction stemming from a rejection of life, to the point that the subject’s refusal manifests as cirrhosis, or “cancer,” of the liver.
The Liver = Neutralization of Toxins
The biliary function of the liver reflects any bitterness or anger that we are not able to assimilate into our lives.
The Hebrew word for liver is kaved, which also means heaviness, weight, wealth and power.
Annick de Souzenelle describes the liver as the “the possessor of divine power and its glory: the liver is where the light of the fulfilled act is stored.”
The word kaved has a numeric value of 26, meaning the number of the sacred name. The liver is therefore called upon to seek nourishment from this Name and draw energy from it by turning toward the interior and the Being. The liver is not only the bearer of the energy of the divine Name but also the organ that can completely regenerate itself. This could, perhaps, represent permanent “forgiveness” for humanity’s waywardness.
Is there a link between words and the energy of the liver? The Word, the Logos, the true Word of God—these are the healing words that draw energy from the liver organ through our incarnation. It is as though we are inscribed with this holy name through its vibration in the liver, so that our words also vibrate on the same frequency.
Emotions of anger and jealousy burden the liver (weight), just as certain physical food (alcohol, excess glucose) affects its ability to function properly. By giving weight to our suffering and our feelings towards these types of food, we affect the true ontological function of the liver, which is to give “weight to the Divine Light.” In other words, based on etymological and ontological studies, our life experiences drawn from the small intestine to the liver should be converted using energy from the liver, but only if the liver is functioning properly and “with light.” Note that in phytotherapy, the plant used to help the liver to function properly is called the celandine, which means “Great Light.”
Power of Sight
Converting the unfulfilled to the fulfilled through the energy of the liver is generally the power of Sight. To achieve this conversion, we must see clearly. It is interesting to note that vision disorders “belong” to the liver in TCM, and one of the first signs of hepatitis is the yellow discoloration in the whites of the eyes. In hepatitis disorders, we can no longer see clearly because the liver is overloaded with toxins! Torpor leading to hepatic coma is a more severe disruption that signals an almost irreversible liver pathology and appears with a loss of alertness.
If our vision is clouded by excess emotions, the liver is susceptible to disease. We no longer have a clear vision of things and are caught up in our own desires.
Finally, the liver represents the narrow portal through our own body of the unfulfilled to the fulfilled (the portal vein brings blood to the liver, the body’s filter).
The weight of the holy Name that is inscribed in the liver should in fact enlighten us (to give us a clear vision of things) and help us access a spiritual plane. Most often, however, the weight of our family line and our painful memories of emotional loss congest the liver. The honoring of our ancestors is also traced back to the liver, but proper balance must be maintained; we can neither forget our past nor cling to it.
Only “Light” must “weigh” on the liver; if we place too much weight on other things, we will lose clear vision.
In TCM, the liver, in addition to controlling vision, also assists in the return of venous blood, which is full of past experiences (a kind of weight) and which is returned to the heart through the veins. Too much “weight” in our experiences and family history therefore overburdens our veins.
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