In the microcosm of the psyche, the Hun is the ethereal soul: the yang, breathy, spiritual aspect of the soul. It has three aspects: a vegetative aspect common to plants, animals and humans; an animal aspect, common to animals and humans; and a human aspect that is particular to human psyche. In humans, the Hun inhabits the vaporous, ever-changing region of our visions, dreams and imagination and is the animating agent of all mental processes. The Hun are said to enter the body shortly after birth and follow the Shen back to the heavenly realms after death. Unlike the Po soul that decomposes after death, the Hun are believed to carry an appearance of physical form back to the stars. The Hun is a slightly more materialized psycho-spiritual substance than the Shen. This bit of matter makes the Hun more susceptible to the pull of gravity and the emotional life.

The Hun and the Shen

The Hun are related to the Liver and the element of wood, the Shen are related to the zang of the Heart and the element of fire. Wood is yin in respect to the fire. Its quality is less active, more dense, and thus more influenced by the constraints of time and space. In the same way, the Hun—while still yang, expansive and active, are a bit slower and denser than the Shen. Although the Hun are free- flowing shape shifters that come and go with the winds of heaven, they whisper a the edges of matter. Unlike the absolute light of the Shen, which is infinite and limitless, the illuminated vapors of the Hun are susceptible to the influences and limitations of the Earth.

The Functions of the Hun

In human beings, the Hun represent the psychological faculty of vision, imagination, clear direction and the capacity for justice. They endow us with the ability to discern our path, stay clear on our direction, imagine possibilities, move forward toward our goals and take a stand for what we believe is right.

Sleeping & Dreaming: The Hun are responsible for maintaining sound peaceful sleep with dreams that are beneficial for the soul.

Emotional Balance: The Hun maintain the balance of the emotional life. If the emotions are repressed, over time the Qi of the Liver will back up and stagnate. Physical symptoms such as indigestions, abdominal bloating and headaches may result from emotional repression. Depression is another possible complication. On the other hand, excess emotion disturbs the Shen and exhausts the Qi. Thus the Hun’s ability to appropriately maintain emotional balance is crucial to our overall health.

Decision Making & Planning: The Hun support the psychological function of the decision making and planning. They carry the insights and intuition of the Shen into the realm of matter and manifestation by creating a course of action and deciding on priorities. They give us a sense of direction and a vision for our lives.

Vision & Imagination: The Hun are responsible for our ability to see the colors of the world through our eyes. They are also responsible for the inner vision and imagination, which bring creativity and growth into our lives.

Organ Correspondence

Traditional Chinese Medicine relates the wood element Hun to the Liver and to the wind. By day, the classics state that the Hun reside in the eyes, where they help us to see and think clearly, to make wise decisions and to direct our actions in the way that is best for our soul’s purpose. By night, the windy Hun descend downward, sinking to the fleshy organ of the Liver where they are weighted down by the yin essences of the blood. At night, while we sleep, the Hun actively organize our dreams and iagine our plans for the future.

According the Neijing, the Liver “has the function of a military leader who excels in his strategic planning.” The Hun carry out the Liver’s function on a psychological level by endowing us with the capacity to organize the chaos of random possibility into meaningful patterns, which give organization and direction to our lives.

Hun Disturbance

When there is a disturbance or weakness in the Liver or the body-mind is overwhelmed by longstanding emotional distress, the Hun cannot fulfill their task as messengers. When the Liver is weak, the Hun follow their predominantly yang impulses and fly out of the body to their home in the cloud lands. When the Hun are disturbed, they cannot carry the illumination of the spirit into our lives. They no longer “sweep away the clouds” so that the light of the Shen can guide our path. Our capacity for clear thought and vivid yet grounding imagining is “gone with the wind.” Without the Hun, we cannot know our true selves. We cannot organize and plan our lives and put things in motion, implement bright ideas or carry through on promises we’ve made to ourselves and others.

When the Hun are in harmony and health our lives are grounded in a deep trust in the intrinsic wisdom of the cosmos. Our decisions are not controlled or forced, but unfold organically and spontaneously from the peculiar inner logic of our personal stories. This is the “free and easy wandering” for which the healthy Liver is known.

Signs & Symptoms of Hun Disturbance

There are two basic categories of Hun disturbances: excess pattern and deficiency pattern. Sometimes a person will have a mixture of both. The mixed pattern most often shows up in women and often correlates with the menstrual cycle.

Excess: People often feel angry and experience life as one injustice after the other. Deficiency: People often feel timid, depressed and confused.

Common Symptoms: Depression, Insomnia/Excess dreaming/Absence of Dreaming, Erratic Emotions, Disorientation/ Disorganization, Repressed Emotion, Excess Sleeping, Vague Anxieties (especially at night), Digestive Disturbance Related to Emotional Upset, Lack of Clear Vision on Physical or Psychological Levels.

Spirit Level Signs: Timidity, Inability to Take a Stand, “Lack of Color to Life”, Wandering Aimlessly with no Direction, Starting Projects but Moving On Before They are Done, Always “Running Into Brick Walls”; Can’t seem to Get Anywhere, Obsession with Injustice, which Interferes with Moving Ahead With Life.

Possible Causes: Constitutional or “Karmic” Issues that are part of a person’s “work” in a lifetime, Exposure to Violence, Drug Abuse or Alcoholism in Family During Childhood, Lack of Guidance and Direction from Family, Recreational Drug Use (especially alcohol and marijuana), Malnutrition, Eating Disorders, Anemia, Repressed Emotions—Especially Anger, Exposure to Environmental Toxins or Toxins at the Work Place.

Next on the Generating cycle of the 5 element theory is Fire. Click the link to learn about Shen: the Spirit of Fire—Inspiration, Insight, Awareness & Compassion


Each elemental spirit is explained by author Lorie Eve Dechar from her book “Five Spirits: Alchemical Acupuncture for Psychological and Spiritual Healing.” You can find her book online for purchase at