Meridian Archetypes Part 13: The Fool

Fun, happy kidney energy is represented by the archetype of the fool. Do not let the stereotyped negativity of this archetype mislead you. Kidney energy plays a key role in our society. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidney meridian is the home of our vital essence – or unique constitution. You are born with a fixed amount of essence, which determines health and energy. Imbalances in the kidney increase fear of the unknown, while a balanced kidney meridian instills us with courage.

To find kidney energy within yourself look at your need to find meaning.

Do you often present a silly, happy face in public, while deep down you feel sad and confused?

Are your true feelings hidden in your jokes?

Do you seek knowledge for its own sake and delve deep into the subjects that interest you most?

Like any stand-up comedian, the fool allows us to see deep into the problems of society in an accessible and easy-to-grasp way. How many of us have watched a stand-up show only to find ourselves pondering a joke long past the last laugh has been uttered? Popular examples of the fool archetype include the Joker from the Batman series, George Carlin the comedian, and Chandler in Friends.

By strengthening and stretching the kidney meridian, you gain access to your ability to cut through the perceived barriers of society to find the information that you seek. You will learn some tricks to combat imbalances in the groin and lateral hamstrings. To understand the kidney meridian’s place in our series, we will examine its eastern and western medicine functions, archetypes, common imbalances, and exercises to restore the healthy flow of our meridian.    

Western Medicine Kidney Functions

Our kidneys are primarily responsible for the filtering and purification of blood. These bean-shaped, fist-sized organs are found in the lower back, right beneath the lower ribs. On top of each kidney sits an adrenal gland which releases hormones to control our metabolism, blood pressure, stress response, immune system, and more. 

Over the course of a day, the kidneys filter 200 liters of blood and remove 2 liters of waste. They remove excess water, salts, and other substances and send them to the bladder for disposal. This process allows our kidneys to maintain the body’s pH, mineral, electrolyte, and chemical balances. 

The adrenal glands and kidneys are placed close together for a reason. Together they regulate blood pressure by controlling sodium and potassium levels in the body. 

Kidney Organ
Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

Fight-Or-Flight with the Kidneys

The adrenals also produce adrenaline, DHEA, and cortisol- all of which are a crucial part of our fight or flight response. During fight or flight, our sympathetic nervous system is sent into overdrive. This response can save our life but is also extremely difficult to regulate. Chronic stress occurs when a person is “stuck” in the sympathetic nervous system. Symptoms of chronic stress include insomnia, low energy, headaches, compromised immune system, and headaches.

Adrenaline is the trigger for our fight or flight response which prepares our body for action. Over time, high adrenaline levels can take a toll on the body, increasing our blood pressure and also our risk of heart disease. It has also been associated with weight gain, stroke, insomnia, and other health problems.

DHEA helps produce reproductive hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. When we are in fight or flight mode, the body deems these hormones as non-essential and stops making them in the correct quantities. Long-term stress can throw off our hormone production leading to infertility and PMS in women and erectile dysfunction in men.

Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is related to 90% of illnesses and diseases. After being released by the adrenals, cortisol floods the body with glucose and increases our heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, high cortisol levels throw the body out of balance.

Turning off the fight or flight systems may require some effort, or it may come naturally. The system responsible for calming us down is the parasympathetic nervous system, or rest and digest system. 

The Kidneys and the Lymph System

The kidneys filter waste from our body’s natural metabolic and detox processes. To do so, they work closely with the lymphatic system to remove harmful wastes from other areas of the body. The kidneys drain fluid from the lymph system to maintain homeostasis, remove harmful substances, and reabsorb essential nutrients such as electrolytes, cytokines, and immune cells from interstitial fluid.

A surprising lack of research has been done on the results of kidney-lymphatic dysfunction. If the lymphatic system isn’t properly drained, toxins build up in the body and cause dysfunction and disease. 

Further research is needed to understand the exact implications of what happens when this relationship goes wrong. However, improper drainage of the lymph system or a build-up of toxins in the kidneys affects the whole body, causing inflammation, impaired immunity, and other problems. 

The kidneys are the body’s chemical factory that instigates waste removal, fluid balance, hormone release, red blood cell production and so much more. In Chinese medicine, the kidney’s western medicine functions are taken a step further, relating this essential organ to emotional, mental, and spiritual health.



Seated Butterfly Exercise


Reclined Butterfly (Assisted)


Active Frog Exercise

The Depth of the Fool: A Kidney Meridian Archetype

Other Archetypes: Seeker, Clown, Wanderer, Nomad

Fool - Joker

The kidney, represented by the fool archetype, is a seeker. They delve deeply into the why and meaning behind their passions. But where other meridians may take their pursuit for knowledge seriously to the point of obsession (brain) or teach themselves everything they need to know (stomach), the fool pursues knowledge using humor, originality, and deep observation.

In Traditional Chinese medicine, the kidney meridian is home to our vital essence and also our “Zhi.” Vital essence is our unique constitution, a wellspring that we are born with and from which we draw our vitality and longevity. 

Zhi in Traditional Chinese medicine refers to our mental drive and courage. Without Zhi, we would never accomplish our goals, pushing through tough times to the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Kidney meridian health is crucial for maintaining energy and stamina. Kidney meridian symptoms of imbalance include insomnia, reproductive issues, developmental problems, and premature aging. Symptoms that are remarkably similar to those of a hormonal imbalance due to stress. 

The kidneys’ relationship to fear, stress, and anxiety is a complicated one. Fear can scatter the kidney qi and imbalanced kidney energy can cause us to feel fearful. In either instance, kidney meridian exercises can help restore meridian balance in the body. You can also reduce stress and anxiety by improving your work-life balance, establishing a healthy sleeping schedule, and introducing mindfulness or meditation practices to your daily routine.

Fear-Based Decisions: A Kidney Meridian Case Study

The kidney is one of the five essential meridians of Traditional Chinese medicine represented by the water element. In energy medicine, water is most commonly associated with our emotions.

The main kidney meridian emotion is fear. When the kidney meridian is healthy, it moves us past fear and gives us the courage to make the correct decisions.

One of the most important lessons that we can learn from the kidney is how to control our fear, instead of it controlling us. Often when we are deep in fear, we find ourselves overwhelmed by indecision and end up choosing what is safe rather than what is right. 

You cannot grow from a place of fear. Imagine you got laid off from your job. You get severance but you know that, eventually, the money will run out. So you start looking for a job the day you hear about the layoff. You think, if I start looking right away, the money won’t run out and I will be safe.

But the message you are sending out into the universe is one of lack and fear. You search and search, but no matter how many resumes you send, the universe can only return what you are asking for which in this case is “please, do not let the money run out.” The fear of losing stability and safety overwhelms your intention.

How To Clear Kidney Fear

The archetype of the fool confronts their fears with laughter. They will often make jokes at their own expense and might take the joke “too far.”

If the kidney meridian is healthy, their jokes will do more good than harm, lightening the tension in the room or helping someone see past their fear. When out of balance, the fool becomes the archetype of the sad clown, degrading themselves and prolonging their own healing by dragging themselves down.

To clear fear from your kidney meridian and start making decisions from a place of courage, try a few of the strategies below:

  1. Make a list of your fears related to the decision. Be as detailed as possible.
  2. Picture your ideal solution. What would your future look like if anything was possible?
  3. Actively set an intention for your future with as many details as you can think of.
  4. Send love to the parts of you that are afraid of using ho’opono’pono. It’s ok to be afraid as long as it doesn’t control you!
  5. Do kidney and bladder meridian exercises every day. 10 repetitions of each should be plenty, but do more if you feel inspired

Acknowledging and working with your fear will help you attract the life you want. You may be surprised by the abundance that enters your life once you address your fears. 

Looking Ahead

No meridian would be complete without its balancing type. In the case of the kidney, the balancing meridian is the bladder. The bladder is represented by the archetype of the performer. This personality type is a natural team player who can motivate and inspire those in their circle. The bladder is the yang to the kidney meridian yin. Learn more about the bladder in our next Meridian Archetype article.

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