Part 4, and final article in a short series
This short series of articles has explored the microcosm of the body and related it to the macrocosm of the earth, and beyond. We have looked at some of the systems in the human body, explained a bit of anatomy and physiology, or geography and function, and then explored the reflection seen in a similar known system of the earth or beyond. We conclude this series by looking at the apparently empty spaces that exist in both our body and the universe
The interstitium, also known as the fascia, is an interwoven network of protection, connection, and separation between the over 70,000,000,000,000 cells that make up the body. It is an extensive network of dynamic moving fibers made up of collagen and elastin suspended in a gel like mucous that interact with the interstitial fluid, or the fluid between the cells. Ida Rolf, referred to the system as the ‘endless web’.
Because the interstitium appears to be in the ‘background’, or simply provide an ‘environment’ for the body and all of its specialized parts, its critical functions have never been recognized. Having been overlooked for many years, this system is now being studied with great interest by scientists because of the role it plays in cancer metastasis. There is also a growing recognition of how important it is to keep the fascia mobile.
Manipulating fascia has been central to the work of Manual Osteopaths, Structural Integration Therapists, Rolfers, Physical Therapists and Massage Therapists for many years.
These skilled and trained practitioners have worked with and felt the flow of living fascia. Many are able to sense the flow of fluid through its extensive web of networks, and have observed the restoration of health through freeing up the fascia. Acupuncturists also work with this system, and the palpable flow of Chi is now thought to be the same palpable flow felt by those mentioned above. Anatomically, it lies just under the skin and forms interconnected layers that extend down to the bone. It covers the entire body, connecting, separating and holding in place every muscle, nerve, and organ, while also providing shock absorption. This web gives the body its basic structure from head to toe and offers extensive flexibility for compression and/or expansion of the tissues. This system works closely with the lymphatic and immune systems as it connects and interacts with the inter-cellular fluid as the network of the inter-cellular matrix.
Although the appearance of fascia is very web like, science has only recently been able to observe the fascia in vivo. In 2007, Dr. Guimberteau was able to film the living fascia. To get a sense of it yourself, imagine a huge web-like structure made of a viscous or gel like fluid and fibers in which all of our organs are placed one by one, the web folds in on itself over each organ, connecting and separating them at the same time. This same web continues out through each layer of muscle, each bone, tendon and ligament, providing layers of protection and lubrication to each structure, finally settling just beneath the skin’s surface. Information is exchanged, nutrients and waste products are interchanged, and lubrication, protection, compression and extendibility tolerance is given to each tissue of the body through the interstitium. A miraculous and intelligent system occupying the space between our cells.
How could there be something similar out there in the cosmos? The notion of a cosmic web occupying the space between galaxies and holding it all in motion has been mostly theoretical. Although scientists knew some sort of energy or matter existed, it remained invisible to them. Again, only recently photographs have been taken of what appears to be a web that is very similar in form and function to the fascia. This web of what is now known to be a network of dark matter arranged in threads called filaments is what gives the universe structure. Much like the interstitium gives the inter-cellular environment structure, the cosmic web gives the intergalactic environment structure. It is thought by many astronomers to be the basis of the universe, connecting and holding stars together in clusters and galaxies, and galaxies together into groups, clusters, and super-clusters.
These photographs confirm that the dark matter filaments of the cosmic web are real, not just theory. Although the cosmic web cannot be observed in the same way as other matter that makes up our known world, it is thought to permeate space and act in opposition to gravity. Both the internal inter-cellular environment forming a network in a web like structure we call the interstitium, and the external expansive intergalactic environment forming a network of web like filaments of dark matter we call the cosmic web are full of mysteries yet to be discovered and revealed to us.
As we have drawn this comparison out, and seen the similarities between our body and our universe, even to the degree of their mystery, it is my intention that anyone reading this will gain a depth of appreciation and admiration for both. Compassion, connection, and understanding blossom when we begin to admire and appreciate more deeply. One can begin to fall in love with the mysterious microcosm of the body, their own body, and the self; one can easily begin to value the temple vehicle of both body and earth. With value comes respect, and taking care of our home becomes a priority rather than an emergency. With this simple shift in consciousness, behaviors may rapidly alter and everyone will gain.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and science.”