According to the Chinese metaphysical arts, each of the Five Elements – Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth – have a corresponding season. “How can that be?” you’re probably wondering.
The months of August and September are considered a separate season, called Late Summer. If you look at many of the ancient and pagan traditions, many harvest festivals begin in August. August and September are the months when many celebrated Earth festivals, a time of gathering of the crops, giving thanks to Mother Earth for the plentiful gifts and enjoying the fruits of the Earth.
In my Transylvanian homeland, 6th of August is celebrated as a Christian Orthodox religious day, however, the church actually “borrowed” the day from the pagan traditions of the land. It is called “the day when the face changes”. In the religious context it is related to Jesus Christ, in the pagan one, the face is the face of nature. The Sun still shines over the land, yet its rays do not scorch the land as it did in July. The pagan tradition says that nothing grows anymore in August, but everything that has grown already ripens and matures.
In the Chinese arts, late summer is the season of the Earth element.
In Chinese medicine, Earth governs our digestive system and all its components. Its Official name is The Granary.
The main two organs of the system are the Spleen (Yin) and the Stomach (Yang)
The main responsibilities of the Earth system in the human body:
- Transformation: digestion makes nutrients for the Blood by transforming the food intake
- Transformation: by combining nutritive Qi with the Qi from the Lungs (air), it produces the nutrients for all the internal organs and the Blood
- Transportation: Spleen moves Qi upwards so that the nutrients reach the Lung Qi and the organs
- Keeps everything in its place: just like Earth holds everything in place, Spleen holds the internal organs in their proper place inside the chest cavity, the muscles on the bones and the Blood in the vessels
Given its responsibilities, the Earth system governs over the following areas:
- Production and quality of Blood
- Muscle mass and limbs
- The mouth, the tongue and the sense of taste
- Intellectual activities, reasoning processes, memorising, logic and critical thinking
At a mental and emotional level, the Earth is affected by:
- Worry. “Worry knots the Qi”
- Obsessive thoughts
- Excessive intellectual activities, reasoning, problem solving and memorising
The Stomach, the Yang partner of the Spleen, gives the Spleen its ability to discern between what is important and what is not, both in the case of digestion and in case of mental processes.
Common Earth disorders in the body
At a physical level:
- gastritis (the digestive system chewing on its own parts),
- nutrient excesses and accumulations: obesity, fatty liver, gallstones, kidney stones
- nutrient deficiencies: lack of vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium
- lack of appetite and energy, ME, CFS
- organ prolapses, heavy bleeding: haemorrhages, heavy menstruation
- lack of menstruation, scanty menstruation
- metabolic diseases, such as diabetes
- muscular dystrophy
- any lumps, cysts and phlegm accumulations
At a mental and emotional level:
- overthinking, worry, anxiety, OCD
- mental fatigue, lack of focus, inability to memorise or think logically
- brain fog
People with the Earth blocked by worry fail to nurture themselves, by neglecting their needs and putting everyone else first, or they will overeat in an unconscious attempt to become bigger than their worries.
Also, by trying to do everything themselves, they will try to control the odds of the outcome, but also deplete their energy resources: “If I do this instead of waiting for my partner to do it, I don’t have to worry that it won’t be done properly or on time”, or “I cannot take a day off from work because they won’t manage without me”.
Sadly, a lot of our modern life has made us believe we have to be present and in control of everything at all times and many of us we feel guilty about taking breaks or “me” time in order to nurture ourselves.
How to Balance your Earth Element
Balancing one Element must address both the Element itself, but also the Elements that constitute its family.
For the Earth itself, nutrition and mindfulness are paramount. Too much sugar, sweet, pleasant tasting and processed foods destroy the digestive system, rendering it unable to extract the nutrients from genuine, nurturing foods. Nutrition therapy will teach us to consume foods that are nutritive for the whole body. Mindfulness helps settle the mind and help it find other coping mechanisms instead of reaching for comfort food to reduce the anxiety and worry. It also nourishes us to a very deep level and teaches us to let go of everything that is out of our control.
The Earth Element in the body depends on Fire, as it’s Parent and Wood, as its Grandparent. Fire governs over our ability to love and take pleasure from life. When unbalanced, Fire will lead to too much passion or appetite in life or a lack thereof. Wood is responsible for the free flow of all the substances and activities in the body. When Wood becomes too strong, it will crush the Earth with its roots, if too weak, Wood will fail to control it and Earth will not be able to “hold its ground”.
Fire benefits from mindfulness to learn to temper its tendency towards excesses and art therapy to learn to love life without agenda.
Wood benefits from fresh, green vegetables in the diet, but also from physical movement. Exercise is vital for the balance of Wood, and if this form of exercise combines gentle moves with breathing and meditation, Wood is a very happy camper.
The virtue governing over Earth is Trust. This virtue heals the system at all levels. We trust our instincts to choose nourishing food for the entire body. We trust our worries to a friend. We trust that the world will still be out there when we take “me” time to nourish ourselves. We trust our partners to do their best, we trust our children will be fine, even when we are no longer around. We trust we will still have our jobs by the time we come back from our sick leave. We trust the Universe will provide the best for us no matter what.
Balance Your Earth Element package contains:
- Nutrition recommendations
- Mindfulness meditation
- Acupressure & self-massage
- Written lessons