“The way of the Creative works through change and transformation,
so that each thing receives its true nature and destiny
and comes into permanent accord with the Great Harmony.
This is what furthers and what perseveres.”
~~ I Ching
Greetings my precious people!!
We are at the midway point of August, and Nature is beginning her transition from Fire element (ruled by the Heart) to Earth element (ruled by the Spleen/Stomach), entering into the time called “Late Summer.” The long, endless days of summer are winding down and we find ourselves settling into the season of the Earth element – the season of harvest. It’s time to take stock in the celebration and abundance of summer and let that nourish our body and mind.
The foundations of Chinese Medicine state there are five natural elements that exist within us, as they do in nature and each season belongs to a particular element with unique correspondences. When we are aligned with nature’s patterns and cycles, we can support our own health and stay well year-round. In late Summer, it is the Earth element that is the most active and also the most vulnerable. With appropriate diet and lifestyle adjustments, we can cultivate a healthy Earth element, a strong gut and optimal immunity.
Earth can be a gentle rolling hill, a long golden beach, or a majestic mountain range. Within us, Earth is represented as family and friends, the fabric of our life that we create and nurture with integrity. The Earth element belongs to a “fifth season” that spans from the hazy days following the peak of summer to the start of fall. During this time of year, we focus on the digestive system, nourishment, and stability.
The Spleen and Stomach meridians belong to the Earth element, and they play a very important role in our overall health and wellbeing. Back in 1180 CE, Chinese physician Li Dong Yuan founded the Earth School because he believed the etiology of most diseases was a result of injury to the digestive system. According to the Earth School, the Spleen and Stomach are the center of one’s health, and these teachings remain relevant in today’s practice, especially in light of the recent research on the relationship between gut health and immunity.
The Spleen is in charge of making our body’s qi and blood, vital substances needed to stay healthy. Additionally, the Spleen “holds” the blood in the vessels, and ascends energy to prevent prolapse of various organs like the uterus and bladder. Most importantly, the Spleen transforms the food we eat into energy and transports that nutritive energy (“ying qi”) to other parts of our body. When the Spleen is weak or out of balance, various health issues from digestive to gynecological to emotional arise.
The emotion associated with the Spleen is worry. With its connection to the mind and thinking, the “Yi”, the spirit of the Spleen, is prone to worry, anxiety, and overthinking. When caught in this loop, Spleen Qi deficiency symptoms arise, like digestive weakness, IBS, and fatigue. Meditation, gentle breathing practices and easy exercises such as walking and gardening help center the mind and are very important for Spleen health.
The Earth element relates to issues of dampness (humidity, heaviness, phlegm) – the climate of late summer. Dampness shows up in the body in many ways: physical fatigue, mental fatigue, worry, digestive problems, and muscle weakness to name a few. Because the Spleen and Stomach meridian systems are particularly impacted by dampness, food therapy becomes an important path to keep everything on track.
The Earth element thrives on a nourishing diet, and nutritional therapy related to the Spleen is key for maintaining good and balanced health. Cold raw food creates dampness in the Spleen, interfering with the transportation and transformation of nutrients and energy, and the ability to produce qi and blood, which can lead to a variety of health imbalances. Maintaining warmth in the Earth center of the body is very important.
Warm it up!! As summer draws to a close, it’s time to phase out your consumption of cold raw foods, including smoothies, ice water, and salads. Dairy, refined sugars, and fatty and greasy foods also contribute to dampness. Do include warm, cooked meals. Aromatic spices like ginger, fennel, coriander, caraway, and cardamom help to warm things up, resolve dampness, and strengthen the Spleen Qi.
Say yes to sweet. Sweet flavors, in small amounts, favor the Spleen and Stomach (unfortunately we are not talking about ice cream). Sweet foods that strengthen the Earth element include whole grains, like millet, rice, and root vegetables, such as yams, sweet potatoes and carrots. Enjoy the sweet fruits and veggies that are in season and available in the late summer harvest.
Don’t skip breakfast. According to the Chinese Medicine clock, the Stomach has optimal digestive capacity between 7-9am. Your meal should be substantial and fortifying. A good breakfast strengthens the stomach and spleen qi and yang for the day. Optimal breakfast foods are energetically warming foods, prepared with warm cooking methods that stimulate the body and do not spread dampness. A favorite in Chinese Medicine food therapy is breakfast congee, a highly nourishing and healing way to start the day.
The color of the Earth is yellow. The Su Wen Chapter 10 states that, “yellow corresponds to the Spleen”. Eating foods that are yellow and orange are especially supportive for Spleen health. Examples include squash, sweet potato, yams, corn, papaya, and carrots.
Find your center. The Earth element is about stability, nurturance, caregiving, and bounty. Seek activities that keep you centered and grounded; focus on what nourishes and fulfills you and those you care about. With fall just around the corner, the season of “letting go”, we will soon think about the things we have too much of and begin the process of releasing, clearing, and simplifying.
Be mindful about what you mentally ingest. As our focus turns to the health of our Spleen and Stomach organ systems and its relationship to the “Yi”- the spirit of our mind and intellect- we need to be mindful about what we MENTALLY ingest, as well. This is a perfect time of year to think about our relationship with social media and the news and to create boundaries around screen time.
And finally- sing like no one’s listening! Every element has an associated sound, through which it expresses itself. The sound of the Earth element is “singing”. Whether your stage is the shower, the car, or a stage, get those vocal chords warmed up and sing your heart out!
In Chinese Medicine, we take seasonal changes as opportunities to better our health and prevent disease. Just like the seasons cycle, our health is not a fixed state. When there are changes in nature, it’s important that we adjust to the natural rhythms and flow of the Earth. Addressing our health in this way will help us cultivate balance, harmony, and holistic health throughout the year. Now is the time to reinforce the vitality of the Earth element and Spleen Qi – acupuncture, food therapy, and mindfulness are particularly supportive.
The transition from summer to fall can be tough, and some people dread this time of year. Resistance to the changing seasons can cause stagnation in the body and weaken the immune system. Acupuncture helps our body and mind move effortlessly with seasonal changes.
Fall is the season of the Metal element and the Lung meridian – and of course, when colds, flus, and seasonal allergies circulate. Cultivating a balanced Earth element and strong Spleen qi in the late summer contributes to a stronger immune system and healthy lungs in the fall. Preventative medicine is the best medicine!
Over the next few weeks, quiet your mind. Enjoy the last of Summer’s fiery heat. Take notice of the changes taking place around you as Late Summer makes its approach. Allow yourself time to reconnect—with yourself, with others, and with Nature. Spend time in your garden. Enjoy its bounty before it is time to till the soil and plant Fall crops. Take a walk on the beach. Feel the wind on your face and the sun on your skin. Enjoy this very moment, as it is right now. Breathe in and out, allowing Nature to transform you as it journeys through its own transitions.
- Smile from your Heart. Look in the mirror and smile. Now do it again, and really give yourself a genuine smile—one that makes your whole body tingle. Now that you know what that feels like, practice it on everyone that you see.
- Be peaceful. Carve some time out of your day to meditate, sit peacefully, or simply be in Nature. Let this peaceful feeling wash over you and stay with you throughout your day.
- Listen and trust your intuition. You were born with a powerful gift—the ability to self-heal. Tap into this gift by developing your intuition. Begin to listen to your body. What messages is it sending you?
- Eat seasonal foods. An abundance of fruits and vegetables are in season, from juicy watermelon and sweet berries to crunchy peppers and pungent garlic. Eating in-season foods keeps your body in tune with Nature. Eat lighter foods that are cooling in nature, such as watermelon, plum tomatoes, broccoli, and broccoli rabe. You can also add mangoes, cucumbers, and avocados to your dishes.
As we move from the Season of Summer where the Fire element and the Heart have been the focus, it is interesting to see the correspondence of the astrological influences that are also focused around matters of the Heart during this transition. Take a look at this week’s astrological transits, with insights from Hare in the Moon Astrology:
On August 8th, the Lions Gate Portal 8:8 was opened. This occurs every year between July 28 and August 12, with the pinnacle alignment focused on August 8. On this date, the brightest star in our sky, Sirius, begins to rise and aligns with the pyramids of Giza and is considered to be one of the most potent days of the year for manifesting. The ancients saw Sirius as the gateway to Heaven and it is our spiritual sun, burning 26x brighter than our actual sun. On Earth, the ancient Egyptians viewed this time as a great blessing of abundance and prosperity, as it signified the flooding of the Nile which brought with it fertile soil for the next year’s harvest to be planted. In numerology, 8 is the number of infinity, abundance, and the higher realm of consciousness where our spirits reside. The 8 is also the same shape as our DNA; the spiritual spiral serpent that contains the ancient codes for all life to reproduce infinitely.
The Gate is guarded by the Regulus Star Lions of Yesterday and Tomorrow, ensuring that those who pass through the portal are not attached to the past or the future, but are created with a focus on the Now or Zero Point. In order to cross this threshold and move to a higher time-line or bandwidth of experience, choose to be in your highest consciousness and centered in your High Heart.
On Sunday August 13, retrograde Venus merges with the Sun at the midpoint of her retrograde cycle, moving quite slowly across the zodiac nearest to the Earth and is, from our point of view, at her darkest. This Dark Venus Black Out is akin to a total eclipse of the heart – one of those times when some of your most precious hopes and dreams have fallen apart and dissolved in front of your eyes. While it’s tempting to think that something has gone wrong, some great cosmic mistake has been made, that you’ve failed, or been forsaken, in truth it’s an opportunity to bring your inner map up to date with your current reality – a kind of somatic and psychic restructuring.
If you’ve been paying attention to your emotional world since Venus began her retrograde on July 23rd, now is when you might start to gain some clarity around a difficult emotional, financial or personal issue. The threads that bind us to others are both fragile and immensely strong. When it becomes apparent that certain heart ties need to be cut to free you from a life you’ve outgrown, be both kind and resolutely clear.
Your own life is at stake – far better to escape from entanglements that drain you than to be strangled by duty or obligation. Start by moving in the direction of your true desires, no longer simply conforming to what you are supposed to want.
“At the center of your being,
you have the answer,
you know who you are and
you know what you want.”
~~ Lao Tzu