The Earth Element: Pivots and Transformations

As with the other elements, Earth is associated with organs (stomach and spleen), meridians, and a time of the year. While the other elements are associated with specific seasons of the year (Fire with summer, Metal with fall, Water with winter, and Wood with spring), Earth is usually associated with the end of summer, the time of harvest, and does not have a season to itself.

However, the function of Earth element to create transformations in energy (most notably, the transformation of food into a form of energy that the body can use, called gu qi) causes it also to be associated with the transformation of each season into the next -the transitional times between summer and fall, fall and winter, winter and spring, and spring and summer are each associated with the power of Earth. These pivots between the seasons have been considered extremely useful times to receive acupuncture treatment in order to facilitate our capacity to move easily between the seasons with optimal health.

The transformations facilitated by function of the Earth element include transformation of food into qi, information into knowledge, and what we see, smell, touch and hear into emotional or non-cognitive knowing and intelligence. Rumination and worry are what happen when we are not transforming information into knowledge (whether it be verbal, cognitive information or emotional and kinesthetic information). Instead, we replay conversations or ideas over and over again with a failure to integrate their meaning. Students can easily over tax their Spleen qi with excessive hours spent digesting new information. When our Earth qi is functioning well, we absorb and integrate information with ease and are able to apply this new knowledge.

In our bodies, the Earth allows for thorough digestion of food, the nourishment and growth of healthy muscles, and the circulation of fluids. On the mental and emotional level, Earth is reflected in our integration of information that allows us to mature intellectually and emotionally. Spiritually, Earth empowers our capacity to know ourselves as givers and receivers of nurturance and a knowledge of ourselves as belonging here, on Earth.