Late Summer and the Earth Element

I call upon the Spirit of Center of Earth the Yi. It is our intellect and our capacity for clear thought, study and setting and keeping intention. Earth also gives us sympathy, devotion and the cultivation of our true purpose. Welcome Earth.

This is how I might invoke the Earth element when casting a circle. I am Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner and a Witch. A few years ago, I started calling the Five elements and incorporating spiritual acupuncture points in ritual as a way to deepen my knowledge and practice of both. I also began teaching my coven mates in Circle of Cerridwen about TCM by doing rituals for each element during its appropriate season.

This post will focus on the Earth element in Chinese Medicine. (For a general overview of the 5 elements, click here. For a chart of the 5 element associations, click here. And for a visual, here is a chart that shows the five element pentagram and how each element balances the others.)

The healing sound for the Earth element is Whoooooo. Close your eyes and imagine the colors yellow and orange. Say the healing sound: Whoooooo (If you’d like to hear a wonderful musical interpretation of each of the healing sounds, I recommend Six Healing Sounds by Yuval Ron and Dr. Richard Gold.)

The time for the Earth Element is Late Summer, around the 3rd week of August until Fall Equinox. It is a transitional time when summer is ending with an exclamation point, just like the heat wave we had in the Bay Area recently. It is also the time for the end of summer vacation and back to school and/or work.

I know it seems like Fall as soon as people start getting pumpkin spice lattes. I like to think of pumpkin spices as a mingling of the Earth element properties – foods that are orange and yellow help strengthen Earth. Herbs like cardamom, nutmeg and ginger help us to digest our foods better and are also good for the Earth element. More warming spices like cinnamon carry us through Fall and into the Winter.

The Spleen and Stomach belong to the Earth element. They help us digest information as well as food, hence the fact that they are good for helping us study and setting intention. The flip side of this is worry and obsessive behavior. Someone with a weakness in the Earth element may be worry a lot or at the extreme, they may by obsessive compulsive.

Some people may also have digestive weaknesses like diarrhea, stomach ache, or more severe intolerances to food like gluten intolerance or a shellfish allergy. In some schools of thought, the Stomach and Spleen are at the core of our immune system, as we will see with the acupuncture point Stomach 36.

Yi is the spirit of the Earth element Lorie Eve Dechar writes in her book Five Spirits:

When the yi is fulfilling its function, we fully commit ourselves to manifesting our destiny and bringing the light of our spirits into the world around us. The yi is the soul aspect that lets the world know that we mean to stand by our dreams . . .

The yi endow us with the power to stand behind our words through committed, persevering action. Throughout them, we stay with our task and stay on our path. And through them we gain the capacity to digest experiences and impressions and turn them into usable ideas that empower our action into the world. – Dechar, Lorie Eve, Five Spirits pp. 216-217

As you will see later, I use the idea of setting intention as the main part of a ritual about the Earth element.

Each acupuncture channel has points with spiritual properties. Here I’ll discuss some points each on the Spleen and Stomach channels. Spleen 3 “Supreme White” or “Venus”- Earth within Earth, Source point, located on the medial side of the foot here: Spleen 3
This point can be used at any time but 9-11am and during late summer are the times for the Spleen.

Lonny Jarrett says the name “Supreme white” is

archetypal of the spleen’s function and one of the most important points for empowering the earth element’s virtues of integrity and reciprocity. Integrity emerges when there is a congruence between our intentions, our speech, and our actions . . . Sp-3 can help rectify our relationship to our mothers as it is embodied in our dysfunctional relationship to our own center. In this way, we may become more self-reliant and less dependent on the sympathy and caretaking of others. Increasingly content and able to provide for our own needs, we may be moved to share our abundance altruistically with others  – Jarrett, Lonny S., The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine p 661

Stomach 36 “Leg Three Miles”; Earth within Earth point, located on the lateral side of the lower leg, here:

Stomach 36

Stomach 36

This point can be used at any time but 7am-9am and late summer are the times for the Stomach.

If I were alone on a desert island and only had a few acupuncture needles, I would absolutely needle Stomach 36. It is one of the best points in the body to strengthen our immune system. It also helps with all kinds of digestive issues, helps alleviate depression. It helps us to help ourselves.

About Stomach 36, Jarrett says:

The virtue of balance is predicated on the earth’s virtue of integrity. As our centers are made strong through the alignment of our thoughts, intentions, and deeds, our movements become guided by un unyielding center . . . A strong well-functioning center is proof that our efforts in life have nourished and strengthened us . . . p. 637

How do I use these points ritually?

Last year, I placed little press-needles or seeds on these acupuncture points on myself and my coven mates. Focusing on the Yi and intention, and the “committed, persevering action” that Dechar describes, I said a protection prayer for the people of Ferguson, Missouri:

adapted from Protection Prayer by Kristyn Simmons (please note this site no longer works):

Goddess, inside your Motherly arms

I seek protection from negative forces that surround the people of Ferguson, Missouri who are fighting for justice after the murder of Michael Brown

Protect their minds from hurtful thoughts and images

Protect their mouths from speaking harsh and unnecessary words

Protect their bodies from physical harm

Protect their homes from the energy that seeks to destroy

Protect their children and guide them to be of strong heart and mind in the face of adversity

Protect the spirits of the people in Ferguson, MO and guide them this day

May they find strength and power in you. For my strength and power I find in you.

For that ritual, I made apricots stuffed with crème fraîche for the “cakes” and date and ginger tea for the “ale” which are good for the Earth element. I use crème fraîche for the recipe because it is fermented, which is better for digestion.

This year, I began the journey of making essential oil combinations for each of the Chinese elements with help of a friend of mine who works with essential oils. I explained to her that I wanted to make them in ritual space, and then to be able to use them in rituals. We came up with for Earth two different blends, one that’s grounding, and one that’s clearing. I plan on using them in future rituals, as an option to use on acupuncture points, and also to evoke the grounding or clearing properties as needed.

Dechar writes:

Healing involves strengthening a person’s center. It means being able to listen inside to one’s own voice. And it also means having the power to move from the realm of abstract ideas into concrete action. Thus we nourish the seeds of our dreams. p. 226

What is your inner voice telling you? What dreams do you want to bring to reality? These are some ways to incorporate the Earth element into ritual. Next up, look for my blog on the Metal element in Autumn. (You can also read my past posts about the Wood element and the Fire element.)

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