Late Summer is the Season of the Earth Element

Red River Valley in late August

Since starting this regular blog earlier in the year, we’ve been writing about each of the 5 elements in Chinese Medicine as they correspond to the seasons. We learned about spring, the season of wood, and summer, the season of fire. But in Chinese theory, there are 5 total seasons, one for each element. And there’s a bit of an in-between one which could be considered late summer/early fall. This is the season of the earth element and we are in the peak of it now, in early September.

I’m a summer girl (and fire element) through and through, so when it becomes obvious that the days are shortening and there’s a hint of chill in the air, to me it’s a depressing signal of the beginning of the end of my season of joy (though studying Chinese Medicine has helped me develop a better appreciation for all of the seasons and living in alignment with their spirit). But many people love the transition to fall (I’m looking at all you Pumpkin Spice Latte fans). So for all of you, here’s a bit on this 5th season and the Earth element.

It makes good sense to associate late summer/early fall with earth, because this is really all about the harvesting of summer’s abundance and efforts. Thanksgiving may come a bit more towards Winter in the Western calendar, but these months (roughly August/September) are really the prime time to reap the fruits of the land. It’s no surprise the Jewish new year and high holidays fall in this window.

Elements also correspond to personality types and Earth people are, as you might guess, grounded, nurturing souls. These are the folks who are warm, affectionate, generous, and deeply supportive. My wife and second mother are hardcore Earths. They show love through cooking/baking, and don’t know what to do with themselves if they’re not caregiving for people. So not exactly who I am, but a great person to get a big hug from when shit falls apart.

All elements can get out of balance. When Earth types get out of balance with excess, they can be over-bearing or even prone to martyrdom. They can also over-indulge in food, especially sweets. When their imbalance is a deficiency, they may be come overly filled with worry, and can be prone to meddling or over-thinking.

In order to embrace the spirit of this bonus season, take some time to savor the last days of warmth and the memories of summer and to indulge in nourishing in-season produce, and some sweets (in moderation). Go for a walk or run and feel the ground under your feet. If you’re an Earth type, this is a great time to host a (socially distanced) cookout. If you’re not, consider letting an Earth type spoil you a bit more than you’d usually allow.

I am writing this from my home town of Fargo, ND. I’m back on a dual care giving mission for my aging parents. I am not a natural at this, at least not in the way I imagine you are supposed to be. All huggy and lovey-dovey. But I’m glad to be here for this 5th season, when the Dakotas are at their peak in terms of weather tolerability. It feels more like an in between season than Maryland where I usually live- there it just keeps staying hot and humid. I’m hoping the Earth season helps me cultivate a better caregiving presence for my parents while I’m here. I also know how important self-care is, especially when you’re taking care of others. I’ve kept a daily running practice while here to spend some time outside alone recharging my batteries, and also to just literally ground with the pavement under my feet.

What’s your favorite thing about this in-between season? How do you nurture your own self and take time to recharge from the busy summer?

Related:

Summer is the Season of Joy

Spring is the Season of Wood

Grounding with the Earth and Sea

Sleep and the Chinese Elements

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