Donna Carey, LAc and Ellen F. Franklin, PhD
Oriental Medicine Journal, Earth/Late Summer 2015
Whoever wishes to investigate medicine should proceed thus: In the first place, investigate the seasons of the year and what effects each of them produces.
Located at 8000 feet in a rural community in Northern New Mexico, we grow our own food and work to create models that support living sustainably. Our work with Acutonics, which is a form of integrative medicine rooted in East Asian Medicine, extends into the ways we grow food and eat appropriately for the seasons. We draw from our knowledge of human physiology, our understanding of the meridians, planetary science, and sound vibration as well as an ever-present awareness of the Five Elements and the seasons. Living on 35 acres, we also feel a strong connection to the Earth. Our forested acres are adjacent to the Carson National Forest, offering us an intimate relationship to the forests, underground springs, and waters that make this high desert oasis feel particularly abundant. Our quarter acre pond is also a breeding ground and home to many migratory birds, including the majestic Blue Heron. On a deep cellular level we have direct daily experience of the capricious nature of Mother Earth, a powerful force that is represented within the Five Elemen
The Earth and the Five Elements
There are two related seasonal correspondences that link to the element of Earth – late summer, which here in the northern hemisphere is August transitioning to September, and Indian Summer, that period between September and October when the last warm, light-filled days give way to the cooler weather and a new textural awareness that takes us into autumn. There is a still-point when the lush and bountiful fruitsand vegetables are in their final harvest and we breathe in the lush scents of the season.
The Earth energy of late summer provides a solid foundation for growth in the seasons to come. We feel it in the soil beneath our feet, the abundant plant life, and the mountain vistas that are just beginning to transition from brilliant greens to the first golden colors of autumn. Giant sunflowers line the roadsides and edge our gardens, and the harvest is brought in daily. The root cellar shelves are filled with produce to carry us through the long winter months. Late summer is a critical turning point as we emerge from the hot, very active yang energy of summer into the cooler, nesting energy of yin.
During this time it is not uncommon to experience fatigue from over-exertion. In what ways can you boost energy while limiting those activities that result in over-exertion or over-eating? Having too much to do often results in emotional stress or a lack of sleep from worry about what needs to be accomplished. This is definitely an opportunity to move into more relaxed modes. Enjoy the fresh foods, absorb the last heat of summer, and slow down into a place of stillness and the stability of this grand season, which rests in the very center of Nature’s cycle of cycles. This time of the Earth element is a perfect time to adjust your diet and exercise routines. Consider how you would like to slow down to rest mind and body.
The Earth and the archetypal energy of the mother, or mythic Great Mother, are truly inseparable. A key concept associated with the archetypal mother is nourishment, not only how we feed ourselves, but how we support ourselves and others with generosity, compassion, empathy, and creativity. Earth allows us to celebrate our own harvest, finish those stubborn projects, appreciate all our innovations, and value our accomplishments. In right relationship with Earth we feel comfortable, at home, and confident that there is enough for everyone.
Earth also relates to transitional times, or the in-between times and seasons throughout the year, when autumn changes to winter, winter to spring, and spring to summer. During these powerful shifts, Earth lends support, helping us to remember that there is enough time to plant seeds, bloom, and grow as we transcend the frenetic activity of spring and summer into a more centered and focused perspective. Think of this as the great harvest, where on a practical level we save seeds, store foods, can, freeze, and, dehydrate to prepare the abundant harvest to carry us through the winter. In winter, we have the opportunity to rest and restore, and revert to our root essence. Earth is the mud, and the glue that holds all things together, providing support that might be represented as an interconnected and beautifully woven textile.
The spleen and stomach relate to the Earth element providing nutrients to build blood and muscles and create energy for all the organs, tissues, and fascia. It is also associated with the mechanisms of digestion, distribution of nutrients, and regulation of blood-sugar levels. When out of balance, there is indigestion, nausea, gas, bloating, stool irregularity, muscle issues, swollen legs, fatty tumors, edema, and obesity.
He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the skills of the physician.—Chinese Proverb
Mythic and Archetypal Earth
From the beginning of time the act of creation has been linked to the Mother and to visions of Earth that are ripe with symbolism of creation, birth, death, and renewal, aspects of life that connect us with the natural world. One symbol that is found in many of these early creation myths is the world egg or round. In Taoism, the perfect round represents the Wu Qi, something which is complete yet has no form, the state of being before the creation. The Tai Qi is the round that contains the perfect balance between day and night, male and female, heaven and Earth, yin and yang. These concepts are found in the Chinese creation myth of P’an Ku who emerges from a giant cosmic egg to create the perfectly balanced world of yin and yang, the mountains, rivers, Milky Way, and all the animals of the Earth. However, it is Nü Wa, the Chinese creator god, who, in some myths, is credited with the creation of the first humans from yellow Earth. Another Earth deity found in the literature of ancient China is Hou Tu, the spirit of the Earth, identified with the soil and harvest. Sacrifices and shrines were erected to her; and in some texts she is an assistant deity to the Yellow Emperor, god of the Celestial Center, and one of the four guides. She was equipped with a rope to survey the Earth. In a similar reference, the Yellow Emperor governed the center of the world, and Hou Tu served as its spirit.
Nü Wa and the Creation of Humanity
In a time long, long ago, there was a goddess named Nü Wa. She travelled the wild and unpopulated world created by P’an Ku; and, although she marveled at the beauty of the world, she was very lonely. As she wandered the Earth, she came and sat by a beautiful clear lake. Seeing her reflection, she realized that she was truly alone on this vast world, and there was no one like her. She longed for companions; and, observing the yellow clay at the shore of the lake, she reached for it. Feeling its warmth and stability, she began to work the clay. In a few moments she found herself molding the clay into forms, human forms. The work was exhausting as each human was hand crafted. Tired from her endeavors, she devised a way to simplify the creation process. She took a rope and trailed it through the yellow clay. As the clay began to dry on the rope, she shook it. As the drops of clay fell, they scattered far and wide to become the men and women who populate the Earth. Nü Wa was no longer alone.
Perhaps it was through her creations, or the newly formed Earth’s instability, that the four pillars holding up Heaven and Earth broke. Thus Nü Wa, creator of humanity, deeply felt her responsibility to them, and she took it upon herself to restore order to the world, repair the broken sky, and support Yu in the control of the floods.
When the four pillars supporting the sky collapsed, the sky was no longer able to cover the Earth, and the Earth could no longer support the world. Thus the nine provinces of ancient China were destroyed. Fires and floods prevailed, and the old and weak struggled to survive against the wild beasts and birds. Nü Wa responded quickly to this tragedy, melting stones of five different colors to repair the azure sky. She then took the legs of the great turtle to secure the four sky pillars, and she tracked and killed the Black dragon that was devouring the innocent people. She also quickly collected reeds and ashes to stop the floods. With the sky renewed, the four sky pillars are securely in place, the flood is contained, and the nine divisions of China once again are peaceful and abundant. Satisfied that Earth and the Heavens are in harmony Nü Wa travels the lands to intermingle, appreciate, and celebrate with her creations.
How to Nourish the Earth Element
Just as we harvest the abundant gardens, it is a time to harvest in your own life. Enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons, slightly cooler temperatures, and golden colors. Relax and find ways to nourish yourself and your family. If the weather is hot in this season, eat slightly sweet and moisture-rich foods like cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, zucchini, beets (especially golden), cherries, plums, yellow tomatoes, apricots, peaches, pineapple, and papaya. As the weather turns cooler, eat things like sweet potatoes, millet, pumpkin, quinoa, carrots, garbanzo beans, fennel, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and nutmeg.
Most importantly, eat local and organic foods. Soups, stews, sautés, and steamed foods help with the assimilation process and take less digestive energy, function, and fire than raw foods. Eat less and think about how to move more slowly, finding time to rest, relax, and renew. Take time to meditate or walk in nature
Specific Points and Tuning Forks to Nourish Your Earth Element
Here is a simple treatment approach that can be done with the Acutonics tuning forks (or acupuncture needles) on yourself or your clients. The tools used in this protocol are the Earth Moon Professional Set, which is taught in Acutonics Level I. To learn more about Acutonics or to find a class in your area, visit our website at www.acutonics.com.
Begin and end treatments with the sound of Ohm, which represents the sound of the Earth as it travels through the four seasons. Working with the Ohm Unison or Ohm Octave Tuning Forks enables us to ground and connect to the energy of the Earth. When working with tuning forks, it is important to activate them and allow the vibration to run out before reactivating and reapplying to the point. Apply to each point one to three times, depending on need.
Use the following sequence:
KID 1 (Yong quan), Gushing Spring
This point calms the spirit, grounds, and promotes balance. We recommend its use to begin and end treatments. It is used to calm the mind and to reduce insomnia, agitation, fear, and headaches on the top of the head (vertex), hypertension, and dizziness. It also helps us connect to Earth.
Apply Ohm Unison
The Four Gates of Heaven - Li 4 (He gu), Union Valley, and LIV 3 (Tai chong), Great Surge
These two points are used together and are known as the Four Gates. They are excellent for opening up blocked energy that may present as edginess, irritability, pain, spasms, and feelings of frustration or being stuck. Since we are in a seasonal transition time, this is an excellent point combination for creating movement that accelerates and supports transitions.
Apply Zodiac 3rd to move and circulate qi and blood.
Three Treasures – DU 20 (Bai hui), REN 4 (Guan yuan), and REN 17 (Shan zhong)
DU 20, REN 4, and REN 17 are known collectively as the Three Treasures. They represent Heaven, Earth, and Humanity. Begin on DU 20, a powerful spiritual resource point (divine will); move to Ren 4 to root these energies to Earth (personal will); and end on Ren 17, the palace of your heart (humanity)
Apply Ohm Unison, New Moon 5th
ST 40 (Feng long), Abundant Splendor
Activates channel and alleviates pain. It provides access to the treasures of the Earth, the abundance of the seasons, and helps with self-nurturance.
Apply Earth Day 5th to strengthen the Earth element.
ST 25 (Tian shu), Celestial Pivot
Eliminates stagnation in our lives while regulating energy and blood, facilitates movement on all levels.
Apply Earth Day 5th to strengthen the Earth element.
SP 6 (San yin jiao), Three yin intersection
This point is also called the great yin, since it is the meeting point of the Spleen, Liver, and Kidney channels. It is used to nourish and build the blood, treat anxiety, insomnia, deficiency, headaches, pain, and many female disorders.
Apply Earth Day 5th and Full Moon 6th to nourish blood and support assimilation.
ST 36 (Zu san li), Leg Three Li
This point is also known as the lower sea of qi. It restores and builds energy, improves digestion, and strengthens the Stomach. It is indicated for all types of digestive disturbances including gas, bloating, nausea, loose stools, and poor appetite. It also builds and supports the immune system.
Apply Earth Day 5th and Full Moon 6th to build qi and support digestion.
We recommend pairing two Extraordinary Vessels, Ren Mai and Chong Mai, to build blood, essence, and stamina, and to move through transitions. The opening point of the vessel lights up or activates the vessel, and the balance point holds the energy of the vessel.
Ren Mai, The Sea of yin, Conception Vessel
LU 7 (Lie que), Broken Sequence, Opening Point. KID 6 (Zhao hai), Shining Sea, Balance Point. The Ren Mai is excellent for circulating qi in the body, and directing all of the Yin channels as well as the Stomach channel, and it nourishes the uterus and genital system.
Chong Mai, Sea of Blood, Penetrating Vessel
SP 4 (Gong sun), Grandparent’s Grandchild, Opening Point.
P 6 (Nei guan), Inner Gate, Balance Point.
The Chong Mai influences the movement of qi and blood throughout the body. It is connected to the Spleen, Liver, and Kidney; links the qi between the Kidneys and Stomach; and is excellent for any blood deficiencies and trauma.
Conclude your treatment by reapplying Ohm Unison to KID 1 (Yong quan), Gushing Spring.
Recipes for an Abundant Harvest
As the Earth season is a time of abundance, the crops are ripe, and all of nature is pregnant and ready to fulfill and nourish us. We can draw on this wealth to usher in a harvest in our own lives. Earth helps us to find the most suitable nourishment that will balance body, mind, and spirit, with empathy and compassion. In the time of the Earth we are able to support ourselves and help others with a deep understanding that there is enough for everyone.
This salad is simple to make and a welcome treat on those hot, late days of summer. Chop tomatoes into chunks, using a mix of colorful varieties. Include red, pink, purple, green, and yellow tomatoes, if you are fortunate to have so many varieties.
Add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste.
Toss with lots of fresh chopped basil.
Drizzle with olive oil and your choice of balsamic vinegar. (Chili Fig is yummy
Green Chili Polenta and Garden Red Sauce
Work with the vegetables you have on hand, but here is an example of what we use, with approximate quantities to create a dinner for six with some left over.
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1-2 Onions chopped
6 – 8 cloves of garlic
3 to 4 medium carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 orange pepper
1 yellow pepper
1-2 yellow summer squash
1-2 green summer squash
1 medium bulb of fennel
8 cups of fresh chopped tomatoes
Fresh basil, thyme, oregano, and parsley to taste
Smoked salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onions, garlic, carrots, celery, yellow and green summer squash, red and yellow sweet peppers, and fennel in olive oil to blend and release flavors. Add fresh, finely chopped herbs to taste—basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, and a nice smoked salt to deepen and enhance flavors. Transfer to large stockpot and add lots of tomatoes of your choice: Roma, reds, greens, yellows, and the many crosses that occur from home gardening. Add pepper and salt, some lime or lemon juice, and a little sugar if you like a sweeter sauce. A dash of chipotle and lots of red wine will deepen and enrich the sauce. Let cook until the consistency you like is reached. We prefer a chunky sauce so we don’t puree; however, if you prefer a smoother sauce, use an emersion blender to bring it to your preferred consistency.
While sauce is cooking, make your polenta. Use corn grits in proportion of 1 cup of grits to 4 cups of water. Make sure you pour your grits into boiling water a little at a time, and whisk it on medium-low heat. Then turn down heat and cook covered for 30-40 minutes. You need to check often and keep whisking so it doesn’t settle on the bottom or sides of pan. Toward the end add a bunch of chopped and roasted green chilies to compliment the chipotles in the sauce. Add some butter and sheep Parmesan cheese. Pour into a pan and let cool. Slice and serve with heaps of red sauce and extra grated cheese on top. Serve with a fresh green salad and a medium bodied red wine like a Pinot Noir or young Sangiovese.•
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