In the world around us, the Earth element is what we stand on! It manifests in all the structures around us – the planet itself, the structure of the trees, and the landscape around us. The qualities of Earth are that it is strong and stable, consistent, and dependable.
Each element changes in relationship to those around it. It can be either damp or dry depending on its relationship to the Water element at different stages. Think of the boggy, muddy dog walks in spring when the rain is frequent, compared to the dryness of icy days or during a hot summer. Earth can be warm or cold, depending on the season and how active the Fire element is, but left alone it would be cold. When we aerate the soil in spring for planting seeds it becomes light and fluffy, when the Air element is absent from it, it becomes dense and compact.
In your body, the Earth element is represented by your bones, your structure. So it governs the musculo-skeletal system and it also has a link to digestion – taking nourishment into the body and building with it – for example minerals like calcium and iron that make bone and blood.
The Earth element is linked to the ROOT of a plant and in my tradition, it is linked to the season of Winter, when plants and animals hide away underground in the embrace of the physical earth to stay safe and warm until Spring arrives again.
The elements can cause us problems when they are out of balance with the others. Too much of any quality is not good! Unchecked strength and stability become rigidity, immobility, and inflexibility – and this can be physical or mental. Lack of movement causes stagnancy, coldness, slowing metabolism, weight gain, and low mood.
HERBS OF EARTH
The Earth element governs the roots of a plant – which is simple if you think about it. That is the part that lives in the ground, it is the place where the plant builds up from and the place where it takes nourishment from the ground. It is also the place where roots store their sugars over winter – these plants tend to be ones we use as foods, like carrots or potatoes.
Roots that we use medicinally include dandelion and burdock. Both of these plants are mildly bitter in taste and support our digestion to process our food. They are helpful when we have mild constipation, or feel sluggish and bloated. These could be classed as the Earth element being out of balance and slowing things down.
If you recognise that the Earth element could be out of balance within you, try drinking dandelion root daily. You can buy dandelion roots dried or harvest them yourself in spring and autumn (be careful that you know the land is clear of pesticides or pollutants). Simply scrub the roots, chop and dry them in a low oven.