Fed Lavishly By All of Life

earth medicine late summer nourishment Sep 09, 2021
Sunflower at Late Summer

Summer is a sensual playground. 

Even as its full flame begins to transform into the golden glow of Late Summer, we are surrounded by the kinetic erotism of tawny legs refusing cover, the smell left on skin from tangled Tomato vines, and Sunflower heads heavy with seeds and Goldfinches. 


I take great delight in the fact that Eastern medicine considers Late Summer, and its corresponding Earth Element, its own special season. The old, primordial powers of the Five Elements shape our body’s health and internal ecosystem, and act as a doorway through which we can come to remember that we are an embodiment of nature’s cycles. 


Honestly, it is ridiculous how nature spoils us in abundance. There is really no way to ever be sufficiently grateful for all we have been given. The heaviness that starts to gather on the land at this time rises up in one last push of expansion. We hear the Earth whisper: “I nourish.” At the same time, we feel that same heaviness begin to sink, decline, and fall back to the ground, the fall winds rustling, “I transform.” 


The Earth generously does a last call: “come give and receive, come nourish and assimilate before it is too laaaaaate.”  (Some years she holds that last note longer than others). If the fruits of Late Summer are not actively used or eaten in some form, they will rot. On a physical level, the Earth Element relates to the rotting and receiving of our digestive systems (particularly within our spleens, stomachs, pancreases, and mouths), dutifully in charge of abstracting all sources of acquired life force from the air, water, food, and sunlight. In a broader way, this includes how we digest experiences and stimulus from our environment, determining how we process anything that comes our way. 


When out of balance, we may not digest our lives well. This can present as poor boundaries, brooding, worrying, or looping in obsessive thought patterns, almost thinking for thinking's sake without any deeper resolution, as if we are chewing on the same mouthful of food forever without ever swallowing. And just as we may experience sluggish physical digestion, we may also struggle with a psychospiritual phlegm, hanging on to unfinished business or unconsciously believing that “I am not enough to nourish others and life is not enough to nourish me.”


We learn nourishment from our mothers, from our families, and from our society at large. There are thousands of ways to seek mediocre nourishment, but it is more challenging to connect with what genuinely enriches our lives. The truth is that most of us skim the surface of sustenance from our choices in life, the people, the food, the images, the entertainment, and the other environments we choose to engage in. We are taught to be overly fixated on external sources of nutriment, taking and extracting, without focusing on a soul nutrition that fills our true inner needs.


The spirit question of the Earth Element invites us to personally search our hearts and ask: “How do I give and receive nourishment?”


When I ask myself this question, I feel currents of inherent enoughness run through me.


I am nourished by a pot of tea made from last year's harvest. I need nothing to sweeten it with. Cup, hot water, living plant bodies. It is enough.


I am nourished by sitting in a field of delicate blooming Valerian and I have no need to harvest, no need to take anything. It is enough.


I am nourished by walking the trails through Ghost Pipe and then Huckleberry to reach the country of the Sky Beings. I need no snacks, no cashews, no figs, just the nourishment of the clouds themselves. It is enough.


A gorgeous, thoughtfully made dinner, qi-stirring poetry, or a late night heart-to-heart with a dear friend can be profoundly rich, but let's also remember to receive sustenance beyond our human relationships. How might an enhanced and diversified sense of intimacy with the living world sustain us? With relatedness our hearts are fed lavishly by wanting nothing at all. Without relatedness we eat and drink and live luxuriously but touch nothing.


When Comfort has been shaken out of its bed, when Reassurance has been blindfolded and spun around, when Hope is as lost as the rest of us, the only place I really feel nurtured is with the Stone Beings. I find it psychologically therapeutic and spiritually broadening to go to the Mountains, the Rocks, the Elder Boulders. When I enter their time, presence, and energy, I remember that this planet is very, very old and its storytelling is woven in slow stitches of making and unmaking.


Ironically, the seemingly stable Mountains tell us that nothing on Earth is solid; the future is always waiting to rise anew. I feel nourished by entering this ancestral space, like the Rocks move me in a cradle made from the very bones of the Earth. I feel nourished by remembering that their time frames are not understandable to our human minds, that there are always layers of depth that are concealed from us. I feel nourished by not attempting to understand this depth but to make space for a radical not-knowingness and mystery. 


In these changing times, perhaps our sense of nourishment will have a chance to swell, deepen, mature even. As we continue to decentralize humans from the global story, it offers an opportunity to let someone else lead for a while. We can let the Moon lead, let the Fireflies lead, let the Apple fat on the branch lead, allowing us to surrender control as a life-sustaining act. At times, we may feel lost but this wild family of ours is not lost. When we are no longer dictating to the Earth what its fate will be, we can find nourishment in our emancipation from dying narratives of separation, nourishment in being present with the living joy that is always eagerly awaiting us.


Originally published by Nature Evolutionaries as 'Earth Nourishment'