Chinese Five Elements theory has a fifth season, that of Late Summer. This season is ruled by the Element Earth and is concerned with nurturing, contentment; and the digesting of both foods and ideas. Earth loves grounding, touch and kindness. In turn it provides us with abundance, gentle warmth and the nourishment we require to sustain us through the colder darker months to come.
You might sense the subtle shift from Summer’s fiery connective energy to Late Summer’s earthy and stabilising energy from mid August as the heat dissipates, the days take on a golden quality and trees become heavy with ripening apples, pears and plums.
Earth energy is concerned with the spleen, which in its physical sense digests food and in its metaphysical form digests information. When we have “good spleen energy” our digestion is relaxed and we are able to focus; we feel a warm internal glow and we are able to make plans for nurturing our nearest and dearest through the seasons ahead.
When our spleen energies are low we may have difficulty digesting both food and new information; we may find it difficult to receive emotional nourishment and we may frequently feel tired and crave sweet foods.
- Invest in a holistic massage or carry out regular self massage. Hug and cuddle pets, lovers, family and friends. Touch is a fundamental human requirement that can simultaneously benefit you and other members of your household, whether you’re snuggling in front of the fire, holding hands while walking, giving a welcoming hug or rubbing your dog’s belly!
- Walk barefoot whenever you can – walking barefoot helps to develop and retain strong feet, to provide sensory stimulation and to get grounded. Studies show that regular grounding or earthing reduces stress and inflammation and improves sleep.
- Give yourself and others who live in your home the time to nest, to make your home space beautiful, clear and organised. After a summer spent largely outdoors, this is a good time to spend a little time getting your home ready for the colder part of the year. You might like to fill your store cupboards with delicious preserves, cover your sofa with plump cushions and stock up on golden beeswax candles.
- Allow yourself time to chew your food well. To digest food well also requires some level of calm for a while after the actual meal. Rushing our meals or eating on the run uses up vital energy in digestion which could be better used keeping us awake and focused.
- The spleen’s connection with the organisation of our thoughts relates to our back-to-school tradition of buying planners and notebooks. If this appeals to you even if you are no longer at school then this is a good time to indulge!
The flavour relating to Earth energy is sweet but it is important to remember that Earth can also be overwhelmed by too much sweetness. Naturally sweet and supportive foods include: root vegetables, gourds (such as pumpkin), grains (such as rice), nuts and spices such as cinnamon and ginger. Earth also relates to the golden hues of yellow and orange and so these foods double up quite nicely!
Have a look at these Late Summer Vegetable Dishes for some inspiration and look through your favourite recipe books for cakes, puddings and pies that include naturally sweet produce such as pumpkins, apples and blackberries.
Other Late Summer Lifestyle Suggestions
As Earth energy is ultimately about mothering, look for ways to mother, nourish, cherish, nurture and support yourself. If you find this difficult try writing a list of the way that you like to mother or nurture others; this is a great way to get clarity on the way you yourself wish to be mothered.
Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, whether that means taking time out for self-care practices; baking yourself something special, making yourself a temporary nest to retreat to or making a list of all the things you love about yourself.
Florence Neville: Seasonal Living in Late Summer (Blog post for State of Liberty)
Florence Neville: What to Eat in Late Summer (Blog post for State of Liberty)
Florence Neville: How to Sleep Well in Late Summer (Blog post for State of Liberty)