And with a deep exhale, the Earth slowly slinks into a deep slumber.
We find ourselves feeling heavier, more grounded, and perhaps even tending to inner feelings of burnout; lingering energy from the summer that is now fully passing the baton into autumn.
We may feel a desire to move more slowly, or write a much more condensed to-do list. We are now trading bubbly, icy, and refreshing for warming, spiced, and comforting.
We feel these things because our inner being is very much still woven deeply within the threat of the wild. We don’t simply embody nature, we are nature.
It is for this reason that we too, as the bright days begin to bow in respect to the prolonged periods of darkness, feel a desire to turn our energy inward and focus our energy on feeling grounded and rooted. Just as the great trees begin to shed their leaves, and allow what no longer resonates compost into the earth below, we too may feel a calling to examine this within our own life, discerning what it is that we may let go of or reflect on as we pass through a solar cycle yet again.
And, just as before, we see a beautiful dance of the elements and the display of their strengths as we sink into these spokes of the wheel of the year.
We honor our roots that keep us deeply connected with the land, and give reverence to the ways in which the end and the beginning are truly not separate from one another – the magic of the element of Earth.
On the Energetics of Earth
The Earth element is that which ties us to all that is most ancient. Earth element is embodied by the boulders distributed by prehistoric glaciers of eons gone by, and the steep, rising canyon walls carved by millions of years of rushing rivers and kissed by thousands upon thousands of mighty wind gusts. It is held in the spirit of the mountains that tower high toward the sky, holding the wisdom of the stories of so many generations.
The earth element is also our tether to all that is wild and natural. It is the minerals in the soil, and the green vibrancy of the wild weeds.
We embody the earth element through our root chakra, and when we are in balance, we feel grounded, restored, and solid in our foundation. We stand strong in knowing who we are and our place in the world around us. Our earth element is our deep inner knowing and our connection to our intuition.
When out of balance, we may feel one of two ways – not grounded enough, or even too grounded. In the former, we may feel aloof, lost, and as though we don’t know the best direction to pursue. We may find our nervous system needs more tending and nourishment, for we may feel heightened anxiety or flighty-ness. In the latter, we may feel sluggish, lack of motivation, or overly weighed down. We may feel stagnation and lethargic.
As witnessed in our previous post about fire and air elements, as you cultivate more knowledge about each one individually, you can begin to see how they interact with one another to maintain balance. Too much air, and not enough earth can lead to feelings of “being in the clouds,” and more groundedness is needed. Too much earth, and we may feel stuck, and some fire is needed to re-ignite our drive and passions!
Herbal Allies of Earth
While the season that aligns with the earth element is winter, in which the natural world is in a state of deep introspection, darkness, and rest, we interact closely with herbs that embody this element in the fall and spring. These allies bring us into sacred relationship with nature, and reconnect us to our root chakra and the land we tend and belong to.
In the autumn, we commune with the sacred wisdom of roots. After a plant has unfurled all of its leaves and the fruit have transformed into seeds, as the season grows cooler and the days are shorter, the plant begins to turn inward. The plant dedicates all of its energy to its root, so that it may not only survive the winter to come, but may come back stronger and more resilient in the coming years.
By working with the roots of herbs, we interact with this energy; the energy of returning to that which was before, of seeking the wisdom of the underworld before returning to the surface again in the spring. We nourish and tend to our own roots, finding deep groundedness and inner knowing, but also root herbs tend to be deeply nourishing and restoring. They were often depended upon as a source of sustenance that would last through the harsh and sparse conditions of the winter, and help us to retain our sense of vitality.
(Dive deeper into the root medicine in our blog post)
These are some of the roots we love this time of year:
- Marshmallow: Call upon this demulcent, or moisturizing herb during dry autumn and winter months to soothe mucus membranes within the body, particularly if you are experiencing a dry, hacking cough that seems to just linger and irritate the delicate tissues of the lungs.
- Dandelion Root: Connecting with the root of dandelion can bring the energy of this beautiful sunshine herb of the early spring to brighten our souls and disposition when we may be feeling the gloom of winter too strongly. It is also deeply nourishing, flooding our body with minerals and vitamins.
- Burdock Root: There is nothing more grounding and nourishing to the soul than hearty, warm, and comforting soups in the colder months. Burdock is an incredible ally for it is delicious and also packed with nutrients. Add burdock to soup stocks or bone broths for added nourishment and flavor this season.
- Licorice Root: This divinely sweet herb is a welcome addition to tea blends, but is also an adaptogenic herb, meaning it supports us in moving through change or potentially stressful situations, such as transitioning seasons, life chapters, or a changing environment.
Trees are deeply interconnected with earth energy. As they take a long time to grow, they are the keepers of divine wisdom. They also communicate with all that is through mycelial networks, a vast system of information sharing that lies beneath the surface of the soil. Trees also tend to embody the archetype of grandparents, always holding space for us in a safe and loving way.
Many trees are tonics for grief or the heart, such as Hawthorn and Linden, or help us to connect to our inner sense of power, such as the mighty Oak tree. The medicine of Pine can also be called upon, particularly in the winter months, to help us overcome colds, and to bring in green, vibrant energy to our bodies during the dark and cold winter days.
(Learn more about the medicine of the forest in this blog post)
The Wild Weeds
As mentioned earlier, as we come into a relationship with the earth element, we find that we also restore our energy to the sacredness of all that is wild. We remember who we were before the constraints of “civilization” and “society.” We remember that it is deep medicine to feel our bare feet upon the ground, and to have our hands in the soil. We remember our inner power, and our authentic truth. We realize that we are not separate from nature, but a vital piece of the vast and beautiful web. Herbal allies that remind us of this arrive each spring, to welcome us with a sense of rebirth and vitality as we emerge from the dark months of winter.
Wild weeds arrive early and abundantly, ready to flood our bodies with nourishment, and prepare us for the vibrant energy of the summer to come. Wild weeds are also sacred protectors of the earth, often appearing where the earth has been disturbed, growing tall and resilient despite the interruptions of chemicals, polluted soils, concrete, or disruption (which is also why we should take care in where we forage them from!). Many of the wild weeds, which include plants like Red Clover, Chickweed, Nettles, Cleavers, Red Raspberry Leaf, Dandelion, and Burdock, can also be wild food in addition to use as herbal medicine. Much like the wild, they grow freely, and embody resilience, and by working with them, we restore this within ourselves.
We encourage you, while the days are still warm, to dance with the element of the earth. Choose to do your morning meditation in the grass beneath an ash tree. Tuck in the garden for the winter beneath a generous helping of cover crop or mulch to protect the soil for the winter to come. Opt for a gorgeous brew of nettle tea and witness where this herb goes in your body, or make a warming cup of root herb chai.
How the element of earth show up for you?