What pertains to the Earth Phase?

Earth Phase Collage

For my first year school project, I wrote poems for each phase (or element) in Chinese Medicine theory.  Each phase has a long list of correspondences that includes season of the year, sound, smell, related organ systems, etc.  We were encouraged to know these like the back of our hand, an incredibly helpful practice.  These associations are the bread and butter of insightful diagnosis and treatment and help practitioners to understand patients more thoroughly. 

Below is my learning poem for Earth which pertains to the organ pair of stomach (yang) and spleen (yin).  (The bear is my choice, not necessarily an animal associated with Earth by the Chinese.)

Most charts show yellow as the color associated with Earth but it is not so much a lemon or butter color.  It is more the golden color of ripening grain or the soft brown of earth itself.   The words that pertain to earth are in color.  


Center/Late Summer/Midseasons

Great Bear at the Center


A small hiccup. 

She pats her stomach

and licks her lips,

sweet yellow honey,

the fragrance of bees.


Singing carefree songs of late summer,

the great bear wards off worry.

Will her nourishing qi be strong

in the damp winter cave?


She lives in the center, now,

flexing her flesh,

savoring flavors of

golden harvest.


Enlarged by fire,

she breeds metals.

Held by the trees,

she makes a home for water. 

To understand a little more about Earth and how it relates to the other four phases, let's look at the last four lines of the poem:

Enlarged by fire,

she breeds metals.

Held by the trees,

she makes a home for water.

In the Five Phase Theory, this means that Fire generates Earth which in turn generates Metal.  On the other hand, Earth is controlled by Wood and in turn controls Water. 

Earth Moves to Metal

An Earthy Dragon

What exactly is "late summer" in the wheel of the year?  There's some debate about this.  We usually think of four seasons, not five.  If you consider summer as the hot and expanding time, late summer can be seen as the gradual slowing down of heat and expansion, the harvest season where things are still growing but just starting to fade. The days are starting to shorten, the nights to cool off a bit.  But it can still run quite hot in the day.  It's a time of transition and transformation from the rampant growth of summer to the quiet decay of falling leaves.  To give Late Summer it's due, consider this season to run until sometime around Halloween.  Then Fall, which is ruled by Metal, lasts for about two months until Solstice.

For more information about the Five Phases, see Learning Center