This week’s post was contributed by Jim Brooks, M.Ac, A.P., who practices in Gainesville, FL and graduated from AFEA with Class 23 in 2010.

Five Element acupuncture is deeply rooted in Nature and in natural processes.  We recognize that the world around us, and indeed the entire cosmos, functions according to the dynamic interaction of the Five Elements: Water gives birth to  Wood, Wood feeds Fire, Fire creates Earth, Earth engenders Metal, and  the cycle repeats as Metal generates Water.  The energetics and rhythmic flow of the Elements are very real and are manifested in everyday life (awakening and becoming active, eating, resting, etc.) and in our overall state of health and wellbeing,  as well as in the grander contexts of our relationships, the cycles of our lives, and the seasons (to highlight just a few).  August in Gainesville is an excellent representation of the season of Late Summer and its corresponding Element, Earth.

The Earth Element is the child of the Fire Element.  The Fire Element is associated with the season of Summer, and the Joy of Nature being at its peak.  Colors are fresh and vibrant as flowers bloom.  It’s often a time for outdoor parties and activities.  With time, the joyful activities and the vibrancy of Summer transform: flowers fade and become fruit; outdoor activities become somewhat less appealing as the heat becomes heavy with humidity; and the parties dwindle as people prepare to return from vacation and go back to work and to school.  What happened here? An energetic transformation happened.  Nature moved from the joy and maturity of Summer to the gentle decline and harvest of Late Summer.  Fire created Earth.

Here in Gainesville, we get nearly a textbook-perfect experience of Late Summer and the Earth Element.  The air is heavy with humidity and fragrance, both of which are strongly associated with the Earth Element.  The local Farmers Markets begin bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables—the harvest, also related to the Earth element. Food and nurturing are central to the Earth Element!  And in Gainesville, another kind of harvest: the population swells as students return to UF and Santa Fe, and the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture welcomes class 29A.

It’s no accident that the return to school happens in Late Summer, governed by the Earth Element which, in living creatures, manifests physically as the Stomach and the Spleen/Pancreas.  Physiologically, these organs are responsible for the breakdown, digestion, and dissemination of nourishment.  Similarly, on an emotional level, they process incoming information, break it down (they digest it!), and transform that information into something usable.  It makes perfect sense to begin a new academic year, and to begin taking in lots of new information, at a time when these Earth Element processes are at their peak.

As the days grow shorter, eventually the temperature begins to decrease and recurrent storms wash the humidity from the air.  The fields have been harvested and a delightful dryness sets in.  Earth transforms into Metal, and the Season of Autumn approaches. . . .