In ancient Chinese texts, the Earth Element was often depicted as the center with the other four elements surrounding it.
Earth provides nourishment and shelter for all life. The Earth Element and its two officials, the Spleen and Stomach, are the organs that support the nourishing processes in body, mind, and spirit. The stomach takes in nourishment; the spleen distributes the energy throughout the body obtained from foods.
The Earth Element corresponds to the season of late summer. It is the time between the full heat of summer and the cool advent of autumn. In addition to its association with the season of late summer, the Earth Element also corresponds to the four times of seasonal change which come during the transitions between all five seasons. These occur around the two solstices and equinoxes. It is especially important to stay centered and grounded during these transitional–and transformational–periods.
The Earth Element gives the power of manifestation. Nature, full and rich, provides us the sustenance upon which we live, and it is the support upon which we stand and lay ourselves to rest. It is central to all the other elements. Because the “energy” of the Earth Element is supportive and nurturing, the emotion associated with the Earth Element is Sympathy/Empathy.
When there is an imbalance in the Earth Element, our ability to take in nourishment is affected. Not only may we experience physical, digestive problems, but we may become “stuck” in our thought processes “chewing over” ideas, worrying, obsessing, and unable to move on. Imbalances of the Earth Element manifest as sinus difficulties, some types of asthma, feeling overwhelmed, some kinds of headaches, and the condition where someone may look after others very well while neglecting themselves.