Earth and the Mother

It’s Mother’s day on Sunday so it seems like a good time to consider how this relates to Chinese medicine philosophy.

First of all, Yin and Yang provide a way to understand all phenomena – these are the interelated, mutually-dependent qualities that relate on one level, to male and female energy. From these come the expression of Yin and Yang as they expand into the 5 Elements (sometimes called the 5 Phases as they relate to changes between qualities of things).

The 5 Elements are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood and although they relate to material substances, in Chinese medicine, they relate to all things – including season, climate, colour, sounds, odours, emotions, bodily organs and functions and many many other correspondences.

The element of Earth relates to the Mother as it was traditionally drawn in the centre, with the four other elements at the periphery (marking the compass directions and four seasons). It was drawn in the centre, because it relates to the ability to coordinate and organise the movement of energy between things. It is no surprise then, that it relates to the mother, in the centre, coordinating all the family events, ensuring everyone is nourished and supported – particularly through change (sound familiar?).

For some, this energy is present, through the ‘adoptive’ Mother which could be a blood-relative, but could be of course, simply someone that takes care of us and provides these qualities for us as we grow up. Earth energy is not restricted to women – it can be expressed by a single father who brings to the best of his ability, these female, Earthy qualities to his children.

These are the qualities of being receptive, acknowledging and supportive and someone who finds these qualities in themselves can listen and respond to their children and gently encourage them out of difficult situations so they can grow and realise their full potential in the world as adults.

Earth and Nourishment

It is no surprise then, that the organs of nourishment and digestion are central in the body and so the Earth element (the Mother) gives the power to nourish and nurture. This continues of course during pregnancy as the Earth energy brings nourishment through the placenta to the foetus and after birth through breast feeding, weening and beyond.

However, this nourishment is not just about food – the Earth energy supports the process of nourishment on all levels -and in terms of the Mother, the ability to nourish the emotional development of her child and literally to ‘give birth’ to things and then ensure they are nourished to grow and develop….it could be new ideas, new projects and it could be, that this person has the ability to support others in realising these things – this is all due to the power of the Yin, feminine energy of Earth. Sometimes we call people ‘Earthy’ – we may not realise it, but we are most likely referring to these qualities.

Earth and Stability

Other qualities that the Earth energy brings us is stability and protection. It may not be something that we normally consider on a day-to-day basis, but inherent in the Mother, is this incredible potential to bring life into the world and to sustain it through tough times by bringing stability. It is the energy that helps us to feel grounded – consider how we might feel if the earth beneath us literally shook. In the UK we don’t get sizeable earthquakes, so we enjoy the constant stability that the earth provides us.

The protective aspect of Earth energy often shows itself when the Mother sees the potential for danger – have you noticed in some women whom typically are more quiet or introvert, that since having children there is a shift in their ability to be more direct when it comes to the safety of their children….all driven by the instinctive protective quality of Earth energy.

The Earth element is in the centre of all the processes of life and provides the axis for everything else to revolve around, ensure everything continues to work. It’s not unlike the relentless, unceasing work of the Mother, ensuring (literally in some families) everything is held together. In acupuncture treatment, it is sometimes necessary to strengthen this particular energy if we are unable to absorb nourishment from food.  In terms of Chinese medicine thinking, this issue can manifest as obvious imbalances such as anorexia or bulimia, unusual eating habits or cravings or digestive complaints such as acid reflux, recurrent nausea or bloating. It can also affect us emotionally, when we have issues with being acknowledged (think of the image of the Mother intently listening to her child express themselves) or we simply don’t feel nourished by life.

The complexities of the relationships people have with their Mothers, with being Mothers themselves or with how they respond to dominant Motherly influences (which can be found in both men and women) cannot be underestimated – whether we like it or not, it is one of the most powerful and influencing factors in our lives and especially in our early lives.

So if you do decide to celebrate Mother’s Day, maybe think bigger than the woman who does the housework, or grunted their way through the pain of labour to bring you into the world…..think of how all things exist because of the subtle interplay of the 5 Elements…. and Earth, is a pivotal influence to all of them.

Contact Lee

If you have any questions about a condition you have and whether acupuncture may help, please contact Lee on 01837 214888 (for acupuncture in North Tawton) or 01392 927299 (for acupuncture in Exeter).