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Elemental Medicine - Healing with the Five Elements

Updated: Jan 11

Everything in Nature, all plants, all animals, all beings, are made of the Five Elements. The Elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Spirit, make up the core of your being and have molded the world around you. So many human societies and cultures around the world have arrived at the same understandings and Elemental teachings, before even sharing this with one another. Ancient traditions from all directions, that didn’t have Google or YouTube to exchange information, have created remarkably similar systems of healing and living with Nature. From the Druid tree-wisdom of the north to the sacred nature worship of Mama Africa in the south, to the animistic practices of Shinto in the east. All around the Earth our ancestors lived as one with Nature. They respected Mother Nature, worshiping her as Gaia, Pachamama, Prithvi, or Nüwa. Such a variety of Goddesses for the same divine essence. And with this came the understanding of the Five Elements as an expression of Mother Nature and the basis of all that is.


By working with the Five Elements, you can sink deeper into your own natural knowing. Becoming your own medicine woman/ medicine man. Personally, I use the terms Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Spirit – which is based on the Ayurvedic perspective. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) refers to Earth, Water, Fire, Wood and Metal – which you might be more familiar with or prefer instead. There is no right or wrong, the most important thing is that you can connect to the teachings and qualities of each Element.

 

Two women hug each other in a forest
The feeling of a hug is the feeling of connection.

The Elements have no prejudice, no judgement. This is why their medicine works so efficiently. Their working is universal, making their effect on us reliable, predictable even. By working with the energy associated with each Element you can create specific shifts in your body and mind. In the external dimension, you can observe how each Element manifests in Nature, in the seasons, cycles and the wider world around you. But the Elements also manifest internally through your organs, personality traits and the layers of yourphysical, emotional, psychological and spiritual bodies. You can then use this awareness as Elemental medicine to free blocked energy, correct imbalances, heal disease, clear emotions and bring yourself back into natural harmony. Let’s briefly explore each Element now.


Earth governs the physical body, bringing safety and grounding. Connected to the stomach and spleen organs, and energetically connected to the Root Chakra. The core qualities of Earth are stability, safety, grounding and nourishing. You can call on this Element to help you slow down, create healthy boundaries and heal the relationship with your body and cycles. Earth teaches us to nourish ourselves and others from a place of love. It brings us back home: to Nature, to our body home, to that place inside where we feel safe and loved. In the fast-paced society we live in today, Earth helps us come back to our center. Most of us need more Earthiness in our lives, supporting us in embodying a soft strength and creating healthy boundaries. Harvest, or Indian summer, is the season of Earth. A time to celebrate Mother Nature’s abundance!



Feet of a human walking on the Earth
Earth

Water governs the emotional body, bringing balance and stillness. Connected to the kidneys and bladder organs, and energetically connected to the sensual Sacral Chakra. The qualities of Water are flexibility, adaptability, balance and trust. Call on this Element to help you surrender to the flow of life. When you feel overwhelmed or fearful, Water will help you feel your way back to a trusting state. When you feel a lack of creative or sexual energy, call on Water and your Sacral Chakra to bring inspiration. This is the Element of reflection and self-knowledge. It is in stillness that Water’s wisdom trickles in. Water encourages balance, acknowledging both yin and yang, shadow and light, being productive and hibernating. Winter is the season of Water. As we observe Nature drawing inward during this time of year, we too are called to rest and recover.

 

A woman stands with arms spread wide before a waterfall
Water

Fire governs the psychological body, awakening passion and fueling your inner power. Connected to the heart, pericardium and small intestine organs, and energetically connected to the powerful Solar Plexus Chakra. Fire is about joy, love, courage and transformation. When you feel in need of strength or motivation, seek it in your inner flames. Use Fire rituals to help transform limited beliefs and toxic patterns. Connected to our relationship with power and ego, Fire allows us to burn away impurities and rise from the ashes. This transformation brings us back to love. Summer is the time of Fire, naturally the warmest season with the most sunshine and daylight hours. Observe how nature becomes more active, sun-kissed fruit ripens and you feel more outgoing.  

 

A woman burns a piece of paper over a fire.
Fire

Air governs the psychic or intuitive body, from which vitality and authentic expression flow. Connected to the lungs and large intestine organs, and energetically connected to the Heart Chakra. Air is the Element of change and movement, positivity and lightness. Like the winds, it encourages spontaneity and adaptability. Air is represented in the lungs and large intestine, the organs of releasing and letting go. When you are in need of making a change in your life and releasing what no longer serves, Air will support the process. Associated with autumn, the season of falling leaves and unpredictable winds. Allowing us to move on, to let go, to grieve and to release.


A dragon fly rests on a plant with the blue sky behind it
Air

Spirit governs the spiritual body, making space for soul connection and awakening. Connected to the liver and gallbladder organs, and energetically connected to the Throat and Third Eye Chakras. Spirit is where the other four Elements come together as one. It is the most mysterious of the five Elements, teaching us to have faith and accept the mysteries of life. When you feel doubtful or uncertain, call on Spirit to bring peace and acceptance of what is out of your control. It is consciousness, your highest self and connection to the Universe. Spring is the season of Spirit, a time of reawakening and new beginnings. Colour and life return as Mother Nature sprouts, blossoms, nests and gives birth.  


A bouquet of plants with green grass in the background.
Spirit

 After being introduced to the Elements, a common question that arises is “Which Element am I?”. To that an easy answer: all of them. You are a combination of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Spirit. All these Elements dance within you. But within each of us a few Elements take centerstage more often than the others, some are more prone to slip and twist an ankle, and others tend to dominate in the spotlight. We each have our own Elemental constitution and unique experience of their interconnected movement within and around us. Some of us are more likely to have Water imbalances like back pain or depression, while others may be more prone to Air imbalances like anxiety or irritable bowels. Our patterns of imbalance will physically manifest in the organs or on the energy channels of the Element that it is connected with. Most imbalances are caused by some kind of disruption in energy flow. These internal forces can be further disrupted by external Elemental forces in Nature. From the changing climate, to the shifting seasons, to the bacteria living in the soil. Together these internal and external Elemental forces provide an ever-changing vibrational existence of energy. It is within this energy field that we live and breathe and work and play and heal and seek balance. Constantly fine-tuning ourselves to the ever-changing inner and outer forces of Nature.          


The five elements symbolised in a pentagram.
Magic: the Elemental Circle

The message here is to seek Nature for guidance in maintaining optimal health and balance as you nourish and nurture yourself according to your Elemental constitution. You can bring the teachings of each Element into your daily life through yoga, movement, nutrition, self-care and personal practices. The key to finding natural health and harmony through the Elements, is by embodying their medicine. Day by day, lunar cycle by lunar cycle, season by season. Remembering that you are your own medicine women/man. First and foremost, you are your own healer! But sometimes we all need to supplement our own inner wisdom and experience with that of others. To call out to our pack for help, humans are pack animals after all. We live in community and tribe for a reason. So, if you are in need of deeper healing and harmonizing, please seek the guidance of a qualified therapist who has studied and works with the Elements such as an Ayurvedic healer, TCM practitioner or Elemental Therapist. Applying the Elements in a therapeutic way has its complexities and layers.

 

If you feel called to learn more about the Elements and how to engage them in a healing way, check out our Back to Nature Teacher Training 3-Week Immersion this September/October! Or if you are in need of a more personal approach, you can always get in touch for a one-on-one session. Whichever way your journey leads, know that you are already blessed by the wisdom of Mother Nature and the medicine of the Elements!


*Photos taken on Caroline’s Yoga Retreats

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