We are taught there are four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, yet as we move from Summer towards Autumn we find ourselves gently held in a special season with remnants of the vibrant energy of summer, blending softly with a hint of the contracting, descending, inward energy of Autumn. This is a time when the overarching energetic quality is one of mellowness and softness, apples weighing down branches, blackberries decorating hedgerows; this is the season of Earth. There are five Elements in Chinese Medicine theory, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter are associated with Wood, Fire, Metal and Water respectively, each of these elements associated with an energetic movement which epitomises the nature of the Element; Spring, for example, is represented by the Wood Element and associated with a vigorous upwards, outwards energy. The Element of Earth however is not usually associated with a direction of movement, in different arrangements the Earth holds different positions in the seasonal cycles. Earth can represent the place of balance, holding the central space, or it can be more pivotal in nature, an axis for change (the last 18 days of each season has a quality of Earth to it, allowing the seasons to pivot from one to another). In the guise of Late Summer, Earth fulfils both of these roles; the softness and ripeness of the Late Summer nods to the energetic qualities of Earth’s pivotal nature enables the transition from Summer to Autumn. The Earth is associated with the Organs of Spleen and Stomach, Organs responsible for bringing Energy into the system, holding things together and creating form. Earth provides us with a sense of stability and support from both a physical and an emotional perspective; a good acupuncturist will have a strong sense of Earth as we are trained to hold a therapeutic space in order to offer support and stability to our patients. Some patients come for acupuncture with very specific issues that they want help with, but many others come for maintenance of health. Acupuncture can make a big difference to how well we cope with general everyday stress and strain, how effective our digestive system is and how well our immune system functions. The majority of patients who use acupuncture as part of their preventative health regime come initially for some specific problem, but find their overall health improves so much that they continue to come every month or two just to sustain the benefits. When using acupuncture for this kind of health maintenance, some of the points most commonly included in a treatment are points strongly associated with the Earth Element. There is a point just below the knee on the outer side of the leg called Stomach 36, an incredibly powerful point for encouraging health as it strengthens the body, fires up the immune system and works strongly on digestive issues. A research project in Africa has been investigating the use of this point to boost the immune system to help support patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis [www.moxafrica.org]. Stomach 36 is one of the most Earthly points on the body as it is a strong Earth point on the yang Earth meridian so from an emotional perspective it can really help to restore a sense of stability and a sense of feeling supported. Another point very frequently selected for use in health maintenance is Spleen 6 which is found on the inside of the lower leg. This Spleen meridian point is also a meeting point of the Kidney and Liver meridians which means that this single point can be used to affect the digestive system, the immune system and the genito-urinary system; it is also very effective for supporting people suffering from stress and emotional issues. If you find yourself dreading the end of Summer, reluctant to embrace the coming Autumn it would be a good time to have some acupuncture to nourish your Earth energy and help you to move more smoothly from one season to another.