Late Summer: The Season of Nourishment
Yin Organ: Spleen
Yang Organ: Stomach
Energy Imprint: Nourish yourself. Take in nutrients from your soil and enjoy your harvest. Slow down. Be creative with what is abundant in your natural environment. Prepare your nest for the fall and winter. Be nourished by the fruits of your own garden and your own labor.
Welcome to Late Summer. It’s getting dry-er, and the days are hot but less blistering. You can feel it in the air and in nature as you walk around.
The Earth element takes the center stage in this season and this is a powerful time.
The Earth. Mother. Nourishment. Harvest. Satisfaction. Security. Safety. Belonging. Tribe. Root.
All of these words fit into this season.
The Stomach and the Spleen are the organ systems that govern this season and will be active guiding you and evolving who they are to you. The stomach is the organ that breaks down the the food we eat and begins the rotting and digestion process and the spleen is the organ that is responsible for taking that nourishment and distributing it throughout the body. It is involved in making blood cells as well, which is vital for delivery of oxygen and nutrients to every nook and cranny inside of us.
These organ systems are so delicately connected to the nourishment we receive from mother earth through the food we eat, and even our own mother as we were sustained by her milk as babies.
Anxiety and Worry are things that in Chinese Medicine stem from a imbalance in the spleen. When the spleen is tired and exhausted it can’t distribute warmth and nourishment in the best way. When there is an imbalance here we can feel unrooted, unsettled, and turbulent in our center. Our nervous system is like an “unmothered child”, disoriented, confused, sad, and depleted.
The Spleen is a vital organ in moving the blood and can be an organ system we look at when the menstrual cycle is heavy, thick, or low. This is why healing your cycle issues with food is the best method, but it’s not just about the food, it’s about your relationship to the food and the signals that your body is sending you.
So this season will call on you to find your own stability in places that cause you worry and anxiety. It will call on you to find nourishment and your inner mother so that you can calm your weary nervous system and scared little inner child.
Being that the mother is a deeply compassionate and feeling archetype, this season is also about relationships. How are you relating to the things and people in your world? Are you only taking, only participating on one side and expecting or even demanding from the other? Or are you actively participating in the giving, the grand flow that makes things live?
We can relate with everything: our food, our body, our home, our technology, our money, our family, our pets, our plants. Chances are if you look at how you are relating to things you will get a good sense of where you are out of balance.
When you relate to everything in a harmonious way, you being to feel a sense of tribe and belonging with something greater. This helps you feel secure, rooted, and connected.
Feeding the Whole: The Art of Taking in
We are not as simple we like to think. We do not have a mind, thoughts, senses of smell, taste, sight, touch and sound for nothing. Our nourishment comes from more than just the building blocks and caloric value of the foods we eat.
Have you ever noticed how good food tastes when someone else makes it for you, especially when they really love and care about you? You could have the same roasted chicken that you made and eat it, and have someone else make the same thing and it tastes like the best meal you ever had.
Have you ever noticed how much differently you take in food and feel satisfied when other people sit down to eat and share food with you? Is it the food or is it the feeling of people sharing, people being with you, a sense of belonging?
Eat something you are extremely excited to eat and curious about and watch and feel your body, mind, and spirit take in every little bit of. Eat something that bores you and watch yourself be hungry and starving no matter how much you chew and swallow.
The art of taking things in requires the essence of earth and mother to be able to feel calm, secure, and relaxed enough to be in your experience and allow yourself to be in relationship with what truly matters to you and makes you curious and alive.
This means sometimes a chocolate doughnut at the farmers market with full on gluten, sugar, and other stuff you don’t eat anymore will be the best thing you ever had and may not cause any symptoms that you think it will. You are feeding more than just your body here. You’re feeding soul, spirit, inner child, freedom, playfulness, joy, and spontaneity. You are feeding life and aliveness. If there is no love in your food, no love for
One of the best ways to ground ourselves into the origins and the love of our food is to get our hands dirty and be in the kitchen making it as we listen to what our body, mind, and spirit is asking for. Even better is when we can make food using plants we have grown or maybe animals you have killed yourself. This is time to enjoy the ‘fruits of your labor’ and the satisfaction of knowing whats in your food, where it came from, and that you made it (whether you began from the seed, or the grocery store) brings creative nourishment and a deeply satisfying connection with ancestry and nature.
You may find yourself trying out new recipes and already being drawn to more “fall” like foods, sweet potatoes, squashes, warm rice, crock pots, stews, oats, baking etc. Maybe things that remind you of mother and grandmother, that bring you back to that childhood feeling of being cared for.
Follow your instincts and let your creative mother loose in the kitchen with the spirit of love and nourishment into your food.
Steer away from colder foods that do not bring your core a sense of relaxation and warmth. In my opinion this is the time to throw out the morning ( and usually mindless) protein shake, the raw foods, and boring but ‘healthy’ lunchtime salad and start putting time and energy into what you cook. Pay attention to how food is effecting you on every level from it’s spices to its temperature to it’s nutrient content. And remember some nutrients come from enjoyment, fun, and togetherness, not just caloric building blocks. And if you don’t know how to cook, lovely you will have so much fun learning 🙂
This time of year is ripe with harvest. If we look into a more land based existence, we would see that this time of year is the time for harvesting the crops and preparing them for storage throughout the fall and winter. We see natural movements like walking, squatting, bending over, pulling up roots, standing in the kitchen making breads, preserves, and being creative with how we use and utilize the bounty that we have in our harvest for the year.
You can use these ideas with your own garden if you have one or in your own kitchen as you prepare food. When you give a new context to your daily activities you can find all kinds of movement “nutrients”, as my favorite biomechanist Katy Bowman likes to say.
The fact that we no longer have to think ahead about the barren winter season about storing enough food to eat has a major impact on us. It keeps us from remembering that nothing lasts forever and makes a bit more challenging to be using our time and energy thinking ahead about what we need and don’t need to make it through the winter. This can really disconnect us from the earth and her cycles, as well as our own.
Each month, women who are menstruating have a winter phase, our bleeding time. Everyone else has this time too usually during the new moon. Without this reverence and respect for the inward time or the planning and preparation for a retreat we lose some wisdom about sustainable creative cycles and living in rhythm.
How you move your body has a great effect on how nourished you feel, how your blood moves and distributes nutrients to your body. Remember how important it is for the health and vitality of your system and spirit.
There is so much information out there these days and it’s clogging up your system the same way toxic foods do. Facebook, You tube, News, Self Help books, you name it. What you allow into your mental space it is just as tangible as the food you put in your mouth.
What are you eating with your mind and are you able to fully assimilate and digest that food? What are the consequences of certain mental cookies vs others? Some information causes emotions you must attend to. Some information takes your focus away from what is important to you. Some information greatly adds to your joy and sense of root.
You have to begin to notice what your own body tells you when you are “full” on information and learn to give yourself a break to digest it all before taking in more. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself exhausted and mentally taxed all the time.
Notice when your eyes are tired. All the staring at screens we do is making our eye muscles overestimated and strained. Notice what this feels like and stop with the screens and figuring shit out, close your eyes and rest. Give them darkness.
Consider making stronger boundaries with yourself about technology and information gathering and time of day. Are you waking up and immediately getting on technology? Is it the last thing you see before you go to bed? How is this effecting your mental health, your sleep, your relationships?
Consider taking a cleanse from it all together for a few days and see what happens.
There is an indigenous knowing that the spirits and beings in the other worlds are hungry. This knowing is why we see traditions like feeding the ancestors and placing actual foods on alters with grandmas picture on it, or making offerings to the river spirits to thank them for giving life and flowing through the earth veins so that we can all live and exist.
Not only is it important that you feed your own spirit, it is vital that you feed whatever you recognize as a spirit that gives you life beyond what you can see. If you have nothing, you can recognize at the very least that the earth is a being and a mother, and at the very least, in order to have a relationship with her that is harmonious, requires a giving and receiving. This means noticing her, noticing nature, speaking with her, telling her your dreams, thanking her, finding out how to be in relationship with each breath and step you take, realizing that it’s not just you taking it is also you actively giving something back. This can be as simple as a heartfelt thank you and as grandiose as staying up all night chanting and dancing around a fire in service to the earth.
My Online Course, grounded and safe in your body would be a great place to start here if you feel totally disconnected.
Questions you can ask yourself about spirit food:
How are you feeding your own spirit? Is it through song, dance, art, spending time with family or in nature?
How are you feeding THE spirits? Many people in this culture end up unconsciously doing this while drinking or getting high, and I think now a lot with technology and smartphones, but it is possible to do this consciously and with beauty and purpose.
A simple respect for nature, a practice of acknowledging the source of your food as far to the origin as you can, finding out and noticing where your things came from and who made them, writing a poem, a love letter, making your home beautiful, tending to your garden,
My favorite author of the summer, Martin Prechtel reminds us that spirits are hungry for beauty. And it is the beauty that we make from our grief and emotions, from our being alive that feeds the spirits who then feed and help us and complete one circle of live in the symbiotic ecosystem of the universe. When you make beauty of your life, you are contributing to the spiritual fabric that we live in.
Gather your Energy
This is a potent time to find nourishment and connect yourself to your own inner mother energy. And when you do, you will find that you have the energy stores and life force to move you through the fall and winter into springtime.
Remember that the harvest doesn’t happen all year. Remember to feed yourself and know what it is to be full before you begin to give it all away to everyone else. Being generous is wonderful AND know what you have to give and what you don’t. Don’t give what you don’t have.
Use this time to gather your energy stores and be kind to yourself before the fall and the winter season, you will notice it if you do.
Heed that inner call to slow down if you feel it, or to prepare what you need to prepare so that you can release and go inward later in the year.
Blessings to you!
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