Earth

The Element of Earth is probably the most obvious to human perception, since Earth is where we live. Even those of us in highly urban areas without much access to natural environments are aware that underneath all that pavement is the Earth, without which we would have nowhere to build our houses, roads, and cities. Earth is, literally, the ground we walk on, as well as where we raise the animals and grow the food we need to survive and thrive. It has also been the source of the clay and minerals with which we’ve made pottery and cookware to prepare and eat our food, and the trees and stone we’ve used to build our dwellings. For the vast majority of human history, the Earth provided everything we needed to survive as a species, with very little in the way of the complex and environmentally damaging processes that go into manufacturing so many of our modern goods. As modern societies, we seem to hold an awareness of this seeming distance from our origins with phrases like “back to the Earth” or “back to the land,” used to refer to a felt need to escape the busy, modern city life and spend time in nature. The idea of being “grounded” is another common metaphor that speaks to the central role Earth plays in our lives. Whether it’s a teenager being punished for staying out too late or a busy adult trying to shake off the distractions of the work day through meditation, there’s a tradition in modern culture that emphasizes “keeping our feet on the ground” in order to navigate this life successfully. Earth is certainly the most “grounding” of the Elements, with its stable, heavy, passive energy and calming effect. As a physical reality in and of itself, Earth mostly appears to be unmoving. As such, Earth is associated with the qualities of patience, endurance, and permanence. However, we do see movement in the animals that roam the Earth and, at somewhat slower paces, in the growth of plant life. This connection to growth brings the qualities of diligence and commitment, and the ability to reap what one sows.

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