“The Harvest” (Buffy Season1)


In case anyone is reading this, and wonders why I’m not diagnosing Buffy and the Scoobies, I simply want the actors to get used to their characters first.  Besides, plenty of other episodes will be dedicated to one or the other principals.  That having been said:

The second episode of season one continues where the first episode left off, with the Master preparing for the Harvest.  The Harvest is brought about through the mystical convergence of energies in the heavens.  Through his chosen vessel, Luke, the Master will be able to gain the power he needs to finally enter the world above.

It all sounds very alchemical to me.  Which brings up the question:  how was Luke prepared to become the vessel?  All we see is the Master anointing Luke with a symbol and Luke drinking some of the Master’s bodily fluids.  Was that all that was necessary?  Or was some other alchemical preparation necessary first?

Please remember these notes are not to be undertaken in practice except with the guidance of a qualified teacher and practitioner.  This blog is for amusement and theoretical purposes only.

Herbally, of course, the main components of alchemy are mercury (often in the form of zhu sha, cinnabar) and sulfur (or sometimes, lead).  However, the five shen herbs (Ren Shen, Sha Shen, Xuan Shen, Dan Shen and Ku Shen)  can be taken singly, in succession to help strengthen and purify a person.  Ku shen, in particular, excels at helping people get over past disappointments, while Xuan shen helps those living in a “dark night of the soul” through its yin moistening properties.  Sha shen, because it disperses phlegm while moistening the lungs, can help rid the person of lingering pathogenic factors (including emotions which cloud the vision), and Dan shen can invigorate emotions that have become so stuck the person has little desire or ability to emotionally interact anymore.  Ren shen, of course, tonifies the primal qi and is called “ghost shield” in the Shen Nong Ben Cao.  So maybe Ren Shen should not be used by the Master.  Tai zi shen might make an adequate substitute for him.

But can acupuncture actually prepare a vessel for someone’s transformation?

The answer, of course, is yes.  The example I will choose are Ma Dong Yuan’s 12 star points, which are all listed in Deadman’s A Manual of Acupuncture, but their use was described in alchemical terms in Jeffery Yuen’s lecture Alchemical Acupuncture.

Essentially, these points are needled one at a time, bilaterally, in order; they were intended as an initiation into the alchemical process.  Ideally, the patient will have conserved his or her jing for 30 to 100 days.  In the Master’s case, it seems he’s composed only of jing, and perhaps a po-lower soul, as we mentioned in the previous post.

Both Cleary and Wong have something to say about a proper understanding of the alchemical process and about the po-lower soul in their various books.  For now, I would refer the reader to Eva Wong’s Harmonizing Yin and Yang and Cleary’s series of translations on the Taoist Classics, particularly volumes 2 (for Inner Teachings of Taoism) and 3 (for The Secret of the Golden Flower, which is a much better and more accurate translation than Willem and Jung’s.  Perhaps one day, I’ll be able to produce a translation for acupuncturists, since some of the terms he confusingly translates can remain in Chinese — ‘qi’, ‘shen’, ‘ling’ for example).

Harmonizing Yin and Yang talks about an “upper vessel” (or crucible) and a “lower crucible” which must come together to form the place of the spirit.  In this case, Luke would be one of these vessels and the Master would be the other.  This work also mentions the need to align oneself with the movements of the heavens, although the commentaries stress this is all theoretical.  Looks like the Master and Luke are not seeing the big picture.  But then, we knew that, didn’t we?  They have little desire for transcendence, which is the point of this sort of work.  As Giles pointed out, the Master wants to reclaim the earth as a demonic paradise.

I found an interesting entry in the second chapter of The Secret of the Golden Flower (“Golden Flower” is simply the direct translation of ju hua, meaning chrysanthemum, a flower which is used in tea to help gain clarity of inner vision).   Section 19 states, “The higher soul (hun?) likes life, the lower soul (po?) looks toward death.  All lust affecting the temperament is the doing of the lower soul.  This is what consciousness is.  After death it feeds on blood, in life it suffers greatly.  This is darkness returning to darkness, by a coming together of kind.” Section 20 notes, “If learners refine the dark lower soul completely, then it will be pure light.”

Obviously, the Master doesn’t seem intent on refining himself quite so much.  Where would Buffy’s mission go if he refined himself into light?  The whole series would have ended right here.

In any event, the 12 star points can be used to help prepare someone for inner work, after which they will need a teacher.  By the way, the “stars” being referenced can be found in another section of Golden Flower, where the pole star and the other stars of the handle of the big dipper are discussed as keys to the transformational power of alchemy.  These handle stars were later correlated with points along the Du Mai and Ren Mai.

To prepare the vessel with acupuncture:

1.  3 cones of moxa on ST-36 to free the legs and abdomen of any bi-blockages due to cold (psychological freezing up), wind (inability to cope with change), and damp (stagnating in life).

2.  ST-44.  Needle until qi is obtained and then remove, in order to clear fire, desire, from the heart — so the person can lead an authentic life from the void of the heart.  Also releases throat bi, so the person can express their thoughts, and can help people who dislike crowds and noisy places.

3.  LI-11, with arms crossed over the chest, also helps clear the throat bi and is useful for someone who wants to die.

4.  LI-4, for someone hesitant in talking about their own lives and selves.  Turn the patient over.

5.  Bend knees to needle BL-40, which opens up the Gate of Destiny.

6.  BL-57, treats the Gate of the Po (which can mean the anus, and this point is good for treating hemmorhoids).  This begins the process of purification and helps those who have lots of fear, especially fear of change.  Remove both needles.  Flip the patient over.

7.  Take the pulse at LV-3.  If the pulse is choppy, the patient would rather die, and won’t use his or her vitality.  Stop the treatment.   Otherwise, this point, when needled, can continue to help resolve fright wind and previous deep trauma.   Remove needle.

8.  Bl-60, named for the Mountains of the West in which the Queen Mother resides, a place of death and immortality.  This point helps the patient die to themselves, let go of their inner voice, images, and emotions.  Treats a sense of fulness in the heart and for people uncomfortable in taking the first step — people who groan a lot.  Remove the needle.  At this point the patient should have peace and happiness.

The remaining points can be found in Deadman.  They can be used to treat grieving, especially for oneself and help patients let go of loss (moxa on this point brings the warmth the patient is looking for); another point can initiate a cathartic release, and bring the patient the ability to stand up to one’s own self; the eleventh allows the shen to be expressive and allow fulfillment of thoughts and desires; and the twelfth point allows one to feel stronger about the self, let go of hang ups (because this point diffuses qi), and treats itch, the sort of itch which disrupts meditation and prevents deep inhalation and exhalation.

Please remember these notes are not to be undertaken in practice except with the guidance of a qualified teacher and practitioner.  This blog is for amusement and theoretical purposes only.

P.S. Did anyone notice Jonathan chatting in the background of Cordelia’s self-absorbed monologue scene at The Bronze?



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