“The Puppet Show” (Buffy, Season 1)


I always like shows which feature creepy and murderous dummies. Alfred Hitchcock had a great one, in which the puppeteer fell in love with his dummy. That was creepy.

The puppeteer in this episode, however, meets a somewhat untimely end, although not the end he might have been expecting. Instead of death by brain cancer, his brain was harvested by a demon which needed to eat the heart and brain of a human every seven years in order to retain its human form. I seem to recall Anne Rice writing about vampires who ate the heart and brain of their predecessors. I think this was in Queen of the Damned.

Why a demon would want to retain the form of a high school student is somewhat beyond my comprehension. I’m sure Anyanka would have some rather interesting points to make in this regard.

The deceased’s dummy, it turns out, had a mission: to slay all these seven-year itch demons, after which his soul would be able to move on (and out of the creepy puppet body). He had already disposed of six. His last mission lay at Sunnydale High. Instead of (over)killing the demon with a guillotine and kitchen knife, however, he might have tried a different approach.

I think the diagnostic signifiers are the combination of seven years, heart, and brain.

First, seven years.  This particular demon clearly operates on a regular cycle, one which corresponds to the female cycle of seven years.  Although the Nei Jing indicates that women’s lives unfold along a seven year, and men’s lives along an eight year cycle, for some people, these lives can be shorter or longer.  What is important is that a clear pattern emerge.  This cyclical unfolding results from the triple warmer mechanism manifesting what is contained in prenatal jing, outwardly moving the most simple forms of yin, yang, and blood in a person.  In other words, the triple heat mechanism is in a certain sense determining how much the resources of the Ren, Du, and Chong Mai come into the world at any given cycle of life.  The San Jiao acts as a sort of guard to the treasure room, or even financial officers, permitting only a certain amount to be withdrawn at a time.

The cycles of seven therefore point us to three areas:  the jing, the Triple Heater mechanism, and the extraordinary vessels.  Also involved in this process of unfolding one’s life according to cycles are the Wei Mai.  Specifically, I would think the Yang Wei Mai is active in this situation, since it’s role is to integrate the exterior (“human high school student”) with the interior (“seven-year itch demon”).  Conveniently, TH-5 is the opening point for the Yang Wei Mai.

The eating of the Heart and Brain present their own twist on this diagnosis.  The Heart is the residence of the little shen, usually translated generically as “spirit.”  According to one interpretation, this little shen comes about after a ling, or soul, merges with the mixing of the jing of one’s parents.  The ling separates into five spiritual entities, termed the yi (intent), zhi (will-within-the-will), shen, hun (ethereal souls), and po corporeal souls).  (The hun and po are also considered to be plural in number, bringing the total fracturing to thirteen.)  The goal of the person’s life, according to the ancient Chinese alchemists, is to reunite these fractured entities into the Yuan Shen, the Original Spirit.  The organ which houses the Original Spirit?  That would be the Brain.

These seven-year itch demons, then, are consuming the fleshly residences in which the Little Shen and the Big Shen are stored.  It seems that their jing needs to unite with some shen in order to maintain an external appearance.  The treatment principle, therefore, is to keep the yin (jing) from separating from the existing yang (shen).  If this can be achieved, the seven-year itch will be relieved, and at least a few Sunnydale students will not die needlessly (this week).

The acupuncture treatment I might give would be to combine a Yang Wei Mai treatment with a Triple Heater Channel Divergence treatment.  A bit unorthodox, since I like to keep my channel systems separate, in general.  My reasoning for combing the two is this:  The Triple Heater Channel Divergence symptoms are concerned with yin and yang losing their ability to harmonise; treating the TH CD can help push the yang aspects of physiology back to the jing level.  The TH CD begins at Du-20, which is where the hun leaves at death, where the hundred spirits meet, and in some texts, is a point on the Yang Wei Mai.  It has a downward trajectory (to the heart, so, unless the demon is eating hearts because its previous heart has begun to decay, we should be in the clear.)  We activate the wei mai to engage its role in the seven year cycle and harness the energy of the TH mechanism through the opening point, TH-5.  The points I would use are:  TH-5, SI-10 or GB-20, Du-20, TH-17, CV-12.  I would use a deep needling technique for the TH-5, SI-10, and GB-20 points.  From Du-20 onwards, I would use a deep-superficial-deep needling technique.  The Yang Wei Mai treatment protocol can be continued daily with rosemary oil.  Unfortunately, EV treatments usually take three months to show results, and CD treatments can take three weeks.  That means the demon should really have planned ahead.  That whole, “I’m going to use the body of a high school student” has its drawbacks — frequent lack of forethought being one of them.

For an herbal treatment, I would be tempted to try Ren Shen Ge Jie San (Ginseng and Gecko powder).  At first glance, this formula does not meet the treatment criteria.  It is not used to consolidate yin and yang.  It has no sticky ingredients to make the shen adhere to the jing.  It doesn’t even include the heart and brain of the gecko from which it is made, using only their skin or tails.  However, sometimes infertility is due to the jing being unable to grasp the shen.  Physiologically, this is analogous to the Kidneys being unable to grasp the Lung qi.  This formula does exactly that — augments the Kidneys to grasp Lung qi.  It also contains Sang Bai Pi, which is used in Channel Divergent treatments, usually with the addition of E Jiao.  That would be the one modification I would make to the formula.

As always, this post is for theoretical and entertainment purposes only.  If you feel you have a seven-year itch which might receive benefit from acupuncture or herbal medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

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