“Prophecy Girl” (Buffy, Season 1)

Tough bones.

That’s what I thought at the end of Season 1’s finale.  Why do most vampires crumble into dust and blow away, not a trace of their undead bodies remaining?  Or more to the point — if most vampires’ remains do not, in fact, remain after being staked, why did the Master’s bones survive?  True, they aren’t strong enough to survive a sledgehammer, as we later discover — but how did the Master avoid any sign of osteoporosis at his age?

In a previous post, we discussed the viability of his po — the corporeal soul resident in the bones of the deceased, and thus often termed, “bone souls”.  With a well-made vessel to house them, those po-souls never needed to return to the earth.   Chinese alchemists in ancient times sought ways to preserve the body, and failing that, the bones, for just such a reason.  Martial artists continue a tradition of strengthening the bones, and this post will examine ways Chinese medicine can be used to give bones increased resiliency.

I think the Master would have favoured qi gong and nei gong techniques, rather than herbal medicine or acupuncture.  One should remember that Oriental Medicine is more than just those latter two modalities, and I think often times we as practitioners forget that teaching our clients these techniques is a form of treatment in and of itself.

Kenneth Cohen, in his book Qi Gong, contains detailed instructions of the simple method of Bone Marrow Cleansing.  Four simple postures — the first a standing posture which moves into a prayer pose and concentrates energy within — this is the movement dynamic of metal, which resonates with the po, and thus the bones; then an outward stretched movement, like the prayer posture of ancient Mediterranean figures — this movement imitates the outward movement of wood, which resonates with the hun and the tendons.  In martial arts techniques, strengthening the tendons is one way to strengthen the bones.  The third movement brings PC-8 of one hand in contact with Du-4, resting there, while the other hand moves up to hover above Du-20 — Ming Men being distributed by the minister fire of the Heart Master to the place where the spirit (and possibly pathogens) will ultimately exit, the place where all marrow gathers.  The final movement brings both hands down in front of the body, that any pathogenic qi may be returned to the earth.

Mantak Chia has an entire book devoted to strengthen the bones and bone marrow, Bone Marrow Nei Kung.  The first exercise, after the basic microcosmic orbit has unblocked the Du Mai, brings external qi in through the jing well points, spiraling them around the bones, to be rooted in ming men (from which place it will travel to the brain).  This is known as bone breathing, and actually seems to rely on sinew vessels being clear in order to function most effectively.  Then the qi is consolidated within the bones through tightening the muscles — again using the tendons to strengthen the bones.  Chia’s book has much more detailed descriptions of how this is done.

The bones are considered an extraordinary organ, conducting essence int he form of marrow.  Marrow, also an extraordinary organ, moistens the bones, and can be thought of as the union of jing and shen, of qi and blood.  Formulas which strengthen the bones often also focus on tonifying both yin-jing and yang, as well as blood.  In fact, in Bisio’s book “A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth” one formula used in treating rib fractures actually begins with the four ingredients of the blood building tonic Si Wu Tang.

The simplest formula I know of which can be added to Si Wu Tang is Qing E Wan, which is composed of Du Zhong, Bu Gu Zhi, and He Tao Ren.  The first two herbs are well known as bone strengtheners, while the last (walnut) tonifies yang.  Walnut is a great example of an herb known through the doctrine of signatures:  it resembles the testicles, thus tonifies yang; cracked, the kernel resembles a brain, thus it augments the marrow.  I might add Xu Duan to the formula as well, to combine the bone building, blood and marrow augmenting powers of the previous herbs with a tendon-strengthening herb.

Acupuncture could also be used to strengthen the bones of the Master.  One could theoretically take some tips from the qi gong Bone Marrow Washing and needle Du-4, PC-8, and Du-20.  I would add UB-11, the meeting point of bones, and then burn thread moxa along the intervertebral spaces of the Du Mai in order to clear it of blockages.  I would also consider adding GB-39 and GB-34 because of their relationship not only to the marrow and tendons, but also because the Gallbladder is said to master the bones.  Although this would seem to violate my tendency not to exceed three meridians, I am working at the jing level, whereby the power of the Du Mai is administered through the body by the power of minister fire (in this case, the PC).  Alternately, one could consider that UB-11, because it meets with the Du Mai, is itself a point on the Governor Vessel.  Finally, I would note that SI-18 gives access to the zygoma, which is considered the master bone of the entire body.

As always, the concepts discussed in this post are purely theoretical and not meant to be applied, except by qualified practitioners.

I liked Buffy’s dress, too.


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