Lovers Walk (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 8) — Post One of Two

In this episode, we see Spike return to Sunnydale, miserable and moping over his loss of Drusilla to an antlered demon.  We see Willow and Xander trying desperately to fall out of love, while Buffy and Angel realise the hopelessness of their own relationship.  This is the episode in which Cordelia and Oz walk in on Willow and Xander in a somewhat compromising situation.

It wasn’t until Season Four that I began to realise Spike is a symbol for Buffy’s relationships, an outward manifestation of her own inner demons.  While I’m not certain the writers specifically thought of him that way, he fits into such a deconstruction of the Buffy plotline.

Aside from the lovesickness, the episode offers a number of intriguing diagnoses to follow up on.  Buffy mentions her mother’s head spinning around and then exploding when Joyce saw Buffy’s SAT scores.  (This was a metaphorical head explosion, as Giles sought to clarify.)  Buffy and Spike both reference rashes, pustules, boils, and leprosy.

Falling out of love is the most intriguing , however.  Given all the possibilities offered by this episode, I will split it up into two parts, as I did with the Ted episodes of Season Two.  This post, then, will examine Head Wind and Rashes.

Poor Joyce.  She’s gone through so much (and has yet more to experience).  Let’s examine some of her case history, shall we?

First, we diagnosed her with mild anemia due to falling on a barbecue fork.  We treated her Stomach primary meridian.  Then we treated her for food allergies due to Ted’s scrumptiously laced cookies.  We used the Stomach and Spleen divergent channel.  Most recently, we diagnosed her with age-inappropriate behaviour (also due to over-consumption of sugary foods), and gave her an herbal decoction aimed at levelling her Liver and Kidney channels; we also used a primary meridian treatment focused on the Stomach, Heart, and Triple Heater meridians.  It seems like she has an earth-related deficiency, and her excessive worry about Buffy fits this profile.

If I were actually treating her, and she continued to manifest these earth-related issues, I would want to try a different approach.  I might select a deeper channel to really push out these habituated pathologies.  Keeping that approach in mind, let’s look at her most recent diagnosis, provided by her daughter, Buffy.

Buffy relates that Joyce saw (i.e. read) Buffy’s SAT scores.  Here, we can think of the orifices of the head; we can also think of the Brain as an extraordinary organ.  Channels possibly involved with the eyes would include Stomach (no surprise), Gallbladder, Urinary Bladder, Qiao Mai, and Du Mai.

Then her head spun around. Obviously a wind symptom.  Wind tends to move from place to place.  Turning usually relates to ShaoYang (GB/ TW)) or ShaoYin (HT/KD).  Unfortunately, we don’t know whether this turning of the head was done with flexion or extension of the cervical vertebrae.  However, we know that the GB also has a relationship to the Brain, and the HT/KD also share a relationship to that Extraordinary Organ by virtue of being the seat of perception and the overseer of the marrow.  The Brain is called the Sea of Marrow.

Then her head exploded.

Obviously, the wind was too intense to be expelled properly.  Perhaps her sensory orifices were blocked (the clear yang of the Stomach must have been compromised from her poor diet, and failed to nourish the sensory organs properly).  Maybe she still lacked proper yin substances (such as blood) to anchor that wind and keep it from rising up.  Since her blood and body fluids are compromised, if we were to have treated her in time, we would have to have used a deeper substance in her body:  jing.

Jing is conducted by the Extraordinary Vessels and the Divergent Channels.  Since the last post used the Extraordinary Vessels, let’s use them again.  While previous posts have emphasised the psychological uses of these vessels, they can be used for more than just karmic and deep seated issues.  Joyce’s case provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate when and how.

I would diagnose Joyce as having (extreme) head wind.

A Ming dynasty treatment related by Jeffrey Yuen in a lecture given on the Extraordinary Vessels is a perfect example of the approach which uses the Du Mai because of its relationship to the Brain and because of its ability to release wind to treat just this sort of case.

SI-3 would be used to open the Du Mai.  Then points which release wind are added:  BL-12, which is the point where the Du Mai forms a diamond on the upper back, Du-14 (which releases the upper back and activates the sinew vessels) and Du-16 are added.  Some people might also select GB-20 on either side of Du-16; or Du-20 can be used if heat seems to be present.  LI-4 is then used to release the wind to the exterior.  Alternately, one could treat the patient side-lying and use BL-1 to open the eyes to release excess wind, while also needling these other points.

A typical herbal formula for head wind is Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San.  I might add Ju Hua to Joyce’s formula simply to focus on the eyes.

However, the formula Chai Ge Jie Ji Tang composed by Tao Hua around 1445 better fits our acupuncture treatment.  This formula releases the muscle layer to expel wind (cf Du-14) and also clears heat (cf Du-20).  The ingredients as listed in Bensky’s formulary are Chai Hu (tropism for the GB channel), Ge Gen (releases the muscle layer), Qiang Huo (goes to Du-14), Bai Zhi (always good for Joyce’s Yang Ming distress), Huang Qin (I might omit this from Joyce’s formula), Shi Gao (another Yang Ming medicinal), Jie Geng (floats the herbs outward and upward), Bai Shao (ostensibly to preserve the yin; I might use toasted Bai Shao to nourish blood), Gan Cao (to harmonise the formula), Sheng Jiang, Da Zao (the last two together regulate the ying and wei qi).

As for rashes, these never ended up manifesting in this episode.  However, rashes are often attributable to Wind-Heat and treated with insect-based medicinals like Chan Tui to promote their expression.  In prior eras, leprosy was formerly treated with Mu Lan, the bark of Magnolia Obovata, but I doubt this can be found in pharmacies outside China.

On the other hand, rashes due to epidemic pathogens would be treated a little differently, since these pathogens can quickly enter the blood level.  In terms of acupuncture, the Small Intestine channel is key.  We know that the SI helps draw heat away from the Heart physiologically; it should come as no surprise that the SI channel can also help draw heat away from the blood.  SI-3 and SI-8 would be one combination;  so would SI-3 and SI-11, especially when paired with BL-15 or BL-14.

As always, this post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you think you could benefit from the traditions of Asian medicine, please seek a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!


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