Graduation Day, Part Two (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 22)


This is it for the Scooby Gang:  The End of High School.  Happily for the fans of the show, Buffy does go to college, for one year, at least, and the show continues on.

This episode sees the culmination of all the mayor has worked towards.  His ascension went off without a hitch, really, except he neglected to realise that it left him vulnerable.  Once the Mayor assumed his snake-like demon form, the Scooby Gang were able to lure him into the library, the centre of the Hellmouth that is Sunnydale.  In the emptied out library, the Mayor meets his doom:  plastic explosives.  Buffy once again has taken part in a plot to destroy the actual buildings of her high school.  Lucky for her, Principle Snyder was eaten before he found out, she presumably received her diploma, and those pesky ‘permanent records’ — also presumably exploded.

But what to do with all those leftover demon-snake parts?  Chinese medicine, naturally, has the answer, and this post will look at some of the many uses of snakes in the herbal medical tradition.

The Divine Farmer recommends snake skin (She Tui)  to treat fright epilepsy, madness, hemorrhoids, worm toxins, and ‘tuggings and slackenings’ in children.   The Divine Farmer also notes that snake skin is better if baked.

The first three pathologies are often due to the presence of wind in the body.  Hemorrhoids are typically noted as being caused by ‘wind in the intestines’, giving rise to both itching and bleeding.  The bleeding can be caused by the body either trying to expel the wind on its own — one treatment principle is to move blood to expel wind — or due to the wind forcing the blood from the vessels.  Likewise, fright can scatter Heart qi and cause the vessels to empty of blood, leaving them to be filled with wind.  Madness can likewise be caused by such an underlying physiological process.  (I should note that ‘wind’ in Chinese Medicine can often signify ‘change’ in a person’s life or environment.)

Colourful alternate names for snake skin include ‘robe of the baby dragon’ or ‘shirt of the baby dragon’ (long zi yi, long zi dan yi).  I’m not so sure that Mayor Wilkins could be considered a ‘baby dragon’, however.  On the other hand, I wonder if his boens could be used in place of Long Gu (Dragon bone) to settle the spirit, astringe the essence, and reduce palpitations along the Ren Mai, when felt by the practitioner during hara diagnosis?  (Gui Zhi jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang can be used to settle such palpations and relax the Ren Mai.)

Today, (at least) two types of snakes are used in the Chinese Herbal tradition.  Bai Hua She is said to enter the blood level and the Liver channel.  It penetrates into the bones to  gather wind and invigorates the Luo-collaterals to quiet siezures.  Moving blood and having an affinity for the Wood channel allow it to extinguish both internal or external wind.  Since it unblocks the channels, it can be used in Luo Vessel treatments as well. Dosage range is 1-1.5g powdered; 3 – 10g whole.  I have seen whole snakes placed in vats of wine with other herbs in order to create medicinal soaks and liniments for use in massage and after martial arts training.

Wu Shao She is the other snake used today.  It is milder than Bai Hua She, and so its dosage is comparably larger:  2-3g powdered; 6-10g otherwise.

As always, this post is for informational purposes only.  If you want to collect your own snakes and snake skins for use as medicines, please seek the guidance of knowledgeable practitioners.  Happy Slayage!

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