This Year’s Girl (Buffy Season 4, Episode 15)


As if Adam were not enough to deal with, this is the episode in which Faith awakes from a coma and wreaks havoc, for a short time, in Sunnydale.  Meanwhile Riley struggles for clarity about his place in the Initiative.  A haunting soundtrack wafts in and out of the episode, binding the scenes together.

Despite the evocative music, Riley, Buffy, and Faith could all benefit from a little bit of acupuncture and herbal medicine philosophy.

Riley’s case is fairly straightforward.  Both the Small Intestine and Bladder organ systems are said to separate the clear from turbid, the pure from the impure.  While this can be read on a purely physical level of separating out liquids from solids, it can also be broadened to clarifying aspects of one’s life more generally. Both the BL and SI belong to TaiYang, and their ability to separate clear form unclear is tied to TaiYang’s role in opening to the exterior:  what should be kept, and what should be released?  What should be kept from getting in, and what should pass through the lived experience of the body harmoniously?  Note this is different from the ShaoYang’s pivotal role in decision making as such.  Riley is perfectly capable of executing decisions.  He can turn one way or the other.  What is lacking is clarity — Riley doesn’t like grey areas.   Physiologically, one could say that to reach the ShaoYang level, one must pass inwards from TaiYang.

From another perspective, though, because the LV jueyin is involved in clarifying blood, one might consider some LV-PC points, too.  After all, jueyin is the last stage before yin reverts to yang — to TaiYang, specifically.  Thus, the LV and PC have a mutual interaction with SI and BL function.  Both the SI and PC remove excess heat from the heart; both the LV and BL are engaged in processes of clarification.  The LV stills things for clear reflection; the BL expresses them outwards, while retaining what is essential.  The BL grasps, while the LV holds.

For Riley, I would use the points SI-5 — good for clarifying direction in life.  It’s name (‘Yang Ravine’) is indicative of bringing clear yang-transformative aspects  to the yin-turbidity of one’s thoughts.  As a river point (or more accurately, a ‘warp’ or ‘meridian’ point), it is said to ‘phase’ — it is the same character used in the term ‘five elements’ or ‘five phases’, except used as a verb.  They are said to promote proper movement of qi, and treat cases of change in voice.  In order to link it with internal consolidation of blood, I might pair it with either PC-8 or LV-2, both ying-spring points.  With PC-8, I would expect clarity to return to the heart.  Alternately, pairing it with BL-60, the jing-point of the BL channel, the focus would be on clearing the entire length of the TaiYang channel, particularly the head.

Herbally, Riley might benefit from Qu Mai, Xuan Shen, and Bi Xie or Fang Feng.  Bi Xie helps retain clear fluids, while flushing out pathogenic water — Fang Feng releases the exterior and is specific for damp patterns; Qu Mai drains heat from the Heart through the SI and BL; Xuan Shen can be used for those going through a ‘Dark Night of the Soul’.  I would consider adding Xi Xian Cao.  Together the four herbs retain yin and consolidate blood in the LV; expel heat and clarify the SI; and release the exterior to purge dampness.

Buffy could use some Zhi Mu, whose name means ‘Remember Mother’ — but not in excess, since used over time it can actually injure the yin.  Faith diagnosed Buffy as having a ‘better than thou’ LV-LU excess of virtue, in which the LV’s benevolence meets the LU’s justice assimilated too closely to a sense of self (KD) or projected outwards towards society in general (SP).  To clarify these relationships more exactly, a pulse diagnosis would be helpful.

Finally, there’s Faith.  Her wildly unsettled shen makes me think that HT-8 or PC-8 would be a good bet for her — and interestingly enough, the device which Faith uses to switch bodies with Buffy covers both those points.  What is the nature of those points for the channels on which they appear?

As Wang and Robertson note in Applied Channel Theory, ying spring points in general mildly tonify yin-blood and clear deficient heat, and are used when changes in a patient’s complexion can be observed.  They clear deficient heat by bringing up the yin to regulate the yang; in the process affecting the complexion.  They can be used to generate the associated yin-fluids of the organ.  The general name of PC-8, Ying Gong (‘Ying-qi palace’) broadly reflects this idea.  Needling technique should reflect these qualities, and a gentle, shallow insertion, followed by light twirling will engage the nature of the point and its functions.

Yin channel ying-spring points are fire points.  As such they can also tonify both the fire- and earth- associated channels and organs.  They tonify the fire-related organs by bringing to bear more substance to anchor the fire and upwards movement of those organs, much like a flame is anchored to a glowing coal.  They tonify the earth-associated channels by moistening fire so that it can transform into earth; or to use the analogy again, they provide some yin-substance to form that coal which will ultimately transform to earthy-ash.  More to the point, the movement of fire is upwards; Faith had stated she feels like she’s stuck in tar pits and sinking deeper every day.  Spontaneous and unfettered movement in her life was disrupted, and something whose nature upbears would restore that movement.  (I might consider Ge Gen Tang for her case.)

HT-8, as a fire point of a fire organ can be seen as the natural ‘home’ of the Heart — and thus also of consciousness.  Its name, Shao Fu (‘Lesser Fu/ Storehouse’), as Ellis, Wiseman, and Boss point out, is reflective of this capacity.  PC-8, on the other hand, is associated with ghosts — it is named both ‘ghost cave’ and ‘ghost road’ in other texts.  A perfect entry point for a magical device that seeks to replace a body’s normal consciousness with an alien one.

PC-8 and HT-8 together on Faith also have a role to play when we turn from point energetics to the spiritual qualities these two channels, as channels, govern.  The Heart governs the Mai, which store the Shen (affect, consciousness); the Hun (personality) is stored in the Blood, which is stored in the jueyin LV — and the PC is the jueyin channel which gives the Hun access to the Heart and the residence of the Shen.  JueYin Men, the ‘spirit point’ of the PC, located on the lateral bladder line, can be thought of as that gate.  In this episode, however, we see that another crossing point would be to thread a needle through these two points — the Ghost Cave (‘ghost’ shares the same signific radical with ‘hun’) and the Shen’s lesser residence.

Turning to an overall diagnosis or etiology for the case of Faith, she has two pathological sources for her unsettled shen.  First, Faith was continually dumped or engaged in a competition of exploitation — by her family, by a watcher, by her father figures, and Buffy… Second, she was in a coma for months.  Both factors could possibly have led to cold in PC and HT, constricting its proper expression, and ultimately turning to a very severe, though likely deficient (from loss of blood, movement, etc) heat.  I have treated one person who was in an induced coma with these two points, and suddenly his presence was much more clear and cognizant, at least while the needles were in.  I only did that treatment on him once; would that I could have repeated it as a regular treatment, to see how long those effects would take in order to effect a lasting change.

As always, these posts are for entertainment purposes only.  If you feel Acupuncture or Chinese medicine may be helpful to you or someone you know, please seek out a qualified practitioner.  Happy slayage!

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