New Moon Rising (Buffy Season 4, Episode 19)

This rather intense episode sees Oz unexpectedly return home to Sunnydale.  Oz’s return places Willow in the position of having to make a choice — to go back to Oz, or to remain with Tara.  The resulting choice to be with Tara leads Willow to ‘come out’ to Buffy.  The coming out theme is paralleled and played upon in Buffy and Riley’s discussion about ‘unconvential relationships’.  One might also argue the theme is also continued in Oz’s capture and the subsequent experimentation performed on him to try to figure out what he his — but I don’t want this to be a post about conversion therapy.

I will say that coming out’s a bitch.  So is being experimented on or being locked away because of what you are.  But, like Willow’s choice for Tara and her letting go of Oz, no less difficult to go through are break ups, with their ironies and the delusional dreams we tell ourselves about the future to make the pain hurt less.  To make ourselves think that some good byes are not forever.

“We’ll always have Paris.”

I’ve treated Oz before, in B2.12 (Bad Eggs), B2.14 (Phases) and B4.6 (Wild at Heart).  In New Moon Rising, we discover that Oz found a way to control, or rather, integrate and make peace with the wolf within.  I suggest alternatives to the word ‘control’ because ‘control’ is perhaps not the right word for this case, given the close themes of an inner, unchosen self being expressed in Oz as a werewolf, and Willow’s coming out to Buffy as gay.  In my Wild at Heart post, I promised an examination of making peace with oneself for this episode.  Making peace with oneself, then, will be what I examine today.

First, though, the foundations must be laid.  We’ve addressed self-cultivation recently, in the Jonathan Superstar post from Season 4, as well as in the Phases post from Season 2.

Willow and Tara

It seems the treatment we gave Willow back in Season 2, during the first Hallowe’en of the Buffy series, seems to have positive ongoing effects.  That treatment was designed to help her become comfortable with expressing herself.

When we turn to coming out, we could continue with the same treatment.  Physiologically, however, one might think of the the Shen, stored in the person’s heart and charged with expressing the pattern of destiny in this life.  In such a case, the ShaoYin aspect of the Heart’s communication with the Kidneys comes into play, inasmuch as the shen works hand in hand with the will-within-the-will. The will-within-the-will or zhi, was explored in a previous post; it is relevant here because that will is governed by the Kidneys and can be interrupted or disrupted by fear.

Coming out is also very much tied to jing, to sexuality, to the lifecourse, and to choosing a mate (creating ‘fictive kinship ties’ in social anthropological terms).  In the case of homosexuality and coming out, I would note that the Kidneys usually cycle jing (the lineage of one’s ancestors) in order to perpetuate a lineage (as more jing; that is, Kidney fire — ming men — impels the person toward combining his or her jing-lineage with another person’s jing).

In the case of homosexuality though, we have an example of jing being channeled into social reproduction.  (I am reading into Classical Chinese Medicine here, since in ancient times it was expected that one would procreate regardless of sexuality.  For more on that topic, see the book The Passions of the Cut Sleeve by Bret Hinsch (1990).)  Social life is represented by the Spleen and its transformation of food into post-natal qi and flesh.  The relationship between the Kidneys and the Spleen is usually treated in terms of Kidney yang supporting Spleen yang.  The directionality of this support can go the other way also, which we usually frame as ‘Earth controlling Water’ — Confucian morals channeling the expression of individual identity within a lineage along very specific lines .

A person having trouble coming out may express several different physical pathologies.  The first might be Earth over-controlling Water, in which case KD water would need to be strengthened.  One could also say that the real problem is that external influences are entering into the person too easily, and the exterior needs to be secured so that jing is not dispersed.  This is the pathology we will examine in more detail.  The third option would be to ensure that the HT and KD are communicating with one another, and that the ST/ SP yang — which pivot that communication through the diaphragm — is being supported by the KD.  We will return to this themes in a moment.

For Oz:

Meditation and moon phases.

It is apparent that Oz’s struggle is with keeping the inner wolf from manifesting outwards; for him, the struggle is somewhat the opposite of Tara and Willow.  Oz must keep things in.  We know herbal medicine is not necessarily a one way street.  Herbal formulae can work both ways — in Oz’s case, to keep the exterior cool and human-like; for Willow, to secure her sense of self from any potential changes blowing in from the outside.

The formula to do this is Mu Li San.   The formula is composed of mu li, huang qi, fu xiao mai, and ma huang gen.  Usually, this formula is used for excessive sweating, either during the day or at night, and heart palpitations.  Mu Li itself is used for fright palpitations, fullness in the chest, and thirst due to mental vexation and fright.  It also secures the essence, anchors the spirit, and softens hardness through its salty nature.  Zou Shu (according to Dr Huang Huang’s zhang Zhong-jing’s Clinical Applications of 50 Medicinals) suggests Mu Li be used “for yang that does not return to yin and fails to transform qi” causing generalised vexation that does not localise in any particular area of the body.

Here, I want to engage the properties of Mu Li San in order to keep the heart and kidneys secure.  This is achieved by calming the spirit — calming the fright (KD) which comes from not knowing how others (SP) will react to you (HT) or your appearance.  Fear and fright can lead to nocturnal emission because the fire of the Heart, in the form of the shen descending to harmonise with the jing, disturbs the water of the Kidneys, which cannot contain that fire.  Thus Mu Li, rather than the two herb combination of Rou Gui and Huang Lian, are used.  (Huang Lian, though focuses on the centre of the chest to calm anxiety, and Rou Gui on the Kidneys.  The three together would not be a bad prescription, actually, though I would be sure to add Huang Qi to secure the exterior as well as the interior.)

Huang Qi of course, secures the exterior, boosts the qi, and strengthens the centre.  In other words, Huang Qi strengthens the SP and ST, raises the yang qi (from KD through ST and SP; from SP/ ST to upper orifices, governed by the HT and bathed in the pure yang fluids of the ST).  Huang qi is one of the key herbs in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a formula which can also be used to calm the spirit.

The other two herbs are Fu Xiao Mai, which calms the shen and floats outwards, and Ma Huang Gen, which restrains sweating.

I would consider removing the ma huang gen, as this concerns sweat.  However, sweat is the yin of the Heart, and for communication to occur smoothly between the HT and KD, not only does KD yin in the form of jing need to be secure, but so does HT yin, in the form of sweat (and sometimes also as HT blood, which can be nourished by suan zao ren).  What we are trying to do is harmonise ShaoYin, in both its water and fire aspects.  Ma Huang Gen, along with Mu Li, helps to harmonise the water aspect.

In a previous post, I gave a formula which can help allow one to look at one’s shadow side and not recoil:  Gou Qi Zi,  Ju Hua, He Shou Wu.  Rather than use He Shou Wu, which in the prior case was specific for making peace with one’s place in the cycle of ageing, I might decide to pick an ingredient from Mu Li San to secure the exterior while strengthening the centre and the interior.  Thus, another formula I might consider for longer term usage in Oz’s case is Gou Qi Zi, Ju Hua, and Huang Qi.  (Maybe even Mi Zhi Huang Qi, honey-fried to augment its tonic and satisfying properties.)

So much for herbal recipes to make peace with oneself.  Note, the above formulae are specific for certain forms of self-peacemaking, but not necessarily for making peace with unresolved grief.  If Oz experiences such grief, I would want to turn to other formulas.

The use of acupuncture to make peace with oneself?  Inasmuch as I should give a treatment different from using the Yin Qiao Mai, I might consider a luo vessel approach.  The luo point of the Gallbladder concerns redefinition and seeing options.  The Gallbladder is also the extraordinary organ of transformation, a ‘magic organ’ as it were.  Therefore, I would bloodlet GB 37, Guang Ming or ‘Bright Light’.  “In the case of vacuity there will be atonic limpness and inability to sit up.”

I would also burn several cones of moxa on GB-37 after bloodletting, and perhaps also three cones on LV-3.  Before bloodletting and moxa’ing GB-37, I would bloodlet the luo points on the KD and San Jiao meridians, since these meridians deal with the constitution; or I might choose the SP and PC luo points, since these concern living out one’s life (PC) in society (SP).

For any ongoing grief Oz might feel, having lost a dream of being with Willow again, I might mix PC-6 and SJ-5 (to secure the inner and outer gate), before continuing to bloodlet GB-37.  If Oz’s pain was particularly acute, I would use SP-21, the Great Luo of the Spleen instead of SP-4.  SP-21 treats unbearable pain.  I would also consider GB-22, which is the ancient location of SP-21 as a possible addition or combination with GB-37.

Following up on the above treatment, which would be administered every other day for about ten days, I would use the combination of Du-20, KD-1, and CV-17 to bring the patient entirely back to centre.

Looking ahead to Seasons 8 and 9, it would seem that Oz does make peace with himself, eventually, residing in a monastery and engaging in the practices of tranquility. He is responsible for teaching Buffy and crew how to conceal magical natures from being discovered.

Before he found such peace, however, Oz had to face Willow, and say goodbye.

As always, these posts are for educational purposes only.  If you feel you could benefit from Chinese Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.


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