The Replacement (Buffy, Season 5, Episode 3)

This is the episode in which a demon attempts to split the Slayer into two entities:  one which contains all her strengths, and another which embodies all her weaknesses.  The demon could then kill the weaker of the two Buffys (Buffies?), destroying them both.  However, the demon’s plan does not turn out as intended:  Xander is the one who gets split in two.  The Scooby gang must then figure out a way to reunite the two ‘halves’ of Xander.

This was an interesting episode in other respects for all that it foreshadows of the season:  robots, mortality, calling up a goddess.  Each element will be developed in the coming episodes, with the goddess being the ‘big bad’ of Season 5.

In terms of medical conditions, this episode offers several conditions for treatment.  Clearly, burns and pain, dislocated shoulder, and a divine fear of mortality and age are all presented.  However, I will focus on Xander’s case because it offers the most theoretically challenging concepts.

First, I will be cheeky and say that a simple herbal remedy to bring the two Xanders back into alignment with one another is Qian Zheng San, or Lead to Symmetry Powder.  The formula typically treats facial paralysis — e.g. Bell’s palsy and facial neuralgias — due to wind-phlegm obstructing the channels.  As such, the three ingredients (Bai fu zi, Bai jiang can, Quan xie) dispel wind in the Tai Yang channel, transform damp-heat phlegm in the Yang Ming channel, thereby pacifying tremors and spasms in the face.

In Xander’s case, a windy blast from a wand-like device caused the separation between his selves.  His external life was moving forward at a pace of changes too much for him (wind invading Tai Yang).  Phlegm in Yang Ming came about because of his desire (heat) to move forward was constrained by the overpowering function of Yang Ming to close, or stop, processes, leading to a clouding of his perceptions (perception being dependent on the jin-fluids of YangMing).

Someone may point out that I am making an argument to justify my use of a formula whose name I think captures Xander’s predicament, rather than looking at Xander’s situation and building a formula from there.  That is true.  In terms of acupuncture, however, I will begin with the presentation and build a point prescription based on that observation.

As a personal note, my own interest in acupuncture was developed in San Francisco, where I used it to balance a body slightly skewed by ballet classes.  I found that acupuncture treatments not only helped to realign my body, but they also helped increase the flexibility of my feet and ankles.  One treatment before class even led to incredible balance at eh barre and centre.  So I’m interested in exploring ways to return symmetry to the body via acupuncture in the particular case of Xander.

First, we could analyse the situation from the point of view of yin-yang theory.  After all, we now have two complementary halves of Xander.  Where one is strong, the other is weak.  Where one is calm, the other is agitated.  However, I would point out that ‘strong’ Xander is not in an excess state of physiology.  In fact, he seems perfectly balanced, all emotions easily transforming themselves, able to bend with the winds of change and secure opportunities when they arise.  He is clear sighted and calm in his demeanour.   It is the weak Xander who is out of balance.  In particular, he seems to be exhibiting cold in the Gallbladder and the Heart.  Perhaps the blast from the wand was chilling, and this Xander got the cold damage.

The treatment for cold Xander would then be fairly straightforward.   Warm the Heart (moxa at Ht 5, for example) and Gallbladder (moxa at GB34 or 41, perhaps).  However, we will then have two strong-well balanced Xanders.  Will that be enough to bring the two back together?  If so, why?

Looking back at the yin-yang scenario, we know that yin and yang transform into one another.  We also know that yin and yang separate just before death.  While some would say the two mutually consume one another — which would lead to a disappearance of Xander altogether — should we not then work to harmonise the two by re-uniting yin and yang?

What keeps yin and yang together?  What separates them?  In the Dao De Jing (or De Dao Jing, if you prefer what seems to be the older ordering), it is said that the one gives birth to the two, the two to the three, and the three to the ten thousand things.  The one is considered to be the Dao, the two to be yin and yang.  Yin and yang then exist in material substance — in other words, in qi.  Qi then propels the transformation of yin and yang into the ten thousand things.  The transforming power of qi is the sin curve separating between yin and yang, which otherwise would be separated by a single straight line.

We should therefore seek to expel cold in such a way that we generate qi.  To do this, I would suggest broadening the focus from expelling cold in the Gallbladder to treating the entire ShaoYang mechanism, drawing in the Triple Heater.  The Triple Heater is responsible for that initial motile force in the body which turns jing-essence into the qi of the channels.  The Triple Heater delivers source qi to all the source points of the body, and enlivens the individuals’ unfolding into the world.  The triple heater, then, is the key element to be drawn in — perhaps having the power to bring the two Xanders together.

What points would I use, then?

I would moxa TB-4, the source point on the triple heater channel.  Moxa here will augment source qi and strengthen the channel’s functionality, with ‘spill-over’ effects into the other source points, such as HT-7.  (Subsequent treatment could then draw on the augmented source qi by using a source-luo combination.)

I would also moxa GB-41, the opening point of the dai mai — the vessel which holds all the warp-vessels in place — and the shu-stream point.  As the shu-stream point, this point helps warms the yang of the channel, expelling cold.  Finally, I would use cone moxa on CV-3, ‘the central pole’ as it is called, around which the yin-yang system coalesces.  This point also happens to be the alarm-mu point for the TaiYang-Bladder, regulating the wei qi of the body along the Tai Yang channel.

One other condition raised in this episode I have not yet commented on.  Riley’s comment at the end: What must it be like to know that another person is ‘the one’, but also to know that person does not love you? And what if you never knew what that person was waiting for, why they were with you?  For that, I’m afraid I do not have an answer through Chinese Medicine.  Riley, however does have the answer, which he spoke at the end of the episode, ‘Hush’.

As always these points are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one has Bell’s palsy or facial neuralgia and would like to experience whether Chinese Medicine may be an appropriate modality for you, please see a qualified practitioner.  Also note that Qian Zheng San is difficult to obtain in the UK.

Happy Slayage!


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