Spiral (Buffy, Season 5, Episode 20)


Buffy and the Scoobies flee from Glory into the desert, pursued by the Knights of Byzantium (whose clerics mysteriously speak Latin rather than Greek; clearly, they were an order founded in the wake of 1204’s Fourth Crusade).  The knights surround the Scoobies in an abandoned gas/ petrol station.  Willow protects the area with a wall spell, but because Giles was wounded, Buffy calls Ben to address Giles’ injuries, allowing Glory to capture Dawn, destroy Willow’s barrier, and slaughter the Knights without a second thought (they would have killed her Key, after all; Glory was merely protecting Dawn).  When the Scoobies emerge, Buffy witnesses the carnage left by Glorificus, and collapses, catatonic.

A few interesting moral questions are raised in this episode.  Is this the first episode in which Buffy kills a human?  We don’t actually see the knight she axes in the chest die, of course — he could very well have turned into another Faith, ‘almost but not quite’.  Another moral question occurs when Ben saves Giles’ life; was Giles aware of that in the final episode of this season, when he ensures that Glory never return through Ben’s body?  Again, Ben could stop everything by taking a single human life:  but in contrast to everyone else, he knows that life is either his, or Dawn’s.  It is interesting that he does not choose to end his own life, although he clearly seems to believe he will one day be successful at containing Glory.  (Besides, that would end the Season a bit abruptly, a factor I’m sure Ben took into consideration when he decided to preserve his own life.)

What luo vessel pathology has shown up in the midst of all the excitement?  At the end of the episode, Buffy collapses entirely.  All her joints go slack.  This is the sign of the Great Luo of the  Spleen.  The opening point for this ‘extra’ luo vessel was located previously at GB 22 or 23, but today is acknowledged to be at SP 21.

Ordinarily, the Great Luo treats cases of unbearable pain, and I think I’ve mentioned it in a previous post dealing with suicide (as suicide occurs when pain outweighs a person’s resources to cope).  The relationship of unbearable pain (in repletion) and slackness of all the joints (when the Great Luo of the Spleen is in depletion) is clearly shown here, when Buffy’s limbs give out under her because of the shock and pain she feels at all the men who have died as a result of her actions, all the death and loss she brings into the world.  Is the Great Luo replete or depleted in this case?  I would suggest it became more and more replete, and then yang repletion changed to yin depletion.  Therefore, the treatment is to bleed the vessel and any spider veins which may have shown up along the serratus anterior muscles, followed by moxa.  Lots of moxa, I would think, until Buffy revives.  I might consider using moxa at SP 21, and then GB 22 and end at HT 1.

What herbs can be used to guide a formula to the Great Luo of the Spleen?  Goat horn (Gu Yang Jiao) is said by the Divine Farmer to treat ‘clear-eye blindness’, while Tao Hong Jing writes that it ‘cures bound qi in the hundreds of joints’.  It also treats heart vexation.  Together, these symptoms describe the sort of pain one feels when seeing reality clearly, so clearly that all one’s joints slacken.  It is used singly, one of the few herbs in the Chinese Materia Medica to be used without other medicinals.

If we are looking for a formula, we could ask what herbs go to the flanks, to both GB and SP?  What is the relation between SP-21, GB-22/23, and HT-1 from a herbal perspective?  Together, these three form a series of blood points.  Is it possible to move blood from one point to the other using herbs, rather than needles, harness SP yang to nourish the GB, or treat the GB so that the HT is nourished and SP replenished at the appropriate site?  This seems to be a case where the mansion of blood is an appropriate anatomical concept to use;  Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang would make an appropriate base formula, and its actions do go to the flanks.  Another possibility is the formula Gu Zhen Tang, which restores yang qi to revive the Spleen.  When yang qi is exuberant, it will generate yin blood.  It consists of Ren Shen, Zhi Fu Zi, Fu Ling, and Bai Zhu (all at 7.5g), augmented by Shan Yao, Mi Zhi Huang Qi, Rou Gui, and Gan Cao (at 6g).

As always, these posts are for informational and entertainment purposes only.  If you feel you could benefit from the practice of Chinese Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

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