Tabula Rasa (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 8)


The theme of consequences develops in this episode as the friction between Tara and Willow over Willow’s use of magic to remake the world according to Willow’s own liking continues. Willow offers to give up magic for a month; Tara suggests a week. As Tara said, ‘We’re in a relationship — we make decisions together.’  (Make sure both parties in the relationship agree to that premise, otherwise you’ll be in for potentially unpleasantly surprising results.)

Unfortunately, Willow is too addicted to magic at this point, and as she tries to have her cake and have eaten it too, she comes up with a new plan.  Willow tries to make things right the same way she kept making things wrong: by using magic. This time, Willow tries to erase all the recent suffering and misery experienced by both Buffy and Tara. The spell works a little too well, though. Everyone forgets who they are.  Trapped in the Magic Shop, each must use cues from the outside world to figure out what their identities are.  (This ‘use prop cues to form an identity’ makes a great acting class exercise, by the way.)  Interestingly, each character assumes they have a pre-existing identity which he or she has temporarily forgotten, rather than an identity which can be formed anew at each moment. That continuity in the idea of identity is the realm of the Yin Wei Mai; this EV seems to be functioning well for the Scoobies.

So what needs to be done?  The Scoobies need to remember what are their individual identities, and what positions the relationships they have established with the people around them.  Among the EVs, the Du Mai is concerned with individuation and going out into the world.  The small child learns to sit up to look at the world, and moves forward using the spine as the engine of locomotion.  The Du Mai is part and parcel of that process, lending its energy to the child and developing its own ability to regulate the body as a result.    The Du Mai meets up functionally with Yin Qiao, which concerns one’s view of the self, as well as with the Yang Wei Mai, which facilitates the way the outside world is matched up with the inside world.

In this episode, what we are seeing is the characters using the Yang Wei Mai to take outside cues inside to create a self-portrait, a view of who the character is.  This is accomplished via the Du Mai’s function of exploration-individuation.  Physiologically, think of this as bringing the jing of the Yang Wei Mai to the Yin Qiao Mai via the medium of the Du Mai’s yang energy.  Translating this physiology into the clinic, we have a treatment that is thus somewhat complex, in that it involves three EVs.   However, the Yang Wei channel includes two points on the Du Mai, allowing a nice crossing over.  I therefore would suggest the following points:

Yang Wei:  Open at left TH-5; bilateral UB63, GB35, SJ15, GB13
Du Mai: Du 16, (bilateral SI-3), Du 15, moxa only
Yin Qiao: ST9 or UB1, K8, close with right K6

During the course of the episode, Giles has a talk with Buffy about suffering.  In medicine, it is important to distinguish between necessary suffering (so that a person can heal and gain strength) and unnecessary suffering (which serves only to cripple, maim, hurt, or otherwise delay solid recovery).  The EVs, perhaps more than any other channel system, are intimately tied suffering, especially if a Buddhist world-view is taken.  The EVs represent and accumulate that suffering we have not been able to transcend in a life.  The world of self-development asks that we clear the EVs in particular.  Sometimes that entails a suffering directed to a liberating end.  It is the suffering which can come from self-cultivation, and a recognition of one’s own wrongs in the world.

Several herbs are conducive to the work of self-reflexion.  Among the two I’ve frequently recommended for self discovery, two in particular are associated with Extraordinary Vessels:  gou qi zi (wei mai, chong mai, dai mai) and xuan shen (ren mai).  It seems to me that these herbs are associated with those particular EVs for a reason.  Xuan Shen, which helps people going through a period of distillation of identity (often manifesting as a dark night of depression), is paired with the Ren Mai, the vessel of attachment, or more precisely, of bonding (i.e. positive attachment).  It is also the channel of digestion and assimilation of information.  Xuan Shen is one of the three herbs in the formula to increase ye-thick fluids, which nourish the marrow and jing-shen.  (The other herbs in Zeng Ye Tang are Mai Men Dong and Di Huang.)  Gou Qi Zi, which allows one to look at the dark sides of one’s soul, is associated with the Wei Mai, which deal with time and accumulation, but also the Chong Mai, one’s blueprint in this life.  Finally, Gou Qi Zi is also associated with the Dai Mai, that essential vessel in Tai Ji movements, whose physiology is about letting go what needs letting go (or pathologically, the retention of sentimental values).  Although I favour formulas of three to five herbs, I would recommend a potion for Willow composed of just those two herbs.

As always, these posts are for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one are seeking to discover your core identity through the use of acupuncture or herbal medicine, especially in the wake of spells gone awry, please see a qualified practitioner. 

Happy Slayage!

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