Wrecked (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 10)


Building off the boredom Willow experienced at the Bronze in Episode 9, Amy introduces Willow to Raqq.  Raqq is a sort of ‘dealer’ in magic.  He sends Willow on some serious magic trips.  (How Amy knows these people is something of a mystery, given only a passing explanation.)  Buffy, Xander, and Anya discuss how Willow isn’t acting herself lately.

Events climax when Willow is entrusted to watch Dawn.  Willow can’t resist a visit to Raqq, draggin Dawn along with her.  After getting magically high, Willow takes Dawn for a crazy ride in a car, wrecks the car, and seriously injures Dawn.  Dawn awesomely slaps Willow when Willow tries to apologise.  By the end of the episode, Willow realises her addiction, and decides to give up magic for herself this time. Willow tells Buffy that the magic took Willow away from herself.  Willow then begins to go through withdrawal.

We could approach the clinical situation in this episode from the perspective of ‘getting back to oneself’ or from the perspective of addictions.  In several posts, I’ve mentioned the relationship that Po spirits have with addiction. I’ve also mentioned the association of the po with the qi of the Lungs and the jing-based solidity of the bones.

The bones have a strong relationship with jing.  Associated with both the Kidneys which store jing-essence and the curious organ of the Gallbladder which the Ling Shu says ‘masters’ the bones,  it should seem that the bones would therefore also have a relationship with the EVs.  The marrow, properly called sui in Chinese, is often considered the material correlate of jingshen, the union of essence-spirit in the living, post-natal body.  The marrow nourishes the bones, giving them suppleness and strength.  (The marrow itself is nourished by the ye-thick fluid governed by the Small Intestine; Zeng Ye Tang is a useful formula to know in this regard.)  The EVs, of course, are the pathways of jingshen.  Drawing the above links together, the bones are nourished by the marrow, the flow of jingshen through the Extraordinary Vessels.  Specifically, the experiences accrued from the lineage, and which the person is working on int his life, shapes the form of the bones through the marrow which is generated post-natally.  But why are the po associated with the bones and the Lung qi both?

The Po are the most yin of the spirits, the most ‘solid’.  As such, they need the yang-oriented qi to complement and ‘anchor’ them to the body.  However, as spirits, they are still yang; they manifest materially as something much more substantial than the two pairings of the hun (the hun is paired with the shen, as the yin aspect of yang Heart shen; and with the blood, the material yin to spirit yang).  The po thus become associated with the bones in part because the bones are the most solid jing structures.  More apropos, however, they po are buried in the earth with the bones.  They do not go to any afterlife. as such, and in older stories, often form the material basis for future ghosts.

Po leave the body at death through the anus.  Another tradition says we lose a po spirit for ever cycle of seven or eight years that we live through.  The po travels down the spinal column, and if something is preventing the po from leaving, it disrupts a disc on its way down.  This disc disruption can be physical (hernias, twisted vertebrae, especially every third vertebra) or an energetic block in the Du Mai.  To resolve blockages in the Du Mai, we can palpate each of the intervertebral spaces and find the most sensitive areas.  Then burn three to five threads of okyu-moxa on those points.  The Hua Tuo Jai Ji points, also associated with the Du Mai can be needled to help release these blocks.

The du mai makes sense to treat in this case because it is associated with both qi and marrow, and because it forms the passage through which the po exit the body.  It can thus help ‘flush’ out addictions.

Other EVs might be useful to explore, though, too.  The curious organs are often associated with the EVs, although no clear consensus has emerged on direct one-to-one pairings.  (Research is ongoing, and I would refer the interested reader to an article written by Thomas Richardson at http://extraordinarychinesemedicine.com/Extraordinary_Chinese_Medicine/Acupuncture_articles_-Extraordinary_Vessels_and_Fu.html )

The Wei Mai can be associated with the bones, as the Wei Mai give structure to the organism.  At the same time, the Ling Shu advises needling the GB meridian, because the GB masters the bones — thus the Dai Mai, which is clearly associated with the GB can be called in.  Remember the Dai Mai is where we keep our attachments, and addictions are a prime example of an attachment which has become pathological.

Existentially, withdrawal can be seen as a process of having moved away from the self and then a return to the self.  In this case, one would want to needle an EV associated with what took the person away from him or herself, the ‘diseased’ meridian, if you will, and then bring it back to either the Chong, Ren, or Du mai, the triad which represents the ‘self’ as it intended to unfold in this life and birth-lineage context.

I wish I had access to records of treating withdrawal from opium during the era when the Warm Disease school was formed. The Warm Disease school arose not too distantly in time from the Opium Wars. While I could approach the question by asking what does opium — and thus possibly opiate derived drugs — do to the body, from a warm disease perspective, and how can Warm disease medicines treat addiction and recovery, I will only briefly touch on the topic.   Opium is used in Chinese herbal medicine principally to bind the intestines.  (Constipation is a key complain in heroin addicts.)  It can mildly move blood and qi, but it is a relatively weak painkiller from the perspective of Chinese medicine (Yan Hu Suo and Wu Ling Zhi are much more effective).  A mild formula to generate fluid and move the bowels would thus be appropriate.  Ma Zi Ren Wan, perhaps.  Or Zeng Ye Tang; after all, the formula seems to principally have been composed to treat constipation (a purpose for which I never seem to use it).  Zeng Ye Tang contains a very still medicinal, Di Huang, which touches on the Kidneys and thus the self; another herb which softens the self and allows passage through depression, Xuan Shen; and a herb which helps in letting go when holding on excessively, Mai Men Dong.

For readers curious to know more about the Opium Wars in China, I would refer you to Dikotter et al (2004), Narcotic Culture:  A History of Drugs in China.  Katie Swancutt, currently at Oxford University, is also writing up research on how a small ethnic group in Southwest China (Yunan province, I believe) on the use of shamanism to address the social problem of both opium trafficking and opium addiction.  The use of shamanism in that area entails invoking a person’s responsibility to his or her ancestors.  So again, with the calling upon ancestors, we are returned to the role of the EVs in physiology:  to resolve those elements of a lineage which have not yet been successfully smoothed out.

As always, these posts are for informational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one are facing addiction, please see a qualified professional.

Happy slayage!

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