Entropy (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 18)


Fallout continues from Xander and Anya’s break up as they confront one another for the first time since the wedding.  Xander learns that Anya has become a vengeance demon again (never overestimate how permanently you’ve changed a person once you break up with them; they often return, willingly or not, to previous roles once you’re out of the picture).

In addition to a noticeably good soundtrack, this episode features grains galore for breakfast, and only one bowl of fruit, as Buffy begins to pay more attention to Dawn.  Food combination is not Buffy’s strong point, and she doesn’t seem to realise that fresh fruit mixed with grain is a perfect recipe for fermentation of both — except in this case, that fermentation will occur in Dawn’s stomach.  Besides, grain can be difficult for some people to digest, but it isn’t obvious whether Buffy or Dawn are gluten-intolerant.  On the other hand, intestinal problems are mentioned by Anya:  during the post-break up plotline when Xander and Anya confront one another at their old apartment (which of course, Anya still had access to),  Anya wishes that Xander’s intestines were twisting, or, as she phrased it, ‘Your intestines tied in knots and ripped apart inside your lousy gut.’  Such is how some people with Celiac, Crohn’s, or Irritable Bowel Disease sometimes feel.  Fortunately for Xander, Anya can’t grant her own wishes, and she spends the rest of the episode trying to get Xander’s female friends to wish something bad would happen to him.

Towards the end of the episode, Anya and Spike have sympathy sex, which Willow, Xander, Buffy, and Dawn see by gaining access to the Supervillains’ hidden cameras.  Anya doesn’t seem to realise that having had sex with Spike has made her forbidden to Xander from that point forwards, even if what she did, as she tells Xander in a subsequent episode, was for solace, not revenge.

The falling apart of Xander/Anya and Buffy/ Spike is contrasted with the potential, but slow mend of Willow and Tara’s relationship.  As Tara says at the end, ‘when things fall apart, they fall apart so hard. you can’t ever put ’em back the way they were…’  It’s part of the beauty of the writing of the Buffyverse:  the characters make mistakes and then they have to deal with those mistakes, in character.  Joss later characterised Tara and Willow’s relationship as the best relationship of the series — of course he had to throw horrible events at it, to see what would happen.  In this episode, a reconciliation occurs.  But Willow had done what Tara asked:  Willow had realised for herself that magic was ruling her life, and gave it up.  Once Tara saw that her condition for even just being friends with Willow was met, Tara came back.  I would argue that for Tara, this return isn’t about desire, but about a sense of honouring her word and conditions.

So this week’s diagnosis is intestinal disorders.  Wei qi governs the automatic and unconscious process of digestion.  If too much wei qi enters the gut, inflammation is the result.  The inflammation can be due to any number of causes, including allergies (a type of wind-heat reaction on the interior), qi stuck in the viscera due to blood or qi stagnation in the vessels or sinews, or dampness the body seeks to ‘burn off’ (this will lead to either damp-heat or phlegm syndromes if it becomes chronic).

In terms of the sinew vessels, while the foot shao yang channel relates to the obliques and abdominal muscles of the exterior (and thus also to the Dai Mai extraordinary vessel), the Arm Shao Yin (HT) sinew vessel is indicated for more interior conditions.  Specifically, it treats a sense of urgent restraint on interior, like a deep lying beam below the heart with binding at the elbow.   Incidentally, the binding at the elbow can be interpreted to mean an inability to actually extend oneself outward to make things happen, or to change the situation oneself.  Such is the case with Anya, as her wishes cannot harm Xander; and with Tara, who must wait for Willow to act before she can do anything herself with a sense of integrity.  It also may treat Spike’s condition with regard to Buffy:  he cannot make her act, and feels the heaviness of heart which comes from realising someone he loves does not love him back.

Treatment involves gua sha or cupping at Du-4 and Du-14, followed by neck releases, and needling the ah shi points along the HT Shao Yin channel of the arm.  Thread moxa or hot needle is applied at HT-9, at the ring-finger side of the tip of the little finger.

As for the extraordinary vessels, the Ren Mai has influence over the sphincters of the gut, and is specifically indicated for knotting and tuggings of the intestines.  I would pair the Ren Mai with either the Dai Mai, if I needed to regulate holding and elimination, or with Yin Wei Mai, due to its influence over posture, and the effect which intestinal adhesions and mesenteric lesions can have on posture.  If posture is the issue, I would use a more Japanese oriented approach and take a five-element diagnosis before giving the EV treatment using only needles at the opening and coupled points of LU-7 and GB-41 (maybe add salt moxa over the navel, the intersection of Ren Mai and Dai Mai, and an effective treatment for chronic diarrhea, especially for people on certain anti-retroviral medications).  (Ren Mai and Yin Wei Mai intersect at CV-22 and CV-23, so would be more indicated for disorders involving difficulty in swallowing, either food or events, experiences, and circumstances.)  I would follow the EV treatment with some sotai or other bodywork therapy (visceral osteopathy, or releases taught in Love Your Guts seminars) to help realign the body’s posture and release the intestinal or mesenteric adhesions.

When it comes to herbal treatments, several formulas can be utilised for intestinal disorders.  I’m more interested in herbs for mending, in terms of this episode, however.  One option is to use the Plum Flower patent medicine ‘Great Mender’, which is indicated for fractures and broken bones, but which goes to the jing level to nourish the Kidneys and moisten the marrow to help give resilience to the body.

To numb Anya’s hurt, though, and to make the sun shine brighter and make boring people interesting, I would use the herb He Huan Hua or He Huan Pi (Flos vel Cortex Albizzia), commonly called ‘Chinese Prozac’.  It should only be used for short periods of time, however, as it can accumulate in the liver.  It should be combined with other herbs which clear and calm the shen or which resolve blood stagnation.  Dang Gui, Fu Ling, Dan Shen, and Tai Zi Shen come to mind.  This will produce a formula somewhat like a minor version of Ba Zhen Tang, but geared to regulating qi and blood to calm and orient the shen.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one feel like their guts have been ripped out by the actions of another person or simply by that morning’s breakfast, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy slayage!

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