Grave (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 22)


This is the episode in which we see the power of humanity.  Xander, the character who has always only been human, without magic powers, without a calling to be a Slayer, without a former life as a mysterious key, is the one who saves the world.  This episode makes a nice advancement from his role in ‘The Zeppo’ in Season 3.  Xander is the only one who is able to reach out to scary veiny Willow, referencing how long they’d been friends (while the peace prayer of St Francis plays in the background).  It must be nice to have a friend since one was five years old!  I suppose that comes from staying in the same area all through growing up.

Meanwhile, Buffy crawls out of her own grave.  She makes a very actively physical choice to mirror the existential struggle she’s faced this entire season, and she does so only because she realises that her little sister thinks Buffy really doesn’t want to live, and just wants to go back and be dead.  Way to go Dawn!  Together they fight the earth that wants Buffy, and the sister made from her, back.

So, we have the interplay between numbness and feeling, and re-igniting the spark of humanity within a person.  In a sense, one could say the problem to be solved is how to return the soul with sinew vessels.  Since I’ve already touched on the Window to the Sky/ Heaven points and sinew vessels, perhaps this time I’ll look at how Wei Qi secures the exterior so that one can face the world.  Without the assistance of wei qi in that defence, the spirit is left vulnerable to all the influences which seek to enter the body and disturb not only the spirit’s tranquility, but its efforts to rectify the material lineage of its ancestors.

Wei qi controls the cou li, the pores, of the skin, allowing outward what must move out into the world, while contracting to provide a stable defence against assault.  In a sense, although the wei qi is under the control of the Lungs (the ‘Prime Minister’ organ) which move wei qi and thin fluids, and the Liver (the ‘General of the Armies’ organ), which smooths the relationship between ying-supply train and wei-defensive line qi, the Pericardium (‘Confucian bureaucrat’ organ), as the organ closest to the Heart (the ‘Emperor) and its stored spirit, has the final say in co-ordinating communication between the two.  The PC communicates with the Liver via their shared relationship as JueYin organs, and the physical connection via the diaphragm.  Likewise, the PC communicates with the Lungs through its physical location in the upper warmer, as well as through the diaphragm (which regulates breathing and the Lung-Kidney (ShaoYin — Heart and Kidney) connexion.

To anchor the shen, however, one needs something very yin.  Jing ordinarily supplies this yin substance.  But wei qi relates to jing primarily through the Divergent Channels (or through providing the motile force of muscle contractions during ejaculation and conception).  How can we direct wei qi to house the spirit using sinew vessels?  Herbally, we can use E Jiao, of course:  gelatin derived from skin, wei qi.  The wei qi turning to a yin, and thus jing-nourishing, substance.

The skin corresponds not only to sinew vessels, but also to the cutaneous regions.  These are described in Scroll 2, Chapter 1, Section 5 of the Jia Yi Jing.  They are treated in a similar manner to the Channel Divergences, in which the entire Yin or Yang channel is needled at the confluent points (thus, LV-PC confluent points form the Jue Yin cutaneous region treatment points).  Diagnosis proceeds through looking at the colour of the most superficial network vessels.

Luckily, ‘scary veiny Willow’ presents a clear example of how a pathogen can force open the cou li and fill the superficial network vessels.  The colours and their indications are as follows:  Cyan diagnoses pain; black indicates blockage or bi; red and yellow, like the colours of fire, lead to a diagnosis of heat; cold is shown by the colour of snow, white; while a combination of all five points to disorders of fever and chills.  Note that if the vessels are visible, the pathogen will enter the corresponding primary channel next.  Thus, if the veins are present on the yang ming channel (along the jaw, towards the forehead, as in Willow’s case), the ST primary channel will be the next place the pathogen will move to.  Therefore, we tonify the primary channel at the close of the cutaneous region treatment.

In Willow’s case, the pathogen is clearly bi or blockage.  Some sinew vessels treat various types of seasonal bi:  Early spring bi is treated by the Foot Shao Yang sinew vessel; Mid-spring bi is treated by the Foot Tai Yang; late spring bi by the Foot Yang Ming.  Hand Yang Ming treats early summer bi; Hand Tai Yang treats mid-summer bi, Hand Shao Yang late summer bi.  Early-autumn by the Foot Shao Yin; mid-autumn bi by the foot Tai Yin (although some debate this and say it is early spring bi); late autumn bi by the Foot Jue Yin sinew channel.  Early winter bi is treated by the Hand Jue Yin; midwinter bi by the Hand Tai Yin; and late winter bi by the Hand Shao Yin.  Since Tara died on May 9, we can say that Willow contracted early summer bi (the start of summer in the Chinese calendar being in early May).  We would therefore treat her Hand Yang Ming channel (again, interestingly enough — this is the channel we treated last week, for an inability to turn the head and see other options).  Alternately, we could treat the Yang Ming channel as a whole using a cutaneous region approach, which I will describe next season, when I will use a Channel Divergences approach to the pathologis the Scoobies encounter in the final televised season of Buffy.

In terms of herbal medicine, the single herb Ku Shen, a very bitter herb, is used for resentment and stagnation (bi-syndrome) when someone has not been able to accept or transcend certain issues.  Interestingly, it can also be used as an external wash for the skin to relieve itchiness, and thus functions at both an exterior, wei qi level, and when ingested, at a deeper jing-shen level.  I would use the herb singly, or perhaps in combination with Qin Pi, which brightens the eyes to relieve toxicity.  That is, Qin Pi helps a person to see events more clearly or broadly to purge out toxic emotions.

Now, at the end of the season, we return to the primary question the extraordinary vessels address:  why am I here, having emerged from the earth?  The blueprint of a person’s life is contained in the vessel opened by an earth point:  the Chong Mai is opened by the luo point of the Spleen channel, SP-4.  The other vessel containing the most Earth points is the Yin Wei Mai, with SP-13, SP-15, SP-16.  This is the vessel which deals with continuity.  Together, they form a very powerful combination to bring a person to a place where they can see how their destiny in this life continues the work of previous lives (e.g. careers) and goals, even in the face of the death of the hopes their previous lives treasured.  Bai Zi Ren frees the flow of the Wei Mai.  Gao Ben goes to the Chong Mai to raise awareness to the Sea of Marrow and the 100 meetings of all the ‘spirits’ or affects of a person’s body and life.  It is the combination of moving on after loss, and re-engaging with life.
As always, these posts are for entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one is having trouble crawling out of their own graves, or is seeking to destroy the world around them due to pain and a feeling of inability to go on, please see a qualified practitioner. 

Happy Slayage!

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