Beneath You (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 2)


In the second episode of the season, a much reduced Scooby gang of Buffy, Dawn, and Xander must face an unknown entity crawling beneath the earth, ready to devour them. It seems the entity had been the boyfriend (clearly now ex-boyfriend) of a wronged woman, whom Xander happened to find himself attracted.  The woman had wished her ex would turn into a worm.  Anya, getting back into her previous profession as a ‘Justice Demon’, was more than happy to grant that wish.  Naturally, Anya embellished the wish a little, and the ex turned into a demon last seen during the Crusades. The now angry ex-boyfriend tunneled around Sunnydale, seeking to take his own vengeance on his ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend manages to find the Scoobies, she and Xander start flirting, Xander figures out what is going on, and the group, now joined by Spike, go in search of Anya, to convince her to reverse the spell.

The group find Anya at the Bronze.  A brief scene after Buffy and the ex-girlfriend leave allows Anya and Xander to confront the fall-out of Xander’s choice to leave Anya at the altar.  Anya has the opportunity to verbalise the repercussions she is experiencing (neglecting to mention the loss of her professional goals due to the destruction of the magic shop). Xander pointedly remarks that the excuse Anya has been using — that all this is the result of Xander standing her up at the altar — stops working at some point. In other words, Anya must take responsibility for acting, not merely reacting. Xander seems not to realise that Anya, unlike himself, has to rebuild her life from scratch, and the only place she could begin again is the place in which he initially found her, namely, as a vengeance demon.  Unfortunately for Anya, that profession just isn’t working out for her anymore; she doesn’t know who she is, and her own heart-pain blinds her to seeing new possibilities.

Ultimately, Anya does reverse the spell, and the demon transforms into a human man right as Spike stabs the demon-worm. The result is a human with a tire iron through his shoulder (at LU-2, near the coracoid process of the scapula), just missing the ribcage. Spike, now ensouled, feels the horror of having killed yet another human, and he runs away. Buffy comes to find him, and realises Spike has his soul back. She confronts her own horror, at how someone who loved her would go to such lengths to make himself into someone she could possibly love, and succeed.  Buffy must now face the fact that she framed her excuse purposefully in a way she thought would be impossible for Spike to accomplish. In the final scene, we see that Spike, had been tearing at his chest, trying to tear out his soul, or perhaps his heart, to make the pain in his chest stop.

Both Anya and Spike are experiencing chest bi.  Bi is caused by wind-damp lodging in an area; diagnosis involves ascertaining whether the bi is ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ in nature.  Spike’s desire is to claw out the pain, the burning sensation he experiences. In Spike’s case, the pathogen is clearly heat related.  For Anya, however, the situation is different.  She lost her ‘spark’ or ‘fire’; she’s gone cold.  Her ability to see options has congealed, and needs the transformative capacity of heat.  Since Anya is also suffering a buildup of qi in the chest as a result of being betrayed, I will offer yet another (perhaps final) herbal formula for helping the sequelae of heartbreak. This formula was originally composed to treats qi trapped in the chest due to a breech birth, but the herbs function to relieve pain in the chest quite nicely.

The formula is quite simple, consisting of four herbs, Xie Bai, Gua Lou, Lu Lu Tong, and Ji Xue Teng.  Xie Bai and Gua Lou are are well known combination for relieving chest bi.  They form the principal herbs of the formula.  However, the addition of Lu Lu Tong, ‘All Roads Open’ help free up the pathways for the trapped qi to disperse into.  Lu Lu Tong also helps relieve the pain of blood stagnation, with its sharp edges.  Ji Xue Teng is added to nourish the heart and continue the process of freeing the collateral vessels.  Together, the two assisting herbs use the principle of moving blood to expel wind, and using blood to lead qi.  Ordinarily qi commands blood; in this case, the qi needs to be reminded of its ‘natural’ function.  The qi needs an ‘out’ or a pathway; the freeing up of blood shows the qi that the pathway has been unblocked.  The formula thus helps with a situation in which emotions (blood) and life (qi) must function together to find a way to move outwards again.

Acupuncture for chest bi can involve the use of any Channel Divergence, as they all go to the heart.  I will discuss that aspect of channel divergence physiology in more detail in a later post.  Instead, a small point prescription, similar to the ‘golden triangle’, can be effective for chest bi:  LU-9, HT-6, PC-6. (Lung, Heart, and Pericardium meridians.)

LU-9 is the source point for the Lung channel.  It relates both to the jing of the organ and it expels wind.  As such, it is effective in treating bi in the chest and just below the diaphragm at CV-12, where the Lung meridian originates.  Tonifying the jing of metal is important when someone is still grieving or sad, as this is the emotion associated with metal.  Too much grief will weaken the organ and set the person up for respiratory conditions later on.  (In terms of biomedicin, depressed affect lowers immune response; lowered immune response, especially in colder temperatures or with poorer nutrition, invites bronchitis, TB, and pneumonia.)  HT-6 is the xi-cleft point of the HT meridian.  Xi-cleft points treat pain.  In this case, the pain is along the trajectory of the Heart meridian, and specifically in the heart organ.  PC-6 frees the chest.  The point resonates with CV-17, the mu-point of the Pericardium.  As a luo-point, it resonates with emotions and blood.  Finally, in terms of microsystems in acupuncture, if the forearm is visualised as a human body, with the head towards the palm, PC-6 is in the chest area; it treats chest conditions.

Some acupuncturists are uncomfortable needling only upper-body points and would want to balance this prescription with needles in the lower body.  I personally don’t like needling more than three channels.  I could ‘slide’ into thinking of the channels in terms of their yin-yang correspondences and advocate for the use of another ‘shaoyin’ point — say JiaoXin, ‘Meeting Trust’ on the kidney meridian (KD-8).
Another approach would be to free the diaphragm and spine.  This can be done through regular Tai Ji or martial arts practice.  The diaphragm acts as a ‘hinge’, linking the ming men of the lumbar vertebrae at Du-3 and Du-4 to the sternum and mediastinum at CV-17.  Working this ‘joint’ allows for qi to be freed and move between the upper and lower body.  This approach is good for those who do not wish to be needled.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational use only.  If you or a loved one want to tear out the heart from pain, or are suffering chronic chest pain, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy slayage!

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