Storyteller (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 16)

Andrew takes the driver’s seat in this episode, documenting the Slayer’s life and team for future posterity.  Buffy, however, figures out that Andrew is key to closing the seal of Danzalthar.  She takes him to the seal and makes him believe that she will sacrifice him in order to close the seal.  Buffy’s goal, though, was to get Andrew to recognise his mistakes and own up to them.  Andrew’s tears not only redeem himself, they also effectively close the seal.

The question of tears and the fluid mechanics of the Channel Divergences seems an appropriate topic to associate with this episode.  I’ve already traced the mechanics of several confluences as they seek to maintain the latency of a pathogen in the body.

The body first draws on the jing stored in the Extraordinary Vessels before moving onto the blood associated with mu-alarm points.  Jing is transmuted into blood through association with post-natal qi.  From there, blood supports the fluids of the Stomach which bathe the upper orifices and allow perception to enter the Heart.

The Stomach, according to the Ling Shu, masters blood; in the CD system, the Stomach pivots between blood and fluid.  Once Stomach fluid is formed from processing post-natal qi (derived from food), the thick fluid goes to the marrow and brain, and contributes to the yin of the heart in the form of sweat.

Somewhat simultaneously, the fluid is regulated by the San Jiao and Pericardium to ensure proper digestion and the proper circulation of heat in the body.  (I actually sometimes associate this function with the concept of agni-digestive or metabolic-fire in Ayurvedic medicine). The regulation of digestion allows fluids to support jing, closing a loop which began with the BL-KD Channel divergence.

From here, the Large Intestine, which the Ling Shu associates with thin fluids, together with the Lungs, manages what fluid and qi flows into the Primary Merdians and that which circulates along the Sinew Vessels.  The pivot in this case was provided by the SJ-PC CD association with the jing-well points of the body.  Sinew vessels begins there.  Although they rely on thick fluid to function, the sinew vessels circulate wei qi for exterior defence.  Thus, the CD cycle moves from the jing level outwards to the wei level.  The wei level also moves back to the jing level through the same set of physiology.

The return of qi to jing can be illustrated by highlighting another physiological process, focused on the back shu and front mu points.  In this physiology, the Gao Huang place a central role in supplying (via back shu and front mu) the zang-solid organs with jing.

Supplying the solid organs with jing allows the organs to have their proper emotional functioning.  In other words, if Andrew had been unable to cry, perhaps his Lungs had been exhausted of their jing and needed supplementation.  Once full, the organs can express the spirits contained within them, and can allow qi to enter and exit in the form of emotional experiences.  (The herb Huang Qin is good at supplementing LU jing and blood, by the way.)

The outer bladder line is most associated with emotions, in terms of point energetics in the primary meridian system.  Just as the primary bladder line is formed by the San Jiao mechanism as it ‘lights’ the jing stored in the Kidneys and begins to rise along the Du Mai, so also  alchemists say that the Chong Mai gives rise to outer bladder line.  Here, the Chong Mai transmutes jing into qi, which rises on the back using the san jiao mechanism.  In this case, though, the fire burns more intensely and pushes this qi out further, to outer bladder line.

The outer bladder line starts at BL-10, from which it both descends through the spirit points and ascends to the brain, impacting BL-1 and the Qiao Mai.  The trajectory of this movement is not dissimilar to the trajectory of the Spleen Channel Divergence.  Below, I have pasted in a chart describing the San Jiao mechanism of the Back Shu points.

Back Shu Points: San Jiao Mechanism of the Posterior Body. Needle with Yuan Source points.

Shu Yuan Associated Zangfu Element Description Resonance
Du-14   Yang meridians of hand and foot Heart Yang from Exterior heaven Crossing point of all yang meridians Resonates w/Du-4
BL-13 LU-9 Lungs Metal Exterior, what the cosmos/ heaven wants. Resonates w/BL-23
BL-14 PC-7 Pericardium Fire/ Water Minister Fire BL-22 Resonance
BL-15 HT-7 Heart Fire Sovereign Fire BL-21 Resonance
BL-16   Ge/ Diaphragm      
Du-4   Ming Men KD yang from Interior Preheaven Ming Men: Fate Gate Du-14 Resonance
BL-23 KD-3 Kidney Water What self, interior wants BL-13; KD-3
BL22 SJ-4 San Jiao Water/ Fire Minister Fire BL-14 Resonance
BL-21 ST-42 Stomach Earth BL-13, metal BL-15 Resonance
BL-20 SP-3 Spleen: Earth What society wants  
BL-19 GB-40 Gallbladder Wood Movement into world Action from conflict
BL-18 LV-3 Liver Wood Movement into world Action from conflict

Within the body, the Gao Huang is how the Kidneys (jing) connect to the Heart (shen).  Gao is the yin aspect, and concerns storage.  Huang is the yang aspect, and represents jing and blood (i.e. the emotions)  as they go to the Dai Mai while complicated by dampness.  Dampness, recall, is the burden of potential which has not been properly transformed.  In the case of emotions, that transformation can be through expression, or through integration and transmutation as the Heart finds meaning for itself in the unfolding blueprint of life.

In terms of acupuncture, the Gao Huang have a relationship to BL-43 (Gao Huang Shu) and BL-53 (Bao Huang Shu).  BL-53, of course, is a point on the Dai Mai.  A relationship of the Gao Huang, often translated as ‘membrane source’, and Dai Mai is sometimes made through the associated physiological structures of the messentery or peritoneum.   The Dai Mai points which bring together the GaoHuang, jing, blood, and emotions are GB-41, LV-13, GB-26; and GB-28 for yin emotions or GB-27 for yang emotions,

However, in relation to the outer bladder line, CV-15 and Du-1 (Bao Mai), plus SP-21 (Da Bao), and the outer bladder shu-spirit points can be used to release and drain their respective emotions. This is because jing qi, or KD qi, gives rise to a zang’s ability to generate and express an emotion. Therefore one must treat both the KD and the affect-organ.  KD qi, of course, can be affected through several different Channel Divergences, as I hope I have made clear in this and previous posts.  Key is finding the ‘pivot point’ which connects each to jing and blood.  My purpose in bringing up the Gao Huang here is to indicate how spirit points can be incorporated into a CD treatment.  In terms of Chinese physiology, it also provides a bridge to herbal treatments.

Herbal medicine has several formulas to treat the Gao Huang.  Most famous is ‘Reach the Membrane Source’ Da Yuan Yin.  The herbs in this formula are Hou Po, Cao Guo, Bing Lang, Bai Shao, Zhi Mu, Huang Qin, and Gan Cao.  Of these, Hou Po, Cao Guo, and Bing Lang are the essence of the formula.

Cao Guo is warm and drying and goes to the SP, but also reaches the blood level to keep malarial disorders at bay.  Bing Lang kills parasites, moves qi, and also treats malarial — think ‘latent’ or ‘cyclical’ conditions.  Hou Po alleviates wheezing, treats focal distention, moves qi, and disperses accumulated phlegm.  The Gao Huang are sometimes associated with fat as it collects around the viscera.  Fat is sometimes thought of as phlegm or dampness in modern Chinese Medicine.  This formula, then, could potentially be used today to help up-regulate the body’s system and draw out hidden disorders of flora in the body causing erratic movement in a person’s metabolism.

As always, this post is for informational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one feels emotionally exhausted, and believes that Chinese Medicine may help replenish your ability to feel and express emotion, please see a qualified practitioner. 

Happy Slayage!


Showtime (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 11)

In this initially calm episode, Andrew gets bored and suggests playing ‘Kevin Bacon’ with Dawn. The goal is simple: name an actor or actress, then see how few actors or films separate the named actor from Kevin Bacon.  There used to be a website that would do this for you, and Kevin Bacon is even connected by just two steps to several silent film stars.  The episode goes on to reveal that the First infiltrated the group of potential slayers by taking the form of Eve (a potential slayer, not Adam-and-Eve’s Eve, though the name is evocative of that story).  The Turok-Han that was released in a previous episode attacks the potentials, and Buffy dusts it off at a construction site.  She then rescues Spike from the clutches of the First.

In acupuncture, we can play the same Kevin Bacon game: Pick a point on a meridian, then pick another point on another meridian. See how few points you need to cross in order to get there. The secret is to use ‘jiao’ or ‘crossing’ points — points which are on more than one channel. The game becomes even more fun when you bring different channel systems into the picture…

Note this is point specific, not channel system wide — that will be explored in Episdoe 19.

(Raises theoretical question of what it means for a point to be named as belonging to a particular meridian, even if it lies on more than one — e.g. why is SP-6 named as a SP point, even though the KD and LV meridians cross there, too?)

Du-14 generally takes the cake for yang meridians, and CV-3 is a pretty good bet for transferring among yin meridians.  The Dai Mai circling all the meridians is another good one.  To make the game more interesting, we can say we’ll use only primary channels, no EVs.

The Lung channel does not cross any other channels, but LU-1 is also a Spleen point.  LU-1 is thus a quintessentially TaiYin point, governing the opening of the interior outwards.  The Lungs in Chinese medicine are responsible for exhalation (the Kidneys are responsible for inhalation):  opening to the outside.

The Large Intestine channel crosses ST-4, SI-12, and SJ-20.  The Stomach channel crosses the Large Intestine channel at LI-20.  Thus ST-4 and LI-20 are very YangMing points, closing to the interior:  the nostrils and mouth as entryways into the body.  The Stomach channel also crosses ST-12, BL-1, and GB-3 and GB-4.  As pathogens enter the body through the six stages, the pivot of ShaoYang to YangMing can be addressed by GB-3 or GB-4.  SI-12, on the other hand, is a TaiYang and YangMing point, and can address the exterior yang channels; it is especially effective at addressing wind conditions, and its point name reflects that:  ‘Grasping the Wind’.  It is also a point which encompasses the fu organs of digestion:  ST, SI, LI.

The Spleen meets the Lung channel at LU-1, and the Liver channel at LV-14.  The Lungs disseminate wei qi; the Spleen stores ying qi; and the Liver is responsible for harmonising the ying and wei.  Those two points would address the transformation of qi by the Spleen as it relates to blood (Liver) and qi (Lung).

The Heart channel does not cross any other channels, in keeping with the sacrosanct nature of the emperor.  Based on the full trajectory of the channel, however, three points might affect the HT channel, however:  BL-1, because the shen can be seen in the eyes; ST-9; and LU-1.

The Small Intestine meets the TaiYang Bladder channel at BL-1, BL-11, and BL-41 (at the level of the second thoracic vertebra).  It also meets GB-1 and SJ-22.

The Bladder crosses the Gallbladder channel at GB-6, GB-7, GB-8; GB-10, GB-11, GB-12; and GB-15, all on the scalp; and GB-30 at the piriformis muscle.

The Kidney channel meets the LV and SP channels at SP-6.

The Pericardium channel crosses the SanJiao meridian at SJ-1.

The SanJiao meridian, responsible for integrating the three burners of the body, pelvis, abdomen, and ribcage, crosses the SI channel at SI-12, SI-18, and SI-19; and the ShaoYang Gallbladder meridian at GB-1, GB-3, and GB-4.  SI-12, as noted above, treats the three levels of the digestive tract, and therefore it makes perfect sense for the SJ meridian to also meet there.

The Gallbladder channel meets with the Stomach channel at ST-7 and ST-8; with the Small Intestine channel at SI-12 and SI-19 (a Window to the Sky point); and the SanJiao meridian at SJ-17, SJ-20, and SJ-22.

Finally, the Liver channel meets with the Spleen meridian at SP-6, SP-12, and SP-13.

If anyone plays the Kevin Bacon acupuncture game, certain meridians will just never seem to meet up.  The famous four gates, LI-4 and LV-3, for example, never meet up through using only crossing points.  While the LI channel has multiple crossing points, the Liver, as a very Yin organ, really doesn’t cross any other channels but the Spleen.  Likewise, the Spleen really only meets up with the Lung, Liver, and Kidneys.  The Kidneys connect to the other yin organs.

Even if the two extraordinary vessels were brought in, using their points as primary meridian points, connecting the yin and yang channels is still difficult.  the Liver channel goes to CV-2, CV-3, and CV-4.  The Spleen goes to CV-3, CV-4, and CV-10.  The Kidneys go to CV-3 and CV-4.  The Du Mai meets all the yang channels at DU-14.  It meets the Bladder at Du-20.  Du-24 sees the Bladder and Stomach meridians cross, and Du-26 is another YangMing meeting point for the Stomach and Large Intestine channels.  The Du and Ren meet at CV-1 and CV-24.  The LI and ST meridians do cross at CV-24, seemingly the only time that a yin-oriented vessel meets with yang-oriented primary meridians.

Meeting points are most useful in primary channel treatments, when only three channels are needled at a time:  the channel in which the pathology originated, the channel in which the pathology is currently located, and the channel into which the pathogen will enter next.  Thus, a wind-cold condition which has transformed into wind-heat will next enter the body as interior heat.  The LU, LI, and ST channels will all be needled in such a case.  In this sense, meeting points can be used to guide qi through shorter meridian pathways back out into the exterior.  Meeting points can also be tonified with moxa in order to strengthen multiple channels simultaneously.

But how does the body know that a practitioner is needling, say SP-6, as a Liver point, and not as a Spleen point?  I would suggest that qi likes to take the shortest route between two points.  Thus, if the confluent points of a Channel Divergence are needled, rather than taking the primary channel pathway, the qi will circulate instead along the shorter or easier pathway of the CD.  Likewise with a point like SP-6:  although the repercussions may be felt along the SP and KD channels, if the only other channels being needled are LV and ST (let’s say the practitioner is working on nourishing blood), the body will respond according to where the qi is directed:  LV-14, LV-8, SP-6, ST-37 (and ST-38 or -36, perhaps) — all points related to blood on two meridians only.  I will discuss leading qi in more detail in a subsequent post.

When too many points are needled, the qi does not know where to go.  The result is that the qi goes ‘wild’.  While the four gates is effective for ‘reorienting’ the flow of qi within the meridians, Dr Hammer has developed a useful herbal formula to address the same condition.  The formula is rather straightforward:  Sang Ji Sheng at 12g; Dang Shen, Huang Qi, and Mai Men Dong at 10g; Si Gua Lou and Yuan Zhi at 6g; Wu Wei Zi at 2g; and Duan Mu Li and Duan Long Gu at 19g.  Note the Channel Divergence herbs of Sang Ji Sheng and Huang Qi, combined with the channel opening Si Gua Lou.  The CD effect is further strengthened by the Heart-oriented herbs Wu Wei Zi, Mu Li, Long Gu, Mai Dong, and the HT-orifice opening herb Yuan Zhi.  Decoct, and take until the qi has returned to a harmonious flow.

As always, these posts are meant for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you are in acupuncture or shiatsu school, get together with some friends and see how few points need to be needled in order to move from one channel to another.  Let me know how it works out!

Happy Slayage!