Sleeper (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 8)

The opening sequence for this episode ends with a scene of Spike digging a grave for the people he sired.  At the climax of the episode, they rise up from the dirt of a cellar and attack Buffy.  The vampires hold her still so that Spike can be the one to kill Buffy; but upon tasting her blood, his memories of killing humans comes back to him.  The episode closes with Spike brought to the Summers house to be watched.  (Technically, the episode ends with an axe being swung at England-based Giles by one of the Bringers.)  In the midst of the episode, references about rumours of Spike hunting are framed as ‘accusations from a pile of dust’, alluding to the vampire Buffy slayed in the previous episode.  She staked him; the body returned to the earth.  In this episode, we also see the First continuing to take the form of dead things, or at least things that had died, and were (presumably) buried at some point.

All these references to dust, dead people, and things rising from the earth make me think of a key aspect of Channel Divergences:  the channel trajectory often moves from points collectively known as ‘Doorways to the Earth’ and ascend to the ‘Windows to the Sky’.  This post, then, will look at the physiology of Doorway to the Earth points in more detail.

To begin with a list, the Doorways to the Earth generally include the six primary channel points of BL-40, KD-11, GB-30, LV-12, ST-30, SP-12, and the four Extraordinary vessel points of CV-1, CV-4, Du-1, and Du-4.  Their psycho-spiritual purpose is to eliminate what is no longer part of one’s ‘realised being’ or ‘authentic self’ (zhen ren).  They are thus used for draining out of heavy yin pathogens, and are often paired with yang-oriented Windows of the Sky points.  The pairing of Doorway and Window points serves also to ‘return to the self’:  after having transformed qi into shen and shen into xu (void), the person must return to him or herself and continue to live life.  The doorway points, all located on the lower body, also help ground a person; but this grounding is in what is essential to the person, that is, they clarify jing and yuan qi circulation.  In origin, they relate to the 12 earthly branches, while the windows to heaven relate to the ten heavenly stems.

That is is the general overview of the points.  How does each point serve these functions?  What differentiates each point with regard to their general applications?

Bl-40, ‘Middle Defence’ or ‘Wei in the Centre’:  Starting at KD-1, this point pushes wei qi into gluteus.  It is an important point in the practice of Tai Ji, as it helps spiral qi between the Dan Tian or Ming Men down towards the ground at KD-1.  Physiologically, it is the end point of a channel which emerges at BL-23, and is capable of opening the Ming Men (‘Gate of Fate’).   As one of Ma Dongyuan’s constellation points, it treats wind bi, spasms, and tremors.  Functionally, it is also known for treating diarrhea, lumbar pain, and numbness of lower extremities.  In other words, it strengthens the centre to enable the body to consolidate its qi.  If diarrhea is due to wei qi attacking the fu organs, it helps disperse the wei qi outwards; or rather, through moving yin into the hips and legs, it draws the wei qi out from the interior body.  BL-40 drains excess so that qi will not leak out (loss of qi often accompanies episodes of diarrhea, one reason for salt moxa at CV-8 in patients with recurring diarrhea).  Because BL-40 drains yin into the lower extremities, sometimes pairing it with a yang point like ST-36 will help prevent the legs from feeling too heavy.  Pairing the point with ST-30 will help regulate the flow of yin through the pelvis.

KD-11, ‘Curved Bone’:  This is a Chong Mai point, and therefore relates to blood and emotions in the person.  It treats dysuria, pain of genitals, pain in Dan Tian, and treats shriveled genitals.  In terms of yin or authenticity, it treats the pain of letting go and transformation.  It also enables a person to pass on his or her essence to others (e.g. progeny, disciples, students).  This ‘essence’ can include what is no longer his or hers, and in terms of the patient him or herself, enables the patient to recognise what is authentically part of one’s own life to work out and what is not.

GB-30, ‘Jumping Round’:  Another of Ma DongYuan’s constellation points, this point is associated with Yuan Qi when cupped.  From BL-40, wei qi gets moved to the gluteals at GB-30, enabling the patient to jump, to move to heaven.  This point gives renewal in the sense of deepening one’s breathing (the point treats asthma) in order to make those leaps of faith.  Functionally, the piont is usually used to treat atrophy of the lower limbs and  pain or numbness in low back.    Psycho-spiritually, the point is effective in addressing grieving, especially for the self.  When needled and moxa applied, the patient may sob and let go of loss; moxa brings warmth they look for.

LV-12, ‘Urgent Pulse’, treats hernia and bulging disorders.  Hernia is an accumulation of yin qi at the expense of yang qi.  It also treats pain in the external genitalia and in the lower dan tian.  Again, like KD-11, it helps a patient let go of the pain of transformation, particularly when this transformation entails delegating tasks to other people, future progeny or disciples.  The master who jealously guards secrets so that his or her disciples will never be better than him or her, or the official who will never let the assistants take on responsibility and grow into effective leaders — this point is for that sort of person.  But LV-12 is also, perhaps even primarily for, for the person who has taken on too much themselves, and their ability to actually get the work done is leading them to literally break at the seams.

ST-30, ‘Surging Qi’ or ‘Qi of the Chong Mai’, is the upper point of Grains and Fluids.  It is known for treating food toxicity, allergies, and indigestion — conditions in which wei qi has become stuck internally.  ST-30 ascends yin to the pelvis in order to cool the stuck wei qi.  A person who is having trouble digesting the experiences of life, feeling constantly on the defence against how they interact in the patient’s inner world — this is the point for them.  It will help bring an internal stillness to the person.

SP-12, the Gate of Chong, was addressed in the previous post.  As a point on the Sea of Blood, it gives an entryway into seeing how one’s emotional life connects with one’s ‘blueprint’ in life.  Alternately, it can help bring emotion back into that blueprint, for people who have become ‘burnt out’.  Again, yin is addressing yang at this point.

CV-1, ‘Meeting of Yin’:  This is a ghost point, ‘ghost hide-away’.  As such, it treats certain types of psychological symptoms.  These symptoms often take the form of rapid or disconnected thoughts; ideas which are difficult to grasp, or a train of thought designed to keep a person from actually thinking through the root of a problem (i.e. a ‘ghost’ is trying to throw people of the right track).  It is an area of concentrated yin, being on the lowest part of the trunk of the body.  CV-1 also treats local symptoms, like  vaginitis, retention of urine, hemorrhoids, and nocturnal emissions.  It regulates the inflow and outflow of essence in a person’s body (emissions, urine).  It also treats wind in the lower body (vaginitis, hemorrhoids) through its ability to bring yin to bear in the region.

Du-1 has two names, ‘Gate of Po’ and ‘Long Strong’.  It is the place where the po-spirits exist the body at death (or every seven years).  It connects with lower orifices to treat an excess or lack of peristalsis and an inability to consolidate.  As the Luo of Du Mai, it functions to treat the spine as a whole, whether manifesting as stiffness or a shaking head.  It treats the emotions as they relate to individuation, being able to raise one’s head and gaze directly out at the world.  It allows that solidity by securing the yin at the root of the trunk, firmly grounding the person in his or her body.

CV-4, Gateway to the Origin:  This commonly used point is known for its ability to benefit the yin, nourish and stabilise the kidneys.  Less well known is is function of restoring yang, through which it is able to regulate the qi of the body.

Du-4, Doorway to Destiny:  Awareness of this low back point is essential for proper movement, and as such, it is emphasised in most martial arts training.  A powerful point, Ming Men nourishes yuan qi and the kidneys.  it is the place from which the Triple Warmer mechanism begins to raise up the yuan qi to irrigate the shu points of the body’s viscera.  Original qi (yuan qi) is drawn up from here, dispersed to nourish the kidney organs (the kidneys store the essence, but they still need an externally-received nourishment from that essence), then upwards to the Spleen, Liver, Diaphragm and blood, Pericardium, Heart, Lungs, and the Orifices of the Brain.  The hollow organs are interspersed throughout this pathway, and also receive nourishment from the Ming Men.  As the Doorway to Destiny, it is the place where a person begins to see how his or her lineage meets his or her particular ways of being in the world, and what areas of life will need the strongest resources in order to meet those challenges and goals.

Spike, of course, was busy closing up any doorways to the earth, so that he would not be found out.  Had Buffy not entered the scene and one by one addressed the dead things that were latent in those holding zones, they would have acquired too great a number and ultimately overwhelmed her.  Our Slayer, however, had an idea already of what her authentic self was:  a warrior, a strategist, who knew just which resources were the strongest and in need of saving.  The inadvertant offspring of Spike were quickly dusted, and Spike himself brought inwards, to the Summers’ household.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one is being attacked by things long buried, please seek qualified assistance.

Happy slayage!

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Dead Man’s Party (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 2)

Now that is a welcome home party — and a zombie episode I had forgotten about.  At least in this episode, the Nigerian masque was not brought back and displayed by a well-intentioned anthropologist, but by Joyce, the Art Gallery Owner.  After all, anthropologists can’t be blamed for everything that makes the White Man’s Burden heavier (or facilitates the post-colonial vengeance of the Two-thirds world upon the imperialist and decadent White Man).

Did anyone else notice in this episode several foreshadowings of seasons six and seven?  Xander and Buffy joke about how slaying is all fun and games until someone gets an eye put out (although this also foreshadows how the demonic masque wearing Zombie gets defeated in this episode).  Willow mixes drugs, addiction, and witchcraft in the monologue.  And Xander implicitly tells Buffy she won’t stay buried.

Xander, in fact, is the one who gets credit for this episode’s topic.  “You can’t just bury things, Buffy,” he raves at her, with more force than the scene demands.  “They have a tendency not to stay that way.”  Cue up Zombie attack, delivered after Willow’s sarcastic comment about using violence.

Chinese medicine would concur with Xander:  It can be difficult to keep a pathogen buried in the body.  Sooner or later, it will use up the substance which is keeping it buried, and wreak havoc on a now very weakened system.

The term Chinese medicine uses for this phenomenon is latency.  A latent pathogen is one which the body’s defenses (wei qi) could not expel entirely, but which could not penetrate further because the supply lines for the troops — actual substance of the body (the ying qi) — was too strong to be broken.   Like an enemy trapped behind a country’s defensive lines but who can’t penetrate any further into their territory, the pathogen goes into hiding.  It may stay in the wilderness and forage, or it may enter the homes of villagers and commandeer food, clothing, and other supplies — in the case of the body the supplies it demands are jing, blood, and body fluids.  When these substances are used up, the pathogen has a tendency to come out of hiding, with greater strength than before.  Usually, however, signs of the pathogen lurking have already shown up as a gradual weakening of the body.

Several modern diseases, particularly autoimmune conditions, are considered to be latent warm disease pathogens.  Multiple sclerosis is one example; lupus is another.  Note also that trauma — especially emotional trauma — can be considered a retained, or latent pathogen.

Fire toxins are a particular example of a latent pathogen.  Wind and cold can combine and enter and be transformed into heat and later into fire, leading to fire toxicity.  Fire toxicity seems to find its particular home in the blood.  For practitioners who only use the primary channels, the Small Intestine channel is particularly effective for addressing these conditions when dispersed.  The Pericardium and Triple Warmer channels, on the other hand, help promote latency (and thus should be tonified).  Finally, the Stomach, Lung, and Large Intestine meridians are responsible for the original transformation of cold into heat (as well as internal, emotional factors); wind-cold, and wind-heat conditions respectively.

Two principles derive from the theory of latency.   (The theory was first fully articulated in the Southern Chinese Warm Disease school of medical thought.)  First, the pathogen relies on yin substances to become latent, and can become latent at the jing, blood, or fluid/ ying qi levels.  Second, if the body is too weak to expel a pathogen, the practitioner can build up these substances and lead the pathogen into latency, to be expelled at a later time.

Although I mentioned several primary channels which can be used to address these conditions, the channel system which most effectively deals with latent pathogens, because of its connexion to the wei qi and jing qi levels, is the network of Channel Divergences.  Depending on needle technique, the channel can be used to either promote latency or bring a pathogen out of latency to be expelled.

The beginning of the channel divergences of the legs tend to be located around the pelvis, on what are called the Doorways to the Earth points.  Doorways to the Earth bury things in the body.  They are needled to either access what has been buried and raise it up to be expelled via the orifices of the face, or to maintain their burial within the body’s yin substances.  These points include BL-40, GB-30, LV-12,  ST-30, SP-12, Du-4;  KD-10 or KD-11, Ren-1 or Ren-2; some would even include Ren-4, Ren-6, and Ren-8.  BL-35, as the Yang Meeting point could also be considered.  These points happen to be the confluent points where the Yin and Yang Channel Divergences join together.

The channel divergences “end” at the upper orifices.  (Technically, a debate exists about whether the Channel Divergences are the internal trajectories of the primary channels, but that debate concerns how the channel systems relate to one another and not so much to how they are used clinically as separate channel systems.)  The orifices provide the means by which the body can expel pathogenic factors.

Relating these concepts to the episode at hand,  the zombie masque needed its eyes opened (well, shattered in this case) in order to release the demon and break its power.  We did not want to rebury the demon, but we need to remind the body that what it is doing is taking a pathogen which had once been buried (the corpse) and is now crashing the party of life (as a zombie), and for this reason the doorways to the earth points are needled.  Interestingly, all the channel divergences connect with the Heart on the way to the orifices, and right before the zombies come crashing through the windows, Buffy and friends are having a heart-to-heart argument.

So:  needle doorway to the earth, then a point along the trajectory (which often relates to the heart — CV-17, BL-15, GB-22, HT-1, SI-10 are all good choices), and then the upper orifice point.  If the practitioner prefers, one could needle according to the looping system I mentioned in the earlier Ted post on treating food allergies with the ST-SP channel divergence.  In this case, rather than needling bilaterally and moving upwards, the points are needled unilaterally pointing up on one side, until the topmost point is reach which is angled to point towards the other side.  The rest of the points are needled from the top down, angled downward, and the jing well point of the yang channel being treated is also needled.

Needle technique depends on what is being done with the pathogen.  To bring it up from the depths, use a superficial-deep-superficial technique, with a vibration at the initial superficial and deep levels.  To promote latency (which can also be a technique to build up the particular bodily substance related to the Channel Divergence), the reverse technique is used:  deep-superficial-deep, with vibration at the initial deep and superficial levels.

Needles are retained 20 minutes, and treatment should occur for three consecutive days, with a three day break following, for a total of 18 days (9 days of treatment total).  After that time, treatment efficacy should be assessed.

For reference, the following Channel Divergences are related to their yin substances:

BL-KD:  Jing essence

GB-LV:  Blood

ST-SP:  Body Fluids

SI-HT:  Ye-thick fluids

TH-PC:  Qi (note the TH CD does not end at an orifice, but goes into the chest or stomach)

LI-LU:  Thin fluids or Wei Qi

Herbal treatment depends on what one is trying to accomplish.  A simple three herb formula that I might try is  Jin Yin Hua, Xuan Shen, and Huang Qi (one could also add Lian Qiao).   Jin Yin Hua and Huang Qi as a combination nourish blood, while the Jin Yin Hua itself will clear fire toxins.  Xuan Shen nourishes yin and clears fire toxins.  Together, all three support yin substances which maintain latency, while searching out and clearing the enemy from now secured lines.  Adding the Lian Qiao further strengthens the fire toxin clearing ability of the formula.  One might add something to open orifices, too — Da Zao is said to disinhibit the nine orifices, as does Yuan Zhi.  Xin Yi Hua opens the nose.

If one is more interested in promoting latency,  E Jiao, Sang Bai Pi, and Di Gu Pi are your combination of choice.  E Jiao and Di Gu Pi (or Sang Ji Sheng) are a pair which serve as envoys to direct formulas to the Channel Divergence level, both relating to Jing and Wei Qi by the nature of their substance.

Finally, Tian Dong and Fen Xi treat “hidden corpse”, which is thought to relate to Gan syndrome in children.  This is also a type of latent pathogen, and perhaps relates most to the SI-HT channel divergence, given Tian Men Dong’s tropism for the Marrow.

As always, this post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you feel you may benefit from the tradition of East Asian medicine, please seek a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!