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!


What’s My Line, Parts One and Two (Buffy, Season 2)

It always used to baffle me in school when the Liver was targeted as the source of all emotions.  At least any emotion which could in any way be linked with Anger — frustration, rage, irritation, annoyance.  Even when these emotions could be manifestations of heat harassing the Heart, heat in the blood, be rooted in fear, or grief, or guilt — treat the Liver, we seemed to be told.  Especially LV-3, unless you really wanted to calm things down, in which case you would be advised to choose LV-2.

I hated having these points used on me, and they always seemed counterproductive to curing me from my ills of frustration at what I perceived as a superficial evaluation of various situations.

Unfortunately, in a closed system like the 5 phases, with a little massaging, any ailment can be pegged down to any phase; certainly, if one phase is out of balance, it has the capacity to affect all others.  This is one reason why I prefer to focus on physiology and invoke the full set of channel systems, especially in these theoretical treatment plans.

Anger comes in many forms, and between the two episodes which comprise “What’s My Line” we have several examples, to examine, each of which will get its own short summary, diagnosis and treatment.

We first see Giles snapping at Xander’s constant wisecracking.  I’ve worked in an office with someone who has a continual shtick, and frankly, I can related to Giles.  Sometimes one needs space in order to think — and while the Liver rules boundaries, Giles’ explosion of frustration at Xander cannot be termed a pathological reaction.  It was quite appropriate, especially seeing that Giles immediately apologised (and Xander shut up).

An inability to focus and concentrate can be attributed to the Spleen not gathering, or not housing intent.  (In school we would then be led to the conclusion that the Liver was obviously attacking the Spleen, causing it to be disrupted.)  The Spleen also stores the ying, and I wonder if one could postulate that the intent resides in the ying?   Its movement is upward, and it links with the gathering and concentrating forces of the Lung through their Tai Yin relationship.  Therefore, I would treat Giles with LU-5 and SP-10, the he-uniting points on the Tai Yin channel.  These points invigorate blood (and ultimately the marrow or brain), and treat issues whose origin is diet, that is, stimulation one takes in from the outside.  The herbal treatment would be Yu Ping Feng San, in which Huang Qi secures the exterior from distraction, Bai Zhu strengthens the Spleen’s intent, and to mollify those who still insist on LV involvement, I’d switch out the Fang Feng with Bo He or Sang Ye, to release the exterior and soothe the Liver.

Buffy has a very nice outburst against Oz, pinning him to the wall.  Good thing it wasn’t Cordelia; Buffy’s already made the impression of being high strung on her in Season One.  Oz diagnoses Buffy as merely “intense” — and I would say this is actually a case of Kidney excess, which is described in the Nei Jing as an excess of courage.  We could also see it as a hyperactivity of Kidney yang, such as we see in patients right before they come down with adrenal exhaustion.  Since we don’t want to disperse the Kidneys, as they tend to deficiency, we can choose instead to use a Sinew Vessel approach and release the exterior to vent some of the excess yang energy.  I would needle ah shi points along the Shao Yin channel, especially since our heroine is confronting the need to rotate quickly and effectively in defending against the assassins sent out against her (and this rotation is inward, martial, not outward, balletic — in which case we would use ShaoYang, which does bear a relationship to both the LV via GB and to KD yang via TW).  Treatment can end with KD-3 being needled, after KD-1 has been moxabust, in order to consolidate the yang in her kidneys.  Herbal treatment would be form the Tang Ye Jing Fang and consist of Zhu Ye, Fu Ling, and Mai Men Dong to cool the blood, calm the Heart, and mildly drain the Kidneys.

Cordelia and Xander get angry at one another and then get passionate with one another.  This is clearly Liver in all its variations — including its connection to the organs of generation.  This is physiology:  KD water giving birth to LV wood (no pun on Xander intended).  It need not be treated, since the two are being discreet and observing the proper social boundaries of a fictitious Confucian village in Southern California.

Kendra gets angry at Buffy for insulting her lack of imagination.  In some ways we can see this as Kidney water being insulted by Spleen earth — the self at war with society.  Or we can simply  assume the shedding of blood is inevitable in this sort of situation and treat it with a luo vessel protocol.  PC-6, SP-4 are first bled, since the cause of the anger is known (otherwise, LU-7 and LV-5 would have been chosen).  GB-37 is used since anger is the outward manifestation of the emotion associated with the Liver.  If I were using a sinew vessel approach to treat an acute emotion, I would have chosen the Tai Yang channel since the Bladder defends the Kidneys, or self.  I would not choose an herbal remedy for this, except perhaps Wu Wei Zi tea, just to calm the heart and bring things back to centre.

Drusilla is clearly, if dementedly, angry at Angel, still grieving the loss of her family to his predations before he sired her.  We’ve already diagnosed her as having Spleen weakness, but it has been at least a century since all this happened — during which time she accompanied Angelus and Darla across Europe.  So obviously, she has trouble letting go, and since this is something which was embodied in her around the time of her “birth”, I would be tempted to use an EV approach.  However, I think we could use the luo vessels of the Extraordinary Channels and combine an EV with a Luo vessel protocol.  Bleed CV-15 and Du-1, to release the emotions which were embodied in her “blueprint” for life.  One might consider bleeding KD-4 and TW-5 first, since we are working on the pre-natal, constitutional level, but I’m not sure this is necessary.  Lu-7, one of the best points to treat grief, also opens the Ren Mai, so why not throw that in as a needled point?  SI-3, an earth point on a fire channel might help bury some of the simmer emotions Drusilla still carries.  Herbs I would give Drusilla would be E Jiao )to stop the emotional hemorrhaging and resonate with the EV level) and Fu Xiao Mai.  This latter herb calms the shen and is also used in the Orthodox Church at memorials for the Dead, prepared into a dish called “kolyva” in Greek.  It thus serves a dual role, and would be appreciated by a nun of the Catholic Church, even one in Drusilla’s state.  I actually had a Greek patient who was mourning the death of her husband of several decades, and after the forty day memorial at which kolyva was served, the grieving became more peaceful.  Ever since I have associated Gan Mai Da Zao Tang with mourning unsettling the shen.

Finally, we also see Spike angry at his Grandsire Angel for insulting his manhood.  Spike apparently isn’t pleasing Drusilla the way Angel could, and Angel can feel her frustration.  Spike lashes out at Angel and nearly stakes him, but for the intervention of Drusilla.  Herbally, I would consider Si Ni Tang, to warm the ice-cold extremity giving Spike his problems, but while that may be the source of his issues, it doesn’t touch the emotional outburst we are considering.  The physiology in this case is one of fear giving rise to anger; the points I would use are along the sacrum, where the Bladder channel meets with the Gallbladder, or along the neck, where the same phenomenon occurs.  Usually, I think of the tingling at the base of the spine or on the back of the neck as fear (the emotion of the Kidneys as carried by the Bladder) trying to mobilise courage (the virtue of the Gallbladder).  Perhaps all Spike’s pent up jing is generating heat to arouse the more forceful aspects of the wood element.  In any event, I would also root this emotional outburst in the Kidneys.

So, to recap:  we have used sinew vessels, primary meridians, extraordinary vessels, and luo channels to address the various manifestations of anger.  We have discovered root causes in the Spleen not gathering, the Lungs not releasing, Kidney water being disturbed, and Liver acting outwards in a non-pathological manner.  We have not addressed heat in the blood whereby we could cool the heart via the small intestine, nor have we yet used the Channel divergences, but I’m sure a later episode in this series will present us with just such an opportunity.

Happy Slayage!