Chosen (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 22)

The final televised Buffy episode offers a very clear Channel Divergence to treat, one which accesses the last of the Extraordinary Vessels, the one concerned with passing on a lineage, with making choices, with encircling a person’s body into a solitary figure — but one which also brings all that to the surface, changing the form of one’s life through manifesting one’s choices.  Willow opens this channel with magic (and it often seems like magic for an acupuncturist to be able to treat multiple people simultaneously, as most clinicians can attest.)  This post, then, is for Willow.

The Channel Divergence I propose treating in this episode is the Kidney CD.  It’s intimate link with the Dai Mai and other Extraordinary Vessels points to its capacity to access not only to the ‘Prisoners of the Dungeon’ (the Turok-han vampires beneath the seal), but also the physiology which will be passed into the Slayer Lineage.

The episode opens with Caleb coming back to life and Buffy slicing him in two, ‘up the middle’, starting with his ‘external kidneys’.  Buffy quotes the openign lines of the Buffy series, and comes to the realisation that it doesn’t have to be that way:  “one in every generation…  She alone…”

Angel and Buffy then have a discussion about having souls, or specifically, about Spike’s ensoulment.  Buffy admits that Spike is in her heart.  Buffy then returns home.  Alone.

Buffy presents her plan to the Scoobies, a plan which will ensure she is not alone.  It is also a plan which entails Willow going beyond the darkest place she had ever been.  Later in the episode, we will see Willow come out the other side, having gone through that darkness, to a place of light.  The Potentials, too, will have to make a choice.  They go to the Hellmouth, and collectively feed their blood to the seal, opening it.  The non-potentials — Dawn, Xander, Anya, Giles, Principal Wood — stay above ground.  Dawn delivers a potent line to Buffy before she enters the Hellmouth:  “Anything you say will sound like good-bye”.  Dawn then walks away.

Descending into the depths while Willow casts her spell, they wait for their transformation into Slayers.  Willow’s spell succeeds.  A great battle ensues, culminating in Spike’s redemption and the collapse of the Hellmouth.  (The collapse of the Hellmouth incidentally disrupts the Scoobies’ plans for what to do after the battle.)

The final lines of the episode contain food for thought in reference to the KD CD:  “We changed the world.”  “We’ll have to find them [the new Slayers].”  And perhaps most importantly, when using the Channel Divergences of Acupuncture for self-transformation, Buffy says:  “Make your choice:  are you ready to be strong?”

How exactly does this episode relate to the Kidney Channel Divergence?  After all, it is usually used for deficient yin conditions from overwork (“lao taxation”) and adrenal exhaustion (a condition in which too much yin has been transformed into wei qi).  Those familiar with the ‘kidney return’ protocol will note that it uses selected points on the KD CD.  Symptoms include empty fire, which is a loss of jing giving way to heat.  The trajectory of the Kidney CD will illustrate my argument more fully:

The channel diverges from the primary Kidney meridian at KD-10, near the knee.  A he-sea or he-uniting point, this point homes to the Kidney organs.  A little known effect of the point is its usefulness in treating mental disorders.

From KD-10, the channel moves laterally to link up with the confluent point of the BL-KD Channel Divergence at BL-40.  BL-40 is the end of a third trajectory on the Bladder Meridian, originating at Du-4, moving outwards towards the lower inner bladder line (to encompass the shu points of the LI and SI) and down towards the knee.  This is one reason why BL-40 is particularly effective in treating low back pain:  it connects directly with the low back.  In combination with Du-26, the entire spine, including the marrow it houses, is affected.  (As a side note, Du-26 also treats mental disorders.)

From Bl-40, the channel follows the BL divergence pathway, passing through BL36 on its way to Du 4.  BL-36 and DU-4 both relate to the ability to stand upright, or as Buffy phrases it: “Can stand up, will stand up.”

From the Du Mai, which some readers may recall is the Extraordinary Vessel of individuation and going-out into the world to meet one’s destiny (Du-4 is called ‘Gate of Destiny’), the Kidney divergent channel then homes to the Dai Mai via BL-23 and BL-52, the shu points of the Kidneys and Will, respectively.  Physiologically, the movement to the Dai Mai allows the channel divergence to move pathogens to the last of the EVs:  wei qi using yuan qi to store or create latency.  The kidney uses fear or cold to repress pathogen, especially fear of dying, thus limiting potential of yuan qi.  It is the ‘dungeon’, reserved for prisoners who couldn’t be killed (due to status, position, lineage, family relations, etc).  Yet the next point in the channel, BL-52, is the gate of will, where one overcomes fear and cold and can make one’s choices.  In a way, this is also the point of a ‘will-within-the-will’, a situation in which a person is acting for one set of articulated reasons, but is actually responding to a much larger, more extensive set of choices about his or her life.  “Make your choice.”

Following the Dai Mai, the KD Channel Divergences goes to GB26, SP15, ST25, KD16, and CV8.  If the Kidneys are a dungeon, the Dai Mai is a closet, into which pour all the unresolved emotional and physiological work entrusted to a particular lineage to work out.  The Dai Mai is the means to transmit a factor to one’s future lineage to work out.  Physiologically, it helps let go of things person is not conscious of (wei qi is not conscious), often by invoking the qualities of the Gallbladder to help let go of fearful, repressed emotions, the baggage we have difficulty letting go of.  It sets the prisoners of the Kidney free.  “Anything you say will sound like goodbye.”  In patients with a KD CD pathology, the Dai Mai reflex area of the hara is often full or filling.

The KD Channel Divergence pathway then follows the primary KD Channel trajectory on the abdomen, which is actually the Chong Mai trajectory.  The KD CD thus accesses the ‘Gate of Destiny’, brings that individuation through the elements of life which need to be resolved, and transmits them within the person to the EV which contains the blueprint of one’s lineage.  It allows all that hidden fear and baggage to meet the emotions for resolution.  The Chong Mai, as both the sea of blood and sea of the 12 channels, is intimately concerned with the full range of human emotion.  “How does it feel, B?”  This is also where the pathophysiology can move from consuming jing to consuming blood in an effort to keep a pathogen latent.  From consuming the attention of one’s life, to sucking up emotional energy, certain pathologies move more deeply into the body.

From the Chong Mai and KD primary channel points, the KD CD moves to CV23 and the Root of the Tongue, having passed through the Heart.  CV-23 is a Yin Wei Mai point, and concerns both continuity — in the case of the Potentials, their continuity with the Slayer lineage, which is their destiny, and all the history and mystery inherent in that lineage — and integrity: how the person remains who they really are in the face of challenges presented by life.

From CV-23, the KD CD then moves along the Jawline.  How does a person integrate experiences into her life?  The jawline is where one can see how a person chews on, savours, and assimilates experiences.  It is also a final place for deposit a pathology:  the teeth hold latent pathogens.   (If the tooth is removed, pathogenic process may still continue, and move to affect the throat.  Gua sha ST5 area, SCM, if this portion of the CD is diseased.)  “I want you… to get out of my face.” (Or “a nice, wholesome, my person has a pierced tongue sort of way”)

From the jaw line, the Channel Divergence moves backwards to BL-10, which connects yin to the head via marrow at lower border of skull.  “It’s bloody brilliant.”  BL-10 is also a Window to the Sky point, and as such draws things up from where they’ve lain buried to the light of the heavens, much as Spike brought light from the ‘trinket’ to the Turok-han.  “Spike”

Treatment would be three-time needling, shallow-deep-shallow, as we want to bring up the slayer-essence latent in each potential.  However, instead of doing a strictly ascending, or even a looping technique (in which one begins with KD-10 on one side, moving to BL-10 and then down the other side, to exit at KD-1 or BL-67), I will take a tip from Spike, and bring the light of a WTS point to a Doorway to the Earth point, and then move in an ascending direction.  Thus, I will begin on the left side with BL-10 and move downwards towards KD-10; then I will move to the right side and begin with KD-10, moving upwards to the nape of the neck.  The idea is to bring the idea to the depths of the person, and draw out what is needed to make that realisation an actual reality.

From here, follow treatments with either the Dai Mai or Chong Mai will help ground the person in her or his new identity.  KD CD treatments combine very well with Dai Mai and Chong Mai treatments, as can be seen from the trajectory of the KD CD.

In terms of Herbal Medicine, many formulas can be used to augment jing.  As for envoys, several herbs go to the Dai Mai and other EVs, but Wu Zei Gu goes to the Dai Mai exclusively (and not to other EVs); to bring the formula outwards to the TaiYang level, Hua Jiao goes to the middle to disperse cold (but homes to the KD channel), and Gao Ben raises qi to the vertex.  Both herbs would be good additions to a martial arts training formula like Jin Feng Jiu, which increases jing and quiets restlessness.  Jin Feng Jiu is composed of equal portions Sheng Di, Shu Di, Dang Gui, Mai Dong, Di Gu Pi, and Yin Yang Hua, with one-half a portion of Sha Ren.  Grind or use whole to make wine, steeping the ingredients for two or three months first.  (Guard the body from losing jing while taking this formula; this is especially important for men.)

* * *

So this completes my series of posts on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Chinese Medicine.  I originally began this exercise simply because I needed a way to keep my diagnostic skills up between my graduation from acupuncture school and being allowed to practice.  I also wanted a forum for presenting some of the more obscure, ‘superstitious’ aspects from the history of Chinese Medicine out into the world.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much as I’ve enjoyed composing them.  As always, the posts have been meant for educational purposes only.  If you or another person feel you could benefit from the perspective of Chinese Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.

Finally, all medicine, but Chinese medicine in particular serves a single purpose:  to relieve unnecessary suffering so that individuals can return and live out their lives.  The final line of the series puts this nicely:

“You’re not the one and only chosen one now.  you’ve just got to live as a person.”

Happy Slayage.

Jason Scott Johnson
2013, September 29.
Michaelmas Day.

 

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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!

The Gift (Buffy, Season 5, Episode 22)

The stunning conclusion of Season Five sees Dawn tied up atop a newly constructed platform.  Doc arrives to make shallow cuts in her skin, allowing her blood to drip down and open the portal to all dimensions.  The dimensions themselves bleed into one another.  Earlier in the episode, someone asked, ‘why blood?’  Spike responded:  because it is life.  It’s always about blood, just as even death is not about death so much as it is about life — and blood.

The solution to the dimensional bleed, of course, is simple: stop Dawn’s — or the various dimensions’ — bleeding.

For acupuncture, I would choose the remaining luo vessel:  the Great Luo of the Stomach.  Nothing is known or spoken of this in terms of its pathology.  Only the physiology of the vessel is mentioned in the Ling Shu:  it is responsible for the motility of the Heart.  Therefore, it is the symbol of blood as life.  It must be tonified in this particular episode 00 so the use of moxa over the heart, along the ST meridian will help close up the shallow cuts Doc made.

Why is the Stomach the motile force and not the Heart?  Because Stomach qi flows downwards from the uppermost limb (the head), and it controls all four limbs; its qi is thus the qi which helps the Heart move blood and bring blood to all four corners of the human body.  Its qi acts as the mechanical force behind the Luo vessel system, and tonifying Stomach qi in particular will help generate blood.

Herbally, this raises an interesting question.  Shi Hu and Mai Dong bring ST fluids to the LU and help generate qi over all through that organ… But what would bring ST blood specifically to nourish the HT, ST yang to move HT yang (not that this is strictly necessary)?  Of course, the focus must also be to stop bleeding — so I will leave the above questions to a future theoretician, and recommend the formula Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang, Stabilize the Root and Stop Uterine Bleeding Decoction.  It consists of Shu Di, Bai Zhu, Ren Shen, Huang Qi, Dang Gui and Pao Jiang, and not only stops bleeding and tonifies qi, it also tonifies blood.  It is unsurprisingly similar to Ba Zhen Tang.

But another question is raised in my mind, which I don’t have time to answer right now — If LV blood nourishes HT qi, how do we reconcile this with the herbal medicine?  Herbs taken internally to stop bleeding may give us a clue.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you feel you could benefit from Chinese medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.  And remember the closing lines of this episode:  “The hardest thing in this world… is to live in it.”  Take care of your friends.  Be brave.

Restless (Buffy Season 4, Episode 22)

The final episode of Season Four is a coda to the climactic fight with Adam the week before.  The basic plot line of what Joss Whedon called a ’40 minute tone poem’ is that everyone has vivid and disturbing dreams resulting from their previous magical unification during the battle with Adam.

All the Scoobies (clearly minus Spike) end up at Buffy’s house after the fight.  They initially intend to watch a film, but all fall asleep practically before the cassette is in the VHS player.  The episode then follows the dreams of each character, beginning with Willow, followed by Xander, Giles, and finally Buffy.  Throughout each dream sequence, the spirit of the First Slayer seeks to kill off each of Buffy’s friends, in the belief that the Slayer must fight alone.  This notion of alone-ness will become key to Season 7’s resolution; here it is brought out in stark relief within Buffy’s own lineage.

(A recurring element in each dream is the Cheeseman, whom Joss indicates is meaningless and random.  The Cheeseman will not be the focus of my treatment in this post, although I will note that cheese is a rather yin substance.  All the characters could likely use more yin substance after their epic battle.)

Restless sleep due to dreams is a relatively common symptom seen in the clinic.  Insomnia, of which sleep with vivid dreams is a type, can have several etiologies.  Generally, sleep is related to the quality of blood and the jue-yin (LV-PC) system.  It can also be seen as the ability of wei qi to enter into the body, where it protects the body at night while the hun-souls wander about in dreams.  The ability of the hun to return to the body depends on the quality of the blood, which carries these personality-related souls.  Because the blood, which stores the hun, is itself stored in the Liver at night, the hun are also said to be stored by the Liver.

However, little explored is the relationship of sleep to jing, source or primal qi, and one’s lineage.  Since I did not delve into the meaning of primal qi in my previous post, though it would have been opportune to do so, I will set up my treatment rationale by first teasing out the physiology of lineage in the Chinese Medical body.  I will start with the premise that our characters’ restlessness is due to floating Kidney fire.

What is floating Kidney fire?  Simply put, it is the fire stored in the Kidneys when located outside the kidneys.  Floating Kidney fire thus bears a certain similarity to ministerial fire, except that minister fire is physiological, while floating Kidney fire is considered pathological.  The Kidneys, though, are considered a water-phase organ.  So where does this fire come from?  One could think of the Kidneys as that point in the yin cycle when yin-water begins to turn into yang-fire.  This yang-fire then rises upwards in a process we relate to the Triple Heater mechanism.  Indeed, the ‘fire of the gate of life’ (or ‘gate of destiny’), ming men, is associated with both the left kidney and with the TH.  Physiologically, it is the burning of jing-essence into the source qi of the body, impelling it to move outwards into the world, allowing the body to transform what it encounters and assimilate those experiences according to the template provided by the KD-jing.  The process of assimilation and transformation in this sense is the same process by which we say KD yang supports SP yang.

However, if the KD-yin or jing-essence is insufficient, it cannot contain the fire, which flares upwards.  The Pericardium (xin bao luo)  is generally responsible for venting heat which comes from the Heart; because it deals with fire outside the sovereign fire of the HT or shao-yin system, the PC is associated with minister fire as well.  It is the first defence for the Heart against fire from Kidney yin vacuity.  In the case of floating Kidney fire causing dream-disturbed sleep, the PC must deal with not only the fire which the Heart emanates as a matter of course, but it must also contend with fire which should have remained in the shao-yin (HT-KD) system.  If this process does not happen efficiently, the blood grows hot (either because the PC vents some heat into its associated jue-yin pair, the LV, or because the Heart has a build up of heat, thus affecting the blood or affecting the vessels which store the shen).  Hot blood disturbs the Hun-souls.

As mentioned earlier, the Heart, blood, and hun are all involved in sleep.  Sleep depends on the quality of the blood.  The hun wander about and govern dreams.  The Heart is the commander of blood and storehouse of the shen, which the hun follow (cf Ling Shu ch. 8).

If the internal blazing of Kidney fire were severe, the pathology would overflow into the LV, causing rising LV yang and if the blood becomes scorched by the heat, symptoms of internal wind.

So how does all this related to jing?  Jing is Kidney yin, and when it is weakened, Kidney fire escapes upwards.  Jing is also the lineage of the person, passed from parents to offspring; it binds the shen to the person and gives rise to jing-shen, associated with the marrow and through the marrow, with the brain.   Ming men is said to reside between the Kidneys, and the fire of shao-yin is the communication between the HT and the KD; the gate of destiny is thus located between the Heart-shen and the KD-essence, and is the ground wherein the two strive for harmony with one another.  Destiny emerges from the relationship between one’s lineage and the lessons one must learn in this life in order for the ‘little’ shen to return to the ling-soul located in the brain.  The formation of the original soul in the brain is one goal of Chinese alchemy.

I might also mention Buffy’s line, “I do not sleep on a bed of bones.”  The bones store the po-spirits (which, related to the rhythm of qi, are also said to be housed in the Lungs).  The bones are the most lasting of the body’s structures, and the po the most easily dissipated of the body’s souls.  (In fact, it is said that after every cycle of seven or eight years, a po-spirit exits the body; if it has trouble leaving, because it has become addicted to something, it leaves a herniation or other disruption in the vertebral column.)  In other words, the bones are one of the most lasting aspects of jing, a lineage which no longer walks in the world.  Buffy may be saying that she does not sleep on a lineage which cannot change; she is in control of where the lineage moves now.

When the Scoobies united during the previous episode, the jing of the slayer was shared out between them; it called forth the Ling-original soul of the first slayer, the original blazing of qi from the union of the first Slayer’s shen with an augmented jing (the source of the slayer’s amazing physical abilities and stamina).  That Ling-soul refused to remain mixed with a jing-lineage incapable of holding her.  The jing-lineage and bodies of Buffy’s friends could not contain the curriculum of lessons necessary for the Slayer’s shen to carry out its destiny.  Primal qi could not be contained in the Kidneys and overflowed into the TH and PC, aggravating their sleep in the form of floating Kidney fire.

After a long season, a simple diagnosis and treatment protocol will recentre our characters. After all, a good sleep will definitely be needed in order to survive the dramatic reversals of fortune awaiting all our characters in the next two seasons.

We have a few components to address physiologically.  Jing seems to be insufficient; primal qi seems to be blazing everywhere.  The Extraordinary Vessels are the vessel system which deals with both jing and source qi; they are also the vessels which are intimately involved with destiny as it works itself out in this life.

Since the previous episode dealt with incorporating others into the self — and indeed, Buffy insists that she has friends in this episode — then I would suggest Yin Qiao and Yang Wei Mai as the two vessels to use.  Yin Qiao is one’s view of the self; Yang Wei is the weaving together of external time in the person’s life.  The control points for these two vessels also happen to be KD6 and TW5.  Not only does this combination activate those EVs, they also nourish KD yin and regulate the venting of heat through the blood.

For a herbal prescription, I would choose Er Xian Tang, ‘Two Immortals Soup’.  The formula is often used for perimenopausal hot flashes (experienced by women in North America, but not by women in Japan, according to a study by Margaret Lock).  Er Xian Tang is composed of Xian Mao, Yin Yang Huo, Ba Ji Tian, Huang Bai, Zhi Mu, and Dang Gui.  Together, these herbs tonify the yin and yang of the Kidneys, but also drain pathological ming-men fire.  Interestingly, the nourishing of yin is accomplished through nourishing the blood as well as the essence.  The first three herbs nourish KD essence, the last one the blood.  Interestingly for our purposes, Dang Gui is also said (by Ted Katpchuk) to cause the hun to rejoice in itself, and is well known for its effects on hormonal processes in the body.  The formula also regulates the first two EVs, the Ren Mai and the Chong Mai.

I would add Ling Yang Jiao (which treats LV wind) with an eye to preventing further progression of the condition.  The Divine Farmer indicates that the horn for warding off vicious ghosts and preventing oppressive ghost dreams, a perfect fit for our exhausted gang.

As always, these posts are for informational purposes.  If you feel you would benefit from Chinese Medical treatment, please see a qualified practitioner.  For practitioners:  For more on minster fire, see Wang and Robertson (2008).  Applied Channel Theory in Chinese Medicine.  Eastland Press.   pp108 – 133.

Happy Slayage!

Graduation Day, Part Two (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 22)

This is it for the Scooby Gang:  The End of High School.  Happily for the fans of the show, Buffy does go to college, for one year, at least, and the show continues on.

This episode sees the culmination of all the mayor has worked towards.  His ascension went off without a hitch, really, except he neglected to realise that it left him vulnerable.  Once the Mayor assumed his snake-like demon form, the Scooby Gang were able to lure him into the library, the centre of the Hellmouth that is Sunnydale.  In the emptied out library, the Mayor meets his doom:  plastic explosives.  Buffy once again has taken part in a plot to destroy the actual buildings of her high school.  Lucky for her, Principle Snyder was eaten before he found out, she presumably received her diploma, and those pesky ‘permanent records’ — also presumably exploded.

But what to do with all those leftover demon-snake parts?  Chinese medicine, naturally, has the answer, and this post will look at some of the many uses of snakes in the herbal medical tradition.

The Divine Farmer recommends snake skin (She Tui)  to treat fright epilepsy, madness, hemorrhoids, worm toxins, and ‘tuggings and slackenings’ in children.   The Divine Farmer also notes that snake skin is better if baked.

The first three pathologies are often due to the presence of wind in the body.  Hemorrhoids are typically noted as being caused by ‘wind in the intestines’, giving rise to both itching and bleeding.  The bleeding can be caused by the body either trying to expel the wind on its own — one treatment principle is to move blood to expel wind — or due to the wind forcing the blood from the vessels.  Likewise, fright can scatter Heart qi and cause the vessels to empty of blood, leaving them to be filled with wind.  Madness can likewise be caused by such an underlying physiological process.  (I should note that ‘wind’ in Chinese Medicine can often signify ‘change’ in a person’s life or environment.)

Colourful alternate names for snake skin include ‘robe of the baby dragon’ or ‘shirt of the baby dragon’ (long zi yi, long zi dan yi).  I’m not so sure that Mayor Wilkins could be considered a ‘baby dragon’, however.  On the other hand, I wonder if his boens could be used in place of Long Gu (Dragon bone) to settle the spirit, astringe the essence, and reduce palpitations along the Ren Mai, when felt by the practitioner during hara diagnosis?  (Gui Zhi jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang can be used to settle such palpations and relax the Ren Mai.)

Today, (at least) two types of snakes are used in the Chinese Herbal tradition.  Bai Hua She is said to enter the blood level and the Liver channel.  It penetrates into the bones to  gather wind and invigorates the Luo-collaterals to quiet siezures.  Moving blood and having an affinity for the Wood channel allow it to extinguish both internal or external wind.  Since it unblocks the channels, it can be used in Luo Vessel treatments as well. Dosage range is 1-1.5g powdered; 3 – 10g whole.  I have seen whole snakes placed in vats of wine with other herbs in order to create medicinal soaks and liniments for use in massage and after martial arts training.

Wu Shao She is the other snake used today.  It is milder than Bai Hua She, and so its dosage is comparably larger:  2-3g powdered; 6-10g otherwise.

As always, this post is for informational purposes only.  If you want to collect your own snakes and snake skins for use as medicines, please seek the guidance of knowledgeable practitioners.  Happy Slayage!