Touched (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 20)

How sexuality impacts one’s approach to an apocalypse is explored in this episode, augmented by an excellent soundtrack.   Faith and Wood let out their physical tension; Xander and Anya find comfort in the familiarity of one another’s bodies; Willow and Kennedy finally go ‘all the way’; and Buffy and Spike achieve an intimacy which does not rely on sexual activity, but on simple holding and being held by another person.

Sexual encounters aside, the actual plot involves Faith leading the potentials into a trap:  They discover a bomb in the vineyard moments before it explodes.  Diagnostically, the episode references sweat and scent several times.  Wood refers to how when the First appeared to him, it took the form and image of his mother, right down to her perfume.  Spike tracks Buffy by her scent (despite not breathing; but then, we saw him  waterboarded by a Torakhan earlier in the season, a form of torture which should not have affected a non-breathing creature).

Overall, this episode provides a good opportunity to revisit some Channel Divergence physiologies as they link up with other channel systems.  The diagnostic entry point will be a re-examination of the five odours as they pertain to the CDs and point to other channel systems.  Then I will examine sexual form and function from several channel perspectives.

To review, the five odours and their five-phase correlates among the Primary Channels are generally listed as:

Rancid, like oil that has been too long exposed to air, is associated with the Wood phase of the Liver and Gallbladder.

Scorched, appropriately associated with the Fire phase of Heart and Small Intestine.

Fragrant, Sweet, corresponding to the flavour of earth and grains (when chewed for a long time), is associated with the Earth phase, and the Spleen and Stomach organs.  (The Pancreas are associated with the Spleen in this system.)

Rotten, Rank, or Fishy, like the breath of one who has tuberculosis or a Lung abscess, is associated with the metal phase, and with the Lungs and Large Intestine.

Putrid, Rotting, Decay, the scent of winter’s kill before it freezes, or the smell of wood left underwater and ice for a season, is associated with the water phase, and with the Kidney and Bladder organs.

The Channel Divergences link the yin and yang primary channels of a particular phase of qi (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), and in this way a diagnostic correspondence between patient odour and channel to be treated could be formed.  However, let’s complicate the picture in two different ways.  The first way is to link the CDs with other channel systems by phase.  The second way is to look at the interaction of CD fluids, channel systems, and organ-tissue relationships.

To begin with the first set, but with an eye to the second:

The BL-KD CD is associated with jing, and draws heavily on the Extraordinary Vessel system.

The GB-LV CD is associated with xue-blood, and relates in particular to the mu points and Luo Vessels.

The ST-SP CD is associated with jin-fluids, and intersects with the Heart through its own trajectory, through the Chong Mai’s relationship with blood, and through its ability to nourish the upper sensory portals, including the tongue.

The SI-HT CD is associated with both sweat and ye-thick fluid, which nourishes the Sinew Vessels.

The TW-PC CD is associated with ying qi, and moves heat out to jing-well points through nodes to terminations.  Sinew Vessels begin at the jing-well points.

The LI-LU CD is associated with wei qi,  and begins the cycle of primary meridians.

Bringing the five-phase odour correspondences into the above chart, several resonances between odour and channel systems occur:

Decaying, putrid odours point towards jing and the EVs.  (Note that decay can be associated with the teeth as the SI meridian deposits pathogens there to maintain latency.)

Rancid odours indicate the luo vessels, and emotion left too long un-aired out and unresolved.

Fragrant odours point to the heart and sense of perception.

Scorched odours, that ‘burnt out’ smell, indicate the marrow and sinews may benefit from treatment first.

Rotten, fishy odours suggest that the primary meridian cycle may be most effective in treating the pathophysiology currently underway in the person.

Next, the organ-tissue correspondences as they are associated with CD fluids:

LV is associated with blood and sinews (possibly meaning ‘nerves’); GB governs the bones.  In the CD channel system, the SI-HT CD relates to the sinews.  This comes about in part because SI-9, on the SI-HT CD trajectory, moves blood into the sinews.  The form of the sinews is felt through the movement of ye-thick fluid, the fluid of the SI CD.  The function of the sinews is brought about through blood, the fluid of the GB-LV CD.  The blood relationship of the Liver is more closely linked to the Luo Vessel system here.

HT rules over the mai, the vessels.  This includes the arteries as well as the jing-luo mai, the qi mai, and the bao mai. In other words, the Heart rules over the primary meridian cycle, the luo mai system of collaterals, the extraordinary vessels, and the enveloping vessel.  Absent are the CDs (but all the CDs go to the Heart) and the Sinew Channels (but the Sinew Channels are associated with the SI-HT CD).

SP is associated with the flesh; ST is associated with blood.  Because the luo vessels are about how events have not been ‘digested’  or assimilated by the person in question, the ST-SP CD and the Luo Vessels have a relationship.  Looking at the relation between LV and ST in this respect may be useful, for treatment patterns.  The Yin Wei Mai, a major intersection on the ST-SP CD could bear a certain relationship to the flesh, as the inner aspect of the body’s substance, linking everything together.

LU is associated with the skin, which is the domain of wei qi and the sinew vessels; LI is associated with jin-fluids, which provide the source of wei qi.  The LU, LI, SJ-PC CD and SI-HT CD all overlap with the beginnings of the sinew vessels.  In fact, however, the SI-HT CD is more associated with the end or binding points of the sinew vessels, while the SJ-PC CD is associated with their beginnings.  The LU-LI system is associated with wei qi, which is also the domain of the sinew vessels.  However, because the LU-LI CD is also associated with the Primary Channels, the LU-LI system goes ‘deeper’ into the body than the sinew channels themselves would.

KD are associated with bones, but the GB ‘masters’ the bones; the BL is associated with jing.  This correspondence fits in nicely with the BL-KD CD association with the EVs.  However, the SI-HT CD deposits pathogens in the jing-associated teeth.  The SI is further associated with the thick fluids which nourish jing-associated marrow.  However, the BL-SI and KD-HT channels link up through their TaiYang and ShaoYin associations.

When the topic turns to sexual function, several aspects come to the fore.  First, LV-5, the LV luo point, which is also on the LV CD trajectory, influences libido.  (The BL-KD CD and its relationship to the lineage-linked jing is clearly implicated in sexual functioning.)  Second, the relationship between wei qi and jing shares an analagous relationship to ejaculation:  wei qi is the yang qi which propels jing outside the body.   In this regard, two other CDs come into play, the SJ-PC channel divergence which conveys yang qi (and links the Heart and Kidneys, essential for climax — the moment when Heart Fire is discharged downwards towards the Kidneys) and the LI-LU CD which deals with wei qi.  Third, the SI-HT CD comes into play when sensation is involved; this includes pathophysiologies like vulvadinia and perhaps also hydroceles.   The ST-SP CD comes into play with openness and making sense of the person one is relating to (or not relating to) in sexual intercourse.

Perhaps in a future post, I will take each of the couples as a case study to illustrate the interplay of each channel system.  For now, however, the post is long enough!

As always, these posts are meant for entertainment and educational purposes, and are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any particular conditions.  If you or a loved one have recently begun to smell different and you are concerned about what this may mean, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!


Wrecked (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 10)

Building off the boredom Willow experienced at the Bronze in Episode 9, Amy introduces Willow to Raqq.  Raqq is a sort of ‘dealer’ in magic.  He sends Willow on some serious magic trips.  (How Amy knows these people is something of a mystery, given only a passing explanation.)  Buffy, Xander, and Anya discuss how Willow isn’t acting herself lately.

Events climax when Willow is entrusted to watch Dawn.  Willow can’t resist a visit to Raqq, draggin Dawn along with her.  After getting magically high, Willow takes Dawn for a crazy ride in a car, wrecks the car, and seriously injures Dawn.  Dawn awesomely slaps Willow when Willow tries to apologise.  By the end of the episode, Willow realises her addiction, and decides to give up magic for herself this time. Willow tells Buffy that the magic took Willow away from herself.  Willow then begins to go through withdrawal.

We could approach the clinical situation in this episode from the perspective of ‘getting back to oneself’ or from the perspective of addictions.  In several posts, I’ve mentioned the relationship that Po spirits have with addiction. I’ve also mentioned the association of the po with the qi of the Lungs and the jing-based solidity of the bones.

The bones have a strong relationship with jing.  Associated with both the Kidneys which store jing-essence and the curious organ of the Gallbladder which the Ling Shu says ‘masters’ the bones,  it should seem that the bones would therefore also have a relationship with the EVs.  The marrow, properly called sui in Chinese, is often considered the material correlate of jingshen, the union of essence-spirit in the living, post-natal body.  The marrow nourishes the bones, giving them suppleness and strength.  (The marrow itself is nourished by the ye-thick fluid governed by the Small Intestine; Zeng Ye Tang is a useful formula to know in this regard.)  The EVs, of course, are the pathways of jingshen.  Drawing the above links together, the bones are nourished by the marrow, the flow of jingshen through the Extraordinary Vessels.  Specifically, the experiences accrued from the lineage, and which the person is working on int his life, shapes the form of the bones through the marrow which is generated post-natally.  But why are the po associated with the bones and the Lung qi both?

The Po are the most yin of the spirits, the most ‘solid’.  As such, they need the yang-oriented qi to complement and ‘anchor’ them to the body.  However, as spirits, they are still yang; they manifest materially as something much more substantial than the two pairings of the hun (the hun is paired with the shen, as the yin aspect of yang Heart shen; and with the blood, the material yin to spirit yang).  The po thus become associated with the bones in part because the bones are the most solid jing structures.  More apropos, however, they po are buried in the earth with the bones.  They do not go to any afterlife. as such, and in older stories, often form the material basis for future ghosts.

Po leave the body at death through the anus.  Another tradition says we lose a po spirit for ever cycle of seven or eight years that we live through.  The po travels down the spinal column, and if something is preventing the po from leaving, it disrupts a disc on its way down.  This disc disruption can be physical (hernias, twisted vertebrae, especially every third vertebra) or an energetic block in the Du Mai.  To resolve blockages in the Du Mai, we can palpate each of the intervertebral spaces and find the most sensitive areas.  Then burn three to five threads of okyu-moxa on those points.  The Hua Tuo Jai Ji points, also associated with the Du Mai can be needled to help release these blocks.

The du mai makes sense to treat in this case because it is associated with both qi and marrow, and because it forms the passage through which the po exit the body.  It can thus help ‘flush’ out addictions.

Other EVs might be useful to explore, though, too.  The curious organs are often associated with the EVs, although no clear consensus has emerged on direct one-to-one pairings.  (Research is ongoing, and I would refer the interested reader to an article written by Thomas Richardson at )

The Wei Mai can be associated with the bones, as the Wei Mai give structure to the organism.  At the same time, the Ling Shu advises needling the GB meridian, because the GB masters the bones — thus the Dai Mai, which is clearly associated with the GB can be called in.  Remember the Dai Mai is where we keep our attachments, and addictions are a prime example of an attachment which has become pathological.

Existentially, withdrawal can be seen as a process of having moved away from the self and then a return to the self.  In this case, one would want to needle an EV associated with what took the person away from him or herself, the ‘diseased’ meridian, if you will, and then bring it back to either the Chong, Ren, or Du mai, the triad which represents the ‘self’ as it intended to unfold in this life and birth-lineage context.

I wish I had access to records of treating withdrawal from opium during the era when the Warm Disease school was formed. The Warm Disease school arose not too distantly in time from the Opium Wars. While I could approach the question by asking what does opium — and thus possibly opiate derived drugs — do to the body, from a warm disease perspective, and how can Warm disease medicines treat addiction and recovery, I will only briefly touch on the topic.   Opium is used in Chinese herbal medicine principally to bind the intestines.  (Constipation is a key complain in heroin addicts.)  It can mildly move blood and qi, but it is a relatively weak painkiller from the perspective of Chinese medicine (Yan Hu Suo and Wu Ling Zhi are much more effective).  A mild formula to generate fluid and move the bowels would thus be appropriate.  Ma Zi Ren Wan, perhaps.  Or Zeng Ye Tang; after all, the formula seems to principally have been composed to treat constipation (a purpose for which I never seem to use it).  Zeng Ye Tang contains a very still medicinal, Di Huang, which touches on the Kidneys and thus the self; another herb which softens the self and allows passage through depression, Xuan Shen; and a herb which helps in letting go when holding on excessively, Mai Men Dong.

For readers curious to know more about the Opium Wars in China, I would refer you to Dikotter et al (2004), Narcotic Culture:  A History of Drugs in China.  Katie Swancutt, currently at Oxford University, is also writing up research on how a small ethnic group in Southwest China (Yunan province, I believe) on the use of shamanism to address the social problem of both opium trafficking and opium addiction.  The use of shamanism in that area entails invoking a person’s responsibility to his or her ancestors.  So again, with the calling upon ancestors, we are returned to the role of the EVs in physiology:  to resolve those elements of a lineage which have not yet been successfully smoothed out.

As always, these posts are for informational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one are facing addiction, please see a qualified professional.

Happy slayage!

Tabula Rasa (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 8)

The theme of consequences develops in this episode as the friction between Tara and Willow over Willow’s use of magic to remake the world according to Willow’s own liking continues. Willow offers to give up magic for a month; Tara suggests a week. As Tara said, ‘We’re in a relationship — we make decisions together.’  (Make sure both parties in the relationship agree to that premise, otherwise you’ll be in for potentially unpleasantly surprising results.)

Unfortunately, Willow is too addicted to magic at this point, and as she tries to have her cake and have eaten it too, she comes up with a new plan.  Willow tries to make things right the same way she kept making things wrong: by using magic. This time, Willow tries to erase all the recent suffering and misery experienced by both Buffy and Tara. The spell works a little too well, though. Everyone forgets who they are.  Trapped in the Magic Shop, each must use cues from the outside world to figure out what their identities are.  (This ‘use prop cues to form an identity’ makes a great acting class exercise, by the way.)  Interestingly, each character assumes they have a pre-existing identity which he or she has temporarily forgotten, rather than an identity which can be formed anew at each moment. That continuity in the idea of identity is the realm of the Yin Wei Mai; this EV seems to be functioning well for the Scoobies.

So what needs to be done?  The Scoobies need to remember what are their individual identities, and what positions the relationships they have established with the people around them.  Among the EVs, the Du Mai is concerned with individuation and going out into the world.  The small child learns to sit up to look at the world, and moves forward using the spine as the engine of locomotion.  The Du Mai is part and parcel of that process, lending its energy to the child and developing its own ability to regulate the body as a result.    The Du Mai meets up functionally with Yin Qiao, which concerns one’s view of the self, as well as with the Yang Wei Mai, which facilitates the way the outside world is matched up with the inside world.

In this episode, what we are seeing is the characters using the Yang Wei Mai to take outside cues inside to create a self-portrait, a view of who the character is.  This is accomplished via the Du Mai’s function of exploration-individuation.  Physiologically, think of this as bringing the jing of the Yang Wei Mai to the Yin Qiao Mai via the medium of the Du Mai’s yang energy.  Translating this physiology into the clinic, we have a treatment that is thus somewhat complex, in that it involves three EVs.   However, the Yang Wei channel includes two points on the Du Mai, allowing a nice crossing over.  I therefore would suggest the following points:

Yang Wei:  Open at left TH-5; bilateral UB63, GB35, SJ15, GB13
Du Mai: Du 16, (bilateral SI-3), Du 15, moxa only
Yin Qiao: ST9 or UB1, K8, close with right K6

During the course of the episode, Giles has a talk with Buffy about suffering.  In medicine, it is important to distinguish between necessary suffering (so that a person can heal and gain strength) and unnecessary suffering (which serves only to cripple, maim, hurt, or otherwise delay solid recovery).  The EVs, perhaps more than any other channel system, are intimately tied suffering, especially if a Buddhist world-view is taken.  The EVs represent and accumulate that suffering we have not been able to transcend in a life.  The world of self-development asks that we clear the EVs in particular.  Sometimes that entails a suffering directed to a liberating end.  It is the suffering which can come from self-cultivation, and a recognition of one’s own wrongs in the world.

Several herbs are conducive to the work of self-reflexion.  Among the two I’ve frequently recommended for self discovery, two in particular are associated with Extraordinary Vessels:  gou qi zi (wei mai, chong mai, dai mai) and xuan shen (ren mai).  It seems to me that these herbs are associated with those particular EVs for a reason.  Xuan Shen, which helps people going through a period of distillation of identity (often manifesting as a dark night of depression), is paired with the Ren Mai, the vessel of attachment, or more precisely, of bonding (i.e. positive attachment).  It is also the channel of digestion and assimilation of information.  Xuan Shen is one of the three herbs in the formula to increase ye-thick fluids, which nourish the marrow and jing-shen.  (The other herbs in Zeng Ye Tang are Mai Men Dong and Di Huang.)  Gou Qi Zi, which allows one to look at the dark sides of one’s soul, is associated with the Wei Mai, which deal with time and accumulation, but also the Chong Mai, one’s blueprint in this life.  Finally, Gou Qi Zi is also associated with the Dai Mai, that essential vessel in Tai Ji movements, whose physiology is about letting go what needs letting go (or pathologically, the retention of sentimental values).  Although I favour formulas of three to five herbs, I would recommend a potion for Willow composed of just those two herbs.

As always, these posts are for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one are seeking to discover your core identity through the use of acupuncture or herbal medicine, especially in the wake of spells gone awry, please see a qualified practitioner. 

Happy Slayage!

Once More, With Feeling (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 7)

Ah!  Buffy, the Musical.

This is the fun episode when all the secrets come out.  Spike confesses his feelings for Buffy, problems in Xander and Anya’s relationship are aired for the first time, and Buffy tells Willow she wasn’t in a hell dimension.  And that’s just the Scoobies.  The rest of Sunnydale celebrates more mundane events in glorious, show-stopping, chorus-line fashion (‘They got the mustard out!’).  There’s even a bit of self-conflagration towards the end.  Clearly, the whole town has come down with the classic symptoms of a yang ming disorder.

I treated spontaneous combustion due to Yang Ming disorder in Season 1, two years ago.   Besides, this season, I’ve committed myself to treating conditions using the EVs. What then can we do?

To review a bit on physiology of the Extraordinary Vessels (EVs):  when luo vessels overflow, that is, when the blood-emotions cannot harmonise the pathogen-stressor to the body, the EVs take over.  The EVs try to harmonise the pathology with one’s life in a different manner.  They don’t tuck it away until later in the manner of the Luo Vessels.  Nor do they feed the stressor with resources, as do the Channel Divergences.    The EVs operate on a more fundamental, ‘karmic’ or ‘curricular’ or even ‘destiny’-based level (and thus have a more inter-relationship with other people and the world aspect), while the CDs are more strictly related to the  individual in question.  How do EV treatments work to resolve the pathology?  Good question.  In part, they reposition the individual with respect to the world.  Such a repositioning is tied to the YangMing process of digestion-assimilation of what is consumed in the world.

Let’s look at this for a moment.  We know that in the physiology of post-natal qi, the basis of the primary channel system of acupuncture, the primary channels originate in the middle burner, the Stomach (CV-12).  ST qi goes to the Lungs (emerging at LU-1), but also continues to throat — hence the physiology underlying the singing associated with Yang Ming disorders. While one could make an initial association with the Ren Mai, I would suggest Yang Qiao Mai may be the best bet, if we take the more modern approach by Wang and Robertson, for understanding YangMing disorders from the perspective of EV physiology.

First, I would note that the Qiao Mai are the luo vessels of the EVs.  They are the EVs most attuned to emotional pathologies, secrets, and unresolved issues with one’s life.  As luo vessels, they bear an intrinsic relationship to blood.  the Ling Shu states that if blood is disordered treat the Stomach channel.  The Stomach channel has a role in influencing how a person incorporates outside influences.  So we have a relationship being drawn between the Yang Ming channel and the Qiao Mai, through the physical medium of blood and the functional aspect of blood in carrying emotions.

The relationship is closer than that, however, and includes direct channel intersections.  The trajectory of the Yang Qiao Mai traverses the three yang channels of the leg (Tai Yang Bladder, Shao Yang Gallbladder, and Yang Ming Stomach) and as it ascends, incorporates the arm Yang Ming (Large Intestine) channel.  The Yang Qiao Mai thus includes in its uses the relation between foot and arm Yang Ming channels, particularly as they meet in the upper body (face and shoulder:  LI-15, LI-16, ST-4, ST-3, ST-1). In contrast, the Ren mai contains CV-12, related to the Stomach/ Yang Ming organ and the origin of the primary channels.  If the organs were the focus, however, I would consider the relationship of Yin Qiao Mai to the smooth muscle tissue of the gut, from throat through colon; in this respect more related to Spleen or Spleen channel functions in TCM.

What is the treatment approach, then?  To treat the Qiao Mai as a luo vessel, I would bloodlet a few points.  Because Yang Ming disorders are hot, the blood would likely be bright and flow easily.  I would bleed the points BL-62, LI-16, and ST-4 (rather than ST-3, as ST-3 would encroach a little on the SI luo vessel’s trajectory to the cheekbones).  For treating men, I would bloodlet the right side; for women, the left.

Of course, an acupuncture treatment of these same points, using a reducing method, could clear the channel as well.  In that case, I would add in ST-1 or BL-1, to open the orifices in order to vent heat and restore the normal flow of fluid.  If the patient seemed to have  a blockage due to food stagnation or other ST organ disorder impacting the Yang Ming channel, I would start with the Ren Mai (LU-7, CV-12) and then work backwards along the Yang Qiao Mai (ST-1, LI-16, BL-62) to clear the channel.  Opening point on the left, closing on the right.  Intermediate needles on both sides.

Acupuncture treatments are nice, but this episode presents a public health crisis afflicting Sunnydale.  Herbal medicine is much easier to prepare and dispense widely.  What herbs should the newscasters suggest?  Bai Hu Tang is classic for Yang Ming disorders. Does it have any relation to jing or the EVs?  Can we guide it to the jing or EV-level?  What about taking a jing-oriented formula and direct it to the Qiao Mai? Adding herbs which guide through the legs (origin of the Qiao Mai) and to the eyes (end point of the Qiao Mai), of course.

Ye Tian-Shi’s herbal recommendations for the Qiao Mai include generally Bai Shao, Zhi Gan Cao (note Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang has a tropism for the calves), Da Zao, Wu Wei Zi, and Shu Di Huang.  Wu Wei Zi generates fluid (Yang Ming-Large Intestine terrain) and astringes the Lungs, thus following the upward path of qi outlined above.  While Wu Wei Zi does not go to the eyes, it calms the heart, which assists the shen to shine from the eyes.  Wu Wei Zi thus has an effect on jing and shen, while travelling along the ST-LU corridor of qi.  In addition, because of its ability to help a person let go of other’s wills, it has an affinity for the dynamic quality of the Yang Qiao Mai as a vessel concerned with how one sees the world:  what should be taken on, what is my own in this world, and what is someone else’s?

To complete the formula, I would add one more herb which Ye Tian Shi specifies for the Yang side of the Qiao Mai:  Yuan Zhi.  Yuan Zhi harmonises the Kidneys and the Heart, the jing and the shen.  It clears phlegm away and more important, opens the orifices.  The resulting formula is Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang with the addition of Wu Wei Zi and Yuan Zhi.  The formula relaxes and balances the sinews, lends stability and suppleness to the legs, the grounding of the individual, while clearing the channels of phlegm to free the flow of jing-shen between the path one walks and the path one sees.  An alternate composition not using exclusively EV-oriented herbs would be Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang with Jie Geng and Xing Ren, both of which regulate the throat and affect fluid physiology of the ST and LU channels.

As always these posts are for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one find yourself suddenly singing and dancing uncontrollably, please see a qualified specialist or agent, so that you can make money from an otherwise medicalised talent.

Happy Slayage!

Bargaining, Part 2 (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 2)

The first half of the two-part episode ‘Bargaining’ ends with an image of Buffy’s corpse coming back to life — still buried in her coffin.  Buffy needs to claw her way out of the earth if she is to survive.  We later see Spike offer his sympathies; he had to do the same, once.  Newly reborn, Buffy’s senses are still hazy:  her sense of sound seems acute, but her vision remains blurry for much of the episode.  Eventually, Buffy makes her way to the Tower from which she jumped at the end of Season Five.  Dawn follows Buffy up the Tower and pleads with Buffy to come down.  ‘It was made by crazy people’, Dawn explained, and its stability, having been constructed without a clear blueprint, was questionable.  Indeed, we see the tower as it begins to collapse.  While at the top of the tower, Buffy explains to Dawn that where she had been, everything was shiny and clear.  “Is this hell?” Buffy asks.

Clarity is the culmination of the Water phase in human life.  Associated with wisdom, the virtue of the Kidneys, clarity comes about when jing is entirely transformed and the vice of water, fear, falls away.  In terms of the Kidney channel itself, the Kidney points on the abdomen reflect the relationship between completing one’s journey in life and the ‘curriculum’ with which one is born.  Those points are nearly all intersection points with the Chong Mai.  In fact, the Kidney channel, of all the channels, contains the most Chong Mai points, illustrating the conceptional relationship between the jing stored in the Kidneys as it unfolds in the emotional life of the blood contained in the Chong Mai as ‘sea of blood’.  In a sense, the Chong Mai facilitates the movement from Kidney jing to Liver blood.

The chong mai is the first of the extraordinary vessels.  The Nan Jing refers to the EVs as the vessels which catch the overflow of the luo-mai, the collateral vessels.  The Luo Mai are associated with blood and the emotional aspects of life.  Those emotions which cannot be immediately dealt with are held in the body in the form of spider veins.  These spider veins can accumulate, pass into the next channel in the cycle, or eventually drain into the EVs.  When they drain into the EVs, the idea is that the person now must incorporate resolving those emotional challenges as part of his or her blueprint in life.  As the first of the EVs, the chong mai in particular embodies this characteristic.  The chong mai is the blueprint from which the rest of life unfolds.  Clearing the chong mai helps induce clarity in life, through the delineation of that blueprint.

In the collapse of the tower which gave Fifth-Season Buffy the opportunity to sacrifice herself to save the world, we see an implosion of the structure of her previous curriculum, whose culmination was self-sacrifice.

Now that Buffy has a new incarnation, what will be Buffy’s new curriculum?  She completed that blueprint whose end was self-sacrifice; it does not need to be repeated.  What is the goal for this new existence?  That is the question this season asks; it will be answered in Season Seven (moving from self-sacrifice to self-giving).  However, the initial question Buffy confronts is doubt about the sufficiency of her self-sacrifice.  Did she do something wrong, that she’s come back, in more or less the same body?  What does this mean, existentially?

The ling-soul is the capacity for self-cultivation, through the working together of the virtues of the five little shen – the hun, po, shen, jing, and yi/ intent.  Part of self-cultivation is exactly the work of getting piety, reactivity, reflectivity, materiality, and intent to operate harmoniously in one’s life.  Buffy’s shen or ling soul has returned to her body, but as we find out, something in that body, some element of the jing is different.  Given that the chong mai is the sea of blood, perhaps some of the difference in jing is due to the use of fawn’s blood in Willow’s spell.  (The fawn’s blood, by the way, should have clotted once it was collected, if it was not continually stirred, but perhaps this is part of the magic of the jar of Osiris).

In any case, I am going to assume Buffy’s pulse is ‘tied to the bone’, a classic Chong Mai pulse.  She also has the classic Nan Jing symptom of chong mai disorder:  rushing and urgency in the body.  (Today, we might consider these terms to refer to anxiety or panic attacks.)  The chong also treats generalised counterflow of qi and blood.  Given that Buffy was so recently a corpse whose qi and blood were decaying, restoration of movement and integration would seem to be counter the flow of normal events.

I would treat her by opening the Chong Mai at SP-4, then needle KD-12 DaHe (‘Great Luminance’), and close again at SP-4.  Sp-4, as a luo-point, treats counterflow, while KD-12 is needled to help restore clarity to Buffy’s new life.

As for herbs, Lu Jiao Shuang is noted by Ye Tian-shi to treat Kidney Channel Blood.  Since the chong is often thought of as a collateral of the Kidney channel, using this medicinal, in combination with Wu Wei Zi and Dang Gui should help stabilise the new found ability to move Buffy is experiencing.  Wu Wei Zi is useful in cases where someone feels a deep seated guilt over something for which they were not truly responsible, in this case, coming back to life.  Dang Gui causes the hun to rejoice in itself, letting Buffy rejoice in the cycle of life.


I would like to revisit the CV here as well.  After the chong mai, the ren mai is the next vessel to be activated.  The ren mai is responsible for attachment.  We see attachment take several forms in the opening episode:  Anya-Xander, Willow-Tara, and Dawn-Buffy.  Dawn in particular starts the redevelopment of Buffy’s curriculum in life:  “I need you to live.  I’m your sister.”  She plays on the hun’s capacity for fraternal piety (LV-Chong connexion) and brings it into the terrain of the ren mai.

I would raise another possibility:  using the Ren Mai to treat attachment to ideas, to an excessive fixity of ideology.  For example, could it work to treat Willow’s insistence on needing to get Buffy out of the hell dimension in which Buffy tells Spike she was not?  I would focus especially on TanZhong, CV-17 in such a case.  Tan Zhong is the place were sacrifices were held by the emperor at the direction of his Confucian advisors.

Of course, if we treated Willow, would Buffy have come back to life?  Would we have had a sixth season?

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you know of anyone recently raised from the dead, who is seeking clarity in their new life, please seek out a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Bargaining, Part 1 (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 1)

At the close of the Fifth Season, Buffy sacrifices herself to close a portal which linked all hell dimensions to earth.  As Season Six begins, we see that without Buffy, the gang goes on.  With the aid of the Buffybot, the Scoobies continue their fight against the evils of the Hellmouth.  The gang doesn’t do too badly, though Giles is nearly choked to death by a vampire in the opening sequence.   Life continues with a fair degree of continuity, and Giles is shown keeping the regular training session with the slayer, in this case, the Buffybot, just as he did with Buffy.  In one scene, Giles instructs the Buffybot to breathe while imagining qi — although the Buffybot does not breathe.  The scene ends with the Buffybot asking Giles why he is still in Sunnydale.  Giles decides to leave for England, and so begins the slow unraveling of the gang that becomes the focus of Season Six.

Meanwhile, with the help of Anya, Tara, and Xander, Willow tries to raise Buffy from the dead.  Willow is convinced that Buffy’s soul, her ‘essence’, is trapped in some unknown hell dimension.  It is the gang’s duty to rescue Buffy from such a fate.  She and the others gatehr ingredients for the spell, but the ritual is suddenly interrupted by a broken Buffybot leading a gang of motorcycling demons to the cemetery.  Willow and the others are left at the end of the episode believing her spell failed.

The season thus opens with some very metaphysical terms being thrown about, for which Chinese medicine has some rather different meanings.  Qi, soul, and essence, each mentioned in this episode, are discussed throughout Chinese medical and philosophical history.  The most appropriate acupuncture channel system to regulates all three, and which I will focus on for this season, is the Eight Channels of the Extraordinary Meridians.

Before we get to this episode’s diagnosis, however, a note on Giles’ concept of qi.  Giles instructs the Buffybot to imagine the air as qi, which he glosses as ‘energy’.  However, qi does not mean ‘energy’ as such in Chinese.  In fact, if you ask someone about the qi in Chinese, they will most likely initially think you are talking about the weather outside.  This common use of the word qi points to its intrinsic meaning in medicine:  qi is that which changes, both in the sense of effecting change and in the sense of that which undergoes change.  In this regard, qi is both material and metabolic.  When a herbalist or an acupuncturist regulates qi in the body, they are regulating metabolism, physiology, and the rate of change as a body adapts to variations in its environment.  The traditional character for ‘qi’ is that of a grain of rice exploding beneath whirls of steam:  the transformation of raw into cooked, earth into air or vapour.

Likewise, Chinese medicine would find Willow’s equation of Buffy’s soul with her essence to be somewhat curious.  In a certain respect, Willow is speaking in Greek concepts (ousia as essence and unseen, but tied to personality; and psyche as soul or mind, also linked to personality), while Chinese medicine uses a different sent ideas to convey its understanding of human life.  In other words, the issue is one of translation.  The word translated as ‘essence’ is jing.  It has a grain of rice as the radical, giving the impression that the grain which can grow into the plant is the ‘essence’ of the plant.  ‘Seed’ is not a bad translation, inasmuch as jing is manifest visibly in seminal fluid and menstrual blood.  The other part of the character appears in the word for ‘cyan’ or ‘blue-green’, as well as the character for ‘clear’ or ‘clarity’.  Jing is the clear portion of what grows into a person.

In contrast, describing the soul or spirit is a matter of getting more specific.  Four words can be translated as soul and spirit:  ling, shen, hun, and po.  Of those, ling and shen are the types of soul to which Willow likely referred.  The po are ‘corporeal souls’, the appetites of human life which lead to death and addiction.  Numbered at seven, they are buried with the corpse after death, and are thus sometimes called ‘bone souls’.  Clearly, those are not what Willow is talking about.  The hun or ethereal souls, three souls related to the personality and moral attainments in this life, leave the soul at death through the top of the head.  They are honoured as the ancestors, and after about three generations either dissipate or are reincarnated back into the lineage (depending on what tradition one follows).  It is possible Willow refers to them, but they are housed in the Liver, part and parcel of the blood and emotions which bring warmth and colour to life.  The shen, or spirit proper, is stored in the heart.  This is the soul which gathers the rest together.  It is the soul which experiences this life and changes because of it; it is the soul which imparts a mission to a life, and directs the jing to grow so that the mission can be accomplished.  This is the soul to which Willow seems to refer when she speaks about Buffy’s ‘essence’.  Together, as jingshen, essence and soul constitute the pattern a person is living out in life.  Jingshen manifests physically as marrow, which gathers in the cranium to form the brain.  The channels which address it, are the eight extraordinary vessels.

With those definitions in mind, we can now turn back to this episode’s diagnosis:  Shortness of breath.  Twice this symptom was shown.  First, Giles is nearly choked by a vampire at the beginning, and can’t breathe. Later, he tells the Buffybot to breathe. Difficulty breathing is often thought of as either a Lung (difficulty exhaling) or Kidney (difficulty inhaling) issue.  Of the extraordinary vessels, the Ren Mai is the most appropriate channel to treat.  Not only are its opening a coupled points LU7 and KD3, several points on the midline relate to the chest, diaphragm, and kidneys.  Thus, in addition to the opening point, I might add in CV-12 (the source of the LU meridian, which originates in the middle of the stomach), CV-17 (centre of the chest), and CV-6 (Sea of qi).

For herbal medicine, Ma Huang is the signature herb for difficulty breathing.  Either as Ma Huang Tang or combined with Gecko for Kidney-deficient asthma, Ma Huang opens the lungs, facilitates breathing, and promotes sweating.  Usually Ma Huang Tang is more suitable for robust individuals (like the Buffybot); at a smaller dose, however, Giles would be able to take it without exhausting himself further.

For this first treatment of the season, I’ve used only one Extraordinary Vessel (EV).  I will go through each individually, and then begin pairing them off to create more interesting treatments.  In addition to trying to stay within one acupuncture paradigm, I think I will try to prescribe herbal formulas according to one school of thought.  For this season, I’m going to try a warm-disease approach, particularly since Ye Tian-Shi elucidated a physiology by which pathology enters the EVs.  Hopefully I’ll find enough formulas!

As always, this post is meant for educational and entertainment purposes.  If you or a loved one have died and you want to come back to life, or if you or a loved one have difficulty breathing, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Intervention (Buffy, Season 5, Episode 18)

In this episode, Buffy confesses to Giles that she feels she’s turning to stone.  Every synonym she comes up with relates to hardness.  She feels she’s losing her humanity because of her mission, her going out into the world.  Giles suggests a quest.  On the quest, the guide, in the image of the First Slayer, tells Buffy that she is full of love, that the Slayer forges strength out of pain, and most important, that death is her gift.

Meanwhile, Spike gets his Buffybot.  The Buffybot causes a little confusion with Buffy’s friends and they attempt to stage a mild intervention, until Buffy returns from her quest and clarifies the issue — giving Spike a kiss in the end, for not betraying them.

My first thought when Buffy said she was turning to stone was CV-5, called Shi Men, Stone Gate  (HT-6, KD-18, and KD-19 also all have ‘stone’ in their names).  However, since we are dealing with the luo vessels, the Du Mai Luo seems most appropriate.  In repletion, Du Mai luo pathology shows up as stiffness of the entire bod  in contrast to the TW luo, which addresses only rigid elbows.  (In depletion, the head is constantly shaking.)

Why did Buffy choose stone as her image?  (As a side note, stone almost made it into the five-phase canon — we have manuscript evidence that it was being considered as a sixth phase of qi.)  Stone is hard, resilient, and inflexible.  It is too mission focused.  The Du Mai is the extraordinary vessel responsible for allowing the person to stand up and individuate his or her mission in the world within the context of the lineage he or she was given.  What is the luo or blood level of Du Mai?  It is the level at which emotion drives the person’s mission forward.  Pathologically, though, the luo vessel system, if unable to resolve an issue, will overflow into the Extraordinary Vessels, the EVs catching excess pathogens as they enter through the luo (and emotional) system.  (At least, this is how I understand the Nan Jing’s description of the EV’s.)  From that perspective, Buffy has not been able to resolve some emotional issues and now they are coming out or affecting her mission in the world.  In some respects, they are filling the mission too much — stiffness, repletion — and not allowing the flexibility which would help resolve them.

So the treatment would be to bleed Du-1, and look for any spider veins along the spine, bleeding those as well.

Herbal treatment for a Du Mai luo pathology would need to address both jing and blood; I would use Lu Jiao or Lu Jiao Jiao.  The substance is warming, not heating; it is sticky and lubricating.  It will help bring resilience and flexibility to the spine.  Yi Yi Ren is said to treat an inability to stretch and bend; it thus may be useful in these cases as well.  (As a side note, the root of Yi Yi Ren can be used for Liver luo issues, being called ‘woodworm eliminator’.)

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you feel that your emotions are causing you to focus too much on your work to the extent you are beginning to lose it, please see a qualified health care practitioner. 

Happy Slayage!

Goodbye Iowa (Buffy Season 4, Episode 14) Part 2/2

Towards the close of this episode, when Adam is revealed as the Big Bad of the season, Adam makes a statement which leads not so much to a diagnosis so much as to a treatment plan.  “I know what I am, but not who I am.”  Adam, of course, tried to go about discovering who he was by approaching the matter mechanistically:  the vivisection of humans and demons.  He is trying to probe the deeper and most intimate sources of how human life is expressed.  For the Classical Chinese physician, the channel system which governs this are the Qi Jing Ba Mai:  the Extraordinary Meridians of the Eight Vessels.

These Vessels are considered to be the repository not only of jing, the essence inherited from before birth, but also of those factors, particularly emotional ones, which the individual person, or his family lineage, has not been able to resolve.  They can thus be thought of as ‘karmic’ in the sense of a long-term expression of response to lived environments.  In this regard, the EVs are that system in the body which conveys, as a template, the genetic and epigenetic expression of post-natal qi.  Through the action of source qi, post-natal qi is assimilated to the pattern the jing provides, giving rise to flesh and form in the body.

The extraordinary vessels, filled with jing and shen as they are, deal with the existential issues Adam considers — who am I?  They are the deepest part of the body’s channel physiology and come into play in the unfolding of the jing (KD-6, BL-62) as it is transmuted by ming men fire (SJ-5, PC-6) into qi (LU-7, SP-4) and shen (GB-41, SI-3).

As described in previous posts, the EVs — like all the channel systems — can be thought of as a description of the movement of a person through existence.  Jeffrey Yuen discusses how the Ren, Du, and Chong form the basis of individuation and growth; the Wei Mai integrate the yin and yang functions of the body; the Qiao Mai reflect one’s view of the world and self; the Dai mai discharges and drains what needs to be let go, or retains what the person is unwilling or unable to address at particular times in his or her life.

Specifically, the Chong provides the central blueprint of a person’s life, the sea of blood, from whose union with qi shen arises.  The Ren Mai involves attachment, its formation and the solidity such reassurance gives to children as they grow.  It is the consolidated Sea of Yin which allows what is necessary for growth to be held adequately, without being torn by the dissipating nature of Yang.  The Du Mai is about unfolding into an upright posture, the individuation and going forth into the world, the dissipation or outward movement of the Sea of Yang.

For Adam, then, an EV treatment might be most appropriate to aid him in his quest for self-knowledge.  Adam’s EV functioning is unclear.  One could regulate the Yin Qiao Mai and couple it with the Chong Mai, with the intent to facilitate his ability to look inward at his blueprint; yet he seems to know his blueprint from the disc or CD he inserted into the Cyborg portion of his anatomy.  Looking inward at his blueprint does not seem to be the issue.

Another approach would consider that Adam has not lived; he has not engaged with the external world.  This is the province of Du Mai.  He does seem to have a bit of excess in the Yang Qiao Mai, trying to figure out the world, so perhaps the Yin needs to be regulated as well.  His question, at its most basic level, seems to be:  ‘What is my destiny in the world?’

Four points on the Du, Ren, and Qiao Mai open the body to its destiny.  These points happen to be where some people sense their ‘gut feeling’ the ‘core’ or ‘innermost’ part of their gut — the ‘will within the will’ as it were.   The points on the Ren Mai are located two and three thumb widths below the navel, CV-4 and CV-5.  On the low back, in the two intervertebral spaces between L2 and L4, where some people feel a tingling in their spine when something is ‘right’, the points GV-4 and GV-3 can be located.  Finally, the other points, which are rarely thought about in terms of feeling one’s way, are located at the inner canthi of the eyes — the portion of the eye near the tear ducts and nose.  Bl-1, a place at which clarity of vision — or its blurriness — manifests.  All the above points share as one of their several appellations the name, ‘Ming Men’, Gate of Destiny.

I would start first with the Qiao Mai, opening with BL-62, then needling BL-1.  Adam has been looking to excessively at the world, and needs to anchor within; so the next points would be CV-4 and CV-5.  These points are also the mu-points for the Small Intestine and Triple Warmer, referred to above as expressing jing and shen outwards (the SI being paired with the Heart and Vessels which govern and store the Shen).  One could opt to close with LU-7 at this point.  I might consider leading this consolidation back to the source, to GV-3 and GV-4, before ultimately closing with SI-3 (the control point on the Du Mai).

Needles should be inserted fairly deeply.  A vibrating technique should be used to obtain qi.  The needles should be retained for 40 minutes or so (although Adam’s jing is possibly quite motile, as an infant’s would be, and thus needle retention could be shorter in time).  Treatment should be once weekly, for three months.

Herbal treatment would lead the fire back to the source using Rou Gui and Huang Lian, while augmenting yin and jing with either E Jiao or Gui Ban.  In lieu of animal products (not really an issue for Adam, but in countries where animal products are restricted an issue for practitioners), one might try using Shu Di and Luo Shi Teng.  This latter herb usually treats the Luo Mai; but when the luo empty into the EVs, it may be helpful to see if the luo can be engaged through herbal treatment to reverse the flow.

The question of the state of Adam’s jing and ming men fire highlights a plot hole — we don’t really know how he came to life.  Does he have a base creature on which he was built?  Was this creature still alive when the operations were being performed?  Is he primarily an augmented human being?  Primarily a Demon?  Do demons have the same vasculature as humans?

Adam’s physiology raises particularly interesting questions from a Chinese perspective.  Does he have any extraordinary vessels?  Does he have a shen, which would have a curriculum to work out in this world?  Did he embody the unresolved pathologies contained in the luo vessels of a previous existence?  How would a Chinese Frankenstein’s monster be created?  How would the connexions of the various channels be treated?  Would a ‘translation’ of channels into fascial continuity provide a different take on how such a creature could be constructed?

I will leave such philosophical questions for the readers of this post to ponder.

As always, this post is for informational purposes only.  If you think Chinese Medicine can help you engage with your life’s work in greater depth or with greater clarity, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!

Lovers Walk (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 8) — Post One of Two

In this episode, we see Spike return to Sunnydale, miserable and moping over his loss of Drusilla to an antlered demon.  We see Willow and Xander trying desperately to fall out of love, while Buffy and Angel realise the hopelessness of their own relationship.  This is the episode in which Cordelia and Oz walk in on Willow and Xander in a somewhat compromising situation.

It wasn’t until Season Four that I began to realise Spike is a symbol for Buffy’s relationships, an outward manifestation of her own inner demons.  While I’m not certain the writers specifically thought of him that way, he fits into such a deconstruction of the Buffy plotline.

Aside from the lovesickness, the episode offers a number of intriguing diagnoses to follow up on.  Buffy mentions her mother’s head spinning around and then exploding when Joyce saw Buffy’s SAT scores.  (This was a metaphorical head explosion, as Giles sought to clarify.)  Buffy and Spike both reference rashes, pustules, boils, and leprosy.

Falling out of love is the most intriguing , however.  Given all the possibilities offered by this episode, I will split it up into two parts, as I did with the Ted episodes of Season Two.  This post, then, will examine Head Wind and Rashes.

Poor Joyce.  She’s gone through so much (and has yet more to experience).  Let’s examine some of her case history, shall we?

First, we diagnosed her with mild anemia due to falling on a barbecue fork.  We treated her Stomach primary meridian.  Then we treated her for food allergies due to Ted’s scrumptiously laced cookies.  We used the Stomach and Spleen divergent channel.  Most recently, we diagnosed her with age-inappropriate behaviour (also due to over-consumption of sugary foods), and gave her an herbal decoction aimed at levelling her Liver and Kidney channels; we also used a primary meridian treatment focused on the Stomach, Heart, and Triple Heater meridians.  It seems like she has an earth-related deficiency, and her excessive worry about Buffy fits this profile.

If I were actually treating her, and she continued to manifest these earth-related issues, I would want to try a different approach.  I might select a deeper channel to really push out these habituated pathologies.  Keeping that approach in mind, let’s look at her most recent diagnosis, provided by her daughter, Buffy.

Buffy relates that Joyce saw (i.e. read) Buffy’s SAT scores.  Here, we can think of the orifices of the head; we can also think of the Brain as an extraordinary organ.  Channels possibly involved with the eyes would include Stomach (no surprise), Gallbladder, Urinary Bladder, Qiao Mai, and Du Mai.

Then her head spun around. Obviously a wind symptom.  Wind tends to move from place to place.  Turning usually relates to ShaoYang (GB/ TW)) or ShaoYin (HT/KD).  Unfortunately, we don’t know whether this turning of the head was done with flexion or extension of the cervical vertebrae.  However, we know that the GB also has a relationship to the Brain, and the HT/KD also share a relationship to that Extraordinary Organ by virtue of being the seat of perception and the overseer of the marrow.  The Brain is called the Sea of Marrow.

Then her head exploded.

Obviously, the wind was too intense to be expelled properly.  Perhaps her sensory orifices were blocked (the clear yang of the Stomach must have been compromised from her poor diet, and failed to nourish the sensory organs properly).  Maybe she still lacked proper yin substances (such as blood) to anchor that wind and keep it from rising up.  Since her blood and body fluids are compromised, if we were to have treated her in time, we would have to have used a deeper substance in her body:  jing.

Jing is conducted by the Extraordinary Vessels and the Divergent Channels.  Since the last post used the Extraordinary Vessels, let’s use them again.  While previous posts have emphasised the psychological uses of these vessels, they can be used for more than just karmic and deep seated issues.  Joyce’s case provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate when and how.

I would diagnose Joyce as having (extreme) head wind.

A Ming dynasty treatment related by Jeffrey Yuen in a lecture given on the Extraordinary Vessels is a perfect example of the approach which uses the Du Mai because of its relationship to the Brain and because of its ability to release wind to treat just this sort of case.

SI-3 would be used to open the Du Mai.  Then points which release wind are added:  BL-12, which is the point where the Du Mai forms a diamond on the upper back, Du-14 (which releases the upper back and activates the sinew vessels) and Du-16 are added.  Some people might also select GB-20 on either side of Du-16; or Du-20 can be used if heat seems to be present.  LI-4 is then used to release the wind to the exterior.  Alternately, one could treat the patient side-lying and use BL-1 to open the eyes to release excess wind, while also needling these other points.

A typical herbal formula for head wind is Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San.  I might add Ju Hua to Joyce’s formula simply to focus on the eyes.

However, the formula Chai Ge Jie Ji Tang composed by Tao Hua around 1445 better fits our acupuncture treatment.  This formula releases the muscle layer to expel wind (cf Du-14) and also clears heat (cf Du-20).  The ingredients as listed in Bensky’s formulary are Chai Hu (tropism for the GB channel), Ge Gen (releases the muscle layer), Qiang Huo (goes to Du-14), Bai Zhi (always good for Joyce’s Yang Ming distress), Huang Qin (I might omit this from Joyce’s formula), Shi Gao (another Yang Ming medicinal), Jie Geng (floats the herbs outward and upward), Bai Shao (ostensibly to preserve the yin; I might use toasted Bai Shao to nourish blood), Gan Cao (to harmonise the formula), Sheng Jiang, Da Zao (the last two together regulate the ying and wei qi).

As for rashes, these never ended up manifesting in this episode.  However, rashes are often attributable to Wind-Heat and treated with insect-based medicinals like Chan Tui to promote their expression.  In prior eras, leprosy was formerly treated with Mu Lan, the bark of Magnolia Obovata, but I doubt this can be found in pharmacies outside China.

On the other hand, rashes due to epidemic pathogens would be treated a little differently, since these pathogens can quickly enter the blood level.  In terms of acupuncture, the Small Intestine channel is key.  We know that the SI helps draw heat away from the Heart physiologically; it should come as no surprise that the SI channel can also help draw heat away from the blood.  SI-3 and SI-8 would be one combination;  so would SI-3 and SI-11, especially when paired with BL-15 or BL-14.

As always, this post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you think you could benefit from the traditions of Asian medicine, please seek a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Revelations (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 7)

Betrayal.  In theatre and storytelling, betrayal often serves merely to move the action forward.  It can also add depth to a character.  Either way, it furthers the plot by complicating it, adding new twists and knots to be spun out and unraveled.

In this episode, betrayal serves both ends.  In the form of a rogue Watcher, betrayal serves to further the action of the plot by providing a quest for an ancient artefact of evil.  It also serves to give us insight into Faith’s character, by playing on her past experiences and foreshadowing her future actions.

It seems Faith has had a history of betrayal, and her outlook on life reflects that.  The events of this episode only build on that foundation, and push her further away from trust in other people.

Unraveling a patient’s history is part of what happens in the clinic.  Oftentimes, patients come to us feeling betrayed — by parents, children, friends, society, the medical profession.  Sometimes this betrayal is strictly perceptual; other times, as in the case of rape or childhood abuse, the betrayal is shockingly physical.  Either way, betrayal cuts to the deepest aspects of the patient’s being, touching their essential nature, impacting the expression of their soul in this world.

Because of this depth, the channel system we might choose to work with are the Extraordinary Vessels, in particular, the Qiao, Wei, and Dai Mai.

Usually, betrayal happens when we begin to move out into the world; for this reason we work with the channels which develop only after the person has begun to move into society.  This movement into society produces emotions and feelings which may or may not be made sense of.  In such cases, the emotions may be held, unprocessed, as Luo Vessels.  According to the Nan Jing, these luo vessels will eventually drain into the Yin and Yang Wei Extraordinary Vessels.  In this way, the EVs serve as irrigation ditches, to catch the overflow of emotions which cannot be dealt with immediately.  Instead, these emotions drain into the EVs,  thereby becoming incorporated into the curriculum or karmic path which a person has to work out in their lives and in their health.  The jing contains the pattern one is to work with in this life, and the EVs are repositories of jing.

In simpler terms, a person can also incorporate his or her experiences directly into the pattern of response, the stance he or she takes towards the world.  The EVs which govern that sort of attitude are the Yin and Yang Qiao Mai.

Some persons, though, might be born into the world with an innate sense of betrayal, something carried over from their particular lineage (as for example, ethnic groups which have experienced attempted genocide, or which have fallen from power as a result of political intrigues).  In that case, one might choose to work with one of the ancestral EVs, particularly the Chong Mai, which contains the “blueprint” or “syllabus” for what one will naturally be drawn to explore over the course of maturing in this life.

Since, however, we are focusing on Faith’s character, we will concentrate only on the EVs of what Jeffrey Yuen calls the “Second Ancestry” — that is, the knots we pick up in this life which we add to our future lineage to work out, if we ourselves haven’t been able to resolve those issues ourselves.

First, we would want to work with Yang Qiao Mai, to acknowledge that it is Faith’s view of the world which has been compromised by betrayal.  (Later, in the Angel series, we would choose to use Yin Qiao Mai, since it becomes obvious it is her sense of herself which has been lost.)  BL-1 is an ideal point to use in these cases, as it relates directly to the eyes, that is, to how we see things.

We would also want to help restore Faith’s trust.  KD-8, Xin Jiao, “Meeting Faith” or “Meeting Trust” is the xi-cleft point on the Yin Qiao Mai.  The xi-cleft point is used to address pain, and thus this point is particularly known to help those who suffer from pain due to a violation of trust or faith.

The EV which is responsible for how we integrate our experiences is the paired Wei Mai.  The Yin Wei Mai is the vessel which deals with contingency plans — and Faith is the epitome of always having a contingency plan (generally of opting out, or relying only on herself, which contrasts with Buffy’s self-confident self-reliance, which isn’t a contingency so much as the initial plan).  I would use CV-22, a Window to the Sky point, to help release some of Faith’s pent up reactivity.  She habitually closes herself off to speaking her pain, so CV-23 could also be a good choice.  For someone who internalised experiences even more than Faith does, I would choose SP-13, the meeting place of the Stomach (which internalises experiences and emotions as well as food) with the LV, KD, and SP channels — in other words, with blood, jing, and intent (or ying qi).

The completed point prescription, which would use a deep and vibrating needle technique, would be:

Left BL-62, bilateral KD-8, BL-1; CV-22, right PC-6.  Needles would be retained for 40 minutes.  Treatments would be once a week for three months.

As for herbal medicine, one would think of nourishing yin with substances like Xuan Shen (which is used for patients going through a “dark night of the soul”), Han Lian Cao, and Nu Zhen Zi, would come into play.  Adding to those three an herb which opens the orifices would help the person release the pathogen, redeem it by returning it to heaven, as it were.  Yuan Zhi comes to mind as an excellent herb for this sort of work (especially when the will — the acknowledged overall pattern for one’s life — seems weakened by the experience), although Shi Chang Pu is also highly regarded.  I personally favour musk when the blood and emotions seem excessively stagnant.  An additional recommendation for Shi Chang Pu is provided by the Shen Nong Ben Cao, which describes its use for helping a person articulate their voice.  So using this herb might dovetail nicely with the use of CV-23 as a Yin Wei Mai point.

As always, these posts are for theoretical purposes only.  If you feel you could benefit from the tradition of Asian Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

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