Storyteller (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Slayage!


Pangs (Buffy Season 4, Episode 8)

Ah Thanksgiving.  It is actually Thanksgiving day as I write this, though here in England the British don’t seem to give thanks annually for the survival of their American colonies…

In this episode, Xander participates as a construction worker in a Groundbreaking ceremony for the new anthropology cultural centre.  (Once again, the anthropologists are a catalyst for trouble in Sunnydale.)

Xander breaks through the ground alright — and through the roof of what once was the old Sunnydale Mission.  In the process, he inhales the vengeance of a spirit warrior from the Chumash people indigenous to the area.  As a result, he comes down with all the diseases to which the Americans had never previously been exposed:  malaria, smallpox, syphilis.  (The syphilis question is somewhat open, however, given evidence from pre-Columbian Florida.)

Although Xander seems most concerned about the syphilis, which strangely does not seem to bother Anya, I already addressed that infection, together with Lyme’s disease, in a previous post.  Since smallpox is now extinct as an ongoing infectious disease, I’m left with malaria and ‘all other’ epidemic diseases Xander seems to have caught, residue from the epidemiological transition of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries.

In addition to Xander’s problems, it seems Si Ni San may not have been the right formula to give Spike.  He’s looking even paler, covered in sweat, and actively shaking with chills.  His disease may have followed a progression from ShaoYin to JueYin — conveniently enough for our purposes, since Malarial Disorders tend to fall under the JueYin pattern in the Shang Han Lun .  (Such a progression assumes a linear movement from channel to channel in the Six Channel system, which is not always the case.  Each channel represents an aspect of physiology, and while they are all inter-related, those relationships are not necessarily in order.)

As a side note, did you get the ET reference(s) in this episode?  Spike running around, sick, trying to escape government operatives, bicycles to the rescue, someone lying sick at home from a disease caught from visiting foreigners…

Malaria, as defined today, is caused by protozoans in the blood and liver of human hosts.  Four types of malaria infect humans, of which P. Falciparum can be deadly.  All malarial types are transmitted by mosquitoes (of the Anopheles variety).  Malaria was formerly thought to be caught from the miasmic vapours  (mala aria) infesting swampland.  One early and effective medicine against malaria, quinine, was used by the British for their colonial administrators, and was derived from the bark of a Peruvian tree.  However, the World Wars interrupted trade in this medicinal, and new ones were sought.  Recently, those older standbys have ceased to be as effective as in previous years.

As the efficacy of older medicines for treating malaria has begun to wane, Chinese Herbal medicine has come to the attention of global health agencies.  At the centre of this attention is the herb Qing Hao, and more specifically, the chemical constituent Qing Hao Su (artemesinin).  Currently, that chemical appears to be the most effective means to treat malaria throughout the world.  However, although Qing Hao is now grown in various parts of Africa, only the initial cop seems to have enough of the chemical to make the herb useful in treating malaria; subsequent generations grown from local seed do not produce enough.  Work is underway to select varieties within Africa which continue to be high yielding producers.

Naturally, we would want to give Xander something with Qing Hao.  However, since he has numerous other diseases, we might want to look a little more closely at possible Chinese physiological processes underlying Xander’s amazing pathology.  Looking at the other formulas grouped with those which treat malaria, several are associated with the Gao Huang, or Membrane Source.

Therefore, let’s try Da Yuan Yin, for ‘foul turbidity entering the body via the nose and mouth to lodge in the membrane source’ — which is ‘closely associated with the Triple Burner and its dual function of circulating yang qi and body fluids’ according to Bensky’s Formulas and Strategies (p137).  The Gao Huang itself is said to be located above the diaphragm and below the heart.  This is the region associated with the Mansion of Blood in Wang Qing Ren’s physiological system.

The ingredients of Da Yuan Yin include:  cao guo, hou po, bing lang, huang qin, zhi mu, bai shao, gan cao.  3 g for all; half that for the cao guo and gan cao, decocted and taken warm in the afternoon.  Of the ingredients, the first three appear in most other decoctions used to treat illnesses in the membrane source.

Cao Guo treats dampness and accumulations, as well as malarial disorders of the cold type.  Bing Lang treats accumulations and stagnant qi, in addition to abdominal distention and malarial disorders.  Hou Po treats stagnant qi and abdominal distention, but is not specific for malarial disorders.  However, Hou Po is well known for its ability to dry dampness.

Judging from these three herbs, pathology of the membrane source would entail the accumulation of dampness, especially cold dampness, a distended abdomen, and an impaired qi mechanism.  These symptoms are reflective of Triple Warmer energetics — the Triple Warmer being one of two ShaoYang channels, whose pathologies manifest as alternating fever and chills — but are also localised to the abdomen.  As mentioned in a previous post, this area was listed by Wang Qing Ren as the place where Ming Men fire resided, hidden within the Mansion of Qi, which itself is closely interrelated with the Small Intestine.  Ming Men fire is associated with both the Kidneys and the process of transforming KD jing by means of the Triple Warmer mechanism.  The membrane source thus seems to be at the heart of this movement.  The location, however is quite different; therefore, I would propose looking at a different set of associations to tease out the energetics of this organ a little bit more.

The area of the membrane source happens to be the same region into which the Chong Mai is said to disperse (i.e. the chest).  Could the membrane source be related to this vessel?  Is the membrane source a mediating mechanism between qi (TW, KD) and blood (Chong, SI)?

A look at the acupuncture points associated with the Gao Huang might prove helpful.  KD16, located on both the KD channel and the Chong Mai, is the Shu point of the Huang.  Ellis, Wiseman, and Boss indicate that the Huang refers to an area below the Heart or around the Bladder.  CV-4, the mu point of the Small Intestine, and CV-6, the Sea of Qi, are also two points associated with the Huang (called by the name Shang Huang).  Thus, among the lower points associated with the Huang are one which treats the Small Intestine, one which engages the Sea of Qi, and two which relate to the Chong Mai (known as the Sea of Blood), as well as to the Kidneys.  I have been unable to locate any points on the chest which relate to the Huang.

On the back,  BL43 is the Gate of the Gao Huang, and it is indicated for moxabustion in cases where no other treatments are working.  I seem to recall Jeffrey Yuen saying that in the Tang dynasty this was one of the most popular points to use.  BL43 would correspond to the ‘spirit point’ associated with the PC (or specifically, with JueYin, which, as was mentioned at the outset, is associated with malarial disorders in the Shang Hang Lun).  However, the PC does not store any named spirits, not being a solid organ.  The PC and JueYin, however, are responsible for clarifying the blood.  Moxa on this point would indicate either that the function of JueYin is weak and in need of tonification, or that cold has invaded that area and is compromising its function (or both).  Again, we have an association with blood, and I would posit if an upper point were to be associated with the Huang on the Chest, it would be either PC-1 or CV-17.  I wonder if these are the points to which the Chong ultimately ‘scatters’?

Treating the membrane source thus seems to draw on the functions of how qi and blood relate to one another in forming the human body — and possibly also underlies the emergence of shen from the union of qi and blood.  If this process breaks down, the shen departs; thus the importance of using these points in diseases otherwise difficult to cure.

I may have to revisit this post to clarify the concepts under discussion, so any helpful comments about what areas need the most attention to make the logic clear would be helpful.

As always, this post is for entertainment purposes only.  If you feel that acupuncture or Chinese Herbal medicine may benefit you, please contact a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!