Empty Places (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 19)

The season climax gains momentum in this episode:  Buffy gets voted out as leader by the Potential Slayers and several Scoobies, including Xander.   Faith is unwillingly put in the driver’s seat. The decision will have fateful consequences for the Potentials, but will also allow Buffy the space she needs to work alone and obtain a mysterious weapon.  As this episode examines questions about leading and following, we will look at how to lead and follow qi, perhaps touching on entry and exit points, by examining the physiology of the Pericardium Channel Divergence.

The PC CD comes into play after the SI-HT channel divergence has run out of sweat and thick fluid to contain heat from entering the brain and marrow.  The San Jiao CD would have been activated to draw the heat away from the brain and into the body.  attempting to move the heat either to the digestive system (the internal domain of wei qi) or to the Kidneys (because the SJ conducts KD yang throughout the body).  At this point, the PC CD is called in to help move heat from the centre of the body out towards the jing-well points.  This is accomplished through engaging the energetics of ‘roots and terminations’, points along the PC CD which correspond to the terminations of channels originating at jing-well points.

The Pericardium Channel Divergence regulates heat in the vessels and blood.  Symptoms would correspond to wei qi in the blood:  ‘dry blood’, hemorrhagic disorders, disorientation to time and space with fever, reckless flow of blood.

The trajectory begins at PC-1, ‘Celestial Pool’, where the hun-anchoring blood gathers with shen.  From PC-1, the channel moves to three separate points:  CV-17, CV-12, and CV-23.

The first branch goes to CV-17, the lower confluence of the SJ-PC CD.  CV-17 is identified in the Jia Yi Jing as the termination of LV-1.  This means that the wei qi of the Liver circulates its energetics, which began at the jing-well root point, here.  Needling CV-17 will have an effect on the Liver channel.  LV-1 treats uterine bleeding; CV-17 is the mu point of the Pericardium, a Jue-Yin organ like the Liver.  This point is thus very powerful in clarifying the blood and venting heat outwards.  From CV-17, the channel trajectory then flows into the San JIao Meridian, implying that heat is dispersed throughout the three burners.

The second branch moves from PC-1 to CV-12.  This is the Root/ Termination of SP-1.  The wei qi of the Spleen thus concentrates its energetics here, and it should come as no surprise that this point is the beginning of the Lung primary meridian.  The Lung meridian relies on the post-natal qi given to it through the transformative capacity of the Spleen as it digests food.  This point is also effective at nourishes yin, that is, a person’s potential and resources in life.

The third branch goes from PC-1 to CV-23.  CV-23 is not only a Yin Wei Mai point, it is also the Root/ Termination of KD-1.  The wei qi of the Kidney concentrates its energetics here.  KD-1, remember, treats loss of voice — the connexion is to CV-23.  It also treats dizziness and infantile convulsions from heat.  Like CV-17 and CV-12, this point nourishes yin, in this case, the ability to rest in silence and experience the patterns of life which give rise to wisdom and insight into the ‘will behind the will’ which moves a person through life.

The Upper Confluence of the SJ-PC Channel divergence is at SJ-16.  Whether the channel passes through all nodes and then to this point, or whether the channel ends here after meeting up with the San Jiao meridian is a point of debate.  In any event, SJ-16 is a Window to the Sky point.  It is used to treat the shen when the patient exhibits depressive signs, especially when alternating with mania.  Alternating depressed affect and mania is a sign that the body is having trouble regulating heat and cold in the vessels, thus disturbing the shen.  The vessels house the shen-spirit; the blood houses the hun-ethereal soul.

The herbal formulae which treat PC Channel Divergence disorders are those which go to the blood level in the Warm Disease school.  Xi Jiao, Shui Niu Jiao, and even Ling Yang Jiao, combined with cooling herbs like Sheng Di Huang, Huang Lian, and Xuan Shen, are all appropriate.

Another way to look at this episode is to examine the ways in which the channel systems flow into one another, and the points at which several channel systems intersect.  The practitioner uses different needle techniques at these overlapping points, combined with points further on that channel’s trajectory, in order to affect the particular channel level.  Thus, the vibrating technique resonates with the yuan or jing level of the EVs and CDs.  The chiseling and shallow techniques are appropriate for sinew level channels (and plum blossom for cutaneous regions).  Lancets and blood letting relate to the luo vessels.  Needling with rotating relates to the primary channels.  Likewise, herbal medicine uses certain combinations of herbs to enter various levels of the body.  The CD system relies on herbs which go to both jing and wei qi levels.  Often a combination of two herbs, such as E Jiao, or Sang Ji Sheng, Di Gu Pi, and Sheng Di, with Sang Ye are used.

In terms of channels overlapping, above, I pointed out that the PC Channel Divergence connects with the LU and the start of the primary channel sequence, as does the LU CD itself.  The LU CD also interacts with the TaiYang level as a whole.  The SI CD interacts with the sinew vessels, while the GB CD connects up with mu points, eyes, and Dai Mai.  The LV CD connects with several luo points, though none of the luo points on the arms.  The BL CD is intimately related with the jing level and EV system.  Unlike Episode 11, which treated crossing points, this is how the channel systems themselves flow into one another.

In general, the EVs come to the surface with the BL-KD CD, and are filled by the Luo Vessel system.  The Luo Vessels are filled by the primary channels at the luo points, or occasionally through the fu organs.  The primary channels fill Luo points, channel divergences, and organ-shu points.  The primary channels are filled by the sinew vessels.  The sinew vessels can fill either primary channels or channel divergences.  The also connect with EVs at various points.  Together, the channel systems form a matrix within which qi and blood move to ensure the well-being and integration of the human organism with the world around it.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one have suddenly begun to bleed uncontrollably, or are having a crisis of leadership, please see a qualified practitioner. 


Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered (Buffy, Season 2)

This was actually the first Buffy episode I ever watched.  I caught the middle of it at a friend’s house, just as Amy was invoking “Diana, goddess of love and the hunt.”

I thought to myself, “That is not the right goddess to be invoking.  Who wrote this?”  After all, one doesn’t invoke avowed virgin goddesses asking them to provide women to sate one’s lust!  (This is Xander we’re talking about — pure chaste love isn’t on his radar.)  So, I wasn’t surprised when the spell backfired.

To be honest, I chalked the series up to a Xena like disregard for any semblance of historicity, despite my friend telling me that Amy was just a “beginning witch” — and thus her ignorance was quite in character.  Getting hooked on Buffy would have to wait until years later, when a friend would physically put in my hands the DVD set of the third season and tell me to watch it.  (So I watched it, and the next season, and the first two seasons, and the last three seasons, plus Angel and the comic book for season 8… not to mention other JW productions… and now I’m writing blog posts as I watch the series yet again.)

Despite my initial doubts, this particular episode certainly offers a wealth of diagnoses: wounded pride and revenge, obsession, and “the pimple patrol.”

I’m afraid I don’t have any solutions for the wounded pride aspect yet.  On the other hand, I would think of treating it as an insult to the Kidneys (self) and Heart (joy) manifesting outwards through the Wood channels (desire for action) — the Liver fighting back against the Spleen’s (society) insults to the communication between the Heart and Kidney.  This mechanism is not dissimilar to what I’ll discuss below.

As for obsession, since all women were apparently obsessed with Xander, treating each of them would overly tax the available resources, so I will not be pursuing this option as a solution.  (Triage wins again).

That leaves the pimple patrol.  I will help Amy out by addressing the symptom which Ms. Calendar threw at her.

Acne can be due to various causes according to Chinese medicine, but is most often associated with heat or heat toxins in the blood.  Wen Qing Yin, which is a combination of Huang Lian Jie Du Wan and Si Wu Tang, is often an effective treatment for several skin conditions, including acne rosacea.  The formula clarifies the blood by eliminating heat toxins while simultaneously encouraging the production of new, vigorous blood.

As for acupuncture, we can clear fire toxins from the blood.  While we could use the SI channel since it relates to fire toxicity and also to the process of separating pure form impure, I think a closer look at the physiology at issue is warranted.  (If I were to still focus on the SI meridian, I would add points on the Stomach meridian, since it is the source of blood and the external venter of heat;  I would address the blood which is stored in the Jue Yin level and treat either the PC or the LV.)

Acne during puberty is likely the result of either the last fetal toxins being burned off or the body’s attempt to vent the heat being generated by the increase of jing-essence and the awakening of ming men fire.  This internal fire is contained in the ShaoYin level of the Heart and Kidneys.  Usually this fire is vented either through the JueYin Pericardium channel or the ShaoYang Triple Heater channel.  Since the JueYin level is the reservoir of blood, this would lead to a manifestation of heat in the blood.  The treatment then would be to facilitate the removal of heat from the ShaoYin system.  I would choose PC-7 and LV-8 as points on the JueYin channel, and I would add TH-5 on the ShaoYang channel.  This particular combination will clear heat from the blood as it is stored in the Liver, while moving heat from the blood level outwards through the Luo point of the TH channel.

The mechanism by which wounded pride manifests as a desire for revenge in Xander’s case is similar.  ShaoYin was insulted or closed off by TaiYin — that is, the Kidneys-Self was shut out by the closing of TaiYin-Spleen-Society, forcing heat to enter the JueYin level, from which it could be vented via the ShaoYang Gallbladder channel.  In this case, I would think of using GB-41 or GB-25 as the ShaoYang point, since it more clearly reflects the presence of the insult to the Kidneys which store the jing and relate to the extraordinary vessels.

As always this is a theoretical discussion.  If you feel you could benefit from the use of Chinese Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.