First snow. Already, it’s beginning to melt. The world is wet, sodden, and cold. In my treatment room, I find the lung pulse often buried deep under a thick quilt of silence. Even with needles and grains of fiery moxa, it is hard to ignite the enlivening breath. Outside, in the early afternoon, the light is already sinking behind the clouds, burrowing down early, waking late.
Throughout the fall, I have followed threads of the public conversation. Sexual harassment. Refugees. Terrorists. Taxes. #MeToo. Nuclear war. Words torn into scraps fall like ash from the sky and accumulate in useless piles along the sides of my inner landscape. Now, as darkness descends, I want to sweep it all away and find the place where the new clear water will rise, springing up again from down below. Here is where I will wait this winter to welcome back the light.
Hexagram #36 / Darkening of the Light: “The sun has sunk under the earth and is therefore darkened. The bright is wounded. A man of grievous nature is in a position of authority and brings harm to the wise and able …”
We have arrived at a time of adversity and yet the Oracle tells us: “One must not unresistingly let himself be swept along by unfavorable circumstances, nor permit his steadfastness to be shaken. He can avoid this by maintaining his inner light … in some situations indeed a man must hide his light, in order to make his will prevail in spite of difficulties … perseverance must dwell in inmost consciousness … “
Kidney 25 – Spirit Storehouse – shen cang
Spirit Storehouse is found on the upper aspect of the Kidney meridian. It is located in the second intercostal space, two finger widths away from the center line. It hovers just above the Lungs at the level of the upper edge of the Heart.
The name of the point combines the character shen 神 spirit with the character cang 藏 to store, conceal, or hide. Cang implies not only the storing away of what is valuable for later use but also the idea of hibernation, of going inward, of passing through the lean months of winter by dropping into a deep state of rest.
The minister who resides at the center of this point cradles the shen like a restless bird safely beneath her silken robes. There, in the dark, the wounded wings of the light can heal.
In current times, our world often seems too painful to bear, but this point reminds us that gradually radiance will return to the Earth. Deep in the Storehouse, the seeds wait until it is once again appropriate to grow. This waiting is not the same as doing nothing. Rather, it is like winnowing, separating the precious from the worthless, breathing in what truly inspires us and breathing out what we no longer need. In this way, in a time of darkness, we veil our light and yet continue to shine.
We can touch Spirit Storehouse when:
- On a physical level, a person is experiencing pain and oppression of the chest or having difficulty taking a full breath. This constriction may be due to asthma or lingering coughs but also when there is unfinished grief, a withholding of the breath to avoid the release of sobbing or the letting go of someone or something dearly loved.
- Winter and the Water Element call us toward introversion, rest, and restoration. When we feel vulnerable or when the outer world assaults or overly distracts us from our own inner knowing, we can call on the Storehouse to offer a place of refuge and relief.
- There is a need to go in deep to restore the soul, to rediscover our stability and power in the face of great loss, disillusionment, or betrayal.
- There is some hidden emotion, story, or prayer that needs to mature and ripen before being revealed. This point offers the gift of right timing.
- Our inner and outer worlds are out of alignment. When we need to attend to what is coming to life within us in order to bring our gifts more skillfully out into the world.
- Use care when needling this point, particularly with thinner, less muscular patients as the tender organs of the heart and lungs lie just beneath. Transverse, oblique needling, directed laterally is recommended.
- Gentle needling with finer needles is usually more effective when working at the spirit level, so remember that less is not only safer but very often more effective.
- This point responds beautifully to rice grain moxa, particularly when there is sadness, despair, depression, or recent loss. 3 – 5 grains is usually sufficient.
- Consider Cedarwood essential oil to calm, fortify, and root the shen and to offer endurance during times or crisis and challenge. Cedar provides a sense of deep spiritual certainty and unwavering determination that complements the faith and patience of this point. Together, point and oil support us in transforming a dangerous or disheartening situation into an experience from which we can grow in wisdom, skill, and deeply rooted power. In this way, we move beyond temporary hindrances and persevere until the light returns from its seclusion in the darkness.
For more on the spirit of the point, the use of essential oils, flower essences, and other alchemical tools, earn CEUs with our online class, An Introduction to Alchemical Acupuncture.
For more on wushen, our class The Five Spirits will introduce you to this aspect of Chinese Medicine.
And remember! If you need Safety and Ethics PDA points to recertify with NCCAOM, you can fulfill that requirement at our site and learn more about a heart-centered approach to practice.