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Acupuncture Today
September, 2008, Vol. 09, Issue 09
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The Face: A Portrait of Qi, Part 2

Addressing the Archetypal Facial Landscape

By Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, LAc, Dipl. Ac., MS, MM, Susan Russell, PhD, LAc, Dipl. Ac. and MichelAngelo , MFA, CTM

All experiences of emotional disharmony that impact the body are the result of a discordant resonant charge or vibration. Embedded within the organs, meridians, glandular system, bodily fluids and cells linger the traumatic byproducts of that original injury.1 Once an external disharmonious resonance penetrates the wei qi "fields," it severely impacts the body, mind, emotions and spiritual essence.

Disharmonies of this magnitude can be induced by environmental, physical, emotional, psychospiritual or behavioral circumstances that trigger existing conscious or unconscious emotional responses. These are archetypal/ancestral in nature and siphon vital energy away from the body and divert it to past "original time spaces." This process contributes to qi stagnation in one area while creating a deficiency elsewhere.

Impact Upon the Face

These memory patterns are captured within the face as microtensions, which, if unresolved, eventually appear in its terrain as wrinkles, scars, furrows, lines, bags, sagging and swelling. Facial acupuncture stimulates and increased blood flow, supporting, balancing and releasing toxic emotional, psychological, chemical and electromagnetic energy. In liberating qi, the meridians can express their pre-imprinted virtue. Thus unhindered, our true, original creative nature can evolve.

In order for there to exist a healthy, balanced expression, there needs to be a harmonious blend between the archetypes, which is classically reflected in the face. Physiognomy, the Chinese art of face reading, provides insight into the particulars of yin/yang balance and reveals the less obvious details of facial asymmetry. It examines the differences between the two halves of the face, right and left. Manifest disparities mirror outwardly a more primal discontinuity between the twin hemispheres of the brain - the left (cognitive, rational, linear and organized) and the right (intuitive, spatial, integrative and inchoate). Ideally, the balanced nature of the brain is regulated by the corpus callosum.

In considering facial structure, any markings, discolorations or asymmetries between the right and left (e.g., a turned-down mouth on one side, a raised eyebrow on the other) reflect imbalances between yang and yin. A third distinct region, the central corridor, transects the facial terrain. This area is considered to present a chronology of individual life events, in particular, key transformative episodes.

By needling facial marks, scars, lines and wrinkles, these "time capsules" of hidden, unprocessed trauma can be opened, liberating "frozen" qi, transforming old emotional stagnation and permitting the individual to more fully inhabit present time.

Relevant Archetypal Patterns

Neurophysiological research supports the theory that we are "hard wired" through our nervous system to express archetypal patterns, specific concepts that drive our thoughts and actions by residing in the unconscious.2 We participate more fully in life when we consciously access the positive attributes of these energies that are held internally in reserve.

Chinese medicine and acupuncture highlight the importance of understanding the patient as a "body of qi within fields of qi."3 The influence of archetypes as they manifest in the various stages of individual transformation is best understood if we consider the constituent influences informing each - the poetico-energetic profile of the specific acupuncture point, the Five Elements, the Twelve Officials and the flows of the six divisions. A particular meridian channel pathway corresponds to an "official"; a nexus of readily identified archetypal thrust, such as might be seen to correlate with other recognizable Jungian archetypal structures such as the persona, the shadow, etc.

The Five Elements: The "Star Chamber"

Fire (huo) is the Magician, the paired partner-organs that represent fire, whose value is transformation. These organs are heart/small intestine and triple heater/pericardium. Archetypal expressions of fire include compassion, communication, pleasure-driven, seeking novelty and excitement. This individual thrives on the ecstatic nature of new love and will do just about anything to avoid routine or boredom.

Earth (tu) is the Diplomat, who communicates with everyone and everything. Earth is the benevolent mother, offering universal abundance without restraint or limitations. The stomach/spleen needs to flow with earth energy. Archetypal expressions of earth energy are moderation, loyalty and harmony. This individual likes to belong, pays attention to detail, needs to be needed and can be stubborn.

Metal (chin) expresses its archetypal energy as the Catalyst. The lungs and large intestine represent an alliance of metal, as the lungs catalyze essence into breath while the large intestine metabolizes substances that are of no further use to the body, converting them into waste products. Archetypal expressions of metal are organization, control, precision, discrimination. This archetype needs to be right, likes order and cleanliness, and appreciates quality.

Water (shui) is the Philosopher, with a will aligned to higher spiritual purpose. This energy is found within the kidney and bladder. The archetypal expressions of water are imagination, honesty, cleverness, a thirst for knowledge, originality, tough-mindedness and independence. This individual can be secretive but, conversely, needs to be protected.

Wood (mu) is the archetype of the Pioneer. Growth, creativity and the capacity to make decisions to support growth are the fundamental expressions of the liver/gall bladder. There stands within a warrior focused in perception, with an ability to carry out decisions to support this focus. Archetypal expressions of wood energy are experienced as expansiveness, purpose, practicality and an active nature. This individual likes to be busy, and can be domineering.

The following is a list of specific treatment points used in the treatment protocols of facial acupuncture, with a partial analysis of their archetypal resonances:

SI 18, Cheek Bone-Hole (Quan Liao): quan = cheekbone; liao = bone hole. This is the meeting point of the Small Intestine and San Jiao channels, combining the archetypes of discernment and alchemy, with the ability to enjoy the full banquet of life.

BL 2, Bamboo Gathering (Zan Zhu): zan = save, accumulate; zhu = bamboo. This point relates to the proper management of resources.

UB 10, Celestial Pillar (Tian Zhu): tian = celestial, of the heavens, sky, nature, heaven; zhu = pillar, spiritual pivot. This point regulates qi and pacifies wind, benefits the head and sensory orifices, calms the spirit, activates the channel and alleviates pain.

TH 23, Silk Bamboo Hole (Si Zhu Kong): si = silk, zhu = bamboo; kong = hole, empty space.

GB 7, Temporal Hairline Curve (Qu Bin): qu = curve, bend; bin = the hair of the temples. This point eliminates wind and benefits both the mouth and jaw. It can be viewed as the synergy of decision and resource management; at a bend in the road, the precise details of the journey ahead are not always clear.

GB 14, Yang White (Yang Bai): yang = yang, the complement of yin; bai = white, pure, clear. This point eliminates wind, benefits the head and alleviates pain; it helps the eyes and reinforces the ability to make appropriate decisions.

GB 20, Wind Pool: meeting point of the Gall Bladder and San Jiao channels with the yang motility (yang qiao mai) and yang linking vessels (yang wei mai), unchecked yang flows, decision alchemy.

LI 19, Grain Bone-Hole (He Liao): he = grain, rice, corn; liao = bone-hole. This point eliminates wind and opens the nasal passages.

LI 20, Welcome Fragrance (Ying Xiang): ying = to welcome, to receive; xiang = fragrance. The meeting point of the Large Intestine and Stomach channels, it expels wind and clears heat.

St 4, Earth Granary (Di Cang): di = earth; cang = granary, storehouse. What are the ghosts, words and emotions that remain and haunt us?

St 2, Four Whites (Si Bai): si = four; bai = white. Gates provide access points to new experiences.

St 3, Bone-Hole (Ju Liao): ju = great, big, giant; liao = bone-hole. Holes represent the capacity for storage. What are the holes in a person's life?

St 5, Great Reception (Da Ying): da = great; ying = to receive, to welcome. Tonifying this point increases the ability to receive.

St 9, Man's Prognosis (Ren Ying): ren = man, person; ying = to predict, calculate; welcome, receive; face. This is the meeting point of the Eight Extraordinary and the 12 regular meridians.


  1. Lipton B. The Biology of Belief . Santa Rosa, Calif.: Mountain of Love/Elite Books, 2005.
  2. Panksepp J. Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  3. "The Body of Qi." Audio Series, TPHC, 2008.

Click here for previous articles by Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, LAc, Dipl. Ac., MS, MM.

Dr. Susan Russell is director of Turning Point Healing Center, LLC, a multi-modality educational healing center located in Marietta, GA. She may be contacted at .

MichelAngelo practices energy astrology, a blending of Oriental medicine, bodywork and astrology, with special emphasis on healing with sound. He may be contacted at .


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