Acupuncture Today – November, 2008, Vol. 09, Issue 11 >> Massage & Body Techniques

The Face: A Portrait of Qi, Part 3

The Emperorís Court and Palace Gardens

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

In our previous column, we addressed the archetypal facial landscape and how memory patterns exhibited outwardly as facial microtensions (i.e., wrinkles, lines and sagging) can cause emotional disharmony in body/mind and spiritual essence. In contrast to Western archetypal symbolism, which represents characters, situations and symbols that influence our daily lives via the unconscious mind, the Chinese interpretation embraces the ideology of qi manifestation. The idea that our thoughts and actions are motivated by the harmony or disharmony of qi flow throughout the body is the basis of Eastern philosophy.

The body/mind/spirit is inseparable, and communication between these three states of being is facilitated by the vitalizing flow of energy contained in the meridians, which transport precious ancestral information in the form of cellular memory. Additionally, each zang/fu organ whose Five-Element function is a mirror of its position within an Imperial "hierarchy," houses a virtue, a particular archetypal persona (i.e., one of the 12 Officials) and a balanced or imbalanced expression, which can support the harmony, growth and evolution of each individual or group.

"Watering" the Palace Gardens

The six levels, taiyang/shaoyin, yangming/taiyin and shaoyang/jueyin, represent another aspect of the archetypal balance/imbalance of qi flow. Imbalance manifests in emotions that disturb, compromise or impair, while virtues of wisdom, benevolence and integrity flow abundantly in a balanced individual. Cultivation of qi as a gateway to longevity, beauty and conscious development of virtuous qualities has long been a tradition of Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is an important tool to unblock qi and also liberate the free flow of shen and jing in the Three Treasures and the virtues of the organs.

An examination of the state of the facial landscape provides the practitioner with insight into the overall health and well-being of the body. Acupuncture then provides an avenue of communication between the yin/yang pairs and primary archetypal circuitry represented in the meridians and the cutaneous energy pathways of the six divisions.

Taiyang/Shaoyin. Taiyang represents heaven expressing shen through the union of the yang aspects of fire and water - the archetypal expressions of discernment and containment. Its yin counterpart is the union of shaoyin, the yin aspects of fire and water. Heart and kidney clear inner sight and encourage harmonious alignment. Taiyang and shaoyin manifest as another archetypal strength, that of propriety and wisdom.

Emotions that disturb the relevant organ systems include the following:

  • Small intestine: abandoned; lost; neglected; deprived of love, intimacy, nourishment and warmth; unable to receive.
  • Urinary bladder: shame; paralyzed; shyness; hurt; helpless; unfulfilled yearning; self-pity; resignation.
  • Heart: acute grief; shock; self-protection; broken trust; feeling used; betrayal; trapped; hurt; hard-hearted; deep yearning; boredom; remorse; uncreative; not lovable; bureaucratic; withholding; rigid; disappointment; greed; coldness.
  • Kidney: fear; guilt; powerless; broken will; disappointment; demoralized; fright; exhaustion; survival issues; brutal experiences.

Yangming/Taiyin. Yangming represents earth expressing jing essence through the alliance of the yang aspects of earth and metal; the archetypal expression of integration being a centered and effortless release. Its yin counterpart is the union of taiyin, the yin aspects of earth and metal, with spleen and lungs expressed as the archetypal energies of transformation and receptivity. Yangming and taiyin manifest archetypally a deeper expression of integrity and righteousness.

Emotions that compromise the relevant organ systems include:

  • Stomach: obsession; recurring thoughts and worry; energy loss from preoccupation; anxiety; powerlessness, excessive hatred; stressed; devastation, excessive demands; inability to process.
  • Large intestine: critical; controlling; narrow-minded; perfectionism; dogmatism; compulsive; cynical; emotional outbursts.
  • Spleen/pancreas: feeling inadequate; self-punishment; dependent; lack of boundaries; overly sensitive; overly worried; low self-worth; smothered.
  • Lung: chronic grief; sadness; unfulfilled longing; feeling trapped; isolated; despair; disappointed; hopeless; lost zest for life.

Shaoyang/Jueyin. Shaoyang represents the body of qi expressing humanity through the union of the yang aspects of fire and wood, the Triple Heater and gallbladder, and the archetypal energies of alchemy and judgment/decision-making. Its yin counterpart is the union of jueyin, the yin aspects of fire and wood, the Heart Protector, the pericardium and liver. This partnership combines intimacy with keen perception, and mobilizes positive action, manifesting as propriety and benevolence.

Emotions that impair the relevant organ systems include:

  • Triple Heater: humiliation; indecisive; feeling left out; inhibited;
  • choked; giving up; denial; no right to self-expression; conflict; dissatisfaction with life; unable to deal with others; resentful; overly critical; workaholic; addictions.
  • Gallbladder: inability to see other viewpoints; resentment; recycling of past pain; feeling like a martyr/victim; indecision; blame, self-pity; feeling second-best; unable to forgive; bitter; manipulative; a sense of false pride.
  • Pericardium: acute grief; shock; broken trust; betrayal; hurt; deep yearning; remorse; not lovable; disappointment.
  • Liver: anger; frustration; unable to take action; withholding feelings; complaining; unyielding; self-sabotage; discontent; unacknowledged; toxic; incapable of standing up for oneself.

We have explored qi as an ever-changing image of human consciousness and growth, a template of ancestral memory and an evolving dynamic of individual health. The expressions of the face, being intimately linked with the brain, serve as a life map that manifests outwardly the archetypal energies of the Five Elements, the 12 Officials and the Six Divisions.

Whether your patient yearns for the renewal (inner and outer) of beauty, relief from Bell's palsy, the aftermath of a stroke or the pain of TMJ, facial acupuncture, rooted in the precepts of Oriental medicine, supports the evolution of their well-being by wisely embracing the perennial philosophy of relationship, flow, harmony and balance.

Yin Organ
Archetypal Persona
Balanced Expression
Imbalanced Expression
Source of shen and clear sight
Confused; unclear thinking; propriety and order are lacking
Minister of Health
Determines the strength of body; controls water and fluids; stores will and inherited constitution in form of yuan qi and jing
Fearful; disconnected; experiences separateness in life
Heart Protector; Pericardium
Celestial Empress; protects the Emperor (the heart)
Governs intimacy
Difficulties with relationships and experiences; emotionally distant; inappropriate behavior or lack of boundaries
Perception; planning protection through detoxification
Depression; frustration; anger; irritability; chronic indecision; impeded perception and focus
King's Minister
Receptivity: receives pure essence
Sadness, melancholy, low self-esteem; a need to conquer; unable to receive little gifts of life
In charge of granary, transformation & transportation, distribution of nourishment
Obsessive-compulsive; self-pity; confuses sympathy for empathy
Yang Organ
Archetypal Persona
Balanced Expression
Imbalanced Expression
Small Intestine
Receiving Official
Separates the pure from the impure; conducts essence to and from the heart
Overwhelmed; confused; foggy-headed; compromised thought, word and deeds
Minor District Official
Stores reserves, manages and dispenses resources; controls storage of water & excretes fluids
Fearful; greedy; sour disposition; unable to hold onto anything of meaning in life
Triple Heater
Irrigation Official
Maintains homeostasis, body thermostat, supports social relations, networks and communications; water-channel balance & harmony
Disconnected; withdrawn; marginally engaged; very limited range of self-expression
Wise judgment; supports the perception of liver
Limited insight; irritable, frustrated; rage or violent behavior
Large Intestine
Lets go of that which no longer serves
Insecurity; fearful of what future may hold (when large intestine is obstructed)
In charge of granary; nourishes through the integration of experiences acquired throughout life
Overloaded in all areas of life; inability to integrate past or present issues

Yang Flows
Yin Flows

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 .


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