The Taoism (also spelt Daoism) of the Han dynasty, 206 BC – 220 AD, when acupuncture theories were created, held the view that everything in the universe was created out of one original energy called yuan qi. Because of this, all of creation was interconnected. There were also underlying natural laws that created patterns in life – patterns that were connected to birth, regeneration, life and death. To live in tune with these patterns (called following the established patterns of Heaven and Earth) was to live in harmony with the world around us which helps to create and sustain life. The most obvious and reliable pattern to this universe was connected with time. The sun rises each day and myriad creatures awake from their slumber and become active. The Chinese refer to this as Yang. At night darkness descends and the world becomes cooler and myriad creatures retire and go to sleep. The Chinese refer to this as Yin.
By watching the eternally recurring movements of the sky, of the stars, the sun, moon and planets one can establish time and in turn the effect that time has on natural cycles in the plant, animal and human kingdoms. These basic patterns, so prominent and with such an obvious and undeniable impact on life, provided a foundation for acupuncture philosophy.
Concepts of time are woven into the fabric of acupuncture theory. Yin and yang, quiescence and activity, cold and heat, were early on depicted in relation to the Sun (the Sun rising over a flag, or the sunny and shady side of a mountain). As the sun appears to move from its lowest position at the winter solstice to reach the summer solstice in June, the various portions of yin and yang interact and create the five elements, which are expressions of the qualities of the seasons. The number of the main acupuncture points on the body as well as the meridian system all has a relationship to time.
The most fundamental life processes such as sleep, appetite, digestive function, menstruation and reproduction, and a host of more subtle changes in hormonal and neurotransmitter levels, seem to have very distinct timed cycles. All living creatures are physiologically time sensitive. Interrupting these timed cycles, for instance through sleep deprivation, is one of the quickest ways to catastrophically affect a person’s health.
Celestial stems and terrestrial branches acupuncture explores the effects of time in relation to health, and as such is chronotherapeutic. But it also explores the individual’s energetic makeup and to align that with their own dao and the dao of the world around them. It does this by using the concepts of yin and yang, the five elements and the relationship between Heaven, Earth and Mankind.
Taoist heavenly stems and earthly branches acupuncture, which is the subject of my book The Complete Stems and Branches: Time and Space in Traditional Acupuncture, explores time in the context of Taoist philosophy. Through this exploration we come to a profound understanding of the basic principles of Chinese medicine. This classical Heavenly stems and Earthly branches acupuncture theory truely integrates yin and yang; the five elements; and Heaven Earth Man theory.
Below is some information about the connection between heavenly stems and earthly branches acupuncture and the tao, taken from the back cover and then the introduction to my book, The Complete Stems and Branches: Time and Space in Traditional Acupuncture. Published by Elsevier, 2008
This exciting and comprehensive book gives a clear, detailed and accessible presentation of the core components of classical acupuncture, its philosophy as well as clinical applications.
The cosmological Daoism prevalent during the Han dynasty provided a foundation for the emerging acupuncture theory. In particular, the central tenant that Heaven Earth and humanity were connected via their origins, yuan qi, allowed for resonance between them. Hence observable patterns in Heaven and on Earth were reflected in the body.
Time measures the movements of heavenly bodies around earth. Concepts linked to time are woven into the fabric of acupuncture theory. Yin andyang interact and create the five elements, which are expressions of the qualities of the seasons. The number of main acupuncture points, flows of qi and blood, and even the meridian system itself, all has a relationship to time.
By taking account of the specific time of treatment as well as the energetic makeup of the individual you, as a practitioner, will learn to treat in harmony with the Dao of the patient and the Dao of now.
- This book explores Heaven, Earth and Humanity, five phases, six divisions of yin and yang, in depth and with reference to classical sources.
- This is the first fully comprehensive book to explore all of the concepts involved in stems and branches theory and to deal with its wider application.
- Esoteric ideas which connect acupuncture with trigrams with numerology are examined.
- This is the first book to explore the significance of the Han sky systematically and in depth in relation to classical acupuncture.
- That each chapter covers philosophical theory and uses practical examples and exercise throughout marks this book out as unique among modern texts.
- Easy to follow and easy to use