Saturday, February 2, 2019

The effect of needling Large Intestine 7 Warm Current on two Metal patients

I like to share interesting feedback from the practice of other five element practitioners, so below I pass on what I have just received in an email from Pierre Bulteau, who lives in Rennes in Brittany.  It is with his permission that I include this in a blog. 

Pierre is one of those brave people who have dared to take the courageous step to engage wholeheartedly in treating his patients using five element acupuncture, although trained in a different discipline.  He has had to do all his learning quite on his own, except for coming regularly to SOFEA’s seminars, because there are no other five element acupuncturists in his area.  I very much admire his tenacity and dedication in making this decision.  It’s never easy changing your approach to practice, particularly when there is nobody around to help you when you start doubting what you are doing.

I say that it requires courage to be a five element practitioner because we have no textbook to refer to and no fixed criteria we can call upon to define an element.  Who can describe, in words, the green colour on a person’s face or the sound of laughter which distinguishes Fire’s outburst of joy from the nervous expression of Water? Because we have to rely on our purely subjective skills, we have to learn to cope very much on our own with the inevitable highs and lows our practice demands of us.

So here is what Pierre emailed me in his own words:

“Today I would like to give you a feedback about the use of a point.  I had read in your handbook that you like using the point X7 to bring some heat to a Metal patient. In the last month I had the occasion to use it on two Metal patients.

The first one, despite the good treatment I give him since 4 months, still had cold feet all the time. After using Warm Current X7, his feet are normally hot now without collapse.

The second one is a Metal patient I have treated during 2 years. Until now, his health was good and the last year I just saw him at the season change. But on Monday when he visit me for the preparation of the spring he explained me a constant feeling of cold in the lumbar with chills since Christmas. I used again X7 with success because today he sent me a SMS to say that the symptom has disappeared.

It's wonderful to discover another way to use the points through an element and his channels.

Before, because of their weak kidney pulse I would have reinforced the kidney Yang. Now with five element acupuncture I stay on an element and I look for a point which can help this person belonging to a specific element.

What a wonderful system of healing!”

Aware that other branches of acupuncture locate X 7 at 5 ACI (cun) rather than the 7 ACI that we do, I asked him where he had needled the point.  This turned out to be at 5 ACI, which again raised the question in his mind, and in mine, about a practitioner’s intention when needling.  He then sent me a very interesting reply with his thoughts on this, which concludes with the following beautiful thought:

“So, as a quantum physicist that I am before being an acupuncturist, I really think that our faith coming from our heart is the key to allow a treatment to succeed. Indeed, consciousness has a direct action on the Qi.
No matter where you choose to locate a point, what really matters is to believe it with all your heart."

This has set me thinking again about what I always describe as the tricky topic of a practitioner’s intention, to be discussed further in another blog when I have thought this through in more detail.

I would like to thank Pierre for constantly stimulating my ideas with his often challenging questions in the many emails he sends me asking for help with his five element practice.  You certainly keep me on my toes, Pierre!


Friday, February 1, 2019

Reading about a heart-warming new community enterprise

It always lightens my heart to hear about a successful community project which is breathing new life into rundown city centres.  Nothing has equalled the glow that spread through me when I read an article by George Monbiot in the Guardian on 24 January, with the title “Could this local experiment spark a national transformation?

He wrote about a visit he made to a 5-year community project called Every One, Every Day, set up by the local council in Barking and Dagenham, and inspired by a group called The Participatory City Foundation

I quote from his article:  “They launched Every One, Every Day in November 2017, opening two shops (the first of five) on high streets in Barking and Dagenham. The shops don’t sell anything but are places where people meet, discuss ideas and launch projects. The scheme has also started opening “maker spaces”, equipped with laser cutters and other tools, sewing machines and working kitchens. These kinds of spaces are usually occupied by middle-class men, but, so far, 90% of participants here are women. The reason for the difference is simple: almost immediately, some of the residents drew a line on the floor, turning part of the space into an informal crèche, where women take turns looking after the children. In doing so, they overcame one of the biggest barriers to new businesses and projects: affordable childcare.”

He goes on to say: “There are welcoming committees for new arrivals to the street, community potluck meals, cooking sessions and street lunches. There’s a programme to turn boring patches of grass into community gardens, play corners and outdoor learning centres. There’s a bee school and a chicken school (teaching urban animal husbandry), sewing and knitting sessions, places for freelance workers to meet and collaborate, computing and coding workshops, storytelling for children, singing sessions and a games café. A local football coach has started training people in the streets. There’s a film studio and a DIY film festival too, tuition for spoken-word poets and a scheme for shutting streets to traffic so children can play after school. Local people have leapt on the opportunities the new system has created.”

George Monbiot finishes by writing: “Perhaps it’s not the whole answer to our many troubles. But it looks to me like a bright light in a darkening world.” 

And it does to me, too.  So I hope sharing this will lighten some of my readers’ day, too.



Thursday, January 31, 2019

How watching a tennis match helped me observe something new about the Fire element

I am always fascinated to see how one small movement or gesture can make me see the elements from a slightly different angle.  The present example occurred during the award ceremony at the recent Australian Open Tennis Tournament. Anybody who has read what I have written over the years knows that I much enjoy watching sport.  This love of mine started when I developed scarlet fever as a young child, and, this being well before the age of antibiotics, I had to be quarantined for six weeks in a room away from my siblings.  I whiled away the long hours on my own listening to the daily cricket commentaries on the radio (no TV then!). This love of cricket moved on to my enjoying watching many other sports.

So it is no surprise to hear that I watched this tennis final on TV, and, apart from enjoying the tennis itself, was pleased that it confirmed something more for me about the Fire element.  I had already thought that the element of the winner, Naomi Osaka, was Fire, but then I noticed another quirk of the Fire element which I don’t think I had observed so clearly before.  Winners always take time to congratulate their opponents, and as she started to do this, she looked around uncertainly until she located her standing a little behind her.  She then turned right away from the camera in front of her to look straight at her opponent as she talked, and became so absorbed in talking to her that she seemed to have forgotten all about the camera that was on her.  It was almost as if the two of them were alone together, rather than in front of a huge stadium and TV audience.  The camera-man had to shuffle round rather awkwardly so that Naomi was still on camera.  To me this was an unexpected confirmation of Fire’s need to talk face-to-face to the person they are engaging with. 

Afterwards I went through how I thought the other elements would react in a similar situation.  I had seen Rafa Nadal, who I think is Wood, and Roger Federer, who I think is Water, accepting their winners’ trophies at different times, and both had continued talking to the interviewer, only glancing briefly over to include their opponents.  Neither, I felt, looked as if they wanted to turn their back on the cameras as Naomi had done.  I can’t recall any examples of Earth and Metal tennis champions, but I feel that it is probable that these two elements would be unlikely to have the same need to maintain the close eye-contact Naomi wanted.  I think Earth would accept its role at the centre of the vast watching audience, whilst Metal, which always likes to remain slightly apart from the people it talks to, would be likely simply to stand there quietly.  By contrast, Naomi’s movements were rather jerky and uneasy, and she never seemed to be still.

It was also interesting to read later that she had said that she was cross with herself for forgetting the speech she had prepared beforehand.  I think only Fire would be so unselfconscious as to laugh at itself so openly in this way, by “opening its heart” and therefore making itself slightly vulnerable.

It is by being surprised at some quirk of behaviour such as the example I am describing here that I continue to add to my understanding of the elements.  Observing the small differences between the way one person behaves compared with another is an excellent way of helping us refine our five element skills.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Announcing the publication of my new blog: A Five Element Companion

This can be viewed at

 Below I give my first entry for those who may be interested in starting to read my weekly entries:

 "1. I find that I have written down many more of my thoughts on my five element practice that have not yet seen the light of day than I thought I had.  My old Viennese astrologer friend, Dr Oskar Adler, whom I have mentioned before in my writings, always said that each of us has a duty to pass on whatever we have learnt to the outside world.  "We never know who will read what we have written and who will learn from it," he would say.  So in the belief that the more that is written about five element acupuncture the better, I will be using this new blog to pass on my thoughts to whoever wishes to read them.  I intend to add a new post about once a week, and these individual entries taken together will form my eighth book. 

I am drawing together some of the writings about my practice as five element acupuncturist which I feel will be helpful for any of my colleagues, particularly now those in China, who want to benefit from what I have gradually learnt over the years.  I am especially keen to pass on the lessons from my own acupuncture master, JR Worsley, with whom I studied closely for several years as part of my postgraduate training.  One of the many things I remember him telling us was that we would always learn more from what we didn’t get right to start with, especially our diagnosis of guardian element, than when we got things right.  I know that the mistakes I made in my early practice have always proved to be valuable lessons for me, and I therefore hope that what I write here will give five element practitioners a little more confidence and enjoyment in their five element practice." 

I will continue to add to my current blog when interesting thoughts strike me which may not fit the structure of this new book.