Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tips on how to start learning about the elements

I have now completed my tips on how to start learning about the elements, mentioned in my blog of 11 March. These are offered in the form of six PDF files, which can be downloaded free from our website

You should start with the introduction, which is called, not surprisingly, Tips on how to start learning about the elements, and then download a PDF for each of the five elements. They should be read in the accepted order of the elements, starting with Wood.

Writing these tips has been my way of trying to help all those many readers of my blog out there in more than 60 countries, many of whom will have no access whatsoever to a five element acupuncturist or to any other form of first-hand learning about the elements. So, instead, I am offering them what I think will be helpful to everybody, acupuncturists and lay people alike. In writing these tips, I, too, have learnt something new about the elements, as I do whenever I think deeply about them.

I have enjoyed this exercise in trying to work out the most useful way of helping others start upon their journey around the landscape of the elements.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Update on the publishing of the Chinese edition of my Handbook of Five Element Practice

We are surprisingly close to reaching the final stage in publishing the Chinese edition of my Handbook in China, which is being done through the good offices of Liu Lihong. As I have written before (see my blog of 8 November 2010),I find it very comforting that at a time of such turmoil in the acupuncture world in this country a future has opened up, so unexpectedly, for a return of five element acupuncture to its country of origin, China.

I am also delighted to hear that Liu met Dr Peter Eckman when he visited the United States recently. Some of you, and I hope an increasing number of you, will know of Peter as the author of what I consider to be the only full account of the journey of traditional acupuncture from East to West, and specifically that part of it which relates to JR Worsley and the other early pioneers of acupuncture. His book In the Footsteps of the Yellow Emperor is a fascinating account of the many paths along which traditional acupuncture travelled on its way west. I was delighted to hear of the meeting between Liu Lihong and Peter, and the mutual exchange of their books. This is yet another connection in the serendipitous links which appear to be weaving themselves around me and five element acupuncture recently.

Peter and I have worked together on my translation of one of Jacques Lavier’s books, Histoire, doctrine et pratique de l’acupuncture chinoise, published in the 1960s; Peter helped me with both the classical and medical terminology, and has kindly offered to write an introduction when we find a publisher. As some of you will know, Lavier was one of JR Worsley’s teachers. Anybody familiar with what we all called JR’s Black Book, which he withdrew from circulation at one point, will be interested to know that many of the point selections which he listed there appear to have been taken almost word for word from the appendix of the Lavier book, yet another important link in the chain of transmission.

I am also now in the midst of translating Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée’s 101 Notions-Clés de la Médecine Chinoise (101 Key Concepts of Chinese Medicine), for which she is hoping to find an American publisher. Pulled along in its wake, I hope that somebody will want to publish the Lavier, which I consider an important and valuable book.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Exploring ways of teaching five element acupuncture

I seem to be spending a lot of time at the moment trying to work out ways of teaching five element acupuncture now that the colleges who were teaching it as their main form of acupuncture in this country have unfortunately closed or are in the process of closing. The three years since the closure of my own school to undergraduates have been a time of recovery from all the very hard work involved in running a college, and also a time of taking stock as to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Somebody asked me yesterday, surprised at hearing how much I still worked, whether I would consider retiring at some point, and the answer to that is an emphatic “no”. I can’t visualize a life in which I am not continuing to practise and in some way involved in acupuncture teaching, and specifically talking about my particular love, the elements, and what they continue to teach me about life.

The field of acupuncture has suddenly started to look like a battlefield, with corpses of colleges strewn around. I predict more may well be under threat as the tumultuous events which are about to descend upon universities hits them too. Seven universities, I read in the newspapers today, are about to fold for lack of funds. This must surely have a knock-on effect on university-based acupuncture courses. I have always felt that we followed universities too closely, and now it seems they are leading the profession up a blind alley. That being so, I feel I must involve myself, perhaps more than I originally intended to, in supporting five element acupuncture wherever I can.

This has now become the focus of my attention, and with the help of others equally concerned about the future of five element acupuncture, we are together already planning an exciting way forward. More anon, when we have consolidated our plans.

In the meantime, I am preparing what I call my Tips on how to start learning about the elements, which you will soon be able to download from our website I have so far prepared tips for the Wood and Fire elements, and am now working on those for the Earth element.

With all these things in the pipeline, I would like to hear from anybody out there, in whatever country you live in, who is interested in studying the elements in greater depth, whether or not you then want to pursue that interest further into the field of acupuncture or not. If you are not already on our mailing lists, email us on and we will keep you informed of our plans.

Monday, March 7, 2011

An unexpected skill – predicting bestsellers

I read a lot, and like to read all I can about any new books which are being published. So I scour the weekend arts supplements in the newspapers to see if anything catches my eye.

To my surprise I find that I have developed a good sense of what will constitute a bestseller, well before most other people have even heard of the author, let alone the book or books that will set him/her on their way to fame.

I treasure the fact that I read the first books of the following best-selling authors at a time when nobody else had. All have made fortunes for their authors and their publishers.

Alexander McCall Smith:   No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Stieg Larsson:                    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
J K Rowling:                      Harry Potter and the Wizard’s Stone
Edmund de Waal:              The Hare with the Amber Eyes

I must admit that I gave up on the Larsson books two-third of the way through what I considered to be the rather heavy-going second book, though people tell me that the third book is the best, so I may try again.

I got 10 pages into the first Harry Potter, when I happened to pick it up in the children’s section of the library, before sadly putting it down again unread when I realised that it was not going to be the successor to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings that I had hoped for, far from it.

The de Waal is a magical book, beautifully crafted around a family’s netsuke collection as it finds its way from West to East and back again.  It has very illuminating insights into the cultures and world events its owners experience, and since these cover my own family’s background and experiences in pre-war Austria, it added some poignancy to what I already knew.

It seems that I might have a new career ferreting out the next bestseller for some publisher when my acupuncturist’s skills dim!