Acupuncture and Traditional Eastern Medicines are often considered one of the original “earth medicines”, intimately linked to the earth through imagery, seasonal shifts and changes and the use of herbs derived from the earth. There too lies a connection to this medicine and astrology which is well-established in the Huang Di Nei Jing or Yellow Emepror’s Classic, the ancient, foundational text of Chinese Medicine, “Heaven is covered with constellations. Earth with waterways, and man with channels”.
As we move deep into Autumn this is the time when nature begins to move to its most inward, and we too are called to slow and go within.This call toward the internal is all part of a cyclical process. This inward movement creates and prepares the space and momentum for life to renew. It is a time to shed what is not essential, what is not needed, just as the trees shed their leaves and the last of the autumn fruits fall to the ground. All of what is essential, what is life-giving and restorative is stored deep within, waiting in the soil, or in seed, to emerge yet again in the spring. In the past, people too would become more still move inward during this time, their activities and physical exertions naturally lessened at this time of year with the harvest completed, and the days becoming shorter, there was little essential work left to be done. With this shedding of duties, more time was given for rest and recuperation. In our modern day times we tend to not offer ourselves that same rest and opportunity to consciously slow and move more internally, we forge ahead. This occurs at precisely the time when our immune systems need support the most,with the weather becoming cooler and damper.
With November’s new moon in Scorpio, we are called to face and interact with our shadows so that the habits, conditioned patterns, and old narratives, built out of them can be transformed or transmuted and released. Shadow material is created typically in childhood, but can result from any experience that is overwhelming, or too intense, experience that we want to pretend don’t exist, ones we often cover over with shame. This season beckons us to become our own healers, to move our own energy, release our own blockages, and flow easily in the watery, emotional nature of Scorpio.
In the Japanese tradition of acupuncture Moxa (AKA moxibustion) is commonly used. Moxibustion involves the burning of the spongy leaves of the mugwort plant. It is widely and often used to nurture, strengthen and tonify the body, aid in healing and recovery, and warm and gently move energy in the body. There is a ritual at the time of the new moon where moxa or Japanese incense is used to warm the acupuncture point Stomach 36(ST36) known as Zu San Li (Leg Three Mile). One starts applying moxa on this point on the first day of the new moon and for the next 7 days for a total of 8 days. This can be a powerful practice at every new moon and initiating it during the new moon in Scorpio we are answering the call to heal ourselves.
ST36 is one of the most powerful points on the body. It serves to strengthen Qi(energy), and blood, to rid the body of dampness, it strengthens the digestive system, immune system and body as a whole. It also provides relaxation spiritually and emotionally and helps to relieve pain and discomfort. The legend of this point tells us that the Chinese warriors who roamed through China protecting the country, wore leather sashes hanging from their waists with stones that hung down on either side of their bodies. These warriors would grow tired and weary on patrol and would kneel down to rest when exhausted. The stones hanging from these sashes would land at the location of ST36 on each leg, and as they knelt the stones would apply pressure to this point. Upon standingagain, they found their strength renewed and were able to hike “three more miles” with ease.
Additionally, there has been research showing that stimulating St-36 increases maximum oxygen uptake which is essential to maintaining optimal health. Maximum oxygen uptake can shorten recovery time from conditions such as hypertension and diabetes and can decrease cancer rates and progression. Especially during this time of COVID and respiratory illness supporting this can help establish wellness during this time of year.
8-Day New Moon Ritual ST36- LOCATION
ST36 is on the lateral or outer edge of the lower leg and can be found by measuring a hand width(four fingers, index to pinky)from the knee cap down, and then going one thumb width towards the outside of the leg off the tibia or shin bone.
Typically this is done with a form of moxa called ‘rice grain moxa’ which requires specific training, yet there is a method where this can easily be done at home using a moxa stick or Japanese stick incense. Light the moxa/incense stick and gently blow on it to extinguish the flame, but keep the tip burning. Place the burning moxa/incense stick a couple inches over the area of ST36, close enough where the heat can be felt without burning, ensuring that the stick does not dip too low to burn the leg. Warm ST36 on each leg for 5 minutes or until a warm sensation begins to work its way down the leg. This can be done once or twice a day for 8 days. Regular incense can be used in a pinch and massaging ST36 in a clockwise circular motion can also be effective.
The 8-day new moon moxa ritual can provide us with a way to initiate our own healing and alchemy. We can take the time when we are tending to ourselves and using moxa on ST36 to connect and go inward touching into our subconscious, with the nourishing light and warmth of moxa to lead the way. Scorpio corresponds with the Kidney organ and channel in traditional eastern medicine which is associated with the water element, as well as being a water sign astrologically. The fire of moxa helps to balance the watery nature of Scorpio and its warmth at ST36 helps to gently move and release stuck energy, emotional or otherwise, supporting the call of the Scorpio new moon to bring our shadows into the light