Authored by my teacher, William Morris, MD, this is a beautiful paper discussing five phases, nine palaces, and the sky.
The referenced book Neoclassical Pulse Diagnosis can be purchased here:
Here is a link to his in-person class on this topic.
Five Phases, Nine Palaces, and the Sky
This paper is abstracted and rewritten from an appendix of Neoclassical Pulse Diagnosis.
I think it makes a bit more sense now. Please feel free to ask questions for clarification
and make comments (Morris, 2020).
The development of channel theory in the Han Dynasty (ca. 206 BCE – ca. 220 CE) was
likely predicated upon the cosmological theories of earlier Dynasties such as the Shang
(ca. 1600 BC – ca. 1100 BCE) and the Zhou (ca. 1100 BCE – ca.711BCE) (Unschuld,
1985). An example of this is the discussions of the eight directions and winds in Chapter
Four of the Simple Questions (Su Wen).
There is sufficient evidence of common trade routes between east and west to suggest
that some of the ideas related to alchemy and western mystery schools were also part of
mystery traditions within family lineages of Chinese medicine (Scheid, 2007). The Luo
Shu is consistent with Saturn’s magical square in the western tradition. The ‘oath of the
abyss’ in the western mystery tradition is a commitment to view every event and object as
part of a continuous web of consciousness. Thus, there is a common feature between
magical squares in the western mystery tradition and the He Tu. They are vortices by
which one may pass into the great abyss at Tai Yuan (Lu 9). The Nan Jing Chapter 1
alludes to as a universal constant within an array of numerical fractalizations, bringing all
possible life experiences vis-à-vis the Po (Paul Unschuld, 1986).
Li Zhi Shen compiled one of the greatest pharmacopeias. Here we explore his
contributions to the eight extraordinary vessels. The Three Divisions (sanbu) were
transmitted, but the nine pathways were kept hidden (Li, 2006). We shall attempt to
crack the mystery in part.1
The Secret Parts
The transmission of secrets involves a series of revelations between the mentor and the
protégé. This enlightening process extends in both directions. The mysteries may be in
the form of clandestinely preserved knowledge. But there is another secret level, which is
the appreciation of orally transmitted subtle knowledge.
The standard clinical practices of physical examination and history include the
physician’s understanding of the eight vessels obtains through palpation of the twelve
channels and visual inspection of the fifteen collaterals. It involves the pulse and the palpation
of the channel trajectory and knowledge of the channel functions from which
the eight extraordinary vessels derive their points.
A masterful understanding of the secrets for the eight extraordinary vessels receives
through ascent and descent of the tiger and dragon, and the profound subtleties of the
Mystic Feminine or the Dao.
The dragon symbolizes the original nature and life, and the tiger represents a closing. The
dragon represents movement, and the tiger represents stillness. Cycling of movement and
stillness is the key to the secret work in the body (Hua-Yang, 1998). Indeed, the rising
Sun begets the day and the move into action, while the Sun setting on the western horizon
refers to the gates to death. Thus, the dragon’s ascent implies the astrological chart’s
Ascendant, while the tiger’s descent takes place in the west, at the descendant.
The astrological chart’s vertical axis is the shao yin (heart and kidney), which is the axis
of water and fire. The esoteric shao yin axis refers to the Medium Coeli, and Imum Coeli
at the depth of the cosmogram in the 4th house cusp at the Nadir.
The tiger refers to the lung and the element of metal, associated with the qi movements of
Venus. The dragon suggests the ascent over the eastern horizon and is related to the
planet Jupiter, wood, and the Liver/Gallbladder systems. Thus, the ascending function is
correlated with the liver, while the descending process connects with the lung.
Further – the spirit of the liver, the hun – rises in an urge towards transcendence.
However, the lung’s soul (Po) descends into the corporeal domain, animating the
physiological processes and sensory systems.
The eight extraordinary vessels have a strong connection to the secret qi gung practices
and spiritual development’s sexual practices. The ascending and descending of the
spiritual take place with the Mystic Feminine: this is a universal archetype that can be
seen in major world religions. The original Daoist discussions state that the Valley-like
Spirit never dies. It is in Chapter six of the Dao De Jing, where it says:
The life-force of the valley never dies–
This is called the dark female.
The gateway of the dark female—
This is called the root of the world.
Wispy and delicate, it only seems to be there,
Yet its productivity is bottomless (Ames & Hall, 2003).
A rose represents the feminine, receptive state with the heart at the center of this divine receptivity.
With a state of divine receptivity and qi gong practices where the ascending and
descending movement engages through the eight extraordinary vessels’ activation, we
realize the work’s profound subtleties.
Mystic feminism is a euphemism for sexual arts. Ascetics strove to become transcendents
in late classical and early medieval China–deathless beings with supernormal powers.
Practitioners developed dietetic, alchemical, meditative, gymnastic, sexual, and medicinal
disciplines (Campany & Ge, 2002). Thus, the bao mai is the network vessels composed
of capillary beds connecting the uterus with the heart protector.
These sexual practices of cultivating longevity are discussed in the Lakeside Master
regarding the eight extraordinary vessels. The mystic feminine is rooted in the true center
of the human body with heaven and earth, of the eight vessels, of the nine orifices, of the
twelve channels, and of the fifteen collaterals, like the hub of a wheel or astrological
chart (Chapter 13, Line(s) 55(Li, 2006).
The shao yang has even further-reaching consequences. The san jiao’s mystical
connection with the original division between yin and yang – water and fire has no
location. There have been attempts to materialize this power to distribute source qi to
fascial planes and connective tissues, and they likely have some merit. The connection
between heaven, human, and earth is virtually relation and process rather than structures.
Paradoxically, these three burners also represent a spatial organization of the upper (mist),
middle (foam), and lower (sluice) aspects of the anatomy. The connections between the
upper, middle, and lower in terms of process and structure may be why the san jiao has
no location per se. Further, the metabolic transformations of fluid, qi, and food are
extended by later authors than the Ling Shu in Chapter Eight to include blood stasis.
The unfolding of process, form, and state from the Wu Ji begins with the first division of
yin and yang, just as in cell division. From one yin and one yang, the Tao is created. Yin
and yang are the fundamental irregularities emergent as the law of growth. In the Dao De
Jing, Lao Zi states that all universe occurrences are yang on the back and yin in front,
including yin and yang. The Daoist philosopher Chuang Zi that heaven and earth are
united together. Everything grows. Yang and yin come together, respectively, everything
in the entire universe changes. Yin and yang are the parents of variation, the root of birth,
Bifurcations also have a three-fold component. Between the two paths remains a
connection: the third aspect. These oscillations emergent from the zero-point field of the
wu ji form the basis of the three-fold expressions in the trigrams of the Yi Jing. We locate
the synthesis of two and three.
Yin and yang further subdivide by two leads to four graded subtle distinctions. These are
the ‘four forces’ of the big yang (tai yang), big yin (tai yin), little yang (shao yang), and
little yin (shao yin). Each of these forces represents a turn in the path for ecopsychosocial
processes. They are ‘bifurcations’ in chaos theory terms and represent the acceleration or
deceleration of cosmic, biological, and organizational processes. (Briggs & Peat, 2000).
In basic Aristotelian logic, A is not B, and B is not A. There cannot be an object or a
process that is both A and B. In other words, no room for paradox, only orthodox. In
early Chinese scientific philosophy, the pivot (shao yang and shao yin) was both A and B,
that it, yang within yin (shao yang) and yin within yang (shao yin). It occurs as the
interplay between process and form. The terms expansion, pivot, and closed are typically
used for the three qi within yin and yang. The large (tai), small (shao) and transitional
(yang ming and jue yin) form the foundation.
Tai Yang ShaoYang ShaoYin TaiYin
Lines Diurnal Monthly Annual
Big Yang Mid Day Full Moon Summer
Shao Yang Sunrise 1st Quarter Spring
Shao Yin Sunset 3rd Quarter Autumn
Tai Yin Midnight New Moon Winter
Yet yin and yang are substances with two distinct material attributes. They are opposites.
Heaven (yang) and earth (yin) are both concrete substances. The correspondences remain
• The planets Sun- Moon, Venus-Mars, Jupiter-Saturn,
• The elements fire-water, wood-metal with the earth in the center
• The directions up-down, left-right, front-back, exterior-interior, south-north, east-
• Movement ascends-descends goes out-in, forward-backward, coming-going, and
• Shapes include big-small, square-circle, and thick-thin.
• The character can be clear-turbid, strong-weak, hard-soft, motion-silence, cold-
hot, and good-evil.
• Responses include irritability-calmness, sleep-wakefulness, excitation- inhibition.
• Action possesses function-shape, vaporizing-coagulation,and forming-dissolving.
The opposites resolve into each other.
Qi transforms agency and agents, structure and function. Yang becomes qi, and yin takes
form. Yang transforms into qi, and yin is the agent and the agency. Yin and yang oppose,
transform, generate, and consume each other. Agency stands on behalf of the whole, and
the agent acts on behalf of the agency. The theory of yin and yang does not serve in all
circumstances. Viva la revolutione!
This figure shows the basic movement from little yang at the beginning of a cycle to full yang in the cycle
peak to little yin in the wave’s departure to full yin in the trough.
This pictogram demonstrates both linear and cyclical change. The linear moves left-right
or right-left over time. Cycles peak and trough, continually departing and returning. The
image illustrates the oppositional forces where an emergence occurs through energy, light,
or imagination within the people and returns to darkness. The broken lines are dark and
yin, while the solid lines are light and yang. Consistent with cycles of the pulse, sunrise,
and sunset, the new and full Moon, as well as spring and fall equinox, it is the ebb and
flow of life at a personal and collective level. The wave’s peak with the two solid lines is
the peak of sunlight at noon, full Moon, and summer solstice. The downslope is
consistent with the autumnal equinox, sunset, and the waning Moon. The two broken
lines in the trough are consistent with midnight, winter solstice, and the new Moon.
The interplay of yin and yang through a three-fold division express through contraction,
expansion, and the transitional states. These divisions form what may be considered a
model that allows for a third and inclusive perspective. The third, paradoxical perspective
is the basis for the notion of trines and sextiles harmonizing influence.
The emergence of the third equals all aspects and harmonics that possess a harmonizing
perspective. Thus, the emergence of the two presents two cultures: opposition and strife
within the dualisms, plus the harmonizing embrace of paradox. There is a third cult of
numbers, which we shall address elsewhere, and that is the cult of the prime number.
There is something attractive about channel relations that employ phenomena that extend
outside of self. The branching system (bie jing) branches from the spin of the tai ji. This
connection into the spinning tai ji returns to the wu ji or zero-point field. This ecstatic
union state can resolve existential angst and the post-Nietzsche nihilism that seems to be
woven into the fabric of contemporary society.
The branching connection into absolute (wu ji) is distinct from the channel system of the
interior and exterior (biao li), a topographical organization of the six channels’ yin and
yang components. The interior-exterior takes in the anterior, posterior, and sagittal planes
or segments. These then become the basis for the twelve primary channels, as the six
channels are divided between upper and lower aspects of the form.
The six channels correlate with patterns at both the channel and organ levels. The shao
yin provides background and operates at a metalevel for the heart and kidney’s organs and
channels. Within the domain of the shao yin, we encounter interactions and
transformations of water and fire. Further, each organ as a rubric of agency, structure and
process has a trans-systemic nature. For instance, the kidney involves the hematopoietic
system and central nervous systems as part of the marrow, the endocrine system, the
urinary tract, and the reproductive system. The heart requires circulation and
consciousness. These shao yin features are present whenever we present information into
the system that makes a difference, whether that is in dialog, acupuncture, herbs or
Channel 1-3 1-6 Quality
tai yang 3 6 Expansion
shao yang 2 5 Pivot
yang ming 1 4 Closed
tai yin 3 3 Expansion
shao yin 2 2 Pivot
jue yin 1 1 Closed
The Structural-Functional Aspect of the Six Channels in Relationship to the Six Lines of the Hexagram
The existential complications of common musculoskeletal complaints respond well to
this model. The ecopsychosocial matters make the suffereings of the soul coherent with
those of the body.
It all connects to yin and yang’s abstract relations in the branching model where the large
yin and yang have a special relationship (tai yang and tai yin) through and essential
largeness which has a yang nature. In a sense, there is something yang about that which is
yin within yin (tai yin). While it is pure yin, that very purity has a yang quality. This
arrangement of the six divisions concerning the sky derives from the timing of disease
progression and resolution as discussed in the Damage by Cold Classic (Zhang, 1999).
A number is assigned in ascending order from one to six, from the bottom to the top. Another set
demonstrates the numbers one through three recurring. The right column provides the qualitative
nature of each of the three segments within yin and yang.
The genetic pool of the 10,000 things, through the Fu Hsi sequence, finds its way here.
Postnatal status and epigenetic phenomena represent in the King Wen sequence. These
representations are ephemeral maps loosely tied from the constructs of early Chinese
philosophical inquiry to the horizon of phenomena – in the initial state through Fu Hsi and
the following form of perceived phenomena – the King Wen sequence. These conditions may
supply criteria for the decision between the two series. The return along the path of the three
treasures towards the liberation of spirit in the zero-point field, the Fu Xi sequence, the King
Wen, and the Shen Nung are used to consider and subtly influence those point selections
that contribute to the liberation of consciousness. These can be used on the radix chart or the
Moon’s nodal axis in the methods of Draconae Medicinae (Morris, 2018).
Nine Palaces and the Ba Gua
The secret of the nine palaces is one of the mysteries handed down through the ages. The
earliest discussion appears in Chapter 77 of the Spiritual Axis. It presents the influence of
the winds, which were a euphemism for spirits and space directions. It is not until later
that we find discussions that establish a practical application of the nine palaces (Wu NL,
1996). The eight winds and four directions present within the He Tu image (See Fig 1).
The nine palace (luo shu) image is placed in the middle. Surrounding the nine palaces are
the six-channel correlations along with the ren and du. The channel correlations are
derived from the trigram (gua) arrangements of the Yi Jing. The inner set is arranged
according to the Fu Xi sequence, the middle set is arranged according to the King Wen
sequence, and the outer set is arranged according to the Shen Nung sequence. This last
sequence, called the “Shen Nung” arrangement, is a component of the Yi Jing
acupuncture system of Los Angeles-based acupuncturist Chao Chen (2003). These three
sets of eight trigrams (ba gua) are placed to make connections when constructing
treatments. The geometrical and numerical relationships implied by these arrangements
represent the organization of qi at a deep level. I associate the pre-heaven Fu Xi sequence
at the interior ring with jing. The next ring of channel correlations is derived from the
King Wen sequence it is correlated with qi. I associate the Shen Nung sequence with
spirit (shen). I call the collection of the three ba qua sequences san ba gua. This
translates as three sets of eight trigrams.
The three corresponding channels may be used to construct a treatment. One might start
with viewing the symbol for five in the center as the umbilicus. The central pole with the
numbers one and nine can serve as the vertical axis composed of the ren and du channels.
The upper right southwest corner is the patient’s right arm and shoulder. The upper left
southeast region is the patient’s left upper limb. The lower right northwest corner may
serve as a representation of the patient’s right leg.
The nine palaces form a numerological and geometrical configuration that is reported to
have been discovered on a turtle’s back by Fu Xi. The numbers were placed into a box in
a particular sequence to add up to the number fifteen in any direction (Govinda & Huang,
1981; Wilhelm & Baynes, 1967). This magic square connects to western mystery school
applications of numbers and geometric figures (see Fig 2). These ideas link closely to
sacred geometry, mathematics, and the great mystery schools that have roots in
Pythagoras’ teachings (Stanley, 1970).
I place the nine palaces (luo shu) image at the center of the Great Abyss (Lu 9). The top
of the diagram is toward the palm and the bottom of the diagram is toward the body. The
initial breath at Great Abyss (Lu 9) is cited in every main Chinese text on channel theory.
It relates to the swirling of the abyss in the movement from the Source into being. Thus,
every numerical abstraction of the world and self can be employed here. The twelve
channels relative to the organ clock, the five elements and directions, the three treasures,
and the three depths of the pulse in this location.
The nine palaces describe a center with eight directions of change that are composed of
the six channels (liù jīng 六經) along with the ren and du channels. I place the Fu Xi
sequence in the inner ring. The middle ring is the King Wen sequence, and the outer ring
is arranged according to the Shen Nung sequence. I use the Fu Xi sequence at the inner
circle to assess ancestral or epigenetic imprints related to the constitution and the family
bloodline. I use the King Wen sequence to evaluate the acquired conditions as a result of
The outer ring is derived from Feng Shui practices and is called the “Shen Nung” in
‘Chen Style Acupuncture’ as used by Chao Chen (2003). These three sets of eight
trigrams (ba gua) are placed to make connections when constructing treatments. I call the
collection of the three ba qua sequences san ba gua. This translates as three sets of eight
trigrams (see Fig 3).
These arrangements possess geometrical and numerical relationships of the three
treasures. The Fu Xi inner ring resonates with jing. The middle ring derives from King
Wen, and I correlate it with qi. The Shen Nung sequence connects with the spirit (shén
神). Our ancestors on this planet are with preheaven at the inner circle, and we are the
postheaven sequence, peering out into the world in the form of the outer ring of Shen
There is a matter of perspective for selecting the astrological chart concerning the three
sets of eight trigrams. The preheaven sequence of Fu Xi, relates to the nativity. Here, we
gaze back into the ancestral currents of the person. We explore the 4th house for
ancestors in general and matrilineal features in particular. Explore the 9th house for
particulars of the patrilineal bloodlines. Also, the Moon’s condition is considered for
matrilineal imprints, while the Sun provides a focal point for exploring the
We can use the King Wen sequence in the middle as a filter for transits. It reflects the
postnatal experiences of the native. The outer ring of Shen Nung correlates with stability
over time. I attribute the outer ring of Shen Nung to directions and the time lords, or the
chapters of life. It is a topic for exploration later.
The Fu Xi sequence at the inner circle places powerful trigrams at the four quarters,
which are coherent with blood lineage and the jing pool. I see it as closest in power to the
four pillars of the astrological chart. That is, the horizontal ascendant-descendant axis and
the vertical axis of the midheaven and the nadir. I, therefore, place the Preheaven
sequence of Fu Xi over the flat wheel. It is also powerful to use this method in Draconic
Medicine (See Fig ) (Morris, 2018).
The Moon’s nodal axis describes the movement of emergence and ‘return to the source’ as
Dracona Medica’s feature, the dragon’s head, and tail see Cycles in Medical Astrology
Again, the inner ring is the Fu Xi sequence, the middle is the King Wen sequence, and
the outer ring is the Shen Nung sequence. The inner ring corresponds with the prenatal
essence and relates to the river of blood traveling with humanity since rising from this
planet’s waters. The King Wen sequence is our direct experience, and the Shen Nung
sequence relates to the events around us.
Dracona medica places the Ba Gua over the nodal axis in order to understand what is taking place and
develop astrological remediations.
Name Gua Nature Family Meaning
Qian Heaven Father Expansive energy, the sky.
Dui Marsh Youngest Daughter Joy, satisfaction, stagnation.
Li Fire Middle Daughter Rapid movement, radiance, the Sun.
Zhen Thunder Eldest Son Excitation, revolution, division.
Xun Wind Eldest Daughter Gentle penetration, flexibility.
Kan Water Middle Son Danger, rapid rivers, the abyss, the Moon.
Gen Mountain Youngest Son Stillness, immovability.
Kun Earth Mother Receptive energy, that which yields.
The Eight Vessels
The eight extraordinary vessels (qi jing ba mai) likely had roots in the Yi Jing, as did
many other channel-based theories. The Yi Jing has correlations with an astrological view
compelling (Qing, Qian Long Emperor’s term, year: Ren Shu, Qing Dynasty; 1997).
The eight extraordinary vessels serve as a container for the processes and structure of the
human organism. There are three groupings of eight extra vessel pulses, providing three
planes that help define a cube of space that is the dimensional field in which structure and
function occur. In terms of pulse diagnosis, this context is not symbolic: it is literal.
• The du, ren and chong channels define a vertical x-axis.
• The yin qiao, yang qiao and dai channels define a lateral y-axis.
• The yin wei and yang wei define a tilted z-axis connecting yin and yang.
The chong mai is referred to as the sea of blood, sea of arteries and veins, sea of 12
primary channels, sea of yuan qi, primordial channel, ancestral channel, blueprint of life
and thorough way channel. The du mai is referred to as the sea of yang, governor and
supervisor. The ren mai is referred to as the sea of yin, conception and directing channel.
The dai mai is referred to as the girdle, belt, holding and binding channel, as well as the
sea of ming men. The yin wei is referred to as the yin linking channel. The yang qiao is
referred to as the yang heel, accelerator of yang and yang walker vessel. The yin qiao is
referred to as the yin heel, accelerator heel and yin walker. The yang wei is referred to as
the yang linking channel, preserver of yang and vessel of yang keeper (Li, 1999, pp 57-
60; 2006; Shizhen, 1985; Paul Unschuld, 1986, pp 27-29; Wang, 1997, pp 54-58).
The eight extraordinary vessels are rooted in the kidneys. Therefore, they impact the five
systems that the kidneys influence, including reproduction, endocrine function, central
nervous system, urinary tract, bone marrow, and blood production. The eight
extraordinary vessels serve as reservoirs for the essential substances and connect across
systems: they are trans-systemic. For instance,
• The chong vessel connects with the reproductive, digestive system and the
• Both the yin qiao and yang qiao vessels connect with the endocrine, nervous,
reproductive, and musculoskeletal systems.
• The du channel connects the central nervous system, endocrine system, limbic
system, reproductive system, and organ functions through the peripheral
The yang qiao (yang walker vessel) symptoms include pain of the upper and lower back,
epilepsy, aversion to wind, hemilateral withering, sudden collapse, insensitivity of the
extremities, stiffness, and insensitivity of the skin and the body. It can be confirmed by
the heel of the shoe wearing down medially. It is because the yang walker vessel causes
constriction in the abductors or these muscles that pull the leg away from the body.
The yin qiao symptoms involve pain along the vessel’s trajectory, the lower abdomen,
abdominal urgency, pain in the lower back down to the genitals, males, yin shan (male),
downward leaking (female). When this vessel is involved, there can be constriction of the
abductors leading to the outer edge of the shoe heal wearing down.
The dai mai (belt channel) can have pain in the lower abdomen, pain radiating to the life
gate, amenorrhea, breakthrough bleeding, genital pain, infertility, and tormenting
hypertonicity lower abdomen, seminal emission.
The human body seems to have a level of quantum coherence. The human body
information that flows is so manifold, complex multidimensional and fast biochemicals
could not carry it. Simultaneously different parts know what other parts are doing. The
body is adapting and responding. The conclusion is that something must connect, which
in science is called a field. The logical conclusion is that as these are coherent, there must
be a connecting field. The only candidate is that which penetrates all of space. It is the
Wu Ji. Something is not there, but everything emerges from it. It connects intimately to
the source qi and the distribution that occurs through the san jiao. These are close to the
transpersonal or the collective unconscious, which records the collective phenomena
throughout all of history (Laszlo, 2006).
Nonlocality is an element in the field. The sea is similar; waves occur when objects are
thrown into the sea, and the wavefronts create a hologram. These are the phenomena of
the vessels traversing the seas. The whole system emerges in the complex interaction of
the wave interference patterns.
The quantum nonlocality captures within the essence of the eight extraordinary vessels.
The astrological chart represents the mystic feminine in the sky organized according to
the interpolations of two and three as yin and yang.
Yi Jing provides a foundation for medical practices. It opens the window to phases of
time and location of pathology and potential treatment. It provides insight into the
individual’s constitution vis-à-vis the connection to the Eight Mysterious Vessels and
their relationship to the intergenerational transmission of jing-essence.
The key to operating these methods rests within the deep understanding of yin and yang,
three treasures, five agents, and the eight trigrams. These numerical distinctions are not the
terrain, but rather, constructs by which the mind and body connect – provide correlations
along pathways of creation and dissolution. These are the three’ rings of passage’ along the
path of return through the three treasures.
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