Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, or as its also known in Chinese ‘Wu Lun Liu Qi’ (which translates as The Five movements and Six Energies) was traditionally taught as an oral tradition. It was considered too rich and complex to be written down, learning occurred experiencially with the help of a teacher. It was only taught to exceptional practitioners after many years of Acupuncture experience. These practitioners where specifically chosen based on their understanding and awareness. They were the ones who were to become the more developed and superior practitioners that were written about in the ancient texts. For this reason it is mysterious and esoteric, to this day it continues to elude much of the Acupuncture world.
Written information is scarce, we have to be content with sporadic references here and there in ancient classics like the Nei Jing, Yet somehow the philosophy has survived with its purity intact, very little has been lost. There was a time in the last century that the teaching could have disappeared altogether. Nowadays, there are a few people who have made gallant efforts to commit the teaching to paper, a massive undertaking. It is imperative we strive to maintain the connection with ancient knowledge. For me, Stems and Branches is the pinnacle of Acupuncture philosophy and practice, the real deal. It is a complete system that describes how the universal forces of time and space move to create conditions on earth which influence the health and the lives of all animals. Anyone possessing knowledge of these cycles can use them as a powerful tool to treat disease and also use preventatively, which was the original purpose.
The birth chart provides the practitioner with a detailed map of which energies are most likely to be out of balance, strong and weak aspects, what is best left alone or which meridians might be most beneficial to be needled. The information is combined with an accurate pulse diagnosis for that patient at that moment. The resulting treatment plan is ultra-specific and individually tailored. The power is such that only a few needles are needed and treatment is generally less often than other forms of Traditional Acupuncture. As the ancient Chinese saying goes ‘Find the one who uses one needle and you find the master’. This is the essence of Stems and Branches.