五運六氣 5 Movements 6 Qi
Chinese medicine is based on the philosophical idea that there is a resonating correspondence and compenetration between the macrocosm (Nature) and the microcosms (Humanity) both dependent on the life motivating and ever-changing force known as qi 氣.
The correspondence between nature and human being and how life in all its expression is regulated by cycles was systematically explained in the SuWen through “seven comprehensive discourses” and referred to as the doctrine of the five movements (WuYun 五運 ) and six Qi (LiuQi 六氣 ).
The WuYunLiuQi doctrine is by far the most complex and sophisticated aspect of ancient Chinese science; its foundational elements are the 10 heavenly stems (TianGan 天干 ) and the 12 earthly branches (DiZhi 地支).
The Stems are symbols used to calculate the movement Yun 運 of each year
The Branches represent the specific way/flavour in which that movement will manifests in terms of a specific qi.
The inter-relationships between stems and branches of a given year determine the seasonal influences for that year and in turn the way human beings are affected by them; but most importantly stems and branches are symbols used to explain how life cycles work, what happens when humanity does not follow their mandate and how illness is the result of moving out of sync with that cycles.
Dr van Buren, the founder of ICOM, devoted his life to reviving and developing the WuYunLiuQi doctrine. He tried to develop a system that facilitated the translation of this knowledge from a purely philosophical construct, into a practical application. This system is now known as Stems and Branches Acupuncture and it is an attempt to affect and protect the constitutional level of patients’ energies to help them to fulfill their destiny (in this case used in contrapposition with the word fate) as human beings.
A beautiful tribute to the work of dr. van Buren written by Pamela Stadlen can be found here.