ARTICLES by Sally Yasukawa MSCD


Alchemists in ancient China made use of their mind to guide and transform their Qi to attain healing as well as spiritual transformation...

Sacred Geometry is the universal language which allows us access to ancient knowledge contained in our cellular memory. It enables us to understand wisdom from cultures that have left the earth long ago.




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From a paper presented at The Sixth Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine Conference at University of Technology, Sydney, September 2001.

My interests in metaphysics in my own practice of traditional Chinese medicine [TCM] has lead to investigating and studying other ways of accessing and activating Qi. Initially, I did this through modern "new age" techniques as well as traditional Western metaphysics. However, I discovered that there in my own backyard of Chinese medicine were the tools for applying the principles of metaphysics and a wealth of knowledge regarding the use of guided imagery and alchemy in healing and spiritual development. This then led to looking more deeply into these traditions.

The following are some of these findings together with guidelines for incorporating such methods into your own practise of TCM, to enhance the healing process and to empower the individuals you work with to take an active part in their own healing.


Imagery: mental picturing; the use of images to enhance healing states; engaging a persons mind in the process of applying healing modalities.

Alchemy: transforming dense matter into something lighter - traditionally belileved to change lead into gold.

Chinese medicine is full of images. All Chinese characters are pictograms, providing an image rather than simply a word. The names of acupoints provide us with splendid images that can be made use of in the healing process [when we know them rather than using the easy channel numbering system]. By simply telling your client the nature of the point's function in regard to their condition allows their mind to take part in the healing process. The correspondences of The Five Elements is also another area we can make use of, and it is the main one I use because it is very versatile and simple.

Alchemists in ancient China made use of their mind to guide and transform their Qi to attain healing as well as spiritual transformation, as detailed extensively in the manual of spiritual alchemy: The Secret of the Golden Flower (translated by R. Wilhelm, with commentary by C.Jung).

As modern alchemists, practitioners of Chinese medicine use acupuncture, acupressure and herbs to aid the transformation of dense matter [physical body symptoms] into something lighter [harmonious Qi flow] in the bodies of their clients.

So, what is imagery?

As the definition above tells us, imagery is the use of mental images to enhance healing states. According the Drs Sheikh and Pachuta of the American Imagery Institute, "Mental picutres extend a powerful force and can be used constructively in the healing process."

The imaging modality is largely dependent on the right hemisphere of the brain, which permits continued information processing following perception, and lends a sensory character to ideas and feelings. The lexical or linguistic mode is predominantly coordinated by the left hemisphere of the brain, and is particularly effective in integrating extremely diverse phenomena into one language label that permits very rapid subsequent retrieval.

The point is that verbal logic is linear, whereas the image is a simultaneous representation. "The quality of simultaneity gives imagery greater isomorphism with the qualities of perception and therefore, greater capacity for descriptive accuracy." (Sheik 1975) Think about it for a moment. If I ask you to think of a garbage can, what immediately comes to your mind? The letters that spell garbage can or a picture/image of a garbage can that is familiar to you? I suggest it will be the latter because the image of a garbage can [or anything for that matter] has more likeness with our perceptions and familiarity of such items.

Due to the fact that images do lend a sensory nature to ideas, the use of images in healing then shifts the mind from it's usual rational, logical way of thinking and dealing with it's dis-ease, to an irrational and illogical way [which in Jungian terms means connecting with the unconscious]. When we can move to the irrational and illogical, we are less restricted by our beliefs of how something has to be. This then allows for 'miracles' to happen and for even spontaneous healings to occur.

And alchemy?

As I mentioned earlier, we are all modern day alchemists even without employing guided imagery. However, when we do make use of the mind we take that healing to another level. Carl Jung regarded mental imagery as a "creative process of the psyche to be employed for attaining greater individual, interpersonal and spiritual integration". In other words, an alchemical process.

Dr Deepak Chopra in "Ageless Body, Timeless Mind" tells us that it is the mind and it's beleifs that cause cells to age. Change your mind around thinking about age or illness and you can change, because mind directs Qi, Qi controls body. Again, an alchemical process.

Although alchemy conjures up images of the Dark Ages and underground cults with strange apparatus trying to turn base metals into gold, the real gold is what they were all looking for. And the real gold, I believe, is in finding the truth of our beingness and the understanding that we have powers and abilities far greater than we are ordinarily lead to believe. For me me this has been realised over and over during years of involvement in Chinese medicine and Taoist philosophy and represented in the transformations that have occurred in many clients. Many times real healing has occurred simiply in someone recognising themselves in a pattern of TCM as explained according to traditional imagery.

Applying imagery in TCM

We know in TCM that mind leads Qi and that Qi controls body ~ while we can choose acupuncture points and herbs to effect change at the level of the Qi, we can also provide additional infomation regarding these points and herbs. This immediately forms the basis of an alchemical process whereby the client engages their mind and adds it's weight to the whole of the healing process. I have found this to have remarkable results and while it's use in TCM is not so well documented, it is certainly well documented in both medical and non-medical arenas.

Dr Don Pachuta from the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland uses the imagery inherent in Chinese medicine to help people with life threatening illnesses with great results. In fact, it was while attending an intensive training in guided imagery with the American Imagery Institute in 1987 that Don awoke in me the power and use of images in healing in Chinese medicine [particularly the Five Elements] encouraging me to take it further. Other doctors who use imagery in healing are Dr Carl Simonton from Fort Worth, Texas and Dr Bernie Siegal, a surgeon at Yale, New Haven Hospital who both use visual images to aid their cancer patient's healing process.

Since Chinese medicine is replete with images, it really doesn't take much to incorporate some simple practices into your clinical work. The theories of Yin-Yang and Wu Xing [Five Phases/Elements] provide us with a wealth of imagery that can simply be included in the healing process.

The Five Elements - Wu Xing - Five Phases of Transformation

Due to the unusual nature of my TCM training [apprentice to a Taoist Healer/ Acupuncturist] I was given in depth information regarding the Five Phases of Change or the Five Elements as we commonly know them. I was taught that this symbolic representation of Qi flow had many and varied uses, and that somehow it represented a process of spiritual development. [Note: I ultimately wrote a thesis on this to complete a Diploma of Metaphysical Sciences and will submit a future article on my findings.]

The Five Elements or Wu Xing in it's simplist form is a most useful beginning place for the use of imagery and thus alchemy. Being that it is a symbolic representation of the macrocosm and the microcosm, the colours ascribed to each Phase are said to be colours of balance (Chia, 1985). Therefore, simply employing the colour associated with the particular organ/meridian system you are regulating opens your healing to the use of imagery and the realm on inner alchemy.

For example, you are treating a person with a disharmony in their Wood Element/Phase. Regardless of the problem, while the person is lying on the table ask them to think of their liver/gall bladder being surrounded and permeated by green liquid. Since green is the colour associated with the Wood Element/Phase, visualising the liver and gall bladder being surrounded and permeated by a liquid of this colour has cleansing, nourishing and regulating effects [Chia, 1985, & Huang, 1994].

Another simple imagery is from Medical Qi Gong [Huang, 1994]. Expanding on from the above imagery, you can take your client through each of the five zang and their associated colours [viz: Kidneys deep blue; Liver green; Heart red; Spleen yellow; Lungs white]. Simply have them visualise or imagine the organs being surrounded and permeated by a liquid of the appropriate colour [except for the Lungs, have the liquid transform to a gas]. Spending a couple of minutes on each organ, breathing slowly and deeply, while also thinking that the colour is cleansing and nourishing that organ system.

This is a Qi Gong exercise that strengthens the functions of the viscera, dredges the channels, maintains the balance between Yin and Yang, regualtes Qi and blood, expels toxic energy and replenishes deficiency. [Huang, 1994]

There are many ways you can apply this idea, it is up to your own imagination. Always describe your findings in terms of TCM so that the client gains an immediate image of their condition. I find that when I tell my clients my diagnosis in terms of TCM [ie Dampness, Heat, Water not supporting Wood, etc] they immediately get an image they can relate to, rather than trying to keep to more Western medical terms. Remembering that Mind leads Qi, many people have negative feelings and therefore images around Western medical terminology, so helping them to move right away from these creates a shift in their perception of their condition and, therefore, a potential shift in the condition itself.

How often have you treated someone with a variety of [apparently unrelated] symptoms, only to point out to them that they are all connected because they all related either to one organ/meridian network or to one climatic state? How relieved was that person when you gave them the 'picture' in TCM terms? I imagine they were very relieved, because this is what I see every day.

Make use of these images to enhance what you are already doing. Give your client some 'homework' to work on. If their Earth Element is deficient you can certainly ask them to dig in the garden but what if they don't have one! Invite them to visualise their garden, have them create a lush, thriving garden that they tend to in their visualisation. Have them 'weed' out the toxins. If they have too much dampness, have them imagine that their garden is lacking in sunlight and they can clear overgrowth to allow more light and warmth in.

This may seem too simplistic to be of value but sometimes it's the simple things that can do the most good. In our modern highly, technological age we are often too removed from reality to understand that simplicity has great value. Dr Jerry Alan Johnson, in his amazing thome: Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy: A Comprehensive Text, (p.73) states, "The goal of the Qigong doctor is to alter (if possible) the Toxic Qi patterns and help the patient's body recognize that the formation of the disease is a mistake. In order to reprogram these patterns, the Qigong doctor often assists the patient in using guided meditations that employ vivid imagination, colorful visualizations, and positive affirmations. These images are used to encapsulate the disease and return it to the divine light." A perfect decscription of both imagery and alchemy.

My clients all appreciate the fact that I include them and engage them in their healing process and often comment that other acupuncturists simply put the needles in and go away - which we know works - but these days many more people want to take an active part in their own healing process. And what better way to achieve it since you already know the information, all you have to do is include it when you give treatments. After all this is the 21st Century and all that we practise in TCM is oh so new age yet oh so ancient!!!

Selected Bibliography

Sheikh, Anees and Pachuta, Donald, Guided Imagery Workshop Training Manual, American Imagery Institute. 1987.

Wilhelm, Richard, The Secret of the Golden Flower : A Chinese Book of Life. Penguin Books London. 1984.

Cleary, Thomas, Immortal Sisters : Secrets of Taoist Women. Shambala Publications Boston. 1989.

Yasukawa, Sally, Metaphysics and Alchemy of the Tao : Reclaiming the Feminine Spirit of Life. Thesis published by Lindlahr Books Perth. 1997

Huang, Runtian, Treasured Qigong of the Traditional Medical School. Hai Feng Publishing Co, Hong Kong. 1994.

Chia, Mantak, Taoist Ways to Transform Stress into Vitality. Healing Tao Books New York. 1985

Chopra, Deepak, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. Rider Books London. 1993.

Dyer, Wayne, Real Magic : Creating Miracles in Everyday Life. Harper Collins Australia. 1992.

Brennan, Barbara Ann, Light Emerging : The Journey of Personal Healing. Bantam Books New York. 1993.

Johnson, Jerry Alan, Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy : A Comprehensive Text. International Institute of Medical Qigong, Pacific Grove California. 2000.





Sacred Geometry is the universal language which allows us access to ancient knowledge contained in our cellular memory. It enables us to understand wisdom from cultures that have left the earth long ago. It is the key to understanding the nature and value of colour and sound. Symbols of Sacred Geometry represent what is thought to be the essential structure of the universe. Robert Lawler in his book, Sacred Geometry, states that "...what is most consistently striking about this form of diagram is that it expresses the notion of cosmos, that is of reality conceived as an organised, unified whole."

Sacred Geometry provides complete understanding and experience to consciously shape our future and accelerate the ascension process. That is, the ascension into higher and higher states of awareness, through en-light-en-ing ourselves ~ discovering ways in which to bring more and more light into our lives. In other words, Inner Alchemy.

Sacred Geometry is another term for a symbol, a specific type of symbol. It is like the mandala or the medicine wheel, it tells it's own story. It is a metaphor for universal order. What sets Sacred Geometry apart from mundane or secular geometry is that sacred or ancient geometry always begins with one, whereas the modern mathematics and geometry being with zero. Thus symbols that attempt to visually represent the pure formal order that emerges from the incomprehensible Oneness are said to be in the realm of Sacred Geometry.

Symbols of this nature can be transported into any culture, because they are a reflection of the environment we all live in on Planet Earth. One simply develops his/her own perceptions of a symbol whilst being guided by the recognisable signposts. The use of colour, shape and layout are keys to unfolding a symbol's mystery.

In his book "Man and His Symbols", Carl Jung says of a symbol "......that it always stands for something more than its obvious and immediate meaning. Symbols are natural and spontaneous products." He goes on to say that no-one ever invented a symbol, rather that an image became representative of a naturally occurring process or event.



In every culture the circle symbolises wholeness and the experience of unity. A circle has no beginning and no ending, it is reflective of the constant flow and movement of the cycles of life, death, rebirth and so on. Jungian psychologist Marie-Louise Von-Franz has explained the circle as a symbol of the Self. Saying that it expresses the totality of the psyche in all its aspects including the relationship between humans and the whole of nature.

In Taoist philosophy it is the same. Taoists believed that the universe evolved from a formless, unsettled, indivisible whole. This concept was named Infinite Qi symbolising the ultimate, where there is no beginning and no end, everything being pure potential. This is somethies called prenatal unmanifested energy. It is symbolised by a circle signifying emptiness and the Great Void, Wu Ji or nothingness.


Originally there was no distinction between heaven and earth, fire and water, day and night, wind and thunder, growth and decay. All phenomena were merged. This unification is called Tai Ji, the principle of wholeness or unity. It is represented by a circle divided by a wavy line, with one half black and one half white:

Although Tai Ji is the reality of all things and is the basis for existence, it cannot exist by itself. However, when potential begins to manifest two basic principles are established: movement and quiescence. This gives rise to the concpet of Yin-Yang. Yin is quiescence or inaction; Yang is movement or action. The inseparable nature of the two bind them together.

"The Primal Ultimately Real Sacred One produced life and opened up the heavens, used the power of great spiritual capacities and great intellegence, to form the world, pair Yin-Yang and set forth evolution."
Sun Bu-er [Immortal Sisters]

In the chaos of becoming, the heavier elements gravitate to become earth or Yin, and the lighter elements ascend to become heaven or Yang. Dualism is born from the interplay of these forces. Thus the black half of the circle represents Yin ~ density; and the white half of the circle represents Yang ~ lightness. The curving dividing line indicates the mutual support, interdependence and the mutual control between the two halves. The black dot within the white half of the circle and the white dot within the black half represent, respectively, light within darkess and darkness within light. Thus, this symbol tells us that no matter how dark a situation is or our circumstances are, there is always the opportunity to find the source of light within it; and that even on the brightest day there is always somewhere a shadow, reflecting that no matter how much light we embody, we must always be mindful of our shadow self.



The five-point star is another symbol found in alchemy, the occult and wicca. It is used in the Mystery Schools being representative of spiritual growth and transformation of the more animal states into pure personkind.

This is described by starting from the point at the top of the star and moving down the right-hand leg and reflects our "fall from grace" or conception and the decision to forget our true spiritual nature - becoming unconscious; from that point moving up to the left reflects taking birth and elevates us up to the plane of samsara [now moving horizintally to the right] where we may continue to live in relative blissful ignorance, until such time when we begin to question our reality; from this point we drop down to the lower left point when we surrender into delving into our psyche and are given the opportunity, generally through adversity, to raise ourselves up once more to the level of higher consciousness [God-head], moving back up to the starting point. It is in this vein that the pentagram was used by ancients as an amulet, signifying a happy homecoming and by the Druids as a sign of God-head.

The five-point star is believed to be one of the most primitative signs of mankind. the Pythagoreans called it pentalpha; Celtic priests knew it as the witch's foot; it is also Solomon's Seal, known in the Middle Ages as the goblin's cross. It also represents the five senses, the male and female principles are also conveyed by the arrangement of the five points.


This symbol, of a circle with five equidistant points around it's circumference and a five-pointed star in the centre connecting each of the five points, represents what has become known in Chinese medicine as The Law of the Five Elements.

These are in fact guidelines discovered in ancient times which identify the factors and energies that arise from the birth-to-death cycle of all phenomena. These two aspects of this symbol are equally important to the overall understanding and implementation of the symbol's message.

Note that in Chinese the words or characters, Wu Xing, that are translated as Five Elements actually mean Five Movements or Changes and are often referred to as The Five Phases of Change or Transformation. Movement is implicit in the symbols' interpretation. In Taoist understanding, change is the only constant in the universe and in Chinese medicine, when Qi-energy does not move, dis-ease occurs.

The movement of the circle is clockwise, to the right, as is the movement of the pentagram, from the top point down to the right and following around the symbol. In fact there really is no actual starting point since the symbol represents the continuous flow of the cycles of the seasons and of life itself.

In Chinese medicine, the circle represents the cycle of growth and the natural flow of the life force. This is known as the Shen Cycle or the Cycle of the Spirit and it is also called the Cycle of Creation. To understand this better, imagine the point at the top of the circle as Spring, moving to the next point in a clockwise direction we come to Summer [when it is hot and dry], then on to the next is Late Summer [when it is hot and humid], then on to Autumn and finally to Winter, which of course moves back into Sping and the cycle of life continues.

In this way the ancients saw that the macrocosmic movement of universal energy reflected the Cycle of Growth, since they lived close to the land and depended upon these cycles for the growth of their crops. However, they also realised that there were certain elements that were necessary to the continuation of life.

They named these Elements as: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal [minerals and precious elements like Gold] and Water. They aligned each element with a corresponding season that appeared to reflect the qualities of the element. And so Wood was aligned with Spring, Fire with Summer, Earth with Late Summer, Metal with Autumn and Water with Winter.

Returning to our symbol, the pentagram was representative of another cycle, that of Restraint or Control, since it was believed that life or creation without control was out of balance. The Chinese call this the Ko Cycle. The following quote is from The Yellow Emperor's Treatise of Internal Medicine : Nei Jing, written 2,500 years ago,

"In creation there must be life, but there must also be control.
Without life there is growth without reason; without control there is excess and damage.
In life there must be control; in control there must be life. In this way there will be non-stop
circulation, restraining and nourishing at the same time."

This concept of growth and restraint is the essence of understanding the usefulness of this symbol, and of the use of The Law of the Five Elements in understanding the movement of Qi-energy.

So how does the Control Cycle express? By aligning each element with it's appropriate season and again beginning at the point at the top [being Spring/Wood Element] and following the movement through the star or pentagram downward to the right.

Do you know how when trees and plants are uprooted, especially in large areas, the Earth is either blown away on the wind or washed away by rains? This reflects the aspect of the cycle where Wood Element controls Earth Element, because it is the roots of the trees and plants that bind and hold the earth together. The banks of the rivers, cliffs, headlands and dam walls are reflections of Earth Element controlling Water - keeping water in it's rightful place. This next one we can readily grasp. Water controls Fire - if there is too much water it puts out the fire, and insufficient water means that fire may burn out of control.

Fire controls Metal is a little more complex. Since Metal refers to gold and precious gems and minerals within the earth, this aspects refers to the fact that these come into existence according to the amount and degree of heat to which certain base elements are subjected. And finally, Metal controls Wood, reflects the nature and abundance or lack of vital minerals in the soil is what the plants feed on, thus controlling how the plants grow.

So the Control Cycle - Ko Cycle - as expressed above gives rise to the awareness that it is indeed an essential part of the whole. Creation cannot exist alone, nor can control. They are mutually dependent, the need one another. Thus everything lives in harmony - enough creativity to keep life flowing and enough control to balance excesses.

Imagine you have a vege garden in which you have planted a variety of crops; you tend the crops to ensure they grow well, but you don't actually make them grow. They do that themselves since they tap into the universal Shen Cycle and just do what they do. Now if you let them alone, they will grow according to their own genetic blueprint and so will many other things which may not be wanted [commonly called weeds] which vie for the nutrients in the soil. So as the gardener, you must exercise the Ko Cycle and clear the weeds allowing the vegetables you planted to have access to maximum nutrients.

...more coming.


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