針灸 Needles and Moxa, it is right there in the Chinese characters that are translated as “acupuncture.” Moxa is as fundamental to our practices as needles. The applications of burning mugwort run the gamut from cheap acrid Chinese pole moxa to ultra refined sweet scented Japanese moxa. And the techniques vary as well from the smoky moxa boxes to the whisper thread of smoke from the tiny rice grains.
In this conversation with Hannah Swift we discuss not just her love of moxa, but fascination for the plant itself. Where it grows, the soils and terrain it likes to inhabit, how it shapes the local economies in Japan famous for their moxa and the process itself of turning leaves into the medicine we like to ignite.
Listen into this discussion of leaves and smoke, and how the scent of moxa itself can be part of a connective healing process.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- Coming up with the name Acupuncture Repair Kit
- The Night Songs Project that opened the door to therapeutic work
- Artemisia and dreaming
- Falling in love with moxa
- The place moxa holds in Japanese landscape and local economy
- The rhythm, cycle, motion and performative aspect of practice
- Being yourself is the most sustainable way to be
- The surprising information that comes from “I’ve got three things to tell you…” when you only have two in mind
- Approaching the Void
- Where you find mugwort growing wild
- When to harvest and how to process into moxa
- Treating with moxa
Find some way to get moxa into your practice even if your clinic is a smoke-free zone, send patients home with moxa or use finest gold rice grain moxa for minimal smoke.
I’m drawn to this medicine because of how it interweaves the felt sense with the natural world. I am always trying to improve my descriptions of this kind of holistic thinking to make it relevant for individual patients.
I have been studying some of the Japanese methods of touch based diagnosis and moxibustion. I find the overlap of symbolism and pragmatism in Japanese culture and clinical practice very inspiring. Moxibustion brings this to life for me, the smoke, the heat, the potential burn – inviting catharsis, relaxation, pain relief and boosting circulation all in one simple practice.
Prior to studying acupuncture I made theatre. Within this work, my growing interest in biography and dreams is part of what led me to train in a therapeutic modality.
Links and Resources
Enjoy the words and images of Hannah's trip to Japan.
For more about Hannah's work, visit her website.