Through her investigations of Chinese characters and the reading of alchemical texts, the author discovered that the theory of the five spirits -- the shen, hun, po, yi, and zhi--was much more than a story, that it was the core of an ancient spiritual psychology. By melding this discovery with the theories of Western archetypal psychology she began to decipher the ancient symbols and their obscure references and to reorganize them in a way that has proven to be clinically invaluable in treating psychosomatic, emotional, and psychospiritual distress. The goal of this treatment method is to restore communication between mind and body and thus to bring a person closer to the experience of their own wholeness and connection to Tao. Treatment is a way to bring movement and consciousness to deadened, unconscious parts of the being that are buried in the matrix of the physical body. It is also a way to call back parts of the being that have flown off and disassociated from sensory embodied experience. Restored communication occurs from the fostering of an alchemical or transformational relationship between the mind, the imagination, and the vital functions of the body. The tools include needles, moxa, and touch, as well as conscious awareness and imagination.
Alchemical acupuncture challenges accepted ideas of reality and does not offer any quick fixes. The author perceives it as a way to fully realize the healing potential of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, especially its ability to heal painful splits in the modern human psyche and particularly the splits between spirit and matter, mind and body, and individual identity and the cosmos. To use it as a tool for transformation, affecting a permanent change in the quality, complexity, and creativity of one's being, life, and consciousness.