Secret Passages: the Language of the Shang Han Lun
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Zoom webinar (recordings available)
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Classical Chinese Medicine

Speaker(s): Genevieve Le Goff practices and teaches an ancient form of Chinese medicine that has its roots in the Classical Era of Chinese history (Han dynasty and prior). After graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Environmental Studies & Ecology, and the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences with a MS in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Genevieve continued her training in midwifery and gynecology, as well as received extensive post-graduate training in Classical Herbal Formulation at the Hunyuan Institute and at the Institute of Classical East-Asian Medicine. She practices at the crossroads of two sister lineages she apprenticed in, the Fire Spirit School and the lineage of Tian (Bawei) Heming, who followed in the tradition of Zhang Zhong Jing's Shang Han Za Bing Lun. Her practice focuses entirely on classical herbalism, with a specialization in fetal-maternal medicine. She is constantly engaged in research and study to further her ability to help her patients, and directs a continuing education program for licensed acupuncturists which was accredited in several countries, gathering prominent scholars, sinologists and clinicians to teach seminars. She has been designing and teaching continuing education curriculum in the since 2012, specializing in classical obstetrics and the line by line exegesis of the Shang Han Za Bing Lun and Jin Gui Yao Lue. Her lectures are attended nationally and internationally.

Genevieve Le Goff

Other information

63 CEUs/PDAs/CPDs This course will be a line by line exegesis of the Shang Han Lun傷寒論 in the Song edition order. Drawing from the Mai Jing 脈經, Nei Jing 內經, Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing 神農本草經, Tang Ye Jing Fa 湯液經法 and other classics, we will endeavor to understand the deepest meaning of the text and its context in a cosmological view of ancient medicine, starting with the study of the 4 images 四象 and ancient astronomy; drawing from lineage acquired clinical experience, we will strive for precise and excellent application for our patients. For each line, there will be a detailed analysis of patho-physiology and formula composition, and we will illustrate with many a case study. In the study of the Shang Han Lun 傷寒論, the living practice of clinical herbalism ties into a systemic understanding of the cosmos, and time and space meet nature and and physiology. The masterful Han dynasty work by Zhang Zhong Jing 张仲景 evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the body in relation to surrounding natural influences and the passage of time, and delineates the probability tree of the possible transformations of cold damage, prognosticating and treating disease. The 6 conformations represent more than stages of disease in the body; they are aspects of time, life and physiology, linked by the intricate relationships of fire, water, blood, ministerial fire, yang and yin. These very relationships are what explains the various passages and transmutations of disease that the Shang Han Lun is famous for exposing, and they are the key to the mastery of clinical practice. ​​It would be a reductionist outlook to think that the Shang Han Lun is a book that only treats wind-cold; cold damage can be understood in a much broader sense, the desertion of life’s energy from the body, leading to the eventual coldness of death. In essence, Shang Han Lun theory is therefore alchemy, the Yi Jing of health and disease: by understanding what leads to the decrepitude of life, one can also understand what repairs it, and what preserves it. Classical formula architecture is a form of language: the composition of a prescription reflects a certain understanding of the human body in relationship with the world, distilled into herbal agents imbued with direction and purpose. The sometimes sibylline words of the Shang Han Lun simultaneously reveal and hide so much depth, that this work has induced fascination for over 2 millennia; as a result, there have been much debate and conjecture as to the meaning of such or such symptom, passage, herb, etc. over the centuries. This stems from the fact that the basic tenets of classical physiology, the relationships between yin and yang, inner and outer, time and center, are not always crystal clear to the reader, and further confused by evolving medical theories throughout history. The aim of this class is therefore to go back to the roots of classical medicine as a time-based medicine; not to learn formulae to apply blindly, but to foster a deep understanding of the physiological processes behind each formula pattern. To this effect, we will study classical cosmology, physiology and formula architecture theory as presented in the Nei Jing 內經 and the Fu Xing Jue Zang Fu Yong Yao Fa Yao 辅行诀脏腑用药法要 , and study the entire Shang Han Za Bing Lun 傷寒雜病論 line by line, in the deemed original Song order. ​ Comprehending the language of the Shang Han Lun not only leads to wonderfully efficacious clinical results and a better life for patients. It is also is a vehicle for personal cultivation and one’s relationship to the world, which, like any discipline, has benefits one cannot even fathom when one begins the journey! This course proposes: ​ to explore and analyze, line by line, in the (deemed) original Song dynasty order, the entirety of the Shang Han Lun to let natural philosophies of the pre-Han eras, ancient astronomy and history inform our understanding of physiology ​ to study in detail the language of herbs and flavors through the lens of the Nei Jing 內經, Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing 神農本草經, Tang Ye Jing 湯液經, and a back-and-forth process of analysis of the formulae ​ to understand the ways formula architecture reflects the secret or not-so-secret physiological relationships of fire and water, and speak of passage and transformation It is my hope that soon after starting the class, you will be as mesmerized by this vast topic as I have been for the past 15 years! Clinical practicum In addition, this year there will be a (long-awaited!) opportunity to meet in person for pulse practice and a clinical practicum! This weekend seminar will take place September 27-29 in the bucolic San Geronimo Valley, in West Marin, California. We will spend the first day studying pulses and pulse patterns of the Shang Han Za Bing Lun 傷寒雜病論 and the Mai Jing 脈經, practicing on one another. Particular attention will be given to interpreting the pulse in terms of the circular dynamics of Fire and Water, and to ascribing specific pulse patterns to each of the 6 conformations. Weather allowing, some of this day will be spent outdoors in the nearby meadow. The second day will be a clinical theater, where we will observe and analyze visiting patient cases, and devise formulae based on symptoms, pulse and tongue. ​The third day, weather allowing, we will gather at the nearby Samuel P. Taylor State Park for an outdoor classroom session, and spend the morning discussing any questions and clarifying what we learned over the preceding days; then you are welcome to stay for a catered celebratory picnic lunch in a beautiful redwood grove! Staying is optional and isn’t part of the seminar, but is a way for us to have community and fun after exerting our brains… ​... or, keep talking about herbs! ​

Booking information

Open to

Practitioners and students of Chinese medicine


$1900 (payment plans available)

Last Updated

2024-02-21 04:18:07