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The Hun: The Spirit of the Liver

Is it possible to discuss a Spirit in and of itself? Perhaps the strong versed answer of “no” is most appropriate for the Hun.  In discussions it is often compared to the Po and related to the Shen.  It is through the comparisons that the distinctions we must subtly understand, come to existence. Through understanding what the different Spirits are not they are given more meaning, or rather can be understood.  The intangible can only be compared to the tangible or the preconceived concept which we have previously understood.  While the Hun certainly brings in the courage and positive action it is also the Spirit which allows us to exert our will even with only the power of a young child, the simple phrase “no.”  Those of us who have raised children or even looked after a toddler for that matter know that “no.” can be an extremely powerful display of power and resistance like the felled tree blocking the road, creating what will be an impasse.  On the flip side the Hun offers the courage to jump over the impasses or hurdles in life and begin anew.   The Liver’s job is smooth flow of Qi the Hun’s job is smooth flow through time and space.

The Hun is described by correlating both the shen and the po.  The hun has a notion of activity unlike the shen where action is not present, (Larre, Vallě, & Root 1999). The Ling Shu Chapter 8 explains the hun is that which comes and goes and model itself upon the shen, as explained by Elisabeth Rochat in The Liver.  Rochat expands her explanation by describing there are three aspects of the Hun including activity inspired by the shen, three aspects of qi, pertaining to qi, the activity of the Hun, and the qi of yang, and lastly the unity of the Hun depicted as heaven, earth, and man.  The Hun are the aspects of spirit that is able to adapt to the movement of what they feel the shen has directed.  The Hun is additionally likened to the three cinnabar fields in Rochats teaching, this reminds us of the nei jing tu and the actions contained within being directed by the Emperor or the Shen.  The hun is the residence of the blood and the po is the residence of the qi according to the Ling She Chapter 8, which reveals the yin and yang aspects of the shen (Larre, Vallě, & Root 1999).  Rochat clarifies by stating that the hun and the po are the archetype of yin and yang working in the body.

The Wood phase is one of the most prone to disruption as Brandt Stickley explained.  In the article The Treatment of Liver Patterns by JE Williams, OMD, L.A.c. quotes Bob Flaws who points out that healthy spiritual qualities depend on the uninterrupted nourishment of essence from the zang organs: “all disturbances of the hun and po are due to insufficiency of Qi and blood”.  The article entitled Liver Qi Stagnation Turning Into Heat – An Underrated Pattern?, further reiterates that the mental-spiritual aspect of the Liver known as the Hun is disturbed when heat/fire has been caused by the use of recreational drugs, and the agitation which in turn leads to insomnia and dream disturbed sleep (Mole 2013).  

The Hun is the ethereal soul.  Rooted in Spirit by Claude Larre and Elisabeth Rochat explain “the Hun guarantees the exchanges that lead us to to reality and avoid delirium, perversion and aberration, and while we sleep they make connections and relationships.”  Dechar expands our understanding of the spirits of the Hun by highlighting “the hun inhabits the vaporous, ever changing region of our visions, dreams and imagination, and is the animating agent of all mental processes.”  Dechar’s analysis of the character for Hun offers even more insight into the lightnesss and ethereal aspect of this spirit.  The clouds and the lesser creatures or

make up the character, Dechar quotes a lecture from Larre saying you never call them bad names as we do not know how they will take it.

The Hun is the aspect of our spirit which maintains the look of our physical being and returns it to heaven.  It is also the aspect which correlates to our legacy.  In the last paragraph we highlighted the physical character which depicts the Hun, however isn’t it ironic that the Hun plays such a vast role in a person’s character.  It is interesting that we are warned by Larre to not speak poorly of the gui as we know not how that will be taken.  It seems an excellent guideline, when the aspect that will live on beyond our years is airy like clouds, we ought to take great care of Hun, the Liver, the Ethereal soul.

In the many writings on the Hun and the Po, they are referred to in the plural emphasizing the many aspects of their existence and the many subtle attributes which must be assigned to them.

It is also worth noting that the Po stays with the body while the Hun may travel off or ascend to heaven when the person has passed.  In a funeral ceremony ,Larre explains, the exits of the body are closed once it is certain that the Hun will not return; this is done to prevent the Po from traveling off and disturbing the living.  In life the Po offered a descending action to the Hun as they work in concert with one another just as the Liver and Lung balance the ascending action of the Liver yang and the descending action of the Lung yin work harmoniously.  In Dr Hammer’s core notes he highlights the action of UB47 also known as Hun Men or Spiritual Soul gate. He describes the indication of this point as revitalizing the soul spirit mind and for use perhaps first when the spirit is absent.  Additionally, Liv14 is indicated when one has lost hope, Dr. Hammer refers to this point as Gate of Hope in his 5 element notes, he explains this is the closest to a window of the sky point on the Liver meridian and is indicated for gloomy clouds and a perceived negative future without hope.  As we examine these two points the correlation of the Hun , Po, and Shen are reiterated, all of which must work congruently to paint the picture of being we call self or soul.

Through the insights of these authors, scholars and acupuncturists the well orchestrated balance of life and our journey through it can be better understood.  It takes the drive of the Hun the inspiration of the Shen and the control of the Po to keep one rooted and graceful on their path through life.  The Hun provides intuition and the ability to search out connections and relationships.  These are vital aspects of being yet it takes the concert of Hun, Po, and Shen to bring them into fruition, and let them go when those connections no longer serve ones highest purpose.  There is the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” in the case of spirit it seems we have a few elders looking out for the village within, with different balancing perspectives to aid us on the journey of being the greatest we can be, and not to mention leave a legacy behind when it is our time to ascend to the heavens.




Dechar, Lorie. Five Spirits: Alchemical Acupuncture for Psychological and Spiritual Healing. Chiron Publications/Lantern Books, 2006.

Hammer, Dr Leon. “ Spirit of the Points: Core Notes, Mental Emotion, Note Cards.” Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine, 2014.

Larre, Claude, and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee. Rooted in Spirit: the Heart of Chinese Medicine. Station Hill, 1995.

Larre, Claude, et al. The Liver. Monkey Press, 1999.

Mole, Peter. “Stagnant Liver Qi Turning into Heat - An Underrated Pattern?” Journal of Chinese Medicine, no. Number 102, June 2013, Hun.

Williams, J.E. “The Treatment of Liver Patterns.” Journal of Chinese Medicine, September, no. Number 43, 1993.

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