xiao zhoutian 小周天
lesser celestial circuit; lesser celestial orbit
① A name of the main practice performed in the first stage of the Nanzong (Southern Lineage) codification of Neidan and in other varieties of Neidan. By means of the Fire phases (huohou), the Essence (jing) is circulated along a circuit formed by the conjunction of the Control vessel (dumai, along the back of the body) and the Function vessel (renmai, along the front of the body). Through this circuit, the Essence first rises through the Three Barriers (sanguan) in the back of the body to the upper Cinnabar Field (niwan), and then descends through the three Cinnabar Fields (dantian) in the front of the body to the lower Cinnabar Field. Also called River Chariot (heche).
⊛ The Caudal Funnel, the Spinal Handle, and the Jade Pillow are the Three Barriers that mark its ascending route. The Muddy Pellet, the Yellow Court, and the lower Cinnabar Field are the three Cinnabar Fields that mark its descending route. . . . Since the two paths form a circle, the alchemical texts use the term Lesser Celestial Circuit. (Wang Mu, Foundations of Internal Alchemy, p. 71)