Simile: a window into the Universe
The history of science has been one of building a foundation of knowledge. Nevertheless, established scientific fact always seems to lead to more questions. Homeopathy has been no exception.
Hahnemann studiously applied empiricism and tireless dedication to detail to create his science. He insisted on letting data shape theory rather than docrine shaping data-interpretation. His Law of Similars became a fundamental principle of how all homeopaths work. I believe I am not alone in wondering what this really means in terms of how and why healing works. We don't talk much about this question in most of our forums, while daily clinical observations keep offering hints and surprises.
Most homeopaths are naturalists, intense observors of Nature. Natural sciences like botany and zoology begin by observations and naming of individual plants and animals. Next comes categorization into phyla, genera, etc., in the hope of increasing understanding. Finally, relationships are defined and ecologies characterized. Homeopaths perform similar mental categorizations into families, rubrics, keynotes. We behave as if understanding derives from naming, tagging, and categorizing.
Personally, my approach to Nature differs from this, as I believe is true for others. A part of me is always wondering what it is like to be that animal in that environment. Or that plant in its environment, even. What are the perceptions? The motives? The stresses? Of course, I am often projecting myself and my imagination into this inquiry. Yet there remains even more -- an inquiry that is independent and beyond my own biases.
Homeopaths recognize this process as identical to what we do in case-taking when we are doing it well. We seek the truth of what makes a person tick, independent of our labels and keynotes and personal biases. If we can grasp the patient's uniqueness and match it to a remedy, we can literally produce a cure. To me, this is still a wonder! What is this mechanism all about?
Most of the time when we are studying a case, our minds are focused on finding the correct remedy. This is natural. Sometimes, though, my inquiring mind notices that the homeopathic phenomenon is actually a window into the Universe itself, in the best scientific sense.
Consider what happens in a proving. We record a plethora of symptoms of all kinds and use them to prescribe. Are they actual representations of the states of being of the substance? How about mental symptoms? Do they sometimes represent the inner state of perception of the substance itself?
These questions are seen easiest in animal remedies. I recall a vivid personal experience when triturating blood from a young grizzly bear. My state of consciousness altered in a way that is definitely not usual for me. I felt larger in my body, or perhaps in my spirit. There was a sense of mastery, as if I could handle any challenge. And I had a desire to climb upward above mundane life, to be above everything. As a matter of fact, this particular grizzly cub did have a habit of climbing on top of anything around -- a rock, a box, a fence, and then just perching there. He would fight other bears for that position.
This became significant a few months ago when I saw a six year-old autistic boy. He exhibited classic autistic signs but I noticed that he was climbing on all the furniture in the office -- not just to climb, but to get to the very top of the couch or the cabinet, and then perch there. I gave him Grizzly blood as a remedy. That particular habit totally disappeared. I cannot yet report that his autism is cured because I only have a few months of observation so far. But that one trait disappeared!
A colleague was a participant in a proving of Golden Eagle. She didn't know what she was given until the anamnesis at the end. She experienced a sense of both being held down in the world and floating above it. Strikingly, she lost all vision in one eye for almost a week during the proving. This frightened her enough that she has refused to do any more provings. At the anamnesis, she was told that the proving was from the feather of a Golden Eagle -- and that particular eagle has been blinded by a hunter's gunshot into the same eye! Was she glimpsing the inner experience of that very eagle?
Rajan Sankaran presented a case at a seminar that was memorable for me. It was the story of a general in the air force in India who had hypertension. He had a great love of flying and was a strict, imperious boss to his subordinates. He once almost died when his jet hit a bird in flight, smashing his canopy and giving him a head injury. I believe it was Golden Eagle that cured that case.
Jonathan Shore has done a number of bird provings. His summary of Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is quoted as follows:
Confusion of mind; identity, as to his
Delusions, imaginations; crack in his soul, or in universe
Delusions, imaginations; double; he is
Delusions, imaginations; separated; world, from the, that he is
Delusions, imaginations; sun; two suns
Dreams; twins, about
Dreams; watching herself from above
Reality, flight from
Thoughts; persistent; two trains of thoughts
Delusions, imaginations; prinsoner, she is a
Delusions, imaginations; trapped, he is
Dreams; prisoner; being taken a
Must move freely between the world of dream and daily life.
Rising above Difficulties
Dr. Shore also quotes a Haliaeetus leucocephalis case taken by Dr. Mariette Bernstein of Capetown, South Africa. It was a 27 year-old man with neck pains from severe physical abuse in childhood and relationship difficulties. The case was taken in very useful detail, but for our purposes -- he had a love of gliding, aversion to being caged, strong emotions regarding injustice, and a desire to be up high in the mountains. He responded well to the remedy. In his orientation in life, however, we can see a window into the worldview of the eagle! [Jonathan Shore MD, Birds, Homeopathy West (2004)]
Even better examples can be found in Massimo Mangialavori's published cases of Mygale lasiodora.
Lucio is a child with strong facial tics, a need for thick glasses, and incidentally a tendency to fall out of bed. He would play by himself in school. He had a particular obsession with ropes. He also had a distant mother. He used to draw pictures of his teacher naked, and had dreams of being carried around by his teacher in a basket. Later, his dreams changed to being carried around on his teacher's abdomen or back. After the remedy, the tics went away and he lost his need for glasses.
What is interesting here is that Bird Spider is known to be isolated in behavior and creates thick ropes to sense prey, rather than fine webs. They are large and hairy, with up to eight eyes that are large and ineffective -- they cannot see farther than half a meter away. So the boy's experience and state of mind was similar to the world of the spider. [Massimo Mangialavori MD, Bitten in the Soul, Koine, rev. (2009)]
I had a similar case of a child with Tourette's syndrome. He had a peculiar tendency to chomp down with his mouth and whole head whenever he was stressed. Part of his activity was to jump with his whole body as well. Mygale cured the Tourette's. Later, while reading on Bird Spider, I found that jumping is a characteristic behavior of the spider itself; Conquistadors thought it was jumping for birds.
Mangialavori's case of the Mygale prostitute also had some articulate statements regarding the viewpoint of the spider. A dream: "There were diabolical animals, which attacked me and entered into my vagina, my ears and my mouth. There was no orifice of my body that remained protected. I ran away and landed in a well of mud. In the end I succeeded with much difficulty in escaping, but whole clods of very heavy clay remained attached to me, which kept me from running away quickly. And those disgusting animals kept following me. In order to save myself, I jumped from a cliff, hoping not to die at the impact on the water... I awoke terror-stricken before I landed." She also described her attitude toward men: "Anyhow, I wanted to say that I feel less restless. I often need to change men to feel safe... To feel I've caught them is as good hunting... Recently I feel like getting to know what they do, in what they're interested. I've even become jealous of one I knew some time ago. I've never been jealous, I never needed to. After all, relationships are a kind of game I like to play..."
I had another Mygale case that has been cured of MS now for five years. He is a poet and leader of an American shamanistic movement, so he is very articulate about inner experiences. His MS began during a shamanistic encounter in Africa. He had ended up playing a secondary role in a situation, and felt ".... garden variety of white male arrogance rising up in me. After all, I was 'the expert,' much a part of the tribal world and quite well read on Bantu anthropology. How much I wanted to interfere, be master of ceremonies. So I pulled away to a small pool of water to curl up in and prayed in the traditional way of the ngoma of the water spirits." What happened then is that he was invaded by a Schistosomiasis (parasitic) infection which (uncharacteristically) damaged his nervous system. His response was to go into a cave in the wilderness for months on end to meditate. His level of incoordination was so severe that it was entirely possible that he wouldn't be able to hike back out from the cave, so he was literally risking his life. What I notice in this case is the relationship to water mentioned by him and in the woman who jumped into water to escape things invading her body.
For me, the most interesting example of this window into the animal world is a case of Fire Ant (Solanopsis invecta). I had treated this very articulate woman for crippling Meniere's Disease with a variety of remedies for a couple of years, ineffectively. Finally I focused on the fact that she had had a strong allergic reaction to Fire Ant earlier in her life. She was describing recurrent dreams of racing through tunnels in "attack mode" intending to kill whomever she encountered. Even during her days, she was "biting the head off" of all her family members.
Fire Ant was not in our pharmacopoeia, so she contacted a university research lab specializing in Fire Ants, collected them herself, and sent them to the pharmacy to be made into a remedy.
This lady was so crippled by Meniere's that she was unable to finish her PhD program. She spent large portions of days sitting in the corner of the bathroom next to the toilet so she could vomit during the vertigo. Solanopsis invecta has cured her now for eight years, and she has launched her PhD career.
Most interesting is a symptom she had before the remedy that became exaggerated after taking the remedy. She had a fear that would develop into panic if there was anything spinning above her head. It could be a ceiling fan or even a helicopter. If she heard a helicopter coming, she would run inside in a panic. This increased after the remedy and continued for several years.
In recent years -- after my patient had these experiences already -- scientists discovered an ecological way of fighting Fire Ant invasions. There is a kind of fly (or wasp -- I have heard different accounts) that attacks Fire Ants and inserts eggs into their skulls. These develop into larvae and burst the heads of the Fire Ants. In a laboratory in Texas, the mere introduction of such flies into the enclosure will drive Fire Ants into a panicked frenzy! Apparently this is an ecological balance of Nature that goes back millions of years. Yet, this patient had this symptom, and it was exaggerated after the remedy!
The first observation I make with these examples is the importance of thorough case taking. Too often the tendency is to record information relating to known keynotes or at least information we think might lead to finding a remedy. However, the inner experience of patients is far more rich. If we are listening with the broadest mind possible, we hear phrases and imagery that provide direct windows into the state of the remedy itself, whether animal, plant, or mineral. Our curiosity needs to extend to such metaphysical areas.
So what do these connections between patient and remedy really mean?
Surely, it has to do with energy. Our remedies are primarily energy. And resonance is a fundamental principle in energy field interactions. But the examples point to more.
Are we dealing with Spirits? Ancient shamanistic practices really on this conception powerfully. Animal Spirits or plant Spirits are invoked to heal people. Perhaps homeopathy is a version of shamanism. If so, perhaps we can learn more from shamanistic training to expand our healing abilities.
The ancient Vedic teachings talk about the Universe being made of Sat, Chit, Ananda -- Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss/Love -- properties pervading everything without separation. Homeopathy is a science that demonstrates this in rather specific ways.
Given these possibilities, I am curious about the role of the remedy itself. Do we actually impart something essential in the remedy itself? Or are we performing a ritual that invokes metaphysical Consciousness connections by the very process of listening deeply and making subtle connections in the mind of the patient and the homeopath?
I am concluding my first post to HomeoVision with questions rather than answers. This is on purpose. I hope to spark discussion that is more question-based than answer-based. Despite outward appearances, I think this is the spirit in which we approach our patients.