Hahnemann warned us about using the Doctrine of Signatures to determine a causal relationship between the substance and the remedy (1). He was ridiculing the false pictures of the medicinal effects of remedies previously obtained this way and advocating the practice of proving a remedy to find its exact medicinal action.
Dr Douglas Gibson claimed that this correspondence cannot be dismissed, despite Hahnemann’s warning, ‘Those correspondences are sufficiently numerous and striking to deserve a mention'(2).
Of course, proving a remedy to obtain its medicinal picture cannot be compared with the theoretical assumption that comparisons are to be found between the action of a drug and the appearance of its natural form. Before we had Hahnemann to show us the way, the Doctrine of Signatures was the only clue anyone had to the action of a remedy, and this has been used to great effect for centuries.
The question of the relationships between remedies and their natural substance, and between remedies themselves, has occupied many, as we grapple to understand the complexities of homeopathy and the natural world. Somehow, our instincts tell us that things are related to each other, but how does this really tell us anything useful?
It may be at the end of the day, that we discover that everything is everything else, but at the moment, things are seemingly separate, but they contain differences and similarities. It seems only natural that attempts to link compare and contrast these differences and similarities will be made.
Many theorists have attempted to identify the underlying thematic connection between the remedy and the substance. There have also been many attempts to group remedies into different families and to try and sort out a relationship between and within family groups.
So far, no one really seems to have a definitive statement to make. Some homeopaths do not believe in the relationships of remedies and prescribe with no reference to them at all! Other homeopaths always pay attention to the relationships of the next remedy to the previous remedy, and they would not dream of giving a remedy without taking the relationships into account.
Hahnemann states that the undertaking to arrange diseases into certain fixed classifications may seem plausible, but that if these classifications are arbitrary ‘without reflecting that nature is immutable, whatever false notions men may form of her'(2a), then we should not be surprised if the classifications are found to be meaningless.
Although Hahnemann was talking about disease groupings, we should perhaps take heed to his point about arbitrary groupings of natural phenomena. As with pathology, it may be a similar maze.
However, the idea persists! If the signature of the remedy is always consistent, and we can always spot each remedy via its symptom picture; and if the disease is an alteration of a normal pattern of health, then there may be threads of Ariadne running through our labyrinth to help us in our search.
Hahnemann’s example of strict and careful observation can be our only rule of thumb here. ‘Poetic fancy, fantastic wit and speculation, must for the time being be suspended, and all over strained reasoning, forced interpretation and tendency to explain away things must be suppressed. The duty of the observer is only to take notice of the phenomena and their course’ (2b).
Hahnemann found the first relationship – that some drugs previously used to cure diseases, do produce symptoms similar to those of the diseases for which they had been successfully used, for example china (cinchona officinalis).
Today, we explain homeopathy as a matching of the patient’s symptom picture to the remedy picture, not specifically related to any pathology or disease label.
However, the principle has merely been extended and not changed.
Constitutional types are often referred to in materia medicas, and relationships between certain remedies and certain personality types, especially amongst the polycrests, are a valuable aid to learning and prescribing. However, as Dr Foubister points out (agreeing with Hahnemann’s warning here) there may be attendant dangers in trying to force people into ‘types’. (3).
Vithoulkas comments upon the characteristic ‘mood’ of nations and he also mentions characteristic influences of the workplace or life style upon the ‘type’ (4).
Social class will also have an effect, but somehow, it is not environmental factors that mould the character that interests so much. It is the actual essence of the personality that reacts with the environment that fascinates. It is always the character that does not conform to the mould that stands out.
It seems that the more complicated and exact the ‘types’, the more people take great joy in jumping straight out of them.
Whitmont’s ideas of form and pattern are a more modern attempt to look at constitutional types. He claims right from the outset a ‘new view of existence helping us conceive how psyche and soma, man and earth function as different aspects of one integrated field’. (5) ‘Chemistry and mechanics could no longer be considered the fundamental regulators. Form, images – as archetypal, autonomous, indeed transcendental patterns prior to and playing, with substance, directing the life force and hence biochemistry, physiology and psychology – would prove to be the basic regulators’. (5a)
Whitmont claimed that concepts of thinking in symbolic patterns are barely beginning today (which may be true) and was totally absent in Hahnemann’s day (which may not be – after all Hahnemann was a Mason).
It is difficult to see how comparisons of Hahnemann with Copernicus and Galileo, except on historical terms can be made, as Hahnemann’s thinking seems to have been in advance of even the quantum physics of our age, even though his terminology was not modern.
We can clearly see in homeopathy, as we analyse our cases, that the symbolism of the physical level is reflected in the mental and emotional levels too. The Doctrine of Signatures in, for example a bryonia case, is quite clear. The essence of the plant is seen in the essence of the patient.
Thus the concept of thinking in symbolic patterns is not so new in homeopathy, thanks to Hahnemann.
However, what Whitmont is referring to here, by alluding to the New Physics, is the concept that the sub atomic realm reflects into the material world in a symbolic ‘condensation’ of an ‘unknowable’ reality. (5a)
Our material reality, of chance and cause and effect, ignores so much. Or maybe it is just an eddy of thought that the Western World got stuck in? The Chinese word for physics is Wu Li ‘patterns of organic energy’ (6). Wu means matter or energy, it also means ‘my way’ and ‘nonsense’ and ‘I clutch my ideas’ and ‘enlightenment’. (6a) ‘Most people believe that physicists are explaining the world. Some physicists even believe that, but the Wu Li masters know that they are dancing with it’. (6b)
The New Physics incorporates Newtonian physics (which remains valid but only within certain limits), but it operates only on the subatomic realm – the realm of our potentised homeopathic remedies?
The hypothesis that potentisation releases energy from matter is claimed by Hahnemann in the Organon 270, when he talks of the ‘spirit like’ medicinal powers released by the mechanical preparation of remedies. ‘There ensues such a great and hitherto unknown and undreamt of change, by the development and liberation of the dynamic powers of the medicinal substance so treated, as to excite astonishment’. (2c)
In 1928, Guy Berkley Stearns wrote: ‘Many of the deepest philosophers, both experimental and abstract, have conceived the ultimate form of matter to be in the field of pure energy and believe that, under certain conditions, matter can be transformed into energy, and energy transformed into matter’. (7)
The Newtonian Universe is predictable and mechanistic. In the Quantum Universe it is not possible, even in principle, to know the present! Probabilities are all we can rely on! (6c) Also, we are not passive observers of reality any more, we actually create it!
Thus our reality is what we choose to make it! (6d)
So, do we choose to see relationships?
Do we create them when they are not really there?
Would the Universe operate quite happily without them?
Can we thus assume that we are gods?
The mechanistic universe is unfeeling and impersonal. Science has previously striven to observe with absolute objectivity and empirical disregard. Indeed, this is what Hahnemann did too, but he, like the discoverers of the new physics did not seem to discover the cold, impersonal universe they expected.
The new physics makes it quite clear that this objectivity is prejudices (6e) and completely illusionary.
The dancing Wu Li masters quote Carl Gustav Jung ‘The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate’. (6e)
Thus, the second relationship is that which is the reflected externalisation of the state of thought currently held, and physics (i.e. Wu Li ‘patterns of organic energy’) is simply the study of the structure of consciousness. (6f).
REFERENCES FOR MODERN PHILOSOPHY
- Material Medica Pura Vol 1, page 10 Samuel Hahnemann B Jain Pubs
- Studies of Homoeopathic Remedies page iv Dr Douglas Gibson Beaconsfield Pubs Ltd ISBN 0 906584 17 5
- Materia Medica Pura Vol 2, page 25
- Materia Medica Pura Vol 2, page 40
- Materia Medica Pura Vol 2, page 43
- Tutorials on Homoeopathy, page 14 Dr Donald Foubister Beaconsfield Pubs Ltd ISBN 0 906584 25 6
- The Science of Homoeopathy, pages 17-18 George Vithoulkas B Jain Pubs
- Psyche and Substance, page 7 Edward Whitmont North Atlantic Books ISBN 0 913028 66 5
- ibid page 8
- The Dancing Wu Li Masters, page 31 Gary Zukav Fontana Collins ISBN 0 00 636058 0
- ibid, page 33
- ibid, page 35
- ibid, page 52
- ibid, page 54
- ibid, page 55
- ibid, page 56
- The Homoeopathic Recorder 1928, pages 669-681 ‘Studies in High Dilutions’ Guy Beckley Stearns