Reflections on (my) new year

As I look back on the past cycle – September to September – on this, my personal New Year, it is with a wearier – and warier – eye than I once had. It has been a year of movement. So much movement! There have been times when I could barely catch my breath for the activity. It was a year of possibilities and planting seeds. Projects, books, gardens. All things in process… But all that commotion fades to the small deaths that – I pray – make the soil more fertile.

Foolishly, perhaps, I prayed to learn unconditional love. And so my prayer was answered with a pain that left my heart bruised but more whole. I was answered by the poisoned darts of my words twisted into something unrecognizable and as far from their original utterance as words could ever fall. Yet always I heard the whisper: “You know who you are… hold Me as I hold you. Know your essence. I have you, daughter.” And so I learn (process, always in process) unconditional love. Through the gift of this war-not-of-my-choosing I came closer to my Essence and a portion of my naivety burned in one fiery night. “Trial by fire, kiddo.” And so, today, I mourn that loss with the understanding that I cannot keep my eyes closed. There is beauty in all things.

With that strange loss I also gained.  I gained a deeper trust with those around me based on eyes that well up naturally, tears that flow freely, the tremendous joys of shared discovery, cooperation rather than competition, and Soulful bonds forged not out of need but out of Service and possibility.  And so I forgive my younger self for SO many things in gratitude (and humility) for what is.

This year I found my thoughts on healing shifting rapidly. Studies in homeopathy refine my ways with oils, herbs, and massage. I’m learning to listen for the voice of the vital essence of each guest, translate the best I’m able, and refine my techniques to encourage its expression rather than “correct” or suppress its symptoms. And so I shift more and more to myofascial unwinding, orthobionomy, energy work that encourages the natural flow of Breath, movement techniques, and herbalism and aromatherapy to support rather than fix. I find myself wandering further from my allopathic (however holistic) training in all disciplines.

Ancestral healing has also moved in surprising ways. I feel the bloodlines of both my parents moving through me in more balanced and whole ways. I honor myself as both my (and The) mother’s and father’s daughter. Sky above opens with a fiery wind and Earth below supports and holds me close.

This year I dreamed things beautiful and terrible. I dreamed our Mother calling Her children to wake as Her voice gets louder. I dreamed the faces of those trusted with power disintegrating as fearsome darkness works their voices. I dreamed an unleashing of the destroyers. I dreamed the essence of a Star. I dreamed the birthing of a world. I dreamed our Father sweeping me into the Sky so that I may know his Love. Dream after dream after dream.

I am learning to allow the love between myself and another to transform as it transforms us. And so we become more whole as individuals within our nest. And while we lost one member of that nest, our beautiful Black Cat, we welcomed another. Lady Thorne of Argyle-Bargle reminds us to stop and purr while Aury and Elan hold space with their feline dignity and variable states of grace.

While researching my not-so-far-removed Amish heritage I creep closer to the position of conscientious objector. The futility of war threatens to break this world as it has broken so many of its people. I do not have the answers but the absurdity of violence to heal violence strikes hard. Why do we fight? Do we fight to defend ourselves against the darkness in others or in ourselves? I wonder if it is all projection. If I project my demons onto someone else (anyone else!) than I do not have to face them in myself. We can rain bombs on the face of our Mother for centuries (and have!) without bringing peace. Clearly the only war that will end all war is the one that ends us all. So how do we defend those who cannot defend themselves (or ourselves) without destroying them (or ourselves)? We are facing the collective Shadow of humanity. All I have now are questions and a journey.

Be Love and your heart heals
Be Joy and your Light sings
Be Peace and you will See

And so, this year, my prayer is for Peace. Peace in the lives of those close and far. Peace in the heart of humanity. Peace in the war-torn bodies and Souls of all children of the Creators. Father & Mother of the All, bless us, guide us, protect us, and may we hear your voices.

Be Peace,

H.

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A Survey of Homeopathy (part 5) by Heather Eggleston

Dr. Constantine Hering, another German schooled in Leipzig, became the “Father of American Homeopathy” following his own conversion experience to homeopathy. Challenged to find evidence against homeopathy he instead found it effective and left his station at Leipzig to practice this irregular medicine. Upon his arrival in the United States Hering helped establish the Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania (Haller, 2005, p. 681). Hering added another law to Hahnemann’s doctrine. His Law of Cure offers insight on the order of healing stating healing occurs from the most recent symptoms to the oldest and from the most vital organs to the least (Lockie, 1995, p. 17)

At the end of the 1800’s the landscape of homeopathy was a very contentious place. A number of homeopaths wished to utilize other healing systems including allopathy, herbalism, and hydrotherapy when it makes sense for the patient. These doctors tended to dismiss the more spiritualized aspects of homeopathic theory with reliance of the law of similars as a guide but not doctrine. Many of these doctors wanted to heal the wound between homeopaths and allopaths, whose organizations including the AMA were actively outlawing all homeopathic practice for its members. The other wing of homeopathy was the purists who would not reconcile with allopathy for any reason. This split was rapidly becoming a schism when allopathy appeared to triumph with the discovery of antibiotics and the rise of biomedicine. When the Carnegie Foundation released the 1910 Flexner report on the status of medical education it completely dismissed homeopathy and the already fragmented academic movement folded in on itself. Homeopathy became the domain of lay practitioners, grassroots healers, and stubborn adherents to Hahnemann’s principles until its resurgence in the 1970s with the call to holistic health (Haller, 2005, p. 3287).

The excesses of allopathic medicine with its reductionist, mechanistic, and almost dehumanizing tactics left the disillusioned public craving something more personal and homeopathy, with its elegant simplicity, focus on the patient first, rich usage, and many successes has sparked interest. Now more integrative physicians are incorporating homeopathy into their practices through either traditional MD, DO, or ND diplomas. Lay practitioners have their own certification boards, journals, and organizations. Homeopaths continue to undertake provings refining and enriching the materia medica. The new 21st century theme of practical integration offers homeopathy another chance to shine with its simple, humane, and holistically oriented ways.     

References

Boericke, William. (2007). Boerkicke’s new manual of homeopathic materia medica with repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Cuellar, Norma G. (2006). Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Hahnemann, Samuel. (2007). Organon of medicine. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Haller, John S. (2005). The history of American homeopathy: the academic years 1820 – 1935. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press. Kindle version.

Lockie, Andrew. (2006). Encyclopedia of homeopathy. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Lockie, Andrew & Geddes, Nicola. (1995). Homeopathy: the principles and practice of treatment. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Rowe, Todd. (1998). Homeopathic methodology: repertory, case taking, and case analysis. Berkley, California: North Atlantic Books.

A Survey of Homeopathic Medicine (part 4) by Heather Eggleston

A third law is the law of Minimum, which states too high a dosage causes aggravation in the patient and so it is best to use the smallest dosage possible to effect change within a highly potentiated tincture. This issue of dilutions caused a great deal of fuss for American homeopaths who differed between those who used lower (less dilute) and higher (sometimes infinitesimal) dosages. Because regular doctors derided so-called high dosages as deception and quackery homeopathic theories abounded as to why high doses are so effective. Explanations from the unapologetically metaphysical to Mesmerism to the “new” sciences like chemistry were actively debated. This issue became a split in homeopathy between a more mechanistic, physically oriented school that worked with lower dosages and a far more metaphysical and spiritually inclined school, which accepted infinitesimal dosages (Lockie, 1995, p. 17).

A fourth law is the law of Vital Force, which offers explanation for how homeopathy works. It posits that the diseased body has suffered an attack on its vital force, which is the energy that maintains life, the integrity of the human systems, and defends against disease (a modern eye may look at the immune system as a physiological system for the vital force whereas a more holistic modality may discuss chi with similar functional language). When the vital force is depleted illness occurs whereas when strong the body can withstand attacks. So the goal of homeopathy is to restore the vital force, which it does by introducing an artificial disease state induced by the homeopathic remedy. This artificial disease state incites the natural vital force to rally and bring the whole system back into balance.

A fifth law is the law of Chronic Diseases, which introduces the concept of miasms to the homeopathic lexicon. In this most abstract of theories Hahnemann says that chronic diseases are derivative of three major miasms (psora, syphilis, and sycosis) and may have a generational (genetic) quality (Lockie, 2006 p. 20). He indicates they are the most difficult to cure and that allopathic treatments only aggravate them. This theory was controversial and often ignored by homeopaths who find it too philosophical to be practical. Oliver Wendall Holmes, an outspoken critic of homeopathy, stated the only reason miasmic theory did not cause a schism in the irregular schools was due to its relative unimportance even to homeopathic adherents (Haller, 2005, p. 2447).

A sixth law is Drug-proving, which codifies the proving method. The homeopath uses varying dosages of remedies on a healthy person to test the resultant symptoms and add data to the materia medica. Following his own experimentation with cinchona bark Hahnemann replicated the experiment on other healthy subjects and found the same results in varying degrees based on the constitution of the subject. And as he and his disciples proved more and more substances the homeopathic materia medica was born (Lockie, 1995, p.12). In this codification Hahnemann emphasized symptomatology over pathological theory preferring to understand the whole of the person, not just the differential diagnosis, through long case-taking interviews and observation. He also insisted medicines be proved on the healthy rather than as silver bullets for the ill whose systems were already compromised (Holler, 2005, p. 227).

A seventh law is that of Dynamization, which states that the esoteric qualities of the vital force of the substance itself is made medicinal via a process of succussion (shaking) and dilution. This process potentiates the poison into a powerful medicine. One can imagine the derision the regulars heaped onto this seemingly esoteric doctrine. As with the issue of dosages dynamization was hotly debated in homeopathic circles. The method of succussion, the rhythm, timing, and the exact method of how medicinal properties were extracted was very theoretical. Hahnemann himself adhered to Mesmerism, a school of thought that presumes human beings have their own magnetic quality that impresses itself upon a substance. As the acupuncturist develops chi to transmute to patients via needles the preparation of a homeopathic remedy involves a dynamic individual succussing a substance making it more and more powerful. Benjamin F. Joslin found a more mechanistic answer to this dilemma by theorizing that the succussion process pulverized and tore apart the original material spreading its essence throughout the dilute medicine making it more easily absorbed by the human body (1995, p. 1001).

References

Boericke, William. (2007). Boerkicke’s new manual of homeopathic materia medica with repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Cuellar, Norma G. (2006). Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Hahnemann, Samuel. (2007). Organon of medicine. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Haller, John S. (2005). The history of American homeopathy: the academic years 1820 – 1935. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press. Kindle version.

Lockie, Andrew. (2006). Encyclopedia of homeopathy. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Lockie, Andrew & Geddes, Nicola. (1995). Homeopathy: the principles and practice of treatment. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Rowe, Todd. (1998). Homeopathic methodology: repertory, case taking, and case analysis. Berkley, California: North Atlantic Books.

A Survey of Homeopathic Medicine (part 3) by Heather Eggleston

Following his death the homeopathic school thrived and debate was enriched. Doctors such as Constantine Hering, James Tyler Kent, and many others added their experience and keen insights to the homeopathic lexicon. The American northeast and mid-Atlantic states became hot spots of ideas as significant numbers of regulars converted to homeopathy following positive experiences with its usage. The American south and western territories took longer to embrace homeopathy due to economic and social differences but by the late 1800’s all regions of American had homeopathic representation and societies.

The first societies of homeopathy were formed as alliances of primarily medical doctors. These societies were safe havens for the exploration of ideas, philosophies, and became rich sources of empirical evidence, provings, and discussion. The societies initially seemed to thrive on the American ideals of freedom of thought and democracy and many of the doctors practiced homeopathy within their regular practice and did not see it as an either/or model. Lay healers were included in the societies as respected members. It was not until resistance from hostile regulars forced homeopaths to form their own licensing organizations that a true rift between allopathy and homeopathy occurred in the States (2005, p. 740). By the turn of the century there were homeopathy schools, hospitals, journals, and many devoted adherents.

Due to Hahnemann’s insistence on simplicity the homeopathic principles are fairly clear although the American societies had heated debates and were not afraid to split with Hahnemann’s doctrines. Dr. Constantine Hering, the Father of American Homeopathy, adhered to the Oragon only as far as “like cures like” and left all other laws subject to empirical proof and vital debate (Haller, 2005, p. 943). The first and inviolate doctrine of homeopathy is the law of similars, like cures like. This law was discovered with the first proving of cinchona bark. Hahnemann wrote in 1796:

One should imitate Nature which at times heals the chronic illness by another additional one. One should apply in the disease to be healed, particularly if it is chronic, that remedy which is able to stimulate another artificially produced disease as similar as possible and the former will be healed. (Lockie, 1995, p. 14)

A second law is the law of Simplex, which states that the healer uses the one remedy that best matches the patients overall symptom portrait. Through exhaustive case-taking the healer chooses the medicine that best matches the most peculiar and unique symptoms and uses only that remedy until either symptoms change and another more appropriate remedy is chosen or a cure is effected. This one remedy at a time solution is elegant and allows the homeopath to monitor the symptoms carefully and to adjust fluidly as needed. If the healer uses too many remedies at once it is impossible to tell what is working and what isn’t. Because homeopathy relies on observation and interaction between homeopath (medicine) and patient (symptom) healing is an eloquent conversation. Contemporary classical homeopaths adhere to this prescription of one remedy at a time however there is a trend towards combination medicines for specific issues (for stress, sleep, or a sore throat without regard to the broader patient portrait). These combination remedies are not formulated with the patient-centered approach of the classical homeopaths but in the more disease-model approach of allopathy. Although non-specific they can be advantageous in emergency as they are easily accessible at drug and natural food stores and do not require extensive consultation.

References

Boericke, William. (2007). Boerkicke’s new manual of homeopathic materia medica with repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Cuellar, Norma G. (2006). Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Hahnemann, Samuel. (2007). Organon of medicine. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Haller, John S. (2005). The history of American homeopathy: the academic years 1820 – 1935. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press. Kindle version.

Lockie, Andrew. (2006). Encyclopedia of homeopathy. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Lockie, Andrew & Geddes, Nicola. (1995). Homeopathy: the principles and practice of treatment. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Rowe, Todd. (1998). Homeopathic methodology: repertory, case taking, and case analysis. Berkley, California: North Atlantic Books.

A Survey of Homeopathic Medicine (part 2) by Heather Eggleston

The development of homeopathy was originally based solely on the experiments and writings of Hahnemann himself. He was born to an impoverished household but his academic acuity earned him opportunities to study languages and eventually to be trained as a physician at the University of Leipzig and as a clinician in Vienna. He was fluent in eight languages, had a keen philosophical mind, and delved into the complex theories of illness in his time. However the more he practiced the more concerned he became with the harm caused patients and perceived the practice of medicine to be fundamentally unscientific and ultimately damaging. Haller (2005) quotes Hahnemann’s letter to a fellow doctor:

“It was painful for me to grope in the dark, guided only by our books, in the treatment of the sick… To become in this way a murderer or aggravator of the sufferings of my brethren of mankind, was to me a fearful thought (p. 196).”

It was at this point that Hahnemann left the practice of medicine and dedicated himself to translating medical texts and stumbled on the homeopathic watershed moment.

While translating a text on cinchona bark for the treatment of malaria he puzzled at why quinine would be so effective for malaria when other equally antiseptic substances were not. And so he experimented by dosing himself with quinine and found that with each dosage he would develop the symptoms of malaria. So the medicine that was used to treat malaria produced the same symptoms as malaria. This, then, was the first homeopathic proving, the meticulous recording of the symptoms caused by dosages of particular substances and the establishment of the primary law of similars (see below) (Holler, 2005, p. 227) .

In 1810 Hahnemann published his opus, The Organon. In this text, which had six editions total, Hahnemann laid out his theories in the final form of 294 aphorisms. The substance of these aphorisms include indictment of allopathic medicine, the philosophy of his laws, dosages, how to conduct case-taking observations, his theories of vital force, artificial and natural diseases, miasms, and more. Following the publication of the Organon Hahnemann continued to write, debate, conduct provings, and correspond with students. In his 80s he remarried and moved to Paris where he and his wife shared a clinic. In his old age Hahnemann became increasing dogmatic and resistant to any criticism from within the homeopathic movement and his ideas became rigid  until his death in 1843 (2005, p. 511).

References

Boericke, William. (2007). Boerkicke’s new manual of homeopathic materia medica with repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Cuellar, Norma G. (2006). Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Hahnemann, Samuel. (2007). Organon of medicine. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Haller, John S. (2005). The history of American homeopathy: the academic years 1820 – 1935. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press. Kindle version.

Lockie, Andrew. (2006). Encyclopedia of homeopathy. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Lockie, Andrew & Geddes, Nicola. (1995). Homeopathy: the principles and practice of treatment. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Rowe, Todd. (1998). Homeopathic methodology: repertory, case taking, and case analysis. Berkley, California: North Atlantic Books.

A Survey of Homeopathic Medicine (Part 1) by Heather Eggleston

Homeopathy is a methodical, evidence based form of medicine developed by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) and practiced widely throughout the world today. From its inception homeopathy styled itself as an alternative to the now prevalent allopathic medical model and thrived in many segments of the American population including the upper classes, women, and the churches. Its principles were laid out by Hahnemann and his philosophy is the heart of Homeopathy. After his death students expanded homeopathic theory and enriched the practice. Contemporary homeopathic doctors and lay practitioners still further it and, despite continued attempts by mainstream medicine to discredit it, there appears to be a revival of homeopathic medicine as a viable alternative to allopathic interventions. And now in the 21st century the integration of homeopathy within the larger context of medical intervention finally seems possible.

Hahnemann was born in 1755 in Dresden, Germany and was a dedicated doctor in the medical world of his day. But the more he practiced medicine the more disillusioned he became and so protested the medicine of his times eventually giving it up entirely.

It is important to understand the medical milieu with which Hahnemann became so disenchanted. In Hahnemann’s time there was a growing schism between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ doctors. According to Cuellar’s interview with medical historian James C. Whortan (2006, p. 2-8) homeopathy, and the broader category of complementary and alternative medicine, derived from this schism. Embracing complicated philosophical theories of pathology and illness the regulars used such methods as purging, bloodletting, burning, toxic medicines, and other dramatic (sometimes traumatic) techniques often leaving their patients weaker and sicker or dead. The conditions of life contributed to poor public health with pandemics like cholera and yellow fever, unsanitary conditions, industrialization, and ever increasing environmental toxicity.

The irregulars employed techniques to spark the human being’s natural ability to self-heal via a whole person approach including nutrition, exercise, fresh air, and rest. Rising contemporaneously with homeopathy other irregular movements explored techniques based in observation, stimulation of patient vitality, and gentle curative methods that empowered the patient. Mesmerism, although conceived the previous century, was popularized during this period and emphasized manipulation of the vital force and was clearly an influence in Hahnemann’s thought. Also contemporaneous with Homeopathy was Thompsonism, which used botanicals for healing, and Priessnitz’ Hydrotherapy (water therapy) applications.

The split highlighted today between the treatment of disease as opposed to the healing of the whole person is built on the foundation that is the division between homeopathic and allopathic philosophies. Hahnemann himself coined the term allopathic meaning “other than the disease.” The term was intentionally derisive indicating the regulars treatments were meant to evoke reactions different than the disease as opposed to homeopathically, which used treatments like the disease. Roughly a third of Americans were using some form of irregular medicine prior to the discovery of antibiotics and Whortan points out that the irregulars were a political movement who fought for their own licensing against the medical monopoly of the regulars. The irregular schools, led by homeopathy, had their own educational standards and hospitals. Women were welcomed more readily than in the regular schools and homeopathy became a vocation for many female healers aligned with the suffrage movement. Homeopathy resonated with a particularly American attitude of independence and self-help books and home use kits were used by the general populace. It was not until the regular (allopathic) doctors won the public’s trust upon the discovery of biomedicines such as sulfa drugs and antibiotics that they embraced the once derogatory title for their medical philosophy (2006, p. 3).    

Works cited:

Boericke, William. (2007). Boerkicke’s new manual of homeopathic materia medica with repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Cuellar, Norma G. (2006). Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Hahnemann, Samuel. (2007). Organon of medicine. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Haller, John S. (2005). The history of American homeopathy: the academic years 1820 – 1935. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press. Kindle version.

Lockie, Andrew. (2006). Encyclopedia of homeopathy. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Lockie, Andrew & Geddes, Nicola. (1995). Homeopathy: the principles and practice of treatment. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Rowe, Todd. (1998). Homeopathic methodology: repertory, case taking, and case analysis. Berkley, California: North Atlantic Books.

Homeopathy Intensive

I just returned from a three day case analysis intensive on classical homeopathy and am increasingly impressed with its power to heal the whole person through an unlocking of the individual’s vital force.

Homeopathy speaks to my inherent understanding of energy medicine templates and to my great appreciation for the power of the Earth’s animal, mineral, and plants not as resources for humans to use for our own healing but as energetic templates that stimulate us to heal.

It (in many ways) speaks my language. It is philosophical in its methodology, medical in its terminology, methodical in its usage, symbolic in its layers, holistic in its approach, and lovingly humane at its core.