Auguries of Truth – The law of similars and the simillimum in wider context with a focus on resonance and vibration, with reference to the arts and philosophy

Last modified on October 17th, 2016

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Homeopath Gill Graham finds the Law of Similars expressed in other aspects of life.

Introduction

Having done much research, it became increasingly evident that the law of similars, one of the basic homeopathic principles, is ubiquitous and warrants universal acknowledgment, hence the use of the words ‘Auguries of Truth’ in the title. Every living thing has an individual energy signature, a vibration, and a unique energetic force. This has been recognised by philosophers, scientists, musicians and literary geniuses historically and currently. My intention here is to demonstrate how the law of similars manifests specifically in homeopathy but also through the medium of the arts and in philosophy. Each discipline will be seen to link effortlessly, almost naturally, and their tangible connectedness demonstrated. Whitmont (1980:32) states: ‘The law of similars is the law of the basic relationship between analogous phenomena.’  I agree with this statement and feel the need to expand on it; thus, various perspectives, in addition to the strict homeopathic definition will be explored, to help with an overall understanding of its universal significance.

It will be demonstrated that often resonance is difficult to define, or prove apart from the experience of an unquantifiable energy.  In this context, the concept of mesmerisation as covered by Hahnemann in The Organon, will be discussed whilst connecting this phenomenon to Kent and other eminent homeopaths, linking it to the works of Emanuel Swedenborg and the poet, William Blake. Also, it is important to clarify and expand on the fact that this practice of treating ‘like with like is not medically exclusive to homeopathy. For this reason, conventional medical instances will be cited and briefly discussed, helping to put this principle into a greater, possibly more widely accepted and understood context. What will also be established is that law of similars is not just about the remedy; it is about the entire interactive therapeutic experience; mind, body, spirit, and the undeniable, correspondence between every level of our being.

Historically

The Law of Similars has been recognised for centuries and early assertions of ‘like curing like’ have been evidenced by Hippocrates as early as 400BC, when mandrake root was prescribed to treat mania, knowing that if ingested it caused mania. Theophrastus von Hohenheim, commonly known as Paracelsus flourished in the sixteenth century. He was a pioneer of pharmacology and made a clear declaration of ‘what makes a man ill’ also cures him, specifically: ‘What makes jaundice that also cures jaundice and all its species. In like manner, the medicine that shall cure paralysis must proceed from that which causes it; and in this way we practice according to the method of cure by arcana.” (Archidoxis, vol iii:18, cited by Morrel, P: 2000)  Carl Jung, described him as such: ‘We see in Paracelsus not only a pioneer in the domains of chemical medicine, but also in those of an empirical psychological healing science.’ Jung’s description captures both the mind and body aspects which integrate, to form a significant part of the art and science of homeopathy.

A Benedictine monk, using the pseudonym Basil Valentine, circa 1410, stated: ‘Likes must be cured by means of their likes, and not by their contraries, as heat by heat. Cold by cold, shooting by shooting; for one heat attracts the other to itself, one cold the other, as the magnet does the iron. Hence, prickly simples can remove diseases whose characteristic is prickly pains; and poisonous minerals can cure and destroy symptoms of poisoning when they are brought to bear upon them. And although sometimes a chill may be removed and suppressed, still I say, as a philosopher and one experienced in nature’s ways, that the similar must be fitted with its similar, whereby it will be removed radically and thoroughly, if I am a proper physician and understand medicine. He who does not attend to this is no true physician, and cannot boast of his knowledge of medicine, because he is unable to distinguish betwixt cold and warm, betwixt dry and humid, for knowledge and experience, together with a fundamental observation of nature, constitute the perfect physician.’ (De Microcosmo, cited by Morrell, P:2000)

Classical Literature

In classical literature too, there are many references to the law of similars. Robert Graves, an English writer and poet, wrote ‘I Claudius’ (1934) and ‘Claudius the God’ (1935.) The books are written in autobiographical form about the Roman Emperor Claudius and are taken from Claudius’s own account, as a historian who documented his own life.  Bearing in mind, Claudius was the fourth Emperor of Rome in 41-51 AD. In ‘Claudius The God’, Claudius is being treated by Xenophon, the physician.  Xenophon outlines his proposed method of curing by treating ‘like with like ‘by stating: ‘I am a native of Cos and at the Cos school of Medicine we classify diseases by their remedies which are for the most part the herbs that if consumed in great quantities produce the very symptoms that when eaten in moderate quantities they cure. Thus if a child wets his bed after the age of three or four we say ‘the child has dandelion disease.’ Dandelions eaten in large quantities produce these symptoms and a decoction of dandelions cure them.  When I first came into the room and noticed the twitch of your head and the tremor of your hand and the slightest stutter of your greeting. I summed you up at once. ‘A typical brony case’ I said to myself. Bryony, massage, diet (Graves, R: 2006.) Claudius stated: ‘Well, brony cured me, for the first time in my life I knew what it was like to be perfectly well. ‘Even though Graves’s account is written long after the event, it is allegedly taken from Claudius’s autobiography, circa, 41-51 AD.  With the adjunctive advice on diet and massage, it is truly representative of homeopathy as set out in The Organon: ‘It is an indubitable truth that there is absolutely nothing else but the totality of symptoms – including the concomitant circumstances of the case by which a disease can express its need for help. We can categorically declare that the totality of symptoms and circumstances observed in each individual case is the one and only indication that can guide us to the choice of remedy.’ (Hahnemann, 2005: 23, Aphorism 18.) I am fairly certain of the validity of this account as I fail to see why anyone would fabricate a story such as this and for what purpose. In addition, it is in keeping with other literary examples of ‘like curing like’ such as that seen in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1587) Act 1, scene 2:

‘Tut man, one fire burns out another’s burning

One pain is lessened by another’s anguish.

Turn giddy, and be helped by backward turning.

One desperate grief cures with another’s languish.

Take thou some new infection to thy eye,

And the rank poison of the old will die.’

Additionally, illustrative of ‘like curing like’ Johann Wolfgang  von Goethe,  (1749 – 1832) a great advocate of homeopathy, was seen to introduce homeopathy into his famous work ‘Faust’ (1808) via Mephistopheles, a lead character in the play: “To like things like, whatever one may ail; there’s certain help.”

Similia Similbus Curentur, the first homeopathic principle

Having alluded to some examples of this phenomenon in classical literature, it is necessary to discuss and explain exactly what it means in homeopathic terms. The derivation of the word ‘Homeopathy’ (originally homoeopathy) comes from the Greek homoeo, meaning ‘similar’, and pathos, meaning ‘suffering’. This leads on to the first principle which is ‘Similia Similbus Curentur,’ translated from the Latin as: ‘like cures like.’ This principle predates Hahnemann and in fact, goes back to ancient ayurvedic scripts. The idea/concept of ‘the law of similars’ had first been mentioned by Hippocrates (The Father of Medicine, 460-377 B.C.), then, as discussed above, by  Paracelsus (1493-1541) although Hahnemann was responsible for creating ‘Homeopathy’ as we now know it; a complete system of medicine.

Hahnemann, through much research and hands on practice, proved that a substance that can cause disease in a healthy person, can actively heal the same or similar disease in another.  Homeopathy was a result of his great disillusionment with what he termed ‘allopathic’ medicine (allos, from the Greek, meaning ‘other’) and much research on his part; starting with the proving of cinchona bark. In short, he experimented upon himself with the substance and experienced the characteristic symptoms of intermittent fever.  Cinchona in turn, was seen to cure this condition. This was the first homeopathic proving and is reminiscent of Hippocrates’ observation, ‘that which may poison, may also heal. ‘Another simple example is belladonna, used to treat high fevers, redness in the face and tongue. Were belladonna to be ingested in its raw form, the symptoms of the poisoning would be exactly this. ‘Cases of belladonna poisoning have frequently been mistaken for cases of scarlatina.  Can control and act as a prophylactic for cases presenting with smooth red surface.  When such an epidemic is about, those who may be exposed to infection may obtain almost certain immunity by taking belladonna two to three times a day. ‘(Murphy, 2006: 324.) Also, think of what happens when you are exposed to a raw onion.  Your eyes water and nose burns.  The homeopathic remedy allium cepa (made from onion) can relieve these symptoms, once again, treating ‘like with like.’ ‘A picture of coryza, with acrid nasal discharge and laryngeal symptoms, eye secretion bland; singers cold, worse in warm room and towards evening.’ (Boericke, 2004: 27.)

The task of the homeopath is to match the patients’ symptoms to the correct homeopathic remedy, specifically those that are characteristic to the patient. This is explained in aphorism 26 in the Organon, where Hahnemann affirms: ‘In the living organism a weaker, dynamic affection is permanently extinguished by a stronger one which although different in nature nevertheless, greatly resembles it in its expression.’ The simillimum is just that, totality; not partial, but a complete reflection of a state that is mentally, physically and spiritually in alignment with its subject. Whitmont (1980: 39) states: ‘The simillimium is the symbolic representation of the essentially unknown inner constitutional form-pattern.’ Transformation occurs therapeutically by taking a remedy which balances every aspect of the patient on every level, including the soul.’

It is also significant whilst discussing The Law of Similars, to remember that Hahnemann forcefully advocated the single remedy, for the totality of symptoms, (the simillimum) using words such as ‘it is inadmissible’ to prescribe more than one remedy at a time (Hahnemann H, 2005:197) Aphorism 273. This further confirms his belief in ‘like curing like.’ The reasoning and thinking behind this lies in the fact that if many remedies were prescribed at once, it would be impossible to ascertain which remedy was actually working and could massively confuse a case, given that it would no longer be close to the simillimum. It is simple common sense when we consider that each remedy is ‘proved’ individually, the combined interaction of many remedies’ at once has not been. This obviously has many similarities to where a GP of conventional medicine, prescribes single drugs for single complaints, the interaction of all these drugs, collectively untested, at times, with devastating consequences. Why should homeopathy be any different, given the powerful effects of so many of the remedy’s.? There will always be one remedy that resonates with a case more than another; wherever possible, the homeopath should go with this and it remains the case that if this pure, philosophically appropriate method of prescribing can be attained and in whilst doing so, promotes healing without other remedies being involved, we have demonstrated the dynamic power of pure, classical homeopathy, and resonance of the simillimum.

Resonance and vibration

Clearly, the law of similars, and the concepts of resonance and vibration are interconnected. Vithoulkas enlightens us here: ‘Each substance has a characteristic frequency or range of frequencies at which it most easily vibrates A homogenous substance such as a crystal or a metal tuning fork, will vibrate strongly at only one frequency, called its ‘resonant frequency’ and less strongly at its harmonic frequencies. If we strike a middle C tuning fork across the room from another middle C tuning fork the second one will vibrate in resonance to the first. If we strike a high C tuning fork across the room from a middle C tuning fork, the second one will still vibrate, at a reduced amplitude, but it will still vibrate. Thus we see that vibrations can have an effect at a distance and even at different vibration levels, but the effect will be harmonious only through the principle of resonance.’ (Vithoulkas, G, 1980:77-78). The advent of Kirlian photography where the electrodynamic field surrounding all objects, living or not has added great weight to his ideas, although this is still somewhat controversial. He goes on to discuss that should the vital force be synonymous with the electrodynamic field in the body, then it would conform to known principles in physics.

What does this mean in a homeopathic context and what is the connection? It is necessary here to focus on the vital force, an energy that is difficult to define, which has its own frequency and vibration.  Hahnemann refers to it also as ‘dynamis’, ‘vital principle’ and ‘vital energy.’ James Tyler Kent refers to it as ‘The Simple Substance,’ which is the dominating force in the organism, the absence of this force, is death.  To help with an understanding of this, energy parallels can be found in various cultures; the Ancient Chinese know The Vital Force as ‘Chi, the Japanese and Koreans as ‘Ki’ and in the ancient Sanskrit writings of India it is known as ‘Prana.’ Its very essence ‘fuels’ an organism, it is inherent in all living things, and if disrupted or disturbed can result in imbalances and disease. “The material organism without the vital force is capable of no sensation, no function, no self preservation; it derives all sensations, and performs all functions of life solely by means of the immaterial being (the vital force) which animates the material organism in health and disease.” (Hahnemann, S. 2005: 15,) Aphorism 10. The vital force responds to all stimuli, basically through resonance. Harmonious vibration occurs with similars, as Vithoulkas outlines above; it is this resonance between the remedy and the vital force that starts the healing process, based on the law of similars.  If treated allopathically however, the vital force is weakened. Hahnemann states: ‘the allopathic method which prescribes medicines having symptoms with no direct pathic relationship to the disease condition, symptoms neither similar nor opposite but completely heterogeneous…. this method plays with the life of the patient irresponsibly and murderously, with its massive doses of dangerously violent drugs of unknown action chosen upon mere conjecture.’ (Hahnemann, S: 2003:24) Aphorism 22.

Resonance beyond the physical

Kent (2005:102) further confirms resonance is more than just a physical phenomenon when discussing the law of similars by referring to a situation where a young girl is beside herself with grief following the loss of a loved one.  She is helped by the homeopathic approach (a remedy following a consultation) and profound empathy, where someone listening can identify with her grief and the experience can thus be shared.  Telling her to ‘pull herself together’ would not help to express her sadness and would lead to suppression and further illness, this therefore is the opposite to what is required for healing. An emotional bond of connectivity has been created; energy at every level is resonating with the patient both from the remedy to the empathetic support. Basically, she feels safe to ‘feel ‘and expresses her despair in her own way.

Taking this to a different, possibly (probably) contentious level, Kent (2005:183) suggests the homeopath should be ‘known as a man of honour, be believed and respected.’ He goes on in this vein stating that ‘laziness and levity will prevent the physician from going into such a state of homeopathy that will enable him to grasp the Materia Medica or to be conversant with his science.’ I feel this to be controversial and highly debatable in that I am sure there are many good doctors and homeopaths who are capable of healing, even if they are not paragons of virtue!  Statements such as this possibly account for others referring to Kent as ‘dogmatic,’ at best. However, I do understand the underlying sentiment, which is to do with purity of approach and ‘being’ so as not to ‘transfer’ a negative state in the process of the homeopathic consultation. Transference and counter transference are the central concepts in psycho analytical treatment.  Strupp (1989) describes them as such: ‘Transference is the ordinary human tendency to transfer feelings and action patterns from one significant personal relationship to another. Counter transference is the set of complementary feelings and actions which are ‘pulled out’ in response to another person’s transference.’

This is all in keeping with what is ‘energetic exchange’ which is vibration and resonance culminating in the simillimum, which is not just the remedy, but the entire experience, on every level. I feel that if the tools of healing via the homeopathic consultation are correctly implemented and a good rapport is obtained, energy will flow in accordance with the ultimate healing intention. Effective care and cure are affected directly by the best possible human interaction, in any given situation, built on a solid foundation of mutual respect and trust.

Edward Whitmont (1980) also helps us to understand the healing power of complete resonance. He recognises the resonance experienced with a pharmaceutically dynamised homeopathic remedy, the consultation, and the practitioner, as one which is an all encompassing healing experience, the law of similars vibrating through every level of consciousness, on a dynamic plane, mirroring what Kent was alluding to many years earlier. ‘We have, however, placed the law of similars into a wider context, namely into the universal dynamism of the transformation of human life through the realization of correspondence; we have placed it into the realm of the strange mystery of the effect of confrontation with the universal simile. (Whitmont, E,1980:40)

Mesmerisation

It is necessary to delve into Hahnemann’s thoughts on mesmerisation, if only briefly, in that it conveys the underlying idea of energetic exchange and touches on much of what has been discussed above.  ‘This healing force that has been foolishly denied or reviled for a whole century, is a marvelous priceless gift of God to man, by which a well intentioned man exerts his strong will over a patient without touching him, or even at some distance, in such a way that the vital force of the healthy mesmerizer gifted with this power dynamically flows into the patient.’ (Hahnemann S, 2005: 210) Aphorism 288.

It is clear, therefore that Hahnemann considered mesmerisation to be of importance, extending his views to inanimate, not easily identified energy as well as energy via a potentised remedy. He was impressed with the how Mesmer passed his hands over the patient to transfer vital energy to the afflicted areas of the body. The concept of “energy field” was important to him in his work.  This is further confirmed by Richard Hael (1922), who refers to a case in a letter to Dr Lowe in Prague, where Hahnemann is treating a young girl with scoliosis.  He proposes various appropriate remedies, adjunctive advice and completes the prescription with ‘stroking the crooked parts with mesmerizing hands has often been of use alone and should at least be used as auxillary means.’

Although Hahnemann was not apparently influenced by Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772,) a Swedish scientist, philosopher, theologian, revelator, and mystic, Kent was undeniably attracted to his philosophy. For this reason, and in the context of this work, it is relevant to discuss and explore further: ‘Kentianism is not thinkable without the Swedenborgian soil in which it grew to maturity, nor has it seemed able to grow or develop further since it largely lost with this nutrient and sustaining environment.’ (Twentyman, R: 1978:2)

Swedenborg

To clarify; the first point of between Swedenborgian thought and homeopathy is the concept that Swedenborg called correspondence and Hahnemann referred to as similarity. The scope of this article does not allow for in-depth analysis of Swedenborgian philosophy, however the key features are a focus on the universal laws of spiritual life. The following is a summary of some of these basic principles, greatly simplified but pertinent:

Thompson (2015)

Swedenborgian Homeopaths

Aside from Kent, other famous Swedenborgian homeopaths were Hering, Boericke, Tafel, Farrington and many others. One of the first homoeopaths in the US was a Swedenborgian: Hans Burch Gram (1786 to 1849). He lived in Boston. He believed that Swedenborg’s writings were much closer to homeopathic principles than the work of Mesmer. Swedenborg felt that everything corresponded to something in the spiritual world, including disease. Swedenborgians began to develop the concept that disease had a spiritual origin rather than a physical one. The mind, as we are aware, is top of the hierarchy of symptoms in homeopathy, the totality of symptoms leading to the simillimum, the objective; it is therefore hard to deny any association and link between Swedenborg’s philosophy and that of homeopathy.

Swedenborg, William Blake and the connection to homeopathy

As alluded to in the first paragraph of this article, an interesting parallel can be drawn here between Swedenborg, homeopathy and poetry. Swedenborg was a major influence on the young William Blake who would philosophically follow in his path. His influence is also evident in the works of Goethe, Baudelaire and many American Literature authors such as Henry James. However, it is wonderful to focus briefly on Blake and his poem ‘Auguries of Innocence.’ Swedenborgian philosophy is embedded deeply into the essence of this poem, inviting homeopathic interpretation. (I would stress that these are just my personal thoughts here, and interesting from a homeopaths point of view given Swedenborg’s influence on so many other artists in addition to homeopaths.  I have no idea of Blake’s view on homeopathy, or his intentions in this regard.)  To explain this connection further, the word ‘augury’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘a sign of things to come; an omen.’ In relation to homeopathy, I feel it could be construed as a warning to revert to a state of innocence, to the natural, pure approach, at every level, including the divine and spiritual, untainted by the potential corruption of modern day, allopathic medicine.

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour

The first two lines could be interpreted as seeing the world through the third eye, the esoterical eye of ‘vision’ that is not physical, but transcends explanation, as a sixth sense, to see beyond. ‘To see the world in a grain of sand’ in a homeopathic context could refer to seeing the entire constitutional picture and everything involved in it; the whole constitutional picture. ‘And heaven in a wild flower,’ possibly alluding to the spiritual dimension of a case, so peculiar to Swedenborg, thus his influence here on Blake. ‘Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,’ could be seen as a reference to infinitesimal dose of a remedy and the endless possibilities this could lead to in terms of healing. ‘Eternity in an hour.’ This final line of the first verse alluding possibly to the homeopathic consultation, and arriving at the simillimuum which could change someone’s life.

One of the paradoxes in the poem is the idea of attempting to hold infinity in a fixed, confined space. ‘Infinity’ is an abstract idea that is not tangible and, therefore, cannot be held or contained in anything. Another paradox involves holding eternity, an infinite concept, in a single hour, which is finite. As stated above, these two concepts are unfathomable to traditional human understanding. Aside from the complexities in understanding, I am reminded of the often unfathomable infinitesimal dose of a remedy in homeopathy, as stated before, which is emphasised by the use of words such as ‘eternity’ and infinity. Not easily understood, yet dynamically powerful in a way that defies traditional understanding. Further demonstrated toward the end of the poem, the ever present paradoxes, which flow, glaringly, almost self righteously, repetitiously as if to warn of impending doom, should the reader not listen to the warnings that to abuse the vulnerable and innocent would result in devastation.

Every morn and every night

Some are born to sweet delight

Some are born to sweet delight

Some are born to endless night

Some are born to sweet delight

Some are born to endless night

Law of similars in conventional medicine

This study would not be complete without reference to examples of the Law of Similars being evident in other fields of Medicine As this list is long, I will briefly mention the main examples as cited by Dr Nancy Malik (2011.)

  • In 1798, Edward Jenner introduced vaccination, based on similar principles of using ‘like curing like’ although the method of production is not homeopathic.
  • Digitalis for heart conditions; digitalis when ingested in crude form causes heart conditions
  • Hyoscyamine (an alkaloid of Hyoscyamus, in homeopathy we have medicine by the name Hyoscyamus Niger) is today given to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel, which very symptoms it produces in both toxicological and provings records
  • Quinine (derived from Cinchona bark) given in daily doses to a healthy person can cause symptoms similar to malaria. Indeed, the Cinchona Officinalis, a homeopathic medicine prepared from cinchona bark, is curative in many patients with malaria.
  • White Hellebore, in large doses, causes violent purging that leads to severe dehydration-symptoms similar to cholera. Veratrum Album, a homeopathic medicine prepared from White Hellebore is effective against cholera
  • Ritalin a. Dexamphetamine and Methylphenidate hydrochloride, are amphetamines we know as Ritalin, (psycho-stimulant, a substance that would normally cause hyperactivity) chemically identical to cocaine. Conventional medicine gives this “stimulant” to treat hyperactivity in children.
  • Snake venom Anti-venom against snake bite prepared from snake venom (isopathy.)
  • Radiation to treat people with cancer (radiation causes cancer)

It is important to realize though, that where conventional medicine does apply the concept of the law of similars, it is invariably seen to cause iatrogenic disease as the dose is often too strong. One example of this is where radiation is used in cancer treatment.  As we know, radiation is a strong carcinogen.  When used in the treatment of cancer, the dose applied is potentially dangerous, at best, particularly if not gauged correctly.

Conclusion

The following words are taken from Constantine Herings’ foreword to Hahnemann’s Chronic diseases: ‘To him who believes that there may yet be truths which he does not know and which he desires to know, will be pointed out such paths as will lead him to the light he needs. If he who has sincere benevolence and wishes to work for the benefit of all be considered by Providence a fit instrument for the accomplishment of the divine will, he will be called upon to fulfill his mission and will be led to truth evermore. It is the spirit of Truth that tries to unite us all; but the father of Lies keeps us separate and divided (Hering,1845; cited by Francis Treuherz and Sylvia Cazalet, 2004).

About the author

Gill Graham

Gill Graham

Gill Graham BSc (Hons), BA (Hons), DHMHS, RSHom lives and practices, for most of the time in rural North Buckinghamshire, England. The rest of the time she lives in Toronto, Canada. She graduated from Purton House School of Homeopathy (University of West London) in 2009. She went on to do a 'Special Advanced Graduate Program' at The Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine. Over the last seventeen years she has qualified in, and practiced many other holistic therapies and is constantly updating her knowledge in the field of complimentary medicine. She has a passion for writing, both professionally, and creatively. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Applied Research in Homeopathy Foundation of Canada (www.ARHFC.ca).

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