Misha Norland is one of the founding fathers of the resurgence in homeopathy in England. He has written two books in which he gathers together and fuses ancient wisdom with contemporary ideas. These ideas, some of which he himself has helped to develop, are currently enhancing the success of classical homeopathy. These books presents us with two views that will aid practitioners perceive the central dynamics of a case in respect of miasms, elements and temperaments and also are a guide to potency selection.
Misha, drawing on 35 years in practice and 30 years as a teacher, shows how we are able to view symptoms not as isolated phenomena, but as interrelated segments of a developing pathological process. Not only do his books help the practitioner organize symptoms they also assists in opening doors to symbolic and imaginal worlds, thereby viewing illness as a journey. Several cases and in-depth discussions, proving data and unfolded material medica, illustrate Misha’s thinking and show the reader how we can see into the very heart of an individual’s pathology, guiding us to understanding what is to be cured and finding the homeopathic simillimum.
Linking the dynamic disturbance in a patient to the remedy source, or signature, is at the core of these works because the uncompensated, primitive state of the disease can be matched up with the signature of the remedy. The signature provides us with the surest way, the most direct route to finding the simillimum.
In the beginning, when the disease entered the patient and made a take-over bid for control of the vital force, attempting as it were, to impress the host organism with its will, then the host submitted more or less passively to the disease. This is represented by the primary, acute response, which, should the disease be congenital, is experienced by the mother and may result in miscarriage, or at a less drastic level of response, distorted functional changes such as unusual cravings or aversions. If the patient survives, then secondary action, unaided by remedies, should vanquish the disease. However, because of innate susceptibility, due to miasmatic and congenital factors, this exteriorisation does not occur often enough (indeed is usually suppressed by drugs and inoculations) and so the slate is not cleared. Then, the disease remains within. Now, both it and the patient struggle to be in control. The disease state may be viewed quite literally, as a spirit possession. The dialogue between the two entities express as symptoms. Of these symptoms the most idiosyncratic (SRP) are our surest guide to a curative remedy. As we know, this was pointed out by Hahnemann in paragraph 153. However, this symptom, to be fully fledged, should be an expression which originates from the unconscious, and is therefore an automatic, pre-verbal response of mind and body at 4 levels i.e. Level 1, vital energy; 2, image; 3, unconscious gesture; 4, sensation in the body. When at least two of these levels match up and are expressive of the same state, then we may be pretty sure that we are witnessing the SPR disease entity. This entity is best known by its signature, because this is what it is before the complexities of secondary functioning (active and passive) and compensation set in.
Finally, it may be envisioned that the distortion, which as homeopaths we recognize as the simillimum, is that which activates incarnation. This is because, in perfect health, the being is there, aware and responsive to its surroundings; however, that awareness is not attached to a past while it is in the present. It is not that the awareness does not have a past, for obviously it does, memories are there, and however they do not present themselves as an imperative requiring action. Action, if such a response is required, arises spontaneously, without reference to past trauma or happiness. As a corollary, we note that this awareness does not project itself upon a future: it is free of miasmatic constraints, free of anxiety, desire or aversion. Because this awareness does not project itself upon a future, it creates no future, in other words, it does not require an incarnation. Tibetan Lamas explain that their Rinpoches consciously choose reincarnation as an act of compassion.
This vision of health and the genesis of disease may be of value to a homeopath because it helps to unscramble the frequently voiced dilemma of whether we should treat constitutional symptoms or disease symptoms. This vision leads us upon the route of treating them as a conjoined pair because, in health, the person and the awareness exist together in the present, while the disease is that which deviates that awareness. So, disease is indeed similar to a spirit possession by the spiritual potency of the simillimum, which once eliminated leaves the awareness free to fulfil the higher purposes of its existence without being divided between pleasure and pain, desire and aversion or loves and hates, as Kent put it.
With regard to the higher purposes of existence, Hahnemann makes no specific commentary. Perhaps in his day and culture, this was not necessary, because seeking God was considered the norm. Without this spiritual quest, only the gross material realm remains in a person’s awareness – an impoverishment of the soul. I am reminded of a story of a patient of Bernard Jensen who was relieved of his tremor through naturopathic treatment and went on to successfully crack safes until he was eventually apprehended and jailed. The news flash of this event set the good doctor to thinking! Subsequently he signed his books, adding “Seek the higher things in life.” In other words, abatement of the tremor did not constitute a complete cure because it did not include the plane of awareness from which ethics and moral behaviour emerge. I have noticed, especially in pediatrics, that we get to this level when we find the simillimum. Not only does Hering’s ‘Law of Cure’ unfold before us, the patient becomes un-conflicted. When there is no conflict spontaneous action arises AND it is beyond the dipoles of pleasure and pain, desire and aversion. It is, as we might say, beyond the miasms. But that is the topic of my book, ‘Signatures, Miasms, AIDS.’ Suffice it to say, that ‘beyond miasms’ implies freedom which steers an individual along paths of wise, truthful action leading to manifestations of beauty and compassion through grace. This arises because freedom operates as does light vanquishing darkness. Open a door to sunshine and shadows naturally dissolve. This is the state of being in grace – our spiritual birthright – true health.
I am often asked about spirituality and even enlightenment. Beyond this experience there is the void with no past or future, yet so full of everything…. however homeopathy and health do not of themselves take a person there…. some, given perseverance, courage (instruction helps) and destiny, at an appropriate time and place….
Extracted from four elements in homeopathy:
Elemental levels of being, including Ether
The idea of correspondence between heaven and earth was central to the alchemists. “As above, so below” is the primary statement of The Emerald Tablet of Hermes, a seminal text of the alchemical tradition.
‘As it is above’ – the journey of spirit into Earthly form
1. Etheric energy – is immaterial, revealing itself through non-verbal, telepathic resonance, and takes form as intuition.
2. Elemental Fire – almost immaterial, the energy of combustion, heat and light, reveals itself to us as images.
3. Elemental Air – dense enough to fly in, reveals itself as thoughts. These are products of the intellect, representing our discriminative awareness ‘playing over’ our experiences and memories. Also communication of information and ideas, language and speech conveyed through air.
4. Elemental Water – yet denser, to swim in, reveals itself as feelings. These inform us of our likes and dislikes. Many memories, especially habits of preference, are ‘held’ at this level.
5. Elemental Earth – solid, to build with, reveals itself as sensations. These are experienced in the body directly by the five senses. Primal memories are also ‘held’ at this level. Physical pathology is the final outcome of derangements of the above elemental levels.
‘So it is below’ – spirit grounded in matter
1st level – Elemental Ether
Elemental Ether is apprehended as direct, non-verbal experience. Like a telepathic resonance, Ether is related more to the ‘vibrating fields of energy’ referred to by quantum physicists, than to matter. At the Etheric level we experience directly what is there. In the therapeutic setting, it is understood to arise out of the ‘seed-state’ of the disease and communicates its primal being, its disease signature spontaneously. This is analogous to a remedy’s signature, which is expressed by the substance’s experience of being what it is. This is of course, the ‘like cures like’ principle in action – more than that; it is why homeopathy works – because signatures of substances and diseases match up in their original seed states, as “vibrating fields of energy”. In health, Elemental Ether manifests as intuitions and clairvoyance and gives us insights into these interior seed states. In diseases these are the very features that we are in search of. We often get gestures from this level (that is from Etheric energy manifesting in lower levels), and images (from Etheric energy manifesting in the 2nd level of Fire).
2nd level – Elemental Fire
Elemental Fire links to images. It is chiefly through intuition and clairvoyance (literally, ‘clear vision’) that spirit mediated through the Etheric level, unhesitatingly expressing itself in Elemental Fire as image. This can be seen because Fire illuminates, as well as heats. The heating aspect is related to passion and desire, such as are enacted in religious rituals, where the holy image is revealed upon the altar, and participants reconnect with spirit. There is an equally compelling sexual expression, where the imagery is erotic. This aspect of passion (Fire) is easy to market and exploit in our society where attention is focused upon the material world. It is also in the form of images that many experiences and their associated sensations and feelings are stored as pictorial memories. References to images are mostly found in the Repertory in dreams, fears, delusions and delirium sections. Here the boundaries of consciousness and sub-consciousness are blurred. Our dreams ‘speak to us’ in pictures, while we literally talk in images whenever we use a simile or a poetic analogy. In drawings, especially children’s fantasy sketches, images abound. They are also expressed in adult’s doodles when exacting attention upon an object’s form is quiescent. As with dreams their significance can be revealed using association and imaginative amplification. It is primarily through images that intuition, clairvoyance and the spirit world manifest to us.
Intuition and clairvoyance? Differentiate by reason. This leads to the next level.
3rd level – Elemental Air
Elemental Air links to thoughts. These are products of the intellect, that discriminative faculty which decides that something is this and not that. Examples of malfunction include confusion, being lost in thought, deviations of memory and dyslexic communication. Delusions and delirium states give rise to distorted thoughts and confused awareness, while clear thinking helps us stay in touch with, and navigate according to ‘the higher purposes of our existence’ as stated in paragraph 9 in Hahnemann’s Organon.
Once we have established the truth of our intuition, we can respond appropriately, that is, in the way of Homo sapiens (thinking humans), and then cross the threshold (with human confidence) into the more primitive, survival-oriented, world of feelings. Feelings ascertain whether a thing suits us or not, whether we wish to accept it or not. This function has been developed and championed by animals.
4th level – Elemental Water
Elemental Water links to feelings that arise in response to energy, sensations, thoughts and their associated images and memories. Our empathetic resonance with each other and with animals is a feeling response brought to us by Elemental Ether. Feelings include love, joy, rage, grief, jealousy, isolation – they manifest as emotion giving rise to actions (primary emotion). When suppressed, emotions turn inwards upon themselves (secondary or compensated state). Secondary feelings and emotions are complex derivations of the primary, uncompensated source – this can make them difficult to navigate and of lesser value to the prescriber.
Just as intuition mediated by thinking and feeling, takes care of the soul, so instincts take care of the body. Instincts are experienced as sensations which in turn drive actions and gestures. The organs of locomotion and in humans, the hands, are directly expressive of instinctive will and of feelings as emotions. I like to imagine that the energy ‘E’ of feelings motion equals e-motion. For this reason, gestures and body language are worthy of the case receiver’s closest attention.
5th level – Elemental Earth
Elemental Earth is experienced in the body physically as sensations, directly by the senses or indirectly through body memories. Sensations include descriptions of pain, such as clawing, shattered, as well as experiences of the other organs of sense, such as reeling, red, shrill, sour or putrid.
The material level or corporeal Earth is where the five different elements all meet and manifest. As they play out into the body, if each is not balanced, physical pathology is the result, its exact expression depending upon the imbalance of the different elements.
Group and dream provings and the five elemental levels
Increasingly, work has been done over the last twenty years in the field of dream provings in group settings. Here, remedies’ effects are noted specifically at level 2 (images). At the School of Homeopathy, we have regularly carried out full Hahnemannian group provings since the early 90’s. Obviously, provers respond according to their individual susceptibility, but those who do not take the pill and are susceptible, are also affected. This is best explained by supposing that the entire group resonate with the energy via the etheric field (level 1) of the remedy. We allow the group to sit with their experiences after taking, or not taking the pill. Within the first minutes susceptible individuals experience sensations (level 5) and images (level 2). Usually, it is only later that thoughts arise and emotions are felt. In other words, image and sensation are the primary data. We will return to this finding later, when we discuss what is most useful in receiving and analysing a case.
On potency selection
Of particular value to the prescriber is the relationship of the elemental levels to potency. Of course there are other considerations which may modify this choice. At the very least, we should note the cautionary injunction to lower potency where there is frank physical pathology threatening the well being of the patient. As Elizabeth Hubbard-Wright has written, “Do not blow the fuse with too high a voltage!”
We will begin our series starting with Elemental level 1: Ether, (MM and CM potencies), where spiritual influx directly informs matter, and move through to 5: Earth, (mother tincture and low potencies). We will be using the potency scale that was first propounded by Kent in reverse order. We are choosing this because it is the most familiar.
Patients who operate at level 1, elemental Ether, harmonise with the highest potencies MM and CM. Here the expression is instantly of spirit-energy into matter-body. Children and vital, un-medicated old people often operate at this level and respond well to remedies at the highest potencies. These may also be of service in the most acute situations, such as a life/death encounter, where maximum energy must be expended for survival, no matter what the later repair cost may be to the organism. For instance, a high fever in a child may give rise to convulsions and destruction of innumerable brain cells, in the process of vanquishing invading bacteria. This expression of disease is direct and uncompensated. We see and intuitively recognise the signature.
Patients who operate at level 2, elemental Fire, also do well on high potencies: 10M and above. Elemental Fire communicates in images; intuitions are rendered visible, and as in the case of ether, the person experiences the world spontaneously. When questioning about a thing, they want to ascertain, “where did ‘it’ came from? Where is ‘it’ going?” They often see things in terms of connections. In health, they are passionate, ardent and motivated. If they are sexually active, then this expression is direct and uncompensated, likewise their connection with spirit is direct. HEAT (passion) and LIGHT (image) are the key concepts.
Patients who operate at level 3, elemental Air, do well on medium to high potencies: 200c to 10M. Elemental air is primarily associated with thinking – seeking knowledge through discrimination - working out that something is this and not that. They often ask, “what is ‘it’? How can I understand ‘it’?” They instinctively view things in terms of concepts and theories. This is not to say that they are necessarily gifted analysts, for stupidity and wisdom are no more than the – and + of a similar attribute. The dark side of elemental air, because it operates by division and subtraction (from the elemental Fire above it, where intuitions give rise to instant illumination), manifests in delusions of death, of separation, of fears and terrors, of the various realms of hell. In these instances communication (a primary Air function) breaks down and feelings of isolation predominate. COLD (as in cold reason, cold hearted, emotionally indifferent) and DARK (as in unconscious) are key concepts.
Patients who operate at level 4, elemental Water, do well on lower potencies: 200c and below. Elemental Water is primarily associated with feeling. These patients instinctively seek meaning by dissolving and merging; they exhibit alternating and varied moods and their lives are led by their emotions. They want to ascertain, “does ‘it’ suit me or not? Do I accept ‘it’ or not?” LIQUID or FLUID is the key-concept.
Patients who operate at level 5, elemental Earth, do well on low potencies: 30c to mother tinctures. These patients seek meaning by developing safe structures and adopting fixed attitudes. They present by knowing facts and details and by endlessly naming things. They want to ascertain, “is ‘it’ really there? Is ‘it’ a fact? What is ‘it’ called?” SOLID and FIXED are the key concepts.