This article is reprinted from the Spring/Summer 2004 Edition of Homeopathy Now with permission from Jo Twiss with the West Coast Homeopathic Society.
Signatures Miasms AIDS - Spiritual Aspects of Homeopathy
by Misha Norland (with Claire Robinson)
Yondercott Press, UK, 2003,
Paperback, pp229, ISBN 0954476603.
Reviewed by Donna PowersyTwo subjects that have often been alluded to during my homeopathic studies are the Doctrine of Signatures and alchemy. I have very loosely understood the idea of the Doctrine of Signatures from Paracelsus, as quoted in Yasgur's Homeopathic Dictionary and Holistic Health Reference: God would not place a disease upon the Earth without providing a cure for it, and a clue to the cure's identity. He places a signature upon it by making remedies resemble the organs or maladies they can cure.
Or, as Yasgur's explains: "external characteristics (including color) of a substance serve to indicate possible therapeutic effects, e.g. Euphrasia is a good remedy for the eyes, because it has a black spot in its corolla which looks like a pupil"
But I was never really sure, beyond obvious physical characteristics as noted above, how one came to really understand this concept and use it in practice.
The idea of alchemy, also, was not new to me but I wasn't entirely sure that I understood its use in terms of practice.
(Dreams, Symbols & Homeopathy by Jane Cicchetti is also extremely helpful in understanding the idea of alchemy).
Yasgur's definition of alchemy was about the extent of my understanding: "a form of chemistry, speculative philosophy or occultism, practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, concerned with discovering methods for transmuting metals of a lesser value into gold or silver."
And there is a quote from Paracelsus later on in Yasgur's Dictionary: As nature is extremely subtle and penetrating in her manifestation, she cannot be used without the Art. In- deed, she does not produce anything that is perfect in itself, but man must make it perfect, and this perfecting is called alchemy.
Being an idea person, I could speculate as to how this might be useful in my homeopathic practice as I search for the "holy grail" of perfection - that being the simillimum - but I think this is not what is meant. . . So what a delight to read Misha's introduction to his book: "Signatures Miasms AIDS shows how a deeper knowledge of two key concepts in homeopathic theory - miasms and the doctrine of signatures - can enrich our understanding of remedies and the states we encounter in our patients."
The first part of his book very clearly and simply takes the reader through the history of the idea of the Doctrine of Signatures from Paracelsus to Jacob Boehme to Swedenborg to James Tyler Kent. His writing is efficient and illuminating. Within the first 3 pages I had a much more expanded view of the idea
ofthe Doctrine of Signatures and by the fourth page, I understood its use- fulness in terms of knowing remedies and "knowing" patients.
Knowledge of a remedy's signature is not merely a theoretical exercise that enables us to speculate about its homeopathic uses. The signature can give us a direct path through the myriad proving symptoms of that remedy. . . the signature cuts through a remedy's many seemingly disconnected physical and mental symptoms to reveal the main themes and essence.
In Chapter 3 of Part 1, Misha again, succinctly lays out the "three pillars of homeopathy" (Law of Similars;
potentisation of remedies and minimum dose; the life force or dynamis)
and the principles of the "hermetic world view", of which alchemy is a part. He then moves in and out of different philosophies and expertly weaves them together into a cohesive whole. He has the ability to condense an immense amount of history and
information about a huge subject into a very readable format that makes a great deal of sense. He brings so much clarity to these ideas that I feel like I have a much better understanding of concepts that I have heard about in classes and seminars but not always understood. Within all of this, Misha relates these philosophies to understanding Hahnemann's Organon in an exquisite way - so many ideas and basic concepts, simply illuminated.
Another topic much in the forefront is the concept of miasms. Chapter 4 of Part 1 discusses this in depth but again with a simplicity that brings together history, philosophy of both homeopathy and other traditions, and also stories that enhance and expand our understanding of homeopathic principles into one unit.
Hahnemann was almost certainly unfamiliar with the Buddha's teachings. However, it is no surprise that great souls looking at the territory of human suffering would come up with similar maps. Psora is characterized by illusion and ignorance of the essential unity of life.
He then goes on to make the connections between Buddha's fire sermon and how we can use it to understand the Psoric miasm. Later in Chapter 5, while discussing miasms in clinical practice, he draws a distinction between Hahnemann's "generalized definition" and Sankaran's "formulation of miasms" that I found very helpful.
In Part 2 of his book, Misha does a brilliant job of taking the reader through many of the well-known polychrests (Yasgur's: "a remedy whose provings and clinical applications show that it has many widespread uses, covering a wide variety of mental, emotional and physical symptomatology"), illustrating the usefulness of the Doctrine of Signatures in understanding the remedy and the states they produce.
For a student of homeopathy, this book is exceptional in its discussion of homeopathic theory, philosophy, and concepts that can be a challenge when reading the classic texts. For the experienced homeopath, there is much here that is like reading a great literary classic - a rich creation of images, analogies, history, and ideas. For both student and experienced practitioner, there is a whole section given to understanding polychrest remedies in the context of the Doctrine of Signature and miasms, bringing yet another way to look at some "familiar" remedies.
And as if this were not enough, Misha has included provings of Falco peregri- nus (Peregrine falcon) and AIDS, a truly beautiful conclusion to a book that offers a rich balance of the art and science of homeopathy.
Yasgur, Jay. Yasgur's Homeopathic Dic- tionary and Holistic Health Reference. Van Hoy Publishers, Greenville, PA. 1998.
Donna Powers, DCH practices in Calgary. AB and appreciates writers who can weave story, science, history. and psychology into a lovely. logical read!