Reviewed by edi mottershead
The published provings of the Lac Loxodonta (elephant’s milk), Lac Leoninum (Lion’s milk), Lac Equinum (Horse’s milk), Lac Lupinum (Wolf ‘s milk), Lac Delphinum (Dolphin’s milk), Myosaurus Lapidea (Dinosaur bone), Lemenitis Bredowii (Butterfly), and Sanguis Soricis (Rat’s blood).
Nancy Herrick has just completed her long-awaited book on animal provings and it was with some excitement that I was given the chance to read and review it for the Journal. Herrick has been in practice for over twenty years, is a founding member of the Hering and Hahnemann Clinics, an early student of George Vithoulkas, an inspiring teacher at Hahnemann College, and has taught seminars and short intensives internationally; but one of the most daunting and labor intensive projects in which she has been involved has been the organization, development, and publishing of these eight animal provings. She was inspired to prove more of the mammals by the fact that we only had fourteen of them in use, out of over two-thousand remedies.
Her inspiration to undertake the provings came also from her work with Rajan Sankaran in India, and from a prompting by Dr. J.T. Kent, who said:
“All the milks should be potentized, they are our most excellent remedies; they are animal products and foods of early animal life and therefore correspond to the beginning of our innermost physical nature.”
After completing the huge task of proving these remedies, Herrick recognized the importance of disseminating the proving results throughout the homeopathic community. Since many of the remedies had already been in use, it was clear many practitioners would benefit from having access to the symptoms elicited during the provings.
The Introduction to Animal Minds, Human Voices includes useful information on the procedures used to carry out the provings. The methodology was synthesized from the experience of other provings and combined with Herrick’s systematic approach to conducting a thorough and reliable proving project. She was fortunate enough to draw on a fairly large population of homeopaths, students of homeopathy, patients, relatives, and friends who were familiar with the detailed observation and reporting required of all provers. Each participant was given the 30c potency and took the first dose on the same day. The provers and their supervisors had no knowledge of the substances they were proving and were instructed to record any new or unusual symptoms or activity they noticed at anytime during the following three weeks. Some noticed symptoms immediately, others never noticed anything, even after taking two additional doses.
Herrick highlights some of the interesting perceptions that came out of the provings in general; when coming together at the end of the three weeks for the proving meeting, there were common desires, such as wanting to be out in the woods at night during the rat’s blood proving. The provers’ dreams were considered as part of the provings and were illuminating insofar as they revealed many of the emotional aspects of the substances proved.
Herrick instructively shares several insights about how to undertake a successful proving, emphasizing the need to; treasure the provers, carefully select the substances, thoughtful use of rubric language, and making a thorough job of the project, which includes publishing the results.
The provings are laid out in a systematic manner, helpful for easy referencing by the curious homeopath. For each of the eight animals, there are four sections: The Animal, including a description of the animal, details about the source of the substance, and an analysis of the proving; The Themes, which are a reflection of common themes experienced in the symptoms of the provers; The Rubrics, the provers’ symptoms put into rubric language; and The Provers’ Journals, which are reproduced as written by the participants. I was impressed by the emphasis on, and thoroughness of, the animal descriptions; explanations about the history of the animal’s relationship with humans with an interpretation of the creature’s emotional state, as documented by animal behaviorists, and referenced in an extensive bibliography.
The themes are well thought out and documented by the provers’ journals, and have not been overworked in the editing process. The author invites the reader to submit to her any additional perceptions and clinical experiences relating to the remedies.
I found the themes extracted from the provings to be thought provoking. One theme from the butterfly proving was feelings from childhood and adolescence: dreams of being an adolescent and realizing that adults don’t have all the answers; feeling anxious, unsettled, indignant about finding the right answer; a dream of being a teenager and having to wear the ‘right’ clothes.
Another related theme was that of a child feeling unprotected by adults; a dream of an approaching tidal wave with the adults directing the kids to wait outside of the safety zone, causing the dreamer to wonder “don’t they know it isn’t safe out here?”
The butterfly proving evoked pleasurable sensations of joy that come from the lightness of feeling love for ourselves and others. Some excerpts from the provers’ journals during the butterfly proving include: “Sensation of the heart chakra being very open. Experienced a deep sense of compassion, feeling of joy for other people’s happiness; Very spontaneous feeling of pleasure. Felt incredible, loving feelings towards my family, towards my kids and my husband. Really a delight, wonderful. Peaceful, happy, easy going.”
The horse proving (Lac equinum), on the other hand, elicited a level of frustration and anger that may relate to the subjugation of the species by humans over thousands of years, having been extracted from their natural herd life and forced to serve humans as the “beast of burden” in a sense. One prover felt “frustrated and overwhelmed by everything. Wanted to quit school, quit work, stay home and do nothing, get divorced…[F]inally took a 30c dose of my constitutional remedy and felt immediate improvement in mood, energy, sex drive.”
In the analysis of the Lac equinum proving, Herrick writes about the intense unhappiness and frustration that surfaced and how difficult it was for some of the provers to endure. Reports of tension, impatience and disharmony in their daily lives was a common experience to the provers, some of whom even observed a desire for confrontation. Lac equinum sounds like a useful remedy for our time.
The dolphin’s milk proving brought out some well-known aspects of the dolphin’s gregarious and fun-loving nature. Many of the provers had experiences or dreams in which they were calm during a dangerous event. This can be analogized to the dolphin’s need for constant vigilance in the open sea, even during sleep. One prover experienced an amelioration of her fear of burglaries and general feeling of being unsafe. Dolphins reportedly have the ability to rest one side of the brain at a time, keeping one eye open for danger. Interestingly, many provers had a difficult time sleeping deeply, had great restlessness and felt unrefreshed in the morning. Some excerpts from the rubric extractions include: MIND, DANGER, surrounded by, yet calm; MIND, DELUSIONS, enemies, surrounded by; MIND, PLAY, desire to, playful in the water; EXTREMETIES, Pain, cramp-like, calf, walking aggravates; STOMACH, Nausea, while walking; and, SLEEP, SEMI-CONSCIOUS, hears everything.
I highly recommend this book to homeopaths who may be open to adding several exciting new, proven remedies to their repertoire. Reading these provings may prompt us to experience a renewed, if not deeper, understanding of the ways in which our treatment of the earth, and her creature inhabitants, may be adversely affecting the animals’ energetic patterns. There is a temptation to invent possible reasons for using the animal remedies, sentimentalizing them or anthropomorphizing them. New remedies can be used for the wrong reasons if they are not clearly understood by this type of reliable proving with well-published results.
Nancy Herrick has made a great contribution to homeopathy; her book will serve as an inspiration to the homeopathic community to continue reaching out in search of additional substances to prove so that our armamentarium may continue to grow in the interest of all those in need of profound healing.
ANIMAL MINDS, HUMAN VOICES, by Nancy Herrick, is available by mail order through: Hahnemann Clinic Publishing, 19775 New Rome Rd. Nevada City, CA 95959, 530-265-3856. Cost: $39.95 plus shipping of $4.25 + tax in California.
Edi Mottershead has been studying homeopathy since 1979 and practicing since her graduation from Hahnemann College of Homeopathy in 1991. She has a family practice in El Cerrito, California.