AvdM: Some homeopaths claim that homeopathy resembles shamanism, what is your view on this?
AV: They might be right! I am not too familiar with shamanism as a personal experience but I have read of course about it and as an anthropologist it is hard not to see it. Shamanism seems to be universal and very ‘alive and kicking’ in most areas of the world. Sometimes it is closely linked to modern visions of therapies; often it operates in the background or it sits in the dark where it is invisible, denied or overlooked. Nevertheless, it is the oldest tradition on earth. Alchemy was the leading science for hundreds of years, not only in Europe but in the Arab world as well. Many books have been written on the works of Paracelsus and it is a fact that Hahnemann was familiar with this.
AvdM: The idea of potentizing is often explained by this alchemistical background of homeopathy, but is it the same as shamanism?
AV: Maybe I define shamanism in a too broad a way but I would think that working with the elements and entities from the second dimension is both alchemistic and shamanistic.
AvdM: What do you mean?
AV: I have to elaborate a bit on the fact that the human being is a multilayered creature. All kinds of schools and systems in the field of religion, philosophy and science share a vision that man consists of more than his physical body. How many subtle bodies or layers they distinguish differ but they agree there are at least three and some even claim there are 13!
AvdM: A common expression of that nowadays is that we need our feet on the ground!
AV: And I would say that we already have our feet on the ground. It would be very surprising if we didn’t.
AvdM: Yes, it would be: that person would be probably revered as a saint; a person on his way to higher dimensions! By being grounded I mean connected to our daily practices.
AV: Do you think ‘being grounded’ could be understood as an attempt to stay connected to the first and second dimension? The first dimension, the core of the earth, is said to be a huge rectangular iron crystal that is magnetic and keeps everything in place, so to speak. The magnetic grid on the surface, the ley lines, aids this purpose and we resonate with the first dimension through the iron in our blood.23 The second dimension is the field between the core and the surface. This dark and dense world contains all the elements, the ores, the minerals and metals, the raw materials and the primitive forms of life and microorganisms24. We are connected to the second dimension and since our balance and vitality depend on it, we’d better live in harmony with it.
AvdM: I never thought about it that way but it is amazing that our physical body indeed is made up of all those elements.
AV: And they all have a material aspect and an energetic or etheric aspect as well! We are used to considering the elements as inanimate, this in contrast to animate beings, like dead in contrast to living.
23 Lionel Milgrom, (Lecture: The Life of Iron, Barbara Hand Clow: Alchemy of Nine Dimensions.
24 Thomas Gold, The Deep Hot Biosphere
AvdM: Like the Periodic Table is the chart of inorganic chemistry in contrast to the organic chemistry by which we mean carbon chemistry. Again the field of the living.
AV: Indeed. In my understanding this is an arbitrary category, we talked about this before. It is practical to work with but it doesn’t exist in ‘reality’. When one sees a bigger picture, the divisions of the smaller one disappear. It’s a bit like looking at a tapestry with your nose on the fabric; you will see a vertical line and a horizontal line and you conclude that everything needs to cross in order to exist. When you take a little distance, you will see longer lines going into infinity to the left and the right, up and down. When you take another step backwards, you’ll see that reality seems to make a pattern with different colors and motives and when you go even further away, you see the whole picture of the carpet and how everything is interwoven and contributes to one thing.
AvdM: Do you mean there is no such thing as inanimate or inorganic?
AV: That is what I think. To me, the mountain is as alive as you and I are, but in another time frame and stage in its existence. But it is a coherent entity and thus ‘exists’ because it is held into existence by an idea, a thought or a concept. It is orderly and consistent, as everything is in the universe. Even stars and planets do not bump into each other all of the time but find a certain balance. In the same way, the cells in our body don’t behave in a chaotic way but do precisely what they are supposed to do to keep this bigger organism coherent. I’d say the mountain is kept coherent and this applies to the elements, like bacteria and viruses, as well!
AvdM: I thought bacteria and viruses only lived on the surface of the earth because they need oxygen and sunlight.
AV: This was always believed but the facts are different. In the deep of the ocean an abundance of animal life is found which can’t be living on photosynthesized carbohydrates. Hence, they must get their energy elsewhere, from another source. This source seems to be the microbes that live on chemical energy. Because scientists didn’t believe life under the surface was possible, they didn’t really look for it. Nevertheless, there are findings of bacteria, meaning life, at great depths where no sunlight or oxygen ever reaches. It is even likely the case that the oil we are digging isn’t actually from plant origin but from bacterial origin and as a consequence we are looking at an inexhaustible supply.
AvdM: Are you serious? Imagine the enormous consequences for the oil industry…
AV: … which would prefer for this not to be known. As far as I understood there is still a need for a lot of research. In his book “The Deep Hot Biosphere”25, Thomas Gold comes up with reasonable evidence. Let’s not forget that the author has been right in the past in a lot of other domains – of course, he wasn’t taken serious in the beginning and was ignored, mocked and ridiculed.
AvdM: I guess in homeopathy you never know where you are going to end up: we started talking about possible shamanic characteristics of our profession and found ourselves discussing the origin of crude petroleum!
AV: It’s one of the reasons why homeopathy is never boring! In my discussions with Christel Lombaerts, who is now leading the Center for Classical Homeopathy, we once concluded that our biggest fear was that we would wake up one morning and realize this whole homeopathy
25 Thomas Gold, The Deep Hot Biosphere
thing is based on an error and doesn’t even exist. But even then, I think, it wouldn’t have been a waste of time because homeopathy takes you all over the world: it motivates you to learn about biology, chemistry, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics and so much more. It forces you to question the foundation of your belief system and the workings of your own mind. How could this even be a waste of time? But we were discussing the second dimension and we’ll go into that more profoundly when explaining the five levels of experience. I did want to go into all this a bit because according to my understanding of shamanism, shamans know the spirits of elements, plants and animals and know how to use them. Just think of the story “Rumpelstiltskin”.
AvdM: Yes, the little evil spirit that keeps his name a secret but then when he thinks he is all alone, he sings about his name. Somebody hears it and by saying this he loses his power.
AV: The moral if the story is that the evil spirit loses his power as soon as you know his name. Isn’t this precisely what we are doing in homeopathy? Once we ‘know’ the evils spirits’ name – and may I remind you Hahnemann calls disease like an evil spirit in his Organon26, it loses its power and its grip on a person.
So, if there are other similarities between homeopathy and shamanism, other than the potentizing of products, it could be this. In homeopathy the diagnosis and the remedy are the same, we can even say that problem and solution are the same. The name of the disease, the homeopathic diagnosis contains the solution.
26 S. Hahnemann: Organon of Medicine, § 148: The natural disease is never to be considered as a noxious material situated somewhere within the interior or exterior of man but as one produced by
an inimical, spiritlike, conceptual agency which like a kind of infection disturbs the instinctive existence of the spiritlike, conceptual principle of life within the organism, torturing it as an evil spirit and compelling to produce certain ailments and disorders in the regular course of life.
AvdM: I see! Now, how interesting this philosophizing may be and even essential for good communication, does it have practical consequences as well?
AV: It sure does! Depending on the implicit or explicit convictions, you’ll get a different kind of homeopath. This means a difference in approach, which might result in a different prescription and results. Not only this has repercussions for the patient but also for the profession. How can we compare and evaluate results if we are not doing the same thing?
AvdM: You mean that the result of the prescriber depends on his philosophical point of view?
AV: Yes, but not exclusively. His understanding of the nature of disease and cure and his knowledge and therapeutic skills are of equal importance. But we can talk about this next time!
AvdM: Well, it was an interesting discussion, which took us to unexpected places. Often in a discussion whether homeopathy is scientific or not, the topics tend to be in what way homeopathy yields to or fits into the current scientific dogmas.
AV: The way I see it is more as a chance and a challenge for me and any scientific mind to explore new territories, including homeopathy! There are so many aspects not understood or unexplained in our profession.
AvdM: But we can now formulate the working hypothesis for you so far. What at the first glance looks like a rather esoteric view on the nature of reality is actually backed up by scientific research. Also the notion that the mind controls matter is proven by scientific trials. The undividable inner and outer aspects of every single phenomenon are parts of the same truth, as Ken Wilber explains. And our homeopathic daily practice proves the Nature over Nurture statement. This means that a person is less ‘makeable’ than thought before. And in general we borrowed more from science than we often are aware of: the law of similars, making categories, looking for the patterns in the innumerable multitude of things.
AV: You made a fantastic summary. The problem is that homeopaths, just like other people, don’t start a discussion with defining their terms. It is well possible that one homeopath has a completely different inner map of what reality means, or health, or normal than the other. In daily practice everybody has a system that works and that is fine. Everything ‘works’: a listening ear, an Aspirin, a cup of coffee, a massage, a holiday or a good night’s sleep. Everything has an effect, a wanted or an unwanted, but it is not difficult to provoke. On the other hand, there are not many things that ‘heal’ or cure. Real healing is a profound, vital, transformative, life changing event, the result of grace. But if you live in ‘flatland’ such things don’t even exist. How can you even start to compare the aims and the results then?
AvdM: Well, at least we know you point of view now and with this can embark on more practical matters!