Reviewed by Iain Marrs
‘No two remedies are studied exactly alike. Each has its own requirements to bring before the mind what is characteristic. Not all of the Materia Medica has been brought out, but the leading and fully proved remedies such as have strong characteristics have been presented for the purpose of showing how the Materia Medica must be evolved and used.’
-James Tyler Kent, Lectures on Materia Medica, Introduction.
‘The whole lecture on the essence of the remedy is the essence, not just the keyword.’
-Roger Morrison, seminar.
‘We are at a turning point in homeopathy, moving from the materia medicas of the past to those of the future. In the past it was the symptom that was emphasized. In the future we will be looking with more interest at the ideas behind the symptoms. Why do these particular symptoms exist in the first place? Where do they come from? What do they lead to? In a time of transition, Stramonium is a transition book. What better remedy to make a bow as a transition book than one which bridges the gap between the polychrests and miasms and the phase four remedies, one which is in itself a transitional remedy in the Map of Hierarchy.’
-Paul Herscu, Stramonium, p. 14
Suppose that Kent was writing the precise truth, -that each remedy requires its particular presentation, -how should Stramonium be studied and presented or, further upstream than that, how will it present itself to the homeopathic explorer, how and when will it necessitate its true nature to be discovered? Paul Herscu listened to Stramonium and he heard what is characteristic of it; thus homeopathic Materia Medica evolves further and comes into greater usefulness. The book consists of a materia medica for the remedy, preceded by forty pages on a model of understanding remedies which utilizes cycles, segments, and hierarchy. The question is simple: is the whole book about Stramonium or only the part containing materia medica? If you find such a question boring, impractically subtle, literary wordplay rather than homeopathic, -then, please, do not attend to these words any further, for the questions that arise from looking into the mirror of this book become increasingly self-reflexive. But, before you stop, just one last point. Say that someone, as they read this review, began to feel that the book reviewed was too hard to understand. Mistakenly. This review will indicate the complexity of a book which will be underused by many and fully used by only a portion, and the under-users will notice as little as they do when, as is their wont, they are hammering away at screws with the fine spirit level that is homeopathy. Paul Herscu does not write books that are too difficult to understand (like this review), -he writes books that are so simple that complex things begin to come into focus. The purpose of this review is merely to indicate the complex which Herscu has snared in his net of clear words. This review, then, is the darkest thing about the book and this review is positive, and positively enlightening, about Stramonium, with an Introduction to Analysis using Cycles and Segments. (Who’d stop reading now?)
If a researcher discovers something, and wishes to present this discovery, is it immaterial in what form this is achieved? Or, to put it another way, if some crime was being committed, and the bystanders were to be alerted as to the nature of this crime, would the words and voice chosen be of relevance? Or, again, when the vital force is disrupted, what aspects of the symptoms spoken in reaction to that disruption do we regard as relevant? We are so used to acting as if words are windows which allow us to look through their absence of color and see the crime being committed, as if the words in which a message is delivered are immaterial to the matter at hand, that we miss the central point made in the quotations by Kent, Morrison and Herscu: the presenting words are synchronized with the idea, the symptoms reflect and re-present a disruption of the life force which would otherwise be invisible. The words (appearances, phenomena, symptoms) are a bridge that leads us across a flaw in that floor upon which, in truth, we stand -on the solid ground of the real, the life force -each with our own flawed floor.
Why has no-one previously written a homeopathic book like Stramonium?
(No-one has.) Because only recently did it become -if the right person could do it -the right time to present a transitional remedy in such a way as to elucidate the circularity of the phases (segments) through which a remedy cycles, with the intention that the reader’s way of thinking about remedies will be able successfully to right itself and navigate this turbulent transitional phase in homeopathy. This homeopathic remedy is standing in for the homeopathic profession, in transition, passing along a channel from shallower to deeper prescribing. The key note ‘transition’, like an echo-sounder, sounds through each level of this endeavor. One phrase for such harmony of subject, time and execution is ‘being in the Tao.’ What is being ‘in the Tao’? “It is the intermingling of the two sides going in opposite directions…” (p. 34) such that there is no duality. In the Tao, this intermingling of black and white to form the syzygy is the wave with which one merges.
But the previous quotation was written by Paul Herscu as a description of Stramonium, where it is “the intermingling of the two sides going in opposite directions that gives many of the interesting keynotes pointing to Stramonium” (p. 34). Compare, again, “the relevance of the well-known rubric for Stramonium: Convulsions, with consciousness. The effect seen is very similar to night terrors, in which the alive conscious side is frightened (thus over controlled), while the demonic unconscious side, with its convulsion and contortions, seems possessed. The ‘fight or flight’ response is engaged and the Stramonium child’s two poles grow even further apart” (p. 167-68; author’s emphasis).
In the Stramonium sickness, the two poles separate; in the Tao, and in all harmonious activities, no duality remains. Are two things happening at once, here? In this review, why does the subject under discussion keep changing from Stramonium, a remedy and an unhealthy state to be cured, to the writing of a book about Stramonium, an activity to be welcomed? How can anyone talk simultaneously about the paths of darkness and light?
Let’s run through it one more time. The first sentence of Part Two is “The Stramonium child can be consumed by many fears” (p. 43); the last sentences of Part Two read, “Thus we see that at the root of many Stramonium cases is a feeling of aloneness and a lack of protection. The child, not surprisingly, feels abandoned to some monster that is about to eat him up” (p. 177). We can safely assume that danger, for Stramonium, arises from the dark intruding into (eating) the light, just as much as light intruding into (eating) the dark, -this interpretation of Herscu’s words is straightforward. But what has the writer done by beginning and ending a materia medica with two statements which are identical but different? The opening was a metaphor which we read (saw through) unthinkingly; the closing is a statement of the remedy’s root, the terrain or etiology in which such a root grows and a statement of the lived experience of the Stramonium child in an ‘as-if ‘ formulation. Why did Paul Herscu choose these words, choose such metaphors? He did not. “..The analogies of hell and being buried that are used in this section [the chapter entitled ‘The Element of Autism’] are not my invention. They are the very words used by these children and young adults when describing the lesser states of autism. Even the parents use such language in telling us what they notice about their children. Truly, this is exactly what one feels from these children while observing them” (p. 106). Note the word ‘truly’, -it and its synonyms run throughout the book; it could not be otherwise (“everything should be the pure language of nature carefully interrogated,” Organon, 144). Consider this:
“The ancient Sanskrit sages gave the following definition: Ranjayati iti ragah (‘That which colors the spirit is a raga’). Many musicians have emotional qualms about identifying themselves as composers of ragas, because actually a raga is not a work of composition. A raga is ‘discovered as a zoologist may discover a new animal species or as a geographer may discover a new island’ (Ravi Shankar). In other words, a raga -each raga -exists from the beginning; it is a musical archetype. Joachim-Ernst Berendt, The World is Sound, Rochester, Vermont, 1987, pp. 202-3
If a homeopath discovers a new remedy (archetype, raga), they are discovering something which ‘colors the spirit.’ If you wish to convey the taste, the particularity of that color, the best means of so doing is to let nothing pass from your palette to the canvas on the brush but that taste, that color. In this book Paul Herscu allows the concepts of Stramonium to present the experiential materia medica (drawn from over three hundred and fifty cases) of Stramonium and, by so doing, a structure is created which is in harmony with all aspects of that remedy’s theme, -the erosion, or eating away, of black by white which is synchronous with that of white by black (and likewise all concepts analogous to black and white, -evil and good, unconscious and conscious, ignorance and knowledge, et cetera). Rather than the syzygy of health, with white dot centering the black and black dot the white, Stramonium develops a flaw where all the black tiles of the floor are to one side, and all the white tiles to the other. Intrusion of a white tile into the black, or vice versa, instead of being accepted as health is perceived as threat, -thus do the processes of life and vitality, of change and intermingling, become instead our enemy, perceived as inimical to the flaw we so lovingly polish as if it were the ground of our truest and deepest self. Where the patient stands on this floor is dependent upon time and circumstances but, unless the situation is remedied, the floor is always thus flawed. Rather than the harmony of black and white, the Stramonium state, like every vicious circle, continually overshoots in the attempt to balance, eventuating in a bipolar seesaw, a stroboscope which is (solely?) particular to Stramonium. It is as if these are the colors of Stramonium, though to name them ‘black’ and ‘white’ is but to choose a metaphorical pair for illustrative purposes. At one level, the book endeavors to show these colors within the circularity (the cycle) of one remedy (and thence the presence of a color -speaking metaphorically -within all remedies):
“This then is the cycle: Driven by confusion, fears, and vulnerability, Stramonium is engaged in an ongoing and violent battle between the unconscious and the conscious, between darkness and light, between succumbing to the death realm and yearning to exist in the life realm.” (p. 32: author’s emphasis)
At the next level, Paul Herscu offers a map of remedies (section: ‘The Map of Hierarchy’) formalizing a set of relationships between remedies along an axis with, in one direction, growing health and, in the other, deepening pathology. Phase I (large polychrests) exhibits less pathology than Phase II (nosodes); Phase III is a transitional phase, with similarities to what has come before (polychrests and nosodes) but also to what comes after, the deeper pathology of Phase IV. The bridge that is Phase III offers two lanes, one Stramonium and the other Baryta carbonica (the fast lane and the slow?). The further pathology of Phase IV is “broken into two categories”( p. 20), -those ruled by their passions, in the genealogy of Stramonium -for example, Hyoscyamus, Tarentula hispanica, Veratrum album, -and those who become increasingly dull, in the genealogy of Baryta carbonica, -Arnica, Bufo, Cannabis indica, Helleborus, Opium. These remedies, be it understood, are merely examples, -other remedies belong alongside these, in the same locality, sharing in a constellation of closely related themes, each of which will require finely nuanced differentiation if this map is to acquire detail. With regard to the orienting axis of this map, Paul Herscu writes:
“Medorrhinum’s state is worse than Calcarea carbonica’s, Stramonium’s is worse than Medorrhinum’s, and Hyoscyamus is sicker than Stramonium …I am deliberately placing a value judgment on the remedy itself and even on the state of the remedy. …The same idea is inherent in Hering’s Law -that there is a direction of cure, a direction in which the patient should travel as he becomes healthy. The main difference here is that we are looking at whole remedies in relation to each other instead of only symptoms in relation to each other.” (p. 16-17; author’s emphasis)
Note how Paul Herscu, in saying this, reads the essence of Hering’s Law at a higher octave than the words in which it was written. There have been others ways of saying something somewhat similar:
Tao begets one; one begets two; two beget three; three beget all things. All things are backed by the shade (yin) and faced by the light (yang), and harmonized by the immaterial breath (Ch’i; life force). (Tao Te Ching, chapter 42)
The monad begets the duad; the duad begets the tetrad; the tetrad begets number, and number begets all things. (Pythagoras)
Why mention this? If someone wished to show you a map they had found, would not its dawning similarity to maps drawn thousands of years ago count toward confirming accuracy? Only if one held no prejudice regarding styles of map making. The pathology of the remedies progresses in the same way in which sages have described the fall from unity into materiality: that which is whole (the constitution) falls through a process of flawed reproduction (beget, mis-copy -the nosodes) into duality (the transition); the transition of duality begets three states and this triad begets the nine numbers (1 to 9) with the Arabic addition of the empty cipher, the zero. This may or may not imply an amendment to Paul Herscu’s clinical observation thus far of two, rather than three, categories in Phase IV and may or may not imply the existence of a further phase. Beyond the state of number is the state of matter, a fall into the innumerable parts of what was once one selfsame individual but which now appears increasingly allos (other) and pathological. What legitimates such a mode of analysis as this? The instruction “As above, so below” and the saying, ‘hay varios niveles,’ -there are various levels. As with the formation of our very existence, so with the formation of our pathology. The spiritual necessity to return from the periphery to the One is the progenitor of Hering’s Law, upon whose pattern it was written. Pathology moves toward the periphery with matter, health toward the One at the heart of the whole.
Again, at a further level, Paul Herscu’s book is concerned to show the unity of a remedy’s symptoms as representative of a series of segments which form one circle:
“I sincerely believe that every single symptom a person expresses is an example of one of the fundamental segments operating in that person’s cycle of disease …Each one is an example. This explains why we get in trouble when we take the keynotes literally. That is, we think the person must desire sweets in order to fit Stramonium. But sweets is only an example of the yearning for comfort in this isolated and lonely person. In other words, a symptom does not stand alone. It has a relationship of some kind to other symptoms. And so, that desire for comfort or consolation, which is one of the fundamental segments of the remedy, will show up over and over in many places and many ways through various symptoms. Some of these symptoms will be found in rubrics; some will not. That doesn’t matter. It is the segment, the idea, that matters. That segment is something which absolutely belongs to that remedy. The cycle itself is a flow of events that is composed of a number of fundamental segments. Each one of these segments could be described by a word or phrase, such as yearning for comfort or violent overreaction. In the model showing the cycle, you will see that each segment is linked by an arrow to the next segment, representing its direct effect leading to the one that follows. It in some way pushes the person to the next segment. Each segment flows into the next until you come full cycle again. The cycle is the disease.” (p. 9-10)
The cycle of Stramonium is (beginning arbitrarily):-amel. fear of death or injury; vulnerability, clinginess [fear] -amel. violent overreaction [violence] -amel. the desire to close off [attention difficulties] -amel. death and deadness; the shut down state [closing off, introversion] -amel. confusion over his dual state; half alive and half dead [autism] -amel. fear of death (repeats)… (see p. 26 for this diagram). The author explains each of these segments and, throughout the materia medica, we hear their tones repeat, -particularly in the crucial section on sleep.
Here, then, is a vicious circle. A vicious circle is the preferred home of a vice; a vice is a bad habit but also a tool for gripping an object being worked on. If we can but sense the presence of this circle, at any octave at which it may present itself, then we can sense that which grips the patient -in other words, the genius or daemon of the remedy -as long as clinical practice finds that this sentence is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth of Stramonium and only Stramonium. (Here we can recall Roger Morrison’s cautionary note cited initially; read the black type in bold but don’t forget, in the same breath, to read what is around it, the white frame.) If there are further nuances to be made, these will be clarified in time by those who can.
With regard to this same cycle, at another octave, Paul Herscu restates the need to find the unity of the ‘segments’ in the remedy (similar to the ‘components’ of the case in Louis Klein’s terminology) when he writes,
“As T. S. Eliot said in his Four Quartets, ‘…next year’s words await another voice.’ I am struck by the fact that, although our profession has a strong vitalistic philosophy, the practical application has often been mechanical at best. So, if we hope to create a more practical, effective, streamlined way of case taking and repertorization, we need to find new words for saying what we have to say and new ways of saying it.
A number of homeopaths, including myself, have been working on developing a universal method of studying and practicing homeopathy. Using a common language, this method could act as a matrix within which classical homeopaths can express their different ways of teaching, prescribing and writing. …I have been working on a way that I think will allow us to easily and succinctly describe a remedy. It involves formulating a phrase or sentence for each remedy that will fit every symptom of that remedy, every patient we have ever seen who needed that remedy, fit every materia medica we have read, every lecture we have heard, and every live case as well as paper cases we have studied of that remedy. It must be a precise statement that sums up not only all that this remedy encapsulates, but also the dynamic aspect of it, how it moves from one stage of the illness to the next.” (p. 7)
Thus, whenever a patient sits before the homeopath, what the homeopath seeks is to discover the sentence under which that individual finds themself condemned to suffer. The homeopathic interview is a sentence review, -the patient is out on parole and the homeopath, neither judge, jury nor jailer, listens and observes carefully so as to uncover and understand the words of that patient’s particular sentence, in whatever register of behavior or symptom these may show themselves. As the story unfolds, that which forms the viciousness of the vicious circle, and the gradient of the spiral down into deeper disease, becomes apparent. Again, this footnote to Herscu’s words is straightforward. But what of the further implication, -we have negotiated this crucial passage at the level of ‘each remedy,’ but what about the level of ‘each profession’? What is the sentence that lies behind the sickness of ‘mechanism,’ the old, moribund words which impede the new within the homeopathic profession? Impeding a higher unity and a common language, there must be a unified cycle of segments imprisoning the homeopathic profession; only within this lead will lie the gold, only out of the fall of this Babel of egos can the common language evolve, only out of this fire will a phoenix rise from the ashes.
At the professional level, the higher unity is the social body of homeopaths acting ‘as if one person’ (as the Tao, the Organon, the Cabala -and whatever else -said to Jeremy Sherr, who listened and brought us back to homeopathy). The new components (segments) are those individual ways currently offered by homeopathic teachers who truly offer a way they have themselves uncovered, and who are able to offer all of that way because they themselves have covered it, every inch of the way (as the Rabbi said to Vega Rozenberg, who listened, went all the way and brought us back to homeopathy). With this book, Paul Herscu clearly begins to offer, in print, his way. The children spoke the words of Stramonium; in heeding those words, and bearing witness to them with this book, in his receptivity to the matrix of this remedy, he also becomes characteristic of that return to homeopathy. It is possible for all who find their way toward the one source of Homeopathy to pool the clear waters once gained, with love and understanding, and bring this all the way back to the teachers, practitioners and patients (students), as if one person, of homeopathy. But cure will only occur if the patient that is the homeopathic profession itself will heed such words, and itself hear at this higher octave, attune with this higher whole and heal.
In Britain, -if the reader will allow me to digress for a moment, -there used to be a radio program called Desert Island Discs; you were supposed to choose what music to take with you if you were to be stranded alone on a desert island. If NASH and the American Homeopath were to host a similar program in America (and what else is this journal but just such a program), my choice for a homeopathic desert island would be, firstly, -to set my sights and aim -Paul Herscu’s Stramonium with An Introduction to Analysis using Cycles and Segments (published by NESH). Next, -to get a good, solid grip on the gun -would be Jeremy Yaakov Sherr’s Dynamics and Methodology of Homoeopathic Provings (published by DSAHS, the Dynamis School for Advanced Homeopathic Studies; see my review in Simillimum of Spring 1995). Finally, -to fire -would be Vega Rozenberg’s three audio tapes (available through ESSH, Flagstaff, Arizona). Allowed one choice ‘outside’ homeopathy I would take with me the writings of the Central Asian adept Idries Shah (you can find these in any good bookstore under ‘Psychology,’ ‘Experiential Science’ or ‘Sufism’; alternatively, in America, you can contact ISHK, Los Altos, California for an Octagon booklist). The teaching materials offered by Idries Shah are useful precisely for learning that every aspect of how you learn to shoot is crucial to hitting the bull’s eye, the time’s true simillimum, -that all parts of that which is one whole are equal; only in sickness does hierarchy arise to produce dissension amongst the ‘different but equal’. On leaving the desert island, these three sources and Idries Shah’s work, once clearly unified, would suffice to recreate (speaking for myself ) the whole, were the world in the meantime to have gone mad and followed the wrong (homeo)path. I repeat, however, that each has to find their own path home, and each will endeavor to do so in a vehicle of their own choosing.
The student of homeopathy who would read the genius or essence of any remedy (the ‘sentence,’ in Herscu’s words or the ‘verb’ in Jeremy Sherr’s) will find that its legibility is not of human making: our body and mind is in this text and may come to read this text but did not form this text and does not derive from this text, just as it did not form that from which the remedy was prepared nor the world which so obligingly offers an environment for the suffering individual’s misguided strategy (as God said to Job, “Where were you when I created the elephant?”). Thus the teacher who, as Paul Herscu here seeks to, would speak the name of a remedy in truth endeavors to form symbols ‘so that what was first spoken by God may eventually be respoken by man’ (Owen Barfield). This is a high endeavor and one only to be followed with all one’s heart and mind conjoined. Those who seek, find and love truth have come this way before. Suffice it to cite the following linguistic archeology:
In Spanish, the word for witch is bruja. And it is in Spain that we find early and relatively complete accounts of the rituals and beliefs of the people of Western Europe who celebrated similar festivities and were considered by the Church to be votaries of the Black One.
We can follow up the clue which is contained in the fact that the maskhara dervishes, although they are found nowadays mostly in pockets of Central Asia and occasionally in India, use the Arabic word whose radical is BRSH.
The maskhara, “revelers,” are also called mabrush, “marked on the skin,” or possibly “intoxicated by the thorn apple.” In Spanish, maja is the Latin-based word, while bruja (pronounced brusha) is the word which appeared in Saracen Spain to describe these people. What, in fact, does brusha mean, both in its root form and in its derivations?
Dictionary words give us a selection of -a hallucinogenic substance, a symbol, and a ritual mark -all under this general consonantal grouping:
BRSH = Datura stramonium (thorn apple), pronounced BaRSH. Alternatively, by similarity of sound:
YBRUH = root of the mandrake (Syriac loanword), pronounced YaBRUUHH. Both of these contain alkaloids. Both were reputed to have been used by witches, to induce visions, sensations of flying, and in rituals.
What is a symbol associated with witches?
M-BRSHa = a brush, broom, scraper (Syrian dialect), pronounced MiBRSHA…
Their use of the mandrake would provide a further homonym -the colloquialism mabrush, mabrusha, “frenzied,” a reference to their dancing. …It is more than obvious that in the transmission of outer forms in non-Arabic speaking countries, a similar adaptation of words has not taken place… The change from one language to another where the old allusions remain is against the evolutionary idea of the Sufis. And it is this very metamorphosis which makes the Sufic development very difficult to study in an academic way. Generally speaking, only the moribund versions, which have lost their movement, will be available.
-Idries Shah, The Sufis, Octagon, 1964, pp. 208-9; 216
In our present situation, -where different teachers have come upon segments of the one truth, a truth, as we see, visible out in the open, -can the patient student of homeopathy not hear (‘Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,’ is the phrase used by Jesus, as by other rabbis) that ‘the sower soweth the word. Know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables?’ (Mark, iv. 14; 13). Patient student, within the teachings offered, may the truth guide you to follow not any one teacher but that which, within them, sows fresh seed.
A few additional thoughts. On the minus side, as to the container, a chunk of pages began to come away from the spine as I read my copy of Stramonium; this is probably just an anomaly, -I’ve not heard of any other flawed copies. On the plus side, as to content, both the materia medica and the theory are experiential and crystal clear. Most characteristically, major themes once introduced always return in a minor key, -for example, under the section ‘Stomach,’ we find ‘The Duality in Food Desires and Aversions’ which uncovers a split personality in the cravings and aversions (pp. 156-57). Herscu offers precise observations, carefully laid out. For example, in ‘The Element of Violence’ there are three sections, -Violence, Reactivity and the Joy of Terror; in the latter, the subtitles, each carefully dealt with, are: The Policeman; Hyperactivity with gloating laughter; The end result; Observing the Joy of Violence; Self-Directed Violence; After the Remedy. And always “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” Following the materia medica there is a brief selection and framing of the relevant paragraphs from the Organon, -a little additional gem tossed in. There is an outstanding thirty page index in which I could find almost all of the phrases I had recalled from reading the book; note, especially, that adjectives and verbs are featured, -a dynamic index! Its overall appearance is excellent, with very clear type on roomy pages of good quality paper.
And neither on the plus nor the minus side, the reader will note Herscu’s moral counsel at various points. It is a gesture toward the role of proper parenting in stemming the tide of children’s consuming interest in darkness, drugs and death. I have only one comment: given certain parental combinations of miasm (stage II) the children thus begotten (stage III) may be exercising choice in an effort to retain stage III rather than allowing themselves to fall further from the light into stage IV. If the parents -who are the local source of this fall to III -were to suppress the child’s interest in phase III, this will not necessarily bring about a palliative return toward II: it may produce a lurch toward phase IV. The remedy is more potent, and more ethical, than advice. Those who are in a position to give advice, the parents, are the very ones who did not listen to that advice themselves before mixing miasms to beget a child native to phase III. Why did they not listen? Because they had not received the simillimum. Why not? In part because homeopathy, through inimical forces, both external and internal, (Organon, 31) had fallen into disuse. If blame is to apportioned, some of it will return to Homeopathy, for our organism “was sufficiently disposed and susceptible to the attack of the morbific cause” (ibid.) that was present (say, the Flexner Report). Let us hope that if tested again we do not fail homeopathy. As Vega Rozenberg writes in a prayer regarding enlightened homeopaths in America, -“If we are not ONE, we are not enlightened! Let us be one!” The consequences of not being one are legion.
Suggestions (for the author or the reader):
i, collect all of the suggested repertory additions together; ii, add to the differentials between remedies the idea (verb) of those other remedies so that like is being compared with like, rather than the idea of Stramonium being compared with a keynote of Tuberculinum, Sulphur or whatever;
iii, produce the following book with as small a time delay as possible -quality of knowledge, rightness of time and presentation permitting. Once Stramonium is out of the bag, it casts a long shadow across the map toward the Phase IV remedies. Prescribers under the influence of this map could tend to over prescribe Stramonium (Herscu discusses, on page 38, how this already happens), prescribing it into the territory of Phase IV remedies where it is no longer the deepest pathology. It now becomes imperative for the prescriber to distinguish between Phase III and Phase IV. Such responsibility for clarifying themselves, of course, lies with the prescriber but the sooner any and all experienced map makers clarify more of the Phase IV remedies, the better (Paul Herscu promises books dealing with these to follow). Now the bridge is there, prescribers will want to cross it as soon as they come upon it, whether or not they are equipped for the other side, for perceiving the nuances between the sentences and segments (the relevant verbs -Jeremy Sherr -and components -Louis Klein -and boxes -Vega Rozenberg) of, say, Stramonium, Hydrophobinum, Belladonna and Atropinum.
To begin to end, here is a quote to stand in for the whole. Paul Herscu is discussing the fourth stage in an approach created by Ferber for dealing with night terrors and he writes:
Parents may wonder, “Why name the fear?” Although we cannot be certain exactly what effect naming the fear has on the child, judging by the testimonies of many parents, naming it seems to offer a life-line to the child. Perhaps verbalizing it opens a door between the unconscious and the conscious, and the child is able to walk out of hell…For the Stramonium, what gets through is the word that names the fear, the exact trigger they can recognize. To open the door you need the one key that fits. (p. 130)
It has been said that hell is the inability to learn. We know that the simillimum releases the suffering individual, just as the exact trigger here releases the child from the night terror. But, as below, so above: the true name of a homeopathic remedy may also help to release the yearning student of homeopathy from a hell of unlearning because that name is the one key that fits the door which is that remedy, set there since the beginning of time by the One who forms all doors, keys, remedies and Names. Each teaching in homeopathy must also endeavor, as does this book, to teach the student something as to the general nature of locks, sentences and barred windows, flawed floors.
In closing, here are some words from J.B. von Helmont, C.G. Jung, and Idries Shah -see if they help you move across the checkerboard of Hahnemann’s Organon and through the dark and light, the sleep and waking that is the matrix of Stramonium as presented by Paul Herscu. Within these words, listen for the echoes of other homeopathic accounts, whether the subject is the truth of a remedy, the truth of Provings, or the truth of prescribing. These words speak of an axis. Toward one pole, there is a nescience, a sleep and an empty void too deep to plumb, whereby matter returns home through the “thousandheaded monster of disease” (Organon), and the “ten thousand things” (Tao Te Ching) toward that infinity of atoms (Greek: atomos, ‘uncuttable’) summarized by ‘zero’ (Arabic: sifr, empty, cipher). Toward the other pole, their words speak of the waking sciences, those which decipher experience, among which are numbered the Cabala, Taoist and Paracelsian alchemy, Hahnemannian homeopathy and the way of the Sufi, evolving toward the polestar of the Absolute Self and Infinite One. At this crossroads where we currently stand, in these “straits of Stramonium” (p. 34), buffeted by the turbulent streams of east and west, left and right, ending and beginning, dying and living, leave aside any prejudices regarding ‘science’ and ‘mysticism,’ ‘light’ and ‘dark,’ for the path lies neither to this way nor to that. Rather, listen for the central, golden and un-owned note of truth, -the cipher (“on an organ, the continuous sounding of a note not played,” Chambers Dictionary) -for “the softest tones of a distant flute that in the still midnight hours would inspire a tender heart with exalted feelings and dissolve it in religious ecstasy are inaudible and powerless amid the discordant cries” (Organon, 259) of disunity and the noise of any day (or profession) ruled by greed for material gold and advancement of the local ego, the commanding self. (The words of the first two quotations are, unfortunately, translations but -to our good fortune -Idries Shah, our contemporary, is a master of the language we share in common, -English.)
That magic power of man which is operative outside of him lies, as it were, hidden in the inner life of mankind. It sleeps and rules absolutely without being wakened, yet daily as if in a drunken stupor within us… Hence I say that the art of the Cabala requires of the soul that this magic yet natural power shall, as it were, after sleep has been driven away, be placed in the keeping of the soul. This magic power has gone to sleep in us through sin and has to be awakened again. This happens either through the illumination of the Holy Ghost or a man himself can by the art of the Cabala produce this power of awakening himself at will. Such are called makers of gold whose leader (rector) is, however, the spirit of God.
-J.B. von Helmont, cited by J. Ennemoser, Geschichte der Magie, Leipzig 1844, translated by Hans Silberer, p. 271-2.
For the alchemist, the one primarily in need of redemption is not man, but the deity who is lost and sleeping in matter…His attention is not directed at his own salvation through God’s grace, but to the liberation of God from the darkness of matter. By applying himself to this miraculous work he benefits from its salutary effect, but only incidentally. He may approach the work as one in need of salvation, but he knows that his salvation depends on the success of the work, on whether he can free the divine soul. -C. G. Jung, Collected Works, 12, para 240
A major element of the Sufi position, therefore, is that there is an Absolute from which ordinarily perceptible things may be termed a local and inferior, incomplete concretization. To attach oneself to these secondary things, beyond their due role as preliminaries, inhibits progress towards perception of this Absolute. Yet an understanding and employment of the possible role of the secondary things makes possible the progress towards the Absolute. This is encapsulated in the Sufi aphorism: Al mujazu qantarat al Haqiqat -the Relative is a channel to the True; generally -less accurately -translated as ‘The Phenomenal is the Bridge to the Real.’ -Idries Shah, A Perfumed Scorpion, Octagon, p. 70
At the end, then, what is left but one crucial question to answer clearly: will Paul Herscu’s book help uncover and relieve suffering, whether it be the suffering of an illness or of a hell that is the inability to learn? Like a new broom, can it be used to brush away the cobwebs of habit and help polish the mirror that is homeopathy? Will it help make progress more possible toward a greater totality of good, however we name this? Is it a relative of the truth? Is it a current bridge in working order, headed in the right direction? These are each reader’s questions to answer.
For myself, I believe that if you use this book appropriately, without appropriating it or acting out of impropriety, and properly prepare yourself for the journey -a journey inward to brush away your own dark places, to clarify yourself so that your effect upon others is similarly clarifying; a journey upon which I, for one, do not embark without sufficient resources, each of which I have named, -then, yes, this book can be a proper relative of the truth, a working part of a working bridge, and a tributary to truer perception and prescription (there is no such thing as an unqualified ‘Yes,’ without regard for time, people and circumstances).
Stramonium can be ordered from the (self ) publisher for $28.00:
New England School of Homeopathy Press 356 Middle Street, Amherst, MA 01002 800-6374 (US) -860-253-5040 (foreign) Shipping costs are $3 (US) -$8 outside North America ISBN 0-9654004-0-9
Dr. Paul Herscu’s first book, The Homeopathic Treatment of Children: Pediatric Constitutional Types has been acclaimed as an exceptional description of the most common remedy types in children. In this, the second volume, Dr. Herscu takes us through his method of understanding materia medica and case analysis. He lays the groundwork for learning homeopathic remedies in an integrated, logical and deepened fashion. The insightful chapter on the hierarchy of remedies and the order in which to prescribe them contains essential information to all homeopaths treating children. At the same time we are given a rare treat of reading about a remedy in its entirety; new information on the breadth and depth of the Stramonium state on all levels, based on patient cases. The information provided is clinically accurate and applicable to everyday practice.