“Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned…”
|plutonium nitricum exlposion|
“The Second Coming”, William Butler Yeats
Yeats’ poem was written in 1922, sixteen years before the first uranium atom was split apart. His words presage a disintegration to come: With the rupture of the inner integrity of the atom, the center of matter could no longer “hold” and an unprecedented threat of destruction was unleashed upon the world. Jeremy Sherr’s book, The Homoeopathic Proving of Plutonium Nitricum, reveals a penetrating understanding of the significance of this scientific watershed, its explosive aftermath, and the need to find a match for the global toxic effects of radiation according to the homoeopathic principle of “Similia Similibus Curentur”. It was Sherr’s compelling conviction of this need that led him to conduct a proving of one of the earth’s most toxic radioactive substances.
The record of this important proving alone would guarantee the book’s essential status on our bookshelves. Yet the book offers a great deal more. We are provided with detailed information about plutonium, its uses, production and toxicological effects. Additional scholarly research is gathered into chapters entitled “The Toxicology of Collective Radiation” and “The Effects of Ionizing Radiation” with a separate repertory of toxic symptoms keyed to distinguish types of radiation and site of exposure (e.g. Chernobyl, Three Mile Island.) “Analogies” addresses plutonium’s place on the periodic table, using the periods as metaphors for stages of life. Sherr posits that plutonium, in the seventh period, is part of what belongs to “the deep subconscious and mystical part of man-the underlying instinctive and dynamic motor that animates our lives, our minds, our wills.” (P. 9) A densely worded poem by Allen Ginsberg, “Plutonium Ode” is an artful buttress to this hypothesis. The context is further broadened with a lively description of mythology pertaining to the Roman god Pluto and a description of the planet and its astrological significance. “Strange Stories and Facts” records astonishing events such as the unprecedented growth of cucumbers and pine needles (ten times normal size) after the emission of high amounts of radiation at Chernobyl. This thorough investigation is rounded out with six cases in which potentized plutonium was prescribed after the proving.
Regarding the proving, Sherr states plainly in the first sentence of the introduction, “I did not want to undertake this project. I did not wish to expose my students or myself to…A substance with a half-life of 24,350 years. I was filled with fear.” (p. 1) Yet it is this terrifying recognition that propelled him to conduct the proving. Plutonium is estimated to be five to ten times as toxic as radium; it affects the deepest levels of the human organism, including genetic structure (DNA) and bone marrow. Homoeopathic philosophy and practice confirms that that which causes illness can also cure it; Sherr was convinced that plutonium must have enormous potential to heal life-threatening disease. His clear eyed recognition that homoeopathy has had inconsistent results in curing cancer and AIDS, two diseases that have plagued the planet increasingly in the last fifty years, lent urgency to the investigation.
The book provides us with a complete record of the Hahnemannian proving of Plutonium Nitricum conducted by Sherr and students of his Dynamis School. Many proving symptoms confirm Sherr’s intuition that potentized plutonium would go deep into the recesses of the human organism. We find dreams and images of warriors fighting, of Neanderthal existence and of aboriginal tribes, reflecting primal basic instincts of survival from a distant past. These occur alongside cravings for red meat, liver and blood, hinting at resonance with inner organs, blood and marrow. Deep bone pains in many parts of the body were recorded. Affinities for manic depressive states are revealed in polar symptoms of lightness, elation and spaciness, alternating with feelings of being weighed down, heavy, full of despair and utterly isolated. Plutonium’s longevity is mirrored in deep feelings of suffering for the past, expressed as dissolving the sins of the fathers, the fall from grace, the loss of paradise, and the delusion of elbowing one’s way through an enormous crowd of past generations.
More subtle, but touching a deeper core, are symptoms that reflect criss-crossing spirals as found in the double helix of DNA: visions of Indian dancers’ hands crossing and re-crossing in a spiral; images of wave-like movement dancing and twisting in spirals; in the head, a turning and twisting sensation. Perceptions of elongation abound, of stretching up, being very tall, the top of the head being open, and with the unleashing of powerful sexual urges, images of enormous phalluses. Aspects of a split between higher and lower showed up in several dreams.
Symptoms are recorded in the provers own words, clearly divided into sections following repertory format. Themes are offered, grouping Mind and Dream symptoms; this is particularly helpful in the extensive Dream section where much of the dynamic essence of the remedy may be gleaned. (An unusual expression of duality and time is seen in the dreams of a prover who dreamt the identical dream twice in the same night, from a different vantage point. Information from the first dream was incorporated into the second.) The entire proving has also been skillfully translated into rubrics so that a quick check can be made for symptoms without having to peruse the entire proving. Several new rubrics have been added, including: Delusion, animals of, vampire bats (connection to blood); Delusion, underworld trapped in the (connection to Pluto, Roman god of the underworld); and Inherited from ancestors, emotions are (connection to the element’s extensive half-life.)
The Homoeopathic Proving of Plutonium Nitricum is a valuable resource for healers entering the new millennium. It provides a wealth of information on radioactive toxicity in general and on plutonium in particular. The proving is extensive, clear and well documented. We can expect that people will be healed from a number of deep pathologies as its clinical use is more widely documented.
Beyond taking the time to study this new remedy, however, we might do well to contemplate the courage it took to complete this undertaking, and to heed the challenge set forth by Sherr in the book: “As modern society manifests radioactive phenomena in all modes of life, it is our duty as homoeopaths to evolve alongside these developments, curing disease with that which can cause it. It has become necessary to prove the radioactive elements and the effects of radiation, or we will be no match for the internal and physical disease that mankind has created.” (p. 4)
As we take up this professional challenge, we might also learn personally from the metaphoric power of this proving, and heed an inner call in tandem with the outer one. Yeats’ poem ends with the forceful, unsentimental image of an impending birth, “twenty centuries of stony sleep…vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle”. From pain comes birth, propelled into existence from darkness into light. Sherr reminds us, “The Pandora’s box of radioactivity has been opened and has released the dark into the light. To re-kindle the light, our only option is to enter this dark side fully.” (p. 4) The call is echoed in the poignant words of one of the provers: “I have been gazing heavenward too long.”
Diana Gubbay works as a homoeopathic consultant in New York City. She received her training at the School of Homoeopathy, Devon, England Flexible Learning Program and is a graduate of Jeremy Sherr’s Dynamis School for Advanced Homoeopathic Studies. She also met for three years in a regular study group with Edward Whitmont. She has taught and exhibited visual art extensively and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree.