Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homeopathy & Dr. Samuel Hahnemann

HuffPo carried an article at the weekend, "Homeopathy for Allergies: Nothing to Sneeze At" by Dana Ullman. Due to my own affliction it set me on a trek across Google in search of more information. After reading several articles and reader comments I realised that homeopathy and astrology have a lot in common when it comes to the way they are perceived and criticised by a certain faction of skeptics. Similar outrage, accusations and sneers are thrown around in both cases. I note that both are classed by those who pretend to know better, as "woo" or "woo-woo". If that's the best label they can come up with it points to a serious lack of creativity.

My own view of homeopathy and astrology is that there is a certain amount of validity contained in both, shrouded in a vast fog of supposition and make-do practices. There's so much we still don't know about our life and our universe, its energies and how the whole kaboodle links up and works. I try not to exclude anything but the most fluffy and woolly ideas....and even some of those might have substance. If it works and you can see it working, time after time, then it works - simple as that.

Homeopathy is a theory, belief, system - whatever, founded by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann. (Left:Memorial to Dr. Hahnemann in Washington DC). He was born in the mid-18th century in the days when medical practices were crude and cruel:

As the protective father of many children (Note: he and his first wife had 11) facing a host of diseases and illnesses, Hahnemann became increasingly uncomfortable with the medical techniques of the day, later dubbed the "Age of Heroic Medicine." Lack of medical knowledge coupled with a belief in evil spirits and curses led well-meaning physicians to prescribe such treatments as blood letting, in which doctors would remove nearly all of patients' blood. Another popular treatment was blistering, an attempt to draw toxins out of the body through the application of hot substances. Doctors also dispensed huge doses of drugs including mercury, arsenic, opium, and alcohol, often trying to induce vomiting and emptying of the bowels. "Massive doses of calomel," noted a writer for FDA Consumer, "not only cleaned the bowels, they also caused teeth to loosen, hair to fall out, and other symptoms of acute mercury poisoning. Such 'heroic' therapy often prolonged the illness, if it did not kill the patient outright." In the United States, George Washington died in 1799 after being treated for sore throat. His therapies included bloodletting and blistering with cantharides, a concoction made from dried beetles.

He experimented with the idea that like cures like: ("similia similibus curantur", as engraved on his memorial, above left.)
For years, Hahnemann enlisted his family for experiments that involved inducing various symptoms, testing out more than 2,000 substances ranging from herbs to snake venom, and carefully recording the results. Finally, he began to apply his remedies to actual sick people, administering concoctions he hoped would mimic the symptoms already being exhibited by the patient. At first, Hahnemann noticed that his patients actually became sicker from his substances. This prompted him to dilute his medicines into smaller and smaller doses to find the tiniest possible portion that would still trigger the body's response. To his own surprise, Hahnemann discovered that the more diluted remedies were actually more effective at treating diseases. This became his Law of Infinitesimals, which holds that even though none of the original molecules may remain in a particular dilution, the vital forces, or healing power, of the substance remains.
Hahnemann's remedies were created systematically, in a process that included placing one drop of the substance in 99 drops of water or alcohol, then shaking the container vigorously, and repeating the process several times. In theory, after several dilutions, not a single drop of the original substance was left. However, scientists in the 1970s used a nuclear magnetic resonance machine to prove that "even though there is no substance left in most homeopathic remedies, their footprint remained in the alcohol/water that the substance was diluted in," wrote homeopathic physician and M.D. Jeffrey Migdow in New Visions Online.


So - let's have a quick look at Dr.Samuel Hahnemann's natal chart. He was born in Meissen, Germany on 10 April 1755, Wikipedia tells us that some sources state the early hours of 11 April as his time of birth, but others "around midnight" on 10 April. This'll mainly affect his ascending degree, and maybe degree of the Moon. As far as I can tell, unless he was born well after midnight and into 11 April, his rising sign would always be Sagittarius. I've set the chart below for 11.57pm on the 10th.

His Sun, Moon and Mercury, three of the most important placements in the chart are in Aries, sign of the energetic initiator - which he certainly was. Venus, Mars and Uranus, also important factors in any chart lie semisextile (mildly helpful position) nextdoor in compassionate, gentle Pisces.

Aries and Pisces seem like uncomfortable bedfellows, one all drive and go-getting, the other soft, dreamy and creative. When they do blend in one personality though, the result might well be someone with the initiative to bring about change in a compassionate and caring manner....which is what we have here. Uranus (the inventor of the zodiac, the avant garde) is linked closely to his important personal planets too.

His ascending sign is almost certainly Sagittarius, sign of the philosopher and visionary, ruled by Jupiter which in this case is right at midheaven, in the area of career and public status, and in in Virgo, sign of the practical perfectionist, which Hahnemann needed to be in conducting his his experiments and researches.

Pluto lay close to his ascending degree at 11.57pm, and whatever his exact time of birth, at "around midnight" Pluto wouldn't be far away from this angle. Pluto is traditonally connected to death, but also to transformation of all kinds. Hahnemann's life's effort was directed to transforming crude medical practices.

Saturn in its home sign of Capricorn is exactly in trine with the axis of the Moon's nodes in Virgo/Pisces at 28.18* - I'm not sure how to interpret this in my minimalist style. The Moon's nodes are sensitive points, and in this case the axis is similar to the opposition of Jupiter to his Pisces cluster of planets, which are also semi-sextile his Aries cluster. So I'll simply say that Saturn, representing science and discipline is linked in to a dynamic network, relating to the basic thrust of his life's work.

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