by Misha Norland

In the current animosity towards homeopathy, we note that we are being attacked because we are successful, because our patients insist that homeopathy heals. We have become a market force to be reckoned with.

The spear-head of attack, the chink in our armour is, always has been, focused upon the issue of the dynamised dose. This is how our detractors justify their arguments and dare to call us quacks and purveyors of snake oil. Let’s face it, the whole beautiful edifice of our healing art fissures and splits apart when we try and fail to explain the how of it. How does potentisation work? What happens to the substances as we dilute and shake them? Furthermore, how does the lactose in the pestle and mortar, and then the solution know which is the substance that is the medicinal one and which is the contaminant? Consider the remedy Adamas. During preparation, how did the lactose know to choose diamond in favour of the mortar itself when diamond dust is by far the most abrasive? How do the aqueous dilutions know, not to include other contaminants, the cork, or the dust, or the skin particles of the operators? How does the memory of water (if this is indeed a possible mechanism) hold the imprint over thousands of dilutions? How, if imprinting of memory in water is an immediate effect, implying an extreme flexibility of water’s molecular structure, is it also permanent and able to carry the remedy on during the process of thousands of potentisations?

There are many phenomena alongside homeopathy, that do not, as yet, have an adequate explanation. Yet we witness and may harness the effect while we do not know the how of it.  Scientific methodology and enquiry seeks to answer how by means of a hypothesised model, (conceived and imagined as a re-presentation of 'reality') which makes predictions about how reality should behave. The experimental method looks to see whether what's out there really does behave like that, and if it begins to seem increasingly unlikely that it does (Occam's razor) then it asks again: "if not like that, then how does reality really behave?" and it answers by constructing a new model to represent what is actually out there, that allows itself to be disproved once more.

As an example let us cite the shifting models of understanding the universe. The medieval model: The Earth is the centre of concentric heavenly spheres. Copernicus' model: the sun is at the centre. Newton's model: the universal force of gravity makes heavenly bodies orbit each other. Einstein's model: Mass moves according to the path of least action in the space-time. Next model: vibrating superstrings in 11 Dimensions?

As a model of atomic structure, we have retained for one hundred years one that helps us visualize what may be going on. This is of orbiting electrons around the nucleus of the atom being likened to a solar system with planets orbiting a sun. This has the power of aiding our imagination in its task of picture-making, creating a tangible visibility. It also appeals to our imagination because of the beauty of the analogy, but this does not tell us about the how of it? In short, we do not know the how of many things!

There is a fundamental field of physics for which how has to be abandoned- Quantum Mechanics. No one knows how the mechanism works. Yet a thing can sometimes be both itself and its contradiction at the same time, or both in one place and a different place at once, or having both one property and its opposite property. Without dwelling too much on the subject, Quantum Mechanics sets out explanations that come close to the nub of the problem facing us when we grapple with understanding the non-mechanism of the action of homeopathic dilutions and indeed healing itself.

Here’s why: scientific objectivity, by its own premise, must disregard subjectivity and so must regard the Quantum state as if it were an object. Acting on this premise of objectivity, experiments are set up to investigate the properties of this object. But as the Quantum in itself is its own subject and not exclusively an object it is not surprising if the scientific investigation of the Quantum cannot be interpreted as if it were only an object. The subjectivity of the situation enters into the set up of the experiment and confounds its objective interpretation.

The fundamental nature of the Quantum state means that it does not apply just to scientists choosing to do objective scientific experiments. It applies to any ‘subject’ situated in a so-called ‘objective’ world. Every observing instant is a subjective choice to observe the world as if it were an object. But at that very instant, the choice itself is the agent that separates an awareness of a seemingly objective reality from an interior awareness of that reality, as if these two were separate realities. Who is the healer, who is the healed?

In my opinion, we would do well to confine ourselves to storytelling and metaphor within the field of healing. Like the finger pointing to the moon in the Zen story, the finger is the finger and the moon is the moon. We should be limping were we to adopt analytical and causal explanations of the action of the potentised dose. Having appreciated this, it would none-the-less be useful to find an analogy for the phenomenon of the dynamised dose, one that has visibility. While this will not provide us with a how of it, it may help us understand the process in a way that will appeal to our imagination.

As already alluded to, we need to step outside the box that the material sciences hold us in. To begin to do this we shall need to examine the proposition that existence is experienced on multiple planes. By way of an example let us examine the existence of a substance such as sand. Sand occurs in the Sahara, on beaches, is used in the manufacture of buildings and glass, and is composed mainly of silicone dioxide. Each description is true, yet incomplete; when viewed collectively these various descriptors begin to constitute a more complete picture of sand in our mind. This neurological map of synaptic connections within our brain is also an aspect of sand. When we speak the word, “sand” it conjures associated pictures in the minds of those who understand the word and carry one or more of the descriptions of the various forms and experiences of the substance. The word is the messenger that conveys the thought-form of sand. In this example we see that sand, or indeed anything we experience exists simultaneously on gross material as well as finer, less material planes and that it is communicable within the boundaries set by language and shared experience.

In current western culture, we like to believe that reasoned, mind-directed consciousness prevails. However, we have been told by psychologists beginning with Freud and Jung, that the subconscious mind runs its own script, directing our imaginative and feeling worlds as well as influencing our interpretation of our sensory functions. In other words, that which lies under our conscious mind is directly responsible for many of our experiences and the interpretation of those experiences.

Field of consciousness
and reason




Field of subconscious
‘primitive’ awareness
of the psyche


Bodily experiences and sensations
‘arise’ within the subconscious field


Fundamental to healing is sub-consciousness (primitive awareness) as we understand that the sickness resides there. Our healing is directed to this field via the vital force. In the model that I am proposing, as well as maintaining homeostasis (as Hahnemann states in paragraph nine of the Organon), the vital force is the carrier of information, it is the mediator between ‘it’ out there and ‘I’ in here. It is the ‘out there’ aspect of the vital force that carries the influence of the proving field to the proving participants. The vital force of provers, modulated by the proving field carries influences to susceptible individuals irrespective of whether they take the pill or not. Such provers, because of their susceptibility, often bring out the most delineated symptoms and therefore their accounts, far from being jettisoned, need to be included.

In the clinic we put particular emphasis upon that which arises spontaneously and with energetic prominence. We say in our shorthand, that we allow the vital force to direct proceedings. By this we mean that the vital force, modulated by the subconscious mind is given our attention – it is not only allowed to have its say, as it were, but is actively encouraged to do so. In this way, the most useful information is revealed. At the highest level of utility is such information as leads to recognition of the substance itself: the source of the healing, the similimum. The psyche and subconscious mind modulating the vital force and giving it voice (in private through desires and aversions, fears and dreams and in public through gestures and speech) directs our attention towards this recognition.

Let us re-examine the earlier example of sand. We speculated that sand occurs both in nature and as a neurological map of synaptic connections within our brain. When we speak the word “sand” it conjures associated pictures in the minds of those who understand the word and have an experience of the substance. The word is the messenger that conveys the thought-form of sand. We see that anything we experience exists simultaneously on gross material as well as finer, less material planes and that it is communicable within the boundaries set by language and shared experience. We see that this range of communication is in fact much wider, for carried by the vital force into the energetic plane, it now may reach beyond the barrier of the individual’s experience (via subconscious mind and psychic awareness) and thus influence the experience of others.

At this point it is helpful to look at the experience of group provings where the experiential field reaches all susceptible individuals. This is an often recorded and indeed common phenomenon, but is often glossed over to avoid putting attention upon an inconvenient truth: the power of a morphogenic field to influence the conscious threshold of awareness.

We witness phenomena such as this in the activities of fish shoals and flocking birds, just as we notice it in the dynamics of crowd movements. Some may contest this explanation, however other mechanisms seem outlandishly complex and unlikely when compared to this simple one. For a universal hypothesis such as this to hold water, it needs to explain many related phenomena. Here is another: in Victorian times when inventors of technological “gismos” reigned supreme, the one with a bright idea needed to race to the patent office, for no sooner had he had a brain wave, another would simultaneously arrive with the same idea. The energy field carried the information, and minds open to the possibility, susceptible to it, grabbed the concept. Rupert Sheldrake[1] (although accused of pseudo-science by sceptical commentators) has written extensively of this and related phenomena using the term “morphic field”.

So, to the point in homeopathy: the influence of the healing agent is carried via the vital force to the subconscious level of experience that is non-rational, and non-verbal. It does not actually need the carrier that is provided by the pill, although it requires the information. However, because the event of remedy taking, putting the pill into the mouth like the food that we ingest for our sustenance, is the one we most commonly employ, the mechanism requires a little further elucidation. Food is placed in the mouth, masticated and so forth before being swallowed. The remedy is also put in the mouth. By analogy, it is incorporated into our psyche by the vital force as if it were food: it is digested, absorbed by blood and employed for cellular metabolism. The point I am making is that when we take the homeopathically prepared pill, our subconscious awareness reacts to the experience as it would to food, ingesting and incorporating it.

It seems to me that there are many examples of a similar nature, of influences that rely on what could be termed, a metaphor of resonance. Catholics who attend Holy Communion experience the transfiguration of wine into the blood and wafer into the flesh of Christ. This transfiguration as a metaphor of resonance could be termed a ritual. A ritual is defined as a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value.

This process, borrowing anthropological terminology, is an act of imitative magic. Rituals have been described in anthropological literature since the first publication of “The Golden Bough” by Sir James Fraser[2]. He described and commented upon the many rituals that abound in cultures such as tribal Africa, and he went on to find parallels in western culture from the Greeks and Romans and on into modern times. His conclusions appalled the Victorians with the suggestion that Christian religions had primitive roots. In Chapter 21 “Tabooed Things”, he writes “…imagination acts upon man as really as does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid.” This comment seemed fine when applied to a tribesman, but shocking when the analogy was extended to include civilized man! My point in bringing this into the field of our enquiry, is that the psyche is primitive. The subconscious aspects of the totality of our human experiences comprise the non-rational substratum upon which our health depends, and in which our sickness is embedded. There is little doubt in a homeopath’s mind that disease and its homeopathic cure, like the power of imagination, acts upon man as really as does gravitation, and may kill (and in potentised form may cure) him as certainly as a dose of said prussic acid. Translating this into a metaphor for homeopathy, in potentisation the action taken by the pharmacist requires that the mass be reduced while the healing field (the spiritual component) is progressively increased, then when acted upon by the vital force, and in accordance with homeopathic symptom resonance, healing occurs.

When we look upon homeopathic pharmacy in this light, what happens on the bench as we grind, dilute and bang (and indeed recall that Hahnemann succussed upon his bible), then we begin to comprehend how it is that a memory of water hypothesis is superfluous for an understanding of the process. We also appreciate why contaminants are of no relevance, how the chosen remedy knows that ‘it’ is the one, and how the successive stages of dilution and succussion have the effect that they do: they address the subconscious mind and impress it with the process that is imitative of the transfiguration of matter into spirit. Einstein put this into mathematical symmetry when he formulated that energy equals mass times speed of light squared.

Historically, the ancient model of levels of being or elements stated this beautifully. The most frequently occurring theory of classical elements, held by the Hindu, Buddhist, Japanese and Greek systems of thought, is that there are five elements. In Hinduism, particularly in an esoteric context, the four states-of-matter describe the material world, and a fifth element, ether describes that which is beyond (non-matter). In Buddhism the elements are not viewed as substances, but as categories of sensory experience. Plato characterizes the elements as being pre-Socratic in origin, created by the Sicilian philosopher Empedocles (ca. 450 BC). Empedocles called these the four ‘roots’.

As a metaphor, the elements or roots may easily be related to homeopathic potencies in a series where the outpourings of divine will (as above) are guided through successive stages of density and associated categories of sensory experience until finally they become solid and fixed (as below).

          As it is above …..

Spiritual flux gives rise to:

1.  ETHER experienced as vital sensation. This is the pre-formative essence of an individual thing or being. It may be understood as the breath of life emanating from primal desire or will. It is the level of direct, non-verbal experience, that is communicated telepathically to the case receiver. Gestures often arise from this level, as do images which may be expressed in words, in dreams or as drawings.  (This energy harmonises with highest potencies)

Desire/will manifests as:

Elemental FIRE that is experienced as light and heat. This is energy without mass (not the molecules but the movement). Because we are primarily visualisers, it is in the form of images that many experiences and sensations are stored and recalled. They are found most clearly in dreams, fears and delusions but they also crop up as we describe (or draw) one or more of the other levels. It is primarily through images that intuition, clairvoyance (literally, ‘clear vision’) and the spirit world manifest to us. It is apprehended and interpreted as divine love and passion, experienced as sexual intensity and is located in the Realm of Heaven. (10M potency)

Love and divine images ‘condense’ into:

3.  Elemental AIR, which, being a gas, is only experienced as substantial when it moves and gusts. It is interpreted as thought and the faculty of reason. Thoughts may be clear or confused. A poor cognitive function may give rise to distortions of memory as well as understanding. Obviously, delusions and delirium states produce distorted thoughts. Thinking is secondary to, and investigates by fracturing primary experience. It operates by separating the observer from what is being observed. This separation gives rise to ontological uncertainty, as well as complex dissociations such as guilt. In short, all the demons in Hell while being pictured in the realm of images and interpreted as emotional upheaval, actually originate from this master-stroke of evolution: the intelligence of our human mind. (1M potency)

Thinking and knowing ‘condense’ into:


4.  Elemental WATER. This is fluid, mutable and interpreted as feelings and experienced as emotions. The Feeling function is in the middle in so far as emotions arises in response to energy and thoughts and their associated images and memories, above, and physical sensations, below. Feelings include love, joy, rage, grief, isolation. Feelings (input) manifest as emotion giving rise to actions (output). This level, alongside physical pathology is what we pick up from animals. When suppressed, feelings turn inwards upon themselves (secondary or compensated state). Secondary emotions are complex derivations of the primary, uncompensated source. In humans, the emotional level is often difficult to navigate for this reason. Also because it is a generalized derivation, it is less useful for the purpose of analysis. (200 potency)

Tropisms in plants/feelings in animals give rise to:                   

5.  Physical action in the realm of Elemental EARTH. This is experienced by the central nervous system as physical sensations. (Mother tincture and potencies up to the 30th)

….. so it is below

It is not my intention to pursue this further. Those who are interested may read more in my book The Four Elements in Homeopathy[3]. The inclusion of this model is by way of an illustration of an ancient and metaphorical manner of explaining things. As a metaphor for that which is invisible it has visibility. Making use of this, we may reach an understanding about what could be happening on the energetic and vital level of the psyche when we make remedies (homeopathic pharmacy) and prescribe potentised remedies: it helps us to harmonise the energy of the patient with her/his prescription.

By way of a non-conclusion I feel obliged to quote Hilaire Belloc[4], both because his writing was indelibly associated with my childhood appreciation of the strange world I found myself in, and because the sentiment expressed in this fragment of a poem entitled “The Microbe” is appropriate in a mischievous way. This is because many things, like the vital force and the elements as categories of sensory experience, cannot be set up as a hypothesis to be disproved, and therefore they fall outside of scientific methodology and enquiry.

“Oh let us never, never doubt

 what nobody is sure about.”

[1] Sheldrake, Rupert  A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Morphic Resonance, 1999 Inner Traditions Bear and Company, Rochester US 

[2] Frazer Sir James,  The Golden Bough, Macmillan, 1925 London

[3] Norland, Misha, The Four Elements in Homeopathy 2007, The School of Health, Devon UK

[4] Belloc, Hillaire, More Beasts For Worse Children, Duckworth, London


Tags: Misha Norland

This entry was posted on 01 May 2010 at 15:24 and is filed under Homeopathy.