Published in the Society of Homeopaths Journal, Summer 2005
Double Take by Rowena J Ronson and Nigel Summerley
Several years ago while sitting in a religious service, a rare occasion for me, the sermon-giver discussed the topic of birth and death. It was a special, annual ritual where all those in the community who had died in the previous year were mentioned. Those whom they had left behind sat silently in grief and remembrance. I was there to support my mother who had recently lost her father. After the long list the holy man talked of the joy of birth and new life, which, without death, would not exist.
I pondered afterwards on his words and thought of my own young children and chose the perception that my grandfather hadn’t died but continued to exist not only in our memories but through his great-grandchildren. His physical form had returned to the earth from which it came, but his essence, his genes and his spirit lived on.
The lightning bolt of homeopathy struck our founder Hahnemann some 200 years ago. Our healing art was born, embodied in a strong and influential man who was brave enough to hold onto what he believed in, learn from his mistakes and grow. He lived and worked long and hard enough to achieve what he did and leave for us, with his spirit, an eternal legacy which is still developing but will never die.
Ever since, the flame has continued to burn. Sometimes it has only been a flicker with a handful of homeopaths practising quietly in tune with nature. But the whisper that passed through the 20th century has been succussed in the past 30 years into a very audible hum. We are witnessing the raising of awareness and consciousness on a grand scale.
And the homeopaths of today are working in many different ways but with the same aim, to heal the sick. They all have good intentions and are getting results that they can learn from and cultivate in line with nature’s evolution.
I am in the process of writing a book Looking Back Moving Forward, a collection of thirty five interviews with our homeopathy teachers here in the UK. Some of them lit their candles from the two main wicks of homeopathy in this country back in the late Sixties – Thomas Maughan and John Damonte. I start each interview enquiring how homeopathy was born to them and one of my last questions I ask is: do they see homeopathy becoming dormant again? Mostly they reply with an adamant ‘no’. The flame is shining too strongly and too brightly for it to return only to a flicker.
Just before I qualified as a homeopath, I had a shock. My cases supervisor, an excellent homeopath, announced that she had decided to close her practice and return to her original field of employment. Why, I wondered, would anyone do that? The more years I have spent in practice, the more I have come to understand her decision.
Everything has a birth, life and death. Nothing is exempt from this – whether it be a starfish or a star. There are some religious beliefs to the contrary; but such beliefs may also die, as people become more enlightened and see organised religion as an escape from facing the truth of death.
Homeopathic careers and practices must also come to an end. And must homeopathy itself, as in the nature of all things, die one day?
Sometimes I fear it may already be terminally ill. Whether we like it or not, the monstrous regiment of allopathic medicine, media animosity and a society largely based on ignorance predominates.
Of course, it could be that we’re just on one of the downward dives on the rollercoaster ride that homeopathy has always been on; and in a few years’ time, we’ll be heading upwards again. That is definitely how things have gone in the past – cycles of ups and downs. But could we have been nudged off the rollercoaster and be heading for a fall?
In the very moment of birth, there are the seeds of death. Is it possible for a therapy based on such an iconoclastic set of principles as that devised by Hahnemann to survive in a world lacking true imagination and the ability to challenge orthodoxy? Was it always too revolutionary to last?
Perceptive as they are, many homeopaths don’t want to see any possibility of the death of homeopathy. In the UK, they seem to devote much energy to discussing remedies, potencies and prescribing, rather than survival as a viable healthcare profession. There is a danger of missing the big picture – which may be one of a large hooded figure with a scythe. And to survive, we need to persuade allopaths, politicians and the public that homeopathy works.
There are times when I’m not sure I can afford to be a homeopath any more – which is what I think drove that supervisor to reluctantly do what she had to do. I suspect, if we’re honest, that applies to a lot of us.
I truly don’t want to play Cassandra – I have invested as much in homeopathy as the rest of us. But, as in the wider context of life, we may have to look unflinchingly into the face of death on a daily basis – for, in doing that, we may learn the most important lessons about life.
Homeopathy is a remarkable yet mysterious therapy. In the treatment of chronic disease, it so often does what allopathy fails to do – restores people to health, without suppression and side effects. But because, in the West, we live in a world dominated by “science” and the attitude that everything must be explicable – and if it isn’t explicable then it can’t be real – homeopathy may always be regarded as little more than sophisticated voodoo (and, by some allopaths, as a nuisance or threat). This may mean that homeopathy will always remain a therapy used by a minority on the alternative fringe of society. Which means that homeopaths might always struggle to make a living. To avert the death of homeopathy, we need seriously to tackle the issue of survival – now.