Homeopathy For Plants – Yeah, Right! by Mark Moodie Considera.org
Mark Moodie is the go to guy for Agro Homeopathy. I was fortunate to attend his first annual international conference on Agro Homeopathy. Please join the forum on his website and add your research to the Materia Medica. Thank you Mark for your continued commitment to Biodynamics, new BD remedies, to translating texts about Agro Homeopathy. Great Blessings to you and your family. Thanks for sharing this article. Shabari Bird INTRODUCTIONThe tension in the debate aroused by homeopathy is stretched between two relativelystatic poles. Around one gather those who have had clear and often dramatic resultsand who don’t care that the overwhelming majority of modern scientists considerhomeopathy cannot possibly be effective. The other is home to those who have nothad any such experiences and are thereby confirmed in their conviction that there wasno possible way that homeopathy could work. 25 years ago I realised that I fretted in arestless grey area between these two islands of calm. I had had a few positive resultsafter using homeopathic remedies on myself and others, but I could not swear for surethat these would not have occurred anyway or that the placebo effect was not in someway responsible for any objective improvement.All my training reinforced a desire to side with those who were incredulous that anygrown up could believe the homeopaths’ nonsense. My clear-thinking teachers guidedme into and through disciplines which confirmed that homeopathy could not beeffective simply because of how the remedies are made. One need not try such thingsin the same way that one need not head-butt a charging bull to know the generaloutcome. It was a ‘no brainer’. Was I going to abandon clear and rational thinking andgo over to those who were surely acting on faith alone – and misplaced faith at that?Had I not heard of the enlightenment? Could one not evaluate the relative merits offaith’s abuses and power trips and its malleable wisdom based on dogmatic andnebulous texts, and discriminate between that and scientific knowledge which leavesone free to embrace what is manifestly effective and also to move on as insightsevolve. Faith brought inherently unresolvable conflict and slovenly thinking. Sciencebrought clarity both in its method and conceptual tools enabling one to overcomedifferences with ones peers in a respectful and peaceful way. What are you going tochose in this light? OK, just look at the clinical trials, I was told.Whilst tempted to move that way, making me look over my shoulder and drag myheels was the sight of all the good people in the other direction. It could not honestlybe said that these were all stupid and/or gullible. These were not all the ‘worried well’who were unaware of the copious and authoritative literature on the placebo effect.Indeed there have been hundreds of thousands of people, administering, anddiagnosing and being diagnosed who were convinced they had been propelledtowards wholeness by homeopathy, often after the best efforts of the opposing‘scientific’ school of healing had been ineffective. Also making me procrastinate overwhat seemed a simple decision was the 200 year history of relatively good results andharmlessness: homeopathy compared very favourably with the early attempts of thecurrently orthodox approach, and also seemed free from the occasional calamities oflater attempts – thalidomide etc. Then there were my own experiences withhomeopathy: were they really coincidences or the result of the placebo? There wasalso ‘Herrings law of Cure’ the absence of which played its part in winkling me out ofmy medical training. Only later did I find that this was an insight of Hahnemann’sthat had been given form by one of the many doctors who came to discredit, andstayed to learn and practice. But if I asked the convinced how homeopathy couldpossibly be effective the answers were not up to scratch. OK, there was Hahnemann’s‘law of similars’ which I found satisfying: its roots stretched back via Hippocrates andthe Vedas into the mists of time and formalised common-sense confidence in the‘hair-of-the-dog’. But if this was supposed to hold good towards and over theAvogadro threshold I was very sceptical. OK, just look at the clinical results they toourged me.So let’s consider the issues one more time from the no-mans-land between thesefactions, and then I’ll tell you what I’ve done to try and bring resolution. First, thehistory.HOMEOPATHYThe German physician, Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843),was not convinced that what he was trained to do washelping anybody. He was so disillusioned that he steppedback from practice and turned his talents to translatingmedical texts. A decisive moment occurred when he wastranslating Cullen’s materia medica.1 Hahnemann wasinterested to see Cullen’s description of a Peruvian treewhose bark was used by the natives to protect themselvesfrom malaria. The Peruvian Bark or Chinchona tree mighthelp malaria sufferers but it was also clear that when theunafflicted took it they developed symptoms very likemalaria anyway: rounds of intermittent high fevers withdrenching sweats followed by penetrating chills. Thesymptoms induced in the healthy were similar to those that were cured in the sick.Was that a coincidence or was this a specific instance of a general principle? Historyshows that Hahnemann considered Peruvian Bark to be his first meeting with a lawwhich he formalised as similia similibus curentur – usually translated as ‘let like becured by like.’ In 1807 he named the discipline based upon this motto, ‘homeopathy’which could be translated as ‘matching suffering’. This was one of Hahnemann’sdiscoveries but, as we have mentioned, this was probably actually a rediscovery.His second and more relevant discovery does not have an obvious precedent but hewas lead towards it as a corollary of the first. Logically one would want to populate ahomeopathic materia medica with substances that caused symptoms but these alreadyhave a very serviceable name: poisons. Indeed Hahnemann got a lot of his earlyinformation from descriptions of poisonings. Remember the surgeon’s dark humour:“The operation was a complete success but, unfortunately, the patient died.” It is nogood curing a person by killing them with poison so one must reduce the dose tosomething that can be tolerated. Hahnemann did this by taking a certain amount of theoriginal herb or compound and putting it into solution in alcohol and/or water to makethe ‘mother tincture’. He mixed it up and then took a fraction of this solution and putthat into another bottle, topped it up with fresh water/alcohol and shook (‘succussed’)it again to create his first potency. This dilution and shaking can be repeated, in theoryat least, ad infinitum and in practice people seem to have given it a pretty good try.The series of dilutions is regularly hundreds of bottles long, and some substanceshave been taken to the millionth potency – a lot of glassware! These incredibly1 A materia medica is a catalogue of medicinal substances with the illnesses and syndromes that each was thoughtto address. (One could say that this role is now, in the UK, taken on by the BNF – the British National Formulary.) Diluted remedies are still given to patients and are said to be effective. Whilstoverdosing is certainly addressed, a whole new problem arises.We can address this by introducing Avogadro, a contemporary of Hahnemann’s,whose work brought a practical side to an ancient thought-experiment. Democritus (b.~ 460 BC) wondered whether one could cut a rock indefinitely ie, if the practicalitiesof knife sharpness and acuity of eyesight were ignored, could one cut bits of rock forever or would one get down to a basic indivisible bit? Democritus was of the opinionthat these fundamental particles or atoms – named after the Greek for not cuttable – doexist, and that their varying geometrical properties result in the different substances.Lorenzo Romano Amedeo Carlo Bernadette Avogadro di Quaregna eCerreto was born twenty-one years after Hahnemann. Avogadro’swork helped differentiate atoms from molecules. Shortly after hisdeath his work was recognized, and 40 years later when JosefLoschmidt estimated the number of these smallest defining units ofsubstance in a ‘mole’ or gram-molecule (thus enabling chemists toweigh equivalent reactive amounts of substances of different atomicmass), this value was named in Avogadro’s honour. If one has amolar concentration of a substance, say 58.44 grams of sodiumchloride in one litre of water, there will be approximately 6.02214179x 1023 salt molecules in that litre. Back to Hahnemann…Let us suppose, for the purposes of illustration, that Hahnemann’s mother tincture ofthe major homeopathic remedy natrum muriaticum – as salt was called when Latinwas the language of the formally educated – was molar. (Incidentally this shows thatHahnemann’s process of potentisation was able to develop a useful remedy picturefrom non-toxic materials.) Hahnemann often diluted his mother potencies a hundredfoldto make the daughter potency soalthough his first bottle of mother tincture
would have around 6 x 1023 salt moleculesin it, the second would have only about 6 x1021 salt molecules, the third bottle 6 x 1019and so forth. At the 12th bottle, assumingscrupulous pharmacy protocols, there oughtto be just a handful of salt molecules left.The 13th will probably not have any of thatsalt at all, and the 14th would have onlyabout a 1:1000 chance of having any of theoriginal substance left in it. This twelfthcentesimal potency (12C) marks the stage atwhich the Hahnemannian process of potentisation becomes fundamentallyincompatible with the orthodox understanding. At the higher concentrations, from thefirst bottle or mother tincture to the 12C, the debate is dominated by the evaluation ofclinical results. Beyond this 12C potency the tussle is re-invigorated. Even thehomeopaths agree that there will be none of the original matter left in the remedygiven to the patient. A recent vocal anti-homeopathy group calls itself 1023 toemphasise how stupid homeopaths must be not to understand the implications. ‘It’simpossible’ they assert. ‘But it works’ the homeopaths retort. With this stalemate theentrenched boundary between ‘sound science’ and homeopathy found its location. The two camps are still hurling invective over my wishy-washy head with rareinstances of courteously restrained debate to see if there has been any movement inthe opposition’s stubborn stance.Although I have only focussed properly on this aspect of the debate over the lastdecade, my adult life has not strayed too far from it. I trained as a homeopath afterdropping out of medical school but by the time I finished my training I was designingand making ecological water treatment systems. However, in the same period around25 years ago, my interest in water brought me to Flowforms2 and then to biodynamicagriculture as part of an active search for ecological sanity within our destructiveculture.HOMEOPATHY FOR PLANTSLike homeopathy, biodynamic agriculture (BD) uses substancesin infinitesimal quantities, but these are sprayed on soil andplants or put in compost heaps, and not administered to peopleor animals. There are many aspects of BD that are troublesometo the modern scientific mind. Indeed much of the practicesappear so weird that many people do not get beyond the firstshock. BD growers use the ‘preparations’ after instruction fromRudolf Steiner in 1924, and his eight agriculture lectures don’tshow enough of his thinking to be self-explanatory. Herbs,manure and crushed crystals are put into parts of a dead animal(stag’s bladders, cows horns etc) and buried for a few seasonsbefore being exhumed and used in minute doses!! Two of thesebiodynamic preparations are sprayed over crops after beingstirred in alternating directions for an hour in plenty of water.3My early exposure to BD was influenced by loving the food and the care brought tothe garden, and by the community that had grown and grown up around the farm andgarden where I first met BD. Although the activities seemed to be like something outof a pantomime or the ‘new age’, they were undertaken soberly and thoughtfully bygrounded people. I know such things are not pertinent to a scientific evaluation of atechnique but I tell you this because they are some of the biographical reasons thatcarried me over the shock to become involved in BD. Added to these social lures wasa hope that if I read and understood these lectures and hung around long enough, Imight find some answers to the enigmas of homeopathy from what I sensed was anagricultural cousin focused on the health of the natural world. I hoped that these twoeccentric traditions would illuminate each other. Whilst my head was initiallynonplussed, my heart was quickly and increasingly attracted to find out what on earthwas going on.I was also interested to see that Steiner had given other lectures after being invited bydoctors and medical students to address them about the implications of his generalapproach within the healing arts. In these lectures he discussed various homeopathic2 See, ‘Flowforms, Human Waste, the Universe and Everything’ by the author. ISBN 0-9517890-1-53 Some clarity in terminology may be useful. When BD growers stir their field sprays this is called dynamization.This could also be used as a term for each shaking in the making of homeopathic remedies but this is widely calledsuccussion so we will stick to that. Potentisation takes a substance up a scale of potencies as already described. Remedies within a systematized framework. Furthermore, Steiner had guided some ofhis contemporaries to potentise various substances in a Hahnemannian way and applythese to plants. Together, these struck me as being potentially fruitful for addressingmy fundamental questions. Firstly, working with plants would remove the uncertaintyof subjective results such as are thrown up by the placebo effect. Second, it gave thepossibility of multiple replications enabling statistical analysis, free of the proceduraland ethical issues that go along with human and animal testing. Third, if Steiner’sclues and intimations were right, he was proficient in a systematic approach to thepreparations as opposed to relying on trial and error alone. Homeopathy has its similiaprinciple but a new substance needs a proving to reveal its uses. (To the chagrin of themodern objectors it has to be admitted that homoeopathy is, if nothing else, evidencebased!) Just below the surface of biodynamics is the hint that one could observe theform of, say, a plant and by understanding the metamorphosis4 of its developing formone could, in theory, have a pretty good idea of its medicinal properties. In short, allthe best bits from the science camp could be brought to bear on the homeopathicbiodynamicworld so that one would not need to ‘believe’ in it. It would be a criticalas opposed to a dogmatic discipline, leaving the practitioners free and creative toaddress our urgent ecological issues with non-polluting tools. THE KOLISKOS: DOES IT WORK?The results of the co-workers who potentised Steiner’sbiodynamic preparations from the 1920s onwards were publishedin a book called ‘Agriculture of Tomorrow’.What was outstanding was the work that Lily Kolisko had done, even if wejust stick to the efforts expended upon what were called the‘smallest entities’ and ignore the equally phenomenal work oncrystallisation and quality testing. Here was someone who haddeveloped tests that revealed how potentised preparations affectgerminating plants and seedlings. This enabled relatively quickfeedback – in weeks rather than months. The results were shownin graphs of plant measurementsplotted against potencies on eitherside of the Avogadro threshold. Thousands uponthousands of experiments with replications and controlswere the fruit of her sustained and focussed activity over20 years. This priceless treasure is all the moreremarkable because Lily and her husband Eugen wereinterrupted by the inconvenience of escaping the Nazi’sand settling in the UK. Just as WWII was unleashedbetween her adopted and native countries and as herhusband died young, Lily wrote her book across theRiver Severn from where I am sitting now. Shecontinued her labours there until her death in 1976.Respect is due.4 See JW Geothe, ‘The Metamorphosis of Plants.’ My favourite edition is by Gordon Miller and published byMIT! ISBN 9780262013093, and ‘Metamorphosis: Evolution in Action’ by Andreas Suchantke. ISBN9780932776396. Also see later in this paper.5 ISBN 0906492009. This book is now out of print and second hand copies are rare and expensive. However, itcan be accessed via the Holistic Agriculture Library.Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right6It seems petty to find fault but the issue relevant to the current subject is that althoughthe graphs remain, the data from which these graphs were plotted do not. This meansthat no one can check whether the results are statistically significant. As far asresolving the debate between the homeopaths and theoretical scientists her work isholed beneath the water line. Whilst ‘Agriculture of Tomorrow’ shows that potentisedpreparations – even over the Avogadro threshold – affect plants in a regular fashion,this cannot meet the benchmarks of statistical proof due to lack of evidence. Lily’swork can be used as part of the peace talks but one should not expect it to be thedefinitive piece of evidence.So I started to do some of my own experiments. The only unambiguous result wasthat my admiration for Lily and Eugen’s work multiplied significantly. It is not easyto do even one test thoroughly and convincingly whilst bringing up a family anddoing ones day job. That Lily did this … wow! I quickly came to the conclusion that Iwas not going to be able to nail this issue alone and lapsed, temporarily, into impotentinactivity.PEERS: DOES IT WORK?As I was digesting the pre-war work theinternet began to stumble from geekyacademic beginnings to popular andsimple access. An English-speakingdiscussion group formed concerning itselfwith biodynamics6 and a few thingsdawned on me. The first is probably notunique to BD but is characteristic ofcommunication between farmers andgardeners in general. There seems to be agreat hunger for communication butspending all God’s hours working in thefields and gardens amongst Nature’s manyever-varying factors makes growers reluctant to come to firm conclusions and then toshare them. The stereotype of the heavy-booted taciturn farmer trudgingcontemplatively after the cows is not without foundation in my experience. But get afew of them together at the market and a strange rumbling noise will rise frombeneath the hats into which everyone is listening with great focus. ‘What did you dofor the mastitis? How’s the turnips his year? Did you try that thing you tried last yearagain? What happened this time? …’ The internet is brilliant for such growers. Youcan just listen, or occasionally drop in a timid word. You can put forward anoutrageous and essentially anonymous hypothesis with a confidence you do not reallypossess in order to try and flush out some thoughts about what is really bothering you– all in your jimjams once the chores are done for the day. No one need know if youare stunning or hideous, male or female, smell of fresh hay or old bedding. In someways, for many growers, the net is an improved version of leaning on the edge of apen at the market and wondering how to admit you are stumped by the many drainingdemands of agriculture, all without losing face with your neighbours.6 Biodynamics Now!Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right7So I had found a garrulous community of BD practitioners who shared stories of theirsuccesses and failures. Here was an informal and international nucleus of BD growerswho might conceivably pool energies and amass evidence in relation to the questionsthat troubled me. Simultaneously it would be possible to see which of these stories ofsuccess might be useful to anyone else.CONSIDERA: TWO SLUGGISH DATABASES, ONE ACTIVESo I took a gamble and my family and business partner supported me in reducing myother work to concentrate on the questions that homeopathy and biodynamicsstimulate. The fates have been good to us and the money is only just running out now,almost a decade after making this the primary focus of my working time. What hasemerged from this period are several pertinent publications7 (mainly translated ratherthan my own) and a website based around 3 databases8 which can be found atwww.considera.org.The first database I put together collectedresults from planting by the Moon, planetsand stars – the heavenly bodies! What has thisto do with homoeopathy? I hope this willbecome clear by the end of this article, but inthe early lectures of his Agriculture courseSteiner suggested a key to this ancient andonce-ubiquitous practice. There has been a lotof research on this since and the mainresearcher in this field is Maria Thun –another BD heroine. However, her efforts arenot always replicable and when one looksinto planting by the Moon one finds lots of contradictory but firmly-held convictions.It occurred to me that much of this disagreement might resolve if we didn’t just buyplanting calendars – the results of people’s conclusions – but actually had the ‘rawdata’ from the experiments. If we knew what was done and when and knew thecharacteristics (weight, taste etc) of the plants that emerge from all these experiments,then we could put all these results together and analyse them by computers. Lookingfor patterns in stacks of data is a computer’s strength. One researcher may haveconcluded that the plants respond to the synodic cycle – full and new Moon phases –whilst another might find greater yields of roots when the Moon’s arc across the skyis getting lower night by night, and of viable seed if the Moon’s arc is rising. But ifwe had the raw information it is conceivable that we would find that the correlationwas much greater when compared with the activity of, say, Jupiter. This would be astep towards transparency and bring credibility to the discipline – and it would becheap and organic if the world were sufficiently impressed to adopt it. It might evenbe used to anticipate future issues, and successful projections based on statistics makea discipline eligible to be considered a science. Win win win win, I thought.7 http://www.moodie.biz8 A database is a collection of information that can be arranged, searched and extracted in various ways. Cullen’smateria medica was a good example of such a database although it lacks the flexibility of the modern digitalequivalents.Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right8I asked the people who had compiled the digital Swiss Ephemeris if there was a wayto do this ‘reverse astrology’ – one which went from data to heavenly correlations (ifnot causes) rather than from star-chart to prediction – and although they thought thiswould be possible, no one was then available to do the work. However, they pastedmy query onto their bulletin board and I got an answer the next day from Tallinn fromsomeone who had been, ‘wondering that morning if plants responded to theconstellations’ or some other segmentation of the starry background to the wanderingstars. What is more, Abhi was already working on reverse-astrology algorithms. If Iwas wasting my time the fates seemed to want me to waste it thoroughly. Abhi and Iput the first iteration of the Considera project together. It was quite a buzz.Around the same time I did a proper experiment with theassistance of my wife and her dad. We already rented someland for our community composting scheme. The operationdid not use the whole area so when my ‘in laws’ came to livenear their young grandchildren, Grandad Billy used some ofthe compost to grow veg in the same field. (The inflexible andshort-sighted regulations, brought in after the UK’s foot andmouth and BSE epidemics, closed us down. This is barelyrelated to the subject in hand except it is the reason there wasso much compost available, but I am still frustrated that abeautiful thing was crushed as it was coming into its prime.But I digress…) An eclipse of the Sun was scheduled to occuron March 29, 2006 at 10 am. So every day at 10am betweenMarch 26 and April Fools day (I kid thee not) we planted two rows of 22 seedpotatoesin the soil enriched with the compost we were now forbidden to sell. Wesprayed the area with a potentised BD preparation called E19 and stood back. Verysoon it was clear even to a cursory glance that the potatoes grown before and after theeclipse rows were doing much better than those planted on the 29th. We harvested inAugust and the yields from those grown on the 28th and 30th were both one and a halftimes greater than those from the 29th. I felt that we were on to something.However, this part of the project does not seem to have caught the public imaginationso, to some extent, we can call it a failed initiative. The second database had a similarfate: this involved a simple nudge of the existing software and interface to make it fitfor weed and pest control experiences. Both are still accessible and although therehave been some noticeable results, the servers have never been in danger of crashingdue to the traffic. Hey ho.9 See http://www.considera.org/materiamedicagricultura.html?remtype=2&rem=80Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right9As I settled into the demands of this project and by digging into the coffers again, wedesigned a third database. This was intended to address a third defining technique ofBD which is the use of the biodynamic preparations. One of the great examples set byhomeopathy, as a collaborative discipline as opposed to as a scientific enigma, is thehomeopathic materia medica and its accompanying repertory. The homeopathicmateria medica for humans was originally populated by observations of poisonings.Later the symptoms induced by other barely toxic and even seemingly inertsubstances like silica were added through an experimental process known as provings.Finally, symptoms which were not evoked but which were regularly found to be curedwere added to assist the practitioner to find the right remedy or similimum for theperson who had come for healing. For over 200 years homeopaths from all corners ofthe world have collaborated to build up this freely accessible heirloom as a commonwealthfor all practitioners present and future. If this were a software programme itwould be called ‘open source’. It is the Linux process as opposed to the proprietaryOS process which is more analogous to the practices of pharmaceutical businesses.Everyone contributes to it and everyone gets to use it if they agree not to misuse it. Itwas this model that appealed to me and I just needed to take a deep breath andcontemplate creating an appropriate interface.Again the fates seemed to want to hang me for a sheeprather than a lamb: the search engines showed that therewas already a format including some data for such a thing,at least in someone’s private papers. At an internationalpermaculture gathering Ben Rozendal and Eric O’Gormandiscussed their ‘Similicure’ initiative which had greatresults from using homeopathic remedies upon plants. Ittook me a lot of Googling before I could find Ben since heusually works under the name given through his spiritualtradition. However, I found a blog by a veteran of the 1992Gulf war who was suffering from his wounds whodescribed how he had been greatly assisted by ahomeopath who had reduced the scar tissue with theremedy silicea. The homeopath was the same MrRozendal. After a few emails, a phone call, and a meetingin Amsterdam we agreed to polish and publish theyouthful materia medica Ben had developed for plants. The book emerged as‘Homeopathy for Farm and Garden’10, and Ben’s materia medica primed the pump ofthe third Considera database – the materia medica agricultura and the repertorywhich accompanies it. A materia medica lists each preparation with the symptomswhich it addresses. A repertory lists each symptom and all the preparations whichaddress that symptom. One could say that they are indexes to eachother. Which yougo to first depends on whether you have symptoms or preparations to consider. Webuilt the database structure and then the web interface so any English-speaker can addtheir own experiences. What is more, whilst Ben used remedies from the homeopathicpharmacopoeia, we could use the same structure for adding experiences of the BDpreparations and ‘magic potions’ from different traditions and businesses11. I laid10 Homeopathy For Farm and Garden. VD Kaviraj, ISBN 978-0-9517890-5-611 One of the many unforeseen benefits of the work was finding that there are small companies and academicresearchers around the world who have tried potentised materials on plants. Seewww.considera.org/hrxclassic.html and the literature survey .Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right10down only a few conditions for collaborators. Those who contributed to the databasehad to affirm they would ‘do my best’, any preparation had to contain infinitesimal tozero substance, the reports must be of what had been witnessed personally and werenot hearsay, and the reports had to have an absolute minimum of esoteric or otherjargon in them. Anyone with basically healthy sense organs and reasonable commonsense had to be able to understand what was written or to find definitions in botanicaland horticultural texts. Reports must be clear, pithy, and in English. Commercialcompanies agreed to have their own input differentiated from disinterestedcontributions, and agree to avoid advertising and disparaging any other products. Byand large people have stuck to these terms.A final benefit was that one could add information from publications so that authors,even dead ones, could contribute their experiences. Their input too would be linked tothe author and/or source. All this built up a picture of what indications called for theapplication of the various remedies. Digitally competent growers could contributedirectly to the project, whilst those who do not get on with computers – and there aremany – could write up their experiences and employ the postman so I could add themto the database. The chat over the virtual farm gate could now be gathered into auseful collection of anecdotes.ANECDOTE AND EVIDENCEThere’s that word again. The homeopathic tradition greatly values anecdotal evidence(as do farmers incidentally) whilst the guardians of science are very wary ofsomething with so little scope for meaningful comparison. The homeopaths say thateach situation is essentially unique so that replications and the use of statistics is notso straight forward as it is when the goal is to isolate a single variable and test theimpact of a carefully controlled intervention. If we ‘merely’ measure the presence of aspecific pathogen in a blood test as an indication of success we can find what is toxicto that bloodborne organism and administer it. By the criterion we have set ourselves,getting rid of the bug is to cure. A homeopath will say that the state of health of theindividual has enabled the ubiquitous pathogen to multiply and become problematicand whilst killing that pathogen might relieve the symptoms, it has not necessarilyaddressed the more fundamental situation that enabled the pathogen to proliferate inthe first place. In order to do that one must not focus on the pathogen so much as onthe host organism – the person – and see how this particular person responds to theoutbreak12. One person may become weepy and crave company, whilst another wouldbecome taciturn and seek solitude yet both have the same organism shown in theirpathology report. A doctor should probably give the same medicine to each, and ahomeopath probably should not. The doctor can rely on the antibiotic that statisticsshow has killed these bugs in most people. This statistically supported medicine istotally justified within the medical paradigm. What is common to the population as awhole as indicated by the statistics shows the right way for the doctor to proceed.What is gold to the homeopath is what is unique, what is different from the others12 One is advised to look up from the parasitic pathogen to the host organism and attempt to regenerate wholenessthere, and even to ‘zoom out’ further to the greater context and remove any maintaining causes there. If one isdrinking contaminated water or has been shot these are the issues and homeopathy’s potential to heal is certainlynot then the first step towards healing. This use of the ‘macroscope’ to complement the use of the ‘microscope’ isanother instance of the approach to the issues addressed towards the end of this article.Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right11who have the illness13. This challenge of individualising is partly responsible, in myopinion, for the fact that the homeopathic prescription is not so regularly ‘effective’ asan antibiotic. Compounded with the homeopaths’ assertion that their disciplineactually cures and that antibiotics only bring short term symptomatic relief –sometimes very welcome and appropriate nevertheless – one can begin, at least, tounderstand why homeopaths claim to have a more difficult and involved task.Back to plants. The Considera materia medica agricultura is also very happy to haveanecdotes for these reasons and, frankly, because there is not much more around.More positively it is a assumption/prejudice of mine, one in which I hope to behumoured, that farmers and gardeners are best qualified to see what is reallyhappening in their gardens and farms, and they are not easily excited to make claims.If they apply a preparation and something clear emerges then let’s share thatinformation. Time and repetition will edit out erroneous or partial observations andhighlight which are more widely useful. This welcome to the amateur and the lack ofownership of the information is why I call this ‘democratic research’.Don’t get me wrong, the materia medica also contains results from well designedtrials containing ‘controls’ undertaken by disinterested professionals, but to restrictinput to those that meet this ‘gold standard’ would not only be discouraging anddisempowering for amateurs, it would defeat another purpose of the project. For thepurposes of this article, the first goal might be to accumulate an overwhelming bodyof robust evidence to be plonked, like a petition, on the iconic materialist scientist’sdesk in the hope of being persuasive that potentised substances do work on plants. Inpractice this is a rather abstract aim. The more pertinent aim is to assist those who usepotentised preparations to do their work more effectively. It is an internal educationalservice in the agrohomeopath’s camp rather than a tool for convincing anyone else.Biodynamic growers have a ‘big picture’ into which the preparations fit so one wouldhope that by thoughtful analysis of the situation in front of them a logical and specificcourse of action would be chosen. My experience is that their preparations arefrequently applied by rote in the vague hope that something or other positive willoccur. It is my opinion that the major beneficiaries of the materia medica will bethose who wish to understand the appropriate circumstances for using each specificpreparation and, if this is the case, the materia medica should in turn benefit fromcontributing to more successful trials and thus a more convincing and assuring case topresent to the open-minded grower. Either one can spray BD 500 and 501 once and atsome arbitrary point in the season so that the certifying authority is appeased, or onecould see what kind of season one is having and find a balancing spray to bring thesituation towards the favourable situation for the crops. Those who wish to make bestuse of the (non-polluting) potential of BD and agrohomeopathy would do well toobserve the scientific process and learn from what is instructive – and in fairness,there certainly are those that do. Whether the scientists would do well to reciprocatein some way is another story, so let’s get to that question now: Do the scientists havesomething to learn from the homeopaths and in particular from the agrohomeopaths?13 The SRPs – the strange rare or peculiar responses of the organism – are usually the important clues to thehomeopath. There is an overlap: the homeopath will have ‘specifics’ and the ‘genus epidemicus’ which isprescribed if the symptoms dominate the picture in all patients. Thus, if there is an epidemic of cholera, the bestremedy’s picture will include the rice-water stools and emaciation and dehydration. That will give a goodindication for what remedy is likely to be effective in most cases. In such situations individualising is not a gooduse of time.Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right12‘PROPER’ EVIDENCE?Let’s first offer some inducement to even the most fervent homeopath-bater. Imentioned earlier that the materia medica is not solely populated by ‘mere’anecdotes. Part of what spurred me to create the third database was that I heard of anindependent and well-respected laboratory that had done some testing in 2002 andthat the agricultural preparation that gave the best result was a potentised BDpreparation. I have written about this elsewhere14 but, in brief, some fruit growers ofNorth Island New Zealand lost a significant proportion of one year’s crop to frost.Many fruit trees flower even before the leaves emerge at the start of the season whilsta majority of annuals germinate, put up leaves and flower only later in the season. Soorchard blossom is particularly vulnerable towinter weather hanging on into spring. The latefrosts hammered NZ in September-October2002 so the growers got together to see whatmight be done. HortResearch, an independentand respected laboratory, ran tests on varioussprays because the fruit industry is already setup for spraying. The spray that enabled mostfruit to grow was Warmth Spray – now calledThermoMax15. This spray contains three BDpreparations that have had homoeopathic-stylepotentisation to focus their effect. This is notyet the full gold-standard of evidence because there were not enough replications tomake this test statistically significant. However, ThermoMax has sold increasinglywell ever since and not just to those already convinced about BD. Commercialorchards that use chemicals also use this stuff because it does what it says on the tin.Businesses pay good money year after year to protect their crops from late frosts overthousands of hectares using ThermoMax. The maker of this preparation, GlenAtkinson, is most thoughtful in his procedures. He has also blended the BDpreparations at different potencies to achieve other aims: increasing photosynthesis indull seasons, stopping fruit from splitting in the maturation phase but still enabling thesugars and the dry matter to increase, reducing bird damage on fruit, and reducingsmells and crop-burn from slurry – and more. Some of the confidence to assert thiscomes from experienced growers who are willing to pay, and some from professionallaboratories who do nothing else but evaluate what ‘plant protection products’actually achieve. These tests are not cheap to run and for a young industry of selfemployedresearchers/entrepreneurs rather than multinationals or universitydepartments these are serious barriers to providing more of such ‘gold-standard’ data.However, a major spur to write this piece now (November 2010) is that there has beena recent result that seems to meet the gold-standard for impartial expert-runexperiment-based evidence which should, therefore, be of interest to all scientists nomatter what their initial inclination. Pakistan has a predominantly agriculturaleconomy based around wheat and cotton. In the growing seasons of 2008 and 2009 ahomeopathic preparation, way way beyond the Avogadro threshold16, was tested by a14 http://www.moodie.biz/thinking/PotenciesAndScience.pdf15 See ThermoMax’s entry in the materia medica16 Various substances are in the preparation between 200C and 500C. The preparation is now able to make claimson its labels and is called Ventage. I am very interested to see how it does on the market place. For more seehttp://www.considera.org/Iftikhar.htmlHomeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right13coalition of the testing houses, research authorities and government regulators onvarious strains of cotton to see if there was any impact on mealy bug infestations. Thepotentised candidate was tested at the same time as the standard neonicotinoid calledthiomethoxam and a water control. The results were given as a percentage reductionof nymph and adult mealy bugs compared to the control at 72 hours and one weekafter a single application. In 2008 the neonicotinoid gave reductions of 99% and 90%(adult then nymph) after 72 hours. A week after the spray results were both 99%. Thehomeopathic preparation gave results of 98 and 98% at 72 hours and after a week theresults was 100% for the adults and 99% for the nymphs. In 2009 the chemical gave72-hour results of 98 and 93 percent and 97 and 99% after a week. The equivalentreductions from the homeopathic preparation were 86 and 89%, and 95 and 98% 4days later.Perhaps, after all these words, we should pauseto emphasise this: a preparation that has beendiluted out of conceptual and measurableexistence has been shown to be highlyeffective on organisms that should not besusceptible to the placebo effect, and thisresearch has been conducted by the expertsand regulators in field-trials over twoconsecutive seasons. If all is as it appears tobe, and I have no reason to suggest otherwise,this is relevant to my struggle and – I wouldhope – far and wide beyond. As well as being aleading candidate for ‘proof of concept’ for agrohomeopathy and perhaps, byextension, to biodynamics, should this not stimulate researchers all over the world tolook into the possibility that the way towards cheap and non-toxic agriculturalinterventions was actually right there in the camp their education taught them toignore? This report is a world-moment if it is what it appears to be.The sense of security upon which the scientists found their scepticism of homeopathyis like a stool with three legs. The first is made of rational scientific reasoning and thesecond is forged from a perceived lack of permissible evidence. The last isconstructed from an alloy of instinct, common sense and prejudice in proportionsdetermined by the individual concerned. I would suggest that this should at least makethem stand up and check that the ‘evidence’ leg is secure beneath them. All may bewell but will they not be stimulated to check? Is it not due diligence in their field ofexpertise? Indeed let us now see if we cannot induce them to reassess the soundnessof the leg of reason while they are up.HOW CAN HOMEOPATHY WORK?Of the three questions that normally arise when homeopathy is discussed – what is it,does it work, and how the hell does it work??? – the first two have now beenaddressed. What about that last one? Actually, the question of how the preparationscan possibly work is potentially the most interesting for me, though I do not expecteveryone to share my enthusiasm. Those who are convinced either way don’t seem tofeel the need for any explanation. But for those like myself it is a central questionboth for the credibility of the whole concept and for the development of the discipline.Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right14Upon it depends the potential for rapprochement between the camps and thus thepossibility of concerted effort, proper budgets and peer scrutiny with the goal of aneffective and non-toxic agriculture. But a fuller conceptual appreciation also bringswith it the possibility of bringing excellence to every facet of manufacture, qualitycontrol, diagnosis, and application of the products. It should contribute to recognitionof what other approaches to agriculture are compatible and which are inherentlyobstructive. With such possible prizes I think it deserves our best efforts to removethis last and most obstinate stumbling block to acceptance, and we can approach thisby listening to the clear thinkers amongst those who oppose homeopathy.Trawling through YouTube, one can find champions of our culture like Dr JonathanMiller saying things like (paraphrase): “If homeopaths are right everything we everthought we knew is wrong”. Richard Dawkins, paraphrased again, said: “Untilhomeopaths show me the new law of physics they have discovered I will not wastemore energy on the debate.” Neither are as funny as Mitchell and Webb or TimMinchin, but they are both admirably blunt and pithy and I do not doubt theirsincerity ( – an evaluation which I find more difficult to extend to James Randi).Their thoughts define a clear target: can one offer a hypothesis for peer considerationthat can be understood (we wish to be rational and systematic), is plausible (we needto avoid wearing out any welcome we might receive with outlandish speculation) andis testable (it should not be a sterile dogma)? The hypothesis would address theconcerns expressed by Miller and Dawkins and those for whom they are de factospokesmen, and it should be based on a viable and consistent epistemology(paradigm). It must avoid postulating an interfering but transcendent reality. Ideally itshould not only throw light on potentisation but on other modern enigmas, and notcontradict the well-considered laws of the existing scientific orthodoxy.Well, call me an arrogant dilettante, but I think we can give this a reasonable shot.There are several routes in to this but I will try and take one which leads from wherethe physicist is confident and move out into new territory bit by bit. Those with thecredentials and good will to consider this properly are then invited to judge forthemselves whether it is a contender to throw genuine light on all we have discussedso far. I do not pretend to speak for anyone but myself although almost everythingbelow comes from ideas I have absorbed from others. No doubt I have misunderstoodor will poorly communicate things in part if not in some essential aspect, and somepenetrating questions would have to be passed on to others more on top of their briefthan I. Having said this let’s try unscrewing the inscrutable with little further ado.PHYSICS AND SPACEIf I have paraphrased Richard Dawkins sufficiently accurately above, he seems tohold a widely prevalent assumption. It is clear that he is of the opinion that allexplanations of life’s enigmas must come down to physics to be properly and,therefore, scientifically explained. Physics is the fundamental discipline of ourmodern scientific culture. Even those in the life sciences will receive the support oftheir academic peers if they can show the physical basis of their hypotheses andresearch. Life is a tricky phenomenon for science to pinpoint (even though it is clearto every toddler what it is). But for the orthodox elucidation of life, organisms need tobe explicable in terms of biochemical pathways and cascades which are themselvesHomeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right15transparent to a scientist when they have been elucidated in terms of theirfundamental particles and thus in terms of physics. Life is considered to be a specialcase of chemistry, and chemistry a special case of physics. The fundamental particlesthemselves have receded from our naive grasp over time starting from rocks toDemocritus’ geometric atoms, via coloured balls on Watson and Crick’s spirallingstraws to counter-intuitive mathematically-modelled abstractions. From theenlightenment onwards, in the slipstream of Descartes, Bacon and Kant and in ourflight from the manifestly unsatisfactory dogmas of the clergy, we have looked for theultimate reality in which we are embraced by looking into ever smaller aspects of theworld around us. It was appropriate, in my opinion, to reject anything based solely onauthority and to demand of our fellows that each step in progress should be communaland open to each other’s scrutiny. It wascertainly valid to start by forging agreement onthe most basic aspects of reality and to beincredibly cautious with any subjectiveimpressions that cannot be shown to have anobjective basis by weighing and measuring.Inanimate matter was the first aspect of the worldto become transparent to this path ofinvestigation. The three legs of maths, matter andmeasuring provided the secure basis for physicsto start rolling back the enigmas that occur toevery thinking person who tries to make sense ofthe world.Is it right that physics should be the fundamental discipline? Physics seems to beincredibly successful at revealing what determines inanimate objects within space andtime, but I think physics has two Achilles heels. The first arises from its evident andstunning success with matter. Our culture’s understandable satisfaction with this workmeans that physics has, however unconsciously, been charged with revealing the lawsof living things without appropriately adjusting its focus to accommodate thedifferences between mechanisms and organisms. Without this adjustment I suspectthat researcher will be like one condemned to rummage for ever in the knickers-drawwhilst looking for socks. The second Achilles heel is that physics has rarelyconsidered three-dimensional space sufficiently rigorously. Let us address the latter inthe hope of shedding some light on the former.What is a straight line? We can follow Euclid and presume that the 4th definition inbook 1 of his ‘Elements’ means that a straight line can be defined as the shortestdistance between two points. Any other trip between those two points would belonger. But we should not overlook an equally good definition which is that a straightline is where two planes intersect – consider where a wall meets the floor. Anotherexample moves us towards the issue I wish to address: any three points that are not allon a single line define a plane – think of the three points on the end of one of the threelegged stools we have mentioned – but three planes that do not all share a line ofintersection (as would three pages of a book) define a point – such as where two wallsmeet the floor in the corner.Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right16These are simple illustrations of something thatgeometricians have known for centuries and havecalled the principle of duality. It could beencapsulated by saying that although any form inthree dimensional space can be defined in terms ofits points, it can be defined by planes with equalexactitude. The principle of duality lay around as ageometrician’s plaything for a while since it wasnot clear how to make much use of the insight, butthe implications have begun to reveal themselves.For present purposes I would like to suggest thatour scientific and technological culture has based itself upon only one of these modesof appreciating space. Following Democritus we have based the explanation of ourreality upon points. We have sought for and found atoms, centres of gravity, electricaland magnetic poles, etc. These are the realities we acknowledge and which we assumeto be the fundamental realities of everything else including life-forms or organisms. Acertain robust common sense takes us this way, but I hope that you are willing toentertain the idea that it is at least conceivable that one could just as well look forcauses in planes – in the space in which the fundamental entities are planes and whichhas been called ‘polar Euclidian space’ or, more often, ‘counterspace’. In Euclidianspace forces are calculated as originating from centres and dissipating themselves inall directions towards the infinitely far spaces. In counterspace the origin of forces isthe infinitely distant plane and these forces work in towards centres that are alsounreachable and that we can call infinitudes. 17, 18For those infected with maths anxiety from school days I suspect this seems likeanother sleight of hand to distract us from the bleeding obvious and even if we didwrap our heads around this it would not lead us to anything of practical use. I wouldhave been tempted to agree were there not a fair amount of really interesting andrelevant work that reckons with this counterspace as well as the space we are used to.For the details and technical elucidation I would have to point you to the relevantliterature but there has been great work in the life sciences19 and even in the realmdominated by physics20. Nick Thomas has developed his recent work from askinghimself what would happen if there were a transformation of a form considered inboth space and counterspace21. Such a ‘linked’ object can be twisted, moved, shrunk,squeezed and stretched but some of these transformations will be problematic toaccommodate in space and counterspace simultaneously. By first postulating that this17 The experiment with the potatoes over the eclipse week in 2006 shows, I believe, that the ubiquitous culturalpractice of considering astronomical alignments when planning agricultural activities may not have been soprimitive after all. I suspect this is an instance from traditions that reckoned with the peripheral forces. If thepreparations give us access to the same forces, we are rescued from being tied to calendars whilst still reckoningwith the importance of the peripheral forces to the living world. A fruitful consideration?18 The infinitely distant plane may seem like an abstraction but perhaps only in the same way as a point. A point isa location or coordinate without extension: the centre of gravity of an irregular object like a chair will, as like asnot, coincide with no physical point on that chair but it is critical to working out how that chair will behave. Theinfinitely distant plane has extension but no position that we can locate with coordinates. These two – point andplane – are dual in so many ways.19 For instance, Olive Whicher: ‘Projective Geometry: Creative Polarities in Space and Time’ ISBN 0854405607,and George Adams and Olive Whicher: ‘The Plant Between Sun and Earth’, ISBN 087773232920 A mathematically substantiated version is ‘Science Between Space and Counterspace’ by Nick Thomas, ISBN9781902636023, An updated and less technical version is ‘Space and Counterspace’ ISBN 9780863156700.21 http://www.nct.anth.org.uk/counter.htmHomeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right17is analogous to stress and the responding strainin one spatial mode or the other, we can thenderive all sorts of laws such as have alreadybeen determined by considering Euclidianspace alone. The equation for gravity pops outof the geometry as does Boyle’s law for gassesand so forth. This gives my inner scientistconfidence that such an approach is not without the potential for usefulness. That italso gives a way to understand some of the enigmas of quantum physics, such assingle photon experiments, makes me think that it might really be a productive way ofconsidering things.All well and good but does it shed any light on potentisation? I think it might. When aremedy is shaken or stirred how does the body of water move internally? Clearly itdoes not move en masse like a solid object would. The water churns up but can wecharacterise this further? One way to observe this would be to take a clear-sidedvessel and stir the water in it into a vortex.22 As you remove the stirring stick let adrop of ink fall into the water from just above the spinning upper surface and observeit from the side and top23. You will see dancing inner veils or surfaces of the movingwater body revealed. In an ideal imaginationthe water would move like when you bend apaperback book with the pages shearing overeachother. One can calculate that if just onelitre of water were moving in such a vortexthere would be a sheath of molecule-thicksurfaces with a combined area of thousands ofhectares.I postulate that this makes the water receptive to the forces in counterspace which arealso planar by nature. In the process of potentisation the water is encouraged toresonate with and become sensitive to the planar aspects of the world. As thepreparation is diluted the point-wise aspects of the original substance are graduallyremoved whilst the planar aspects of the substance are retained and enhanced. Theremoval of substance, far from being the problem, is the whole point of making apotentised preparation because the planar forces are no longer restrained andencumbered by the point-wise matter with which they are bound up in the original‘active ingredient’.The serial dilution and shaking which defines potentisation does the opposite to whatis done in standard pharmacological practice. In the latter discipline a substance fromnature is increasingly removed from its planar contexts and the material or point-wiseaspects are all that is retained. Even substances of plant origin are driven towards themineral. In physics the methods for investigating smaller and smaller particlesrequires conditions in which life is less and less able to flourish. It starts with grossdissection and goes from prepared microscope slides to increasingly inhospitableenvironments to enable the dissection to continue. In the ultimate instance theparticles are moving beyond any speed that an organism can endure within massive22 Theodor Schwenk. ‘Sensitive Chaos: The Creation of Flowing Forms in Water and Air.’23 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Jc-qD4y_bUHomeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right18electrical and magnetic fields and are bashed into each other. One is removing everytrace of life in order to consider how the basis of life comes about. I have found ituseful to take time to extract more implications from this thought.If we approach this dynamic from another side we could do worse that to follow thethinking of Henri Bortoft who guides the reader to distinguish between totalities andwholeness24. All the words of the sentence you are reading right now can beconsidered to be the only components of that sentence. If we collect those wordstogether in a pile we have the totality of what makes up that sentence. However, eachword actually receives its meaning from each of the others, from their relativearrangement, and from the wider context in which they were found. Only whenconsidered together and in context does its meaning emerge. Perhaps this is evenclearer when considering music. A middle C can be part of a raging passionate solojust as well as a melancholy and sustained background chord. The context of theindividual details is often more important than theexact but sterile details themselves. The analogy Iwould like you to consider is with our investigations ofnature. By treating nature as an assemblage of materialparts we lose meaning and we lose the higher functionthat can manifest within these parts. We lose Natura.The collection of parts is, in a limited sense, the totalityof nature, but it is impoverished and meaningless. It iscertainly not the wholeness. This is not a trivialphilosophical nicety but, when appreciated in the roundand in such contexts as a one-sided appreciation ofspace, it is potentially a spur to take extra efforts toavoid reducing Humpty Dumpty to ever smaller parts.We cannot always recapture the purpose, the life,identity and meaning, no matter how seamlessly theparts appear to be reassembled.PLANTS AND SPACEAny glimpse into this more comprehensive approach to life would be incompletewithout acknowledging its debt to a playwright and poet! Johann Wolfgang vonGoethe (1749 – 1832), another contemporary of Avogadro and Hahnemann, actuallythought that his scientific work would be of more lasting value than his Faust or TheSorrows of Young Werther. To acknowledge this debt fully we must indicate anotherpoint of access into the manifestation of life between the two modes of viewing thespace into which plants grow. This approach could be a chance for those allergic togeometrical thinking to become involved, since the method is founded upon theobservation of growing plants.After his ‘sturm und drang’ period, Goethe became a pillar of society working to runa patron’s estate and mines. At one point he badly felt the need for ‘some space’ so,without telling his friends, he took off. He kept a journal of his ‘flight to Italy’ and itis in this that we get early glimpses into his way of understanding plants25.24 Henri Bortoft, “The Wholeness of Nature. Goethe’s Way of Science” ISBN 086315238425 Goethe: The Flight to Italy. Diary and Selected Letters ISBN 0192838865Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right19Although aware of the Linnean approach which is stillfound in today’s field guides – white flower, 4 petals,pinnate leaves etc etc – Goethe was more impressed bywhat he later published as the, ‘Metamorphosis ofPlants.’ In this brief book he outlined three metamorphicsequences. The first occurs in a single plant and involvesthe change in the form of the leaves from the first toappear at the base of the annual plant and following theirform as the subsequent leaves emerge from the stalk untilthey stop growing at the flowering stage. These leavescan be removed from the plant and laid out in a row inthe sequence in which they emerged. It is more obviousin some annuals than in others but one can follow aprogression in the size and form of the leaves which isclearly not random. The larger rounder basal leaves are gradually replaced by moreindented and smaller leaves that can sometimes even be seen to morph into the calyx.Clearly the individual physical leaves do not change after their growth process (amost interesting metamorphosis in itself which was later outlined by JochenBockemühl26) but the sequence of leaves shows a lawful progression. The secondmetamorphosis became clear to Goethe as he left Germany and travelled across thealps and down to the North Italian coast. In this journey he could observe the manyindigenous specimens of a single plant species – the dandelions for instance – andnotice the gradually changing impact ofdiffering climatic conditions as the inlandcontinental biome gradually became alpine andthen coastal. In the low warmer and wetter sitesthe basal leaves were emphasised whereas thealpine versions either totally bypassed thisstage or acknowledged this only briefly beforeproducing the leaves normally only appearingtowards the calyx in the valley plants.In both instances one has to keep ones observations exact whilst giving oneselfpermission to look beyond what is physically present and concentrate on theprogressions – second nature to an artist. Goethe realised that one must think in onesperceptions and perceive in ones thinking.27 One can ask oneself what themeundergoes these progressive variations. What protean leaf blueprint precipitatesrhythmically into space to make the progression of physical leaves. In a same way onecan ask what protean dandelion is sculpted into the individual specimens in the26 This single-leaf metamorphosis is probably best covered in Suchantke’s ‘Metamorphosis’ – see footnote 28 –but I will acknowledge Bockemuhl’s contribution via the book most relevant to the range of issues covered in thisessay, ie ‘Extraordinary Plant Qualities for Biodynamics’ Jochen Bockemühl and Kari Järvinen ISBN 086315576627 Not allowing oneself to go beyond observation is an ideal of the scientific method to avoid subjective pollution.Goethe proposed that thinking and observation must be the twin poles of investigation between which theinvestigator of Nature must move, making sure that our inner world does not squash our objectivity but is given itsappropriate place. Such ‘contemplative beholding’ is central to Goethe’s approach. The danger is creating atranscendent archetype that cannot be shown to exist. This debate about Goethe’s archetypal plant began betweenGoethe and Schiller and continues to this day. Rudolf Steiner took some years to edit Goethe’s scientific works,but broke off from his labours to address the epistemological issues that emerge. He wrote about such issues as the‘objective idealism’ Goethe uses in his plant work. His books ‘Truth and Science’, ‘A philosophy of Freedom’,‘Goethe the Scientist’ and ‘A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World View’ are recommended – allavailable on line via http://www.rsarchive.org/Books/Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right20various conditions and what laws does it obey. And finally one can legitimately askwhat protean or archetypal plant manifests in the various species – the last arena ofmetamorphosis to which Goethe addressed himself. If such a thing did not exist, heargued, how could we know that all these species are all plants? Goethe wished todevelop his ideas into an enlarged edition with full illustrations but time was not onhis side. Others have taken this taken on themselves in the meantime and as Imentioned before the MIT edition and Andreas Suchantke’s book are wonderful.28The process that Goethe used to come to this conclusion isactually just a start. Nigel Hoffman called this ‘watercognition’ to distinguish it from the Earthy sense-boundapproach to which modern science would limit itsresearchers.29 These other modes of investigation can alsobe approached through drawing30. Goethe thought he onlyreally knew a plant when he could draw it from memory. Iwonder if it would now be possible to create an animationpackage based on ‘Sim’31 principles to emulate themetamorphoses before ones eyes. Goethe might approve ofsuch a crutch but I suspect he would ask us to run the moviein our mind’s eye first to get the full benefit.GEOMETRY MEETS GOETHEThe two strands we have teased out using geometry andfield observation, were ravelled together and back intoNature again by George Adams. Although he is moreeasily categorised as a geometrician his presentationsand writing are really beautiful and constantly drawaway from abstractions and back to the living world. Hefelt that the polarity of Euclidian space and counterspacedefined the full space into which plants grew so muchbetter than the Euclidian space alone, but he wanted tomake this idea apparent or transparent to hisobservation. Where could one find examples of this inones daily experience? The illusive answer to this was,as it so often appears in retrospect, also obvious. It wasin the details of the growth of plants, at the meristem,the place of cell reproduction and growth. At the budsand the heliotropic growth points of the plant kingdom one can watch this before oneseyes. Cut a red cabbage open along its axis and notice that the older leaves are alwayspushed outwards by the new ones which emerge from the central cone within thisprotective chalice. This is where life emerges into space. This is where the processes28 See JW Geothe, ‘The Metamorphosis of Plants.’ ISBN 9780262013093. ‘Metamorphosis: Evolution in Action’by Andreas Suchantke. ISBN 978093277639629 ‘Goethe’s Science of Living Form: The Artistic Stages’ Nigel Hoffman. ISBN0932776353. This watery methodcan also be developed to an airey method and a fiery method.30 New Eye’s for Plants: A Workbook for Observing and Drawing Plants,’ by Margaret Colquhoun and AxelEwald ISBN186989085X31 These are a series of computer games in which one can morph faces and other things by moving various slidersalong a scale to emphasise various features.Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right21of life move ‘from being to manifestation’. The start of this process of manifestationoccurs in the planar leaves. As these tissues dry and harden they increasingly becomecitizens of Euclidian space until they go the way of all matter in the inevitable slidetowards gravity and entropy. In the book he and Olive Whicher wrote called ‘ThePlant Between Sun and Earth’, this is described with a mathematicians precision and apoet’s eye. The processes and the forms of Nature become transparent to thiscombination32.However, for the purposes of this discussion, inrelation to potentisation and plants, I would urgereaders to another essay which was developed fromhis own lecture notes. ‘Potentisation and thePeripheral Forces of Nature’ was presented to theBritish Homeopathic Congress in London on June1st 1961.33 Many of the ideas in the discussion youhave just read are outlined there with greateloquence.CONCLUSIONSo my hypothesis is that geometry is more fundamental than physics because itdefines the arena in which the laws of physics apply. Our scientific culture hasfocussed on only one way to consider 3D space and so what physics has revealed isnot so much wrong, Dr Miller, but is completed and viewed in the round. ‘Everythingwe thought we knew’, if it is indeed one-sided, could be more dangerous thansomething that is clearly wrong if we press ahead so confidently with this as ourbasis! Just as the one way of considering our world has lead to a technology which isappropriate to the non-living matter that inhabits Euclidian space, so can we developtechniques and activities which are appropriate to living beings and are true to a fullerconception of our world. When we augment our understanding of space we find abunch of laws that are appropriate to organisms. The vortices created in the process ofpotentisation open up water to the 2D or planar forces which have their origins in theperiphery. By alternating dilution with opening up the water to these centripetalinfluences we remove the material whilst retaining the peripheral forces of that first‘active substance’. The fact that there is none of the original substance is actually thepoint and not the problem with potentised preparations and remedies. Theseperipheral forces are healing even on plants when these forces have been blocked orare absent for some reason. Plants are inherently planar beings in their purelyvegetative phases and this is shown most clearly in the dicotyledons’ meristem, in theenclosed growth centres of the developing leaves. This process can be traced withprecision both scientifically and artistically. Goethe, said Steiner, is the Copernicusand Kepler of the organic world._______32 A student of George Adams, Lawrence Edwards, took this in hand and worked to see if Nature was ameticulous follower of the forms that geometry would predict from considering space and counterspace. She is!Read his publication ‘The Vortex of Life: Nature’s Patterns in Space and Time’ ISBN 978-0863155512 or have alook at the work of Graham Calderwood, Lawrence’s pupil, at – http://www.budworkshop.co.uk33 Available with other essays in ‘George Adams: Interpreter of Rudolf Steiner’ ISBN 0904822087Homeopathy for Plants – Yeah Right22So, I have asked you to follow some pretty unwieldy ideas and I suspect morequestions will have arisen than have been answered. However I hope that these ideasare sufficiently attractive to induce further scrutiny. If these ideas are viable, they willonly blossom if those of us who really want to understand them, to realise them, lookinto them further, both to clarify them and reveal more of their practicalreverberations. The latter, the ecological implications, are particularly dear to me solet me labour them one last time.If the route we have taken has been across real territory and not ‘up the garden path’,then we have benefited from both the homeopaths’ experiences and the scientists’approach. Having worked on this basis we have found a path to a missing part of whatorganisms need – and not just the ‘worried-well’ middle-class organisms. At a timewhen we have lavished all our attention on the inanimate world and made ourselvesexpert in the laws of what is dead, it is also clear that the living world is sufferingunder the twin blows of not receiving the inputs it really needs as well as being forcedto endure inputs which have blocked out many of the naturally available peripheralforces. Talk of insult and injury …If all of this
If all of this is right, or near enough right, then what theliving world needs is for us to put down our iPads (or at least build a Goethean app) longenough go out to the fields to understand Nature with our new eyes and then to bring her the forces she needs to continue her willingsacrifice. If the Considera work has a place within this recalibration of recent times I would be very happy indeed. If I am wrong, please accept my apologies, and my thanks forreading so much.
Mark Moodiemark@considera.orgNovember 2010