Editorial: the Hydrocarbons - as unnoticed as plastic
This issue of Interhomeopathy is offered in the hope that recognising the themes unseen in the Carbons will direct us towards a remedy for our unresolved cases.
While editing the notes for the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital’s proving of Petroleum supplied for this issue, I changed the word “visible” to “seen” as it had seemed out of context in a theme, “being ‘visible’ in a dream”. It seemed a minor edit at the time. A month (and you’d think, several million firings of the brain synapses later…), this word “visible” was in my mind. I knew I had been mistaken to change it.
The Petroleum proving is such a clear summary of the themes that appear in all these cases, that it seemed safe to send it off to the publishers of this journal. One thing that drives a publisher mad is retracting a piece for revisions after it has been sent. However, this one word “visible” was blinking away like a warning light. I did not know why it was important, until reading in Roger Morrison’s book on Carbon - Organic and Hydrocarbon Remedies in Homeopathy that feeling invisible is a clue to needing a carbon remedy. Elizabeth Thompson knew precisely what she was doing, to say the theme was “visible”.
I knew about “invisible” in relation to plain old carbonate (Carbon remedies feel alone and have fear of ghosts). This invisibility is not the enhancement of a magical cloak, it is the unnoticed quality of plastic which belies the toxicity that appears innocuous enough to contain processed food or chemicals. It is the cheap yet profitable throwaway by-product of our artificial disposable culture, and yet carbon is also the essential building block of life. This, perhaps, is carbon’s quandary over value and self worth.
I had not appreciated the extent to which these themes permeate the homeopathic pictures of diverse substances of the organic carbons and hydrocarbon group – encompassing solids, liquids, gases and volatile compounds, naturally occurring, organic and chemical substances, ranging from diamonds and soot, to gasoline (fuel), and ranging from aromatic plant sap (camphor, eucalyptus, peppermint) to artificial chemical lubricants and man- made plastics, acetates and alcohols. With such a complex group of remedies it is daunting to see how to go straight to the remedy.
Carbon appears in different forms according to how the atoms arrange or combine (diamond, carbon dioxide, petrol, plastic). Carbons perplexingly extend beyond the mineral kingdom. Carbo animalis is in the animal kingdom, Gallic acid (from oak galls or nuts) has a restlessness that may be confused with Nux vomica, Medorrhinum, Tarantula or insect remedies; Camphor is from a tree and puts the “weird” theme in context of the bewildered sensation of Magnoliaceae. Chloroform and other carbon compounds are anaesthetics, appearing confusingly similar to drug remedies.
There may be glimpses of the second series’ themes of the birth process in Carbon or Nitrogen (or both in Glonoine or Benzine nitricum) according to Jan Scholten’s Element Theory, with keynotes of the specific compounds, known since their proving by Hahnemann.
Roger Morrison lists themes of each group of carbon compounds, aromatic carbons, cations and anions, with a personable approach to how they appear in human cases. He points out the sweetness of volatile compounds (esters’ aroma of pear drops or almonds making sense of “dreams of almonds”), blandness of some carbons, contrasting with the explosive volatility, shock and violence of the fuels, whose polluting exhaust fumes are overshadowed by the relentless, ruthless profitability of oil trading, transport, and war. These themes come through in the remedy states.
It calls on our capacity for overview and clarity to see the coherence of themes in this group and to realise in essence that this is a Carbon case. A remedy needed from this highly complex group may go unseen for years. What the cases in this issue have in common is that it was a long and circuitous route to find the remedy that worked deeply to resolve the case.
In sharing these cases, the homeopaths enable us to take a more direct route to the carbons when faced with a patient presenting with a poly-symptomatic picture (which may be characteristised by exhaustion or speed and drive, materialistic ambition or lack of self worth, burning up with heat or icy cold chills). With the help of Roger Morrison’s textbook in one hand and clarity of hindsight in the other, we see how the final remedy always made sense.