Secret Lanthanides, Jan Scholten’s long and eagerly awaited book, was published in November 2005. I read this book with enthusiasm. The further I delved into the book the more I felt inspired, especially as I became increasingly aware of its great significance and implication for the profession of homoeopathy.
My conviction is that Scholten’s contribution to homoeopathy in terms of his Element Theory will be evaluated by future generations as being the most significant contribution since Hahnemann. It has every potential to take us from a rubric-dependent system to a “Person Centered” approach, not to mention Scholten’s enormous contribution in opening up a great number of previously inaccessible remedies now at our disposal.
Lanthanides, belonging to the Gold series in the periodic table, are his latest contribution. Considering its contents and the importance of this book to the homeopathic community, I felt an inner prompting to write a commentary and a review to share my enthusiasm and understanding of the Secret Lanthanides with other homeopath(s).
I believe that the profession of homeopathy over the next few decades will not be able to justify its usefulness without having embraced Scholten’s Element Theory, specifically, in utilising this hitherto unknown group of remedies, the Lanthanides, and the entire range of remedies derived from the periodic table in general.
The purpose of this essay is an attempt to trace a theme that allows us to understand that as evolving human beings the development of our consciousness is reflected in every sphere of our activity, which includes the disease manifestations. Therefore, when our environment - the society - changes so the nature of diseases alters too and therefore the remedies required for their healing would change also. It is here the true value of the Lanthanides lie – “[they] are the remedies for this time” (Scholten, 2005:61). Healing, when taking Lanthanides into consideration, is not only in relation to the myriad autoimmune diseases ravaging our body, but also in relation to our desire to Self-realise.It is within this context, I contend that the Lanthanides are an indispensable group of remedies for homeopath in the 21st century.
All diseases are the outward manifestation of deeper disturbances whether these are manifested in the physical, emotional or mental levels. Diseases, thus, can be looked upon as reflections and products of our spiritual self - “spirit like dynamis” - in a hierarchical manner. For healing to be lasting, it must be affected in the spiritual self first so the physical follows.
Although we are accustomed to look at our state of health as a condition of life – a separate entity - disease and health have a relationship that goes beyond the material. Nothing ever stands alone. Our environment in terms of the political, cultural, and economic forces can exert great influence over our evolving consciousness and in turn, the level of our consciousness can have an impact on the way our society develops and is organised. All relationships are in constant flux and so the disease manifestations change along with the times also - without exception.
As such, diseases are epochal-specific. By this, I mean that the various changing social forces, affected by the unfolding collective consciousness, have a propensity to generate distinct patterns that become markers of the time - synchronistically reflecting each other. If we understand the patterns of various social developments, then we will be able to predict the possible changes that could take place in the future - the same also applies to the changing patterns of disease.
For the purpose of this essay, the parameter of my analysis will be restricted to the developmental processes of the Western societies - modernization and post-modernization - in relation to the changing disease manifestations. A relationship between human consciousness and the disease manifestations will be woven into my inquiry.
DISEASE PATTERNS AND CHANGING SOCIAL STRUCTURES
It is not difficult to see the pattern of disease manifestations as, like all other human endeavor throughout history, they have left certain markers. Each of these tells a story of the era, with its unique colour, shape and feeling tone. The cultural, social, political or economic trend is reflected in a society’s preoccupation with an idea, ideology, and the images of worship. For instance, the tallest and grandest buildings of the Medieval towns or cities are the churches and cathedrals, which confer the centrality of religious worship in people’s lives. On the other hand, the landscape of the 20th century is dominated by the commercial building blocks of sky scrapers, the sprawling shopping malls, etc. - the pulse of the 20th century’s economic and political power, as well as the symbolic representation of urban and suburban living.
Within this consideration, varied disease manifestations also mark distinct era in history. If we look at the disease pattern of 19th century it is predominately the infectious diseases. These - like typhus, plague, yellow fever, and cholera - can decimate the populations of an entire town. Other familiar diseases commonly found in the 19th century such as Chicken Pox, Diphtheria, Measles, Mumps, Scarlet Fever, Whooping Cough, Poliomyelitis, etc. affect children in particular and are the main cause of infant deaths. The word “infectious” characterize these diseases, as they are easily communicable from one person to the other. For the general population, lives of that time were unpredictable once the epidemic took hold - one could perish suddenly without warning. There was neither the knowledge nor the means to intervene.
In a more esoteric sense, the mass infectious disease manifestations reflected the consciousness and the living environment of the time. The concept of “individuality,” – i.e. an individual standing apart from the group or village where one lives - was (more or less) non-existent. The same lack of differentiation was reflected in the living condition of the masses – i.e. farm animals and human beings living in close proximities to one another.
In terms of Scholten’s Element Theory, on the societal level, the consciousness of the 19th century men and women belongs to the Ferrum series in the periodic table – where the group values or tribal rules predominate. In this, one’s social position and personal values were derived from groups - not as an individual but as one of the herd in a hierarchical sense. The English saying “know your place” is an apt expression for the heavily stratified society of that time. On a personal level, others’ opinions, group acceptance, and collective values are of unequivocal importance – as in a high school environment – regarding the developmental phase in one becoming an adult (Ferrum series).
If Ferrum series can be equated with the (less differentiated) consciousness of the 19th century population, then we could also draw a connection between the developmental pattern of the 20th century with that of the Silver and the Gold series in the periodic table. The Silver series extends its parameter in terms of our developing consciousness and our value boundaries to that of the city and the whole of province and is characterized by individual creative expression. Whist the territory extension of the Gold series goes from the country to the entire world and accentuates leadership and the aspect of (external) power. The “power” of the Gold series is differentiated from the Lanthanides which emphasises the inner power rather than the outer.
The boundary of activities in both of these series implies a more differentiated consciousness – from the tribal value determined by groups to the creative expression of a more individualistic nature. The power aspect of the Gold series is derived from one’s position (e.g. Prime Minister) which has dominion over the lives of many. On the societal level, the Silver and the Gold series of the periodic table equate the times of rapid development in every sphere of human activity - at the hight of Modernity and the development of Post-modernity.
The modernization process, which began at the dawn of Industrial Revolution, is characterized by differentiation (i.e. division of labor) in every social sphere – economic, education, political, class, status, etc. - as opposed to the structure of pre-industrialised society. As societies become more differentiated - freed from the constraints of the “tribal values and norms” - so the individual creative expression in every field of studies becomes more accentuated, it is none more noticeable than in the fields of science (e.g. medicine, physics) and art.
The social movements during the mid 20th century that further eroded the boundaries of social stratification (e.g. inequality) were those of Civil Rights Movement in the USA and the Women’s Liberation Movement. Both point to the changing consciousness in the population – a step beyond the tribal consciousness of the Ferrum series into the city/county consciousness of the Silver series – more emphasis is placed on the individual (creative) expression.
One important outcome in the increasing differentiation process was the rapid and extraordinary development of science, which began to throw whole system off balance – “it didn’t just pursue its own truth but also aggressively denying there were any other truths at all” (Wilbur, 2000:242). Resulting from this is the destruction of an organic world, barren state of our ability to spin myths and a disenchanted world. In its place is a mechanistic world view that leads to loss of soul and personal identity.
Consequently, if we consider disease manifestation has its origin in the spiritual realm then, the effects of the social development in modernity must also be reflected in the physical. From a metaphysical stance, cancer can be said as a disease manifestation result from a life of unlived vital energy – the suppression of the vital creative energy, and according to Scholten - “in cancer we see a growing force which has run out of control, as if the creative force has taken the wrong turning” (1996:530). However, this is not to say that cancer is specifically related to the Silver series nor is it the only disease manifestation of this period (modernity). Rather, it is an apt example illustrating a point especially as its manifestation is increasing exponentially since the first half of the 20th century.
The difference of disease pattern between the 19th and the 20th centuries is rather diverse. The nature of disease has changed from the mass acute infectious diseases of the 19th century to diseases with a more “individualistic expression” in the form of cancer, heart, lung, kidney diseases, diabetes, etc. the list goes on. In as much as we may like to think that we are psychologically, technologically, scientifically, medically and socially advanced, as evolving beings we may not be able to escape the threat of an epidemic disease (e.g. influenza).
Parallel to “science for science sake” is the development of vaccination and antibiotics in an ever widening circle by the pharmaceutical companies - endorsed by the governments and the medical profession. Premised upon a paradigm of germ theory, the spread of vaccination and in the indiscriminate use of antibiotics were like wild fire that left nothing untouched in its wake. Such development was the consequence from the governmental drive (e.g. United Kingdom, United States of America) to find solutions to combat the disease epidemics of the 19th century and fueled by its paradigmatic conviction.
Although there was visible subsidence of these diseases as soon as the living and the sanitary conditions improved (Kelly, 2001), the momentum to find “cure” for the infectious diseases continued. Consequence was a marriage made in “heaven” between the pharmaceutical companies and the orthodox medical profession – both benefited economically, politically and socially. Unfortunately, this medical modus operandi gave rise to unforeseen health problems and is largely responsible for the development of the auto-immune diseases that become increasingly apparent since the mid 20th century.
The autoimmune diseases-rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, allergic rhinitis, celiac disease, pernicious anemia, and others which came to prominence in the 1950s-are thought to result from the body’s allergic reaction “to self,” or to some component of “self.” … Researchers in France and the United States have found abnormally active immune-system reactions in autistic children, suggesting a state of hypersensitivity (my emphasis) (Coulter, 1999:154-5).
Hypersensitivity in the physical manifestation of autoimmune diseases is synchronistic reflected by the development of post-modernity. As the differentiation process of modernity continued, so the social development of Post-modernity (Gold series) come to be characterized by the prefixes of “hyper-” and “de-” differentiation. The social structures of modernity turn into “hyper-” and “de-” differentiated, commodified, rationalised, etc. – modernity slips into post-modernity.
These concepts that come with the prefixes of “hyper-” and “de-” resemble Jung’s enantiodromia principle - the process by which something becomes its opposite – the more differentiated we become the less we are differentiated. This synchronistic relationship will become clearer as we look at the disease patterns of the latter half of the 20th century and the social changes in post-modernity. Although there could be a causal link drawn between the different manifestations in society it is more profitable for us to consider these to be synchronistic for reason that the social change is extremely complex that requires much greater detailed analysis than what I am proposing here.
The concept of power central to the Gold series of Scholten’s Element Theory is clearly reflected in postmodern social structural changes – political, economic, education, etc. The characteristic “hyper-” differentiation is evidenced in the decentralisation of power involving the shifting of power outward to smaller units – territorial - and the redistribution of power and responsibility downward to lower levels and relative autonomous quasi- and nongovernmental bodies. This entails the distribution of power to wider areas – more pluralistic, fragmented and polycentric (Crook et al. 1992:98).
“De-” differentiation of power can be seen by the creation of major power blocs – the industrial classes, the nation-states, and “superpower” coalitions – blurring the traditional boundaries. Resulting from both of these changes is the creation of different levels of managerial jobs in organization, which also corresponds to the essence of the Gold series – managers in an organization have power that can affect the lives of their employees. Hence, there are and will be more individuals needing remedies from the Gold series for their healing than before.
If differentiation (modernity) and fragmentation (post-modernity) mark the development of the 20th century in the social, economical, political, and cultural domain, then these should also be visible in the spheres of our development of consciousness – i.e. personal identity, as well as our physical health.
Fragmentation of personal identity and the loss of self can be attributed to hyper-commodification and hyper-rationalisation as the postmodern identity is purchased via individual chosen lifestyles and consumption of mundane goods that communicate sign-value rather than their intrinsic values. For example, the humble ‘T’ shirt is by itself a piece of clothing, but when identified with a brand name of ‘Jag’ or ‘Ralph Lauren’ or ‘Rip Curl’ the ‘T’ shirt attracts a whole host of other symbolic meaning – that is differentiated by its price tag, choice, message, and taste.
Fragmentation of identity is also owing to an exaggeration of constructed media images – hence a proliferation of cosmetic surgeries undertaken by the general public as the emphasis of one’s identity and personal worth is placed on one’s external physical appearance rather than inner qualities. The result is the individual losing a sense of connection with one’s inner substance or sense of self.
A problem arising out of the postmodern artificially constructed (fragmented) identity is the destruction of central and spiritual value within the individual and the emphasis is placed on the construction of the external appearance. When personal identity is continuously shifting and changing with the myriad images and consuming choices it can no longer support the core values of our spiritual self. Resulting from this confusion is the creation of conflicts within and an inability to separate what is real and authentic to the self and what is not, just as the introduction of foreign DNA and RNA via vaccination creates the same confusion for the physical body’s immunity to discern. The conflict between the inner and the outer values is truly set up in increasing tension by our social development. Mirroring this development is the fragmentation of our state of health in terms of the flourishing autoimmune diseases among our community - which is no more evident than in the appearance of HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS manifestation, toward the late 20th century, shows a curious dichotomy – a junction where disease patterns seem to converge – reflecting both the processes of “hyper-” and “de-”differentiation so reflecting the ethos of post-modernity. HIV/AIDS is an autoimmune disease and, yet, it is a highly contagious communicable one via the blood. In this, on one level, as societal value, cultural awareness, political and economic interests and technological development change, so the state of our health is affected by the belief and value system of the time and the economic consideration of the few in power. Hence the nature of diseases that is of concern and prevalent today is no longer the same as that of the 19th century.
However, even as the disease pattern has changed from the mass infectious diseases to the highly individualised and differentiated “hybrid” autoimmune diseases, the return of the mutated and highly virulent strands of old infectious diseases poses a continuous threat to our sense of well being.
Autoimmune diseases on a physical level is the fragmentation of our immunity where on a spiritual level reflects conflicting value systems between the inner and the outer. A conflict of values, between personal and spiritual sense of self as distinct from the socially constructed images, can only be healed and reconciled through self-knowledge, discover one’s own inner light, and affirms individual autonomy to differentiate that which belongs to the self and that which is not. These qualities are the key concepts of the Lanthanides, hence, the journey of Lanthanides is one of Self-realisation – “the road to individuation.”
LANTHANIDES AND HEALING
While my analysis of the social changes in relationship to patterns of disease manifestations being extremely brief it nevertheless gives an overview of how the layers of societal changes are reflected and impacted at every level of human activities including the pattern of our health management.
We can not separate the development of human consciousness in terms of individual’s mental, emotional, and spiritual self from the manifestations taking place in our society - political, economical, and cultural changes – “as above so below, as inside so outside.” Society is within and so we are also society. Therefore, the concern with managing our health issues continues to change with time.
In view of this, my conviction is that the many valued homeopathic polychrests, remedies of many applications, are also epochal-specific – their usefulness relates less to differentiation and more to mass application. The concept of Polychrests has been handed down from the 19th century practice and become the central focus of the development of psychological types in the homeopathic literature only a couple of decades ago. Such innovations served us well, conferring more depth in understanding these remedies. A homeopath with considerable experience could pick the remedy type from a patient’s profile simply by understanding its essence. However, its scope is rather limited to a small number of remedies in consideration.
The word “essence” is central to my assertion that Scholten’s Element Theory will increasingly occupy a central place in the way we practice homeopathy. Scholten has taken us a step further from the essence of the polychrests to where there is greater precision in understanding the essences of a vast number of remedies - mirror the essence of the individual patient. In Scholten’s (2005:28) own words – “The essence is the highest order of a case and a remedy. The essence brings structure. It makes all the symptoms logical, as they are the consequence of the essence. … The essence can be found in the cause of the disease.” As such, when we begin to consider the cases from the essence of an individual “[h]homeopathy has changed from “symptom gathering” into “problem analysis” (Scholten, 2005:16).
The Element Theory is vastly expansive. Its principle is simple to understand and its application elegant. More to the point, it is not restricted to the polychrests alone, and the many so called “small remedies” may prove to have big use. As human beings, we are continuously changing and evolving in every way, on every level of our being, so too the remedies required in healing.
Since diseases are epochal-specific they are markers for not only the power struggle between ideological differences and the institutions, but also the economical determinism of the time. Do we consider the autoimmune diseases as a reflection of the state of our spiritual, mental, and emotional self and the state of our environment? Or do we simply see diseases as separate entity from the rest of our being? If we consider diseases as intrinsically linked to us being who we are, and that we are influenced and impacted upon by the ideological discourses and social changes of the time, then we must embrace Lanthanides as of paramount importance to homeopathy and the healing of fragmented personal identity and fragmented physical state. Lanthanides are a group of remedies specific to the time of now.
Spiritual separation from the integrity of the Self is starkly reflected in the autoimmune diseases of the physical. The road to healing thus begins with integration of the opposites within through the knowledge of the Self - on the "road to individuation."
"To the heaven born healer … nothing on earth matters but healing. It is his [sic] joy, his passion, the one end and object of his existence … The joy of a victory won where others must have failed is something too exquisite to be described. It is something for which a man lifts shining eyes to God, Who giveth medicine to heal their sickness" (Hippocrates, cited in Coulter, 1994:669).
A REVIEW ON THE SECRET LANTHANIDES
Lanthanides are a group of remedies that belongs to the gold series in the periodic table, “hidden” between Barium and Hafnium, hence its name “Secrete Lanthanides.” Not only are they hidden in chemicals and salts, but the key concepts of the Lanthanides picture, such as Self, autonomy, (inner) power, reflection, etc. are inner qualities that characterize a spiritual seeker for Self-knowledge also suggest the characteristic of “hiddenness”. Hence, the journey of the Lanthanides can be viewed as a spiritual quest on “the road to self-hood” and an attempt to heal one’s spiritual, emotional and physical fragmentation.
Diseases, considered from the doctrine of homeopath, are the physical manifestations of a disturbance that has its origin in the spiritual self. Therefore, the manifestation of autoimmune diseases can be considered as a confusion first in the spiritual, mental and emotional levels in terms of autonomy and the personal power to be “self,” as opposed to the need to be accepted by the collective that leads to the adopting of family or socially prescribed values, “the not self.” From the tension between the two seemingly irreconcilable opposites comes the manifestation on the physical level of what we term the autoimmune diseases - fragmentation of physical body’s self-protective mechanism and the frgmentation of the self and the physical body. The journey of the Lanthanides reflects the process of integration of opposites. In this sense, those individuals who require Lanthanides as their journey of healing also show in their personality an inner struggle to self-realise – to define “who I really am” in relationship to the external social and collective values.
Thus the journey of the Lanthanides challenges the twenty-first century men and women through the life process that is symbolically described by the eighteen stages of the periodic table in Scholten’s Element Theory. These stages encompass all human responses to life on earth, from the depth of our suffering, the breadth of our longing to the height of our joy.
The stages of the Lanthanides are symbolic representations of a Hero’s journey which is succinctly and eloquently enlarged by Scholten via the mythologies of the Twelve Labor's of Heracles and the Adventures of Odysseus. These mythic images color the feeling tone of each remedy and describe the essence of the patients who require these. The mythical themes are archetypal images relevant to and resonant with each and every one of us at a fundamental level. Archetypal images are representations of instincts – the pre-existing patterns of behavior that underlie all human experience - though the outward manifestations of our individual experiences may differ greatly from one to another, their basic pattern remains the same. As such, the myths related allow us to gain a deeper insight into the essences of the Lanthanides.
The qualities and the various key concepts of the Lanthanides are further elucidated by Scholten in terms of their own unique expression in relation to their sense of self. For instance, the concept of “power” in Lanthanum is he “tries to find out where his power is and how he can use it,” whereas “Europium knows he has power” (Scholten, 2005:59-60). Thus, we can see that the expression of the aspect of “power” is vastly different, from the third stage Lanthanum to Europium that belongs to the twelfth stage.
First of the key concepts of the Lanthanides is autonomy - which is “the first level of the development of the Lanthanides” (Scholten, 2005:47) – self-directive. The second important concept for the Lanthanides is the inwardly directed power, which is differentiated from the external focused power of the gold series. The third aspect of the theme is the shadow. Shadow is the unconscious side of the personality - those qualities that provoke an emotional response in the conscious personality when seen glaringly displayed in another. Facing one’s own darkness and the integration of opposites (e.g. dark and light) is a necessary step on a hero’s journey in quest of the Self. Hiddenness is the fourth main concept of the Lanthanides. The hidden quality here has to do with the journey of the Lanthanides being an inward one that intrinsically deals with one’s own inner sense of power, autonomy, self-control, value, worth, etc. These may not be shared so readily with another, and at the same time, they may be at odds with current socially accepted values, though the essence in the quest for Self-hood is universal in nature. This is especially true when these qualities are distilled from life’s experiences.
In addition to the above mentioned key concepts, others such as searcher, self-control, self, inner world, light and dark, honest, real, depth, reflection, sensitive bright, reserved and isolation are also aspects of the Lanthanides and could be qualities central to those who require Lanthanides for their healing.
Next, Scholten draws on his own personal clinical experiences to relate certain diseases to the Lanthanides; such as migraine is mostly associated with Samarium, AIDS with Thulium. This group of remedies has particular affinity in successfully treating autoimmune diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Arthritis, etc.
The beauty of Scholten's book for every homeopath is the author's attention to detail, which made the study of the Lanthanides a joy. When reading the book, one will immediately notice the ease in grasping the central concepts of each of the Lanthanides. Scholten has meticulously outlined the key concepts of the remedy in question (e.g. Cerium), the stage (e.g. stage 4), the combined salt (e.g. phosphorus), and the group concepts of the Lanthanides at the beginning page of every remedy (e.g. Cerium Phosphoricum, Thulium carbonicum, etc.) studied. This format permits the reader to study the key concepts of a remedy at every turn with considerable ease.
There are seventy-seven successfully treated clinical cases illustrated throughout the book which not only provide an insight into the Lanthanides, but also show the simplicity and the elegance in the process of case taking in understanding the patient and finding the similimum.
The section on “Proving” compared the advantages and the disadvantages in each method of proving – Intoxication, Full Proving, Dream Proving, and Meditation - without personal prejudice or bias. Scholten has shown that there are other just as legitimate methods as the Full Proving to obtain information on remedies. Although, Full Proving is traditionally accepted and endorsed method for obtaining an extensive drug picture, its high costs in time and energy, and is “attention dependent” becomes rather impractical for individual homeopath. As such, this section can prove to be very valuable for many readers who are interested in gaining further information on certain remedies without having to outlay a considerable cost involved in the full proving.
Finally, the subsections of the Introduction Chapter - Symbolic Language, Case Taking, Seven Levels, Homeopathy and Science, Homeopathy and Classification - provide an overview of Scholten’s own understanding of homeopathy and the place that his Element Theory occupies in the profession, as well as the evolution of homeopathy. What comes across is the integration of his deep understanding, his vast knowledge in many related fields of studies, and his profound sense of humility and compassion coupled with an unflinching honesty.
The more one becomes familiar with Scholten’s Element Theory and its practical application the more one will come to appreciate the enormous contribution made by Scholten’s discovery of Element Theory in the service to homeopathy and healing the ills of humanity. For me, the Element Theory displays such a simplistic beauty with an indescribable elegance when applied.
Scholten’s book, Secret Lanthanides, is invaluable and a must have for every homeopath who is serious about taking up the challenge of healing in the twenty-first century.
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