The actinides, or radioactive elements, belong to the 7th and final row of the periodic table; they relate to extreme or final stages of life, and the ailments of these times. In physical form, these substances have immense capacity to destroy, either by inducing serious or fatal illness or from the effects of nuclear weapons, or from their capacity to pervert the course of natural existence via damaging genetic change. Yet, paradoxically, they can too offer hope for life, through radiotherapy treatment for disease, medical imaging for pathology that would otherwise be hidden, and in homeopathic usage. These extremes of life and death are part of actinides’ themes. The realms they are used for may not be physical: their challenges may involve extremes of emotional or psychological suffering, the quest for spiritual survival in the face of enormous odds and when the costs are huge. If the battle is won, however, the gains are great, releasing the patient from a life that is lived on the edge or in shadow, captive to conditions that may seem hopeless or insurmountable. Often, they can emerge with greater resilience or creativity; sometimes their emergence from the suffering is miracle enough in itself.
This huge polarity between the expression of health and disease is a feature of the actinides and as in keeping with their position in the periodic table; not for them the smaller scale, more personally based stories of the higher series. The actinides have pathologies that can seem utterly intransigent and may have their origins far away in time and space; the sinister instigating influences untraceable, the protagonists faceless and unknown. Their stories may include genetic disorders, the effects of intergenerational and intercultural violence and abuse, suffering from nuclear, electromagnetic, or environmental pollution, or trauma buried deep in the subconscious from this lifetime or others. The abuse may be on a corporate or government scale and cross boundaries of nationality and terrain. The sufferers or their descendants may never encounter their abusers, as in the situation of victims of nuclear war, accidents, or testing (Hiroshima, Chernobyl, the Pacific, and so on). Disorders may take decades to emerge and be slow to develop, as in the case of radiation induced cancer or psychological trauma from previous abuse. The full effects of the situation may not reveal itself for generations to come. The pathology may be deep in the body, hidden from view – bone marrow disorders, for example – insidiously affecting blood and immunity, the markers of life force and its defence capability.
All actinides are in a state of fast or slow decay (as described by their half lives) and of transformation from one element into another. This transformation is artificially achieved in nuclear reactors with the creation of plutonium, the best known and most powerful of the actinides, from uranium. Plutonium was named after Pluto, the final planet known in the solar system at that time. (Interestingly, another name proposed for plutonium was ultimium – ‘the ultimate element’). Plutonium is found at stage 8, which is concerned with struggle and exercise of power, and most exemplifies the story of the actinides. In Roman and Greek mythology, Pluto was the god of the underworld, the dead, and riches. He was an all-powerful black-clad autocrat, merciless and jealous, separate from the other gods. His kingdom was a cold dark shadowy underground realm that was home to the dead, who gave up all rights and personal power on entering his domain. He ruled his world absolutely and could not be appeased or bargained with. He fell in love with his niece Persephone, daughter of Ceres, and despite opposition abducted her by force, compelling her to live with him in the underworld, the land of shadows, for a portion of the year. This devastation and loss to the world created winter, where all life seems to cease. Persephone’s return to the world at the end of winter signals the regeneration of spring, and life begins again. Thanks to Pluto’s cunning deception, however, Persephone is condemned to return to the underworld at the end of every autumn, and so the cycle endlessly repeats. Pluto is also known as Hades, ‘the Invisible’. He is the god of riches, referring to the vast storehouse of mineral reserves and mines underground, which is also home to the actinides.
This story is rich with imagery describing the themes of the actinides: abuse of power and position, loss, devastation, amorality, profound transformation, inexorability, cruelty, death, and transgression of boundaries both moral and physical. There is powerlessness but the return to life as power is regained. We see the conflict between light and dark, sacred and profane. Ruthless selfish ego, acting from base or lower self motives, wreaks havoc with far reaching and unforeseen consequences for many. The challenge for the actinides is to exercise power with higher selfless motives, for the good of all, and to conquer the dominion of their shadow aspect.
It is no accident that the discovery of the actinides and their applications parallels the development of modern psychotherapy, with its acknowledgement of self versus shadow, conscious versus unconscious. The power of an unacknowledged shadow can be immensely destructive, until the light of consciousness is shone upon it. Often, actinides patients are struggling with either the darkness in their own subconscious or the trauma created by the actions of another’s shadow. Patients may describe an immense sense of burden, responsibility, or karma; the ‘sins of the fathers’ and issues passing through generations. The lanthanides can also have this struggle and desire to develop consciousness, but it is less intense and their sense of self is more ambivalent, less vanquished or overreaching. For the actinides, the struggle to free oneself from the effects of this oppression can be immense but the rewards of this liberation are profound. The riches are in the form of self-knowledge and personal empowerment, and the ability to benefit others.
We also see themes of isolation, not necessarily by choice, which may in patients be dictated by illness or complete breakdown and vulnerability. The patient may be reclusive and feel not at ease in the world. In a healthy actinide, withdrawal, time out, or a formal spiritual retreat may still be necessary to maintain equilibrium and peace. They may need to remove themselves totally from their environment, in order to heal or re-find themselves.
Actinides are fragile, volatile elements, in a state of transition and decay, and prone to spontaneously setting alight in contact with the air. This describes the fragile, unstable, and combustible patient, whose life can feel in a constant state of instability, chaos, and threatened disintegration. This energy may communicate to energy or power sources around them and electronic devices may be prone to breaking down, light-bulbs shattering, and glass breaking. Actinides as a group may have relationships to gem remedies, the lanthanides or aurum series, the bird family, Anacardium, and the AIDS nosode.
Illnesses are extreme and involve huge loss of power, function, and freedom. Actinides patients may feel as if they are living in a wasteland, or on the edge of existence. They may feel not of this world, somewhere between life and death, as indeed they may really be. Often, they have a translucent quality, or etherealism, not uncommon in those approaching the end of life, or those with clairvoyant or mediumistic abilities. For them the veil between this world and others is thin, barriers disappear, and the invisible and hidden becomes visible. The world of spirit may be more real than the physical plane they inhabit, and they may struggle to be fully incarnate. These are also the remedies of those with abilities to see, move energy, or heal at a distance. They may see their work as the payment of a debt of some kind and can show enormous devotion to helping others in their healed state. The challenge is to find their ability to live in this world, to transform and regenerate.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Pluto and Charon; NASA
Picture in HDR technology of Sarcophagus in Chernobyl Zone; Piotr Andryszczak
Pluto – Hades Galleria e Museo Estense, Modena, Italy; Agostino Carracci