Planet Waves | Astrology as Homeopathy by Eric Francis


Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, 1755-1843, creator of homeopathy.

Astrology as Homeopathy
The Holistic Art of People and the Planets

By Eric Francis
Planet Waves Digital Media

_____He is a serious and unassuming young man with dark, watery eyes, and he's come in for an astrology reading. The astrologer can't help but notice that he looks just like an essential Pisces, mussed hair and all, with a sweet, dreamy face. It's his first reading, and he has no knowledge of astrology, just some mystical leanings and a hunch that maybe there's some useful information available.

_____The astrologer is not the predictive-type, more the psychological/spiritual-type, and she begins by saying to her young client, "Well, it would surely seem that work is a very important part of your life, and that you really need to do work that's meaningful to you, work that has a spiritual vision associated with it. And helping others is a big part of your happiness."

_____(The astrologer was speaking about the client's Moon in Sagittarius in the sixth house, with strong emphasis and confirmation provided by Vesta, the asteroid of selfless service, rising in the Cancer ascendant -- but does not explain this because the client is unfamiliar with astrological terminology.)

_____The client nods. In fact he's a very hard worker, most of it mental, but he's a dreamer, too, and he has dreams that take him way beyond his boring work. And other people: they are indeed very important. People surely need help.

_____"My, my, you have a lot of original ideas," says the astrologer (noticing Uranus in Virgo in the third house, where we do a whole bunch of thinking and reasoning, which Uranus would fuel with enormous freshness and intensity).

_____"You have a truly beautiful gift for taking very difficult-to-grasp notions and bringing them into a clear form that other people can not just understand, but put to good use as well. And [unconsciously slipping in a prediction because it's so obvious] I imagine you'll have many interesting opportunities to do this." (Here, the astrologer noticed that Uranus in the third is trine to a conjunction of Chiron and Neptune in the 11th house, where we get to bring our creative gifts into the culture.)

_____"And even if people don't understand you, you'll be able to hold your own, because you're a very strong person, you have a great sense of who you are. And destiny is calling you. Listen to it." (This, her interpretation of Saturn, Venus and Mercury, Pallas Athene and the Part of Fortune in Aries in the 10th house).

_____The client leaves feeling good about himself, in a sense, healed of his doubts. Yes, he says to himself as he ambles down the block dreamily, my work is important and my ideas do feel worthwhile, if difficult to for others understand. Yes, there is a sense of destiny calling. True, people don't always understand me, but I'll keep my chin up. I know I need to carry on with all of this."

_____What just happened?

_____The chart was that of Albert Einstein, and in this hypothetical reading, the astrologer resonated with the planets and aspects in the chart, and provided the client with a sufficient dose of who he is to remind him that it's okay to be that person with a clear conscience. The world, after all, is tough on individuality. Astrologers, on the other hand, are experts at it. There is a gift in our profession for recognizing who people are, and reminding them that's the only person they can really be. (It helps that astrologers are themselves categorically a bit weird, proving at least that weird can be functional.)

_____Time and time again, if it's done with love and care, we see this process of telling people about themselves as empowering to our clients; it sets them free from the expectations and rules of others, or unlocks the cage on jobs they hate and relationships that don't work for them. Astrology provides a glimpse beyond the values of a society that pushes our clients to stay trapped. And all we did (in a basic natal reading) was look at the chart, which we consider an energetic image of the client, and describe to the client a little about who they are -- just a little, enough to remind them that if somebody else knows that much from looking at a sheet of paper, then it must be true. A great motto for the astrological profession could be, "It's okay to be you."


Medicine for the Soul

_____There is a branch of holistic healing called homeopathy. The basic idea behind homeopathy is treating "like with like." A homeopath would treat a condition with a remedy that caused a similar condition in a healthy person; say, for example, a particular remedy caused stomach cramps that are worse when the person stands up. Another person reporting that combination of problems would be treated with a dose of a remedy which caused just this when tested. Allopathic (traditional) medicine tries to antidote a problem. When we have a bee sting, they give us an antihistamine. A homeopath would give a tiny dose of apis, which is made from bee venom.

_____Homeopathy works on another level as well, which is far more valuable. Many people suffer from chronic illness which has caused them to adapt to life in a way resulting in constant struggle. Or, a life of struggle has caused chronic illness, such as not having much money, thus sleeping in a drafty room, associated with ear infections, which leads to a greater sense of struggle. There is an imbalance mentally, and sickness physically. A homeopath would work with the client to ascertain what the underlying issue is, and prescribe a "constitutional remedy" that resonates with many of the mental and physical symptoms the client reports.

_____Let's say a woman comes into the homeopath's office suffering from mild depression, exhaustion and menstrual difficulties. She is a mother, she works hard to support her children and take care of the household. She feels like her husband does not recognize her plight, and is not in emotional contact with her. As a result, she withdraws into herself and hides in a brown fog of depression. Her difficult menstrual periods give her a chance to withdraw, however, a chance to hide away from the world for a little while. This has been going on for years. Doctors cannot help; they say she is "fine." Finally she seeks out a homeopath, who looks at the whole situation.

_____A homeopath would very likely prescribe a single dose of the remedy sepia. Sepia is made from cuttlefish ink; the cuttlefish hides herself in a cloud. When this substance has been potentized (diluted extremely, perhaps a thousand or ten thousand times, and made into a homeopathic remedy) and tested on healthy patients, it has caused similar feelings and symptoms. This remedy has helped many women come out of their depressed fog, and it is not toxic. The homeopath has treated "like with like." Classical homeopaths, as they are known, are less inclined to treat specific symptoms and more inclined to treat a whole person. They listen to the patient (unlike most doctors), they ask insightful questions, and take into account every factor, from how a patient sleeps to whether she has time to brush her teeth; what dreams they report and where and when their body hurts.

_____We could say that homeopathy, which originated in Germany in the 18th century, is the original holistic healing modality of the modern world, the first branch of Western medicine to fully integrate the mental, spiritual and physical aspects of being. Though we now know of a wide variety of mind-body-spirit therapies today, homeopathy was the first to stand on the table of a medical school and vehemently insist that we treat people as whole critters and not as slices of their tissue or psychological complexes. It is medicine with an underlying philosophy.

_____Homeopathy teaches that there is a vital force powering the human existence. When this vital force is compromised, disturbted, weakened or damaged, sickness results. "Disease is not an affection of the organs, but a disturbance of the vital force," writes Dr. Rajan Sankaran, one of the leading classical homeopaths today. "As long as the vital force is in control, no part of the body can be affected."

_____The goal of homeopathy, just as in astrology, is to restore health to the vital force. When the vital force is healed, then physical health follows. This is medicine, but medicine for the soul.


The Original Original Holistic Art

_____Yet astrology came thousands of years before homeopathy, and it takes much the same view. If we look objectively at what we do, we will see that in reading astrology, we attempt to perceive reality in a holistic way. Astrology views a person as a complete process; our 12 houses, 12 signs, many aspects and numerous planets, asteroids, centaurs and Arabic parts, in countless combinations, give a very complete -- and unique -- picture of the client.

_____Astrology is, by its nature, holistic because it considers the whole person. We look at mental properties in the air signs, for example, and emotional properties in the water signs and consider the material qualities of a person in the earth signs. We are trained to do this from the beginning. We also look at how the client moves through time (in the form of transits and progressions), and we work with their potentials as we look for hidden gifts, and acknowledge their existence in the client's life.

_____In working with a client's chart, we are not doing anything material, like Rolfing or medicating them with antidepressants; we are working with a picture of their energy. The chart, if it's anything at all, is an image of the vital force, how it is distributed, colored, shaped and flowing or not flowing. Some astrologers feel the chart is an image of the soul, others that it is a representation of a person's potential. The underlying connection is energy.

_____In astrology, the references and metaphors are celestial and elemental; in homeopathy, the references are physical, in the form of natural substances that have different properties. But they say the same thing. The homeopath does not use a chart to determine the nature of the client's condition, but rather the careful reporting and analysis of symptoms on all levels of the client's being. Dreams of being chased, no appetite for lunch, headaches on Saturdays, tingling sensation in the feet after drinking tea -- these are the homeopath's planets, signs, houses and aspects.

_____Homeopaths, like astrologers, have for centuries attempted to gain an understanding of the complex nuances of human nature. Members of both professions are driven by an insatiable curiosity coupled with a desire to help people stop suffering. The literature of both professions suggests that neither is afraid of experimentation, though homeopaths are especially bold about it. While most astrologers are reluctant to try new planets, homeopathy is often ready to try a new remedy, whether it's Coca-Cola or the condensed rays of a television set.

_____Homeopaths, who practice a healing art, have always known they were healers or healers-in-training. Astrologers, with the advent of the holistic movement, have begun to consciously aspire to viewing their profession as a healing art, though we could learn a lot from homeopathy in this respect as well. For one thing, homeopaths are very careful when they take a case. Statements are not made to the patient, nor a remedy prescribed, until there has been a careful reporting and analysis of the symptoms. The homeopath is trying to find out what is really going on in the patient's life, and this takes time.


Checking Past Transits

_____In a similar way, I suggest that astrologers, when working with a person confronting difficult situations, check the client's life carefully against past transits to see what happened when actual events are played out during those planetary events. This tells you how the chart works in "real life." I have found that Chiron works exceptionally well in this regard, and that a careful check of Chiron's transits against natal placements, including its aspects to Chiron's own natal position, the angles, the lunar nodes and planets, will give astrologers a deeper view on what has led a client to be in a particular condition. Perhaps the person is getting divorced, and you see certain transits associated with this. How does the history of relationships shape up against previous transits? The only way we can know is to ask.

_____Why Chiron? Chiron is the only archetype we use in astrology that refers directly and specifically to healing. Many astrologers have noted this phenomenon and put it to excellent use. Chiron is recorded in the myths a surgeon and healer and was the teacher of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. His process gives meaning to the struggles we face and to the wounds we suffer, and provides an understanding of how we can use these struggles to grow and become stronger people.

_____However, transits of Saturn (the return and squares, for example), Pluto and Uranus can also be very revealing about how a client processes their experiences, and are equally important. What is most important is that we pay attention to the details of what a client reports, remain flexible, and note the connections to the chart consciously.

_____I say this recognizing that astrologers do not generally do a thorough intake with new clients. Yet our clients often come to us with very difficult situations, not just for natal readings. If we really want to help our clients -- and they come to us specifically for help -- the better we understand their condition the more we can assist. That takes time and effort, but it is worth both.

_____I had personally floundered in my early sessions with clients until I was treated by a homeopath. I was impressed by her thorough interview methods, her impartiality, and her ability to both notice and put together details, and then began to adopt this method of working with people. Perhaps the greatest gift of this method is that astrologers will be able to use the chart to propose a single remedy to a client. They may be seeking a new job, a new relationship and want a child. After carefully taking the case and checking the aspects, they may discover that they need to track down their long-lost father and see whether he is alive, because the question may be tormenting them.

_____Most homeopaths are extremely judicious prescribers. They are seeking the single remedy that addresses a given set of conditions. Usually there is one, and it's worth taking the time to find. It may not work exactly this way in astrology in every case, but it is usually a good idea for an astrologer, in listening to the client, to be mindful of the factors that all their complaints, situations and objectives in life have in common. They are likely to tell one story because it's one person telling the story.


Remedies and Aspects

_____Sometimes it is difficult to conceptualize how a combination of placements or aspects manifest in a client's life. Our books will tell us about Mercury in Sagittarius, but not about Mercury in Sagittarius in the 12th house conjunct Vesta. Studying homeopathy, I have been able to gain a more clear understanding of how aspects manifest in the actual lives of the people with whom I work.

_____Let's use the example above. This individual came to me recently in a rather shaky position. She reported being involved in psychic activities, working with a mentor who was doing work to free souls trapped on the astral plane after they had died. Whether I "believed" this is not important, and it's important for astrologers to keep an open mind when told such accounts. What's important is that this is what the client was reporting. I understood from training and experience that there are certain risks associated with this activity, particularly when conducted in a weakened state.

_____The person felt lonely, isolated and depressed. Checking the chart, I discovered Mercury in Sagittarius just inside the 12th house cusp. This will naturally be given to experiment with psychic matters and have a hard time staying mentally or physically grounded. The conjunction to Vesta adds the theme of selfless service; of giving oneself away, and in the 12th house, to her discarnate clients on the astral plane.

_____As we were speaking, Chiron was exactly conjunct her natal Mercury-Vesta, and Mars was fast approaching. With Chiron, I saw the desire to do healing work on the astral plane; I saw the presence of a mentor; and I saw the potential for her to get injured in the process, particularly with Mars on its way. I asked two questions: one, are you smoking marijuana, and two, are you being treated by a homeopath and do you mind telling me what your remedy is?

_____The answer to the first question was yes. I calmly but effectively warned her that psychic work and smoking pot are not a good mix because marijuana wears down the membranes which both protect us and which allow us to hold our individual identity on those levels.

_____The answer to the second question was also yes. She was being treated by with anaholinum, a remedy made from peyoti cactus. It is mescaline, turned into a homeopathic remedy. All of the drug remedies have elements of isolation and this was no exception. Checking a modern materia medica called The Soul of Remedies by Dr. Rajan Sankaran, I learned about his take on the spiritual condition associated with anaholinum: "The experience of mescaline is often one of merging with one's surroundings or the feeling of being one with the whole of existence, seeing oneself without any boundaries. This is close to the highest spiritual experience as described in Hindu or Buddhist philosophy." This is an uncanny description of 12th house Mercury in Sagittarius.

_____"The need for such an experience arises from the feeling of having ho roots, of having no identity, of feeling totally isolated and separated from other human beings, so that one sees one's ego as being separate and totally mortal. This can create immense fear of losing one's very existence which is much more than the fear of death." This condition, the author says, is one of the mental states associated with developing cancer.

_____With this on the table, we were able to have a much more informed discussion about her astral-plane work, as well as her marijuana use, which had likely antidoted the anhalonium remedy, which was intended by her homeopath to address her feeling of rootless isolation and fear of death. I suggested that she inquire whether cannabis indica might be a more appropriate remedy to assist her in helping stop smoking marijuana, which was clearly adding to her problems and putting her in peril when doing her astral work.


Chiron, Saturn and Dog's Milk

_____Earlier in my work, I saw a chart where the native had a Saturn-Juno conjunction in Taurus exactly on the 7th house cusp. This alignment of Saturn with Juno, a powerful asteroid representing marriage and legal partnership, is associated with a strong feeling of loyalty and possessiveness in relationships -- but often a feeling of being stuck there. The energy of both Saturn and Juno is solidified by Taurus. The feeling of this aspect is very limiting, like the indoctrinated values system cannot catch up with who the person might otherwise be.

_____In her fifth house was Chiron in Aries, a house where we live as children all the time. This is high-powered creative energy, craving identity, wanting experience, needing freedom, yearning for sexual gratification. This person, the chart strongly suggests, needed to have a life that is -- at least for a while -- a total experiment in existence. But Saturn does not want to allow this. These two forces, or systems of values, were strongly at odds, creating a sense of chaos and disharmony. With Saturn and Juno in Taurus, we have a representation of someone else's values, traditional ones from the past, and those imposed by the partner as well (7th house theme). Chiron in Aries is an original; but the originality is contained within an imposed system of customs.

_____Reading the homeopathic literature some time later, I came across the remedy lac caninum, made from the milk of a dog, a remedy which reflects this underlying tension. Sanakran writes of this remedy, "What differentiates the dog from all other animals? It is an animal which is totally controlled, totally civilized. It has to suppress its basic animal nature and only express the controlled domestic side. You cannot make a cat perform tricks. A cat has its own individuality." A dog, he says, works to impress everyone else with how civilized it is, and if these characteristics are seen in a person, the result can be great pain and rage. People are not dogs, but often have to act like them.

_____A homeopath, coming across this conflict between the person forced to be civilized in a specific pattern of conduct, and the raging inner child who was never allowed to be a child, might prescribe lac caninum. It has been used with great success in such situations. As astrologers, we could work to see what injuries in the distant past might have led to this situation, and give the client a fair hearing (which they may have never had), recognize and empathize with their pain, and help them get a sense that they are not responsible for what was done to them as a child, particularly if it involved incest. Incest is a possibility because 5th house Chiron can represent a childhood sexual wound. We can remind them that they have the option to seek healing today. We can remind them that this wound, if it exists, can be a source of great power in their healing process and their contribution to the world.

_____It is worth mentioning the obvious way in which the issues of lac caninum -- and indeed of many remedies -- are universal in nature. All people must live and behave ourselves within civilization with the urges and instincts of the animals who we are inside. We will see many manifestations of this: married clients having "affairs" behind the backs of their partners; a priest who gets drunk and raises hell at parties, only to preach a tempered and moralistic sermon the next morning; and various other assortments of double lives. Yet there are times when the specific question or problem the remedy addresses is especially pronounced.

_____Though we cannot use the remedies until we are either certified homeopaths or at least have a strong sense of what we are doing, the language of homeopathy is a great help in conceptualizing an issue that a client is facing, giving it an image that makes it tangible. The method of homeopathy, with its detailed questioning, can help us get to the root of the situation, where real help is possible. Keeping a few good homeopathic books around your office, you will be able to learn a lot when a client tells you their constitutional remedy; it may, in a word or two, bring the whole chart into focus in a surprising way.


The Other Astrology

_____Studying the homeopathic literature, astrologers will discover a beautiful reflection of our own art, but cast in the garb of mundane substances, mental states and physical symptoms. We will find the example of a profession that is not afraid to ask questions, to explore unlikely possibilities and propose innovative solutions. We will have the example of a class of practitioners who live on the outside of the mainstream of modern science, but who rely heavily on science and who get results. In similar ways both homeopathy and astrology have attributes of being rooted in deep tradition but at the same time being far ahead of their times.

_____Both astrology and homeopathy have in common the experience of pushing the known limits of reality. Homeopathy uses medicinal substances that work with no material cause; potentized homeopathic remedies are diluted far beyond the possibility that even a single molecule of the substance made it into the final medicine. Their effect is "non-material." Astrology explores influences of celestial bodies so small, so far away or calculated mathematically that there is "no way they could possibly have an effect." And for these facts, both astrology and homeopathy have earned the derision of formal scientists throughout their respective histories. Yet both perservere as effective healing modalities.

_____But moreover, astrologers who investigate homeopathy will discover we are not alone in the cosmos among practitioners who are using subtle energy, seemingly abstract concepts and a holistic model of reality when working with someone we recognize as a whole person.++

Copyright 2001 by Eric Francis, all rights reserved.

Home | What's New