by David Lilley

Sulphur, the most ancient archetype in the history of our planet, can be equated with Adam. It has a predominantly male energy.

Our planet Earth was at first an incandescent globe which gradually cooled over millions of years. This early period of earth’s evolution was dominated by tremendous volcanic activity. The element most associated with volcanism is Sulphur or brimstone. The fumes emanating from volcanoes owe their offensiveness to the presence of Sulphur.

Sulphur symbolises first man, like a child, venturing forth into an entrancing, exciting new world, his mind filled with curiosity, inquisitiveness and wonder. He is a pioneer, a man of the earth, close to nature, the hunter-gatherer, handy, inventive and adventurous. Soon he is bewitched by the material world and worships its many idols, including himself. He swaggers through the portals of Eden, puffed with pride and ego, brash and bold.

Sulphur is forthright and open. What you see is what you get ­whether you like it or not. In keeping with its pungent vapours, the type is intrusive, unaware or uncaring of social niceties, and in the words of Dickens – “free from any drawback of delicacy”.

The Sulphur character

The first symbol of Sulphur is a powerful one – the volcano! The image is explosive and fiery. A nature given to explosive wrath which erupts suddenly and intensely in response to the slightest irritation, offence or frustration. This anger may quickly subside, often followed by remorse, or smoulder with sullen fury. There is passion in the volcano, and in Sulphur. It can be manifested in all facets of his life – be it sport, politics, science, philosophy or religion.

Fire symbolises intellectual, creative and artistic flair. Filled with curiosity and an adventurous spirit, possessed of a burning desire to investigate and analyse all things, be it a toy or the universe, he may become the inventive genius, the inspired visionary, the mad professor or the religious fanatic.

If art is his passion its form is most often innovative and “off-beat”. When unsuccessful they cannot understand why their talent is unappreciated. They believe they are at the cutting edge of whatever they do.

Fire is furthermore symbolic of the ego. A volcanic ego must be very big indeed. Too big for its own good and very selfish. They take things for granted, think everything is their due and show a lack of consideration, appreciation and gratitude. He is an Andy Capp. An ardent chauvinist who believes that women are destined to be at the beck and call of the man of the house. In this role he is invariably critical, irritable and intolerant. It is possibly one of the least introspective of archetypes, always believing that its possessions and performances are the best. Often shrewd about others and hypercritical, he remains uninformed about himself and very self-tolerant.

Some Sulphurs can come across as being unpleasantly haughty and arrogant. He is characteristically self-opinionated, impatient, headstrong and domineering. Pride comes before a fall, and this is often the lot of the puffed up Sulphur.

The expulsive power of the volcano is compelling. It reveals the remarkable ability of Sulphur to drive toxins and internal disease outwards onto the surface. It can counteract the suppression of emotional or physical symptoms, even when due to drug therapy. It can reverse the direction of disease flow and restore resistance. The reappearance of an old eruption on the skin is invariably a good sign when Sulphur has been prescribed.

The discharges of Sulphur are usually offensive and acrid, burning the surrounding tissues over which they flow.  Any of the openings of the body may appear red and inflamed. The lips of a Sulphur subject are often very red, as are the ears. Their breath, sweat and flatus will frequently be offensive, and it is not unusual for even a young child to suffer from a strong or offensive body odour.

There is also extreme heat and burning in the image of the volcano. The Sulphur patient is hot-blooded and intolerant of heat and of becoming overheated, as by overexertion. They suffer from burning pains and itching of the skin, which are worse from heat. The hands are hot and sweaty, and the soles of the feet burn so much that they cannot tolerate having them covered at night, and must stick them out from under the sheets. At the menopause, Sulphur women are troubled by hot flushes and sweats. Like the volcano in eruption and then in extinction, they may be overheated one minute and chilly the next, or they may experience excess of heat in one part and coldness in another.

In our comparison with the volcano we must not forget that volcanoes are not always active, they may even be extinct. The laziness and indolence of Sulphur are proverbial. Although the children may possess a quick and perceptive intelligence, due to laziness and procrastination, they are often underachievers. He has an aversion to anything which resembles work. He can be the typical couch potato, or an armchair philosopher, who has an answer for all the world’s problems, but never lifts a finger to help.

“Hellfire and Brimstone” conjures up an image of the impassioned evangelist denouncing the wicked and the unbeliever. Often a fundamentalist and highly superstitious, even when religious he is usually selfish, preoccupied with his own salvation, rather than that of his fellow man. He is intolerant of other religions.

The Sulphur child

The wild and wilful Sulphur child has been immortalised in the character of Dennis the Menace. They are in perpetual motion; mercilessly tease their siblings; are always into everything and at the centre of any mischief; extremely high spirited; naughty; forever getting into trouble and into fights; disobedient; unheeding and defiant of reprimand. Something must always be happening; they need plenty of action, stimulation and excitement..

No child can become dirtier or more dishevelled in shorter time than Sulphur, or prove so difficult to clean. Water is inimical to fire, and these fire children are averse to any serious use of water, as in washing, bathing and brushing teeth, but delight in using it to make mud, drench things and do irreparable damage. Their hair is in keeping with their volcanic nature. Unless wet and clinging to the scalp, it is wild and unmanageable, standing up at all angles, more like a hedgehog than a human. Its texture is unhealthy, coarse and brittle and it lacks lustre.

They also have unpleasant habits. They are inclined to chronic catarrhal discharges from the nose, ears and eyes. These are conveniently smeared off on their sleeves. They are forever digging around in their noses and eating the gleanings. Sulphurs are great nose pickers.

Coarseness and roughness are common characteristics of the lower Sulphur. Many a rough diamond is a Sulphur. This roughness is also to be seen in their lack of refinement and sensitivity. They are not shy and do not suffer from self-consciousness, nor are they easily embarrassed. They can be painfully blunt and forthright, often lacking in tact.

The Teenage Sulphur

Sulphur is possibly the teenager remedy, for its picture is replete with all the classic characteristics of that time of life: the complexes, prejudices, dissatisfaction, paranoia, selfishness, resentment of authority, rebelliousness, arrogance, insolence, sulkniness, laziness, untidiness, lack of hygiene, bad posture, bad skin, the love of the torn and the ugly, procrastination, lack of manners, lack of discipline, love of play and parties, irresponsibility, love of loud strident music, love of speed, high sex drive, late retiring – late rising, love of alcohol and of recreational drugs. Always looking for the short cut, the quick fix, they even try to gate-crash heaven by taking mind altering substances. There are many damaged Sulphur adolescents. 

The colours of Sulphur 

The language of nature is frequently expressed in colours.

When heated to its boiling point Sulphur becomes a sullen, dark, red, mobile liquid. Red is the colour of anger and passion. Sulphur is competitive and aggressive by nature. When hearing a Sulphur holding sway, boastful, self-opinionated and domineering, one may visualise archaic homo sapiens beating his chest and proclaiming his territory.  

Sulphur occurs in the most vivid, yellow crystals. Yellow symbolises characteristics which are essentially left cerebral: analytical, materialistic, logical, reductionist and scientific; showing a strongly male-type bias towards values and life. Sulphur generally represents control through the intellect.

Yellow is bright, the brightest and most penetrating colour in the spectrum; it catches the attention and insists upon being the centre of focus. Yellow has clarity, sharpness and agility and so too has the mind of Sulphur. It will leave no stone unturned in its quest for knowledge. Yellow is the colour of the scientific mind, dispassionately analytical, devoid of idealism, romanticism and reverence. Everything must have a concrete reason for existing, everything must add up, be weighed and measured. This focus upon reason can make him seem lacking in compassion – cold, calculating and even callous. Brilliant though they may be, many a Sulphur seems to lack soul.

Yellow is information, as in the yellow pages. Sulphur may set great store by general knowledge. He is a mine of information and collects facts like the Sulphur child collects bits and pieces. Both are human magpies. The value of what is collected is often only apparent to a fellow Sulphur. Both the quiz master and the whiz kid may be a Sulphur.

This curious mind is easily captivated by anything novel. They love new ideas and fresh angles on things. They always want the latest high-tech gadgets. Many Sulphurs never grow up, remaining overgrown schoolboys. Yellow is a play colour and Sulphurs love to play and to have toys. As they get older these toys become ever more expensive and sophisticated. Sulphur cannot bear to part with anything. His garage is filled with old junk and useless bits and pieces which he refuses to throw away, in case they should someday come in handy. The more discerning Sulphur becomes a serious collector of coins, stamps, art works, books or wine.

From an early age they have a remarkably well-developed sense of monetary value and soon develop an aptitude for business and a talent for making money. Keeping it may be more difficult. 

From childhood they are good with their hands and love constructing things. They are fascinated by anything mechanical and electrical, and seem to possess an instinctive knowledge of how they work. They are people who like to get their hands dirty or greasy. Either as a profession or a hobby, they enjoy building, restoring and doing maintenance work. Likewise, gardening and farming appeal to them. They have “green fingers”. They love nature and animals, and yet also love hunting, and are unable to perceive the contradiction in this.

Yellow captures the eye, it communicates, and may even intrude into our awareness. Sulphur is a good communicator. He dominates and monopolises conversations, loves the sound of his own voice, claims centre stage as his right and from this vantage point pontificates to one and all. Often they are highly entertaining, being consummate raconteurs, who enjoy an amazing vocabulary, a wonderful skill with languages and are blessed with a prodigious memory. They are often involved in the media as journalists, announcers, commentators, critics or entertainers.

Sulphur burns with a blue flame indicating an affinity for the venous system and the venous circulation. It is a remedy for haemorrhoids and varicose veins. The inflamed tissues and mucus membranes of the Sulphur case are bluish in colour and not red as in most other remedies.

DAVID LILLEY is a Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy. He trained at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and developed his practice in South Africa over the last 35 years. He is internationally renowned as a teacher of the materia medica.