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In our first masterclass we discussed the nature and temperament of Sulphur, the fire element reflecting the energies of the volcanic phase of evolution. Sulphur represents first man whose ability to experience human love, to have foresight, insight, self-consciousness and death-awareness, exposed him to the possibility of prolonged fear, grief and bereavement. These emotions created first dis-ease and later disease, as man, cast out of the Garden of Eden, stepped out of harmony with himself, nature and life.
This is the beginning of his quest. He is freed from the instinctive restraint and unconscious wisdom of nature and sent out into the world in search of his spiritual destiny. It is Sulphur who swaggers through the portals of Eden and, filled with the bliss of ignorance (not stupidity), discovers fire, his birthright, and becomes the hunter-gatherer and the pioneer.
Through evolutionary sequence the next archetype of the materia medica is Calc carb – the oyster – representing an awful sense of isolation, severance from mother nature, separation fear and naked exposure to a hostile environment. It is Calc carb who first becomes aware of being forsaken and alone under a menacing, over-hanging cosmos, pawn-like, solitary and insignificant, and so painfully conscious of duty and responsibility displays a mollusc-like need to produce a calcareous shell to protect herself against a sense of self-consciousness, inferiority and vulnerability to legions of dangers.
We can perceive that the nomadic wanderer, adventurer and explorer Sulphur gives place to an archetype which cherishes the security of hearth and home and is settled, domesticated and rural by nature. In ancient times the fire of Sulphur became the sacred fire that sanctified the home, the temple and the city. As the fire in the hearth it became the central focus of the home, providing warmth, illumination and sustenance, symbolising the protective, sheltering and nurturing qualities of Calc carb and its associated mythological archetype, Hestia, the Greek goddess, whose presence was necessary to make a house become a home.
The first organisms to evolve in the super-hot environment of primitive earth were sulphur dependent. In the pre-Cambrian period, 2000 million years ago, the ancient seas provided the birthplace for the next important organism in the chain of emerging life forms. This was the blue-green algae, cyanobacteria, an organism with the ability to utilise solar light energy to manufacture its own nutrients whilst releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. The cyanobacteria were also able to secrete calcium carbonate, which they did in prodigious amounts and in a most spectacular fashion, to create their communal homes. These limestone edifices, known as stromatolytes, endure to this very day, despite millions of years of erosion. The cyanobacteria were the forerunners of all the myriad species of shell creatures, the molluscs, which were to follow – including the oyster.
From the inception of life, Calc carb has had to do with home-building, community-building, security and protection. The stromatolytes stand as monuments to the immovable stubbornness, the persevering industriousness and constructive capacity of Calc carb. Likewise the great limestone formations of the world, built up over eons of years by the aggregation of myriads of shells of tiny sea creatures give testimony to the slow, progressive and enduring nature of the Calc carb life processes. The same ordered and purposeful energy pervades the activities and communities of the social insects – the termites, ants and bees – and the energy is matriarchal.
Within the oyster lies the pearl, cool to the touch yet holding a hidden iridescent fire, seen as a symbol of spiritual wisdom and esoteric knowledge. Hence Christ’s use of the metaphor – “neither cast ye thy pearls before swine”. The pearl was amongst jewels the quintessential symbol of light, femininity and the moon and was also an emblem of fertility, purity and perfection. The oyster has always been a symbol of female sexuality, fertility and the creative power of the feminine principle. In its closed form it is the image of innocence, chastity, discretion and secrecy. This intuitive wisdom of the past throws light on our understanding of the mystery of this great remedy, for all these qualities are inherent in Calc carb.
the calc carb adult…
Homeopathic Calc carb is derived from the middle layer of the oyster shell and must be regarded as an animal remedy and not just a mineral. Calc carb is the fundamental representative not only of the molluscs but also of all life forms derived from or influenced by the sea, including those mammals which returned to the sea and developed fish-like attributes. The obese human image is their constitutional counterpart.
The body of the oyster is soft, yielding, spineless and flabby to the touch. It is cold, clammy and wet; to the eye it is pallid and anaemic looking. Many a Calc carb subject possesses these characteristics. We can admire the grace and strength of a whale moving through its natural domain, but if this ancestral type should preside over a child or adult, they may resemble a beached whale, unfit for terrestrial life - overweight, flabby, lacking muscle tone, awkward and clumsy, with weak joints, bones unable to bear their weight, prone to spinal curvatures, dislocations, sprains, strains and cramps. They lack stamina, strength and breath and the least effort or emotion causes them to flush and break out in a cold, clammy sweat.
Compared with the shells of other molluscs, that of Calc carb is crude, irregular and rugged, its features may be coarse and unrefined, large and thickened, peasant-like with large nose and lips, especially the upper one which may appear swollen. From these beginnings two physical types emerge.
The first produces the classic picture of the Calc carb woman: often blonde and blue-eyed; a great fat woman without breath, strength or energy; without firmness, colour or health; fair, fat and flabby with a hand that feels like an oyster, cold, clammy and boneless; and damp, cold, clammy feet. These types, male or female, are generally indolent, inert and sedentary, lacking initiative; like the oyster ever waiting for life to come to them; content and complacent, lethargic and unambitious, not easily aroused or stirred and immovably stubborn. They are often awkward and clumsy. Extremely self-indulgent, their one enthusiasm is food. They adore sweets, especially pastries, and even more so if topped with cream; hot meals, substantial food which comforts and rewards, stodgy, starchy foods – bread, potatoes, pasta; eggs in any form and dairy products. Sweet, salt and sour are equally appealing to the palate. The price is obesity, cellulite, shortness of breath, especially when ascending stairs, heartburn, flatulence, diaphragmatic hernia, abdominal distension, inability to tolerate tight clothes, a sluggish liver, gallstones and chronic constipation.
The second type is sturdy, strong, vigorous and industrious. Earthy, honest, good-natured, generous and hearty. Blessed with immense patience, endurance and stubborn perseverance, they work and build assiduously, adhering faithfully to predetermined systems and structure. They are ordered, precise, meticulous, reliable and responsible. They are very capable, always painstaking and practical, whether it is in the home, out on the land, or in business. Their lifelong striving is to provide security, sustenance and education for their dependents and themselves rather than wealth.
Paradoxically some may present a mixture of these two types: either a soft, flabby exterior with a hard kernel of resolve and determination, or a tough, powerful exterior and a soft, timid, marshmallow-like interior.
Unfortunately like all the carbons, Calc carb may suffer burn-out. Their tendency to take on ever increasing responsibilities; their diligence and unremitting application to their work, driven by their need to provide and protect, and often a fear of poverty and want, leads to a downward spiral culminating in exhaustion, loss of motivation and the will to go on. They become timid, indecisive, mentally confused and finally fear for their sanity and that people will notice their mental deterioration. Sanity is their pearl. It is like the queen at the centre of the termite nest or the hive. Without her, structure and order are lost – all is confusion and collapse.
There is a slowness and ponderousness about Calc carb. The metabolism, the thyroid, the glandular development, the mental, emotional and physical growth and maturation, the venous and lymphatic circulations, the resistance to infection, the ability to repair and convalesce and the digestion, are slow and tardy. The intestinal functions are so slow that they feel healthier when constipated.
The woman who manifests Calc carb in her life is the hearth keeper, a homely presence, committed to her family and her domestic responsibilities, which she discharges with a warm and caring selflessness. Calc carb finds housekeeping a meaningful activity rather than a chore. She is a woman who finds a sense of inner peace, harmony and fulfilment as she accomplishes her everyday tasks. Nor does she work with any sense of sufferance, martyrdom or righteousness. Her (or his) hospitality and generosity are legendary. Her home is her oyster and she is the pearl at its centre. Whether as guest or family member the Calc carb home is a good place to be.
With time she becomes the wise old woman, the elder of the family, who has witnessed it all and has emerged undaunted and seasoned, able to give wise counsel and spiritual insight. The grit of life experience has produced within her the pearl of wisdom. She remains remarkably detached and stable, philosophically unperturbed by the vagaries of life. The spiritual path of Calc carb is often the path of work, known in yoga philosophy as the path of karma – by which one serves the creation through selfless, loving work. Calc carb builds and works and serves, and in its highest form sacrifices self through service, without expectation of recognition or reward.
the calc carb child…
The Calc carb infant is often a floppy baby – soft, fat and flabby, with a big head and a distended abdomen; fair-haired, fair-skinned and blue-eyed; bloated and dimpled rather than of solid, hard fat. They sweat copiously about the head at night, wetting the pillow. The perspiration and the entire child smell sour. Their hands and feet are cold and clammy. Their complexion may be peaches and cream, but often they are too pale; chalky-white and frequently anaemic. They suffer terribly when cutting teeth, which is often delayed, developing respiratory tract infections and a diarrhoea which is sour, pale, offensive, and acrid, burning the buttocks. They soon become prone to recurrent colds, ear, tonsil and chest infections. Their fevers are intense and may cause pyrexial convulsions. Belladonna is often the best remedy for the acute phase of Calc carb conditions, but it is Calc carb which can change the constitution and build resistance.
These little ones are often slow in reaching their milestones. Usually this is not due to any mental incapacity or deficiency. It may be aggravated by excess weight and lack of muscle tone, but generally it is a reluctance to emerge from their shell or a belief that all they need will come to them, like the ocean brings food to the immobile oyster. The fat Calc carb baby is content to sit where placed, twiddling its toes or amusing itself with some object, for hours on end. Their hesitancy is often due to an innate fear of a hostile world. In the extreme case autism may result, producing an undemanding low-care infant that remains withdrawn and unresponsive, disinterested in those about them and even averse to physical contact and caresses. However more frequently, baby is quietly assimilating, digesting and storing all the impressions it receives, and finally astounds everyone by suddenly standing, having never crawled, and uttering a string of words, having previously said only “mama”.
The slowness may continue through school. Much encouragement and support are essential from both parents and teachers. It is vital that they receive a good grounding on which to build their future knowledge systematically. With a structured foundation, time and patience Calc carb may surpass the achievements of a more precocious child. Often Calc carb is the fabled tortoise that outstrips the hare.
the calc carb fears…
We have seen that it was Calc carb who, in the process of evolution, first became aware of being separated and isolated, abandoned and forlorn, in what they perceive as a threatening environment, and sought to hide within a shell. The Calc carb child and adult have all manner of fears which are present from the cradle.
First amongst these is a deep and irrational fear that their parents will abandon them. The child fears almost everything it sees, especially anything new and unfamiliar. Their fears are increased after nightfall; they are afraid of the dark, of being alone, of ghosts and monsters. These are children who need to sleep with their parents. On closing their eyes before sleep they are terrified by horrible faces; when asleep they are prey to dreadful nightmares; when awake they are deeply disturbed by seeing anyone facially disfigured or maimed. They are frightened by anything grotesque. Scary movies haunt them for weeks and provoke nightmares.
They are terribly sensitive, self-conscious, shy and timid, easily take offence and fear being mocked or ridiculed. They dislike being watched and fear public performance. Calc carb is a remedy for school phobia and for children who have been abused, sexually or otherwise.
Other fears are: heights; claustrophobia; dogs; insects, especially spiders; disease – TB, cancer, infections, insanity – they are hypochondriacs and have symptoms which are worse for thinking of them and they despair of recovery; the future; misfortune; accidents; poverty; starvation; storms and natural disasters. They cannot bear hearing about tragedies and terrible things happening, tending to identify with the suffering of others. They are stubborn in their fears and not easily reassured. They also have a fear of authority figures. They pick up on people’s “vibes” and may develop an unreasoning antipathy towards certain people. Fearing life as they do, they may, even at an unusually young age, become preoccupied with religion and death, and whether there is life after death. This may progress to religious melancholia.
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.