Homeopathy Papers

Ferrum metallicum

David Lilley
Written by

Iron – The Element

Warrior archetype

Though the world entered the new millennium with bright hopes for a new and better future, possibly even an idyllic, peaceful Golden Age, strife and conflict are  escalating. Never a day goes by without news of some act of savagery and destruction. The forces of disorder are proliferating, seeking to undermine stability and establish anarchy. Today violence has never been more indiscriminate. We are yet in the grip of the Iron Age, the gods of war remain insatiable and the shadow-warrior moves in our midst.

An ambivalent metal

It has been the destiny of iron more than any other metal to serve the forces of war and destruction, yet, like all the metals, it possesses a profound ambivalence. The intuitive response of ancient civilisations to this powerful substance emphasises its symbolic ambiguity. The Aztecs prized meteoric iron as a celestial and sacred metal falling from heaven as a gift from the gods, whilst the Egyptians equated it with the bones of Set, a destructive, diabolical divinity, worshipped by some, execrated by others, but universally feared. He embodied primeval power perverted to wicked ends and was perceived as a negative force in the cosmic and moral conflict between good and evil.

Iron-copper polarity

Ancient Chinese tradition sees iron and copper as polar opposites, iron being base, yang, masculine, a fire element and related to the colour red, while copper is noble, yin, feminine, a water element and related to the colour black. Other cosmologies perceived the same contention: hard, crude, rigid, dark iron when contrasted with soft, subtle, warm, shining copper, appearing as the dark or shadow aspect – “lord of darkness and night” – the perfidious purveyor of carnage and death, while copper represented brightness, light and love. In modern myth, Tolkien portrays a corresponding distinction between the loathsome, bestial, warlike orcs and the exquisite, gentle, spiritual elves, and likewise between Gandalf, the noble warrior wizard and Saruman, the black-hearted, fallen wizard. Darth Vader of Sky Wars, masked in steel, is the quintessential dark warrior, who, like Saruman, is a manifestation of malicious and misguided power. His laboured breathing is in keeping with the marked asthmatic tendency of Ferrum (invariably worse at midnight). The “Set-complex” of virtue corrupted, demonstrated by these two mythical beings, is symbolised in the inexorable corrosion and disintegration of iron over time to a ravaged travesty of its pristine form.

A vital metal

As the molten globe of the newly created Earth began to cool, the closely related elements, iron and nickel, gravitated to form the core of the planet. Here, their magnetic, ethereal energies radiate the masculine and feminine forces of Gaia. Iron is essential to the “life” of the planet. It is also vital to the life processes of all plants and animals. It is the core atom of haemoglobin, the respiratory pigment of mammals. In the human being it therefore holds centrestage, built into the blood, which together with the heart, expresses the very pulse and passion of the ego. Hence, Ferrum must be regarded as one of the most fundamental archetypes in the human psyche and its relationship to haemoglobin, blood and the fire of the ego confirms the ancient knowledge of its kinship with the colour red.

Red and the body

Physically, red signifies fever and this is common to the acute Ferrum state, but even more so for Ferrum’s “tissue salt”, Ferrum phosphoricum, a remedy as important as Aconite and Belladonna in treating fever. Organically, red indicates the blood, heart, circulation and blood vessels, and organs that are particularly rich in blood – the thyroid, lungs, liver, spleen, reproductive organs and muscles. Organ relationships, when pronounced, often provide insight into nature and temperament. Ferrum is above all splenic, sanguine and choleric.

Artwork showing an impact crater on a Martian landscape – the rocks’ orange colour is due to a high content of iron oxides

Red and the spleen

The spleen symbolises anger, indignation, irascibility and especially rancour and bitter resentment. A Ferrum knows well how to nurse a grudge and “vent his spleen”. True to the warrior code, the cause of such grievance is invariably a betrayal of trust, breach of loyalty or a slight to reputation. The lower Ferrum is incensed by the least opposition or challenge to his authority. He is always right and cannot tolerate contradiction or criticism which he can never forgive; the offender will either be ostracised or become the victim of reprisal. Their anger is inordinate – it is wrath, rage and fury – when the “blood is up” they “see red”!

Red and the blood

In the sanguine disposition, the blood runs fast and furious, accompanied by sparkling eyes, a buoyant, jaunty air and flushed countenance. Their manner is assured, confident and optimistic and if put to the test they are found indomitable and courageous. True to the medieval meaning of sanguine, if called upon, they are willing (sometimes eager) to shed blood, even their own. How could it be otherwise with iron, the element of blood and the implement of war? They are excitable, warm, romantic, ardent and animated, given to passions and enthusiasms. They believe, love and hate with passion. Without focus they decline into boredom.

Red and the lungs

Ferrum has a particular affinity for the lungs and has often been used successfully in the treatment of asthma, particularly when exercise-induced, and tuberculosis, especially the incipient stage in young people. This relationship to TB imparts to the archetype a restless, romantic, adventurous spirit that loves excitement, stimulation and challenge; an idealistic, often altruistic, need to bring about change either by reformation or revolution; and a sense of the imminence of death.

Red and the root chakra

Red and Ferrum are principally related to the first or root chakra, a dense, swirling vortex of vital-force energy situated at the base of the pelvis. Physically and energetically it is our very foundation, providing the stability and security upon which our vitality, health and survival depend. The Ferrum martial arts exponent aligns his stance with this pyramid of power, giving him poise, balance and the potential for explosive, yet controlled, action or reaction. He taps into the male and female vitality of the earth core with which he resonates, and is thus imbued with the panther-like strength and grace of the warrior-dancer.

About the author

David Lilley

David Lilley

Dr. David Lilley was born in Leeds in 1940, the son of a homeopath. His family emigrated to South Africa in 1949. David studied medicine at the University of Pretoria and after qualifying spent three years at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital and the London College of Osteopathy. He studied under Drs. Blackie, Twentyman, Raeside, Kennedy and Foubister. After obtaining his MFHom he returned to South Africa and joined his father in a practice in 1966. He has been in an exclusively homeopathic and osteopathic practice for the past 41 years. In 1994 he started the first homeopathic course for medical doctors in South Africa. This course has now evolved into the SA Faculty of Homeopathy, of which he is the Director of Education. In recent years he has been a visiting lecturer in the UK and other countries. In his lectures he weaves together homeopathic art and science, analytical psychology, mythology, chakra and colour theory, natural science and spiritual philosophy to provide a rich tapestry of perennial wisdom and knowledge. David has been described as an "inspiring teacher with an incredible in-depth knowledge of the remedies, who also shares many practical tips on the management of acute illnesses". http://www.saltirebooks.com/dl.htm

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