This article first appeared in The Homeopath – Journal of the Society of Homeopaths, in 2011. Reprinted courtesy Rix Pyke
In 1960 a survey was made of the state of homeopathy in England and America. It found that 3/5ths of the graduates from Homeopathic medical colleges in the States were over 60, and that in the UK, where there was no formal academic training of homeopaths, 3/5ths were over 50. Homeopaths were a dying breed – and most of them, slowly heading towards apparent extinction, were men. The Second World War had devastated homeopathy around Europe. The slow decline was not just in Britain, but throughout the whole of Europe.
After every Autumn and Winter will come a Spring. In this article I am proposing that Thomas Maughan and John Damonte were the heralds of that Spring. They were the two teachers who, with their roots in the homeopathy of the past, carried the seed of homeopathy into the new era. If they were the seed of modern, professional homeopathy today, so we are the various branches, buds, leaves, flowers and fruit of that seeding.
Thomas Mughan John Damonte
In this article I am focusing on Dr Thomas Maughan DSc as a teacher of homeopathy, as a homeopath and as a teacher of the druid spiritual philosophy, which came hand in hand with this resurgence of homeopathy. Thomas Maughan and John Damonte were also two of the forefathers of the Society of Homeopaths as in 1970, along with a dozen or so other homeopaths, they responded, to ‘the difficulties practicing Homeopaths who are not on the Medical Register could encounter if nothing was done to present their case to the Officials of the Ministry of Health who will be implementing the Medicine’s Act.’ Dr Maughan as Chairman and Damonte as Secretary along with Edwin Tomkins, W.Fletcher and John Wilcox formed the committee and on February 21st 1970 at the first EGM the Society of Homeopaths was formed. Thomas Maughan’s handwritten addendum to the first set of rules stated that ‘Full membership shall be open to any practicing homeopath who is not on the General Medical Register and Associate membership shall be open to any layman desirous of supporting the objectives of the Society.’
In May 1973 it was reported that ‘due to the enormous efforts of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists …plus intervention by the International Federation of Practitioners of Natural Therapeutics, the provisions of the Bill are now reasonably favourable to the practitioner of natural therapeutics who prescribes medicine.’ So we were safe for the time being. The SoH went into abeyance and Damonte and Maughan focussed on the teaching.
Dr Maughan had been part of a group of committed homeopaths who had kept homeopathy classes alive in the London region, sometimes during and following WW II. Prior to 1972 he held public homeopathy classes in Notting Hill as well as the Saturday Medical class which Companions of the Druid Order could attend and which were held fortnightly at his home in South London. During 1972 Thomas suffered several heart attacks and the classes were amalgamated and all held at his home in Calton Avenue, Dulwich. Meanwhile John Damonte taught a regular North London class. What has become known as Thomas’s South London Group then became comprised of members of the public new to homeopathy, members of the public who had studied for some time and Companions of the Druid Order who were studying homeopathy along side their druid classes.
The seed being sown by Maughan and Damonte, both members of the Druid Order, was a seed containing the two strands of homeopathy’s double helix: spiritual philosophy and homeopathic philosophy. The druid teachings have come through a long line of esoteric information from Ancient Egypt, through Greek Mysteries, the ancient Hebrew texts, Paracelsus, Swedenborg, Rosicrucian and other hermetic groups.
Jerome Whitney writes: ’The fundamental philosophy of the Order is the same that has inspired the major wisdom philosophies throughout the centuries. The basic concept is that spirit works from within outward into material manifestation…. Consciousness and humanity are evolving and … the way to learn to participate in that evolution is to study and learn from the cycles of nature and the world around us.‘ Who better suited to grasp this dual teaching than people open to spirit and with a group spirit of their own? The young people of the hippy generation.
Mary Titchmarsh told me “ We’d been through love and peace and it was when the hippies were turning towards the spiritual stuff – The Beatles went to India – that Thomas gave some talks at a commune in World’s End in Chelsea”. She visited him with her American macrobiotic teacher a few weeks later and Thomas turned to her after a while and asked “And why are you here?” to which she replied, in the true hippy questing way : “I want to know the truth!” Soon afterwards she started the Homeopathy classes and, as she described it: “I was hooked!”
Janet Snowden said in the SoH Newsletter in June 1990 ‘His teaching emphasised the development of the intellect. To him clarity, discipline, precision were very important….I needed a vision then because the hippy vision had failed and I could share his vision of helping to change the world while working in harmony with the laws of nature and of the planet’.
So by 1972 the druid classes and the homeopathy classes, known as the Saturday Medical, were well under way. Young people were drawn to the druid teachings and homeopathy in equal measure and the classes and the Order flourished. Dr Maughan taught from his own Materia Medica notes, combining notes made from his practice, which Kaaren Whitney describes as “a great and strong foundation… our best and strongest tool.” She had attended the homeopathy classes since 1970 and remembers that as the years went on and she was hearing a repeat of some of the remedies, she would be about to write down what he had said previously, “He was so clever – he knew – and so he changed the anecdote!”
Robert Davidson explained to Rowena Rowson ‘On the first evening the theory took an hour and a half. Just the once. I liked that. After that we did MM before tea and cases after tea’. People were encouraged to bring their own cases as soon as they could. Mary Titchmarsh said “He didn’t give you the feeling that Homeopathy was difficult…straight away he taught the tissue salts and encouraged you to go out and use them”.
Peter Chappell was there too: ‘ The room was full to the brim of people sitting on benches, stools and the floor, anywhere they could – making notes….He didn’t teach about repertory, anybody else’s MM or any systems…all you needed to learn was materia medica. Most importantly, he was inspiring’. Kaaren Witney said that one of the most important things he taught along with the MM was the need to “look behind the doors – not just look at what is being presented.” He encouraged everyone to look at what was motivating the patient, look at the faces of people on the tubes and buses, develop powers of observation. He taught from his extensive knowledge of esoteric information adding numerology, palmistry and astrology. As Jerome Whitney said “he would talk about spiritual things but….it was not abstract alone, it was always tied to practical examples and physical reality. It was not airy fairy. It was anchored. Both spiritual and anchored – left brain and right. You need both faculties developed in order to prescribe.”
Talking with the students of these classes I get a sense of the incredible energy that was being released in what turned out to be a very short time – Thomas Maughan died in 1976 and John Damonte had died a few months earlier in October 1975. Thomas was working in a three-fold way: the homeopathy classes, the druid classes and his homeopathic practice. Many of those early students also became his patients. Mary Titchmarsh: “He saw all these Sulphur hippies and started to release their blocks so they could find themselves and get on their paths”. His aim was to get you to “be yourself. Be the best you can. ‘Enjoy yourself’ was his catch phrase…fulfil yourself but have a higher purpose”.
Patients reported a huge amount of love and acceptance in Thomas Maughan’s consulting room. In contrast, in the classes he was often experienced as fierce. Janet Snowdon: “He had a vision of a group of homeopaths who would be able to carry on after him and that was why he was so fierce with us. There was a determination that we should be good practitioners”. Mary Titchmarsh said “His concern for us was that we should ‘get’ the teaching. If he thought we needed a heavy hand he’d give it”. However the Saturday Medical classes were comprised of people who had joined the order alongside people who had not, and there was sometimes a misunderstanding as to why he would be so harsh with some students. Kaaren Witney explains “In the druid classes you got the kinks knocked out of you. It was the only way to make a good person, a good homeopath. It felt terrible at the time because we hold onto our kinks – but they were well and truly knocked out.”