Alastair Gray

Written by Elaine Lewis

An interview with Alastair Gray by Elaine Lewis. Read this fascinating interview with Alastair Gray about his life with homeopathy.

This is so exciting because you are the expert on spiders and snakes, am I right?

Well, firstly, I should address that point because I would straight away say that I am no expert.

Oh, I see. Well, thank you for coming. Next!

But I am certainly interested, and yes I have done a lot of work and preparation for lectures and articles on those creatures, but in reality I have collated and reworked and massaged some great work by other authors. They include Deborah Collins in New Zealand, Keith Avedissian in Australia, and then Sankaran and Farouk Master in India, then Massimo’s work and also Karen Allen in the US. They have all contributed to a kind of synthesis which I have built up and present. Perhaps what I do differently is focus on building a 3 dimensional profile of the families and the individual members of those families by being critical of what has been said about them before. I also use a lot of video and photos to freak students out. I am fascinated by what they evoke in me. I have to say that one of the reasons I embarked on some of this work was because of my abject terror when it came to spiders. I hate them. So much so I actually caught myself out one day and had to ask why. What were the things they evoked in me? All dark and steamy stuff. Anyway from doing some provings – especially White Tailed Spider I have to say (touch wood) that my feelings to them are much more balanced. Right now for example it is spider season in Sydney, and they are everywhere outside the house. Massive ones. Huge. Some of the webs are like steel poles!

And when does spider season end, because I would certainly hate to be wandering cluelessly over to Sydney in the wrong season! But getting back to our topic, which I think was spiders and snakes, it has occurred to me that we rely so heavily on Lachesis and Tarentula, and know so little about the other snakes and insects as remedies that my question would be, if I could just stop thinking about massive spiders, do you find that Elaps, Bothrops, Cenchris, Vipera, Crot., etc., and the other spiders–Latrodectus, Aranea ix., etc. are needed just as often to solve cases as the few we know so well?

It’s a great point and I think it is very likely. We can postulate that our Lachesis and Apis cures could well have been more elegant and refined and more gentle and rapid and permanent had a more accurate family member been given. Likewise, when we come to lecturing and presenting the profile of such remedies, we often attribute a quality of the family – say the snakes, to Lachesis and the information becomes unfairly weighted. I have been guilty of this myself in my own lectures, but attempt these days to be much more accurate in presenting. Essentially we give these polycrests because we have some solid provings and because time has confirmed some of that information. Lachesis was proved in 1828. That’s almost 200 years of continuous use. But its hard to be so confident in the proving information of a recently proved remedy. Its sure easier and safer in a clinic to go with the polycrest as opposed to the freshly proved and untried remedy. Apis rather than Culex. Lachesis rather than Python. Platina instead of Iridium. On the one hand it makes such sense to assume that all medicines are equal. They are all unique and therefore all should be considered as possibilities at the start of a case. Perhaps simply what is missing in these lesser used remedies is a meaningful proving, perhaps some deeper knowledge of the origin of the substance and time to get some solid clinical information.

That said I have to admit that when it comes to newer remedies I am often a little hesitant. I will these days be wary until they are shown to be valuable. I have so many prescriptions of remedies such as Dove, Brassica, Dragon Fly and Fire and Culex to name a few that did absolutely nothing. Those prescriptions were often based on a lecture I have heard or a direct translation from the proving or from reading an article. It’s not to criticize those provings but to point out that we need more information about their clinical application. In these situations my enthusiasm for the sexy prescription got the better of me! On the other hand I would not be with out some of these new additions especially since so many times they have come to the fore in those cases where the familiar polycrests are redundant. You’ll notice I am hedging my bets.

Are we losing a lot of cases because we can’t recognize these other insects and reptiles?

Without a doubt yes yes. Scholten says the most amazing and obvious things in one of his books. To paraphrase he says if you don’t know what the remedy is in the prescription to a patient, then chances are you don’t know the remedy or it hasn’t been proven yet! I love that. It makes me so enthusiastic about the authentic magic of the proving and the value of it. There is absolute value in exploring the unknown in our potential materia medica. There are squillions of species begging for a proving and from all the kingdoms. Australia for example is just pumping with deadly stuff, jellyfish and lizards and snakes and weird stuff. And then theres the world of the plants and minerals too. The homeopath Peter Tumminello whom I work with in Sydney is doing incredible work on some of the gem stones.

But all of that said there is a strong part of me that tempers that enthusiasm for unbridled expansion for an appreciation of what we already have. Do we really need 3000 remedies? Really ? I doubt it. Hahnemann had 10 at one stage and then 50. To that end a lot of my work has been in the reproving of some older remedies to get some clinical verification and validation, Mosquito, Cockroach, Cactus, Liquorice. And furthermore and so important is this other belief I have. While it sure helps to have a great grasp of materia medica and have so much incredible information of remedies in your head, it doesn’t necessarily make you busy. It doesn’t necessarily translate into a recipe for success. From what I have seen a busy and meaningful practice often comes from a fusion of qualities. In New Zealand this is what my post graduate program, is called. The Fusion Sessions. This is our focus. I am focused on getting our great practitioners and students busy in their clinics. This is what fires me. The successful homeopath is often an all rounder. A listener; with passion, who can run a small business and yet have a solid grasp of the technical skills of the homeopath. This is really what I want to push in Canada at my seminars. Yes, focus on the technical skills of Homeopathy, such as the second prescription and grasping deeper and more vital aspects of materia medica. But more than that, remember that the healing art of homeopathy is in the listening to the story of the patient. How to be with a client. How to massage information out of them. And how to earn a living as you do this. How to stay alive and energized and enthused and passionate in the process.

Need to go to bed now…

Then I’ll just go on talking, shall I? You probably can’t hear me over the giant crickets anyway; but, I once heard someone say that whatever rubric Lachesis is in, you can just assume the other snake remedies are there too. Do you subscribe to that?

No way. That is going too far and is very inaccurate. In fact it’s outrageous. The law of similars voiced through the proving is essentially the major way we get our information about medicines. In Herings provings and the subsequent provings, Lachesis creates some very characteristic and unique symptoms in the provers. Death Adder does something else. Python does something else. Naja does something else. Its all very well to be smart and look for the common features in the different members of a family but hang on. Homeopathy is about difference. It is about individuality. It is the differences between these these substances which is important. If you are to say however I have noticed that there is a lot of strong sexual energy in most of the remedies that come form the sea, or isn’t it interesting that the Kali’s have strong issues around duty then I am happy to buy that. But to turn the repertory into an amorphous innacurate rubric sharing would never catch my vote. We have to be a little careful with the emphasis on the families and kingdoms. There is a lot of great work being done here but…..Heres an example. When a homeopath writes and says in examining the remedies of the conifers I notice that they all seem to be about the same issue, and this is the issue and here are the rubrics I have chosen to assert and justify my claim, there is a lot of very subjective selection going on. What about all the rubrics from the family members that were uncommon. There will be far more of those than the common ones. The way I see it at the moment is, that in the desire for some reliable materia medica we must come to a synthesis of information based upon the provings, the toxicology, the cured clinical cases, the family information from where the substance derives etc. But we cannot rely on just one source of information. We need to be much more multi dimensional in our materia medica. To rely on only one way is very narrow for me.

Does each snake have, perhaps, one keynote where, if you see it in a case, you can just go with that remedy? For instance, the Vipera keynote of “aggravation from letting the legs hang down”? Do we really need to know just as much about the other snake remedies as we know about Lachesis? I ask this because, every time I think I’ve discovered something “new” about a snake remedy, such as the Crot. cascavella “fear that someone is behind him”, I find out the others have that too! Lachesis has it and Cenchris has it….

Ok now this is a great question too. To my way of thinking I like the current idea that each family, and each member of that family has a unique and identifiable central core statement or delusion. I am fine with that. I am hestitant though to assert exactly what they are. I think that will take years to work out. I am instantly nervous when a homeopath does a new proving and says this is what it’s about. Too quick. This takes years of clinical observation. Now what I have just said is a bit different to your keynote suggestion. Keynotes are often shared between other remedies and family members so when a patient says to me something which I know to be a keynote of a remedy, I do not automatically run with it. Hey call me conservative but I use straight up good old fashioned Hahnemannian ideas of peculiarity in my practice. I am always looking for that which is weird. That which cannot be explained. That which is unique and characterisitic. I am pretty flexible though. I use keynotes. I use Boenninghausen. I use kingdoms. I prescribe on what I see and hear, and my methodology does change and it is flexible. But underneath it all is Hahnemann.

How often do you give a remedy based on the patient saying, “I am terrified of that!” About what percentage of the time does that turn out to be the remedy–the thing the patient is scared of?

UMMMMMMMMMMMM hardly ever or never!!!! I would take that info into account but that’s way too simplistic. Some of the snake medicines are scared of dogs. The dog medicines are scared of spiders. One of the best cases of a cured spider phobia was using Lac caninum. I have a couple of hilarious stories giving remedies to patients based on saying things like that. But my prescriptions based upon them have rarely been spectacular. Hypothetically we can say that we have a part of us that is attracted to the thing that will heal us. At some level we do seek out the medicine. But we rarely get the dose right. Its my experience that often we attract the symbol that represents that which we need to learn. Its all useful information to help us find that remedy. That said, homeopathy is fairly radical, it is pretty weird, and spread throughout the literature are amazing results and cures based upon this type of information. Such intutition in the case taking is often sharper than any other type of analysis.

You said the following:

We can postulate that our Lachesis and Apis cures could well have been more elegant and refined and more gentle and rapid and permanent had a more accurate family member been given.

My question would be, do these remedies work at all if some other family member is actually the simillimum? For instance, will Lachesis work in a Bothrops case? Even acutely, if someone has a thrombosis and you’re thinking of Bothrops and all you have is Lachesis, can you give Lachesis in such a case?

Hey Elaine, now that is a good question. But it all depends by what you mean ‘work’?

Yes Lachesis will act in a Bothrops case. It will remove some of the symptoms, but clearly not all. One of the things which I am always hammering home to my students is the reality of being in practice. Yes our ideal at all times is to find the simillimum. Yes it may be Bothrops. But if you don’t know that remedy yet, or it hasn’t been proved yet, or you don’t have it in your kit, then you still have to give something. Give the closest similar you can see. Of course it is going to be imperfect but it is a start. Now Hahnemann gave some awesome and clear instructions in the Organon on just what to do in these situations. From aphorisms 162 to 200 he is telling us how to treat patients when we only have a few number of remedies and they are imperfect to cover the whole case, and then what to do in one sided cases when we don’t have enough information to make an accurate prescription. These rules and guidelines are just fantastic. And even more important, is that they take the pressure out of the clinical situation. Instead of angsting for a week over a case, trying to decide between this or that, give the this, knowing that it may be an imperfect similar and look for any improvements. I benefited so much in my training from Jeremy Sherr’s lectures on the second prescription. His emphasis on this has been absolutely born out to me for the last decade in my own clinic. There is great value in knowing what to do next. Hahnemanns instructions are just like gold. So give Lachesis in a Bothrops case. But look for the reaction and look for the parts of the case which remain unresolved and then, quite possibly much later, the clarity of the bothrops prescription will take shape and then give it. For me this is the value of the emphasis on the family relationships between remedies.

I hold in my hand, the last question!

Alastair, if you could, please tell us a bit about a snake remedy that we probably know very little about but which has been very useful to you and others.


Well its not so much of an unknown remedy but we read this about Cenchris:

“Fascinating, sexy people. Want to be appreciated by others [due to a terrible fear of being isolated], but are afraid of being raped. Fear of rape in very attractive people, who provoke it. They want a very strong sexual partner or they are themselves masculine. Are not crazy about tenderness or cuddles.” [Mangialavori]

This is completely accurate and verified by my experience. I work in the inner west of Sydney and at the top of Oxford St. which is Sydneys main gay area, and I seem to see a lot of this. Young, fit, toned, vital people with lots of energy looking really good who are at the same time making themselves as attractive as possible, seeking some fairly casual sexual contacts, who are afraid of violence (and may have well have experienced this) but get themselves in some dangerous situations. Its an amazing dynamic to see, but come Thur., Fri. and Sat. nights, in this part of town, its very visible.

Alastair, thanks for dropping by!



Case Taking and Sleuthing– Boulder Colorado April 2005

Taupo New Zealand– The Fusion Sessions April June December 2005

Toronto Canada– The Canadian Bridge Sessions May September 2005

Galway Ireland– Anxiety and Depression April 2005

Preston England– Anxiety and Depression May 2005

Tension in Balance Stress management Seminars– Sydney Australia April 2005

Tension in Balance Stress management Seminars– Gold Coast Australia May 2005

Society of Homeopaths Conference– England 2005

Homeopathy and Stress– Bangkok Thailand May 2005

CONTACT ALASTAIR GRAY: [email protected]

About the author

Elaine Lewis

Elaine Lewis, D.Hom., C.Hom.
Elaine is a passionate homeopath, helping people offline as well as online. Contact her at [email protected]
Elaine is a graduate of Robin Murphy's Hahnemann Academy of North America and author of many articles on homeopathy including her monthly feature in the Hpathy ezine, "The Quiz". Visit her website at: and

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