Vatsala Sperling and Dr. Michal Yakir
Michal Yakir is a botanist, a teacher of homoeopathy and author of Wondrous Order – Systematic Table of Homeopathic Plant Remedies. She has created a complete model of the plant kingdom based on evolutionary stages as related to homoeopathy.
“The stories people tell are in fact the story of the journey of their soul …..” Michal Yakir
(VS): Dr. Michal Yakir, thank you very much for doing the interview with me. You have done a monumental work on plant remedies. In your experience, do plant remedies appear to be most suitable for certain conditions?
(MY): I do not regard people as plants, minerals or animals. People are people. When someone is sick, they express symptoms that can be addressed by remedies from any of these groups. When they are healthy, they are just people. I also do not subscribe to the idea that there is just one simillimum for the entire life of a person. People might need three or four or even more remedies through their lifetime. When I take a case, I simply ask, ‘what is bothering you now?’ I am trying to understand what stops this person in this moment from developing further? I am focused on taking note of symptoms just as Kent and Hahnemann were and not thinking if the person is a plant, a mineral or an animal. He is a person who might need a remedy from any of the kingdoms.
VS: In your seminars, as well as in your book, “Wondrous order, a systematic table of homeopathic plant remedies”, you have talked about the various stages of development and organizing plant remedies in a periodic table grid, consisting of rows and columns. How does this organization help in selecting remedies?
MY: Creating an organization is inherent to human nature. A periodic table chart has two vectors. At every meeting point of the two vectors, we can locate remedies. Plants are placed along these meeting points based on their qualities. Two-dimensional grids make it easier to use and locate the plants. Location of the plants corresponds to a stage in human development. Meeting points of rows and columns indicate themes of human development. While taking the case, I try to locate the theme in a person’s narrative and then search for a parallel theme amongst the families of the remedies. I also look for orders amongst plant families. It is similar to the periodic table of elements and how themes of human development have been correlated to the increasing complexity of the elements in various rows and columns.
There is some correspondence between the plants, minerals and the animals because all these are created following the fundamental laws of nature. Our materia medica also follows those same laws and that is why we can find some logic in it. Though it is possible to find some correspondence but we could not possibly match plants and minerals one to one. There are only 118 elements in the periodic table. There are thousands and thousands of plants that have been organized in the periodic table grid pattern. For this reason, I do not suggest a mineral corresponding one on one with a plant. However, I emphasize on family and order of plants and these have correspondence with the themes of the periodic table just as minerals do.
VS: What inspired you to study and organize plant remedies?
MY: In my youth, I was doing military service in a Kibbutz as a gardener. I fell in love with plants. After that I joined university and majored in botany and ecology. I wanted my knowledge to be of help to people, so I studied Homeopathy. That was thirty years ago. Jeremy Sherr and Jan Scholten taught in Israel. I saw the logic in minerals, and as a botanist knew instinctively that the plants must follow a logic too. I set about studying plants, and studying homeopathy and gathering information about plants bit by bit. It took me 15 years to synthesize all the information I had gathered into a coherent system where I could connect the plant remedies and their botanical and ecological information beautifully.
To answer your question, my inspiration came from my love for the plants and my desire to use my knowledge for helping people. When I started teaching the organization of plants and my students began sending me feedback, the idea for my book was born. In the Hebrew language, my book is in its seventh edition. The first book was 85 pages and my seventh edition in Hebrew is 450 pages. In English, the same book is 850 pages.
VS: How do plants represent human development?
MY: Plants not only develop according to laws of nature, they enable the development of earth itself and all other life forms contained therein. Our universe is created in a spiral form following certain laws. These are spiritual laws of creation. Evolution is a slow and gradual process that happens over millions of years. Things are born and they mature. Then they provide a platform for the birth, growth and maturity of new things. This process goes on and on and it is a continuous process…from minerals, simple life forms come into existence, then simple plants, fungi and animals are created, and then gradually, the complexity increases in all life forms. All life-forms therefore, can receive help from other life-forms that have been a part of the creation.
The fundamental laws of nature that create life-forms take into consideration the feminine and masculine aspects of the source. This is one of the differences between the minerals and the plants. Minerals, as far as we know, have no sexuality. Plants have sexuality and the entire table of plants moves between the feminine and the masculine principles. It is based on the interplay between these two creative powers and the emotions they generate. Creation began with feminine dominance, with the feminine’s ability to be flexible for accepting and receiving the masculine force. The masculine element, however, is about hardness, borders and limits. Plant remedies embody these two creative forces because they are essentially created from the interplay of these two forces. Plant remedies can therefore address issues related to lack or excess of femininity or masculinity.
Just as plants develop from simple to more complex forms, humans develop from pre-natal stage to old age. In this range of development, the presence, interplay and expressions of the feminine and masculine powers can be seen clearly, just as they can be seen in the development of plants.
VS: For highlighting the increasing complexity of the plants, what system of plant classification have you used in your table of plants?
MY: My plant table is based on the morphological aspects of the plant as opposed to the genotypic classification system.
VS: What is the practical application of understanding the plants and plant based remedies in a periodic table grid made up of columns and rows as you have described?
MY: There is a great benefit in using the plant table. It’s an approach which connects all the developmental processes that we know- personal, interpersonal, social and even the cultural development seen in human life. This system also embraces the chakra system of development as well as mythological development. All these developments are seen as a continuous process and it helps us in understanding the case in its totality.
You take the case, locate it on the table of plants grid, and you can immediately know how the case started, how it is developing, where it is going. I have seen it happen even with cases where I had to choose a very small and rather unknown remedy. Because the plant table encompasses all the various aspects of development that I have just mentioned, I am able to correlate it with the case that is calling for a particular small remedy and understand the case in its totality. Even though the case has provided very basic and simple information, and there is not much information available from our materia medica and provings, the location of this small remedy on the plant table grid will provide all the missing information because the grid contains information about the family and the order to which the small plant remedy belongs. This expansive information helps us understand the case in totality and you can gain much deeper understanding of his psychology, his life, his story and the true healing that he needs. All of these can be gained by simply looking at the plant table and understanding the location of a plant remedy in the grid, to which order and family it belongs and the developmental stage that the order / family belongs to.
With this expansive and inclusive understanding of the plants in a developmental grid, the human story that pours out during case taking is not just stories that make no sense. The human story reflects human development. You can match that to the development process of the plants that I have described in the table of plants.
VS: For understanding human development, have you followed any particular school of thought?
MY: I have studied Jung. I’ve understood a lot from his stages of human development. I have applied that understanding to my explorations to the developmental process of the plants. I began studying the plant remedies of our materia medica, and organizing them according to the human development stages. As and when my knowledge of plants and plant remedies grew, I simply added them on to the table of human development stages, columns and rows. . . and from this work, the periodic table of plants emerged and it fully correlates to human development. It is a synthesis based on decades of research and learning.
VS: So, your unique contribution to homeopathy is that you studied each plant remedy and understood the psychological picture that was described in the materia medica. Then you studied human development as taught by Jung. Then you organized the plant remedies according to the levels of human development and found the correlation between the development of plants and the development of humans because you asked the question, what does the development of plants mean to human beings?
MY: Correct. After studying Jungian psychology and the teachings of Eric Erickson on the subject of human development, I connected them to the morphological development of plants and found a connection between that and the human development. Besides these, I’ve been doing spiritual work many, many years and I have included elements of that as well in exploring the correlation between human and plant development stages. I am indebted to all the great teachers.
I would like to emphasize that the table of plants is not a new and different system. It is an approach that brings order to any knowledge that we have. It doesn’t matter what system you use, Scholten’s or Rajan Sankaran’s or anyone else’s. You can use the knowledge of the table of plants to a better advantage because the table just gives you a wider, deeper and all encompassing understanding of the remedies. It gives a story, a beginning and an end. It gives you an opportunity to use the stories that the patient is telling you, just as you would use a symptom.
The stories people tell are in fact the story of the journey of their soul and that is why they are as important as the symptoms they talk about. The stories people tell are as relevant as their cravings for chocolate or coffee and we can use their stories to understand them better. The table of plants helps you include the stories and not discard the stories as redundant. The table of plants enables you to use any system of homeopathy and use all the information revealed to you in the symptoms and the stories patients tell. The table of plants contains everything and gives you the freedom to use any system and yet understand your patients at a greater depth. It does not conflict with any system. It accepts all systems and allows you to go deeper into the case. Going into the depth of a patient’s story helps you understand his case in totality and that is the very start of his healing journey.
Hpathy.com review by Rochelle Marsden of Wondrous Order – Systematic Table of Homeopathic Plant Remedies – by Michal Yakir.