Shortly after my graduation from the Dutch School of Homeopathy in 1989 I immigrated to New Zealand. Thanks to recommendation from the School and from a prominent figure in homeopathy at the time I was invited to teach homeopathy in different homeopathic and naturopathic colleges in New Zealand. Before I became a classical homeopath I was a yoga and meditation teacher in Holland. Homeopathy gave meaning to my life, as it provided me with a way to be of service to others, helped me earn a living and support my philosophy of life. Homeopathy helped me understand energy as a form of healing and provided me with an understanding of the medicinal potential of the natural world around us.
I always have been a nature loving person. Even as a small child I ventured out into the Dutch forests. My parents and the Dutch police were not impressed! Homeopathy helped me to see nature in a different light. Every plant, mineral and animal presented itself as having the potential to become a medicine. The philosophy of homeopathy and its laws supported me in my understanding of how all creation is interconnected like a giant web of (solidified) light and energy. New Zealand, with its ancient forests vibrant with life and energy, rekindled my passion for nature. I saw it as a great potential source for discovering new homeopathic medicines. And as I was teaching in several schools I was in an excellent position to undertake this research and involve many of my students.
In 1993 an intense spiritual experience on one of the offshore islands ignited my passion even more and gave another powerful incentive for this research. The local Maori called my experience ‘the wairua.’ I can best describe it as a river of souls moving in and out of my chest leaving me to literally drown in a flood of deep emotions. I felt myself disappearing and yet in that ‘dissolving’ I retrieved a sense of connectedness and belonging I had never experienced before. So strange to find in a country so far from my country of birth, a deep sense of belonging, of coming home! The experience of the wairua lasted all through the night and the next morning I found that the world had changed. My world had changed. My perception of nature had received another dimension. Every plant, tree, and animal presented itself now as if they were a sacred doorway into a mystical universe. I felt like in my study of homeopathy and nature’s medicine I had to start all over. This time not learning from books but from nature itself. The experience offered me plenty of new challenges in my personal life too. Instead of flowing into this new way of discovering nature I first had to face many of my personal issues.
Part of the younger forest
I started to experiment within my ‘newly found’ territory. I felt like a child again venturing out into a forest that seemed full of mystery, full of magic. I was like Harry Potter without the need for a magic wand. I started to experience the medicinal properties by connecting to the plants, to the trees in a more intimate way. I saw them now as they were part of me and I was part of them. New Zealand’s ecology has developed over 90 million years separated from the rest of the world. There are many unique species here and there are also no dangerous animals. In my research I first kept in the ‘safe’ and more familiar zone of homeopathic provings. I made homeopathic preparations of New Zealand plants and animals and gave these to my students. It’s similar to homeopathic provings but on a smaller scale. Then I became more courageous and studied other research techniques for exploring the medicinal properties of plants. I felt drawn to indigenous techniques where one connects to nature by using one’s intent and by consciously accessing the information stored in other layers of the mind. I found that the results of these so called ‘shamanic journeys’ never contradicted the results from the homeopathic provings, but that they rather supported these findings. I simplified these shamanic techniques and practiced these with my students to explore the medicinal properties of plants. I started to use a different intent with all the research techniques I used. Instead on focusing on the symptoms a ‘medicine’ caused, I started to shift the focus to the ‘good’ things a medicine could produce. I started viewing all the plants, minerals and animals as possessing a special gift quality and started focusing on that instead. So I always clearly defined my intent in the research which was ‘to connect to the special gift quality’ a medicine possessed. I found that using a clear and focused intent strongly influenced the outcome.
Together with my partner at the time I set up a series of workshops specifically designed for all this research. These workshops we named ‘Medicine of the Four Winds.’ In these workshops we used both small scale provings as well as the shamanic journey. We held these workshops all through the year in different locations in New Zealand from 1994 to 2002. After our separation I continued doing courses and I still use these research techniques as an important part of the course.
Spider web hanging off an ancient tree.
I have always acknowledged that everyone possesses a potent and infinite source of wisdom that can be accessed with the use of intent and proper techniques. The most important requirement for them to access this source for finding the gift qualities of plants and animals, is a love for nature and the actual desire to get to know the medicinal properties and work with these to benefit others. In my workshops and homeopathy courses I do not tell participants about the medicines of native plants but rather let them find out for themselves what they can be used for. For this to work in the best possible way, I let participants choose the plants they want to work with. I found that when they have a natural attraction towards the plants it is much easier for them to discover their medicinal properties. This process of their selection of plants is based on ‘like attracts like’ and it becomes a powerful trigger for their own healing too! I discovered that they naturally are attracted to those plants that offer them the most benefits. Once they have explored the properties of these plants, they make them into homeopathic remedies and by the end of the course they have created their own set of homeopathic medicines. These medicines are not only designed to benefit others but are also mirrors for their own healing. Many of us homeopaths have found that we attract clients that mirror our own healing process.
This Maori healer is one of my participants. She does a prayer for us when we enter the forest. Beautiful and powerful Maori invocation.
I have gained much knowledge about the medicinal properties of New Zealand native plants, because I continuously learn from my students. Certain plants I can ‘understand’ because of my natural empathy (resonance) with them while others remain a mystery till a student comes along that has an affinity with that particular plant. In the courses we explore nature’s medicine together and we learn from each other. We share each other’s findings and support one another in our confidence in our ability to retrieve information. We have magical experiences in the ancient forests of New Zealand because we allow this magic to happen. We give each other permission to step out of our ‘ordinary reality’ into the magic kingdom of nature.
Participant ‘tuning’ into 2000 year old Puriri.
The weekend workshops have turned into a one year courses. As mentioned before, participants explore the medicinal properties of plants by using their natural attraction to these plants. They select the plants they feel a natural affinity with and are then encouraged to start a dialogue with that plant. It is important they have this dialogue. It is establishing a connection to the plant. To start this ‘dialogue’ they can use different ‘triggers’. They may ponder their natural attraction to the plant and why they feel this. They may ponder the physical appearance and study the signature of the plant more closely. They spend time with the plant and always treat the plant in a respectful manner like they would treat a friend. When they approach it they ask to enter its space; when they want to touch the plant they first ask permission to do so. The building of this connection is all aimed at getting to know what the medicinal gift of the plant is. It is my task to help participants find their unique way of retrieving the information. Everyone is different and we all receive information in a different way according to our personal gifts and qualities. Finally each participant is challenged to journey in a meditative state to the plant to retrieve information.
For the purpose of retrieving information we also collectively study one plant. We together select a plant for this purpose. We focus all our energy and intent on finding the special medicinal properties of that plant. To bring us in a more receptive state I find it very useful to use the monotonous sound of a drum. With the help of that sound we go into a meditative state where the mind feels free to wander and receive whatever comes. We all write our experience down and compare notes. This is great fun and the results can be rather astonishing. When many participants receive the same information about a certain plant, particularly when this information is ‘unusual’, I carefully register these findings. We also orally take the homeopathic medicines created out of plants and animals and write our findings down. This is different from homeopathic provings as my participants are fully aware of the source of the medicine and instead use the knowledge of the source to focus their intent to get to know its medicinal property.
Miracles happen during our research. For example one time I had created a homeopathic medicine out of the Morepork, the New Zealand owl. We had just taken the preparation when I left the room. I found two owls staring at me in broad daylight! One took off, flew towards me and brushed her or his wing over my forehead. I had just taken its medicine! It must have thought I was another owl!
On another occasion we had gathered and taken the homeopathic preparation of a New Zealand woodpigeon. During lunch a woodpigeon flew into our circle and just sat there looking around at us. In this case the participants did not know the source of what they had taken. I did know and delighted in the fact that they were staring right at it! It was very unusual as wood pigeons don’t sit on the ground! And certainly do not choose to land in the middle of a group of people.
Mirrored image of Woodpigeon feathers, a great medicine to help restore trust, especially when there is a history of betrayal or feeling betrayed (sexual abuse, etc.) Amazing how in art, often the heart appears!
What I want to say is that Nature responds to us in a positive manner when we respectfully ask it to show us its medicines. She is more than willing to share her secrets with us if we open ourselves to receive these. There is a consciousness out there that we are part of, and that responds to our intent. This is my experience and I feel very grateful to homeopathy for opening me up to this ‘energy reality’. It may not be traditional classical homeopathy as I was taught in the Dutch School of homeopathy but to me, in my experience, this is a reality not to be dismissed. It is a very potent way of contributing to the overall research of the medicinal properties of nature’s flora, fauna and minerals. I feel very grateful to New Zealand nature for letting me experience this method in such a pristine natural environment.
I found too that when participants connect to the plants they feel attracted to, they experience a very powerful healing, similar to what they would have experienced from a well selected simillimum. After the one year course people’s lives have changed. The connection to their plants of choice has widened their horizon and challenged them to change themselves. Through the process of getting to know nature in a different way, they have embraced a greater state of inner freedom. It does not matter whether they choose to work with the medicines or not. The true value of the course was already in their personal experiences.
If I have the chance I would very much like to share the experience of some very powerful homeopathic medicines created out of New Zealand’s flora and fauna. Many New Zealand homeopathic medicines have been used with very good results. It is my sincere wish that some of these medicines will be tested in proper conducted provings to explore their medicinal properties further. I found that they work very well along side constitutional remedies and support the healing process they initiate. I use them presently like you would use ‘flower essences’ or other non intrusive healing agents. They also make powerful constitutional healers when they fit the ‘whole picture.’ It is my experience that our intent in administering any energetic form of healing (as in a homeopathic remedy), exerts a powerful effect on how that medicine acts.
For more information on New Zealand homeopathic medicines feel welcome to browse my website. Robert van der Touw, www.artandhealingnz.com’
Thank you for this fascinating and inspiring article that explores other dimensions of knowing. Robert van der Touw has extraordinary skills.
I’d like to know more about the books mentioned, so far they look to be out of print.
A voice from the past! This is Deborah Collins speaking, after all these years. I am now in France since 2011, and continuing to practice – in ever-expanding ways. The work that we did together in the past, you, Michelle and me, has opened me to a deeper connection with Spirit in many ways, I am ever grateful.
I am looking for your book “The Rainbow Essences of Aotearoa” to send to a friend/colleague in the States, who works along much the same lines as you. I see that it is out of print – do you have any copies still lying around?
I hope you are doing well and that your work is bringing you, and all who come in contact with you, much joy and fulfillment.
With love, Liefs,