This is a species of willow native to Europe and Western Asia; its grey bark creases and cracks in older trees; it contains salicin (the main ingredient of aspirin).
It has been used as antirheumatic, antipyretic and analgesic since ancient times.
Common Name: Crack Willow
A proving was conducted by Penelope Stirling, in 1988, following Hahnemann’s methodology (Stirling, 1999). 7 provers (6 women), potencies: 6C, 12C, 30C.
Mother tincture was made from the stem and leaves. Subsequent dilutions were prepared in 90 percent alcohol by the traditional single vial Hahnemannian method.
The remedy was prepared at Helios Pharmacy.
It is present in the complete repertory in 2235 rubrics and in the radar repertory 10 in 761 rubrics.
Eight cases were published online by Dr. Anna Pla, member of The Homeopathic Medical Academy of Barcelona (AMHB) (Pla, 2011).
Other varieties of willow have also been proved: Salix Alba, Americana, Mollissima, Nigra, Purpurea and Vitellina.
Substance and Etymology
Salix: from Latin, the family of willow trees.
Fragilis: Latin for fragile.
“Fragilis” evokes the way the twigs break off easily and cleanly at the base; its branches are pliable and flexible enough to weave, which is why is has been long used in basketry, but at the same time, its wood is quite hard and resistant, and is often used to make shields, cricket bats and windmills.
The tree grows on the edge of rivers and streams, between water and land.
Reproduction: its fragile branches easily break and fall into waterways, “travel” downstream, readily take root on riverbanks, and grow into new trees.
It is important to emphasize and remember these substance characteristics:
Fragile and hard.
Grows “on the edge” between water and land. (Prescribed according to P. Stirling in extreme situations).
Reproduction: Salix Fragilis presents corresponding sexual and reproductive issues we will describe later.
As mentioned, its common name in English is “Crack Willow”
If we remember this term, we will remember Salix Fragilis.
These words speak of substance identity, revealed in the proving subjects.
“Crack” means: to fail, break up, fissure, opening.
In Salix Fragilis these are core symptoms: the want of self-confidence (fear of failing) as well as metaphorically “breaking” and wanting to change in a critical situation. Also the cracking is on the skin (skin, cracks, fissures), orifices (skin, cracks, fissures, orifices), lips (cracked lips) and sensations of feeling separated (from the world, from themselves, from friends, from family, from a group, parts of the body feel separated).
“Crack” means, as we said, opening. Salix Fragilis dreams with doors opening and doors that close.
Penelope Stirling says:
“A remedy for patients living a critical situation, acute or chronic. An extreme situation that they will tolerate until they “break”, when they feel it is all over, they cannot go on. They feel they need an important change in their lives, sometimes after a long period of indecisiveness and suffering.
Seemingly fragile, they endure serious difficulties. Courage to face difficult situations. Ailmenst from the loss of a loved one, with feelings of conspiracy or distrust. They cry easily and feel better when crying. They cry for rage or reproach. Deep sadness. It is no surprise that this remedy is effective in cases of reactive depression or pathological grief. Core themes: life and death, pregnancy, fertility, sexuality. Another theme orienting its prescription is doors: fear of closed doors, dreaming of sliding doors, dreaming of doors closing”.
Substance nature: hard and fragile at the same time;
It may be inherent to its “breaking” potential, the “cracking” and its dynamic correlation with crisis or extreme situation.
“No feeling or intention of having anything to do with partner. Her action was beyond the pale and I don’t see why I should take it anymore.
05P 09 XX. XX NS
“I felt pushed to the edge by my boyfriend and completely lost my temper (…).
I sat in my car and just shouted and shouted at my boyfriend. I was so fed up. I was crying. I drove home very depressed. I felt that there was a definite line and that he had crossed it”.
06P 04 XX.XX NS
“I must make a decision or fate will make a decision for me” 07P 16 XX.XX NS
“Feel a definite tension “in the air” between my boyfriend and I. Makes me feel uncomfortable and uneasy.”
07P 03 XX.XX NS
Correlated Repertory Rubrics .
Firmness: that also means fixation or tenacity (Firmness)
Discontented, with firmness, drawing the line. (Discontented; firmness, drawing the line).
Delusion: relationship, partnership or commitment must end. (Betrothal must be broken).
“Hardness” : Positiveness, dictatorial, pertinacious, courageous.
“Fragility” : Yielding, delusion of fragility.
Stiffness and tension:
In cervical region, painful tension, during headaches.
In joints, upper limbs; shoulders, elbows, wrists.
lower limbs: knees, going down the stairs.
Salix Fragilis – Crack Willow
Groups of Symptoms
1- Splitting and Antagonism.
2- Want of Self-Confidence
3- Feeling Forsaken, Isolation, Sensation of Weeping.
4- Anxiety of Conscience that we will develop in correlation with the multiple delusions of punishment.
1) Splitting and Antagonism.
“Feel like there are two people in me, one living the life that is seen and one living a secret life which is not compatible with the other. 03P 06 XX.XX NS.
“Sudden cracking, splitting and breaking, I want to be free of this remedy, it’s as if I had no control of myself now”. 01P 16 XX.XX NS
“Do not feel integrated into myself – as if I am a blurred image of myself”.
01P 17 XX.XX NS
“Why should I be with someone who doesn’t want the things that are most precious to me? Feeling of being split in two.
I don’t believe relationships should be like that, split between partner and children”.
07P 16 XX.XX IOS
Antagonistic with themselves.
Sensation as if they had two wills.
Two different trains of thought at the same time.
Head separated from body.
Mind separated from body.
Sensation of being split in two.
Confusion as to their identity.
Dreams of being fragmented .
2) Want of Self-Confidence
Main modalities: with fear and delusion of failing or feeling inadequate or useless.
“It was my first day of working in a clinic. I was very apprehensive and quite nervous. I had a feeling like …I was going to be ‘found out’. I felt inadequate. I was surprised by how nervous I was”. 06P 11 XX.XX NS
“Feel teary, depressed, angry (…. )
Feeling of futility, because of not much response from partner”.
02P 15 XX.XX NS
“Feelings of being hopeless at everything and useless. Tears are flowing easily.”
07P 02 11.00 NS
“I am putting my boyfriend “on hold”, I can’t fight trying to make things happen. I feel unsafe, on the edge”.
07 P 19 XX.XX NS
Want of self-confidence, feels inadequate.
Want of self-confidence, feels a failure.
Fear and delusion of failure.
Delusion of never succeeding, of always doing everything wrong.
Delusion of having made a mistake.
Self-contempt (can show contempt for others).
Discontent of themselves, feeling of being useless.
Ailments from anticipation.
Anticipation, of betrothal.
Delusion of feeling wretched when looking in the mirror.
3) Feeling Forsaken
Modalities: with feeling of isolation.
“I had stopped going to my Buddhist group when we first took the remedy (with which I have been involved for some years) because when I last went after taking the remedy I felt alienated, as if I did not belong.
I also felt like that when I went to a Graduation Ceremony.
I felt very alone, isolated and not part of the group.
I slunk off and cried all the way home because I felt so lonely.” 06P 00 XX.XX NS.
Modalities in reference to their anxiety emphasize some of Salix Fragilis’ core symptoms: they remind us of their want of confidence, their anxiety for anticipation, how they live their anxiety of consciousness with sensation of wrong or inadequate doing. With regard to anxiety of consciousness, it reflects in numerous dreams and delusions of punishment that we describe later on.
Also feeling forsaken with weeping can be linked to anxiety when being alone.
“Still depressed on walk to work. Want to escape from it all. Feel much better for talking to Mum, better for consolation, better for female emotional support”. 04P 17 XX.XX NS.
“Depressed and tearful all day. (…) I just want to escape. No enthusiasm for anything. Don’t want to go out in evening when my boyfriend comes round, not even to cinema. Weeping but only temporarily better for it. Depression soon returns. ”. 04P 16 XX.XX NS.
“I went to a classical music recital at lunch time and got quite aggressive.
I wanted to go round and punch a certain person in the face.
I could not let go of thinking about a certain situation and getting angry and wanting to tell someone what I thought. I felt very frustrated that I could not do that. Going to those concerts usually puts me into a very calm meditative state.”
06P 03 XX.XX NS
“Anger and irritability, why isn’t life going the way I want it?
Helplessness and out of control.” 07P 16 XX.XX NS
Sorrow and sadness: Self-absorbed, wrapped in own thoughts, pleased in own sorrow. Lamenting past events. Sadness with thoughts of death.
Weeping: easy, better after weeping, after rage or admonition. Cry for feeling forsaken.
Rage: irritability and rage for own mistakes, thinking of those gone, easy, unprovoked, violent if things are not done their way
Indifference: family, their loved ones, duties or business matters.
Comfort: it makes them better and/or they want it.
Death of beloved
Death of a child
Business (aversion or disdain for busines
“My concentration on my work was not very good.
I was reading paragraphs and not remembering what I had read”. 06P 14 XX.XX NS
“Unenthused having to write diary – making spelling mistakes that wouldn’t normally”.
02P 07 XX.XX NS
“Forgot to make a phone-call that I always make.
Forgetful, forgot where I put my keys, my glasses”. 02P 04 XX.XX NS
“Painting the ceiling in the attic, came downstairs to get something and forgot to go back to the painting”. 03P 05 XX.XX NS
Difficult concentration. Studying, Cannot fix attention.
Forgetful. Mistakes when writing.
Weak memory: for things to do and things read
Salix Fragilis present symptoms when driving, spatial disorientation: absentmindedness when driving, difficult to concentrate when driving, get lost on well-known roads. (“Drove to work in the evening, missed very obvious turnoff that I know well and ended up miles out of my way.” 02P 34 XX.XX NS).
As mentioned before, Salix Fragilis, presents marked tropism in this regard:
Wanting sexual desire.
Aversion to coition.
Burning vagina during and after coition.
Aversion to husband/wife.
Clinical observations of tendency to abortion in published cases.
“It emerges he’s often sore after intercourse.
I think he should sort it out as I don’t usually get the symptoms.
I feel angry but helpless – I don’t know what to do about it.
I want affection but I don’t want to be touched anywhere very erogenous (still sore)”. 03P 19 XX.XX NS
Interestingly, they also present the delusion of being pregnant and dream of talking with children, or rescuing sick children, or playing with them.
Remember how these willows reproduce: their fragile branches snap and break off, travel down the river and readily root in riverbanks downstream. These fragile and cracking qualities may resonate at reproductive level, the tendency to abortion and self-antagonism, this contradictory will.
Dreams and Delusions
Groups of Symptoms
1) Associated to substance nature:
Delusion of fragility
Delusion of being buried, flooded
Dreams of water: sees water in dreams, or green water; floats in water
Dreams of boats, of making boats, travelling by boat
Dreams of travelling, on water, journeys with difficulties. Sailing to the promise land (E)
Delusion of swirls
2) Associated to anxiety of consciousness
Dreams and delusion of punishment
Delusion of being criticized
of being beaten.
of conspiracy against them, being betrayed.
of being followed.
of being trapped.
that someone is behind and looks over shoulder .
Delusion of going mad or of people thinking they’ll go mad.
Sensation of others observing their confusion.
Delusion of poverty.
Sensation of seeing ghosts, specters, spirits.
Dreams of being before the court .
Delusion of looking old.
(Bark gets thicker and creases in old trees).
Dreams of slaughterhouses or being trapped in one.
Dreams of death, own death.
3) Associated to Splitting and Self-Antagonism
Delusion of two wills.
Delusion of being Split in two: one is real, the other is not.
Two lines of thought influence them at the same time.
Split between head and body.
Split between mind and body.
Sensation of being Split in two parts.
Confusion over their identity.
Dreams of being fragmented.
4) Associated to want of confidence
Delusion they always fail, do it all wrong.
That they are a failure.
Feeling unhappy when looking in the mirror.
To sum up, these themes, in dreams and delusions, could reflect their individuality:
1) Referred to the substance nature,
2) to the sensation of duality and splitting that can manifest as antagonism,
3) their want of confidence,
4) and the numerous symptoms associated to punishment (that individualize their anxiety of consciousness).
Dryness in: face; lips (cracking and bleeding), mouth; tongue and vagina.
Delusion that their brain is dry and compressed.
Thirsty of small quantities. Metallic taste.
Left lateralization. Intolerance of woolen clothes.
Hot flushes at night. Hot flushes alternate with chills.
Easily gets drunk (easily intoxicated).
Love seaside: better on the seashore.
(Remember where this willow grows: on the edge, between land and water).
Worse: of wine, bear and coffee.
Wants: butter, chocolate, flour, lemon, oranges, and tobacco.
Other symptoms: want and better of dancing, jealous and clairvoyant.
Arthritis and arthralgia (bark contains salicin). (AAS)
Back and cervical region: stiffness. Muscle ache. Headaches.
Headaches before and after menses.
Vertigo, going up the stairs with a tendency to fall back.
Sinusitis / Rhinitis.
Dysmenorrhea. Short and light menses.
Clinical observations: abortion. Tendency to abortion. Abortion late into pregnancy. Dead fetus.
Etymology and Symbolism
Some etymology experts propose an alternative to the Greek root in willow, which is: helike (from the Greek Ἑλίκη).
Helike, in ancient Greece, was a willow-nymph.
Helike and her sister Ega nursed Zeus in his infancy in Crete.
In appreciation, they were turned into the constellation Ursa Major.
Helike was the early name of this constellation, visible all year round in the northern hemisphere.
Homer mentions this constellation in The Odyssey, book V, when Odysseus tries to use it as guide to find his way back to Ithaca, his home, and fails.
Remember that Salix Fragilis lose their way in well-known roads and is exclusive of feeling like a bear in chains. (Delusion, bear in chain)
“I had the image of a dark shadowy form on closing my eyes – it looked like a black bear. I felt sad thinking of the bear chained – having lost its nature and power”. 01P 01 XX.XX NS.
The literal sensation of provers is richer and might express how Salix Fragilis feel exactly: sad, chained, powerless, discontented of their nature.
Salix Fragilis, dreams with doors, symptom that Penelope Stirling highlights as “key note” in the proving. The door, as we can read in A Dictionary of Symbols (Cirlot, 1992) symbolizes the hole that allows to pass, and therefore is the opposite of the wall.
This dream again correlates with one of the meanings of crack (willow): opening.
We mentioned that the symbolism of the words breaking and cracking resonate in the substance ascended in men. Breaking and cracking have the same etymology, the Indo-European root *ker we find in words for snapping sounds and the names of the beings that produce these sounds. (2)
The Celt culture regarded willows as sacred.
They used them in funerals.
This culture used a 21 tree horoscope, and believed that those born under the protection of a tree acquired the same characteristics the trees had.
It is interesting to see the symbolic resonance in this aspect, the dates associated to the willow tree are from March 1 to 10, and September 3 to 12.
Those born on these dates, says the Druid horoscope: are affected by everything because they are fragile inside. But they soon recover. They are also associated with an artistic flare, low self-esteem, the need of love, melancholy and depression.(3)
Comparative Materia Medica
Complementary and Related Remedies According to Penelope Stirling:
(Stirling, 1999) (7)
Acute Cases: Ignatia, Staphysagria, Nux-vomica.
Chronic Cases: Sepia, Phosphorus, Pulsatilla, Ignatia.
Differential Diagnosis, this is my personal contribution, also could be Anacardium and Thuja.
Ignatia and Salix Fragilis: they share 1320 rubrics in the complete repertory.
Common Symptoms: alternate states, mental and emotional, changing humor
Discontented, sad, self-absorbed, dwell on the past, dwell on sadness.
Want of confidence. Irresolute, indecisive. If we study punishment, correlated to their anxiety of consciousness, Ignatia and Salix Fragilis share these delusions: that they will go crazy, that they will be criticized or persecuted, that they are pregnant, both perceive ghosts and fear thieves. They also present ailments for loss of loved ones, for unresponded love, outrage, mortification, and reproach.
Both can manifest want of sex desire and painful coition.
How they differ:
Ignatia can present symptoms related to their perception of their disease and religious themes. Both themes are not present in Salix Fragilis. Remember Ignatia fears disease or has the sensation of being sick or having a fatal disease, feeling desperate to recover and in the religious sphere: anxious about salvation, with excessive religious scruples. Ignatia is hypersensitive and paradoxical. Finds it difficult to express their suffering.
Kent says paradoxical is the opposite of expected. This is how −remember Ignatia is affectionate, but rejects comforting− they present constipation with soft stool or their angina gets better when eating solids. Ignatia is nostalgic, sensitive to injustice. Does not feel forsaken. Salix Fragilis differs from Ignatia in their feeling of splitting and antagonism. They do not bring up disease or religion, they feel forsaken and teary. They isolate themselves from their environment and get better when comforted.
Anacardium and Salix Fragilis: they share 1175 rubrics in the Complete Repertory.
Repertorization of the core mental symptoms of Salix Fragilis:
Self-Antagonism; confused about identity, with feeling of duality; want of confidence; forsaken, and anxiety of consciousness.
Only one remedy answers to these symptoms: Anacardium.
Stramonium and Thuja share the same symptoms, but they are not antagonistic.
Naja also shares the same symptoms, but does not feel forsaken or isolated.
Anacardium and Salix Fragilis
Antagonistic, confused about their identity: with feelings of duality, sensation of having two wills. With delusion of splitting body. As regards their want of confidence, they share the fear of failure, feeling of failure and inadequacy. Irresolute. Intellectual deficit: weak memory, with difficult concentration.
They want comfort, they are sad patients, better with weeping. Jealous and clairvoyant. Can show themselves separate from the world, indifferent. Condescending and self-loathing. Delusion of going mad, sensation of seeing ghosts or that someone is behind them. They fear being alone, or failing, or thieves. Death is one of the themes they share: Anarcadium: delusion of being dead, that lie I n a coffin, see dead people, or foresee death, dream with coffins,
with graves, with dead people. Can manifest a suicidal disposition or wish to kill.
Salix Fragilis: present feelings related to death, dream with slaughterhouses (E),
dream with death or dying; dream with murder.
As regards the splitting or separation, between both remedies, you can perceive a different tone when reading the two provings; Salix Fragilis feels isolated from their environment, related to feeling forsaken and alienated.
“I had stopped going to my Buddhist group when we first took the remedy (with which I have been involved for some years) because when I last went after taking the remedy I felt alienated, as if I did not belong. I also felt like that when I went to a Graduation Ceremony. I felt very alone, isolated and not part of the group. I slunk off and cried all the way home because I felt so lonely”. 06P 00 XX.XX NS.
In Anacardium, duality has an ethical tenor, one face is good, the other bad.
They don’t know whether they are behaving well or badly, this makes them think they don’t do anything right. This may be the point where they feel divided. Their separation from the world correlates with their want of confidence, not with feeling forsaken.
At a general level, Anacardium feels better of eating, physically and mentally.
Present tropism in digestive system and skin. Interestingly, in botany, both trees are angiospermous dicotyledon. This means they develop two cotyledons in the embryo. (Arboles Ibéricos, 2013).
Platina and Salix Fragilis
Platina and Salix Fragilis: They share 1211 rubrics in the Complete Repertory.
At EMHA (Ecuela Médica Homeopática Argentina), we studied what remedies, other than polychrest, could be considered in the differential diagnosis with Platina. Repertorization of symptoms: haughty, contemptuous and dictatorial were found in: Salix Fragilis, Ignis Alcoholis, Succinum, Chironex Fleckeri, Lac Leoninum and Uranium Metallicum.
Platina and Salix Fragilis:
They both share:
Forsaken with feeling of isolation; with indifference towards loved ones.
Anxiety of consciousness. Sad, thoughts of death.
They cry for anger or admonition.
They think they are great persons, they feel possessed, they see ghosts or spirits; they feel controlled by a supernatural being.
They can manifest dictatorial, contemptuous, disdainful.
They dance and they are jealous. They lose their way in well-known roads. They are clumsy and drop things. They present ailments: for outrage, unresponded love, death of a loved one.
However, Salix Fragilis is different mainly on feeling self-antagonistic.
Want of confidence, with fear of failing; want of sexual desire and aversion to coition.
Dr. Anna Pla, member of The Homeopathic Medical Academy of Barcelona (AMHB), has published 8 cases where she prescribed Salix Fragilis. (Pla, 2011) (6)
Below I synthesize the reasons for consultation and literal verbalizations of patients from these clinical records that guided prescription. There are no observations in these published cases, perhaps due to the short time of evolution, regarding symptoms linked to the “Law of Cure”.
Reason for consultation:
Headaches before menses
Tension and painful stiffness in neck.
“I feel whatever I do, I never make the right decision (Delusions, they cannot succeed, they do everything wrong)… a part of me wants to do things, another wants to stop doing them. I’m in conflict with myself, a conflict of sensations and situations.” (Confusion of mind, as to their identity; sense of duality. Delusions, divided into two parts) “My head won’t stop thinking and swirling, I feel I’m going crazy. My head and my heart don’t go together, I feel divided” (Delusions, divided into two parts).
Reason for consultation:
Headaches. Allergic rhinitis since childhood.
Cervical pain and muscle pain.
Sadness/depression since last abortion + death of mother (same month).
Literal phrases from patient:
“Want another baby, it’s a pressure, I’m afraid, I don’t want to be pregnant right now (…) The last time, I knew it wouldn’t go well”. (Fear of failure)
“I don’t want to suffer, I really want another child”
(Will, contradiction of will. Will, sensation as if he had two wills).
I can’t take it any more (work), whatever I do, it’s never enough, till I snap; leave me alone! And no. I can’t take it any more (Firmness, drawing the line) (Desire for change, life). “I feel alone, facing the world”. (Forsaken feeling, sensation of isolation).
“I’m surly (abrupt, rough), he is very loving but I feel oppressed, he hugs me too tight, he controls me, watches my every move, looks from over my shoulder to see if I change the nappies correctly. He’s a great father but also quite controlling.” (Delusions, trapped; delusions, criticized; suspicious).
“We talk and nothing changes, perhaps I don’t know what I want, I feel divided between my head and my heart (Delusion, divided in two parts).
Our biggest problem is sex, I have many memories about sex with an old boyfriend that I can’t shake off and I can’t stand when my partner wants sex and he touches me”.
Synthesis and final considerations – Salix Fragilis (Crack Willow)
Perhaps the first thought when trying to understand this remedy stems from its name that not only identifies the substance, but also ascends in men as dynamic information. It resonates in one of its delusions: fragility. From this starting point, because of the dual or double nature of this willow: hard and fragile, the name might echo in the proving dynamics: cracking, as we said, failing, breaking, creasing and opening.
The genius of this remedy matches its name: crack willow in English and Salix Fragilis for Botany.
Another sign is the word splitting: dividing themselves in two (antagonistic tone) or separating themselves, isolating from the world.
Remedy for long grieving patients, upset, better when comforted, that want self-confidence, feel forsaken with anxiety of consciousness. Tropisms: bones and muscles (Arthritis, arthralgia. Sciatica. Cervical and/or dorsal). Sinusitis and/or rhinitis. Clinical observations in patients with a tendency to abortions. Headaches with menses.
To conclude, I quote this poem by Wang Wei (China, VII AD).
Waves of Willow Trees
“Separate rows of silky willow touch,
and reflection merge into clear ripples.
The scene is not like the palace moat
where spring wind aches with departure”.
Comments, contributions and cases, email to Dra. Marisa Laguna: [email protected]
English version edited by Carolina Serra del Rio: [email protected]
“Siento que haga lo que haga nunca tomo la decisión correcta (delusions, he cannot succeed, he does everything wrong). No soy la misma persona y no sé aún quien voy a ser; todo se está moviendo dentro de mí; mis prioridades están cambiando; una parte de mí quiere hacer cosas, otra parte quiere dejar de hacerlas. Estoy en conflicto conmigo misma, un conflicto de sensaciones y situaciones.”(Confusion of mind, as to his identity; sense of duality. Delusions, divided into two parts.)”
 Árboles Ibéricos. (2013). Salix Fragilis. Obtained from Arboles Ibéricos: http://www.arbolesibericos.es/especie/salixfragilis
 Stirling, P. (1999). The Homœopathic Proving of Crack Willow Salix Frafilis. Obtained from www.hominf.org: http://www.hominf.org/sal/salfr.htm
 Pla, A. (2011, Jan-April). Salix Fragilis Materia Medica. Obtained from www.elsevier.es:
 Oxford University Press. (2016). Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. Obtained from www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com: http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/
 Van Zandvoort, R. (s.d.). Complete Dynamics. Obtained from www.completedynamics.com: http://www.completedynamics.com/?lang=es
 Cirlot, J. (1992). Diccionario de Símbolos. Obtained from www.libroesoterico.com:
 Wei, W. (1991). Waves of Willow Trees. From T. W. Barnstone, Laughing Lost in the Mountains, Poems of Wang Wei (p. 50). Hanover: University Press of New England.
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