Lycopodium is sometimes called “vegetable Sulphur”. It is a plant remedy and belongs to the psoric miasm. I have been told that several thousands of years ago, Lycopodium clavatum was actually a huge tree, and that over the years it reduced to a small fern – the club moss.
The main feeling in Lycopodium is that if the person remains small, his survival will be difficult, he will be humiliated, he will be nowhere. The main theme of Lycopodium therefore, becomes ambition, a desire to grow bigger, a lot of effort which is concentrated fully on becoming bigger, being more powerful, reaching a higher position – the top rung of the ladder.
Lycopodium is a part of the Calcarea – Lycopodium – Sulphur cycle. Calcarea represents the human need for stability and security, which translates into having a house, family, source of income, good health and protection. Stability also entails lack of movement, adventure and growth.
The other need of the human is represented by Sulphur, and that is the need for a name, for an ego, an image; the need to be somebody important, to matter, to be recognized, to be counted in; the need to be proud of oneself, to think highly of oneself, to have a good self-image.
In order to reach from the position of Calcarea to that of Sulphur one has to concentrate on growing, on making an effort to achieve one’s ambitions, on movement – undertaking new things rather than sticking to the old and the stable, on goal-oriented activity. Lycopodium represents precisely this phase in human life, and becomes a person’s remedy when he/she gets stuck in this phase and cannot think of anything else.
The original situation from which a Lycopodium state may have arisen is probably that of a person who feels he has no power. He is therefore aggravated with anything that concerns loss of power, while anything to do with acquiring power will make him feel better.
Lycopodium is very ambitious and can employ any means to achieve success. He can dictate, dominate, and will take the help of anyone he can. But Lycopodium people have one big fear, and that is the fear of undertaking new challenges, facing new situations, meeting new people.
All these situations have to be encountered if he is to achieve success, and in the face of these situations Lycopodium lacks confidence; he feels incapable. He develops an anticipatory anxiety from this lack of confidence. This may appear like Silicea, but the difference is that in Silicea, it is not whether he is actually capable of doing the task that bothers him, rather it is that his image should be protected at all costs.
So Silicea is afraid to go on stage, and Lycopodium is afraid to speak. In the adult Lycopodium person however, this cowardice may be hidden by an outward show of bravado. This becomes necessary to protect his ego. He may take recourse to tall talk, and boasting with bravado, and this may eventually produce in him a fear of being discovered.
An offshoot of this egotism is his censorious attitude towards others. Lycopodium is not unhappy with others, he nonetheless criticizes them in order to establish his own superiority. At the same time, his conscientiousness does not allow him to be overcritical although he will justify his criticism on the grounds that it is his duty to do so in the interest of the person being criticized. Lycopodium can thus be subtle in his criticism of others.
The timidity and cowardice of Lycopodium is best seen in children requiring the remedy. They have a fear of facing new situations, meeting new people, and will try and avoid the same. As a result of this timidity, and also because of the physical weakness, in Lycopodium children we find an aversion to play.
The Lycopodium adult however, being too egoistic to admit his lack of self-confidence and fear in facing new situations and meeting new persons, will try and compensate the same by surrounding himself with people whom he can dictate, and therefore need not fear.
He creates around him a world in which he is all powerful, and others accept his authority and can be dominated by him. For example, he will select a woman who is mild and can be easily dictated over – a Pulsatilla woman, perhaps. The same will be true in his work, play and social situation.
His dictatorial attitude is however confined to within the safety of his domain, and when he steps outside he is still timid. And so, he seldom does venture out of his domain, rather he seeks only to expand it further, and bring more and more people under his power. Hence the rubric: “Love of Power”.
Lycopodium thus represents a constant struggle between cowardice and egotism, between lack of confidence and haughtiness, between timidity and a dictatorial attitude. The person is scared of those in authority, but to those for whom he can represent it, he is rude and contemptuous.
Lycopodium has a tremendous fear of being alone, amidst unfamiliar people. He seeks out known persons, wants someone with him “even if in the next room”. He can’t do without people, he needs them. This may make him appear sentimental, affectionate and sympathetic like Phosphorus, but the contrast is that while Lycopodium depends on and dictates people, he does not like others to depend on him.
He does not like responsibilities and avoids them as far as possible. Even in his love affairs (a part of lasciviousness of Lycopodium) he does not want to commit. So when an affair reaches a peak, he backs out. Lycopodium persons very often are late to marry. But once he does commit himself, he accepts full responsibility due to his strong sense of duty.
In my observation, Lycopodium is a grateful person. If someone has done something for him, he is bound to remember and return the favour when the opportunity comes. He is also much affected by gratitude as well as the ungratefulness of others. Under the irritable exterior he is a sensitive person and can weep while watching sentimental scenes, of both of joy and sorrow.
Lycopodium can be hurried. The patients do things fast but not necessarily in an orderly manner. This hurried nature could be explained on the basis of the lack of self-confidence. Because they are anxious to complete the job, they are hurried in their work. In the clinic during the interview, especially during follow-ups, they are very impatient and want to get away quickly. This along with weakness of memory accounts for a lot of mistakes especially in speech and writing. Weakness of memory is especially for proper names, but also extends to dates, events and other things they have to do.
The situation of Lycopodium is that of a man who feels that he is not loved as he is, but only if he achieves something in his life. So he must achieve in order to be loved. He must reach a goal that is not easy, one that is very difficult. When Shivaji’s mother told him to conquer the fort, he did not have any army and the fort belonged to the Emperor. It was an uphill task.
He had to collect an army around him to achieve what his mother wanted him to. Lycopodium is the child of a parent who demands achievement, the wife of a husband who demands achievement. So he has the anticipatory anxiety, the lack of confidence and the “Fear of being unable to reach his destination” on one hand, and love of power, ambition, egotism and domineering attitude on the other.
When looking for a wife, he may feel that a woman would not love him unless he is an achiever. He would want her to like him not for what he is but for his achievements, and so he constantly emphasizes to her that he is achieving, that he is an achiever.
The other remedies Lycopodium has to be compared with are Aurum, Staphysagria, Nux vomica, Chelidonium, Phosphoricum acidum, Platinum, Medorrhinum, China, Argentum nitricum, Bryonia, Lachesis.
Being a remedy of the plant kingdom, Lycopodium is very sensitive, sentimental. He is also imaginative and intellectual, and can easily make abstractions and theorize. He can generalize and make up a theory by looking at many facts.
Lycopodium is the most syphilitic remedy of the Calcarea, Lycopodium and Sulphur cycle, all three being essentially psoric remedies.
The physical concomitants of Lycopodium that I have observed are:
- Dilated nostrils.
- Cracks on the heel.
- They show signs of premature senility, like greying of hair, baldness, enlarged prostate, etc.
- There is desire for warm food and drinks, and for sweets.
- Hurriedness in eating and drinking.
- Ill effects of overeating.
- Confidence, want of self.
- Fear, people, of.
- Contemptuous, hard for subordinates and agreeable, pleasant to superiors or people he has to fear.
- Dictatorial, command, talking with air of.
- Dictatorial, power, love, of.
- Fear, alone, of being.
- Fear, undertaking anything.
- Hurry, eating, while.
- Timidity, appearing in public, but capable to.
- Weeping, thanked, when.
- Weeps ungratefulness at.
- Cough, bending head backwards.
- Dry cough in emaciated boys.
- Dilated nostrils.
- Appetite: eating increases hunger.
- Desires warm food.
- Axilla: boils recurrent.
- Extremities: cracks in the heel.
- Strangers, presence of, aggravates.
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To read about the philosophical approach to developing these remedy pictures, see Dr. Sankaran’s introduction to Soul of Remedies: