In 2009, the credential many homeopaths in our state used to practice homeopathy was eliminated. So, a group of us went to speak with the Health Department, to ask how we could continue to practice and to work this out with the State. One of the things that was happening at the time was a look (by the State) into what actually constitutes a “profession,” and we were asked if we had a professional association (one of the markers of a profession). We did not. However, we formed one: the Washington State Homeopathy Association (WAHA), and we have been learning to work together over these last 9 years.
Homeopaths aren’t really known for their skills in collaboration, and so over the years, we have been learning how to do that, to gain that skill-set. This is a growing edge for many of us, and I’m pleased to see that both in our state and nationally, homeopaths are finding ways of learning and collaborating together, and that is quite inspiring!
In our state, naturopaths have the legal scope to practice homeopathy. However, other practitioners, such as nurses, counselors, medical doctors, veterinarians, physician’s assistants, etc., can write the practice of homeopathy into their “scope of practice,” and file that with the State. The intention of WAHA, in general, is to increase our identity as “homeopaths” above and beyond whatever license we practice under, and to become good homeopaths. We encourage all our members to get certified by the Council for Homeopathic Certification (CHC), because we see that this national group has taken the steps to create a credential that holds our core values and standards of practice together in a way that has the potential to unify us. By growing the number of certified homeopaths, we are strengthened both “energetically” as an expression of our commitment to a body of knowledge and standards that matter, as well as in “real-life” since the CHC has been granted accreditation in the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which has the potential to bring Homeopathy into the national health care scenario as a bona fide profession. Little by little, Homeopathy is moving forward as a “profession.”
Last year (2017), WAHA looked for a way to create an exemption to be written into the Medical Practice Act in WA State Law, which would allow people to practice homeopathy more openly, removing the fear from “practicing medicine without a license.” We were using the philosophy of Health Freedom, claiming that homeopathy doesn’t really need to be regulated by the state since it causes no harm. However, we came up against the reality that if we were further challenged by the State, we didn’t have the strength of numbers (of certified homeopaths) on our side to become a registered profession if our attempt at a form of “health freedom” failed. So, we pulled back from that effort for the time being. It was a learning experience, however, and people stepped up to the plate to participate, learn, and work together.
A few years ago, a number of us took a powerful course, called U. Lab, given through MIT. The model (see www.presencing.org) helps people to learn new methods of collaboration that are effective in helping a group or a system to realize their higher potentials. Is this not what we do in Homeopathy? Ultimately, we care that each person we work with may “… freely use this healthy living instrument to reach the lofty goal of human existence.” as Hahnemann pointed out in Aphorism 9. Once people are “freed” from that which keeps them from actualizing their potential, what they do is often inspiring “and obliges wonderment.” The U. Lab does this at a very collective level, and so, taking the course, learning the method, practicing in Coaching Circles, has helped us gain greater competence in working collaboratively in the collective realm. As I mentioned, homeopaths historically have needed to develop this capacity, and so this course is enormously effective and helpful (and free through edX)! A number of people in the greater homeopathic community, such as people in the National Center for Homeopathy (NCH), the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC), the Council for Homeopathic Certification (CHC), have taken this course, since, as I mentioned, it is natural to them as homeopaths and the course is eminently practical and effective!
What we have been doing in Washington is to have 3 gatherings a year, in which we all come together, physically, to share our work and to meet each other and connect as people interested in something we all love. Actually getting together matters! And our association has doubled its number of members in the last few years as people see and experience the value of having a collective association in which to participate.
In the Spring, each year, we have a Cured Case Conference, which we do in conjunction with Bastyr University. Here we have 4 homeopaths who live in the Northwest (Oregon, too) present their work. This is so inspiring! In the face of the daunting problems of what’s happening in modern medicine and broken health care systems, learning from cured cases re-inspires us and helps us understand why what we do is important and powerful. Plus we learn nuances of remedies and fine-tune the principles of prescribing, and we are reinvigorated in our practices.
In the Fall, we have a conference that “pops up” according to what seems to be interesting in the community. We try to “listen to what’s alive.” For example, two years ago, we got together to strategize about how we should work together to change a state law, as I described above. Last year, we got together to see the film “Just One Drop” and we had the filmmaker present to engage us in a conversation (see: https://www.justonedropfilm.com/ 150 people showed up on a rainy night in Seattle!
In the Winter, we arrange a Mid-Winter Gathering to invite people to an event where we serve wine and cheese and have a guest speaker present on some topic of mutual interest. In this gathering, our focus is on community building and encouraging people to get together around shared areas of interest to study and work together, as well as to celebrate the beauty and power of our beloved Homeopathy! This year, after hearing about two systems used to study the Plant Kingdom (Yakir and Scholten), people decided to get together to continue this study together, using Zoom video conferencing. There are so many ways to collaborate, encourage and help each other, and to strengthen our profession!
We keep our website active so people have access to study opportunities and “news from and about the homeopathy community.” We let people know through email communications things they need to know. For example, we sent out information about ways to connect with their legislators around the most current challenge to Homeopathy posed by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration). One of our members wrote our “position” on this subject, which we have submitted to the FDA (and which we posted on our website for others to see/use). We hope to use our collective will to take the right stands for homeopathy on multiple planes and places of action.
Ultimately, we are learning as we go and finding ways to identify ourselves as a profession as well as to harmonize with and honor:
- the lineage we were given and the timeless truths it holds, which were discovered and articulated by our predecessors (the shoulders on which we stand),
- our colleagues who hold and practice the tradition with standards, credibility and dignity,
- the health care system in which we work with other healers and health care providers who care about people’s well-being
- legal structures that define a profession’s responsibilities and rights
- a commitment to future generations who will carry on the legacy
Finally, getting together as an association is fun and inspiring. We are a group of intelligent, thoughtful people of good will, who strive to be faithful to the depth of human healing, standing in timeless truths and appreciating the insights that blink into awareness – humans are not machines with interchangeable parts nor the chemical result of neurons firing, but rather we are beings with soul and heart and purpose of Being. When what Hahnemann called the Vital Force is unfettered from illness, that which manifests through a lived human life does oblige wonder. The great homeopaths through the ages have seen that and are in service to it. Hanging out with such folks is a privilege!