Materia Medica

Aurum Metallicum

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Written by Mark O'Sullivan

The author takes us on an exploration of gold, including its significance historically, socially and mythically, ending with a rich materia medica of gold which uses King Midas as an illustration.

“Of what significance the light of day, if it is not the reflection of an inward dawn?—to what purpose is the veil of night withdrawn, if the morning reveals nothing to the soul? It is merely garish and glaring.”

Henry David Thoreau


Aurum Metallicum derives its name from the latin for “shining dawn”, while the phonetically similar “Aor” is Hebrew for “light”. The glorious colour of the light as the sun rises after the dark of night as if in a solid, metallic form. The early morning is often associated with freshness, purity and so gold, as a “noble metal” remains pure and aloof from other earthly matter, often found in a pure state in the natural environment. Gold, unchanging and uncorrupted by its surroundings has long been held as a symbol for noble superiority, royalty and spiritual enlightenment.

The alchemists’ search was the transformation of lead into gold, later taken by Jung to mean the refinement of the self into wholeness. In myth, this journey ends with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or in the discovery of the holygrail after the quest. Conversely to this, gold can also be seen as a symbol of evil in the form of avarice best exemplified in the idolatry of the golden calf by the Israelites in the bible. The soviets also held up the gold pocket watch as a symbol of the putative evils of capitalism. The ambivalence of the symbolism implying that when used well, it brings happiness but when not, can lead to corruption or calamity. Gold is as difficult to use well as it is to obtain.Gold is extremely conductive and ductile, with one gram of gold capable of being beaten into one metre squared, facilitating its use as leaf or thread in the arts and crafts. It is soft, heavy and full of colour by nature. When blended in alloys with copper, it gains a reddish hue – with iron, blue – with silver, white and with silver and bismuth, black. A colloidal solution of gold is royal purple in hue as is the alloy of aluminium and gold. Colloidal gold, or Aurum Potabile first made by Paracelsus, has been used since Roman times to stain glass in vivid colours. Gold absorbs the blue spectrum of light. From the perspective of the colours ascribed to the seven chakras of the energetic body, one would expect a remedy made from a metal containing so much potential for colour to be deep and varied in its action on the vital force and this is indeed the case with gold.

It is estimated that all the gold in world would form a cube just 20m in size (half of which would come from South Africa). The scarcity of Gold has made it an ideal medium of wealth whether in the coinage of antiquity or later in paper money representative of gold reserves in the “gold standard” system. Although modern currency runs by the “fiat” system, unyoked from gold, the roots of western fractional reserve banking lie in the mediaeval goldsmiths issuance of more receipts for stored gold than they had reserves of the metal. These days, banks can still lend out ten times the amount of money that they hold in reserve and in this manner contemporary money is conjured out of nothing as interest-laden debt owed to a bank. On gold’s shining surface therefore, the reflection of many pivotal themes of humankind can be seen. Spirituality, wealth, power, avarice and evil.

In western medicine, gold is involved in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with many side effects. Radioactive gold in involved in the treatment of cancer. The effects of taking gold are similar to that of mercury. Salts of gold initially sharpen the mind, increase libido and a sense of well being but when continued cause disorder of the glands, urinary and digestive systems before finally leading to a degeneration of bodily and mental systems as a whole, not unlike syphilis. Priapism is one side effect of gold poisoning, explaining the Ayurvedic use of gold (called “mineral light” in that system) as an aphrodisiac.

In Alchemy and Jungian psychology, there is the association of Gold and the sun, with Silver as its bride, representing the moon. Indeed, gold is often found blended or alongside silver in nature. The sun often represents the heart, being the ruler of Leo astrologically, which also rules the heart. In the balance of masculine and feminine within the self, gold represents the masculine, yang, left brained logical rational principle balanced by the feminine, receptive, yin, intuitive silver. We also see the sun associated with kingship, as is gold. The planets of our solar system were born of the sun and all life on earth depends on its radiant life-energy. This puts the sun in a role of leadership, nurturing and responsibility. We could intuit from this that a gold remedy might address the heart of rational, logical, sun-kings and as we shall see, these are important themes in the picture of Aurum as a remedy. Indeed the Aurum Potabile of Paracelsus was said to be above all, a tonic for the heart.

Aurum Metallicum – Remedy Picture

The Aurum type typically presents as a successful, ambitious, responsible, industrious individual with a need to lead and shine. They rise into situations where people people become dependant on them and feel they must maintain their power and effectiveness due to the responsibility they bear for their “flock”. They strive into high achievement, away from a shadow which tells them they are not living up to the requirements of their role.

Internally, they are very hard on themselves with delusions of actually being failures in spite of their successes. Their extremely high expectations of themselves inevitably lead to regarding themselves as failures for not having attained those lofty goals. Their super-egos, in a Freudian sense, are deeply internalised, like those of Carcinosin and Nat. Mur. They are very critical and reproachful of themselves. This leads to depression that can be so profound as to be suicidal. The attendant suppressed anger can express itself as intolerance of contradiction and even violence. Being a syphilitic remedy, the self destruction of suicide or substance abuse may bring about their demise.

Under the weight of such self-reproach they experience feelings of being forsaken, of guilt, loneliness and isolation in their personal relationships. They take criticism to heart as it reflects the criticisms they have of themselves. Their sense of duty and devotion allow their compassionate hearts to lead them into doing good for the world. They are “benign dictators” who are “lonely at the top”. The dominance of their left-brained logical and critical faculties create heavy walls of duty, haughtiness and seriousness around their hearts and may be unable to express humour or affection. They will experience relief from this weight by enjoying classical music or by praying.

Even thoughts of suicide may bring relief to the Aurum who, from grief, loss of position, isolation or depression, no longer experiences joy in life. They may throw themselves off a high building, or dream/fear of doing so, reflecting the anxiety that they will fall from the heights they have invariably scaled. They are worse for ascending stairs. Aurum has great affinities with the heart, liver and bones as well as the central nervous system. It is a prominent remedy for the treatment of heart conditions and the deep bone pains of rheumatoid arthritis. Infertility can result from their self-reproach staunching the flow of generative energies. Its symptoms are mostly right sided, reflecting the left-brain dominance of the character.

Story of King Midas

While the approach of Logos, rational, linear logical analysis, can bring us an intellectual understanding of a remedy it is by employing an approach of Mythos narrative and symbol-laden stories which can be meaningful on many levels, that a fuller and more persistent understanding of a remedy can be gleaned. To this end, we can take the well known story of King Midas to unpack the main properties of the remedy as this story in particular holds most of the principal qualities of the remedy picture.

The suitability of this story grows in appropriateness when considering its historical background. Midas was an ancient king of Phrygia a nation once located in what is now northern Turkey and said, by Herodotus, to have been the oldest of all nations. In the myth, Midas was said to have washed his golden gift away in the source of the river Pactolus, in the neighbouring ancient state of Lydia. The sands of the Pactolus were actually rich in gold and it was with this that the Lydians invented coinage in about 660BC. This, plus the fact that the historical Midas is said to have committed suicide (by drinking the blood of a bull) after his kingdom was invaded by the Cimmerians in 696BC yields the Aurum themes of wealth and suicide due to loss of position even before we examine the story of mythical Midas.



BACCHUS, on a certain occasion, found his old schoolmaster and foster-father, Silenus, missing. The old man had been drinking, and in that state wandered away, and was found by some peasants, who carried him to their king, Midas. Midas recognized him, and treated him hospitably, entertaining him for ten days and nights with an unceasing round of jollity.

On the eleventh day he brought Silenus back, and restored him in safety to his pupil. Whereupon Bacchus offered Midas his choice of a reward, whatever he might wish. He asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into gold. Bacchus consented, though sorry that he had not made a better choice.

Midas went his way, rejoicing in his new-acquired power, which he hastened to put to the test. He could scarce believe his eyes when he found a twig of an oak, which he plucked from the branch, become gold in his hand. He took up a stone; it changed to gold. He touched a sod; it did the same. He took an apple from the tree; you would have thought he had robbed the garden of the Hesperides. His joy knew no bounds, and as soon as he got home, he ordered the servants to set a splendid repast on the table. Then he found to his dismay that whether he touched bread, it hardened in his hand; or put a morsel to his lips, it defied his teeth. He took a

glass of wine, but it flowed down his throat like melted gold In consternation at the unprecedented affliction, he strove to divest himself of his power; hehated the gift he had lately coveted. But all in vain; starvation seemed to await him. He raised his arms, all shining with gold, in prayer to Bacchus, begging to be delivered from his glittering destruction. Bacchus, merciful deity, heard and consented. “Go,” said he, “to the River Pactolus, trace the stream to its fountain-head, there plunge your head and body in, and wash away your fault and its punishment.” He did so, and scarce had he touched the waters before the goldcreating power passed into them, and the river-sands became changed into gold, as they remain to this day.


Midas is a king, responsible and respectful to his drunken but divine guest and through his good acts gains a boon from the gods. Here we have the Aurum position of being elevated, conscientious, dutiful and benign in his power. Yet being Aurum, he gives away his insecurity, borne of the imperative to maintain power, by his wish – the ability to generate limitless wealth. He insists on his wish, even against a deities advice (intolerance to contradiction). He must have his way. What a relief to an Aurum would be the prospect of “arrival” at a place of assured power, free from the insecurity that he is not doing well enough when weighed against how well he thinks he should be doing.

For Aurum, the reassurance of maintaining worldly successes is required to maintain his self-worth. It is only by seeing his own standards of success constantly reflected back to him in his life, that he can rest easy in the knowledge that he is accomplishing his mission. The trouble with this is that he begins to view his whole life through this lens, giving no validity to his own inner life, and seeing everything in terms of worldly success or failure, neglecting to nourish his feelings. Such an approach will soon drain the world of warmth, joy and pleasure (heaviness). This is beautifully metaphorised in the story firstly by Midas’ foolish wish and then his dismay when warmth and joy disappears from everything he touches only to be replaced by cold, lifeless, heavy metal. He cannot nourish himself any longer as his whole world view is coloured by this unforgiving standard of success (delusion, reproach, has neglected his duty and deserves). Small wonder then that he becomes frightened and despairing, realising the bind into which his own nature has delivered him, compounding his feelings of failure and despair. In contemporary versions of this story, Midas embraces his daughter, also turning her into gold. The Aurum’s relentless externalisation of self-worth has also hardened the relationships most close to him (delusion,affection of friends, has lost.), leaving him grieving, isolated and heartbroken.

He turns to weeping and praying to the gods for forgiveness and redemption (Anxiety of conscience, Religious affectations). It all gets too much for Midas (< emotion) and he wants the responsibility of his gift to be taken away from him. (Forsaken feeling, doubts about the soul’s welfare). The gods order him to undergo a spiritual rebirth by bathing at the source of a river (> cold bathing) and he is redeemed. For Midas, he has rediscovered his fecund life energies, the spiritual treasure in his own heart and freed himself from the harsh imperative of constant self validation through worldly success.

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Bulfinch, Thomas. Age of Fable: Vols. I & II: Stories of Gods and Heroes. 1913.

Chetwynd, Tom, “Dictionary of Symbols”, The Aquarian Press, London, 1982

Scholten, Jan. “Homeopathy and the Elements”, Stichting Alonnissos, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2004.

Sankaran, Rajan. “The Soul of Remedies“. Homeopathic Medical Publishers, Mumbai, India, 1997,

Vithoulkas, George., The Essence of Materia Medica, B. Jain Publishers, New Delhi, 2001

Vermeulen, Franz. Prisma, An arcana of Materia Medica Illuminated, Emryss, Haarlem, 2004

Wallace, John. Remedy Notes 1, SRP Press 1999





Lydia: on Gold

About the author

Mark O'Sullivan

Mark O'Sullivan BA (hons) Lic.I.S.H ISHom, is a registered homeopath based in the Dublin Holistic Centre on South William st. Ireland.
He is a graduate of the Irish School of Homeopathy, a member of the Fatima Mansions Health Initiative team and founder of Open Homeopathy Ltd.
Mark O"™Sullivan - Homeopathy Dublin

Open Homeopathy


  • Well done! Homeopathy study material at it’s finest. I was captured at the Thoreau quote. I’m a student for family use, bit of a sick onion. Glad to find such articles. Wonder about your views on actual kits for students; a bit of this and that; 12 drams maybe?

  • Excellent information,increasing interest in Hpathy!Waiting for such informative and interesting articles from Mark OSullivan Cheers to him and God bless him for his noble service to the Society!


  • Nice article Mark! I like the literary references combined with the psychological essence.

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