Homeopathy Papers Materia Medica

Golden Flight? Differentiating the Lanthanide from the Bird

Homeopath Doug Brown carefully teases out the finer points separating the Lanthanides from the Birds.

“Look, up in the sky!”

“It’s a bird.”

“It’s a plane”.

“It’s Superman!”


I must confess, gentle reader, that I have written this essay mostly for myself. You see, I have heard so often that people needing Bird remedies and Lanthanides are so similar, that I felt the need to settle confusion in my own mind about the ways in which these remedies are similar and different. Are they really so similar? How can two groups of remedies from different Kingdoms be so easily confused?

Those of us who have tried to follow in Sankaran’s giant footsteps will recall his admonishment that Kingdom can only be clearly differentiated when we are at the level of sensation. And not all patients will be able to articulate their experience at that deep level. Yes, the experience of structure strengthening or deteriorating is quite different from that of caged vs. free, victim vs. aggressor. With such a radically divergent foundational experience, isn’t it all the more remarkable that expressions of these sensations are so considerably convergent and overlapping?

So let’s begin by taking inventory of these commonalities of Lanthanides and Birds. Both are likely to exhibit the characteristics of Self-awareness, sensitivity, altruism, an affinity with eyes/vision, sexuality, feeling different from others, and spirituality. Both groups will be seen in highly responsible and capable people. Interestingly, while Jonathan Shore says many homeopaths may need remedies from Birds, Jan Scholten says many homeopaths need Lanthanides! The nonconventional healer/therapist, as well as the observing, introspective seeker and change-agent present “types” that may elicit consideration of these groups of remedies.

Below is a table in which I’ve perhaps over-simplistically drawn attention to the differences between Lanthanide and Bird remedies. Below I will attempt to refine and qualify the information in the table.


ProblemLack of PowerCage
Need:ConfidenceGet it right!
ImaginesAtoms, lines, spaceWind, water, cords
ValuesAchievement, SuccessRelationship
Sensitive toElectromagnetic radiationCaffeine, stimulants
Personality typeEarthy, practicalSpacey, dreamy
NeedsSovereignty over personal spaceBetter personal boundaries
Column/MiasmClear fit into one of the columns 3-17 of Periodic Table, with aspects of Column 3 throughout.Most have aspects of cancer as well as tubercular miasm, but none will clearly fit into one column only.
Moral imperativeTo make the world betterObligation to Care
SexualityIncreased driveHiding/cheating/Naked
LeadershipAn aspect of inner powerShared
DetachmentWithin a shellCold, numb, disengaged
Wisdom resides inKnowingLearning and Teaching
Different from othersOutsider, hiddenAwkward, ugly, shame
Fears (s) he isLess value thanAggressor/bad person
Wants to experienceManifesting a capacityBalance and movement
DiseaseLoss of function & capacitySoul-sick, dispirited


Lanthanides, like all mineral remedies, share a quality of difficulty in accessing feelings. Birds, on the other hand, are quite oriented to their sensations. They are tactile, visual, kinesthetic. A very bird -like expression is the love of feeling the breeze on the skin or in the hair. This sensory, kinesthetic quality is part of a deeper polarity: feeling alive, free and authentic, vs. a caged quality of not being allowed to live their true life. In this negative polarity, the senses die, leaving numbness, coldness, an inability to feel the grounding of the earth or the call of the wind.

As the Lanthanides are distributed horizontally along the 6th Row of the Periodic Table, they each can be characterized as gaining, having, or losing a particular level of confidence in manifesting autonomy and inner power. There is a static quality in these elements, imposed by their position at specific intersections of the Periodic Table’s rows and columns. I am reminded of a poster which advises: “Don’t just DO something, STAND THERE!”  The same level of confidence with regards to manifesting inner power and autonomy will come up in different spheres and time periods of the patient’s life. If we become familiar with the differential among the columns, a specific column will clearly present itself.  The exception, of course, is the Lanthanide salt. Here the outer expression of the column may be tilted towards the non-Lanthanide ion. Even here, though, a careful parsing of the issue with regards to power and autonomy will reveal the specific column.

Birds, on the other hand, are not static. One could say that it’s all a matter of BEING vs. DOING, and be done with the whole matter! Birds, in particular, will speak of the experience of moving over a boundary, or a threshold. Interpersonal boundaries are experienced as thin, indeterminate, permeable. There is consequently an intense interpersonal sensitivity, which contributes to the feeling of trapped, caged, with a consequent urge to go outside and be free. So we can summarize this by saying that while both Lanthanides and Birds have the quality of self-awareness, this takes the form of spaciousness and interiority in Lanthanides, and movement and care in Birds.

As a subset of the 6th Row, the Gold series, Lanthanides have a relationship with money and power. Rather than choosing to wield overt power in the world, however, Lanthanides choose instead to develop autonomy and control over themselves. Birds are to reptiles what Lanthanides are to the non-Lanthanide gold series. Rather than focus energies on material success and external power, as represented by the glamorous fast car, birds seek to rise above negativity and evolve their spirit. The experience of engagement and connectedness provides a kind of ladder which allows for this flight from the negativity of materialist, egoistic competition and struggle. Interestingly, the evolutionary record indicates that birds did, indeed, evolve from those great lizards, the dinosaurs.

The “earthy, practical” Lanthanide compared to the “spacey” bird is perhaps the most problematic of the above comparisons. Lanthanum, with its Column 3 confusion, can appear quite spacey. The Galliformes (pheasant family), as well as other flightless birds, such as Geococcyx (Roadrunner), can appear quite earthy. Miasmatically, as well, not all birds fit into the cancer/tubercular range of the spectrum. Macaw has strong malarial characteristics, as does Crow. We can expect to see more malarial characteristics among the smaller flocking birds, while a more “right-sided” miasm will be more evident in birds who fly solo.

While both Birds and Lanthanides tend to be successful in their endeavors, the relationship of Birds to their success tends to be more complex than that of Lanthanides. In the latter, success and achievement is the ultimate goal. In the former, success tends to create more complex and subtle sensations involving relationships and groups. As the patient in the accompanying article (Case of Macaw) says, “For most things I have a lot of confidence. I can do whatever it is really well. Probably in the past I’ve had some job problems because of that, personal problems. I’m hard on myself. You got to do it right, get it right. And I think people assume that, if you take that attitude towards your own self, you take that attitude towards them. That’s not the case. But how do you tell people you’re not judging them by the same yardstick?…. colleagues end up feeling, ‘Oh, you’re the guy that makes the rest of us look bad’. Or, ‘You’re the guy that’s setting the standard that we don’t quite want to rise to’. Put simply, the Bird’s success carries with it the seeds and context of animal competition and jealousy, while the Lanthanide success occurs in a context of differential strength, power, and relative value.

The problem with this article is that it articulates a clarity that may not be so evident in practice. Only by going deeply into the case will the truth become evident, as that truth is in the cells and life of the patient. If given the opportunity to speak, and the homeopath listens with a truly open and unprejudiced mind, the truth cannot fail to express itself.

About the author

Doug Brown

Doug Brown

Doug Brown, CCH, RSHom(NA) serves as a director for A Promise of Health. He is a former sociologist with Cornell University’s American Indian Studies Program, and a Family Nurse Practitioner educated at Yale University. He graduated from Hahnemann College of Homeopathy in 2001, and currently enjoys teaching and mentoring homeopathic students and practitioners. Many of his articles can be found in Hpathy, Homeopathic Links, Interhomeopathy, the American Homeopath, and on his website, homeopathichealing.org. Doug lives and practices homeopathy in Portland, Oregon.
His website is: www.homeopathichealing.org.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment