Developing a sense of the ocean and sea remedies is akin to looking into the subconscious and collective unconscious within ourselves, in the present moment of our lives. The very environment of sea animal remedies–aqua marina, or sea-water, has a sense of being observed, watched, of being “looked at” or “into”, as well as a desire to “shut the doors”. As we peer into Neptunian depths, staring back at us is a continuum of the most basicâ€”and generally subconscious–patterns of survival. As Melville wrote in the classic novel Moby Dick, . . . “it is but well to be on friendly terms with all the inmates of the place one lodges in . . .”
Looking into the sea is a metaphor for Carl Jung’s “shadow” of unresolved conflicts. “Fear of water” is seen in lyssin and the solanaceae (eg., belladonna, stramonium, hyoscyamus, etc.), where one experiences disturbing “breakthroughs” of primary instincts into waking consciousness. Universal fears relating to survival, abandonment, persecution and violence are all seen in the sea animal remedies, and in turn, understanding these remedies requires us to “step back” from those fears, and perceive from an ever-more primal stillness within ourselves, “prior to” adopting the coping strategies of the sea.
To start, it’s helpful to think about the most common elements within seawater itself:
The first element of the sea is hydrogen, with a central proving conflict between ‘earthly and otherworldly existence’â€”ie., ‘do I want to incarnate or not?’. A sense of betrayal, forsakenness and isolation is strong in hydrogen, and one’s ties to the earth are weak. And yet there’s also a sense of universal consciousness and connection, the feeling of oneness with the totality, which the vast ocean represents.
The next element is oxygen, and similar to hydrogen gas, it’s “ungrounded” and “unbounded”. Oxygen needs to bond with other elements during the process of “oxidation” or “respiration”, leading to “release” of stored energy from other elemental compounds. Oxygen is closely linked with “inspiring”, and is central to one of life’s most fundamental processesâ€”the burning of fuel for energy.
A high school theater director complained of feeling scattered, distractible and hypersensitive to her environment. She’s also highly intuitive. She described how all her work was unpaid and that her husband wanted her to find a “real” job. Yet she also stated how much she enjoyed presenting ideas for plays to her students, then ‘turning them loose to work on the project’ so she could ‘feed off all that high school energy’. She responded very well to an initial dose of oxygenium 1M, and then a second dose about 6 months later.
Besides the hydrogen and oxygen of water (H20), the next element of the sea is muriaticum (chloride). As with halogens in general, muriaticum’s bonds to other elements are tenuous. The most common bond of animals is that of “mother”, and muriaticum experiences themes of mothering vs. not mothering, connection vs. disconnection, disappointment, sadness and feeling alone and separate. ‘Am I connected to motherhood? Is motherhood connected to me?’ ‘Do I connect or not?’– Sepia carries many of these same muriaticum themes.
Natrum (sodium), the next element, is very polar, and feels the longing for deep 1:1 connection, as well as emotional safety and protection. They may hide that need when relationships are perceived as emotionally unsafe. “Ailments from disappointed love” and “silent grief” are well-known characteristics of natrum muriaticum. Reflecting its generally salt-water environment, one of the main proving symptoms of salmon (oncorhynchus) was a longing for and persevering in a return to its true home.
Magnesium has been described as the “orphan remedy”, and those who benefit from magnesium can experience a sense of abandonment, and interact with others in ways to avoid “becoming an orphan”. Pleasing and peacemaking behavior results in suppression of one’s needs and identity, as well as suppression of toxic emotions at the liver.
Sulphur signifies the rudimentary development of ego strength. Self-determined, self-directed behavior is conditioned by the desire for acknowledgment and appreciation.
Calcarea (calcium) structures confer support and protection against vulnerability. Most shells in the sea are made of calcium carbonate, and turtle shells are made of calcium phosphate. Calcarea is a very important element to understand, as many of the sea’s invertebrates use some sort of variation on a shell for survival, and many of these “shell remedies” express slight variations of the main calc-c themes. To experience the role of calcium in its relation to primal protection against vulnerability, simply close the eyes while simultaneously opening the mouth–widely!
Finally, carbon takes on the tasks of lifeâ€”energy is either stored up or released from bonds in carbon “chains”, in the creation of “value” and “self-worth”, and being “productive”. Expenditure of energy can also lead to depletion states.
All of the other natural elements are also found in the sea, but the more common ones above provide a general perspective of themes one may find in a sea remedy history, eg., incarnation and desire for connection, vulnerability and defense. Set against the “backdrop” of aqua marina, natrum muriaticum, spongia, calcarea carbonica and sepia provide well-known signposts for understanding the other remedies, which can be compared and contrasted with these three.
(Note: The following remedy information has been derived from Jo Evan’s excellent book “Sea Remedies: Evolution of the Senses; Massimo Mangialavori’s Sea Remedy 2002 seminar notes, and the author’s clinical experience.)
Chinese medicine describes how a person with poor “boundaries”â€”eg., overextending themselves, acquiescing to others, or existing in a “co-dependent relationship”– may experience problems with their lungs. In feeling one’s entire being as a sponge (porifera family), one senses its open boundaries and vulnerabilityâ€”the sea’s corollary to complete dependency without a womb. The child, only recently released from the womb, experiences boundary problems through the lungs, and spongia tosta is best known for the dry cough of croup. Reflecting doctrine of signatures, the sponge is a metaphor for the ventilatory passages of the lungs: ‘I’m dependent on my environment, but there’s so much coming in to process. My life process alternates between expansion and opening and retraction and closing. I must stay in the spot where I amâ€”there’s more than enough threat right here’. The mental and emotional state may be one of high anxiety and openness, similar to a phosphorus state (expansion)â€”alternating with a “shut-down” state of withdrawal (retraction).
Interesting spongia tosta rubrics and sensations:
Mental symptoms aggravated by being in open air
Thoughts intrude and crowd around each other upon closing eyes
Paroxysmal anxiety in croup, heart and throat disease
Cheerfulness alternating with anxiety
Weeping, tearful mood alternating with cheerfulness, irritability, liveliness
Sadness, despondency, depression, melancholy after excessive mirth
The red coral is a close cousin to the sponge. Corallium rubrum may be thought of as a sponge that’s sharpened itself with calcium, but nevertheless experiences an inner fragility and lack of strength relative to its environment. While corallium can be verbally abusive, they can’t back that up with physical intimidation. Like coral on the reef, a diver can be cut if they happen to brush against it, but so too the coral’s often broken in the process. Like spongia, corallium is an excellent croup and spasmodic cough remedy, with the added feature of outward pressure: redness of the face, and sometimes even nose-bleeds during the cough. The coral reefs also represent the value of community in survival, and may be chosen if a person with chronic cough also seeks safety through creation of community wherever they move (see case in Jo Evans’ book Sea Remedies).
Interesting corallium rubrum rubrics and sensations:
Fear of suffering, pain
Delusion has been poisoned
Morose, sulky, cross, fretful, ill-humor, peevish
Quarrelsome, scolding with pains
Abusive, insulting with pains
Restlessness, nervousness, tossing about in sleep
The coral is taxonomically related to the anemone and jellyfish, as a member of the cnidarians (ny-DAR-ee-enz). Cnidarians rely on primitive nervous systems for survival. In most cases the anemone is tied to a sandy bottom or rock, so has developed tools for predation and survival apart from movement. Unlike coral, anemones don’t necessarily work in community, and can either repel or engulf a perceived “invader”.
Haddon’s Sea Anemone:
As mentioned above, the anemone has limited ability to move, but quickly retracts into itself when threatened. It also employs stinging poison in its tentacles for predation and defense. Proving symptoms include confusion as to personal boundaries, sensation of no defense or protection, about to be injured, sensation as if on drugs.
Interesting anemone rubrics and sensations:
Heightened senses; sensitive to sensual impressions, pain, rudeness
Quivering, trembling, electric shocks, internal sensitiveness
Pains: shooting, burning, stinging, itching, biting, rawness
Sadness from disappointed love
Forsaken, homesick, sentimental, self-pity
Jellyfish (medusa) also gracefully move with the currents, not actively pursuing prey, but rather creating a gentle pulsating current to draw plankton into their “mouths”. Although not engaged in active confrontation, both anemone and jellyfish employ electrochemical means for survival and defense. Medusa and anemone are essentially unstructured, and share symptoms of hypersensitivity alternating with numbness, as well as many characteristics of the better-known sepia. There’s a desire for movement, along with sensitivity to their environment and a desire to “escape” from family and friends. But where sepia is usually shut down, medusa is “alive”, even if “alive” means restless and irritable! Medusa is also known for distress at times of major transition. Mangialavori notes that clients’ gestures may also be graceful, similar to the innate graceful movement of a jellyfish in the sea.