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.
Interesting medusa rubrics and sensations:
Restlessness, nervousness; internal, tremulous
Irritability from trifles
Lashing out verbally or physically and cutting off people emotionally
Industrious, mania for work
Indifference, apathy to agreeable things
Desire for rest
Eating ameliorates mental symptoms
Aversion to change
As mentioned above, shells made from calcium provide animals with structure and protection against vulnerability. Some of the more common “shell animals” include mollusks (e.g., calc-c and sepia), echinoderms (asterias), arthropods (homarus and limulus), and reptilia (sea turtles). Each embodies a slightly different theme related to a “chosen” but confining protection as compared to freedom and mobilityâ€”and at the cost of increased vulnerability.
The best-known shell remedyâ€”calcarea carbonicaâ€”experiences fear of being observed–that others will see into their “confusion” and vulnerability. Calcarea carbonica is impressionable and susceptible, and may include a fear of dark and their own “shadow”, e.g., the subconscious. For calc-c, the external shell of structure (home, stable occupation and income) provides safety, and there’s a desire to maintain structure for that reason. Calcarea carbonica represents the child’s or adult’s desire for stability (and even stasis) as one engages in “tasks” of life, because outside the shell exists a threatening world full of motion and change.
Interesting Calcarea carbonica rubrics and sensations:
Fear her condition will be observed
Sensitive, oversensitive to sensual impressions
Delusions, imagines is away from home
Desires to go home
Cannot be independent
Along with calc-c, three other closely related remedies bear mentioningâ€”venus mercenaria (clam), conchiolinum (mother of pearl), and mytilus edulis pearl (pearl from a mussel):
Whereas the oyster (calc-c) spends most of its life on top of the ocean floor, venus (clam) spends most of its life buried in the sand. Deep disappointment, disgust, and pessimism in life’s circumstances cause the person to distance themselves, hiding away and protecting themselves against penetration and invasion.
Interesting Venus mercenaria rubrics and sensations:
Delusion, imaginations that he is separated from the world
Dreams death, disease, murder, violence
Irritability in company, from noise
Ennui, boredom; Indifference, apathy
Dragging pains; lymphatic congestion; swelling of lower legs and feet
Conchiolinum (mother of pearl), the innermost layer of the oyster shell, is a beautiful form of calcium carbonate, and many times stronger than the middle layer, from which calc-c is derived. If calc-c is concerned that others might observe their confusion, conchiolinum has the feeling ‘How am I seen?’ Conchiolinum has had a limited proving, but is better known for its propensity towards bone and joint inflammation, as well as benign bone tumors. Conchiolinum is the “secretion” which ultimately creates the oyster pearl.
Interesting Conchiolinum rubrics and sensations:
Concern over one’s appearance
Desire to clean up one’s personal environment
Dreams of being in her own womb
Catarrh, bronchial tubes (e.g., secretion @ internal surface)
Abscesses, suppurations, joints (e.g., secretion @ internal surface)
Mytilus edulis pearl can experience the feeling of an idyllic space having been penetrated or invaded by an unwanted outsider, and the person works to wall off their thoughts or experience of the person. Pearl is known for the depth of the experienceâ€”deep, deep, deepâ€”to the extent that a person may either feel very “connected” to someone or something, but to the extent their connection has been “sullied”, they can feel very isolated and alone.
Interesting pearl rubrics and sensations:
Weepy out of proportion to cause (e.g., secretion in response to slight “invasion”)
Things are not as they were before; “out of sync”
Great sense of depth, very long-held emotions
Source of connection feels lost
Enormous pride and nobility; great purity in everything
Remedy for those who are too crystallized and inflexible
“My girlfriend and I had broken up, and then we decided to get back together. During the time apart she was in another relationship. I felt waves of tremulous emotionâ€”anger to sadness. There were tidal waves of distressâ€”I didn’t know my nervous system could handle this much stress. There were a lot, a lot of tearsâ€”I was weeping all day long. I felt a sense of revulsion, invasion and violation. I had these idyllic expectations, but then there was this whole other book of information to process. It was almost like being haunted by a ghost, someone in the energetic mix I didn’t invite. It’s like a Trojan horse that sneaks in, like a virus. I kept saying, ‘something smells funny’. I feel haunted, poisoned. We had a connection, a rapport, and now there’s a whole other dynamic. It’s almost like a hygiene issueâ€”an emotional hygiene. I feel sullied. I’m obviously vastly superior to this person, our relationship had been vastly superior, but now it’s been brought down to something vulgar. There’s a consuming desire, wanting to be fulfilled, a grasping heart. I can be very self-sufficient, self-contained, okay with being alone, but I’ve been feeling very cut-off and disconnected. Through the break-up, I discovered there was this whole other depth of love, a feeling as if life isn’t long enough . . . everything up to now has been preliminaryâ€”where am I going to live, work, etc. When you’ve met those needs you can focus on your life’s work, fulfilling my potential, my destiny, doing something with my life instead of being self-centered and reactive.”
Sepia, the other well-known mollusk, has only a shell remnant, and so sacrifices a degree of safety for increased mobility with tentacles. A “conflict” exists between the shell (safety and stasis) and the tentacles (exposure and mobility). In this context we can understand the rubrics “antagonism with herself”, “contradiction of will”, and “aversion to company, yet dreads being alone”. Sepia is supported by the remnant shell structure, and yet has become “thin-skinned”, and desires to escape. The following is a helpful description for sepia:
‘ . . . The world has become too strong, too overpowering for the Sepia patient. She has been overcome by the world, and finds herself defeated. The light is too bright, the sound too loud, the children are too noisy, the husband is too rough; everything is stronger than she, and constantly attacks and overcomes her. The world has become nothing but an attack; and now she needs sepia (ink) as the cuttlefish and kraken (octopod) need it when they want to protect themselves and escape from the importunity of their enemies. Sepia darkens the waters because then the enemy can no longer see their figures; then they are as safe as their brothers the snails, who can hide in their houses, and like the mussels who breathe safely within the protection of their shell . . . ‘ (excerpt from “Sepia” by Konig, BHJ, April 1960).
Interesting sepia rubrics and sensations:
Actions are contradictory to intentions; intentions are contradictory to speech
Full of cares and worries about domestic affairs
Anger with himself and others
Wants to give up her responsibility; Cannot handle things anymore, overwhelmed by stress
Indifference, apathy to everything; to relations, family, her children
Rejects affection; aversion to sympathy
Dreams pursued, must run backwards
Nautilus is a lesser-known remedy, but will likely attract more attention in future materia medicas. An intermediate step between calc-c and sepia, this mollusk benefits from the protection of the shell even as it “motors” slowly underwater. One of the defining nautilus qualities is the ability to use more or less air in the shell to regulate buoyancy. The rubrics “ailments from upward or downward motion” as well as “ailments from loss of social position” are important characteristics of the nautilus state. The person may “temper” their moods from being too high or too low, resulting in a sort of “ennui” or apathyâ€”neither too excited nor too depressedâ€”and similar to the old psychological term “dysthymia”. The person who needs nautilus may hide within their shell, and at other times desire freedom. A long-time homeopath described how one of her clients benefited for years from sepia, natrum muriaticum, and aqua marina, but ultimately experienced the best results with nautilus.
Interesting nautilus rubrics and sensations:
Delusion great person; dignified though destitute after loss of social position; desire to regain social position
Dreams boundaries, disconnection (e.g., the shell)
Dreams must jump over a fence to protect oneself (e.g., the shell)
Dreams unsuccessful efforts to go around a curve or bend in the road (e.g. the shell)
Dreams being exposed in a changing room (e.g., opening in shell)
Dreams reconnaissance, spying (e.g., nautilus eye peers out from shell opening)
Aversion to her children
“I’m just coming out of a depression. I also have problems with sinus drainageâ€”’it’s about ready to drown me’. I worry all the time. Some thought gets in my head and goes around and around. I’m walking around like my body is a puppet. I make it move; no one knows what’s going on inside. I used to be very free and open with people. Now I’m on the inside looking out. I wouldn’t like working for someone elseâ€”I need the ups and downs. When someone is bipolar, there’s nothing more fun than when they’re up, and nothing worse when they’re down. I’m almost afraid people will find out ‘who is this shell on the outside, and who’s on the inside?’ It’s almost a physical feeling of looking out from behind my eyeballs, making my body move. I’m tired of living up to who people think I am. It feels up and down; there’s a lot of up and down in me. When I’m depressed, there’s a bubble inside me, and I know it’s going to rise. That bubble’s going to rise and I’m going to be fineâ€”it’s my ‘mental health bubble’. I have a lack of passion, but I also don’t feel the lows people talk about.”
Murex, the sea snail, also finds protection within the structure of the shell, and yet can never completely close the opening to the outside. The loss of boundary creates exhaustion as the person seemingly can’t help but over-extend themselvesâ€”eg., excessive talking and “doing, doing, and more doing”. At other times the person may feel their space “invaded” by others’ demandsâ€”they can’t completely get away. “Exposure” to the outside world may cause innocent interactions with others to be interpreted as sexually suggestive.
Interesting Murex rubrics and sensations:
Cannot say no
Thoughts, lasciviousness, lustful when touched
Dreams of the sea
Asterias rubens is the red starfish, a member of the echinoderms. It moves by hundreds of tiny “feet” powered by “water hydraulics.” Pulsations of water into the feet allow for sequential motion: congestion, engorgement and “heat” alternate with relaxation, flaccidity and “coldness.” Asterias, known for a heightened libido, can also experience sexual problemsâ€”males with troublesome erections, females with decreased sexual desire. In other words, asterias experiences “hot and cold”–congested and engorged vs. relaxed and flaccid. Heightened libido alternates with diminished sexual desire and weeping. Examples of asterias symptoms of alternating pressure include: congestion of blood with sensation as if head would burst; fear of stroke; contraction/constriction in forehead as if crushed; sucked in, pressurized, trapped, under control of outside influence; and something outwardly or inwardly drawing on one’s life force.
Asterias is also a breast cancer remedy, and malignant tumors are often “fixed” to underlying structures. Tiny muscles between plates in the outer “shell” allow starfish legs to grasp firmly onto surfaces for long periods. The pressure applied in sequential motion is the same pressure employed for fixed connection. Asterias is also known for rather cold-hearted, numb and self-destructive pursuit of their goals, Other asterias symptoms include: weakness from over-activity; a feeling of offensive odor; redness, burning, inflammation, itching; breast nodules; degenerative diseases and cancer.
Interesting Asterias rubrics and sensations:
Anxiety with pulsation in chest
Sadness, despondency, depression, melancholy alternating with exuberance
Despair from sexual craving; weeping, tearful mood from sexual excitement
Irritability after coition
Moral affections; want of moral feeling; numb to experiencing symptoms
Delusion is away from home
Fear hearing bad news, evil, fainting, misfortune
Sensitive, oversensitive to moral impressions
Homarus, the lobster, is a member of the arthropod family. Its menacing pincers and protective shell belie its sense of vulnerability. Periodically, it sheds an outgrown shell for a new one and during this time feels this vulnerability most strongly. Hiding in the sand as the new shell thickens, homarus waits until the more overt vulnerability passes. In doing so it sheds the restriction of its former cageâ€”it’s outgrown itâ€”and assumes the even more “threatening” appearance of the new shell. Homarus is known for problems with milk-intolerance, as digestive juices used for the proving caused milk to curdle. If a small shell is good, a big shell is better, and homarus has been described as hiding in the shadow of an ever bigger, ever more powerful external shellâ€”for example, relying on the support of a stronger partner, or a stronger “superhuman entity”.
Interesting Homarus rubrics and sensations:
Polarity between angry, domineering, anarchist vs. timid, surrender
Fear of pain, laughed at., ridicule
Delusions, imaginations, he cannot move; sensation of being obstructed, immobile
Dreams handcuffed, police, tricked, crushed by a weight
Conserve their energy
Pains burning, stinging, smarting, itching needles and pins, sharp, stabbing, darting, cramping, grinding
Limulus, the horseshoe crab, is another member of the “sea arthropods”, and is recognized for its blue-colored, copper-containing blood and lymph fluid. The copper (cuprum) in limulus expresses itself with cramping symptoms, a prominent physical complaint. Cuprum tendencies also work to over-ride an inner awareness of vulnerability (i.e., without the protection of the shell) with an outer display of how “strong” they are. The copper circulating in the limulus “blood” (hemolymph) also contributes to perseverance (e.g., “pertinacity”) in tasks that might otherwise be boring. A horseshoe crab is actually not a crab at all, and is more closely related to spiders. Similarly, the restless activity of spiders is seen in limulus, and along with their persevering drive they can feel mentally and physically depleted. Whereas homarus seeks support by someone (or something) stronger, limulus tends towards the oppositeâ€”relationships with “weaker” individuals who by contrast emphasize limulus “strength”.
Interesting Limulus rubrics and sensations:
Pertinacity in performing irksome duties
Pressure and constriction (e.g., cramping)
Sudden, violent cough; suffocative breathing (e.g., cramping)
Sudden appearance and sudden disappearance of pains (e.g., cramping and release)
Dullness, sluggishness, difficulty of thinking and comprehending
Memory, weakness, loss of
Weakness, enervation, exhaustion, prostration, infirmity
In summary, sea remedies include themes of connection vs. disconnection, boundaries vs. vulnerability, numbness vs. sensitivity, stasis vs. motion, restrictive protection vs. freedom. One can start with the most primitive animal, the sponge, and then compare it to coral. Coral can be compared to its unstructured relatives, the anemone and jellyfish. One can move on to the oyster shell and pearl. Venus is similar to oyster but buries itself away from the world; murex can’t completely close its shell. Sepia has a shell remnant yet wants to move; nautilus’ tentacles are smaller, and it employs its shell for protection, buoyancy and ballast. The starfish runs hot and cold with “hydro-congestion and release”; the lobster and horseshoe crab counteract feelings of vulnerability through the strength of outside structures.
The homeopathic understanding of the ocean and its inhabitants is truly in its infancy. Our understanding will never be complete, but the animals above provide a starting point for perceiving the most fundamental themes of life. As one writer stated, “The ocean, though vast and mysterious, is also a place of being acceptedâ€”of being able to relax, to let go, and to flow in a place too great for the mind to imagine . . . There are the feelings of a motherâ€”of attracting, receiving, giving birth and nurturing . . . forces which give birth to and nurture all life on our planet.”
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