Positive qualities: Healing warmth and receptivity, especially in the use of the spoken word and in dialogue with others.
Patterns of imbalance: Using cutting or sharp words, argumentative, lack of receptivity in communication with others.
The Calendula flower imparts a warm, golden light of healing for those souls who must learn to use “the Word” as a truly creative spiritual force. The Word (or Logos) is the source of all creation, ever renewing itself through the womb of Nature. Thus Calendula is also known as “Mary’s Gold;” for the golden sun-radiance of the Word must be birthed through the receptive feminine matrix. In every human communication there is always this masculine and feminine polarity, of that which is spoken and that which is heard, or received. Calendula flower essence helps those whose innate creative potential to use the spoken word often deteriorates into argument and misunderstanding. It is especially indicated for personal relationship work, and for all healing and teaching work when the art of communication must be intensively developed as a soul force. Calendula gives great forces of warmth and benign compassion to the human soul, especially helping to balance the active and receptive modes of communication. Flower Essence Repertory, Part III. Flower Essence Qualities and Portraits – Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz.
Such are the expressive qualities of one of our most well known homeopathic remedies, and maybe they are suggestive of how powerful and deep acting this remedy could be. There is creativity, birth, language, receptivity, communication, spiritual forces and benign compassion – all contained within the healing properties of this remedy.
Calendula was first used as a deobstruent – to relieve the obstruction, to unblock, to let the free passage of expression flow forth – not just of speech but for the birthing of all ideas. As Homeopaths we all know what can happen when these acts of creativity are suppressed or thwarted, when our natural inclinations are deviated into dis-ease. It becomes the first instance of pathology.
My interest in Calendula is many fold – apart from the wide and varied physical applications it is the lack of real depth in the mental and emotional symptoms which are presented in the Materia Medicas; the link this remedy has with Cancer and the fact that it has only been partially proved, which really stir my imaginations.
There are many reasons why substances have been chosen for provings and much has to do with how that substance has been used historically. Plenty of scope here for Calendula then.
The ancients considered Calendula to be a deobstruent remedy, exerting a great influence on the circulation and strengthening the heart. It has long been used an an antiseptic, stimulant and diaphoretic. Dioscorides recommended it for Cancer, and Fuchsius prescribed the juice for toothache. Gerarde described its virtues for inflammations of the eyes. According to Westring Calendula was formerly in much request as a medicine and was used more especially in carcinoma and scirrhus with great effect in the third stage particularly in diminishing the pain and rendering the pus less corroding. It was also used in chlorosis, hysteria, epilepsy, jaundice and some kinds of dropsy. Many found it of great efficacy as a lotion to fresh wounds, inducing union by the first intention. Zorn considered it of great service in throwing out the eruption of measles and small-pox, and as an application to stop the bleeding of haemorrhoids. It was a favourite of Boerhaave who employed it in uterine diseases and also diseases of the kidney and liver. Also used for obstinate vomiting, cardialgia, diseases of the glands, compound fractures, amputations, suppurating abscesses, and violent pains of the uterus.
In its more ‘modern’ usage it has been efficient in gangrene, fractures, sprains, herpetic eruptions, eczema, nasal catarrh, blisters on tongue, syphilitic ozaena, gonorrhea, non-specific urethritis, uterine subinvolution, engorgement of uterine walls, uterine hypertrophy, suppressed menses, menorrhagia, chronic cervicitis, warts on the cervix, swelling of the breasts without pain, gout of the spine, spina bifida, one sided paralysis, coma, concussion, swollen glands, toothache, haemorrhages, septicemia, injuries to the eyes, diplopia, insect stings (antidote to Apis), open wounds, burns and life threatening injuries involving the skin, tendons, cellular tissues and muscles – healing without leaving any scars. “Calendula is the greatest non-poisonous germicide, antiseptic, reliever of pain and healer of wounds that has ever been brought into use”. Dr. W. M. Gregory in Eclectic Medical Journal.
There are also some rather more unusual symptoms worth noting – deafness, where one can hear better on a train, or hear distant sounds better, cannot hear 2 people talking together – the pains are excessive and out of proportion to the injury suffered – bulimia (and maybe other eating disorders) – and stabbing pains from within to without, like being stabbed in the back!
The modalities are subtle but to the point:- >> perspiration (unblocking and free discharges), >> sleep, >> walking about, >> lying very still, >> 9-3pm (when the flowers are open), << chill, << drinking, << damp, heavy and cloudy weather (it is a heliotrope and follows the sun so the flowers will close if there is no sun). Can be thirsty or thirstless.
But one of its chief uses, however, was for Cancer – of the skin, breast, uterus, abdomen, nose, pharynx and larynx, scrofulous and sclerotic tumours, fungus tumours, fribroma, and it was the main ingredient of the famous Rust Pill which consisted of oxide of iron, Colewort, and extract of Marigold. It is the extraordinary successful application of Calendula, in the use of wounds, which I would like to extend to those of ‘wounded emotions and mental faculties’ which might be involved in the history of someone who develops one of the worst wounds of all – Cancer. To get there, let’s have a bit more history…..
Calendula Officinalis or, the common marigold, is familiar to everyone, with its pale green leaves and golden orange flowers. It is said to bloom in the calends of every month, hence its Latin name. Many think it was named after the Virgin Mary, but this came later and it is actually a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon merso-meargealla, the Marsh Marigold.
Marigold was just one of the flowers associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus – you will see her dresses adorned with them and it was the flower used at the Feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin, and she was honoured as the House of Gold because in her the Blessed Trinity performed such great and wonderful things. This may or may not be religious idealism and regardless of one’s own religious feelings the virtuous story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, really is an idealism that is hard to live up to. Pregnant before marriage, had several children, one of which she had to witness exaltation of, intense prejudice and suspicion towards and finally observed his painful execution and disappearance of his remains. Whether she witnessed this with silent dignity, humility or outrage we do not know but she surely suffered one of the worse possible woundings – that of losing a child.
Little is known about how Mary herself died but my thoughts lead easily towards Cancer. Maybe she experienced an overwhelming sense of gloom and doom which is associated with this remedy. And also that of separation, from her child. This is another theme running through Calendula. A physical wounding involves separation of the tissues and an emotional wounding can leave many scars and equally requires the reunion of harmonious forces. It would also be very interesting to know if she suffered any diseases of the reproductive organs (as Calendula has such a strong affinity to these regions) and whether the so called ‘virgin birth’ had any relevance in this. (Calendula has ‘sensation as if something alive in the womb’).
Suppression of emotions is a key factor in the development of Cancer and this brings us back to the deobstruent qualities of Calendula – that of being able to unblock, to let a free passage or flow go forth. It is this that gives Calendula its essential characteristics – to remove the obstruction causing pain, to soothe and restore without any scarring, physically, mentally and emotionally. It restores the vision when we have been blinded by false communication.
Cancer has been encumbered by many boundless and unlimited metaphors. It mystifies and arouses dread. Just the confirmation of the diagnosis can worsen the condition. It is looked upon as a form of contamination; the body is suffering an invasion and is under attack and thus requires a treatment which provides an adequate counter-attack; evil and slow but uncontrollable growths which one can either fight or succumb to; it is seen as a form of punishment “why me?”; cancer ‘spreads’; tumours are usually excised leaving a mutilated body; other treatments are often worse than the disease itself; people with cancer are often lied to; rich countries have high rates of cancer; it is a disease associated with affluence and excess; cancer is a judgement on the individual as well as on the community – the mind eventually betrays the body.
In her book ‘Illness As Metaphor’, Susan Sontag writes about the notion of disease fitting the patient’s character. “Disease can be challenged by the will. ‘The will exhibits itself as organized body,’ wrote Schopenhauer, but he denied that the will itself could be sick. Recovery from a disease depends on the will assuming ‘dictatorial power in order to subsume the rebellious forces’ of the body. One generation earlier, a great physician, Bichat, had used a similar image, calling health ‘the silence of organs,’ disease ‘their revolt’. Disease is what speaks through the body, a language for dramatizing the mental: a form of self-expression.”
But as Homeopaths we know all that already, don’t we?
Sontag includes Auden’s cute poem about Miss Gee, written in the 1930’s (just 2 verses here):
‘Nobody knows what the cause is,
Though some pretend they do;
It’s like some hidden assassin,
Waiting to strike at you.
‘Childless women get it,
And men when they retire;
It’s as if there had to be some outlet
For their foiled creative fire’…..
Foiled creative fire is just one obstruence that Calendula could heal, given the chance.
Sontag also concludes that “the cancer personality is regarded with condescension, as one of life’s losers. Napoleon, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert A. Taft and Hubert Humphrey have all had their cancer diagnosed as the reaction to political defeat and the curtailing of their ambitions. And the cancer deaths of those harder to describe as losers, like Freud and Wittgenstein, have been diagnosed as the gruesome penalty exacted for a lifetime of instinctual renunciation. Few remember that Rimbaud died of cancer).”
And so in Calendula we have, Delusion, imaginations he is falling; Delusion, imaginations he is falling from a height; Dreams, falling from high places. When we lose our position in life, the safety net – this reminds one of Veratrum, but Veratrum develops a highly delusional state to compensate for the loss – Calendula becomes scarred and riddled with Cancer.
There is a great sense of weight, of burdens, of dark clouds hanging over, gloom and doom, a deep depression where they cannot see the light. An overwhelming sense that something bad is going to happen. They become easily frightened and startled. With this there is a sense of dullness and a dreamy state which can alternate with nervousness, anxiety and irritability or of being morose and taciturn. They carry with them a sense of separation – when wounds cannot be healed, when union cannot be effected. There is also a sense of being torn and jagged, as if beaten. Exhaustion results and there is some relief from sleep, but it is not a sleep of any great quality – restless at night, wakes screaming, continual waking, general lassitude prevails. Calendula contains much nitrogen, phosphoric acid and iodine which might explain some of these disparate states.
Calendula also has:- “Pain is excessive and out of all proportion” so the Materia Medica’s say – so you can picture someone who is almost hysterical with the pain, who cannot tolerate being hurt, so very sensitive to pain whether it be mental, physical or emotional. It is very interesting that Calendula has been used in the treatment of Bulimia – where the emotional hurt turns inward and the individual ‘chooses’ to destroy themselves. This is a good example of the mind betraying the body.
Irritability is another strong emotion – it comes down again to this extreme, ‘out of proportion’
sensitivity. It gets to be too much to bear so an outburst of irritation sort of transfers the
sensation elsewhere. Being a Heliotrope, always moving with the sun, you can see how they are relieved from this sensitivity by walking around a lot – again it distracts. They are also so much <<< for damp and cloudy weather when they can’t see the light, and so much >>> for the radiance of the sun. The hearing is very acute and sensitive so even the slightest noise can startle them – they hear and sense everything acutely.
This extract is interesting….
Article by the Editor of the Hom. World, in the Homoeopathic Recorder, May, 1891, Vol. VI, No. 3,
“The other day I was told by a friend that he had, last autumn, chewed a Calendula leaf for a few minutes; the effect was most marked and very striking. It entirely removed for some days the difficulty in making water, with which he had long been troubled, and which is so common in elderly people. I have a suspicion myself that Calendula affects the spinal chord, from certain unpleasant feelings which I have when making it from the fresh plant.” – C.W. To the foregoing the Editor of Hom. World appends the following note: In response to our request for a fuller description of these feelings our contributor replies that the symptom was very difficult to describe. “There was such a feeling as if some overwhelming calamity was hovering over me as to be almost unbearable. Three years ago, just after making the tincture, my old enemy, the gout, nipped me in the middle of the spine, and in three days spoiled all my powers of walking; and then the dreadful feeling became very much exaggerated.”
As Homeopaths we really need to prescribe this remedy to see for ourselves how broad is its application. Then we can wonder at the results. The trouble is – Calendula has only been partially proved.
From Kent Lectures…..
“The proving of Calendula is so nearly worthless that we cannot expect at present to use it as a guide to the internal administration of the remedy. There are only a few things that I have ever been able to get out of it. In injuries Calendula cannot be ignored, in cuts with laceration, surface or open injuries. Dilute Calendula used locally will keep the wound odorless, will reduce the amount of pus, and favor granulation in the very best possible manner, and thus it assists the surgeon in healing up surface wounds. Calendula is all the dressing you will need for open wounds and severe lacerations. It takes away the local pain and suffering. You may easily see we are not now dealing with a condition that exists because of a state within the economy, but because of something that is without. There is nothing that will cause these external injuries to heal so beautifully as the Marigold. Some will say it is not homeopathic, but these are the individuals who “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” If there are constitutional symptoms suspend all medicated dressing entirely and pay your whole attention to the constitutional symptoms. Sometimes there are no constitutional symptoms to prescribe on, but when they are present resort locally to cleanliness and nothing else. Do not suppress symptoms that you will need to guide you to a remedy.”
One might argue that we do have enough of a full symptom picture for Calendula but I would like to encourage a new proving, to absolutely confirm the symptom picture of Calendula and give it its proper hierarchy in the Repertories and Materia Medicas – even if it is just for wounded parents who have lost a child.
Thanks for reading.
Joy Lucas RSHom