Materia Medica


Phosphorus Homeopathy
David Lilley
Written by David Lilley

A multifaceted look at phosphorus, from symbolism to the phosphorus personality.

The Spirit of Night

Phosphorus HomeopathyOn a historic Saturday night, the 15th of  September 1677, at the home of Robert Boyle in England, Johann Krafft of Dresden performed a unique experiment before members of the Royal Society. He demonstrated the luminescence and spontaneous combustion of a remarkable “new” element, which had been first prepared in 1669, from the residue of evaporated urine, by an alchemist, Henning Brand of Hamburg. At the time, Boyle, himself a backroom alchemist, was already renowned for his pioneer work in the study of gases (Boyle’s Law). Intrigued by the unique properties of the substance, Boyle asked Krafft to leave a sample with him for further experimentation, or at least to explain its method of preparation. Not wishing to disclose this secret, which he had purchased from Brand, and upon  which his celebrity depended, Krafft declined both requests, but could not resist giving a cryptic clue to his eminent host: “It was,” he said, “somewhat that belonged to the body of man.” For a mind like Boyle’s, this was sufficient and in 1680 he produced a scientific paper on the isolation of the glowing material, which he called aerial nocticula : “the spirit of night light”.


The light-bearer

It became known as Phosphorus, derived from the Greek, phosphoros – the light- bearer. The Latin equivalent is Lucifer. This extraordinary substance, which glowed in the dark from a source of light within itself and took fire spontaneously upon exposure to air, caught the imag ination of the 17th century public. It seemed mysterious, magical and filled with wondrous possibilities. Some thought it must be the flammae vitae : “the vital flame of life”. It was soon noted by those coming in frequent contact with phosphorus that unusual sexual arousal was experienced. It acquired a reputation in the treatment of TB and very dilute preparations were found to increase mental power and physical energy. Not surprisingly, phosphorus was soon esteemed a powerful tonic and aphrodisiac. Fear and respect for its extreme toxicity would only come later after many poisonings and many tragedies. For all its effulgent charisma, a diabolical energy lurks behind its seductive charm.


The fall of Lucifer

In Lucifer, Judeo-Christian myth conjures a vision of an archangel, the Prince of Light, who inflated with hubris, like the Morning Star, which at dawn outshines both Jupiter and Saturn, but dims to extinction as the Sun ascends, aspired to raise his throne above the stars of the Most High and was cast down from the heights into the depths of the Abyss, to become the Lord of Demons. In his fall, a sacred emerald fell from Lucifer’s brow and was lost in the infernal gloom. The light that Lucifer bore was not the light of spiritual illumination and self-realisation, but the light of ego-based intellect, logic and reason, which becomes blinding when it shines with selfish pride and seeks only in itself for wisdom, becoming its own god, altar and focus. The emerald that was forfeit and lies forgotten in the shadows is the symbol of unconditional love, occult knowledge and the memory of our immortal, angelic state. It is the jewel of the fourth (love) chakra and thus links Phosphorus to Magnesium. The two have many clinical similarities and are paired productively in our physiology, providing energy and directing our functions, and consort destructively in our warfare (the bombing of Hamburg, 1943).



Prometheus, a Titan and a demigod, was the Lucifer of the Greeks, who, like his Biblical counterpart, suffered a terrible fate. In the War of the Titans, he and his brother Epimetheus supported Zeus and his brothers against their father Kronos. On his triumph, Zeus became the almighty God of Olympus and the sky, yet set great store by the cunning wisdom of his Titan henchman. A dispute arose amongst the inhabitants of Sicyon over which portions of a sacrificial bull would be the most pleasing to the gods. Prometheus was invited to act as arbiter. His loyalty was always first towards mankind, especially if it permitted him to outwit the Olympians. His nature was full of mischief, trickery and opportunism. He forthwith sacrificed two bulls and filled their skins, one with all the bones artfully hidden beneath a rich layer of fat, and the other with all the flesh, but concealed beneath the stomach and other organs, which he knew to be least tempting to the divine palate. He then asked the Father of the Gods which of the two skins he would accept as an offering. Trusting him, Zeus became the dupe of his artifice and chose the bones. In his anger at the deceit, Zeus, knowing of Prometheus’ sympathies, exacted punishment by withholding fire from mankind. “Let them eat their flesh raw!” he cried out. To this day, the only remedy appearing in the homeopathic repertory of symptoms under the rubric – “desire for raw meat” – is Phosphorus!


theft-fireThe theft of fire

Then, Prometheus took pity on mankind. With the assistance of the goddess Athene,

he gained access to Olympus, the dwelling place of the gods, and lit a torch at the fiery chariot of the Sun. He broke off a fragment of the burning charcoal and enclosed it within a stalk of giant fennel. Thus concealed, he conveyed the brand to mankind and furthermore committed himself to teaching them all the arts, crafts and skills necessary to enrich their civilisation. Zeus was enraged at this flagrant transgression and swore vengeance. He caused Hephaistos, the divine artisan and God of the Forge, to fabricate from clay the most beautiful woman ever created, the Four Winds to breath life into her, and each of the gods and goddesses to endow her with irresistible qualities, but only after he had charged Hermes, the God of Guile and Trickery, to give her a selfish, fickle, shameless mind, filled with vanity and an idle, acquisitive, deceitful nature.


Pandora’s box

Zeus named her Pandora, every-gift , and entrusted to her care a beautiful box that she was ordered to give to the man who married her. With Hermes as guide, Zeus sent her down to Prometheus – a gift from the gods! Prometheus, whose name means forethought , was sensible of the deceit, and without allowing himself to be captivated by her charms, sent her away. His brother Epimetheus, whose name means afterthought , was not possessed of the same prudence and sagacity. Soon, besotted by her beauty and deaf to his brother’s entreaties, he married Pandora. Fearing the worst, Prometheus made him vow to keep the box sealed, but it was not long before Pandora bewitched him into satisfying her cat-like curiosity by opening the forbidden box. Out flew the malicious Spites – Lust, Vice, Passion, Sickness, Strife, Insanity, Travail and Senility – which stung the foolish pair on every part of their bodies and then dispersed all over the world to beset the entire race of mortals. Only delusive Hope remained behind, able to ease the labours of humanity and to render the troubles and sorrows of life less painful.


An immortal liver

Thwarted in his revenge against the crafty and rebellious Prometheus, Zeus now took direct action against him and ordered Hermes to carry him to Mt Caucasus and there, with the help of Hephaistos, bind him with cruel chains to the rocks where he would be exposed to the eternal torment of having his liver devoured each day by a long-winged eagle. Each night his liver would regenerate, so that his anguish was without end. It is said that where the blood from his terrible wound soaked the ground the poisonous herb Aconitum sprang to life. After 30 years had passed, the hero, Herakles, freed him from his torments by breaking his chains and killing the eagle with an arrow. The wise centaur, Cheiron, finally brought reconciliation between Zeus and the Titan and later, longing for death to put an end to his trials, he bequeathed his own immortality to Prometheus, who was thus able to take his place among the gods. These interlinking myths reveal profound concepts laid down as patterns in the collective unconscious and require interpretation for us to be able to grasp their deeper meaning. In both the nature of Prometheus and Pandora and in the contents of the box, emotional and clinical characteristics of the Phosphorus archetype are revealed. On a purely physical level, an ancient and remarkable intuitive knowledge becomes evident. The toxicity of both Phosphorus and Magnesium impacts especially upon the liver and Aconitum is the first remedy for hepatitis and the onset of jaundice.


The price of intellectual arrogance

Prometheus was a Titan and, like his entire race, imbued with the spirit of revolt and rebellion. Both he and Lucifer transgressed against the godhead by stealing the divine fire of reason and intellect from heaven and giving this awareness and understanding to humanity. In both myths, the consciousness that is bestowed does not represent spiritual understanding, which employs this spark from the divine fire as a torch to light the way to spiritual attainment; it represents the arrogance of the egotistic intellect, which exults in its own cleverness, and uses the spark for its own self-gratification and exaltation. The light of materialistic reasoning, scientific rationalism, arouses man from the childlike, unconscious innocence of paradise and releases him from servitude to the instinctive, animal will but also liberates him from obedience to natural law. The price is the eternal torment of Prometheus. His liver, a third chakra organ, is the target of the devouring intellect personified by the eagle. During the day, when the intellect holds sway, it is destroyed; during the night when the intuitive powers surface, it is restored.

About the author

David Lilley

David Lilley

Dr. David Lilley was born in Leeds in 1940, the son of a homeopath. His family emigrated to South Africa in 1949. David studied medicine at the University of Pretoria and after qualifying spent three years at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital and the London College of Osteopathy. He studied under Drs. Blackie, Twentyman, Raeside, Kennedy and Foubister. After obtaining his MFHom he returned to South Africa and joined his father in a practice in 1966. He has been in an exclusively homeopathic and osteopathic practice for the past 41 years. In 1994 he started the first homeopathic course for medical doctors in South Africa. This course has now evolved into the SA Faculty of Homeopathy, of which he is the Director of Education. In recent years he has been a visiting lecturer in the UK and other countries. In his lectures he weaves together homeopathic art and science, analytical psychology, mythology, chakra and colour theory, natural science and spiritual philosophy to provide a rich tapestry of perennial wisdom and knowledge. David has been described as an "inspiring teacher with an incredible in-depth knowledge of the remedies, who also shares many practical tips on the management of acute illnesses".


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