The homeopathic community has recently suffered the loss of two very important contributors; David Kent Warkentin and Michael Quinn. David’s visionary creation of MacRepertory and ReferenceWorks has inspired a revolution in modern homeopathic thinking and practice. David changed homeopathy for everyone, forever. Today’s innovative and progressive work in homeopathy would not be possible without his ingenious software programs. His gentle spirit and sweet smile will be sorely missed by all of us who knew him.
Michael Quinn, founder of Hahnemann Laboratory and Pharmacy, was among the most loved and respected figures in modern homeopathy. Besides being an innovator of pharmacy procedures, Michael was a leader in the scientific study of homeopathy. For many years he generously assisted homeopathic provings by creating the remedies from the original substance. Michael leaves a legacy of great dedication and integrity in his field and in his life.
Modern homeopathy has been profoundly influenced and advanced by of the work of these two men. Their achievements will live on, as we remember their enthusiasm for homeopathy and their invaluable contributions to our wonderful profession.
Infraclass: Marsupialia (the only North
Order: Didephimorphia (Gill, 1872)
Family: Didelphidae (Gray, 1821)
Didelphis – Means “double womb”.
Virginiana – From the State of Virginia, where the opossum was first observed and described by explorer John Smith, in Map of Virginia, with a Description of the Countrey, the Commodities, People, Government and Religion, written in 1608.
Opossum – From the Native American “apasum” meaning “white animal”. Often referred to colloquially as “possum”, this usage properly refers to the closely related Australian variety.
Remedy Name: Sanguis Didelphis Virginiana
Available From: Hahnemann Laboratory & Pharmacy
Obtaining The Source
Inspiration for this proving came from a client in the NYSH student clinic who had told us of a vivid and unusual vision; a drunken opossum (who had eaten compost from wine-making refuse) was dancing on the roof of her garage.
Once research began, many intriguing features came to light such as the opossum’s unique reaction to stress (“playing possum” – an involuntary, coma-like state), its unusual immune system, and its prolific fertility. These features, amongst others, led us to believe opossum to be a good subject for a proving.
Our opossum was humanely trapped in an urban location on Long Island, New York. It had been coming to eat cat food put out on someone’s porch and was captured by Jeffrey Gatz from Bioreclamation Inc., using cat food as bait.
Capture occurred between the hours of 11:00 pm and 6:00 am on Aug 2nd -3rd, 2008. The source animal was a young adult lactating female in good health although on the thin side, presumably from nursing. There was no evidence of young on or about her at the time of capture. There was no obvious evidence of disease, illness or injury.
She did not “play possum” at any time and was described by Jeff as being “pretty calm” throughout her capture and captivity. She was given fresh food and water during her captivity, and was released once blood had been drawn. Jeff used a standard ACD vacutainer to collect the blood (ACD is an anti-coagulant). It was then flown to the Hahnemann Laboratory and Pharmacy in California where Michael Quinn and Sonya Sakaske, made the remedy for us.
The order Didelphimorphia includes only New World marsupials, which are all species of opossum. Opossum appear in the North American fossil record as far back as 100 million years ago. Sixty-six species of Didelphimorphia exist in the New World; eleven species of opossum reached as far north as Central America and only one, the Virginia Opossum, is found in North America.
The opossum is a marsupial. Marsupial mammals differ from placental mammals in that female marsupials have a fur-lined pouch (marsupium) on their abdomens. Young are born in an embryonic state after a very short gestation period of just 12-13 days, and complete their development attached to a nipple inside the mother’s pouch.
Marsupials have a skeletal system closer to that of reptiles. They have a less efficient reproductive process and a more primitive brain than placental animals. The opossum’s brain is a third to half the size of other mammals of similar size, and is primitive in structure. Results of some learning and discrimination tests show that, in spite of their brain size, opossum are above dogs an on par with pigs in regards to intelligence.
The opossum is a placid and shy omnivore approximately the size of a house cat. Generally slow moving, opossum are primarily nocturnal. They usually weigh between 4-12 lbs., and measure between 15-24 inches long (not including their tails). Males are larger and weigh about a third more than females.
The opossum has an elongated snout, a pink nose, black eyes, and black ears. Typically, the face is covered in white fur and the body fur is primarily grayish white, shading to a dark grey on its legs. The Virginia Opossum is unique in its coloration; the body has white-tipped guard hairs that give it a grizzled appearance. The further south they live the darker their coloration becomes. Opossum often show signs of frostbite on their ears and tail because these body parts have no hair to protect them.
They have 50 teeth – more than any other land mammal. Research has established that they are one of the few mammals, other than humans, to have color vision. In addition, they have very good night vision.
Their hairless, prehensile tail is used like an extra “hand” to carry nest- building materials to their den site and to facilitate movement through trees and brush. While young opossum may be able to hang upside-down for a short period of time by their tails, they quickly become too heavy to be able to do this as adults. It is a myth that they sleep this way.
The legs of the opossum are short. They have a plantigrade gate, meaning they are flat-footed, walking with the entire sole of their foot on the ground. Their hind feet have a “halux” – an opposable thumb-like appendage. This makes their five-fingered, tracks very distinctive and easily recognizable. Their fingers are very dexterous, like those of a raccoon (with which they share habitat requirements).
Opossum have the shortest lifespan of any animal of comparative size. Sources disagree on the exact figure, but most claim an average lifespan in the wild of only 2-3 years. They don’t live much longer in captivity. Males have a higher mortality rate than females because they range further, making them more likely to fall prey to predators or run afoul of motor vehicles.
Range and Habitat
The Virginia opossum is commonly found throughout southeastern Canada, through the Eastern United States and into Costa Rica. They were introduced into California, parts of Arizona, Western Colorado and Idaho. In recent years, opossum have been extending their range northwards as winters have become more moderate.
Opossum are both terrestrial and arboreal. They have a varied habitat but prefer low, damp woodlands near permanent bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, streams or rivers. They are known to be strong swimmers if necessity forces them to it. As they roam their territory, they tend to follow water courses, making their ranges elongate rather than circular.
Opossum are solitary and nomadic, staying in a home range for as long as the food supply lasts before moving on to new territory. A home range is between 15-40 acres but this varies greatly according to the geography. Individuals may wander widely, especially in the fall. Males tend to range farther than females. Individual ranges overlap and they tend to be tolerant of neighboring individuals, but they will defend the area they are occupying at any given time.
The complexity of the placental mammal’s social system is much greater than that of the marsupials. Opossum, even young ones, don’t play or interact much and are generally pretty lethargic.
Males are usually aggressive towards other males but rarely towards females. Females tolerate each other (except when in heat) and some sources claim they may even live communally. They generally do not tolerate males except when sexually receptive.
Opossum are primarily nocturnal but may become active during the day in warm weather when females need to forage more if they are pregnant or nursing. During bad weather or extreme cold, opossum may remain in their nests or dens for several days at a time but they do not hibernate. Because they don’t store food and their body reserves aren’t that extensive, they must forage on a regular basis, even during extreme weather conditions.
Den sites include hollow trees, fallen logs, piles of brush, and the abandoned nests and burrows of other animals – anywhere that’s dry, sheltered and safe. They will also take advantage of human made “dens” under porches, in attics, chimneys, etc. Opossum have been known to den in groups and even share a winter den with rabbits, skunks, raccoons and woodchucks.