Using Mappa Mundi in Homoeopathy
by Peter Fraser
There are many systems that are used by homoeopaths to look at their patients and their remedies and so to understand them better. This series of books offers an introduction to some of the most important of them, outlining their origins, development and some of the more significant versions. The books describe the systems and how they can be used to better understand both cases and remedies and so better match them. The approach is versatile and open and allows the reader to adapt the system to their own particular needs and their understanding of homoeopathy.
Mappa Mundi, also known as The Circle is a way of looking at cases that is derived from the classical principles of balance between the humours and between the elements.
- Author: Peter Fraser
- ISBN: 9781874581253
- 54 pages
- Printed in United Kingdom
Reprinted with the permission of The Society of Homeopaths (from "The Homeopath" magazine, Spring 2007 edition):
Reviewed by Francis Treuherz:
Here are two slim volumes which attempt to explain the use of 'maps and systems' in homeopathy. Like, I suppose, most readers of this journal, the system of homeopathy with which I am familiar centres around a single remedy, a minimum dose, prescribed on the basis of similarity, and provings. We homeopaths need to understand the patient and the disease and match the two. These are our maps and the rest is commentary.
The first volume deals with so-called 'realms', the earth, the sky, the sea and the underworld, linked in a triangle with the earth in the centre. The second volume uses a circle to link earth, air, water and fire with the humours, melancholic, phlegmatic, sanguine and choleric in a 'mappa mundi'. All the terms are used throughout with Capital Letters, as if they have become proper names. There are references to the Old Testament, to creation, to classical myths and mediaeval stories. I have read each book twice through and pondered further on some of the pages, but I cannot understand how the concepts relate to homeopathy. I think the author has reified some of the ideas, meaning he treats the ideas as if they exist as objective reality rather than as ideas. We have the idea of miasms from Hahnemann to work with, if we need to use a typology for our patients and their tendencies to certain patterns of illness. A philosopher might call this a heuristic device. We have the botanical, biological, periodic, bacteriological and other systems of classification to understand our medicines.
Peter Fraser is a homeopath, not, as far as I can tell, registered with a professional organisation other than an institute which he has himself founded. He is obviously well read, scholarly, and experienced having carried out and published numerous provings. But I am mystified how the esoteric and ancient notions in these books add anything to the practice of classical homeopathy as we know it, although he appears to take this for granted. The introduction of the esoteric ideas of Swedenborg into homeopathy by Kent are an example of homeopathic thought being diverted from the ideas of Hahnemann.
Further volumes are promised which will include discussions of Swedenborg, Kabbala, correspondences, archetypes, and transformations. I am at a loss to explain how these might help us understand our patients. Hahnemann did his best to dissociate himself from the esoteric so perhaps we should not be too eager to expose these myths, which I feel will detract from the credibility of the art and science of homeopathy.
2nd Review. Reprinted with the permission of The ARH, from "Homeopathy in Practice", Winter 2008 edition:
Reviewed by Jemima Kallas MARH:
Peter Fraser has written a series of mini books as powerful for homeopaths as the minimum dose. Each booklet is 64 pages, slender and light enough to slip into a bag. The series, Using Maps & Systems in Homoeopathy, now includes Philosophy, Miasms, Realms, Mappa Mundi, Correspondences, and Archetypes. This review covers the first four. Although each mini-book is different, they are all pleasingly laid out: they share the same white cover banded in red and featuring thumbnail pictures that take you into the subject. The front cover pictures are scattered in the text like little doses of sugar that help to absorb the pill of knowledge. They all have an index and references, and two include a table that summarises the concepts covered. They all contain a scattering of typos. Each can be read separately but they do cross-connect.
Peter Fraser MIH (the founder of the Institute of Homceopathy), who has already written The AIDS Miasm, contemporary disease & the new remedies and is currently involved in the ongoing Supplement to Clarke's Dictionary of Materia Medica, has brought his experience as a teacher to this clear and engaging series.
What caharacterises these mini books is their lucidity. Familiar facts and new ones come together with simplicity to form patterns I had always known but had not consciously connected up. Each familiar concept in Using Philosophy in Homoeopathy and Using Realms in Homceopathy reads freshly, as though it were an original thought. In a sense, the concepts are original because they have been filtered through Peter's scholarship; his experience as a homeopath, lecturer and scholar has matured and tested our theory, and allowed him to introduce other approaches with generosity. Although the overall thrust is classical, Peter has a mellifluous voice.
The chapters are short; some are only one page, few run to more than three - a layout that allows the reader to break away while each point settles in the mind. One can feel the teaching experience here: take one idea, float it in a wider context, explore what it means, appreciate the contradictions, examine definitions, link it to other core concepts, move on - vast knowledge worn lightly. No clutter, few repetitions, no footnotes, and often the cadences of the spoken word. Hahnemann would feel that his passion has been a little influenced by the soundbite and the tweet!
This is not prescriptive writing but the classicist emerges clearly in the chapters on case-taking and case-analysis in Philosophy. Although these chapters offer more teaching than the originality with which Peter freshens the colours of the familiar elsewhere, statements jump out at the reader that are quite unlike the mundane introductions to homeopathy that one might read elsewhere. For example, 'a true polarity is a manifestation of an antagonism of will'. This reflects a theme that runs through the entire series, that 'contraries are those things that appear to make no sense but are the vital heart of both the patient and the disease'. Where the contraries are so 'contrarious' that we are at sea how to understand the case, this is where the maps come in.
In his blurb, Peter describes the books as 'primers'. This is true for the Mappa Mundi and Realms but the two on homeopathy are richer than that: Philosophy and Miasms are suitable for both the student and the experienced practitioner. The purpose of this collection is to act as a series of introductions to the major systems and maps used in homeopathy to better understand the various systems, to apply them simply and effectively, and to understand what they tell us and what are their limitations.
For a homeopath, the test of these mini books is how well they cover the less familiar ground of elements and humours (Mappa Mundi) and Realms (earth, sea, sky and underworld); and then, how well they assimilate this into homeopathic practice. As guides, these two booklets are models of clarity. The Mappa Mundi offers four chapters on the elements and four on the humours (choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic), followed by a circle that incorporates all eight predispositions and a chapter on pattern thinking. There were now only eleven pages left, two of which summarise what has gone before, and there had been nothing about homeopathy, so it was with great eagerness that I began the chapter headed 'Remedies'.
Don't get over-excited: these books are intended as guides, not as materia medica. In some ways, they are hors d'oeuvres intended to stimulate you to do your own work. It is for us to make our own studies of materia medica in the light of the maps: Peter only gives us the tools. The eight remedies that Peter relates to the humours are each painted with one short paragraph in the larger type that is used for the two non-homeopathy books. And that's that.
However, if you long for a worked example of a remedy, a few more tables, or some case histories, this misunderstands what the mini series is about. "It is the process of placing the case onto a map that is important", explains the final chapter of Realms. 'Using the Maps', that summarises the series. In other words, these maps do not offer the kind of schema familiar from the Bombay School, which allow the remedy to be pinpointed (provided one has heard the patient correctly) The purpose of these maps is to offer fresh ways of looking at a case without taking on a whole new system - a 'compass' is another of Peter's descriptions - especially in a case where nothing is clear: These maps will throw up quick and useful indications of a contradiction or inaccuracy in the analysis of the case. They will also indicate the main direction of the case. The Mappa and Realms also offer half-familiar facts, such as modalities, emotions and physical sensations, that homeopathy patterns differently; and touches on differing ways of expressing, say, poor nutrition or the sexual urge. In this way, the two mini-books that explore new territory guide us to extend our scope by bringing us back to what is familiar.