Misha Norland has been investigating the philosophy of and practicing homeopathy for the past 50 years. He speaks of the way homeopathy has changed his life, the subtly of homeopathy and the profound affect it can have our health and welfare. Misha founded the School of Homeopathy in 1981. It is now based in Stroud, Gloucestershire http://www.homeopathyschool.com
Sue: Just before we get into homoeopathy itself, what led you into working as a homoeopath?
Misha: That’s a question I’m asked frequently, and I never know quite where to begin. As a child I changed schools every two years with monotonous regularity, so I got to meet a lot of teachers some of whom inspired me. I imagined that one day I would myself found a school in which pupils would be encouraged to learn about life itself. Although my imagination was quickened by the study of natural sciences in which I gained 3 ‘A’ levels, I knew I wasn’t going to be a doctor because I didn’t have Latin and Greek to get me into medical school. Being dyslexic, studying languages was difficult! I changed schools again and got some additional ‘A’ levels in English Literature, Economics and Philosophy and became very confused about what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to go to university, so I went travelling instead for a year.
However, before I left to travel, I landed a job at the British Medical Council research centre annexed to Hammersmith Hospital. This involved killing a lot of rats. Basically, the institute had a zoo on the top floor. Scientists would bring rats and other animals, down to the middle floors, inject them with carcinogens, leave them to develop tumours, and then they descended to the basement – the Hell Realm – where they were irradiated by various high-energy particles. The rats would then be transported back to the middle floor again to be investigated.
I thought this was complete insanity. Doing hideous things to animals in the name of research stuck me as being deeply wrong. The essence of natural sciences is to look at various species or organisms in their own environment and watch how they interact with it and each other. So that’s when I decided to go travelling. When I returned to the UK, I decided to work in the movie industry.
Sue: What was it that appealed to you about the movie industry?
Misha: I enjoy investigative projects, and of course a good feature film is all about investigation. It’s investigating the psychology of the characters, and we know how powerful that is can be. I literally started as a cutting room assistant. I was ambitious and climbed up the ladder quickly. But I didn’t have very much time for my young wife or my son. She didn’t want children anyway and ended up leaving me and our son. So, I became both mum and dad to him. I knew I had to pick up the pieces of my life but when the film company suggested someone else could look after my son so I could continue my career, I said I couldn’t do that. He’d already lost one parent. It would be terrible for him to lose both of them. Anyway, I loved him. This gave me time to stop and pitch an idea for a series on the New Age to the head of BBC documentaries. He wasn’t very keen, but I persuaded him to let me write some treatments and found myself meeting really interesting people, which led me to homeopathy. That’s when a light bulb turned on.
Sue: How exactly does homeopathy work?
Misha: It’s based upon the principle that those symptoms of suffering a substance is capable of causing, it is also capable of curing. So, it’s about switching polarity. We see this in nature all the time. Everything works in this way, and in the manifest world, polarities are to be found in everything. We are all familiar with the symbol of wholeness divided into Yin and Yang segments, so a useful way of imaging the way homeopathy works is by visualising one segment in the Yin/Yang diagram enlarging. It does so, in our metaphor, because the medicine/substance that causes suffering has been added to the suffering of the sick person whose symptoms it matches. Sooner or later the intensity becomes too great, the polarity switches, Yang becomes Yin, and cure manifests.
Sue: How did you become interested in homeopathy?
Misha: I understood that homeopathy was something that should work. I had not yet experienced it, but I could understand the principle. One of the people I was interviewing for the series had many diagrams on her walls. She said they represent thought forms and they had been drawn by John Damonte. She then suggested a book I could read by John Clark called The Dictionary of Materia Medica. I immediately went to Watkins Bookstore in Great Russel Street, to order it, but had to wait three months for it to arrive, to discovered that it was, in fact, three fat tomes – and I mean fat! They were full of highly specialist information and medical jargon, but I was blown away by what I was reading. If I hadn’t had a previous interested in biology, medicine, and indeed philosophy I wouldn’t have got into those books. But they were just right for me, and I was bitten by the homeopathy bug.
At the time, as a single parent, I was taking my son along to playgroups with other mums. This was before prophylaxis for childhood diseases in the form of vaccinations had been rolled out , and here I was studying homeopathy and learning that we could do something about treating as well as protecting these children. I had my subjects! And I discovered the healing power of homeopathy. Working with children is astonishing because you can see things changing within minutes in acute work, while in chronic cases, children strengthen from within in a miraculous way, they gain strength from within, as disease is literally vanquished. In essence, the understanding is that body/mind/spirit heals itself, but in order to do so specific blocks need to be cleared out of the way. These blocks are identified by the homeopath and described by the medicines that act according to the ‘like cures like’ principle.
Sue: Were you actually training as a homeopath at the time?
Misha: Not formally, because in those days there was nowhere to train. Homeopthy had been going out of fashion. Therefore, I went to evening classes once a month with John Damonte who ‘miraculously’ lived around the corner from my parents, so I could leave my son with them. It wasn’t enough but at least it was a start. I was also reading Samuel Hanneman’s Organon of Medicine about the principles of homeopathy, and other texts too that described the medicines alongside their therapeutic indications.
Sue: It sounds like homeopathy has been a kind of lost science, but it’s coming back again.
Misha: Yes, but it wasn’t a science until Hanneman made it so about 250 years ago. Before that the principle had been hinted at by Hippocrates who stated there were two pathways of healing – the way of Similars, and the way of Opposites. Basically, Big Farma goes on Opposites and homeopathy works with the application of the Law of Similars, otherwise stated as the principle of ‘Like Cures Like.’
Sue: The word that comes to mind as you’re talking is symbiotic. Is that how homoeopathy works?
Misha: Symbiotic is a very important concept because if we live symbiotically with each other and with other organisms on the planet, we will survive. However, if we work according to opposites and fight, we will perish. Apropos of the pandemic, we are treating the virus as an enemy, but in the long run, we will not survive if we pursued this. In my opinion, this is ill advised way to go.
Sue: What should we be doing?
Misha: I believe we should be looking at the larger picture, and asking, ‘Who is this ‘enemy’ ‘What is this virus good for?’ Or we could ask, ‘Does this virus have a message for us?’ Or ‘How can we cooperate with it.’ We need to ask the most basic questions, as a child might ask, but can we hear what the pandemic is saying to us? Can we attune our ears to the virus’ message?
Sue: Covid has been portrayed in the media as the enemy and so has death. How we can work together to reduce the levels of fear that people are carrying around because of this. These media messages are creating such paranoia. It really concerns me, but how do we deal with this?
Misha: I agree. It is the opposite of symbiosis, isn’t it? With symbiosis we live together for our mutual benefit, and that includes living with viruses. There’s no fear because we are not living in isolation or separateness.
Sue: I know modern medicine has got its place, but it seems to feed into this separatism rather than bringing things together in harmony or addressing what’s really going on, which is what I understand homoeopathy does. Would addressing the Humours be the right language to use here?
Misha: Hanneman would not agree with that at all, and he’s the founder of homeopathy. He says that when you speculate about an invisible interior (wherein lies the source of the disease) you get different pictures of what is going on depending on who’s watching and interpreting. To be more reliable, he says, we need to look at the symptoms produced by the individual. Symptoms are the language of the person who is suffering, and healing happens by matching those symptoms with the symptoms that arise when a healthy person is made sick by a substance (medicine) administered to them. These are the iatrogenic symptoms created by the medicine, carefully compiled and understood so that their healing potential may be unleashed. Remember, like cures like, and what can cause harm can heal.
Sue: What a wonderful way to look at it! Can you say a bit more about this.
Misha: The first step is to understand the patient – or the ‘sufferer.’ The suffering person is suffering in a way that may enable a medical professional to make a diagnosis, but that’s not very specific. Their suffering is actually expressed in a very specific, idiosyncratic, personal way, and it’s that description we’re after. Their story starts before birth. It starts with Mum and Dad and the twinkle in their eyes, the conception, the gestation and their birth, childhood, and eventually who they have become [as adults]. We need to understand how they experience their suffering within the context of who they are, their genetic inheritance, the larger context within which they find themselves as well as the details of their symptoms that will of course, include mental and emotional ones
Sue: What comes to me is that – similar to how the Swedish language has many words to describe different kinds of snow – homeopathy has lots of different ways or words to describe suffering?
Misha: Absolutely. Actually, the person who is suffering uses words to describe their state, and it is those words we listen to. But is not just about words, it’s also in gestures – body gestures and hand gestures, and how these gestures describe a sensation. For example, let’s take the sensation of feeling that you’re in a narrow, cramped, tight space – you make a gesture to describe that. That’s language as well. So, homeopathy reads languages on all sorts of levels, which are not necessarily verbal. Indeed, the non-verbal language is the deeper one and more closely attuned to the level of sensation which chimes readily with the natural world from which homeopathic medicines are taken.
The other half of homeopathic practice is knowing about the medicines and how things in nature are experienced by and through ourselves. For example, salt that we put on our food is a highly active medicinal substance. It delivers its message in bold capitals. It is the most common preservative we have – preservation and desiccation (removing the moisture from something) represent keynotes of its action. We need to know how salt suffers its saltiness through the human experience, and to do this we carry out experiments upon ourselves. We discover the main sphere of action is where long held and unexpressed grief has become the norm, a natural action of salt as in tears and as the preserver and desiccator (concentrator) of unhappy experiences.
Sue: This does take a big shift of understanding or a shift of acceptance.
Misha: Well, the most profound level through which information is experienced, is the non-physical one. Let’s call it spiritual because, unlike the many Swedish words for snow, we don’t have many words with which to describe the non-physical. Despite the lack of vocabulary, according to my understanding, everything has a spiritual dimension and is at the same time a physical manifestation of that spiritual dimension. Whether the arrow of causality, if you will, goes this way or that way, doesn’t matter, because each are in symbiotic relationship, and co-emergent from the matrix of being. The question is, how can we get ourselves to experience salt at more than just the physical level? How can we also experience it on the spiritual dimension? And this is where we lose the general public who can theoretically understand the concept of cures, but experience a mental block when it comes to understanding how they happen.
Sue: How do you make homeopathic medicine?
Misha: When we make a medicine, we potentise it. That’s a physical process of repeated dilution and agitation, which results in a separation of the spiritual from the material, so that information at the spiritual level can be readily absorbed and experienced by the organism, especially the sick organism that has (because of its sickness) become electively sensitive to it.
Sue: I think the reason why the public struggle with this is because we have kind of dumped the spiritual side of who we are. We have become so left brained that it’s difficult to accept there are invisible realms which are potent, very alive and connecting. I see this separation as a source of intense existential suffering for many of us which other cultures such as Buddhists and indigenous people don’t seem to experience so much.
Misha: No, they don’t. And, to take a subject so close to your heart, they have no fear of their personal death.
Sue: How can homeopathy help us with a fear of death?
Misha: Chronic disease is characterised as a state in which we have become relatively unresponsive to the ever-changing circumstances of the present. This occurs when we have become chronically stuck in the past. Our past experiences have shaped us, or more accurately, they have drawn us out of shape. We hold this misshapen shape in our consciousness (both in mind and body) as a memory of who we are. This shape, and those memories travel with us, because we have become identified with them. However, if we step into the present, these shapes/memories/identifications disappear, because when we’re in the present, ipso facto the past and all attachments are no longer there. But in sickness we adhere to the past and we believe it is who we are. It’s the compound of the experiences we had in the past that we cling to and associate ourselves with. This constitutes our ego, our self image, our identity and our disease.
Sue: What does a remedy do to our past?
Misha: It liquidates the hold that the past has on us! And it’s done on the basis of like cures like. For example, the more powerful one in the ‘now’ encounters the less powerful one in the past and obliterates it for a longer or shorter period of time.
Sue:. I’m curious about cancer, especially stage four cancer when people have done everything they can to do to cure themselves. How can homoeopathy help with that?
Misha: If the sufferer has a good vital response and is interacting with their surroundings, they can be helped. But some people with stage four have gone past that threshold, and then it’s about accepting they are going to go. For those who are still fighting, the best way for us to help them is to find the remedy they have always needed. It will be located in their past. For example, it could be an obsessional thought and emotional response they have always had, that has gradually somatised over many years
Let me give a personal example, my parents came as refugees to the UK due to the Holocaust. So, imagine the thoughts, ‘We are in danger’ ‘It’s not safe.’ ‘People we thought of as our friends betray us.’ That’s the kind of internal script which a remedy can help to release.
Sue: It’s so powerful, isn’t it? Homoeopathy or even holistic medicine is much more yielding, much more subtle than modern medicine.I can see how it works because, for me, the natural world has so many energetic levels to it, and so do we. We’ve forgotten that connection.
Misha: Truly, truly true. I’m reminded of when we moved to this village a few years ago. I went to a talk in the local hall for gardeners, but the speaker forgot to come. So, I suggested I could give a talk about homeopathy instead. Rather than talk about remedies, I told them I wanted to speak about the world that can’t be seen and the power of the unseen. For example, what happens when you are in the presence of Winston Churchill when he gives one of those wonderful speeches, or we react to a dark one given by Adolf Hitler. It’s about energy, and although this energy may be focused on this person, and this person might be at the epicentre of what’s happening, actually, that something is happening with everybody, because we are all together experiencing it. That’s its power.
Think about the energy of a love letter. You don’t receive a love letter and you feel forlorn. Then the love letter arrives, saying I love you. It doesn’t just make your day it makes your week. If I had had flu, it would be gone, obliterated by the power of love.
Sue: I was listening to the radio to someone talking about going to the theatre and as we walk in, everyone’s heart rate is different. However, by the time the play has ended, everyone’s heart rates are synchronised, and you get this wonderful sense of unity. I love that.
Misha: Yes, exactly.
Sue: I’m really curious about how homoeopathy can help people overcome their fear of death.
Misha: I believe we have to overcome our fear of life. In the ward, in the home, in a death situation, the homeopath has two approaches: the best is to investigate the whole case. But if you only get access to the person in their final moments, there will not be time to do that. So, then you would look at how they were experiencing what was happening to them now, and match that with something in nature which has that same or similar experience. However, if you have a bit more time with someone, you may find out what remedy they would have needed all their life, so they can let go, especially their regrets, and anything that has and is undermining their sense of being. Then they can let go of the personal and enter the collective.
Sue: That’s another massive shift of understanding – knowing that this isn’t just about us dying but we are going back to some form of collective and we probably don’t know what that is. However, having a sense of the collective would release so many people from a fear of dying. I would imagine homoeopathy is incredibly helpful around that.
Misha: Yes, it is in helping us gain an experience of the eternal, the collective, the embracing reality.
Sue: A lot of people are talking about shifting consciousness these days and we all know that climate change is knocking on our doors and things aren’t right out there. How do you see things?
Misha: I feel the rising concern and see it manifesting as disorientation, uncertainty, depression, and anger. I know what I might say to an individual if they were concerned about these things and found it difficult to formulate coherent thoughts. I would help them clarify their thinking, find their own voice. I’d be more in the role of therapist, here. I also think being aware of the issue of death is key. If you have clarity around that, fear is vanquished. Were fear is not, separation is not, isolation is not. Sometimes there is a lion chasing you. Then this is not an imagined fear of something that’s hanging over you from the past, but a real concern engaging you with a present situation.
What can I do about this crisis? I can be in the now and from the now I can be effective in doing something about the world crisis. If I’m not in the now, I’ll be less effective. I think Greta Thunberg is a good example of someone who is in the now. She does have an Asperger’s diagnosis, but this allows her to focus on what some of us can’t see. What an amazing phenomenon she is. However, James Lovelock has repeatedly warned that the future is going to be good for cockroaches and just possibly, rats. But not good for any of the higher, more sentient beings.
Sue: Maybe the future will be an alien-like cockroach creature. But it will still be expressing life and I think we need to get over ourselves as being so important.
Misha: I agree with you. For sure life will continue, and if it doesn’t continue here, it will be found somewhere else in the Universe. The Universe is a big place and the life force, which is its spiritual manifestation, is sure to find forms through which it will flourish
Sue: With all the work that you’ve done with homoeopathy in helping people with their suffering, does it make you feel sad that we might not be here for much longer?
Misha: Nowadays it doesn’t. I feel less and less the need to worry about the future or thinking that once things were better. Yeah, I have my moments, but they’re reducing in intensity. Or course I love my fellow humans and continue to do my best to help them.
Sue: Is that because you are older?
Misha: I’m sure it is, but there is another piece to the story that feeds into this. I have been to India many times because India is a great place for homeopathy. Once, I met a man who had a following even though he didn’t want one. He always said,’ I’m not a guru,’ and when people congregated around him, he’d walk away. He developed diabetes , lost the sensation in his feet and, being apt to stumble, he could no longer escape his followers. They began to gather around him like flies on flypaper – and I was one of those flies who turned up one day. During that time, I smiled so much it hurt. I was enchanted and delighted to be with him – to meet a real human being who was here in the now and transmitting pure joy.
For me, something profound had occurred. I lost that sadness which had always accompanied me like Peter Pan’s shadow. My shadow had been a combination of feeling isolated and of endlessly questioning, ‘where is my home?’ We can speculate that the root of that might have been located in my family’s history of racial persecution. Then, after I had absorbed the spirit of this man, it disappeared and has never returned. Originally I thought it must be the experience of India. But if I am honest, it wasn’t. It was the fact that I was in the presence of this man. He said he wasn’t a guru, but actually he was. He was able to transmit something, and his message was terribly simple: ‘Be in the Now. You will experience no separation.’ That’s it.
Sue: How has this experience influenced your relationship with life and death?
Misha: I advise that you don’t give the pain or the fear or the anger located in the past any energy. I think of it as a pain body as Eckhart Tolle describes it, a machine that has a lead that you have to plug in to give it energy. Don’t plug it in! That is a big ask, but this is what we are here to learn. I think our mission is to find ways to go beyond the belief system, ‘I am defined by my suffering.’ Then the fear (of death) though it may arise, is not sustained. In the absence of the fear there is spaciousness, and acceptance of the transience of phenomena, that everything in existence is constantly changing. That is the nature of nature, and with that acceptance comes deepest peace.