Recently I saw a series of responses to a request for recommendations of books on homoeopathy. Predictably, nothing by Hahnemann was recommended. The list – for those who want to know – ranged from Kent’s philosophy, through Vithoulkas, Boericke, Clarke, Coulter, and all the usual suspects. Just not the Organon. No original Hahnemannian provings. No earlier writings at all, really.
I was trying to feel fired up about writing a response, a post, something about how you cannot proceed with homoeopathy without understanding what it was intended to do, using what mechanism and what recommended methodology. But I found I was just too tired of it. Tired of seeing homoeopaths talking about homoeopathy without once mentioning the law of similars – or when they did mention it, making it clear that they did not understand it. Tired of hearing that those (such as me…) who say you have to start where it all started, with Hahnemann, the Organon, the first provings – are pseudo-religious nutters, hanging on to old texts with maddened zeal, ranting (as Hahnemann did) rather than accepting the brilliance and experience of today’s homoeopaths.
But the Organon is really the place to start. It is the only place to start. It is pointless and worthless (and expensive) to invest in a large library of books before you understand what the person who discovered and developed the method intended. It’s not easy to read the Organon. But it’s not easy to be a homoeopath either. If you think you want to be a homoeopath, see first if you can survive the Organon. If you understand the principle and methodology. And then read it again, and again.
If you’re reading later materia medicas you also need to research who copied whom. You will find symptoms repeated from book to book in exactly the same language – which is something of a dead giveaway. This repetition often gives an artificial importance to a symptom, as if many writers are concurring about its relevance – which is clearly not the case. Sometimes the copying was intended as clinical corroboration, but most writers don’t specify that.
The worst is when writers explain Hahnemann – as if their explanation is so perfect that it absolves you from reading the original. That’s almost as bad as claiming to know someone through what other people say about them on facebook.
So what books would I recommend? Before Vithoulkas, before Stuart Close, before Coulter, before Kent, read Hahnemann and Boenninghausen. Organon. Chronic Diseases. Materia Medica Pura. Lesser Writings. These books set the foundations, the grounding for your future reading. Once you have these works solidly under your belt, you will have the tools to assess any other work you read, to see what is useful and disregard the rest.