Sulphur and the art of map-reading

By Vera Resnick

Sulphur is a huge remedy. With 1969 symptoms listed in the Chronic Diseases proving, it is unwieldy to “just look at”.

You can work with provings just as you would use maps to get to know a new city. Perhaps Sulphur is an ideal proving to show the importance of this way of working. When visiting a place you have not been before, it’s often interesting to get to know it on foot, with no prior information, absorbing the sights and sounds and getting interestingly lost.

However, if you need to be able to work with the city, understand its layout, you start with a map or with an aerial view. Once you have some idea regarding the layout of the city, where the streets, the rivers, the main traffic arteries are, where the central points of interest are located, once you’ve done that homework, you begin to zoom in on specific areas. You find out about the relationship of different areas to each other, in geography, culture, history.

In the same way, especially in a large proving, it’s helpful to start with an aerial view. Divide the proving into systems, parts of the body. Look for similarities, often modalities, that seem to run through every system, every part. It could be a burning sensation, it could be an aggravation from open air, it could even be a mental state that keeps recurring over and over again in different contexts. As with the city, once the areas have been identified, you can start walking around, absorbing the sights and sounds, and certain elements of the proving will impress themselves indelibly on your memory.

Many teach that Sulphur will always show up within first repertorization because it’s such a large remedy. That it should be put on one side, perhaps even ignored, and that it’s important to look for more specific remedies for the case. It seems often to be relegated to the remedy of choice when the patient isn’t too pedantic about personal hygiene, when the patient seems to have large collections of stamps, wooden owls, toy trains etc., and when the patient looks eccentric in his or her clothing (depending on the fashion sense of the homeopath…)

Interestingly enough, working with Boenninghausen’s Therapeutic Pocketbook, Sulphur doesn’t show up in this way. As with the best guests at every party – Sulphur is more likely to show up only when invited by appropriate symptoms and repertorization.

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