Just as the earth consists of hard and soft material, such as rocks, water and air, so too does the human body consist of the liquid, racing, iron-filled blood, the sulphurous skin and hair and the hard, rock-like, calcareous skeleton. The legion correspondences that really exist between earth, minerals, remedies, body and disease-states are endlessly fascinating and profoundly enriching for the natural therapist to consider. These patterns, when exposed and explored in detail, also point to deeper, more meaningful psychological insights about our remedies, health and disease.
Calcium manifests in the mineral world chiefly as chalk and limestone, as ossified deposits, layers of white or grey material consisting mainly of the compacted shells of dead microscopic organisms that lived in oceans millions of years ago and which then accumulated over vast periods of time to be changed into rock. Limestone and chalk contain fossils or fossil imprints, often in abundance, or are actually composed of fossils. More than any other rock, they seem to contain the most complete, the most detailed and the best preserved fossils. Shortly, we shall see their relevance and importance to our understanding of the Calc carb mentality.
Calcium manifests in the living world as the shells of Molluscs, some marine worms, corals, many crustaceans, bryozoans, crinoids and sea-urchins and the calcareous spicules of sponges. Many of the molluscs, corals and worms are (like the typical Calc. patient) profoundly immobile, while the crustaceans (eg crabs) use their calcareous shells merely as armour plating with which to protect themselves from change and in the wars of existence. Very few of these animals are adapted for swift movement. Nor must we forget the calcareous shells of birds’ eggs. As with all other vertebrates, in the human body, calcium manifests as the skeleton and teeth, but it is also important in fat metabolism, linking it to Vitamin D, for example.
We can identify certain Calcium subthemes like ossification, time, deposits, layers, roundness/plumpness, hardness, enclosedness (refuge), whiteness, immobility and alkalinity to name a few. These subthemes are found not only in the minerals, but also in the body, in the provings of calcium salts and in the Calc. mentality.
In the birds’ egg, we see the roundedness, the layering, the smooth matt whiteness and the inward enclosedness (refuge) of the Calcium type. Likewise there is a clear link between calcium as a medicinal agent and its use in cement, concrete, house building and an agent of defences and protection. Again, we see that the theme is one of laying down defensive structures, hard ossifications, stubbornness, hardness, immobility, unwillingness to change and longevity. Limestone and chalk are both porous and permeable rocks, that are not very soluble in water, though they do render water `hard’ and calcareous. These rocks also become hollowed out by the erosive action of water and contain vast interconnecting systems of underground caverns. Lime is also used in agriculture to render more permeable the heavy clay soils of the eastern counties. Calcium has the same saturnine slowness typical of lead, trees, mountains and the earth itself. It has slowness to develop, longevity, sluggishness, obstinacy, stubbornness, inability or unwillingness to change and the lumbering immobility – mentally and physically – of molluscs. `Dull lethargic children who do not want to play’ (Phatak, p126). They live as if in a different time frame from the rest of creation. Little wonder then that the classic Calcarea type is so often described as overweight, pale, cold, slow and breathless!
Related remedies are silicea terra, plumbum metallicum, all silicates, alumina, lycopodium, etc. All these remedies have broad parallels with the Calcarea state characterised by slowness, etc as briefly outlined above. The rocks of the earth can be broadly grouped into three major categories of calcareous, silicious and aluminicious. The five major remedies here are calcarea carbonica, silicea terra, alumina, calcarea silicata and alumina silicata. One might also add plumbum silicata, but it has not been proved, to my knowledge.
Is it really a coincidence that Hahnemann chose the Oyster shell, calcarea carbonica Hahnemanni, as the basis for the remedy we call calcarea carbonica? Maybe he dimly sensed that the calcium of the Mollusc is the archetypal Calcium per forte of the living world, as opposed to the more inert limestone or chalk of the mineral world that was his other major Calcium source. In strictly Steinerian terms, the Calcarea of molluscs is the calcium that has been absorbed, processed, and metabolised `through’ the tissues of a living organism and thus we might believe it has been transformed somehow into a partially organic form and thereby rendered more suitable as an agent of healing in medicine. Certainly, Steiner (1860-1925) held the view that a mineral or element is subtly altered (`retuned’) when it passes through an organism, and in different ways according to the particular organism it passes through. He also avowed that it thereby becomes stamped with a subtle `fingerprint’ of features that typify the organism concerned. Thus according to this view, crabshell, eggshell and oystershell (maybe even from the same beach), would all differ from each other and from chalk, limestone or calcite, in spite of their overwhelming chemical similarity.
Calcium also has links with Phosphorus and Zinc oxide and luminescence where we may witness their use in luminous gas mantles (the `limelight’) and cathode ray tubes (TV and VDU’s). These also contain the notion of `after-image’ or afterglow. These relate to the light absorbing quality and the memory trace ideas so close to Calcium itself. Note also the peculiar fact that glow-worms only live in limestone and chalky areas. This theme of bioluminescence is further carried by its link with Phosphorus as an element. There are also links between calcium and architecture, struts, bones and buttresses as revealed in the detailed micro-structure of bones (eg ribs, cranium and head of femur) and in the architecture of churches and cathedrals. And how such churches glow in the golden sunshine!
Calcium is also closely allied to Magnesium, Strontium and Barium, both in the materia medica and in minerals. And with Magnesium we also think of Chlorophyll, the light-capturer, which is unquestionably the single most important chemical on the planet, as without it there would be no photosynthesis and thus no other life. And through Magnesium we also think of magnesium phosphoricum and calcarea phosphorica. With magnesium we might also think of the softer minerals Dolomite and Gypsum and thus the mighty Alps.
Finally, chlorophyll and mag-p. might leads us on to reconsider the light-capturing, the glow-worms and then the link between the oily vitamins A and D and the Visual purple in the retina that enables us to see the world around us and record and store our visual memories. And also more distantly cognate with both are the nervous and photographic Argentum salts. Stretching things far too much that then leads us on to Mercurius and the stranger areas of the nervous system. But we have strayed from dear old Calcium by a long chalk! And thinking of chalk, we also think of cheese, both of which are rich sources of Calcium. And that brings us back to phosphorus, fish, the brain-food and the nervous system yet again. Remember here also that chalk is also used for writing. Think chalk, think white cliffs of Dover and that links in to the Romans and how those cliffs must have appeared – like huge defensive ramparts as old as time itself and repelling wood-be invaders perhaps? Calcium also links with vitamin D (Calciferol) and the fats, to the breast and milk feeding and thus to the nutrition of the infant and the problems of nursing mothers. This also links in with Rickets, a calcium deficiency-disease and also the general medical problems of milk, breasts, infantile milk intolerance, female reproductive hormones, fibroids and the other diseases of the female reproductive system. Milk, which is white like marble, is rich in Calcium, Phosphorus and fats. This also links to remedies like lac defloratum and lac canninum. The typical calcarea patient being milky white, breathless, malnourished, well-rounded and sensitive to cold. The strong link between calcium, reproduction and fats is further reinforced in birds’ eggs, which are reproductive structures, contain high fat levels and have a calcareous shell.
Like Lead and trees, Calcium is linked to the time-god Chronos, for it is in the minute sculpturing of seashells that we find the records of the days, weeks, months and years of their lives, etched minutely into the patterns of the layers of calcium carbonate. This also applies to snail-shells, where each twist of the shell represents a year and the finer serrations mark out the days, weeks and months. Time and the life of the animal, is recorded and `stored up’ in the shells, just like the rings in the wood of tree trunks, the fossils in the rocks or the files in an archive or record. These can all be seen as aspects of Saturn or Chronos, the god of time and history. Skeletons and fossils are also like histories, memories and records of lifetimes and often lurk in our deepest cupboards! Heaping up or collecting the days, weeks, months and years in this way is typical of the sense of memory and history common to both plumbum and Calcarea. And the keeping of records requires writing, say with chalk on a board or slate, or with a piece of lead (Plumbum). The god of time counts and records the passing of the days and records events, obsessed with history and the minutiae of life. So similar to the remark about Calc. patients: `sits and thinks about little affairs that amount to nothing’ (Phatak, p127). Witness also the intense clarity of their memories, dreams and visions! As if their recordings are so perfect.
We might also see fossils as collected memories, records and histories that the calcarea rocks have accumulated and retained in incredible wealth and detail. They are recorded with great faithfulness. This magpie or squirrel tendency to absorb and collect, record and store in detail for very long periods might be seen as a feature of the calcarea mentality. It is like a mental equivalent of the afterglow on the TV screen when it is switched off. And in Plaster of Paris the calcarea habit of making copies, taking impressions, of being a mould or template comes to the fore and is cognate for example, both with fossils and with cement for joining walls. Plaster of Paris is also for setting bones!
Another important aspect of calcarea is that the two main mineral forms of it – chalk and limestone – were formed by accumulation of calcareous particles in the oceans or in shallow seas. This links it as a remedy to natrium muriaticum and to sepia. In the case of certain marine worms (Sterculids), if you look at their twisting and convoluted calcareous tubes, they very closely resemble veins in the body. Maybe that particular form of calcarea could be used as a specific for varicose veins and clogging of arteries, heart attacks, even? There is not only a physical similarity here, it also operates on a functional level, as the tubes are being sclerotized, as the worm hardens its mucilaginous tube until it becomes hardened and limey. The close parallel between the condition and this particular form of calcarea is very interesting and worth further investigation clinically. In the case of a common tropical form of calcarea, brain coral, we can see a direct physical similarity to the brain. Maybe this should also be proved or investigated clinically as a separate form of calcarea to discover if it has any specific usefulness for brain disorders of a sclerotic nature, such as apoplectic strokes due to hardening of the arteries or even Alzheimer’s disease.
Turning next to the psychological aspects of the calcarea type, we might conclude that they are introverted, too sensitive, defensive, insecure, want security in shells and deposits, seek the security of the womb, the egg, the mother’s milk (which disagrees), seek refuge in castle-like interiors protected by vast shell-like stone ramparts; relate badly to the cold, to water and winter, want to be immobile; eat uncontrollably and compulsively, without knowing why and hate activity as they sweat easily and become breathless and flustered.
They appear to be locked in a heavily protected, stone-like shell of armour that greatly reduces their mobility, a crab-like carapace or shell. They seem to ‘clam-up’ and ‘go into their shell’, become agoraphobic, turn inwards to the detailed phantasmogoria of an inner world of visions, dreams and nightmares, where they seek refuge and security from the transient, unpredictable and painful events of the outer world. They seem to prefer the greyness of their refuge to
the stark unbearable contrasts of black and white outer reality. They fear change and resist change. Even their recording of time is like a clinging on to things and not wanting to let them go. It is like a form of attachment.
They are disappointed and constipated people. There is the constipated mentality, just described. There is also an air of failure and withdrawal to this mentality, a sloping off to lick one’s wounds in a private refuge. They are stuck in a peculiar limbo-land which is neither one thing nor another, which hovers in fact between night and day, an eternal twilight. They follow the moon; suffer menstrual irregularities for the same reasons and also reproductive problems and problems related to the link between outer world-cycles and inner world constancy. They retreat into the greyness of their shell as they dislike change of day-night, high-low rhythms of movement of planets, change of cycles, highs and lows and attempt to regulate this outer change into a vastly attenuated realm of stillness, greyness, no change and their precious secret dreams and visions. There is ossification of emotions and inner-outer world, thoughts and aspirations as well as the outer processes of the body. Sluggishness is a very good general rubric for calc., as it bridges both the Molluscan features we have explored and the general slowness.
It is also important to remember that we all contain a bit of this mentality. We must resist the temptation to stand in judgement over the remedy archetypes, as we all have skeletons and must acknowledge these qualities of the Calcium in ourselves. We are all stubborn and resist change to some degree and we all at times find difficulty of going with the flow or want to control the outer world’s more painful twists and turns. We all contain the calcarea archetype, but clearly it finds its ultimate expression in the imbalances of the typical calcarea person. Then these inbalances become pathological in their immensity. At that point the potentised remedy can perform its usual miracles.
Turning finally to the materia medica we can see a repetition of many of the above themes we have listed about calcarea. The calcarea patient is fat, chilly, congested, sensitive in every possible way, has boney growths, ossifications, encrustations, polyps, cysts and warts. Exostoses and peculiar deformities of bones, skin and nails (like hekla lava). They are weak, lack stamina, have an inclination to sit rather than work, get breathless and sweaty very easily. Get gouty and rheumatic, joint problems and arthritic. Then there are the generals like slowness and weakness, dullness and great debility and tiredness. These are typical. The symptoms of eyes, ears, nose and throat are also typical, showing congestions and catarrhs, loss of smell, dimness of sight and hearing, as if the consciousness would prefer to withdraw from the sensory world altogether. Stomach and digestion are impaired and the bowels very sluggish and constipated. There is marked love of or aversion to eggs. In general they adore eggs and hate milk, which disagrees. The rest is detailed in all the materia medicas.
The calcarea urge is more of a pausing, a rest, a putting down roots, leaving traces and keeping records, collecting memories, dwelling in matter and time and making deposits. This tendency seems to represent a deeper attachment to things and life and surroundings and thus a desire to keep a record of one’s life. So the link with the past, time, matter, records, traces, memories and the old. Cognate animals are those that are sessile, have reduced motility, which put down roots or attachments to rocks or which have large shells, calcareous deposits around them or which leave a hard skeleton. The fact that they leave these hardened or sclerotized parts behind them after their death is evidence of their strong plant-like urge. These include molluscs, some marine worms, barnacles, crinoids and sea-urchins, tortoises & turtles, foraminiferans, crustaceans, bryozoans, etc.
Also in the calcarea mentality and in molluscs, marine worms, corals, bryozoans, etc, we encounter the most plant-like animals, those that must keep records and build up traces of their life. This desire to keep a record, to leave deposits, shells, bones and traces of one’s existence is a plant-like drive that is much more diminished within the animal world. It manifests in the plant by the layering of tree-rings, which is an expression in the lignified cellulose of a record of the years. The tree rings are records of the passing years and represent the life record of that tree.
Yet in all plants the record-keeping or sclerotizing tendency is very strong. While it is true that plants push out green shoots, like to grow and expand, they also tend to consolidate such gains by sclerotizing, hardening, making into wood and laying down harder tissues, thorns and spikes both for protection and to demarcate owned territory. Thus plants are the
natural record-keepers and deposit makers of the living world.
In its more extreme forms, this plant-like calc. force manifests as shrunken, withered leathery, thorny and spiky plant stems as seen in the Cacti and many other succulents, in Lithops the stone plant and, of course, in trees. But even amongst trees, it manifests most typically in the dry, thorny, withered, hardened and emaciated kind of tree that has adapted to extreme aridity.
In spite of many broad differences between calc and sepia, it is nevertheless useful to compare them both. In the Cuttlefish, the calcareous external shell of other molluscs has been greatly reduced and internalised to produce the `cuttlefish shell’ so beloved of budgies! Going back to our previous analysis of the molluscan nature of calc., we can see that by first reducing and then internalising the shell, sepia has achieved a much greater mobility and has hidden away inside itself the basic Molluscan problem of being `insecure and defensive and needing a shell for protection against hostile forces in a painful world’. In exchange, of course, the sepia has the ink-jet, the agility, the brilliant and mesmerising stroboscopic skin colour-changes, the improved stereoscopic vision and the aggressiveness of a marine predator. It has moved from the sessile and slow but secure life of a limpet or clam and out into the sea as an active hunter.
Yet, talking remedies, we can see that sepia has tried to solve the ancestral Molluscan problem of defensiveness and insecurity by reducing and internalising its shell. It is only partially successful in this. It is still very weird and unstable in its behaviour - evasive, jealous, emotion al, angry and callous. It has exchanged the ‘femininity of submissiveness and immobility’ (clam, limpet) for a mock male mobility and assertiveness that still appears incomplete, forced and imbalanced. The parallels here pathologically are too obvious to require further emphasis. So we could also extend this discussion indefinitely to all the other Molluscs and then take a look at the Crustaceans and Insects, who present similar problems, solved in different and novel ways. But that must wait for now.