Ask as you may, the idea of having a homeopathic mad hatters party didn’t come from me. Or Sherree or any of the people involved in it. It was more like some wise swirling strangeness that descended and we let it unfold. Though it is true that the idea was sitting there half formed, after the Australian Homeopathic Association conference in Tasmania 2014. At the time we (at the Aurum Project) were already talking about how it would be good to do continuing education in a different format. After all, don’t we soak in concepts and learn better when we are playing? And less if we sit in a lecture room. You don’t have to be seven years old like the wildly curious Alice in Wonderland to know that.
I also know that I understood little about the rabbit’s milk proving when I bought the proving book from the Similimum Homeopathic Pharmacy stand at the Tasmanian conference, which just happened to be beside our Aurum Project stand. (A proving is one type of homeopathic research. It is used to uncover what symptoms a homeopathic medicine can be used to treat. And yes, rabbits milk can be used as a medicine when it is turned into a homeopathic remedy!)
So at least one month after Tasmania, I finally unpacked my bag and found the proving book and took it to bed to read. Out of the proving, jumps the theme of going down a rabbit’s hole into the world of Alice in Wonderland. Following immediately on from that, a patient gave me a present after visiting Disney World and it was a tin of Alice in Wonderland tea, yes, they crazily do sell such a thing.
Listen to the whispers and pay attention to coincidence we are told.
Not too much later, I discovered that there is a book called The Mad Hatters Tea Party[i] by homeopath Melissa Assilem. (Sorry, Melissa I had never heard of the book before). It was published in 2002 and has been reprinted four times. It really is worth reading for a deep understanding of remedies like Thea and Saccharum (tea and sugar).
Then it was pointed out to me that 2015 marks the year when we celebrate 150 years since the writing of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. To quote from Alice in the book, “This is impossible.” And the answer back from the mad hatter, “Only if you believe it is.” With so many moments of synchronicity: the idea of a mad homeopaths tea party was set.
In those years since it was published, the book has taken on a life of its own and has been printed in more than 70 languages. It’s been made into films, video games, and even rides in theme parks. Alice in Wonderland even has a syndrome (AIWS) named after it: is a neurological condition that distorts perception, causing disorientation and a warping of the senses. Little wonder (that’s a pun by the way!) that this children’s story is the third most quoted book in the Western world only after Shakespeare and the Bible.
This can only happen because the characters and the symbolism all through the book rings so true in some deep recess of our brain. Especially, deep in the slightly mad, counter-intuitive world of homeopathic practitioners.
Imagine the curveball, when I discovered in early April that the ideas in the book are in part moulded from homeopathic materia medica. Because of migraines, the author, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) was a patient of James Compten Burnett, the famous homeopath. So even though Charles was a mathematics lecturer, he had a great interest in unusual states of consciousness and he immersed himself in homeopathic texts.[ii]
All of these pieces of new information were starting to be delivered not as a whisper but more like a great magic thump of “You’re not going to believe this”.
Here’s the bit that I love: the character of the white rabbit was not derived by Charles from any proving because The Lac Oryctolagus (rabbits milk) proving was conducted in 1997 by Claire Bleakley. Yet the Alice in Wonderland rabbit character is absolutely in line with the proving with all the dithering and “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date”. Charles and Claire both plugged into information which is there to be accessed by all, whether it be the detective work of the homeopathic proving method in 1997 or the authors zest for archetypical truth in 1865.
The first time I ever heard someone discuss archetypes or homeopathic remedies as a character, was in a discussion on the remedy Mercurius and the mad hatter story came up. Every homeopathic student has loved that story and used it to help learn how to decode the seemingly mad not-what-you-think world of homeopathic provings.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
As homeopaths sitting in the consult room, we strive to find a remedy capable of healing a little madness. It doesn’t matter whether it is coming out as physical symptoms or emotional symptoms, we do well to allow ourselves and the person sitting with us to just be real. The first part of any healing is deciding that there is a problem. No pretending or happy faces. Really this is one of the great parts of being a homeopath, I can be real, I can say yes I like eating chocolate, and sometimes I get frustrated and sometimes I’m a little mad.
So in the meant-to-be spirit of learning, fun and the benefits of a little madness this fundraising Aurum Project Mad Hatters party is happening on the 2nd May and of course Claire Bleakley (with Rabbits milk information tucked in her brain) said she would hop over the Tasman to join us.
Yes now it’s time to book a ticket Mad Hatters Tea Party