In honour of the awesome and formidable Sheilagh Creasy, who taught me (LCCH, 1998-2001) to be the best homeopath I could be. She died this week at the grand age of 96. Her strength of character, her determination, her vast experience, her clarity, her wisdom, her continued commitment to learn and teach us all she knew of a very long life enriched by homeopathy. We have the profession we have today largely due to the seeds she sowed from the 1950s onwards. We hold your candle bright Sheilagh, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you have taught us, and for how much you have contributed to our profession. On behalf of the countless people, across the world, who you have helped and healed over so many decades, we wish you love and peace.
This interview, if you wish to read it, will remind you of how far we have come. It was one of 34 interview published in Looking Back Moving Forward.
Tuesday 26 April 2005 took me to the home of Sheilagh Creasy. She was what LCCH was all about for me. Inspiring, passionate, strong, experienced and endlessly knowledgeable; I learned so much from her. I have also attended several of her post-graduate seminars in Euston since graduating and admire her dedication and perseverance unconditionally. For me there is also something about her energy, perhaps she reminds me of my grandmother when I was a child, but she brings up memories in me of feeling protected and listened to. She is a lady whom I truly admire and have a lot to be grateful for.
“The starting point of my teaching is always, of course, the Organon. You have to study the different editions and know where he was coming from. The same as you have to study his Chronic Diseases and the Pura and know in which era it was written. He was an innovator and as an innovator he experimented in producing something different because he found it was an improvement on what he had said previously.” Sheilagh Creasy, April 2005
ROWENA: Tell me how you got into homeopathy, Sheilagh.
SHEILAGH: My grandfather was a doctor and my grandmother married him knowing homeopathy. And so she pretty well told him – and that was in those days – that she was going to continue with her practice. Meanwhile, they couldn’t make ends meet in Ireland – that is where they were, in Cork. Of course there was incessant famine; he used bacon, scones and eggs and whatever the farm produced to feed the family but thought, “This is not good enough for my three boys”, so he applied for the Foreign Service. Through the Foreign Service they were posted to the Andaman Islands, a colony of India when the British colonials were out there. He was the doctor there on the island, employed by the state and my grandmother continued as ever, with her homeopathy. The three boys eventually were sent to Edinburgh for their university training and my grandmother continued. To cut a long story short, my grandmother taught me from about the age of eight, nine or ten what this thing called homeopathy was about so I was imbued with the idea from then. When it came to me needing homeopathy myself, I was still pretty young, so then I immediately sought the books and that is how it started.
ROWENA: Please carry on; tell me more……
SHEILAGH: I thought that I must be a doctor in order to learn homeopathy but, of course, circumstances, including the war, got in the way and I went into British Intelligence. After the war ended my husband’s firm requested that he return to Shanghai. He had legged it from Shanghai away from the Japanese and got on to a Yangtze boat and boarded a ship with five others, and they joined up the minute they got to India and Bangalore. So his firm requested that he return to China to help release those who had been caught and were imprisoned and had had a very bad time.
We returned on a troop ship and if you have never been on a troop ship you haven’t experienced anything! I was surrounded by men – nothing but men – and they wanted to sing all night and go sentimental or something like that and it was six weeks to Shanghai! The first thing that hit me is that I had got used to the smell of India, but the new smell of China was something that was really new. We had a company house all ready and waiting for us but there had been a terrible tragedy that happened there. The firm had a wool making factory and the Japanese who took over these beautiful houses decided the only way to deal with the heads of the wool firm was to behead the leaders of every department. So the managers of every department were beheaded in the field near by. So that is what we were told.
ROWENA: Keep going Sheilagh please; your story is fascinating. Were you practising homeopathy at this time?
SHEILAGH: Not officially. I was practising just as an ordinary person but not officially.
ROWENA: So what inspired you in those days?
SHEILAGH: Right from the beginning I was fortunate – putting my hands on the right books precipitated by the Organon. The Organon, Clarke’s three volumes, Boericke, Kent’s philosophy and later on the other physicians. I thought, ”Well, when I know more than Kent I will beg to differ.” So I was always struggling to know how this man knew as much as he did. And I went on and on struggling and whatever he said and did, I followed it up. I kept on following up any lead including the Swedenborg reference, so I followed that lead up as well. By then we had returned to England.
ROWENA: So what did you think of Swedenborg?
SHEILAGH: I have got all his books there behind you. Fascinating. He is called a mystic, but I soon realised that this man was a scientist. He was sent by the King of Sweden to further his research over here in England. In Swedenborg House in London, you can pick up the threads of a fellow called Dr Quinn who was the first to bring homeopathy over here. Skinner was another early one too. I soon realised that Swedenborg had got an awful lot of information but I wondered where did he got it from. So I got digging and I found that its roots were from ancient Judaism. So I then started a new quest and started reading the ancient Jewish books and the Kabbalah. Eventually I discovered and studied the Tanya and that was the only one that really resonated; it was just like homeopathy. The principles of homeopathy are all in there.
ROWENA: Do you think Hahnemann read those books?
SHEILAGH: Hahnemann was Jewish and I will tell you how I know. For sixteen or seventeen years I gave seminars in Europe and America. At a seminar in Germany, two women with a sort of cross and a neat uniform asked me if I would come to their monastery to help treat their patients whenever I returned. I said yes, provided they pick me up at the airport and drop me back. They agreed, and that is what took place. When I came to Hamburg, they used to attend the seminar and then we would drive towards Belarusand the monastery was there.
They were all medical doctors and we would be talking all the way in the car. The monastery was in a very old agricultural area and I noticed there were stones sitting in the middle of a field. I enquired about them and was told that they were for the various spirits to bless the crops. The monastery consisted of three, enormous, beautiful Tudor barns. And the farmers, as soon as they knew this group of doctors wanted to administer to the poor and look after them, donated a barn which they converted and then they gave another barn and so on and so on. The whole thing built up from these barns including a little chapel.
We used to have meetings and then in the evening there would be the homeopathic sessions treating people who had come. They would ring the bell at the gate and the gate would be opened and they would say, “Come”, and a group of us would be sitting about taking the case. It would be German translated and later on it became Russian, German, English, and we would be taking the most interesting cases all by candlelight. I went to the chapel and attended the services and they asked me to talk at their little meetings. There would be a group of us, and endless cups of tea, but you know in Germany, in the cold weather, they had their little cups of tea on the burners, so it was perpetually hot.
SHEILAGH: I loved it. So when I was talking, the leader of this monastery, the one who escorted me everywhere, suddenly went “ah” and she said in German, as she couldn’t speak any English, “Ask her where she gets it from.” I thought, I had been caught this time because it was not Hahnemann but Swedenborg through Hahnemann. So I had to say, “It was Swedenborg”, and immediately I heard back, “Yes, but Swedenborg got it from where?” and I replied, ”Well, it is from the ancient Jewish sources.” That is when she told me she was Jewish and she had started this Jewish-Christian community of doctors – and that got her telling this other tale.
She had started the community because she had been exiled from France because she was Jewish and literally legged it. She was allowed to practise because she was a doctor, but they were after her because of her Jewish ancestry. So we went full tilt and discussed that I thought Hahnemann was Jewish. I said, “Because he uses certain phrases; there are, to my knowledge, four references in the Organon in terms of spheres but they are hidden away.”
ROWENA: What do you mean by spheres?
SHEILAGH: They are the shells of the Jewish words and they are beautiful. The unravelling is one word, the shell itself is another word and the potencies are all there too.
ROWENA: I know that he influenced potencies.
SHEILAGH: So the potencies are there, the degrees are there, the spheres are there and the Law of Similars is there too.
ROWENA: All in the Tanya?
SHEILAGH: All in the Tanya. This has been a study of mine for thirty-five years but I have had to shut up; I haven’t been able to speak about this.
SHEILAGH: You cannot speak about this kind of thing in homeopathy colleges. For example, there are volumes of Swedenborg’s concordants. If you say to me a word, like ‘suffering’ I could look it up in the concordants and it would give me my references in the Old Testament. That is Swedenborg; how he had time to write it all, God only knows. All the principles, the laws and the potencies are all there.
ROWENA: So this was a big area for you. Did that get you more into homeopathy?
SHEILAGH: For thirty-five years I just was buried in it. Kent led me to Swedenborg. I always thought homeopathy was very spiritual in many ways but I did not understand why I felt dissatisfaction. But I discovered in time that the dissatisfaction was the fact that I did not understand where he got all his information. And I went on and on trailing it.
ROWENA: So why do you think it took so long for homeopathy to come about?
SHEILAGH: Because that is homeopathy. Knowledge is one thing but these are the degrees I am talking about. Knowledge is an outer degree; understanding is the inner degree.
ROWENA: So we weren’t ready?
SHEILAGH: Yes, we weren’t ready. So the outer degrees were all there, but I had to get to this inner degree, which was the understanding. So when the understanding opened, the new search started.
ROWENA: Why Hahnemann?
SHEILAGH: Throughout the ages from time immemorial, there has always been in the forefront the Jewish leader in whatever field; from literature and music to science and medicine. I come from no Jewish background at all so I am not biased but this is what I firmly believe. I have tried to trail the story of Judaism and how they had to trek, trek, trek because they were always being hounded. So I read this historically, and I thought, ”Here they pop up again, why?” And that started this trail of thinking and I believe that they have always been chosen to lead in whatever the field.
ROWENA: There are quite a lot of Jews practising homeopathy.
SHEILAGH: Interesting. I believe that they have been chosen, but many have lost their way as well, so I am talking about the chosen. Many, many do fall by the way side. I am told the understanding is there and this says it all.
ROWENA: I do remember you touching on this at college fleetingly. How on earth do you avoid it when you are teaching?
SHEILAGH: God, I have a hard time.
ROWENA: I imagine so. I guess it is like missing out on sharing a huge part of your soul.
SHEIALGH: I would have been hauled over the coals if I were to bring religion into it.
ROWENA: That is true. Ok, so going back to your journey, how long ago were you working in the monastery?
SHEILAGH: It was comparatively recently. It was after the Chernobyl disaster and I was brought in on the cases of those who were affected by it. And that reminds me of another story. From the monastery they would go and collect thirty to forty people and bring them down from Belarus on the buses. They had to bribe their way past the guards and bring them to the monastery where they recovered. They were given food and lodging, and only one request was asked of them – a little work to help the monastery. Some helped out in the agricultural area. Anybody from the farms among the Russians, the first thing they wanted was to be with the cows and the goats outside. We had refectory tables, as it was communal eating, and we would first pray and then eat – beautiful food straight off the farm. Nothing was ever wasted.
ROWENA: And they were being treated with homeopathy?
SHEILAGH: The only treatment they received was homeopathy. We would be discussing it in the mornings and meet again in the evenings after supper at four o’clock. The nights were our own to do with what we wished. The others loved the nights but I am not a late night one as I am an early riser so that was the hard part where I was concerned. Otherwise the Chernobyl cases were fascinating. These people were very ill and there were one or two deaths there. A Hodgkinson’s one was a direct result of the Chernobyl disaster. Yes we were really nurturing them for months on end.
ROWENA: Did you feel homeopathy made a big difference?
SHEILAGH: Homeopathy did a lot for them – that is all they were getting. They were getting nothing else. Strange things happened there also. I would ask the leader of the house, “Where do you get your money from? I mean this place needs money to survive.” At one of our meetings this radiant, typical German housfrau with red cheeks, came in beaming from ear to ear. She had letters with her and the leader of the community opened them and she would hold up a cheque and another cheque and the cheques would keep coming. And the architects, who did the renovation to the barns, would take no money for their services.
ROWENA: Does this place still exist?
SHEILAGH: Yes it does. What else do you want me to tell you?
ROWENA: So tell me Sheilagh, who have you studied with?
SHEILAGH: Noel Puddephatt. I wanted to have somebody here in England to study with. At the time my husband’s firm had sent us out to South Africa to open up the market there. It must have been in the 1950s. There I really did a lot of homeopathy. Our contract was that we lived there for three and half years and then we would get leave back to England for six months and then the cycle would be repeated. While in South Africa I decided I needed a contact in England and Noel Puddephatt came my way and I thought, ”Oh, this is interesting. He knows James Tyler Kent well.” Then I wrote to Health Science Press and through them, communicated with Phyllis Speight. Phyllis Speight and Noel Puddephatt had been in clinic working together.
SHEILAGH: Health Science Press used to put out a magazine, which Noel used to write in. When I came to England I contacted Noel and I found him quite knowledgeable on homeopathy, more than I was.
ROWENA: So he was a lay homeopath as well? Where did he learn homeopathy from?
SHEILAGH: He had learnt from John Henry Clarke. So I was now really pleased with this connection because years later, Ted, my husband who wasn’t in the homeopathic thinking field, when I brandished my Clarke book he said, “That’s funny, I remember Clarke coming to my grandparents home, he was a homeopath, yes I remember now, a homeopathic doctor’. It is his materia medica that I find interesting. His repertory is too awful for words but his materia medica is good. Why there should be this discrepancy between them, I don’t know. Perhaps he wrote one years before the other.
So Noel and I would discuss problematic cases. I would write to Noel and Noel then said to me, “I have another student by the name of George Vithoulkas, an electrical engineer, and he has accepted a post in South Africa and I have given him your name and address. He will be contacting you because he is very eager and very keen on homeopathy. Soon enough, every Saturday, George Vithoulkas and I would meet at my flat around the dining room to talk homeopathy.
SHEILAGH: In Johannesburg, South Africa. I have got marks on the table where we were laying down the law one to the other; quoting this and quoting that. We were absolutely meticulous like two bulldogs!
ROWENA: Were you in agreement with each other?
SHEILAGH: Yes, he was very keen and he knew his stuff. We were heading in the same direction and Noel was guiding us but we were naturally there. One day Noel said that he had had enough of the cold weather in England; he and his wife were suffering a bit of ill health. At that time his wife got a telegram from a solicitor in America, from a solicitor asking her to please come to America immediately. Her flight, accommodation and everything would be seen to and it would be to her advantage.
So both of them set off to New York I think and while there she received the good news that she had inherited the whole of the Singer sewing machine empire. She was sixteenth in line of next of kin; not the first, second or third but sixteenth. They couldn’t trail those closer; perhaps they had all died. So they got back to England and Noel, who was working for the Shell company at the time, had to pack up and leave because of super bracket tax. And that is when he really concentrated on homeopathy. He then put the idea into her head that they needed the warmth and they came out to South Africa, at the drop of a hat.
ROWENA: So there was Noel, you and George.
SHEILAGH: First of all it was George and I for two years, then Noel said, ”Now get ready, when I come, there had best be a group of people!” So I had already organised a group of people. At that time radionics had loomed fast here and was used among the GPs in the UK.
ROWENA: Could you explain a little bit about what that is?
SHEILAGH: It was a Delewarr machine. First of all it was the Abrahams machine, then it became the Ray machine and then it became the Delewarr. It is rife now. I thought the best way to find out about it at the time was on plants, not human beings. I knew that certain plants had growths and fungus and I would experiment but in the end I just threw it all in the dustbin because I thought it better and more reliable to use my intellect and understanding rather than using strange psychic phenomena. I had at least tried it so I was open-minded. Then I kept my own records and I did so for twenty years.
ROWENA: Records of what?
SHEILAGH: Everyone who used the Delewarr or the Radionics developed growths and tumours.
ROWENA: The practitioners?
SHEILAGH: Yes. I kept records in South Africa and when I came here I thought that I better start again since I was back into the homeopathic swing. The same thing was soon revealed; they developed growths and tumours, usually in or on the head.
ROWENA: Not the patients but the homeopaths and the doctors that were using the radionics machines; like the machines that are used nowadays?
SHEILAGH: That is right. One of them was so strange it shook me really as she died. You might have heard of her, Liz Dancinger. She was brilliant and crazy which often goes hand in hand. But she developed these horny growths on her head and she was a big user of radionics. I have trailed another three here.
ROWENA: So what do you think that is about?
SHEILAGH: I don’t know. They are still at large so I won’t mention names. But it is in the head and on the head.
ROWENA: So is that like them not using their heads enough? (RJR 2019: I regret asking that question now!)
SHEILAGH: No, I don’t know what it means. I don’t want to put any interpretations on it because I don’t understand it. Anyway, back to Noel Puddephatt in South Africa – I formed the group with George for Noel and we would be doing this and we would be doing that and then George announced he couldn’t learn anymore and was going off to India to meet his guru, Krishna Murti. So off to India he went and then the tales from India came back which they always do and they were picked up by those who were coming here to the UK to teach.
ROWENA: So what kind of tales?
SHEILAGH: Platinum tales. You know Platina so you know what I mean by Platinum Tales.
ROWENA: I though that is what you meant.
SHEILAGH: I think a couple of years went by and the next thing was a letter from George from America or Greece I can’t remember now. He had now teamed up with the American GPs.
ROWENA: Roger Morrison?
SHEILAGH: Yes and others too who were very eager to start a homeopathic forum. I was giving seminars in Germany at the time so I was picking up what was happening and heard that they were collecting money in America, to build George’s clinic and his school in Alonissos. And so that is the tale that was told, which lasted over a period of a few years.
And then Noel said to me one day that the weather was stinking hot and he was wearing this English tweeds waistcoat and coat and I thought he must be really cold. I realised that something was the matter and it was his liver. He was now in a bad way and within forty hours he was hospitalised as he was haemorrhaging, and he died of cirrhosis of the liver. That was that. Meanwhile George was installed in Greece. The clinic hadn’t started then, he was just giving seminars and teaching and he was writing his two books with the help of Vassilis Ghegas. They are a very good introduction to homeopathy.
ROWENA: The Science of Homeopathy?
SHEILAGH: Yes, yes.
ROWENA: And the Essences, what do you think of those?
SHEILAGH: I don’t. They are all stereotypes and in practice you don’t find your essences like that. Those whose practice is only about essences are not in practice.
ROWENA: Is that when you started feeling differently towards George or was that earlier?
SHEILAGH: I never felt anything, I just thought that he had gone that way and I had gone this way. But information kept on coming back and then finally there was the New Zealand historian who wrote his book, The Faces of Homeopathy.
ROWENA: Ok, Julian Winston.
SHEILAGH: Yes. It transpired that George had said that he had taught me. And so I got a message back to Julian Winston asking him if he had done his research to which he replied that he had. I then asked him if he was going to use my name, why did he not interview me. So that is how that came to a head. None of this is true and what is more is that there are at least four homeopaths alive who knew about George and I meeting regularly to study.
ROWENA: I suppose it makes him look like the leader. There is no one who came before him that is still around.
SHEILAGH: But the tragedy is that the practitioner here in England has a great deal of responsibility when they take on cases; they need to work directly with the patients and make many responsible decisions. In Greece it really is paper cases; you can only legally work through a doctor. So you get the GP coming to the seminar with the case and George deals through the doctor. That is three-way; it is not a direct responsibility. I think it is a different sort of homeopathy here in comparison with there, with another kind of learning.
ROWENA: So what so you think about the state of homeopathy in our country (UK) now?
SHEILAGH: The latest CORH booklet was not a shock – it was heading that way.
ROWENA: Which bit?
SHEILAGH: The questionnaire – to reply to all those questions, which took about three or four days – I knew very well I was doing it with my tongue in my cheek because it was just like an audit. And what is an audit? The lowest common denominator in the end; that is what this is and this is what it is going to be. The lowest common denominator, which means that trash can join and trash can be homeopathy.
ROWENA: So my next question is how do you think we can stop homeopathy becoming dormant again?
SHEILAGH: I think every homeopath should read Harris Coulter’s four volume Divided Legacy from start to finish and they will see America went right through this; the world went right through all this already. The naturopathic doctors took over because they had the means, the money, the schools, the colleges and so students studied naturopathy, medical sciences and the naturopathic way of doing homeopathy – and that is not homeopathy.
ROWENA: So what do you think homeopathy education should be? If you were to design a course what would it be?
SHEILAGH: Well I have designed it – I designed the original course.
ROWENA: Ok, talk me through that. Was this when you came back from South Africa?
SHEILAGH: Oh yes, it has to be with the Organon as your basis.
ROWENA: Let us just go back, because I have missed a huge piece of your history here. When did you come back from South Africa?
SHEILAGH: After my husband’s retirement. Initially we did half-retirement; we went to our holiday home, which was a sort of little chalet overlooking the lake and the sea in the Cape. Originally we were in Johannesburg.
ROWENA: How long did you live in South Africa?
SHEILAGH: About sixteen years. We lived at this chalet where I practised a lot of homeopathy in as much as I was dealing with totally different cases to the Johannesburg scene.
ROWENA: Was it all private practice in South Africa?
ROWENA: Different in what way?
SHEILAGH: Now I was dealing with farms; not cattle but the labourers. The truck would drive up and it would be full of the patients that you would see during the day. The cases were just unreal. I would treat worms that came from the nose and yaws on the legs. Syphilis in children.
ROWENA: Was this the time of Apartheid?
SHEILAGH: Yes it was the time of Apartheid – the ANC were loud and clear up north.
ROWENA: Did you treat black people as well?
SHEILAGH: Yes, always and there I was able to really understand the miasms because I saw them coming up.
ROWENA: And the Afrikaaners?
SHEILAGH: Yes. There were quite a few Germans who owned the farm.
ROWENA: So that was some huge learning for you.
SHEILAGH: That was a big learning for me, yes.
ROWENA: So is your husband interested in homeopathy?
SHEILAGH: He is very interested but he never takes part because it is just not his scene.
ROWENA: Is he open-minded?
SHEILAGH: Very, oh Lord yes, the whole family have been brought up this way; he is very open-minded.
ROWENA: And you have a daughter?
ROWENA: Two daughters – are they this way inclined?
SHEILAGH: One is still in South Africa. She was at Guy’s hospital and specialises in resuscitation or whatever name they gave it. So she went back to South Africa but then went on to Zimbabwe because in South Africa, there was a requirement to speak and write Afrikaans. In Zimbabwe she joined a hospital – then came the war and she was dealing directly with the war injured, the mines and blasting. She fled soon after because the war had got too intense, joined the Kensington General Hospital in Johannesburg and was doing resuscitation. She used to come back with tales galore. Once they pulled the plug out of the electricity but had to revive this fellow. They had used everything including jolts but he had flat-lined. Then the next thing, the so-called dead person’s eyes opened and he said, ”Could I not have a pillow?”
ROWENA: So not with homeopathy?
SHEILAGH: Not with homeopathy. Then she realised that other than her field, which was really resuscitation, she wasn’t interested in ordinary nursing. She would do it, but her fascination was in resuscitation. She started going through my books and demanding I teach her and now she practices homeopathy in South Africa. And now comes the South African tale – legislation came, just like in America.
ROWENA: So you can’t practise unless you are…..?
SHEILAGH: No legislation came when I was there, so if you practised, you practised illegally. So I continued to do so for years. Then they brought back legislation after fifteen years – they had a system; ‘A’ register, ‘B’ register or ‘C’ register. ‘A’ register is if you had any medical background and homeopathy, so she is in on the ‘A’ register with the entitlement of doctor. ‘B’ register is without the medical background but if you have done homeopathy and gone through a college. ‘C’ register is if you want to practise and have done some studying here and there; it is called mongrel homeopathy. And that is how you come in to it. They had to do this because of the witch doctors who, by entitlement, would be treating thousands, passed on by word of mouth from grandmother to grandmother.
ROWENA: Did the witch doctors practise homeopathy?
SHEILAGH: No, but they had their entitlement on an ‘A’ register or ‘B’ register or ‘C’ register. This worked for disciplines such as herbalism, which is more like what they practised. It proved to be a good system. I then took a degree in philosophy and that is when I did my medical sciences at the university in South Africa as a sort of manoeuvring. I had to take sixteen subjects; I took art and I used it to teach art to disabled and mentally disturbed people. So that was another area of fascination for me because I was using homeopathy as well as art to bring out their issues.
ROWENA: So the art gave you a useful tool to see what was going on?
SHEILAGH: Yes. When I was in the Cape, I ran quite a lot of workshops on art for homeopathy and I held exhibitions of the work. It was a fascinating area; seeing it all the way through; teaching them and then giving them an incentive for exhibitions for sale.
ROWENA: Do you know Dr Brian Kaplan?
SHEILAGH: Yes, I have heard of him.
ROWENA: His wife is a South African art therapist. I recently went to a seminar and she was explaining that some of his patients he refers to her and she sends the art back to him.
SHEILAGH: It is a field that could easily be used here – but abused as well if we are not careful. It is a very interesting field. I always give pieces of paper to little children for their drawings and see how they develop.
ROWENA: So when did you come back here?
SHEILAGH: I can’t remember when it was but we have been in this house for twenty years. When I came back I joined and was a director of Society of Homeopaths. At that time both leaders in our field over here had died: Thomas Maughan and John Damonte.
ROWENA: That was in the early 70s, I think.
SHEILAGH: There were a few floating ones like Jeremy Sherr and Misha Norland.
ROWENA: And Robert Davidson.
SHEILAGH: When I say floating, it is because there had been these two leaders and now there was a sort of hole. Robert Davidson and Martin Miles set up the first college at Imperial and that is when I came in on the scene. Wendy Singer spoke to Robert Davidson about me and said that I had been practising for many years and I got an invitation to come and teach at the College of Homeopathy. And if only you saw the hundreds…
ROWENA: Of students every year?
SHEILAGH: Imperial College is big enough, but when you came up those stairs the whole foyer was full of students – every classroom was packed.
ROWENA: So you taught there?
SHEILAGH: Yes. Robert Davidson always kept aloof but he was very polite and always kind to me, as was Barbara Harwood. Before Barbara came Anne Saunders. She was Anne Bickley then; Anthony Bickley’s wife. Jeremy Sherr seemed to be holding well – knowing exactly where he was going – he was also very nice. Misha Norland, likewise. Murry Feldman was around too. I taught in Tiverton for some time and by then I had already started the seminars in America and Europe. I did that for sixteen years.
ROWENA: So are you still teaching internationally then?
SHEILAGH: No, I stopped all international teaching at the same time. Too much was going on here and I was away about four to five days a month. When I went to America it was for longer as I started a school there called The Northern California Institute of Classical Homeopathy. And I was involved with Anne Larkin’s London College of Classical Homeopathy.
ROWENA: Where I studied and met you.
SHEILAGH: Yes. Then Lesley Gregerson, who I taught in her third year at Robert Davidson’s college started her school. Ernest Roberts started another college up north as well.
ROWENA: I really enjoyed your strong opinions when I was at college, because it was kind of a wake up call. Your passion and love for homeopathy shone through your teaching.
SHEILAGH: Thank you. The starting point of my teaching is always, of course, the Organon. You have to study the different editions and know where he was coming from. The same as you have to study his Chronic Diseases and the Pura and know which era he wrote that. He was an innovator and as an innovator he experimented in producing something different because he found it was an improvement on what he had said previously. Originally, everything came under Psora until he learnt that there were other miasms. So we have got to know the chronological order of when he wrote about his findings. It doesn’t mean to say we have got to be rigid because in Aphorism 3 straight away he said, ”You must stick to the principles and the principles which can be clearly adapted….” When he speaks of the succussions and potencies; the pharmaceutical procedure, he says, “My exact procedure”. So they are exact, whereas the methodology, so to speak, is adaptable.
ROWENA: That is interesting.
SHEILAGH: When you have advanced enough, I use the word ‘advanced’ because year 1, 2 and 3 is hardly advanced…
ROWENA: I am in complete agreement with you. At college even though we were told that it is just the beginning, you feel that when you get to the end, you know a fair amount. After a while in practice, I realised that I had only just started my journey!
SHEILAGH: Yes, it is left in your lap. That is why I am a firm believer that some issues should be left to postgraduate years – hence my workshops. Now the postgraduate years are based on a practitioner’s experience in clinic, in other words inductive not deductive. Homeopaths soon realise there are different cases, everyone being an individual, and the idea is to follow Hahnemann’s principles but learn to adapt according to that patient’s vital force.
ROWENA: So at undergraduate level, you teach in a basic and thorough way so that the students learn the fundamentals. Then when they are out in practice you teach practitioners how to individualise and adapt.
SHEILAGH: That is right. Then you can sort it out, because now you are working with a mixed bag of clinic cases, which usually have had masses of suppression, not only allopathically but today homeopathically as well. You are just thrown in at the deep end and you have got to begin to sort this out. So you have got to learn to adapt your cases and ask yourself how you are going to tackle the totality from start to finish?
ROWENA: So if a case comes to you, do you see it in layers?
SHEILAGH: No, there is no such thing as layers.
ROWENA: One totality?
SHEILAGH: It is a totality, but it is like a hologram, spatial and constant fluctuation according to life, circumstances and environment. So this constant fluctuation, like a hologram, will present an uppermost now, and the patient is screaming their pains and aches at you, but there is a lot going on here, which you can’t sort out because it has been suppressed. Now how do you deal with it? And then as things go on, so it moves and that is what you meet with – this hologram.
ROWENA: So, the hologram, would you say that is a relationship of certain remedies that are connected?
SHEILAGH: I work in the relationship of remedies, but it is more than that. I work in the miasmatic unfolding, and it is not like the next one comes along and then the next one; it is nothing like that. It is a hologram, and that is Aphorism 103 where Hahnemann says that portions appear and disappear. The degrees and spheres must be taken into cognition in every single case, so where to start is the big problem now that you are dealing with a particular case. This is where you learn to adapt and you now start practising from experience. You know when someone comes along and they say that they have got nothing physically wrong with them but they have panic attacks. You know very well that it is more than just a panic attack and that you can end up with a pack of lies, because that is the nature of a mentally disturbed case.
ROWENA: So what do you do with someone who is telling you lies?
SHEILAGH: You get started. Because of the different characteristics, it unravels it. You see them again and they don’t remember anything about those packs of lies. It wasn’t lies where they were concerned, it was real. But you put that to one side and now you are getting the real story coming up.
ROWENA: When people call to book in with you, do you tell them that it is a process they are going to go through?
SHEILAGH: Yes. I warn them that they can’t expect a miracle and if that is what they want they better go somewhere else. There are no miracles.
ROWENA: I remember you teaching us that if somebody was on the pill that you wouldn’t see them. Is that still the case?
SHEILAGH: They can start their treatment as long as they have an idea that they are going to come off it, because you can’t go bashing your head against the wall. Remedies will only do so much and no more because of the pill.
ROWENA: Remedies like Folliculinum; do you use those?
SHEILAGH: No, I don’t because it was not adequately proven.
ROWENA: So you are clear that the remedies you use have to be well proved?
SHEILAGH: Yes. In terms of potencies though, I use homeopathic tinctures all the way through to 50Ms.
ROWENA: Would you work up to an 50M, or would you prescribe them because somebody was that vital that they could cope with such a high potency?
SHEILAGH: I would work up to if the case demanded it. I can only go with what the vital force tells me and that is another lesson. Don’t think you are so superior that you can tell that person’s vital force how to go about it and what to do. It is the vital force that tells you what to do.
ROWENA: Indeed! From your postgraduate group I learned how to use LMs without aggravating the case, so I have you to thank for that. For LMs, which I have to say I use a great deal, I have a protocol of prescribing one dose and asking them to call me two days after with an update on how they are feeling on all levels. In that way we proceed empowered to monitor how the patient’s vital force dances with the remedy, assessing how frequently they will need a dose to stimulate a healing response gently and without aggravation.
SHEILAGH: You cannot bash away at a vital force without feeling your way as to how that vital force is going to react.
ROWENA: So tell me Sheilagh, what are your views on tautopathy – giving back the allopathic drug in potency to clear the case?
SHEILAGH: Allopathic drugs obviously confuse the case and are a menace.
ROWENA: So if someone comes to you having had breast cancer and is now on Tamoxifen because they have been told that the drug is their best bet in not having a relapse in the future – and they have been instilled with fear – what would you say to them?
SHEILAGH: I say after taking the case that I cannot predict a prognosis for their homeopathy treatment until after the remedy. There is no such thing as prognosis before. I only know in my mind’s eye, that the case might have gone a bit far if there has been surgery or drugs such as chemotherapy. Now I do wonder what hope there is if the case has metastasised which is often caused by surgery and drug intervention.
ROWENA: So if someone comes to you and they have had their tumours removed, and have had radio and chemotherapies and now they are on Tamoxifen – how would you deal with a case like that?
SHEILAGH: Well, in cases like that, I cannot take them off any drug unless they come to that decision themselves, in which case they have to sign a consent form with me. If they want to stay on their drugs I will do my best to keep up their vital force but I will then draw illustrations for them of how homeopathy works to show them what could possibly happen when stimulating the vital force to cure itself.
ROWENA: You draw that so they can understand it?
SHEILAGH: That is why I have those pieces of paper here on the table. I just keep on drawing the circle showing how it started off with a certain symptom and that was treated. Then another symptom arose and that was treated and so on. So I give them at least fifteen minutes of education on the philosophy of homeopathy and then we go from there. I have got too many like that and they all want the disease treated, not the patient who had it in the first place.
ROWENA: So when you give them remedies, how does it work? Are you looking at a part of the hologram that is uppermost?
SHEILAGH: I have got three approaches: 1) Palliation, 2) Recovery and 3) Cure. Now, common sense tells me what is the realistic chance of cure when there is a lot of suppression in the case. Palliation is mainly where there is a lot of pain; pain and urgency, for example haemorrhage, always come first. A person cannot go on and on in pain; they will go down, so in order to keep that vital energy coming up, I have got to deal with pain. So here is my totality in that particular instance. When classicists are accused of being rigid and inflexible, I feel like this is throwing bricks in total ignorance.
It is the total ignorance of the whole philosophy of homeopathy. Hahnemann’s homeopathy has stood two hundred years of the test of time and it was even around before him. The rows that have taken place in the homeopathic world have been about methodology, nothing else; without any knowledge of the inheritances and this palliation, recovery and cure. A cure literally means a return of old symptoms. Now in a cancer case, for treatment to be curative, the patient will have to get a return of old symptoms.
ROWENA: So if someone has had a mastectomy, how would that work?
SHEILAGH: Well, I have treated mastectomy and it has returned to where it originally started with a fury second to none with all the lumps reappearing, and on the back; buboes appearing and that kind of thing.
ROWENA: And then what?
SHEILAGH: Well, you try to deal with all that comes up. There might be pus and haemorrhage, and the patient will need the support of a nurse to change the dressings etc.
ROWENA: That sounds challenging.
SHEILAGH: Yes, it can be.
ROWENA: It puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? I work in a cancer centre established by a general hospital and I had two cases last Friday that came back for their follow ups and I had given them constitutional treatment, one Lycopodiumand the other Natrum muriaticum, and it is amazing to see the process that they are going through and the connections that they are making as to why they got cancer in the first place.
SHEILAGH: But, you have got to now be ready for the relationship of remedies if there is pain, haemorrhage or if there are any other problems.
ROWENA: Which we don’t get taught so much at college, but you teach that at your group, don’t you?
SHEILAGH: Oh yes. On the road to cure you see all the physical processes of the lump appearing and the discoloration. Eventually you will see the areola enlarging and then the indurations and ulceration.
ROWENA: So has that really got to happen after the remedy for the treatment to be curative?
SHEILAGH: If the body wants it to come out, it won’t just choose the exact spot; it can choose the back or another localisation. It has to localise if there is a cure. But if you want to stop this, you can by not treating the whole totality. You can keep to recovery and palliation. Sometimes you can’t take the risk, as the patient will go down with too much coming up. In terms of potency, you definitely do not prescribe LMs or one off doses. You avoid the over stimulus of the vital force and if you can see that they are sensitive then you lay off the deeper remedies. This is when you need to understand the relationship of remedies.
ROWENA: So where do we find more information about the relationship of remedies?
SHEILAGH: It is in our books, one just needs to take the time and effort to study it and to use it. It is important too, though, for it to be used and not abused, because this could easily happen.
ROWENA: So I need to go and look back in Kent and I also need to attend your post-graduate seminars!
SHEILAGH: Also read Farrington and Boenninghaussen. These books need study; they each have a merit of their own. It is still homeopathy; just adapting what Hahnemann meant. It is not the methodology that matters; it’s the case that matters.
ROWENA: And justifying your actions?
ROWENA: So why do you think you have a reputation of not adapting, moving with the times and being flexible?
SHEILAGH: It is stated in ignorance – if they don’t know miasms; if they don’t know relationship of remedies; if they don’t know about adapting according to each individual case – where do you start talking? You have got no grounds to talk on. Therefore those statements that are made, are pure ignorance because they are using methodology as the be all and end all of homeopathy instead of the philosophy. The Society of Homeopaths have got rid of all the principles one by one.
ROWENA: Is that why you moved away from them and left their register?
SHEILAGH: Oh yes. The signs were on the wall a long while ago. All they wanted to do was find new methodologies. Everything is new – it is like the fashion industry. The philosophy is one where you should move with it and not get stuck. Move where and in what direction? How? Principles should not be plucked out of the air. It is fine to innovate, by all means, but see if it works in other cases before making statements.
ROWENA: So, if you were to design a course now, what would it include?
SHEILAGH: I would like to say, as I said before, first of all read The Divided Legacy, all four volumes. This is going to take them many, many years. I would like them to learn the background of Swedenborg; what he meant and why Kent quotes him. Also why Hahnemann was torn to shreds in Kent’s time and the criticism Hahnemann received.
ROWENA: I need to follow that through as well. I have got so much to study!
SHEILAGH: The idea is not to teach too much too soon, as students don’t know where they are. They need to learn the straight and narrow and then gradually that broadens. Then when we are into clinic cases their knowledge and experience broadens more and more because decisions have to be made. For example, which way are we going to get at the totality and then what potencies? Then we are being so broad, that we are really adapting.
ROWENA: Classists have the reputation that we give one remedy and then wait forever. I know, I know, I hear this all the time. People say, ”You’re still practising in a classical way? What, you just give one dose of a remedy and wait six months?” And I am thinking, ”I never do that, actually.”
SHEILAGH: It is such ignorance; this is the tragedy.
ROWENA: Yes, it is. It is very frustrating. So do you think it is unlikely that homeopathy is going to become dormant again? What do you think?
SHEILAGH: It may go through exactly the same sequence of events as America, and there will be a few lone voices that will carry it on, and these lone voices, through the history of time, will keep the flame burning.
ROWENA: Like we had with you in the last century.
SHEILAGH: I have been busy writing a book and it is just about completed. It is called The Integrity of Homeopathy.
ROWENA: Fabulous Sheilagh, I can’t wait to read it. Thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful stories with me; it has been an honour and an absolute pleasure.