4 March 2011

Posted by Anna Notaras | File under : ,
The world holds, as common knowledge, several substances that can do harm in certain amounts, but which, in smaller doses, can bring amazing benefits and cures. In the green realm, hemlock is well famous for being poisonous, but so is wormwood, if constant doses are left to accumulate for too long. A substance such as alcohol is, as we know, dangerous. However, when drunk in just the right dosage, it relieves stress, relaxes tense muscles, stimulates good mood and creativity. Once this dose is crossed, the positive effects disappear and the negative ones take over. Very negative ones, and there is no need to develop any further (one starts acknowledging "feeling bad" before they ever know how the neurons and liver are affected). Still, the alcohol is used as a vital means of creating real cures, for real healing. We are talking here about the tinctures. Some very useful compounds in the herbs can only be extracted by alcohol, and boiling, oil infusing, burning or any other method won't work. The immersion of herbs into alcohol is gold mining - and it gets the gold out of it for sure. The resulted tinctures are never to be taken carelessly; because the obtained drug is very potent, one must take only a certain number of drops at once. This is one example of pharmakon, a reality observed since ancient times...

The Greek work pharmakon means, at the same time, remedy and poison. It is an even more interesting fact that is also translates to sacrament.
Here, the story gets a little complicated, but it goes into the territory of anthropology - which is never simple. In ancient Greece, it signified scapegoat too, as seen in this ritual and its meanings: an outsider or outlaw (or more) were being chased away, punished, possibly killed, in order to expel evil from the community. It was the transfer of sins, so to speak, the rite of purification, which exists in all sacrificial traditions. In this case, the pharmakos is the balancing element, the one that will take all harm out, to leave the community purified and safe. He is a cure. He is good and evil, all in one. Note that the ritual was carried out in the times of disaster and great distress - meaning the disease that asks for a cure which holds both life and death within itself. Since it knows both, it is greatly potent.

Today's pharmacology is also derived from the term... and the art. (Yes, today's pharmacology is not really a cure, but it does a great job in inoculating poisons slowly, so they will kill in time and never to soon so that it becomes obvious. This is another great example of the pharmakon concept - this science in itself is neither good, nor bad. It depends of how it is used to become one or the other!) Also, it was a base principle of ancient, medieval and renaissance healing, as well as of magic works. The sorcerer was a pharmakeus.

What I like the most about this whole thing is the concept and the ultimate reality of "right measure". It is the core of the great spiritual systems.
The right measure is always dependent on a great number of factors, and it is advised that none of them shall be ignored. For taking a medication, one needs to take into consideration his age, weight, sometimes gender (due to the different masculine-feminine hormone profiles), activities, metabolism and so on. There is nothing predefined. We may see "the right measure" not as a fixed number, but as a number that varies from person to person, from moment to moment, a calculated and living one, the result of a complex formula.

Countless ideas can be further developed from the pharmakon and the right measure. In spiritual thinking, pharmakon is everything we have in this existence - it is all we can use; only our free will and other endowments (reasoning, feeling) decide what it becomes. In terms of measure, too little action becomes laziness, too much of it turns to exhaustion or dangerous transgression.  Anger is unhealthy when suppressed, but it is very damaging when expressed in most ways - therefore, when dealing with it, I try to remember what Jesus said - He advised to not let the sun set before our anger does. So, He did not condemn anger, but drew the attention on how to deal with it. It is an invitation to acknowledge all our emotions, to take them as temporary things and to overcome/heal what is harmful. Also, healing techniques of the East advise us to allow our emotions to come through, to accept and not resist them - resistance and denial only make them worse. Today's hypnosis along with past regression, as well as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) use the same principles.

This is a very vast topic, as you can see. There are many thoughts to pick from this point on, but this post is already too full and long enough. Let your mind explore them, for they are so many...


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