Badger (Meles Meles)

Proving date: October 2009
Proving completed by: Misha Norland, Peter Fraser & The School of Homeopathy
Common name : Badger

Read full proving here: Badger (Meles Meles)


Mammals in Homeopathy
Mammals were the latest class of vertebrate to evolve and, following the demise of the dinosaurs, became the biggest animals on the planet. Physiologically they differ from other animals in that they feed their young with milk excreted by the mammary glands, giving perhaps the closest bond between mother and offspring of any creature. The vast majority are fertilised internally and give birth to live young usually covered in fur.

One of the factors that have made mammals so successful among vertebrates is their ability to regulate their internal heat at a constant temperature despite changes in external conditions. This means that they have been able to colonise every habitat on the planet, adapting to every extreme of climate. Some groups also make seasonal adjustments, either migrating to a warmer area for part of the year or lowering their metabolism sufficiently to allow hibernation during the coldest months.

In homeopathy, the Mammal remedies are indicated in people who are particularly influenced by the group or family and are sensitive to the idea of whether they are being looked after or look after others. While birds have a strong sense of responsibility and desire to protect their young they are not necessarily affectionate, whereas a healthy mammal shows much affection for their young, playing with, washing and cuddling them.

The uniqueness of the breast to mammals is psychologically representative of the mother bond and of nurture and may be indicated where there are physical problems regarding the breast or the issues that the breast represents. There can also be problems around the menstrual cycle. In any group of mammal there is a clearly defined hierarchy and so people needing these remedies are very conscious of their position in society or within their family and this is likely to be a major issue for them.

The Badger
We settled on the Badger as an animal who in some way is seen to be particularly evocative of the English countryside ands in some way of the English character. Badger in The Wind in The Willows sums up these qualities as grumpy and averse to company, a curmudgeon, but also loyal and kindly and fiercely defensive of his friends and of tradition and historical values. Thus the badger has qualities that go beyond its actual nature. These metaphorical qualities are often indicative that the substance will make an important remedy.

Badgers have also been implicated in and blamed for the widespread presence of bovine tuberculosis in the UK. This has resulted in proposed culls to exterminate badgers in certain areas. There is undoubtedly a correlation between the infection rates in badgers and in cattle but there is no real evidence that the badgers infect the cattle. Given behaviour patterns and the nature of modern cattle husbandry it is more likely that badgers are being infected by cattle than vice a versa. The proving, surprisingly, revealed very little of a tubercular nature. The persecution that has come out of the tuberculosis crisis in farming has more of a resonance to a long and, unfortunately continuing, history of badger digging, badger baiting and general persecution. This feeling was to be found in the proving.

The badger cubs are extremely playful and invent complicated ways of playing and enjoying themselves. The adults are extremely stubborn and tenacious and do not give up. This is one of the reasons that they are so desirable as "sporting" animals, they will fight until the end and never give up.

The badger is a member of the Mustelidae, the family that includes weasels, stoats and otters. Various subspecies are found in a band that stretches from almost the whole west coast of Europe across Europe, Russia and Asia to the east coast of China. The subspecies used for the remedy, Meles meles meles is that which is found throughout Western Europe, except for the Iberian peninsular.

Badgers live in setts, networks of tunnels and chambers that they dig in the earth. These setts can be hundreds of years old and can be extensive and deep. They are extremely territorial and again these territories can have been established many hundred or even thousands of years ago and been walked and marked every night by generations of badgers stretching back to long before the Romans or the Saxons came to Britain.

Not only are they territorial, they are also extremely hierarchical. One senior boar rules the sett and in the same way that he marks the territory he marks the other badgers with his musk and only those thus smelling of him are tolerated. Generally only the ruling boar and the senior sow will breed, though sometimes several sows and in a large sett even a second boar will breed. Many young boars are forced from the sett and can wander quite far to find another group where they might defeat the ruling boar and take over the sett. Badgers that upset the social order can also be forced out of the sett and live in satellite diggings nearby for a time until they are accepted back into the main body.

The major food for badgers is earthworms and they tend to live near pasture and open woodland where these worms can be found. They also eat insects, slugs and small vertebrates. They eat fruits and berries, particularly in the Autumn when they are plentiful and when the badger needs to put on fat for the Winter when times are harsh. Badgers do not hibernate but they become much less active in the cold weather and venture from the sett less often and move less distance from it. They are nocturnal primarily because this is the time that their prey especially earthworms and insect larvae are to be found on or near the surface. They do not like bright sunlight. They are an extremely tidy species; within their habitats they create latrines to cleanly rid the set of their waste. They have also been known to bury the dead from their families.

They are quite susceptible to lice, fleas and similar parasites. They moult every year and sleep in bedding of hay and other plant material, which they change regularly and drag the used bedding some distance from the sett.

Like other mustelids reproduction involves embryonic diapause. The eggs can be fertilised and then held in suspended animation until they are allowed to implant and develop in December. The sows can be sexually active from soon after the cubs are born until the cold winter set in in December. Cubs gestate for two months and are born in February. They remain deep in the sett for several months and in the early summer start to come out and explore around the sett generally exploring the whole territory by high Summer.

Badgers can live for fifteen years, an age of nineteen has been recorded in a captive animal. Many die in their first year but if they survive into a second Summer then being killed by cars is the most common form of fatality.

The Badger and Witchcraft
Many years ago it was believed that badger hair could be used to ward off evil spirits, along with a bag made from the skin of a black cat, as revealed in this extract:

"A tuft of hair gotten from the head of a full-grown Brockis powerful enough to ward off all manner of witchcraft; these must be worn in a little bag made of cat's skin - a black cat -and tied about the neck when the moon be not more than seven days old, and under that aspect when the planet Jupiter be mid-heaven at midnight."

Contrastingly, the badger was once also thought of as a bad omen and a precursor for death, as represented in these two poems from around 200 years ago:

Should one hear a badger call,
And then an ullot cry,
Make thy peace with God, good soul,
For thou shall shortly die.
Should a badger cross the path
Which thou hast taken, then
Good luck is thine, so it be said
Beyond the luck of men.
But if it cross in front of thee,
Beyond where thou shalt tread,
And if by chance doth turn the mould,
Thou art numbered with the dead.

The Badger in Literature and Folklore
Kenneth Graham depicts badger in his novel the ‘Wind in the Willows’ as an unseen, rarely heard character. Often gruff but a dependable and fiercely loyal character, we see badger take charge of the other animals and act as a knowledgeable leader. This fits with what we know about the badgers’ sociable habits and tendency to remain inconspicuous. This description is echoed in German folklore, where the badger is depicted as lovers of harmony and peace, whilst also remaining careful and suspicious. Similarly, in Irish folklore the badger is described as a shape-shifter, mysterious and rarely seen, fitting with its behavior in the wild.

Continue reading the full proving here: Badger (Meles Meles)

Calmness and Joy<br> Alert<br> Organised<br> Confident/Capable<br> Dictatorial/Arrogant<br> Don't Care/Drifting<br> Animal Behaviour<br> Nature<br> Outside/Open Air<br> Sunset/Dawn/ Morning<br> Territorial<br> Sex/Bawdy<br> Clothing<br> Consumerism<br> Groups<br> Irritable/Intolerant<br> Aggression/Anger/Growling<br> Insects<br> Alone/Vulnerable <br>Paranoid <br>Fear of the Future <br>Depressed <br>Grey <br>Guilty <br>Confusion <br>Time <br>Quicksand <br>Tunnels <br>
Calmness and Joy
Don't Care/Drifting
Animal Behaviour
Outside/Open Air
Sunset/Dawn/ Morning
Fear of the Future

Proving Themes
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Meles
Species: M. Meles

Kingdom Taxonomy
Feel quite calm and organised which is not like me in the morning. Ready to go before my colleague and impatient to leave as don't want to be late, normally I'm the one being slow.