Red Campion (Silene dioica)
Proving date: 2017
Proving completed by: Misha Norland, Mani Norland & The School of Homeopathy
Common name : Red Campion
About Red Campion
Here's a cheerful somebody,
By the woodland's edge ...
Extract taken from Cicely Mary Barker's The Fairies of the Wayside (1963)
For this patient, whose energy is primarily Yin, flowing water (and other types of liquid), perhaps pressurised in pipes and channels, may feature in a sinister way, posing a threat. There is fear of getting stuck and being unable to breathe. There are many concerns about the safety of children, and of various structures that appear to be precariously built or at risk of falling and causing damage. There may be dreams of neglected, dirty, run-down and dilapidated houses. Many are cylindrical or have aspects within them that reflect this shape, like a boiler, pipe, or channel. There is a compulsion to clean and tidy, and to put things in order.
There is a feeling, ‘Like a stranger in a strange land’, and of being on the periphery of the group, being disconnected and not belonging; an ominous feeling of imminent danger with dreams of being unsafe. On the other hand they like to feel open and in touch with others. She found herself wearing pink clothing and felt compelled to reach out, literally as well as metaphorically, to those around her. This ‘softening’ expressed itself through increased physical intimacy, cuddling, and sharing of information that had previously been kept private. Provers experienced both poles – on one hand needing to stay closed and protected, vs opening up and being without protection. Then connection seemed direct, as if through telepathic transference, with another person or an animal. Often words are muddled and spelling is difficult. Words such as fizzy, giddy, giggly, unfocused and ungrounded are used repeatedly. There may be distortions of time and an inability to make decisions.
Silene dioica links with patients who fall in Michal Yakir’s placement of Row 6, in Column 3 with issues of escaping from the bondage of maternal energy and the womb. Row 6 represents the stage before adulthood, often characterised by avoiding responsibility, and refusing to grow up and take initiative. It involves freeing oneself from the smothering embrace of the Mother or other dominant figures in one’s life, but at the same time, there is a need to remain contained, and in biological symbiosis with the feminine. This creates, alongside the avoidance behaviour, characteristic of Column 3, a slowing down, heaviness and fluid accumulation as a physical manifestation.
There are feelings of fullness and pressure, with imagery of pressure in pipes and vessels, with liquids oozing and leaking. The remedy expresses itself with sudden sharp and stabbing pains. Dryness of skin and eyes. Symptoms appear to be mainly (but not exclusively) left-sided.
Silene dioica (syn. Melandrium rubrum), is also known by a number of other names including, catchfly, adders' flower, bachelor's buttons, cock robin, cuckoo flower, devil's flower, drunkards, red robin hood and snake's flowers. It is a wild flower and a member of the Caryophyllaceae, pink (Carnation) family, in which there are over 2,000 species. Plants in this family are easy to recognise because the oval to lanceolate leaves are almost always paired and stalkless, growing from swollen nodes. Red campion is a biennial or perennial plant, commonly found in partly-shaded woods, hedgerows, roadside verges, waste places and on rocky slopes throughout Britain and Europe. It produces short creeping stems and tall upright flowering ones that are 1–3 feet high. The stems and leaves are covered with soft downy hairs. Red campion is a dioecious plant, having distinct male and female flowers growing on different plants. The male flowers are smaller than their female counterparts. Red campion flowers from late March to September. The pink-red flowers are unscented and measure 0.8–2.5 cm, and attract a number of pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies. The male flowers have 10 stamens and the female flowers have 5 styles. The fruit is a capsule with 10 teeth and is enclosed by an enlarged hairy tubular purple-brown calyx. The flower has 5 joined petals that are divided at the tips. Seeds are black, rough, and attached to a central column in the fruit. Hybrids between red and white campion are sometimes found.
Silenus (god of woodlands): 'Silene' may derive from the Greek word 'seilenos' associated with Silenus who was son of the nymph Hyagnis and god Hermes. He is depicted as a dignified teacher or an elderly merry drunkard. Silenus was the foster father of Dionysus, god of wine, and entrusted with his education. Red campion, like Silenus, likes a drink and will thrive in moist soil. Silenus was regarded as the father of the sileni – woodland spirits, who were part human and part animal with the ears, tails and hooves of a horse or donkey. The woodland sileni were wise but wild and embodied nature and its fertility much like the essence of the wild flower Silene dioica.
Fairies: On the Isle of Man, red campion is known as fairy flower. It was supposed that picking the flower would provoke the wrath of the fairies. It was also believed that fairies used the plant to protect their honey stores.
Death: The plant has been associated with devils, goblins, misfortune and even death. It was believed there was a risk of being bitten by a snake if one picked red campion, however, by risking a snakebite and throwing the plant at a scorpion, it would render it unable to sting! In folklore, it was considered unlucky to pick the flower because it could whisk up a thunderstorm yet the plant was hung over doors for protection from lightning strikes.
Word derivation: Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus' Species Plantarum (1753) was the first work to provide a system of nomenclature for plants, assigning a genus and species name to each plant. It is believed that Linnaeus, when examining the viscid exudation on the stem and calyx of many of the Silene species, named the genus 'Silene', with Silenus – who was described as being covered with the froth of wine – in mind. It is also possible that the word Silene derives from the Greek word 'sialon', meaning 'saliva', again linking to the sticky secretions on the plants. The Greek word 'dioica' means ‘2 houses’ and relates to the plant having either male or female flowers.
Religion: The plant is associated with St Edmund Campion, the first martyr of the British Jesuits and patron saint of the British Jesuit Province. Red campion is often depicted in the coats of arms of institutions dedicated to him, such as Stonyhurst College in Lancashire and Campion Hall in Oxford.
Literature: The flower is referenced in a number of poems including Mary Howitt's 'Summer Woods' (1872), Maria Flaxman and William Roscoe's 'Flora's Gala' (1808) and Cicely Mary Barker's 'The Red Campion Fairy'.
The Red Campion Fairy
Here’s a cheerful somebody,
By the woodland’s edge;
Campion the many-named,
Coming when the bluebells come,
When they’re gone, he stays,
(Round Robin, Red Robin)
All the Summer days.
Soldiers’ Buttons, Robin Flower,
In the lane or wood;
Robin Redbreast, Red Jack,
Yes, and Robin Hood!
Medicinal uses: The species contain saponins which occur at low levels in many beans. Although fairly toxic, the compound tends to pass through the body without causing harm. Saponins however, are highly toxic for insects and fish, and early fishermen were able to subdue their catch, by tossing fronds of red campion into the water. In times past, the root was simmered in hot water to create a mild detergent and seeds were ground and administered to snakebites. The corrosive juice was used to treat warts and corns. In 1653, Culpeper recommended a decoction of the plant in wine to remedy inward bleeding, kidney afflictions, ulcers and sores. In folklore, it was also alleged that red campion could cure the plague.
Misha Norland had wanted to prove red campion for many years due to the pure happiness it evokes, flowering through Spring and Summer, and again in September. It had been colonising the woodland gardens at Yondercott, thriving in shady borders and, unlike related carnations with their aroma, the red campion could be described as a poor man’s pink; a brave coloniser of poorer soils that will grow amazingly tall if given a spade-full of manure. The mother tincture used in the proving was taken from a bottle crammed full of leaves and flowers (both male and female, all growth above ground) and filled up to the brim with pure alcohol.
A proving supervisor shared a childhood memory of the plant, saying, 'One of my main memories as a young teenager, (about 13) was of hanging, probably wilfully, far out of the family car just so that I could run my hands over the top of an entire roadside hedgerow of red campions. Probably demanding my dad to drive closer and closer, just so I could touch them! I remember I did this for what seemed ages, so he "got it". Maybe he didn’t, maybe he was pissed off and like most safety-conscious fathers, worried I’d fall, but all I remember is this blissful moment of connecting to this great coloured flower. We were driving along quiet, scented Norfolk country lanes, on another of our long blissful Summer holidays spent wandering the countryside. I remember feeling enchanted by the bright reddy-crimson colour, intoxicated by their legginess at a time when being a young girl at the edge of youth and freedom a mere wild flower was beckoning me to "run wild and be free". The image has always stayed with me. These were red campions, and even in the edgy red aridness of an Australian desert, that memory is a bookend to youth, female vitality and energy.'
In Michal Yakir's Table of Plants (2016), Caryophyllaceae are located in Column 3 of Row 6. Row 6 represents the stage before adulthood with issues such as avoiding responsibility, lassitude, mood swings, and a fear of growing up. Column 3 attributes relate to 'The Hero' and a struggle for separation from the Mother's embrace. In Column 3, there is a threat of being devoured by the archetypal Dragon Mother, which connects to snakes (the snake being the lower aspect of the Dragon and the Snake archetype perhaps being responsible for issues with the kundalini energy) and the use of red campion for snakebites.
Yakir reminds us that Caryophylliales tend to be well-adapted to harsh conditions, e.g. cacti in arid landscapes. Pinks on the other hand, although hardy, typically prosper in less challenging environments, preferring moist and lightly-shaded habitats. For this reason, the essence of 'The Hero' in Column 3 is less evident in the Caryophyllaceae family; instead, characteristics relate more so to a simple struggle for independence and other Row 6 issues.
These qualities are reflected in Jan Scholten's work on Caryophylliales and Caryophyllaceae in Wonderful Plants (2013), in which he relates the story of 'The Frog Prince' and the 2 sides who watch each other all the time, trying to dominate one another. Scholten describes a Lanthanide quality in the Pinks and tells us that the stages of the Lanthanides symbolise a Hero’s journey, which echoes Yakir's Column 3 characteristics. The key concepts of the Lanthanides include Self, autonomy, power and reflection, and as a collective, describe the Column 3 adolescent experience of self-realisation. Scholten represents the Pinks as 'simple folk', following rules and being easily overlooked, comparable to the weed-like aspects of Red campion that feels unsafe, is timid, tense, emotionally volatile (bad-tempered and loving), industrious and unconstrained.
Issues relating to separation emerged in the proving – engaging with others, and feeling like a stranger. Antagonism in relationships manifested in symptoms such as, woolliness, heaviness, water and fluid accumulation. Prover 3 described this sense as, 'I feel very "lost" in myself, like I don't know who I am. I don't feel a strong sense of self or connection to myself'. Yakir notes, 'The other side of avoidance/detachment is the recessive need to reunite and merge again with the infinite, feminine qualities'. This is expressed by one prover as, 'A big green dragon reaching out to infinity, liberating and calming and exciting at the same time'. A notion of exaggerated obligation to pray, relates to the Dragon archetype of Column 3 and, along with the desire for idolisation in Row 6, there may be a pursuit of love for Red campion who might seek a spiritual path or guru, to discover their authentic life purpose in a quest to move towards the light. The adolescent assertion of expressing individuality on one's own path can cause rebellion, which Yakir relates, saying, 'In extreme cases, fanatical behaviour might be shown: Praying and then Cursing – vacillating between up and down, between the desire to separate and the desire for Oneness'. In the state of Oneness, provers recorded symptoms of power, superhuman qualities and telepathy. These qualities were described by Prover 7, who wrote, 'I decided very quickly to go back in time and change the outcome', and Prover 3 who felt, '"plugged in" to some sort of Universal energy'.
Water - Light - Engaging with others - Telepathy - Woolliness - Stranger - Unsafe - Bad-tempered - Industrious
Group issues â€“ again I experienced both polarities with this one. There were times of feeling paranoid around others like they didnâ€™t like me or I had upset them and I needed to be away from them as a result, feeling isolated or excluded. On the opposite end of the spectrum I experienced feeling very welcomed by people and getting closer with some that had previously been acquaintances.
Common name: Red campion
Scientific name: Silene dioica