aving served as an educator and practitioner of osteopathy and Western herbal medicine for over three decades, I have throughout that time sought the wellsprings of healing in clinical practice, in active teaching, in ongoing study, and through participation in family and community life. I came into this work at a time when practitioners of natural medicine were viewed by medical orthodoxy as outlaws whose practices were based on spurious science and an opportunistic readiness to draw in the uninformed, the ignorant and the vulnerable. Such nonsense has since been put to rest by the obvious benefit that numerous individuals around the world have received from both natural medicine treatments and by living according to the principles of natural medicine. Healing can spring from many sources. I owe a great personal debt to biomedicine. At the age of three, I was diagnosed with Pott’s disease, or spinal tuberculosis. At the time of my diagnosis, my father had already left for Australia to earn the fare for his young wife and growing son to travel from Sicily to his new home in Melbourne. The doctor who had made the diagnosis was very shrewd. He gave my mother some powders to mix with my milk ten minutes before she presented at the emigration office. I was well asleep in her arms by the time she arrived. The officials did not subject me to the usual physical examination that emigrants received before they were permitted to embark. This same doctor also advised my mother to take me to the Children’s Hospital in Melbourne as soon as we disembarked. It was one of the few hospitals at the time that had available supplies of the newly developed anti-tubercular drug, Streptomycin. My first year in Australia was spent in the orthopaedic ward of the Children’s Hospital at Mount Eliza. Through Streptomycin and through the loving attention of the nurses who looked after the children in the ward, I was spared the fate of a lurching Quasimodo.H
Healing can spring from many sources.
On returning to Australia after spending a year in Europe in 1974/75, I had the good fortune of coming across a circuit diagram for the construction of a Kirlian device, and the even greater fortune of knowing a young fellow who understood how to create circuit boards from such peculiar hieroglyphs. He drew up the design and together we etched and drilled a copper plate, attached transistors, resistors, capacitors and an amplifier chip and were soon in possession of a marvellous device that was capable of generating a high-voltage, low-amperage electrical field with which we could luminously interact. This device, together with a transparent electrode that we constructed from two sheets of glass separated by a rim of microscope slides, a fine silver electrode, and saline solution provided us with a remarkable instrument with which to examine mundane and peculiar phenomena. While immersed in these activities, I was contacted by Dr Charles Osborne, a scientific director at the laser laboratory in the Physics Department at Caulfield Institute of Technology. He had somehow come into contact with a group of boys and girls around Melbourne who, after watching Uri Geller perform on television, found the knives and forks they were holding turned to plasticine in their hands. A similar thing had happened in Italy, but to such an extent that a sizeable group of children came to be known as Gellerini because of their ability to bend metal. Charles Osborne had invited some of the Melbourne group to the metallurgy laboratory at C.I.T. and had consistently replicated this phenomenon. Having heard that I was in possession of a Kirlian generator and a transparent electrode, he contacted me in order to see whether the device might be useful in determining just what was going on. By gentle stroking, these children were able to easily bend small bars of hardened steel that would normally need to be heated to a temperature of over 600 degrees to achieve the same result. This foray into energetic phenomena eventually led me to a study of the alchemical traditions, which spoke freely about “luminosity” and about “the light of nature”. More details about this are available in the Introduction section of my thesis, The Meaning of Natural Medicine.
My earlier studies in medicine had said nothing about the play of energies that sustained and interpenetrated our embodied natures. Two years of anatomising, peering at stained tissues through microscope lenses, and assaying mitochondrial substrates prepared from shattered and centrifuged liver cells had certainly revealed the minute details of material and biochemical worlds, but said nothing about the unified field within which we are immersed that reflects and refracts the living currents through which matter is animated.
Healing can spring from many sources.
My work as an osteopath has shown me not only how structural changes can profoundly alter our experience of the body and consequently of the world, but also that we are not entirely contained within our skins, but flow and furl in the radiant webs that surround us. These currents were never described in the textbooks of biomedicine. But I have since found many suggestions regarding the nature and the role of such energies in the literature of naturopathy, in non-Western systems of medicine, and in the wisdom traditions generally. I have in recent years spent less time with technical texts and more with the writings of poets, mystics and ancient historians who are far more useful guides in the task of apprehending the ungraspable, describing the ineluctable, and suggesting the inarticulable. Having recently retired from clinical practice, I now enjoy time with my family, particularly with our grand-daughters Meeka Maya, Mietta Mae and Sachi Enna, do what I can to nurture green growth and create a fruitful garden, engage actively with poetic expression through audio interpretations of old poets, and occasionally participating in spoken word performance events in and around Melbourne.
I hope that The Healing Project will be useful in your own explorations of the many dimensions of healing.