Table of Plants: the fourth column
Column four is the midpoint of the table of plants. It represents the balance between the masculine and feminine qualities of giving and receiving. The lesson of the column is the ability to give and receive without experiencing a lack. This often relates to issues of fertility and to female pathologies in general.
The column is associated with maturity of the feminine quality and its primary nurturing function in any manifestation. Physically, it is represented in the organism’s attitude toward food intake – manifesting as digestive problems anywhere: from the mouth to the anus. There are lots of food and eating issues – and the related metabolism (slow or too fast). Psychologically, the 4th column is focused on the question of what it takes to balance the nurturing, receiving and giving one needs in order to develop, so that one can fulfill all aspects of one’s life. Unsurprisingly, the Poales order – in which are found the basic food plants (wheat, rice, corn, and sugarcane), serving as fundamental nutritive sources for all mammals – belongs to this column. Yet, human beings require more than physical food for their development; other nurturing ‘fuel’ sources are required: namely, emotions, impressions, and so on.
A fundamental force in human development is the family unit within which one is nurtured early on and subjected to the formative influences which come to shape one’s future. Thus, the column deals with the entire range of family dynamics as one matures along the stages (rows) within the column. For example, early on in the column we find Thea (order Theales), uncertain of its ability as a mother, fearing she might succumb to her urges and throw the child into the fire. Later, we find the Sarraceniales order of carnivorous plants, which lack basic nutrition (‘maternal nurturing’) and have become predators; an example is the Drosera case appearing in this issue, or another, where an undernourished teenage girl, whose mother gave her money but not warmth, stopped eating, out of a sort of revenge. These examples point toward the basic human need for maternal love, which is just as important as physical nutrition. Thus, in relation to this column we may ask: “How much love was there at home? Did the mother give enough love? Was it provided appropriately, or might it have been overly smothering or distant?” In the Malvales order, these questions are apparent in the picture of Chocolate.
As one matures along the stages of the column, the issue of nurture becomes increasingly associated with giving (not receiving), especially to one’s immediate family. Accordingly, questions arise about being an ample provider for one’s partner and family – whether emotionally, financially, or materially – and to one’s ability to handle and manage abundance (i.e. whether one’s prosperity nurtures and allows one to grow, or leads to deterioration). These questions are reflected in the Cucurbitales order represented by Bryonia.
Nearing the end of the column, the stage of later adulthood (order Salicales), the issue of nurturing concerns one’s capacity to contain abundance – whether in the form of food, relationships, or love, as well as to the question that emerges toward the end of every row, namely as to whether one’s life has borne fruit. Specifically, one evaluates family and intimate relationships: whether or not they are satisfactory, what is their essence, what keeps them alive, and whether they are sustainable.
The Capparales order, at the stage of old age, completes the column. In general, the end of every column represents the completion of that column’s process of evolution: the path has come to an end, is blocked and done with. The end of column four represents the end of the stage of Ego development in the context of being immersed within one’s family. At this stage, nurturing cannot come from outside the family, which is perceived as its essential and only source. Thus, the order represents the very end of the evolution of the feminine quality through the early columns, and everything which to date has been positively nurturing now becomes unbearable. Accordingly, we observe qualities of being stopped, blocked, smothered, stuck, and unable to move forward (themes observed by Sankaran) – as opposed to the flow to be seen in the beginning of column five.
On the physical plane, we observe the theme of blockage of every feminine quality which normally flows, leading to tissue sclerosis, scarring, infertility, dysmenorrhea, retarded digestion (flatulence, constipation), sensation of heaviness, and stoppage of body fluids, as in the case of blocked nasal passages.
Emotionally, we see (at the end of the column) all that was previously warm and nurturing – whether the home, family, or intimate relationships – become restrictive and suffocatimg, turning from supportive to hindering, disabling, and potentially emasculating. In this context, we may observe a man, previously able to feed and support a whole family, now feeling that he can no longer continue in the role of the provider and develops an aversion to the ongoing demands of his role – indicating an end of 4th column remedy. Consequently, a man (or equally a woman) may develop a deep aversion to family members, as in a Raphanus woman who becomes averse to her own daughter. It is as if they carry on their shoulders the cross of the family in silent suffering, but internally, they already wish to move on to the next stage of Ego differentiation – only the pathology prevents this change from coming.
Every remedy of the column expresses those fundamental themes in a unique way, and it is therefore crucial to study the differentiating symptoms of each and every remedy. The main concerns of remedies from this column, however, will always revolve around one of the themes just described.
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