A Supplement to Clarke's Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica

by Peter David Fraser

     
 

 

Tyto alba

Barn Owl

Screech Owl, White Owl, Ghost Owl, Billy Wise, Jenny Owl.

Worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate regions.

Tincture of the muscle and feather of a wing (German proving). Trituration of a feather to 3c and then succussion (Welsh proving).

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Strigiformes

Family: Tytonidae

Clinical

Headaches

Characteristics

The remedy was proved in Wales in 2003 by Elizabeth Stone. 10 provers, 9 female and 1 male, took the remedy in a 30c potency. It was also proved in Germany in 2004 by Jorg Wichmann and the Bergische Homöopathie-Schule. 10 provers, 8 female and 2 male, and the supervisor took the remedy in a 30c potency. Symptoms in the schema include an indication of which proving they came from: (G)(W).

The Barn Owl is one of the birds that has a particular importance in our psyches and it is an importance that has more than one side to it. The heart shaped face and bifocal eyes have a certain humanity to them and for farmers the owl's enormous appetite for mice and vermin makes them a godsend. Yet the unearthly sound of their cry and the silence with which they move through the night links them to the forces of darkness and they have often been regarded as a portent of evil.

Of the two families of Strigiformes the Tytonidae has a limited number of specialised species and just one, Tyto alba, that is common and found throughout the temperate and tropical zones. It is not found in Northern regions, in the Sahara or in Asia excepting India and South East Asia, but throughout the rest of the world it is widespread and has a wider distribution than any other land bird. It is a basically tropical bird and Great Britain is at the Northern edge of its territory and here it tends to be found only at lower altitudes and not in the hills and mountains though with changing temperatures it seems to be moving to higher places. A lack of vital heat and tendency to feel the cold is one of the features of the remedy.

The Barn Owl is a generally nocturnal bird but can be seen during the day. Its pale plumage is unusual for a nocturnal bird. It has downy wing feathers which allow it to fly very slowly and absolutely silently. It can fly fast but not over sustained distances. It is not a great traveller and often doesn't venture far from its place of birth. Its pounce on prey, mice, voles and small mammals and amphibians is very swift but it can also sit motionless for hours. It is not a territorial bird and hunting territories can overlap. There is often site fidelity with birds nesting year after year in the same or nearby nesting sites. There is mate fidelity but a high mortality rate does lead to some turnover. Some pairs remain together during the winter, other separate and come together again to breed. The nest site is often very dirty and smelly and the chicks can become quite grubby. They have a special comb on one of their toes which they use to preen and clean their feathers. After preening they emerge a beautiful white with varying markings in brown and apricot.

The Barn Owl as a remedy exhibits many of the features that are common to the Bird remedies as a whole. Its picture is particularly close to that of the Great Horned Owl which is of the strigidae, the other more diverse family in the order of owls.

The theme of freedom and its antithesis of being trapped are central to the birds and this is in the remedy. It is expressed in a desire to be alone and dislike of group activity, feeling cornered by the group. There are feelings of being trapped, of being hindered and imposed upon, and dreams of being trapped or oppressed. Physically there was heaviness and pressing pains, particularly headaches. The reaction to feeling trapped was resentment and rage which perhaps seemed stronger than in other birds except Falco. Symptoms were > for being outdoors and < for being indoors and for warmth. There was an awareness of nature and particularly of birds.

There is a sensation of being separated from others and from the world in the birds and in Tyto alba it was described as a membrane.

Numbness and tingling and peripheral neuropathies were apparent, but they seem to be important in all birds. Electric shocks that ran up and down the arms were a particular manifestation.

Generally pains were described as stabbing or piercing, which is common for bird remedies. They were particularly found in the chest and ribs, "as if wearing a waistcoat with spikes sticking in between the ribs," as they are in many birds.

Appetite is generally an issue in bird remedies. A barn owl is estimated to eat half a dozen voles or small mice a day and if it is feeding the brooding female or the growing chicks might have to hunt twice that number. Appetite does not, however, seem to have been so important in either proving. There is some lack of appetite but it is part of a general indifference rather than specific. Several symptoms were > for eating.

Water balance is also an issue for birds and there were symptoms of excess urination and dryness. The principle watery issue was around tears and weeping. In Bubo viginianus perspiration is more important.

Though in the air birds are the most acrobatic and graceful creatures imaginable, on the ground many of them, especially the powerful raptors, are clumsy and awkward. Like the Eagle and Falcon remedies the Barn Owl is awkward, bumps into and drops things and is prone to accidents. There was also an awareness of accidents happening around them.

Ears and hearing were affected with a stopped sensation and deafness, but less so than in the Great Horned Owl.

The main sensory organs of the birds, and particularly the raptors, are the eyes and they are important in the Barn Owl. Clarity of vision and a lack of it through blurring or cloudiness is found in all of these remedies. The particular issue in Bubo virginianus is around three dimensional orientation and depth perception. Whereas in Tyto alba the particular symptoms were around peripheral vision. Low light, black and white vision predominates over bright colour vision in the barn owl, and there was a monochrome feel to parts of the provings and some dreams were in black and white.

Back and shoulder symptoms are common in bird remedies and in owls it is particularly pain and stiffness in the neck or running from the head, through the neck to the shoulders.

Dreams of dogs and of water or flooding were found as they are in most bird remedies.

Some of the features that were characteristic of Tyto alba included eczema and rashes found on all parts, especially the legs, head and ears. Itching was particularly prominent with an amelioration from scratching.

The barn owl is a particularly ghostly figure. Its white plumage and its ability to fly in absolute silence through the twilight give it the appearance of a visitor from another world while its call can be unnerving. It has an association with death which came through in the provings. (Condor and Vulture also have connections to death and dying) Thoughts about death and endings and dreams of death were significant. There was also a tendency to notice or come across dead people and dead animals.

There was considerable anxiety and apprehension and fear of people and animals though usually it was a more diffuse anxiety.

The barn owl is a nocturnal animal and this affected many provers. They were awake, lively and energized through the night but inactive and very sleepy during the day and particularly in the afternoon. Moonlight was important with lunar periodicity. The change of seasons was also notable particular the quarter days (equinox and solstice)

Although the provers could be lively laughing and playful; the could also be very still, calm and contented. There was a general changeability in mood which could be sudden.

Jonathan Shore proposes that there is a fairly specific issue for each of the bird remedies around which they feel trapped but is also the place where they can find the freedom that is so important to them. This is a dangerous speculation as it is easy to get the wrong issue. However, the bird remedies have so many major similarities that it is vital that we are able to differentiate them. Because this issue is usually the dynamic centre of the case where things are changing and contradictory it is often a really useful way of looking at the case.

Both the Great Horned Owl and the Barn Owl have issues around truth, knowing the truth and telling the truth. In Bubo virignianus there is a need to stand back as an observer and get the picture in perspective. Doing this brings about a wisdom that can be passed on but more importantly is known and preserved.

In Tyto alba there is a tendency to avoid issues and so the truth. One prover described herself as acting like an ostrich and burying her head in the sand. The young owlets if threatened in their nest will often bury their heads in the deep litter that gathers below the nest. The barn owl's eyes are large and fixed in the skull they do not move, but this is compensated by an extraordinary ability to turn the head through 270 degrees and to move it widely within a plane.

Peripheral vision and things happening just on the fringe of vision came up in the provings: "Sensation of something happening on the fringes of my perception which always vanished when I focussed my attention on it. A shadow moving on the edge of vision. Not there when looking."

Things seen peripherally are never full perceived and they therefore become a source of fear and anxiety but when those things are observed squarely and face on the truth is exposed and they become powerful in a more positive way.

It seems that this contradiction between facing things and avoiding them could be an important issue in the remedy.

Peculiar sensations

Pressure in the head as if it was going to pop.
Headache like a band from ear to ear over the top of the head.

Head pain around crown as if being jabbed with a finger.

Eye itching as if grit or sand in it.

Like a fist in left breast, coming out.

As if nipple rubs against clothing.

Pain in shoulder as if from wearing a sling for a long time.

Sensation of an electric shock running down from elbows to fingers. Like banging funnybone.

Modalities

> Eating (headache, nausea)

> Sleep (headache)

< Indoors and warmth > outdoors (headache)

> Cold drinks (sore throat)

> Scratching (itching)

< Full and or New Moon

< Equinoxes and Solstices

Relations

Compare

Owls: Bubo virginianus (The Great Horned Owl). Bird remedies.

Follows well

Causation

Symptoms

Mind
Head
Eyes
Ears
Nose
Face
Teeth
Mouth
Throat
Appetite
Stomach
Abdomen
Stool & Anus
Urinary
Male
Female
Respiratory
Chest
Heart
Neck & Back
Limbs
Upper Limbs
Lower Limbs
Generalities
Skin
Sleep
Dreams
Fever

Mind

Talking intensively about death and dying. (G) Thoughts of death and dying. (W) Coming across dead animals and birds. (G&W) Feel dark and removed. (W) Things seem very black. (W) Fear she will die in her sleep. (W) Finding clear goodbyes to old situations. (G) A sense of endings. (W)

Awkwardness, bumping into things and injuring self. (W) Awareness of accidents. (W)

Outrage and resentment. (W) Found rage to be a good source of power for me. (G) Feeling irritable and malicious. (W) Angry and confrontational, quick to take offense. (W) Desire to smash things and hit people. (W) Sensitive to noise. (W) Felt hindered and imposed upon. Everyone is demanding of her. (W)

Feeling sensitive, exposed and jelly-like. (W) Sinister and creepy feeling. (W) Feel something bad will happen and it will be my fault. (W) Apprehension with no apparent reason, < afternoons. (W) Afraid to look in the shadows as if someone was behind her. (G) Afraid that there is a large animal in the forest. (G) Scared and fearful < alone. (W) Feel that something dreadful is going to happen. That someone is trying to frighten me. (W) Frightened going to sleep. (W) Frightened on looking in the mirror, I am not the person I see in it. (W)

Sadness without obvious cause and much weeping. (G) Depressed and low, crying easily, better for weeping. (W) Weeping at the least cause. (W)

Clarity of thought and understanding. (W) Increased ability to visualise images.(W) Sensation of something on the fringes of vision that vanishes when looked at. (G) Confusion and lack of clarity (G) Everything seems unreal. (G) Questioning and doubting her understanding or judgement. (W) Feel like an ostrich - feel I live with my head in the sand. (W) Absent minded and unaware of her surroundings. Reacting mechanically to situations and emotions. (W)

Not able to stand closeness. (G) Aversion to talking. (G) Desire to be alone. To be in her own space. (W) Felt single in herself, not wanting to do group activities. (W) Think all the others are stupid, don't like them. (G) Felt cornered in a group situation. (W) Sensation of a membrane between myself and other people and the world. (W) Dissociated and uncaring. (G) Apathy and disinterest. Lack of appetite. (W)

Lively at night, staying up late and enjoying it. Nocturnal behaviour. (W) Energized and industrious in the evening and at night. (W)

Laughing hysterically. (W) Telling their opinion clearly and dissociating. (G) Speaking out. It is as if I have been on some truth serum. (W) Unable to not say something honest even if it is hurtful or irritating. (W) Feeling confident. (W)

Issues of structure and systemization. (G) Tidier and more efficient. (W)

Awareness of birds. As if they are communicating to her. (G) Awareness of nature, of birds and of the sky, particularly at night and when moonlit. (W) Awareness of the colours yellow and orange. (W)

Rapid changes of mood in a short time. (G) Unusual tranquility. (G) Calmness, sitting quietly. (W) At times slow easy and peaceful. At others rushed and tense. (W) Forgetfulness of everyday things (G) Forgetful and absent minded. (W) Forgetting people's names. (W) Mistakes in writing, spelling and in speaking. (W) Getting lost and taking wrong turnings, (W)

Head

Pressing headaches. (G) Pressing headache on vertex. (W) Headaches with pressure on the eyes. (G) Pressure in the head as if it was going to pop. (W) Headache from ear to ear over the top of the head, like a band. (W) Headache over top of head and across forehead. (W) Headache around the eye sockets, especially the top half, > eating. (W) Head pain on the left side. (W) Head pain, aching behind right eye and temple, extending with stiffness to jaw, neck and arm, > sleep. (W) Headache above right eye. (W) Sharp, piercing pain in right temple. (W) Piercing headache in forehead. (W) Dull pain in forehead and tightness around the eyes. (W) Heaviness of head with aching across neck and upper back. (W) Stiffness of head neck and shoulder on the right side. (W) Head pain around crown as if being jabbed with a finger. (W) Headache < indoors and warmth > outdoors. (W) Itching, better scratching. (W) Itching on top of head. (W) Eruptions on scalp. (W) Small, tender eruptions on hairline. Red and yellow with white discharge. (W)

Eyes

Clouds and movements on the fringes of the field of vision and strange observations in the fringe of consciousness. (G) Vision blurred. (W) Acuteness of vision. (W) Photophobia. (W) Eyes feel puffy. (W) Pressure, itching, pinching and burning in the eyes. (G) Eyes sore and stinging. (W) Burning sensation around eyes. (W) Itching around eyes. (W) Left eye itching as if grit or sand in it. (W) Eyes itching need to rub them. (W) Lachrymation on waking. (W) Eyes watering without cause. (W) Eyelid sore, as if a stye was developing. (W)

Ears

Stabbing pain in left ear. (W) Throbbing pain in left ear whilst lying on left side. (W) Angry eczema on left ear. (W) Itching of ears. (W) Itching inside ears. (W) Ears stopped. (W) Sensation as if popping. (W) Deafness. (W)

Nose

Clear coryza. (W) Clear discharge. (W) Dryness. (W) Sneezing. (W)

Face

Eczema and eruptions. (W) Swelling and pain around eyes. (W)

Teeth

Accidents to the teeth. (G) Sensitive to cold (W) Clenching teeth. (W)

Mouth

Mouth dry, sticky, burning and swollen. (G) Tongue burning and coated. (G) Tongue painful. (W) Ulcers on tongue. (W)

Throat

Throat painful and inflamed. (G) Pain on expectoration. (G) > cold drinks. (G) Tickling in throat. (W) Sensation of fullness. (W)

Appetite

Appettite diminished. (W)

Stomach

Pressing and burning pains. (G) Nausea, accompanied by salivation. (W) Nausea > eating. (W) Gurgling in stomach. (W)

Abdomen

Pressure in abdomen and liver. (G) Itching < heat. (W)

Stool and Anus

Diarrhoea and flatulence. (G&W) Constipation. Stool like balls. (W)

Urinary Organs

Frequent urging. (W) Sudden urging on waking. (W) Copious urine. (W)

Male Sexual Organs

Female Sexual Organs

Menses too late. (G) Menses scanty and too early. (W) Leucorrhoea yellow, dark, offensive and tenacious. (G) Sensation as if pregnant. (W) Increased sexual desire. (G&W) Itching. (W)

Respiratory Organs

Breathlessness, left lung hurts on inspiration. (W) Feel as if I have to take deep breaths and move ribs a lot. (W) Cough with tickling in throat pit. (W) Expectoration. (W)

Chest

Sudden pain in left breast. (W) Sharp pain in left side of chest. (W) Feels like a fist in left breast, coming out. (W) Sore bruised sensation in breasts, as if nipple rubs against clothing. (W). Stabbing pain below right nipple. (W) Breasts tender and heavy. (W) Breasts tender on waking. (W) Pain down sternum. (W) Ache behind sternum. (W) Pain like spikes between ribs, as if wearing a waistcoat with inward pointing spikes. Digging pain below ribs. (W) Aching ribs. (W) Itching eruptions below breasts. (W)

Heart

Sharp stabbing pains, left side of chest near heart. (W)

Neck and Back

Pain like a knife under shoulder blade. (W) Cutting and shooting pain in sacral region. (W) Stiffness in back of neck. (W) Tender pink spots on neck. (W) Painful red eruption on back. (W) Pink, raised pimples on back. (W)

Limbs in general

Heaviness and weakness of limbs. (W) Itching. (W) Awkwardness, bumps against things. (W)

Upper Limbs

Shooting pain right, inner, upper arm. (W) Pain across back of left hand, near to the surface. (W) Pain in left shoulder as if from wearing a sling for a long time. (W) Dull ache in bones of left forearm. (W) Left arm aching as if jarred, like banging funnybone. Like an electric shock running down from elbows to fingers. (W) Pain like an electric shock travelling up right arm. (W) Pins and needles in right arm and elbow. (W) Stiffness and clicking of wrists. (W) Cramping and tingling pains in hand. Pins and needles. (W) Painful tingling in hand travelling up arm. (W) Tingling in fingertips. (W) Finger joints red, swollen and painful. (W) Nails brittle. (W)

Lower Limbs

Weakness and aching of legs, as if they don't belong to her. (W) Tearing pain in right thigh. (W) Sharp pain in right knee, behind kneecap, when walking up stairs. (W) Intense sharp pain in left knee on standing. (W) Pain at back of right knee on straightening. (W) Stiff left knee after sitting. (W) Itching and tingling of legs. (W) Cramps in calf. (W) Tingling and numbness, spreading up leg. (W) Pricking and shooting pains travelling up from left ankle. (W) Intense piercing pain in right ankle. (W) Sudden short bursts of pain at the back of the right foot. (W) Tingling in feet. (W) Itching left ankle. (W)

Generalities

Sensation of crawling insects. (G) Itching. (W) < Full and or New Moon. (W) < at the Equinoxes and Solstices. (W) Excess of energy at night. (W) Lack of vital heat. (G)

Skin

Pimples. (G) Itching. (G) Itching on all parts. (W) Skin very dry. (W) Small red spots. (G) Athlete's foot. (W) Itching of old scars. (W) Itching like insect bites. (W) Urticaria. (W)

Sleep

Extreme tiredness. (G) Difficulty getting to sleep. Not settling. (W) Staying up much later. Wide awake at night. (W) Lively at night, nocturnal behaviour. Would sleep all day and be awake all night. (W) Short sleep at noon >. (G) Tiredness and sleepiness in the afternoon. (W) Waking at 4 am, sleepy at 4 pm. (W) Difficulty waking in the morning. (W) Waking fresh and early. (G) Waking suddenly. (W)

Dreams

Busy dreams. (W) Unremembered dreams. (W) Dreams of speaking one's mind clearly. (G) Dreams of a collective threat to the group. (G) Dreams of explosions and floods. (G) Dream of going to sleep, dreaming within the dream. Difficult to wake up and then was in the dream again. Couldn't get out of it. (G) Dream of being trapped. Squeezed and breathless. (W) Dreams of being late. (G) Dreams of eggs. (W) Being lost or the way is blocked. (W) Feeling threatened. (W) Dogs or black dogs. (W) Dead people and dead animals. (W) Dreams of or in black and white. (W)

Fever

Feeling of heat. (W)

Authorities

Shore, Jonathan, Birds: Homœopathic Remedies from The Avian Realm, Berkley, 2004 Homœopathy West

Stone, Elizabeth, Two Provings of Barn Owl: Tyto alba. The Homœopath, Autumn 2005 24:2. pp 41-44

Stone, Elizabeth, Tyto alba: Barn Owl Feather. www.welshschoolofhomeopahty.org.uk

Wichmann, Jorg, Tyto alba - The Barn Owl. www.homoeopathie-wichmann.de