Sometimes Pulsatilla is dismissed as a women’s remedy, for hysterical, changeable girls, women who cry too much, those who need to rely on others. Children who cling, and whine when they are sick, babies who cry when they are put down.
However, that is prejudice coming in, misogyny in some cases, and it is terribly unfair to others who may well benefit from this amazing polychrest. It is also a result of using text books that are over 100 years old, when the role of women in society was much different to today.
First of all, let’s talk about one of the most important aspects of Pulsatilla: they feel forsaken. Whether this means left alone, forgotten, that there is a sibling their parents prefer, or their ex has moved on to another partner, that their friends have made new friends and they are left out, at their essence Pulsatilla feel abandoned.
The classic picture of Pulsatilla has them leaning on friends and family, extremely tearful, needing consolation and company. It’s not the only Pulsatilla picture though.
When you look at trauma responses, hyper independence is one, where to avoid future hurt they do everything themselves, have trouble delegating tasks, and even turn down help. You won’t see Pulsatilla at the extreme end of this spectrum, where they are turning even company away, but Pulsatilla can certainly be so unconsciously afraid of being forsaken again that they do everything themselves. Bönninghausen states that they have “secret anguish, even to self destruction”, so they will be competent and capable and may not even appear to need help, and while they love company, they won’t seek help for themselves and risk feeling alone if turned down.
At the same time, Pulsatilla will be there for friends and family. They know what it is like to be alone and shouldering the burden by themselves and they certainly don’t want others to be in that position. Whether it is a shoulder to cry on, a pep talk when confidence boosting is needed, or a practical or physical approach, Pulsatilla will be there, even when it adds to their own load.
Pulsatilla is described as soft, malleable, and timid, and there will be cases like that. But let’s talk about resilience. Pulsatilla is the wind flower, and grows and thrives in areas of Europe that are inhospitable to other plants. If the land is fertilised Pulsatilla can no longer grow there. Likewise, in the remedy Pulsatilla is resilient enough to live in tough situations, and is not weak like the above words will suggest. They certainly will be kind, with a gentle heart and generous soul, for they know that caring is not a weakness, but a strength. Tears may be an outlet for them, but it doesn’t take away their strength of character.
Next let’s consider children, and the labels “needy”, “clingy” and “whiny”. Take a step back, and look at the circumstances and who else is in the picture. A sick child who needs Pulsatilla will need comfort, company and consolation. They may be tearful, will certainly want to be carried around and snuggle in for hugs. Now consider who the parent is: is their “cup” full, are they emotionally healthy and can support this child? In which case they will be responding to that child’s needs, giving them the extra support that they need. This child will not be needy or whiny, as their needs are being met. Alternatively, is the parent exhausted, frazzled, and struggling to cope? If they are needing space themselves then they will not be able to give the Pulsatilla child what they need, and there becomes a push-pull which may create the “whiny” child, or have the parent describe them as “needy” or “clingy”.
The other key aspect of Pulsatilla is their changeability. Their physical symptoms change, their bowel motions are different each time, and Boericke describes them as “mentally, an April day” referring to the changeable nature of a (Northern Hemisphere) Spring day. This can be seen with their mood changing from “mild and pleasant” to irritable or tearful. Despite some of the descriptions of Pulsatilla as mild, they can be quite irritable if they are feeling insecure or needing support. This will definitely be more apparent in those Pulsatillas who are shouldering all their burdens alone.
I hope this has given you another perspective to Pulsatilla, so you see the depth that they can be, not just the mild and tearful or the whiny child.
I have written about Pulsatilla before, and you can find further discussion of the keynote symptoms and physicals at https://www.homeopathbarbara.nz/pulsatilla/
Photo credit: H.Zell on Wikimedia Commons