If there is one book, one document that best expresses both the basic theory and the correct practice of homeopathy, it is Samuel Hahnemann’s Organon of the Medical Art.  (Note that in some translations it is referred to as the Organon of the Healing Art.)


"S. Hahnemann"

Samuel Hahnemann, The father of Homeopathy, author of the Organon


When I first heard of the book, I imagined it an encyclopedia of homeopathic practice, and was surprised on finding it that it is a small volume, containing just 291 aphorisms.  Each of these individual paragraphs contains a nugget of information, a piece of the puzzle of what homeopathy is and why it offers us the true potential for healing.  You see, each of the aphorisms represents a discovery: The Organon itself evolved with Hahnemann, as he improved upon his original vision of homeopathy through clinical experience and scientific trials.
The first edition of The Organon was published in Germany in 1810.  The second in 1819.  The third in 1824.  The fourth in 1829.  The fifth in 1833.  With each new edition were new aphorisms, new discoveries.  The fifth edition of 1833 was itself annotated and updated and published again in 1833.
Hahnemann’s letters to his publishers note the completion of a sixth edition as of February 1842.  Hahnemann, however, did not live to see this edition published.  Hahnemann’s widow, Melanie, and his other heirs did not release this sixth edition for publication until 1920.  Their reasons are matters of argument for Melanie’s supporters and detractors.
The sixth edition was revolutionary, even in homeopathic circles, in that it contains not only the sum total of Hahnemann’s work and inquiry that had been included in the previous five editions, but also because it included an exploration of the LM potencies, a new theory that was central to the final years of Hahnemann’s practice.
“Organon” is a Greek work, meaning “organ,” or “instrument.”  It, therefore, refers to the manner in which any philosophical or scientific research may be conducted.  “Organ” is a term applied to any number of works by various medical writers.  Francis Bacon adapted the term into the latinized “Organum” in his own writings on philosophical methods.  Hahnemann’s use of the term refers to the organ of knowledge required for him, as a physician, to be able to effectively carry through his life’s work.  While Hahnemann certainly published no small number of pamphlets and papers in his time, and also managed to present a Materia Medica of his original remedies, it is The Organon that presents the information that is central to his practice.
It is, therefore, amazing to me that The Organon is not studied by all those who wish to understand homeopathy, both professionals and lay persons alike. I do believe that you cannot practice homeopathy on any level without first studying The Organon.  It is, to me, rather like attempting to understand the beauty and mysteries of Christianity without ever reading the Bible.
It is my belief that, like many nominal Christians, whose entire knowledge of their faith is given them in weekly doses of not more than twenty minutes before the doxology, too many of us who profess a great interest in homeopathy would rather turn our attention to a book that lists three or four symptoms covered by each individual remedy before swallowing a remedy and getting as far away from homeopathic theory as possible, rather than to read Hahnemann’s own work and wrestle with what healing is, and how and why homeopathic healing takes place.  This, it seems to me, makes many who profess to be homeopaths nothing more than allopaths with milk sugar remedies, rather than true homeopathic practitioners and consumers.
No, we must read The Organon.  And those who wish to study it have been given a great gift:  in recent years, Wenda Brewster O’Reilly has presented the world with a new translation of the text, from its original German into English.  This new edition presents the work in a new light.  It is at once vibrant and highly readable, enlightening and comprehensible.  I could not recommend it more highly.