Cathartes aura (Turkey Vulture)

Proving Summary

The complete proving is published as a monograph. Contact the Homeopathic Medicinary for more information.

Choosing the Remedy

Bird remedies have not been well studied. Particularly, there has been little focus on scavenger birds and animals. As homeopaths, we often focus on more dramatic and flashy animals in our provings and neglect the quieter or less conspicuous animals. Turkey Vulture is however a powerful symbol of the desert and has played an important part in cultural wisdom for millennia. The proving had a dramatic impact on many of the participants. Remarkably, ten of the eighteen participants left the proving with cured symptoms over the first few months and for many these effects lingered over time. The most common cured symptoms were increased energy and feeling of calmness, peacefulness and contentment.

General Themes

Guardian/Care Taking
Vision/New Vision
Organization/Cleaning Out
Huge Amount
Warning followed By Biting
Foraging for Food/Food Lying Around/Digging Through Old Things
Hiding Up High
Getting Away With Something
Left Something Behind and Rushing to Get It
Drug Feeling/Altered State
Feeling of Panic

Animal and Bird Themes

Animal images and themes came through quite strongly in the proving (13/18 provers). Dogs (nine provers) and birds (seven provers) were the strongest. Four of the provers had dreams associated with snakes. Some of the animals played the role of guardian. For example, one prover described a feeling of protection through out the proving by her dog that had not been there before. The maternal animal side came through strongly in images of guardianship and care taking (11/18 provers). Animals often served as guardians in the images and also of taking care of animals. Anxiety about who would play the role of caretaker was also an issue.


The aggressive animal side came out in the form of warning followed by biting. For example, “I was waned and then bit by a rattle snake on my little finger.” Also there were feeling of threat, irritation, frustration and harassment. Many provers described frustrating dreams where they were unable to complete tasks. Desert Themes One of the central feelings that arose in the proving stemmed around the idea of Catharsis. This is a typical desert theme. One prover described it as a “little exorcism going on inside”. The latin name for Vulture is Cathartes. The vulture is a scavenger, one who gets rid of dead, old material. On the physical level this manifested in draining sebaceous cysts, draining felons, pustular acne, pus pockets on the tonsils and bearing down sensations in the uterus. On the emotional level this had to do with old emotional material from childhood that floated to the surface was worked through and passed off, leaving the prover calm and peaceful. Several provers related the emotional material to flashbacks from childhood. Many provers noted that they were able to let go of old and dead relationships that they had been carrying with them for years. One prover said: “Overall it feels like a cleaning healing; a lot of emotional residue that I need to get rid of.” In another provers dream: “It was like a therapeutic vacation; complete service but not fancy; you were supported in working out your issues with your family.” The catharsis was followed by feelings of calmness and peace. Twelve of the eighteen provers described this feeling. A number of individuals pursued meditation or yoga, which they either had never done or not done for years. Spirituality (not religion) is a theme of bird remedies.

There were related issues to being dirty and clean. Once the cathartic cleaning out occurred there were images of cleanliness. Six of the provers described this experience. For example, many provers cleaned out a lot of their old unneeded possessions during the proving. One prover noted “I am having dreams of dirty going to clean”. These themes seem to be common to other scavenger birds. Other Themes Hair was a recurring theme in the proving as it is for the vulture. Vultures by necessity become bald to prevent infection. Foraging for food and rummaging through old things were recurrent themes. Much of this had to do with finding or leaving old food lying around-images typical of scavenger animals.

Communication and messages were another animal theme found in the proving. Much of the communication was associated with frustration or feeling blocked in efforts at communication. It is interesting to note that the bird is voiceless. A theme of going back for something that one has forgotten came up frequently. The vulture when it identifies carrion, often does not approach at that time but returns to feed with its community on the following day. Another theme was the idea of getting away with something. The provers often felt that rules did not apply to them or that rules could be broken. Much of this focuses on the feelings of underground, secret operations. These themes were prominent in the raven proving as well.

Central Motion and Core Sensation

The central motion in the proving was that of soaring. This was seen in themes of flight, flying and floating throughout the proving. The Turkey Vulture has long been associated with levitation- a symbol of the disintegration of the physical so that gravity no longer weighs and holds one down. Vultures can fold their wings well above the horizontal level which is unique among raptors and most birds and this aids them in soaring. The feeling was that of feeling calm, centered, peaceful and content while flying. When on the ground however there is danger. The vulture is vulnerable on the ground. The ground is not safe and one can fall through. Several provers had dreams of the ground being paper thin and falling through the floor. One prover described a feeling of “vulnerability like an egg without a shell. The ideas of catharsis and flight were combined in the image of the “phoenix rising from the ashes”. The phoenix is a bird that through purification rises to the heights. In the process a “transformation” occurs that left the provers changed. Miasm The miasm is difficult to determine on the basis of a single proving. However, there is a suggestion of the leprosy miasm in this animal.

General Characteristics

There were no strong food cravings. There was a general tendency towards chilliness, although hot flushes were noted by three provers. There was a general tendency towards left sided symptoms.

Physical Characteristics

The most prominent physical symptom had to do with the tendency towards abscess formation. One prover developed tonsillitis with abscess and her physician said that she had the worst case he had ever seen. There was also a tendency towards acne (seven provers). The area of the body most effected was the throat. Nine of the eighteen provers developed sore throats. Headaches also were fairly prominent, particularly behind the eyes. Back pain was fairly common, although aching in nature and fairly non descript. Itching was another strong theme. Five of the provers noted a strong feeling of formication or bugs crawling on their lower extremities at night. Lice reportedly can be a problem for these birds.

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