The central idea from the proving is that I am being attacked and intruded on, but If I defend myself in the right way, I will not be hurt. The area of intrusion is generally in the home, the area that one generally feels safe and secure. When one is not protected, there are feelings of anxiety, edginess and fear. It is interesting that several provers described this intrusion as coming from the upper left hand corner.
Home for Animals
The saguaro has a great many animals living within its body (insects, birds, bats, rodents etc). There is a very popular children’s book in Arizona called Cactus Hotel which depicts the life of the cactus and all the animals that use it as their home. There was a recurrent theme of others depending on them during the proving. This would manifest as friendly characters/animals turning into those that are sinister/dark.
Another recurrent theme in the proving was that of water. The situation of the Saguaro cactus is that they provide one of the very few places in the desert where water is attainable. All other creatures of the desert need this for survival and attempt to obtain this. The cactus in turn responds by creating a defensive structure(spines) that protect them from attack/intrusion. The theme of warrior of the desert is also reflected in this. This idea is reflected in one of the provers dreams in which there was a war in which warriors are fighting for water. The dream goes on that some of the warriors are fighting for nature and some for industry. In another dream, a man is being attacked by the mafia and chained to a pool. The reaction to this war often calls for violence and this was a recurring theme in the proving. The Papago Indians drink Saguaro wine as a way of bringing rain during the dry season.
One prover had the dream “Gained a lot of weight and looked grotesque in the mirror”. The saguaro gains a great deal of water weight during the rainy season. Niethammer in 1974 recounted a story of a priest in the seventeenth century to the effect that after the Indians had been eating the fruit for about three weeks, the priest could not recognize many of his friend because they were temporarily so corpulent. Several provers described binging and reduced appetite with weight loss in a similar pattern.
Many of the provers experienced edginess and agitation. This also manifested in irritability, touchiness, meanness and impatience. The opposite side was even stronger. There was a recurrent sense of detachment and apathy about things that would normally have disturbed the provers. One prover quipped: “I am even indifferent about indifference.” In a positive way this manifested as feeling calmer, more balanced and more grounded.
As If In a Dream
There was a recurring theme of confusing being awake with dreaming. Provers would wake up and not know if they were asleep or awake. One prover also thought that he had written down his dreams at night, but this had been a dream. This also manifested in the form of hallucinations or bodily distortions, which predominantly reflected looked older. It is interesting to note how old Saguaro’s get-for example they don’t develop branches until they are at least 75 years old.
One of the primary usages of the Saguaro fruit was to make wine. The wine was used annually in important ceremonies where everyone became intoxicated. It has been reported that violence and the settlement of old vendettas would be common at this time. Underhill describes a ritual speech during the Papago rain making ceremony after drinking the saguaro wine in the rain house: “I told you to drink it . . . You swallowed it . . . Beautifully drunk, beautifully dizzy, you didn’t keep from me the good talk, your good dreams, good songs . . . Come now . . . And drink the water that I have rotted.”
Like other cactus remedies, there was a focus on the heart in the proving. Most striking was prover #13 who felt a pulsing light in his cardiac arteries each time he took the remedy. He had had a coronary artery bypass in the past which left him with the feeling of being violated and intruded on. This was healed with the remedy. He likened the feeling to nitroglycerine. A Papago camp ritual according to many authors occurred when the family first arrived at camp. Each person was supposed to take the first ripe fruit that he encountered, open it, extract some of its juicy red pulp, apply it to his heart, and say a prayer of thanks for having lived another year.
The major physical symptom that came up during the proving was itching. Often itching is the physical component that reflects emotional edginess, which was a recurrent them during the proving. One prover had a history of itching that had been successfully treated with Natrum muriaticum in the past, but recurred when she took a single 30C dosage of the remedy. Other important physical themes include swelling, headaches, insomnia, cramping pains, and numbness. Two provers experienced binge eating in the evening associated with loss of appetite and weight during the day. This might suggest the possible usage of this remedy in bulimia. One prover experienced severe epigastric abdominal pain. Forgetfulness and its opposite improved memory were also noted. One strange/rare and peculiar symptom was the sensation of the eyes being pulled ventrally.
The saguaro is one of the largest of cacti. It has one of the largest biomasses of plants in the desert. A nickname for the saguaro is Desert Monarch or Desert Giant. It is interesting that the theme of smallness and tiny people came up for a number of the provers.
Expansion and Contraction
The saguaro expands and contract greatly during the rainy season and shrinks dramatically during droughts. This frequently creates a wavy motion and buckling on the surface of the columns. This waving motion is also caused by cold or freezing spells. This expansion can happen fairly quickly during the rainy season. This may be related to the swelling which was a general theme in the proving. This was described by one prover as the following:
My ankles were glued together and I felt the sensation that my body was moving rhythmically to swim and be mobile; mostly my torso; I felt like I was possessed by a dolphin.
Deterioration At Home
Much of the deterioration noted in the proving occurred in the home. There was a feeling of no one else taking notice or responsibility about the mess/decline and that you are the only one who can handle it. There is anger associated with this. The animals that utilize the saguaro cause destruction and deterioration of the tissue, sometimes resulting in the death of the cactus itself. Also, the saguaro can mend itself with the formation of hard callouses, which is the reverse side of this.