Paracelsus: Alchemic Healing

Philippus Aureulus Theophastus Bombast Van Hoenheim, 1493-1541. Healer, Alchemist, Philosopher, and acknowledged as the ‘Father of modern chemistry’.

Brilliant, opinionated, bombastic (the word has come from his name). “How the high colleges managed to produce so many high asses?” “The universities do not teach all things so a doctor must seek out old wives, gypsies, sorcerers, wandering tribes, old robbers and such outlaws and take lessons from them. A doctor must be a traveler…. knowledge is experience.”

Travels: Searched through Europe, England, Ireland, and Scotland, held captive by the Tartars in Russia, Lithuania, Hungary, Italy, Egypt, Arabia, Holy land, and Constantinople.
Paracelsus rejected the prevailing religio-medical wisdom of his time (i.e. the doctrine of gross doses of: herbal opposites), putting himself in opposition to both the academic and the church’s interpretation of Galenic-Aristotlean writings. Instead he introduced whole new aspects into Western medicine in that he:

1) Opted to look for essences within substances in order to connect the energy of the remedy to the energy of the illness: The Doctrine of Signatures.
2) Used astrology as a metaphor for explaining the qualities of energy of those essences and the life force.
3) Introduced a series of previously unused remedies: e.g. Opium, Mercury, Sulfur, Iron, Arsenic, etc.

Being the complete confrontationist-rebel he wrote in German, the common tongue, rather than the language of scholarship: Latin. He was given the name ‘Paracelsus’ (which means beyond Celsus, a renowned 1st century Roman physician) by those who were disturbed by his willful, opinionated, and bombastic attacks on the Harley street doctors of his time.
During his career he:
Pioneered the application of chemistry to medicine.
Introduced the use of many drugs.
Noted the heredity pattern of syphilis.
Identified the association of endemic goitre in the parent to cretinism in the child.
Wrote that paralysis was associated with head injuries.
As well as many other contributions.

The many lasting contributions of Paracelsus are all grounded on the primary concept that healing is based on the principle that all life and beings, at all levels, are connected. This concept is implicit in traditional cultures, ancient and modern that all the kingdoms of nature have a resonant networked connection. However, Paracelsus goes on to articulate it in ways that remain important to the practice of homeopathy in the 21st century. Paracelsus is an important contributor to the foundation principles upon which Hahnemann modeled homeopathy, despite Hahnemann’s denial that he drew directly from Paracelsus’ writings.

1) Like cures Like ‘The term Simila samilibus curantur ‘ was already over two hundred years old before Hahnemann Paracelsus articulated what later became a fundamental homeopathic principle.

2) Organopathy: The concept that any whole organ of the body has a unique individuality while also at the same time carrying the qualities of the whole being of which it is a functioning part. As such one may not only be treating the organ directly but also the whole being indirectly as well.

3) The Doctrine of Signatures
“I have oft times declared” wrote Paracelsus, “how by the outward shapes and qualities of things, we may know their inward virtues (essence), which God hath put in them for the use of man.”

4) The prescribing of metals as remedies, in small doses.
From his observation of miner’s ills, Paracelsus developed the use of powdered metals as remedies.

Paracelsus on Causes of Sickness and Disease
The Doctrine of Sympathies: Sympathy means a subtle affinity or connection, a kind of intimate relationship by which whatever effects one, affects, in a similar way, others in whom the same quality exists. It is a mutual or reciprocal sensitivity arising from correspondences and resonances in essences, properties, or vibrational similarity. Since for Paracelsus the whole universe was formed from and permeated by varying densities of Light or energy, it followed that like states were linked and that a science of healing should utilise the natural resonant communication that exists between likes with likes and opposites with opposites. This then is his basis for the five causes of disease:

1) Subtle Influences, acting upon the energy fields surrounding everyone, set in motion rates of vibration which permeate the physical body causing balance or imbalance. These influences are due to the cumulative effect of solar and cosmic forces and rays operating upon the etheric or magnetic field surrounding the earth.

2) Introduction into the body of various toxic impurities, poisonous or hurtful substances, even including drugs and medications given for the treatment of disease. He realised that obstacles to the flow of the vital forces of the body resulted in toxicity and death of living tissue.

3) Wrong Physical and Personal Habits

4) Psychological Cause: Writing in the early 16th century, Paracelsus declared that many diseases originate in what we now call psychological causes, and that all intemperance’s of the mind and emotions lead not only to the immediate discomfort of the body, but by corrupting a person’s psychic nature, cause some of the illnesses most difficult to diagnose and treat.

5) Spiritual Causes: violations to natural or God’s law on a religious, moral or ethical level. By disregard for conscience and that which the person knows to be right, spiritual confusion results with a loss of inner direction and appropriate self-control in the balance of personal conduct in daily life.

Selected Bibliography:
Hartman, Franz 1937 The life of Phillipus Theophrastus Bombast Hoenheim, George Redway: London
Hall, Manly P. 1964 Paracelsus: His Mystical and Medical Philosophy, Philosophical Research Society: Los Angeles
Hargrave, John 1951 The Life and Soul of Paracelsus, Victor Gollancz: London
Pachter, Henry M. 1982 Paracelsus: Magic into Science, Henry Schuman: New York
Waite, A.e. 1984 The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus, 2 volumes: James Elliot, London


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