Who Was Paracelsus?
Born 1493 – Died 1541
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Paracelsus is known as the “Father of Modern Medicine and chemistry” and his life is the stuff of legend. His full birth name was Aureleous Phillipus Theophrastus Bombast von Hoenheim aka Paracelsus. Few people have contributed as much to humanity and have received such little recognition for it. Here in the United States very few people have ever heard of Paracelsus although there are medical companies named after him. He was born in the 15th century and had a gift for being able to penetrate into the “workshop of Nature” more clearly than anyone before or since. With this unprecedented and incredible insight it is not surprising that Paracelsus is reputed to have been the quintessential healer of his time or, for that matter, possibly any time. A very hard act to follow indeed!
His numerous writings include the most sublime spiritual treatises that explain in great detail and sequential logic the finer points of Christian teachings, opening an illuminating glimpse into the realm of the Spiritual to the common man. In these writings the human being was seen as the perfection of creation simultaneously existing in more than one dimension. Which in accordance with Christian philosophy was described as a triplicity. The human being exists as a spiritual being, an astral being and a physical being all at the same time. Put differently a human being has a spirit, a soul and a physical body. For the longest time this pivotal concept was considered a mystery. At best, because of the superstition of the times, this relatively simple concept had become convoluted to the point of being incomprehensible – let alone usable as a working model for healing of reality. Yet it is one of the central concepts of the principles of Alchemy, which in its subsequent interpretations became modern day chemistry.
Through this view of the human being also came the basis of the origin of diseases and their cure. Paracelsus wrote extensive and detailed medical writings stating that there are only 11 possible diseases or combinations thereof – exclusive of wounds. He wrote the first books on surgery and the proper treatment of wounds because of its need on battlefields. In relatively brief simple yet precise and logical terms he defined the aliments and laid out a simple explanation of what they were and what caused them in real and understandable terms.
For example: there is an ailment in the Paracelcian philosophy that is simply called “Worms.” The connotation of this simplistic name in the mind of a present day person would likely imply some sort of simplistic parasitic ailment. In reality and most accurately the Paracelsian category of “Worms” encompasses all manner of vermin, bacteria and viruses be they transmitted by air, water, soil, food, contact with animals, a hand shake, sexual contacts etc. as one ailment. No one explains this conceptually better than Paracelsus. Whereas modern day medicine may discuss certain specific facts, Paracelsus clearly explains the principle and goes on to explain how to solve the ailment – in principle.
His talent garnered him much notoriety and he became a professor of medicine at the University of Basel in Switzerland and taught at various Universities throughout Europe. While in Basel, he openly burned the books of such classical physicians as Galen and Avicenna and others. At the same time he was very vocal about their backwardness of these classical philosophers and those who followed their teachings. He was also the first to break with tradition and taught in the colloquial German language as opposed to the standard Latin. This revealed, the up to that point, closely guarded identify of common herbs and substances used in the preparation of costly medicinal and pharmaceutical products to the common folk which freed them to a certain extent from their dependency on these professions. In spite of their jealous dislike of Paracelsus his astounding medical success was undeniable leading many physicians to try to emulate him, several penned books using his name as being the author while constantly vilifying him. He was mercilessly maligned by his own profession yet it is ironic that to this day the European medical profession awards the prestigious “Paracelsus Medal” for outstanding medical breakthroughs or achievements.
In spite of all of this he was well loved by the common folk whom he helped effectively and untiringly. There were several who recognized his genius – among them monarchs and students who followed his teachings and the common folk, but the “status quo” was always in jeopardy when Paracelsus spoke openly. He denounced the physicians, clergy (including the Bishops, Cardinals – even the Pope), lawyers and politicians of the day calling them people of lazy, opportunistic, deplorable and willfully ignorant in character (he said much more), who deliberately made life difficult for the rest of humanity due to their self assumed superiority. Needless to say, this did not endear him to most of the powerful of that time and was forced to live ‘on the run’ for a while.
Sadly, Paracelsus was murdered at the now famous “White Horse Inn” on Lake Wolfgang (Wolfgangsee) in Austria under dubious circumstances. Being spiritually rich but “materially” poor, the motive for his murder could not have been theft – conspiracy theories still abound.
It is amazing to read the scope and quality of his many voluminous writings. What is more is that given the extraordinary circumstances of his life that he had the time to write as much as he did.
The complete formula for what has now become known as the famous Swedish Bitters was from Paracelsus. It is only fair that he should be rightfully credited with it and its effectiveness. It is also not likely that he would have copied it from someone else because no one at that time was as knowledgeable as he was.
If you want to know the Paracelsus here is a larger selection of his work.
It should be noted that in his writings one must get acquainted with the thought process and terminologies of the time. Paracelsus coined some of his own terminology at times to better describe his concepts. Ideas that up until his time has been long forgotten.
Paracelsian explanation of Restless leg Syndrome, Irritable legs, or fidgety legs or, as Paracelsus might have called it Podagra.