Paracelsus and The Quintessential of Life

The Hermetics III

In the history of alchemy there is not a more picturesque and incredible figure as that of Auroelus Philippus Theophrastus Paracelstis Bombast von Hohenheim, an illustrious physician and exponent of the hermetic philosophy who chose to be remembered as Paracelsus. Paracelsus was born in 1493 in Einsideln, near Zurich. His father was the natural son of a prince and a practitioner of the art of medicine; therefore he wanted his only son to follow on his very foosteps.

Paracelsus’ first education was then directed to the medical sciences, but the subject were impressed more upon his imagination by aid of the alchemy world and its mysteries, rather than via the actual practice of medicine. He immediately understood that the medical traditions of the time were nothing more than empty shells from which every substance had long dried up.

Paracelsus said:

"... I considered with myself that if there had not been medical teachers in the world, how could I learn the craft? In no other way than from the great open book of nature, written by the finger of God…"

Having thus detached himself from the bonds of an orthodox and obsolete medicine, Paracelsus began a personal path that would lead him to conceive a new system to replace the old one. He plunged into the "book of nature" through a long period of travels, from 1513 to 1524, during which he visited basically every corner of the known world.
He was imprisoned by the Tartars (but later he accompanied the Kahn's son to Constantinople), confronted
with the wizards of Egypt and Arabia, and perhaps even reached India, the land of the Sufi. He studied metallurgy, chemistry and medicine, often accompanying himself to wanderers of all kinds.

He eventually returned to Switzerland (1524) and settled in Basel, then the meeting place of scholars and doctors, where he obtained the chair of medicine at the University of Basel,
that had never before seen such more erratic and brilliant a professor than Paracelsus. His exaggerated language, eccentric behavior and the splendor of concepts he conveyed through a mist of dark codes, attracted and shocked at the same time, bringing friends but also attracting many enemies.

Paracelsus' criticism to Galen’s school embittered until it reached
its apex when he publicly burned the works of Galen and Avicenna in a bronze vase in which he had thrown sodium and sulfur. With this act, Paracelsus ran into the wrath of his more conservative colleagues, and severed permanently all ties with the academic medicine. Despite all this, he continued his triumphant career until a conflict with the city magistrates changed everything: Paracelsus was forced to leave Basel and, from that moment on, he wandered from place to place, making a living as best as he could.

His death in 1541 is shrouded in mystery. The most accredited version has him poisoned in a plot instigated by the medical faculty of Basel.
Interesting as it is, the events of his life are only a corollary to his works. Not only was Paracelsus the founder of modern medical science, but Mesmer's theory of magnetism, the "astral" theory of modern spiritualism, and Descartes' philosophy are all concepts that have drawn from his fantastic and not always logical teachings. It was Paracelsus who revived the "microcosmic" theory of ancient Greece, attempting to demonstrate that the human body is in fact the quantum mirror of the Solar System, linking the seven organs to the seven planets. It was Paracelsus who preached the doctrine of the Will and its effectiveness – power and imagination – with these words:

"... It is possible that my spirit, without the help of my body but through the mere, ardent will, and without a sword, might strike and hurt others. It is also possible that I could transfer the spirit of my opponent into an image and keep him there or torture him as I please..."

"... Vivid imagination is the beginning of every magic operation..."

"... Since men neither believe nor imagine in a perfect way, the result is that the arts are uncertain when they could be entirely certain..."