The Theosophical Forum – April 1939


Paracelsus — the Most Wondrous Intellect of his Age

As the dawn of physical science broke into a glaring day-light, the spiritual sciences merged deeper and deeper into night, and in their turn they were denied. So, now, these greatest masters in psychology are looked upon as "ignorant and superstitious ancestors"; as mountebanks and jugglers, because, forsooth, the sun of modern learning shines to-day so bright, it has become an axiom that the philosophers and men of science of the olden time knew nothing, and lived in a night of superstition. But their traducers forget that the sun of to-day will seem dark by comparison with the luminary of to-morrow, whether justly or not; and as the men of our century think their ancestors ignorant, so will perhaps their descendants count them for know-nothings. The world moves in cycles. The coming races will be but the reproductions of races long bygone; as we, perhaps, are the images of those who lived a hundred centuries ago. The time will come when those who now in public slander the hermetists, but ponder in secret their dust-covered volumes; who plagiarize their ideas, assimilate and give them out as their own — will receive their dues. "Who," honestly exclaims Pfaff — "what man has ever taken more comprehensive views of nature than Paracelsus? He was the bold creator of chemical medicines; the founder of courageous parties; victorious in controversy, belonging to those spirits who have created amongst us a new mode of thinking on the natural existence of things. What he scattered through his writings on the philosopher's stone, on pigmies and spirits of the mines; on signs, on homunculi, and the elixir of life, and which are employed by many to lower his estimation, cannot extinguish our grateful remembrance of his general works, nor our admiration of his free, bold exertions, and his noble, intellectual life."

More than one pathologist, chemist, homoeopathist, and magnetist has quenched his thirst for knowledge in the books of Paracelsus. Frederick Hufeland got his theoretical doctrines on infection from this mediaeval "quack," as Sprengel delights in calling one who was immeasurably higher than himself. Hemman, who endeavors to vindicate this great philosopher, and nobly tries to redress his slandered memory, speaks of him as the "greatest chemist of his time." So do Professor Molitor, and Dr. Ennemoser, the eminent German psychologist. According to their criticisms on the labors of this Hermetist, Paracelsus is the most "wondrous intellect of his age," a "noble genius." — Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, pp. 51-2

"The will," says Van Helmont, "is the first of all powers. For through the will of the Creator all things were made and put in motion. . . . The will is the property of all spiritual beings, and displays itself in them the more actively the more they are freed from matter." And Paracelsus, "the divine," as he was called, adds in the same strain: "Faith must confirm the imagination, for faith establishes the will. . . . Determined will is the beginning of all magical operations. . . . Because men do not perfectly imagine and believe the result, is that the arts are uncertain, while they might be perfectly certain." — Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. 57

Christopher Columbus discovered America, and Americus Vespucius reaped the glory and usurped his dues. Theophrastus Paracelsus re-discovered the occult properties of the magnet — "the bone of Horus" which, twelve centuries before his time, had played such an important part in the theurgic mysteries — and he very naturally became the founder of the school of magnetism and of mediaeval magico-theurgy. But Mesmer, who lived nearly three hundred years after him, and as a disciple of his school brought the magnetic wonders before the public, reaped the glory that was due to the fire-philosopher, while the great master died in a hospital!

So goes the world: new discoveries, evolving from old sciences; new men — the same old nature! — Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, pp. 71-2

And now to the doctrine of Paracelsus. His incomprehensible, though lively style must be read like the biblio-rolls of Ezekiel, "within and without." The peril of propounding heterodox theories was great in those days; the Church was powerful, and sorcerers were burnt by the dozens. For this reason, we find Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Eugenius Philalethes as notable for their pious declarations as they were famous for their achievements in alchemy and magic. The full views of Paracelsus on the occult properties of the magnet are explained partially in his famous book, Archidaxarum, in which he describes the wonderful tincture, a medicine extracted from the magnet and called Magisterium Magnetis, and partially in the De Ente Dei, and De Ente Astrorum, Lib. I. But the explanations are all given in a diction unintelligible to the profane. "Every peasant sees," said he, "that a magnet will attract iron, but a wise man must inquire for himself. . . . I have discovered that the magnet, besides this visible power, that of attracting iron, possesses another and concealed power."

He demonstrates further that in man lies hidden a "sidereal force," which is that emanation from the stars and celestial bodies of which the spiritual form of man — the astral spirit — is composed. This identity of essence, which we may term the spirit of cometary matter, always stands in direct relation with the stars from which it was drawn, and thus there exists a mutual attraction between the two, both being magnets. The identical composition of the earth and all other planetary bodies and man's terrestrial body was a fundamental idea in his philosophy. "The body comes from the elements, the [astral] spirit from the stars. . . . Man eats and drinks of the elements, for the sustenance of his blood and flesh; from the stars are the intellect and thoughts sustained in his spirit." The spectroscope has made good his theory as to the identical composition of man and stars; the physicists now lecture to their classes upon the magnetic attractions of the sun and planets.

Of the substances known to compose the body of man, there have been discovered in the stars already, hydrogen, sodium, calcium, magnesium and iron. In all the stars observed, numbering many hundreds, hydrogen was found, except in two. Now, if we recollect how they have deprecated Paracelsus and his theory of man and the stars being composed of like substances; how ridiculed he was by astronomers and physicists, for his ideas of chemical affinity and attraction between the two; and then realize that the spectroscope has vindicated one of his assertions at least, is it so absurd to prophesy that in time all the rest of his theories will be substantiated?

And now, a very natural question is suggested. How did Paracelsus come to learn anything of the composition of the stars, when, till a very recent period — till the discovery of the spectroscope in fact — the constituents of the heavenly bodies were utterly unknown to our learned academies? And even now, notwithstanding tele-spectroscope and other very important modern improvements, except a few elements and a hypothetical chromosphere, everything is yet a mystery for them in the stars. Could Paracelsus have been so sure of the nature of the starry host, unless he had means of which science knows nothing? Yet knowing nothing she will not even hear pronounced the very names of these means, which are — hermetic philosophy and alchemy.

We must bear in mind, moreover, that Paracelsus was the discoverer of hydrogen, and knew well all its properties and composition long before any of the orthodox academicians ever thought of it; that he had studied astrology and astronomy, as all the fire-philosophers did; and that, if he did assert that man is in a direct affinity with the stars, he knew well what he asserted. — Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, pp. 167-9

The unity of the universe was asserted by Paracelsus, who says that "the human body is possessed of primeval stuff (or cosmic matter); the spectroscope has proved the assertion by showing that the same chemical elements which exist upon earth and in the sun, are also found in all the stars. The spectroscope does more: it shows that all the stars are suns, similar in constitution to our own; and as we are told by Professor Mayer, that the magnetic condition of the earth changes with every variation upon the sun's surface, and it is said to be "in subjection to emanations from the sun," the stars being suns must also give off emanations which affect us in proportionate degrees.

"In our dreams," says Paracelsus, "we are like the plants, which have also the elementary and vital body, but possess not the spirit. In our sleep the astral body is free and can, by the elasticity of its nature, either hover round in proximity with its sleeping vehicle, or soar higher to hold converse with its starry parents, or even communicate with its brothers at great distances. Dreams of a prophetic character, prescience, and present wants, are the faculties of the astral spirit. To our elementary and grosser body, these gifts are not imparted, for at death it descends into the bosom of the earth and is reunited to the physical elements, while the several spirits return to the stars. The animals," he adds, "have also their presentiments, for they too have an astral body." — Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, pp. 169-70

. . .. although there have been alchemists before the days of Paracelsus, he was the first who had passed through the true initiation, that last ceremony which conferred on the adept the power of travelling toward the "burning bush" over the holy ground, and to "burn the golden calf in the fire, grind it to powder, and strow it upon the water." — Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, p. 349

. . .. Paracelsus, the alchemists, and other mystics, meant by mercurius vitae, the living spirit of silver, the aura of silver, not the argent vive; and this aura is certainly not the mercury known to our physicians and druggists. There can be no doubt that the imputation that Paracelsus introduced mercury into medical practice is utterly incorrect. No mercury, whether prepared by a mediaeval fire-philosopher or a modern self-styled physician, can or ever did restore the body to perfect health. Only an unmitigated charlatan ever will use such a drug. And it is the opinion of many that it is just with the wicked intention of presenting Paracelsus in the eyes of posterity as a quack, that his enemies have invented such a preposterous lie. — Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, p. 621

But TRUTH, however distasteful to the generally blind majorities, has always had her champions, ready to die for her, and it is not the Occultists who will protest against its adoption by Science under whatever new name. But, until absolutely forced on the notice and acceptance of Scientists, many an Occult truth will be tabooed, as the phenomena of the Spiritualists and other psychic manifestations were, to be finally appropriated by its ex-traducers without the least acknowledgment or thanks. Nitrogen has added considerably to chemical knowledge, but its discoverer, Paracelsus, is to this day called a "quack." — The Secret Doctrine, I, p. 297

Had Dr. Richardson studied all the secret works of Paracelsus, he would not have been obliged to confess so often — "we do not know" . . . "it is not known to us" . . . etc., etc. — The Secret Doctrine, I, p. 532

We, who unfortunately have learned at our personal expense how easily malevolent insinuations and calumny take root, can never be brought to believe that the great Paracelsus was a drunkard. There is a "mystery," and we fondly hope it will be explained some day. No great man's reputation was ever yet allowed to rest undisturbed. — The Complete Works of H. P. Blavatsky, Vol. IV, p. 177

For centuries the selection of Chelas — outside the hereditary group within the gon-pa (temple) — has been made by the Himalayan Mahatmas themselves from among the class — in Tibet, a considerable one as to number — of natural mystics. The only exceptions have been in the cases of Western men like Fludd, Thomas Vaughan, Paracelsus, Pico di Mirandolo, Count St. Germain, etc., whose temperamental affinity to this celestial science more or less forced the distant Adepts to come into personal relations with them, and enabled them to get such small (or large) proportion of the whole truth as was possible under their social surroundings. — The Complete Works of H. P. Blavatsky, Vol. IV, pp. 354-5

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