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Paracelsus, 1493-1541

Mystic, Physician, Alchemist, Astrologer

Paracelsus in the Louvre, Quentin Matsys

All that man needs for health and healing has been provided by God in nature, the Challenge of science is to find it.

A Great Initiate: Paracelsus

An Overview of His Life

Paracelsus was born in Einsiedeln, Switzerland on either November 11 or December 17, 1493. He was named Phillip von Hohenheim, but later he took the name Philippus Theophrastus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim. Still later, he took the title Paracelsus, meaning equal to or greater than Celsus, a Roman encyclopedist from the first century known for his tract on medicine. Paracelsus was an alchemist, physician, astrologer, and general occultist. He died in Salzburg on September 24, 1541.

He was born and raised in Switzerland of a Swabian chemist and physician father, Wilhelm Bombast von Hohenheim, and a Swiss mother. As a youth he worked in nearby mines as an analyst. At the age of 16 he started studying medicine at the University of Basel, and later moved on to Vienna. He received his doctorate degree from the University of Ferrara.

Later he journeyed to Egypt, Arabia, the Holy Land, Constantinople, Lisbon, Spain and England seeking alchemists and physicians from whom to learn. He pursued medical treatments that were considered ludicrous in the Western world. He was the disseminator in Europe of the medieval Islamic alchemists. Instead of pouring boiling oil onto wounds to cauterize them, or if they were on a limb, to let them become gangrenous and then to amputate the limb, Paracelsus learned that wounds would heal themselves if allowed to drain and prevented from becoming infected. On his return to Europe, his knowledge of these treatments won him fame.

A Paracelsus Reproduction, 1927; etching by A. Hirschvogel, 1538

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