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An engraving of Paracelsus (ca. 1643)[1]
Supposed chart of Paracelsus

Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (supposedly born on 10.11.1493 at 10.40 near Einsiedeln, Switzerland; died on 24.09.1541 in Salzburg, Austria), also known as Paracelsus, was a legendary and contradictory figure during his lifetime.


He was a doctor, healer, naturalist, philosopher, alchemist and astrologer who was renowned, revered, feared and even hated by some; the latter mainly by his university colleagues. He taught living according to natural laws and espoused the unity of body, soul and spirit while at the same time being a heavy drinker who neglected his own physical health.

His father, a doctor, early in life introduced him to the art of medicine. However, Paracelsus mistrusted knowledge which he did not develop himself. He travelled for ten years around Europe until the council of Basel, Switzerland offered him the post of town doctor. Paracelsus stayed in Basel for one year, after which he moved to Salzburg, where he felt at home. He often joined troops in battle to study the wounded in order to further his understanding of human anatomy.


Alongside his achievements as a naturalist Paracelsus also, in two points in particular, contributed to the field of astrology. He promoted the concept of analogous correlation between human beings and the cosmos, which he described as the inner and outer heaven. With this Paracelsus rejected the widely held belief in determined fate. He also believed that true healing without astrological knowledge is impossible, which gave rise to his famous


The outer heaven is a guide to the inner heaven. Man and heaven belong together as one thing. Who then, can claim to be a doctor without knowing the outer heaven? The doctor must turn to the outer heaven to see into the inner one, so that he can form an inner firmament for the patient.


As a result of Paracelsus' hermetical idea of harmony, the universe's macrocosm was represented in every person as a microcosm. An example of this correspondence is the doctrine of signatures used to identify curative powers of plants. If a plant looked like a part of the body, then this signified its ability to cure this given anatomy. So, the root of the orchid looks like a testicle and can therefore heal any testicle associated illness.


See also


Latin Works online

Notes and References

  1. I.e. more than a hundred years after his death. Engraving by Van Sompel, Pieter. Paracelsus is wearing a small medal around his neck. Below the portrait is an inscription reading: "Edura fortis fata refringero, / ut docta callens jura Machaonis; / Artesque Phoeboeas salubri / mente PARACELSUS elaborat. / Eheu laborans! nec tamen irrita / Decreta reddet: lurida perbrevi / Mors decolorabit, facemque / Purpuream solvet favilla."
  2. Drawing by Hans Holbein the younger, 16th century