Paracelsus : biography

21 September 1493 – 24 September 1541

In 1529 and then in 1530 Paracelsus visited Esslingen and Nuremberg. The “real” doctors of Nuremberg called Paracelsus a fraud, charlatan and pretender. In order to disprove their charges, he asked the city council to let him cure a few patients, whose diseases were considered to be incurable. He was giving a few patients suffering from elephantiasis and Paracelsus cured them in little time without asking any money for that. The testimony for the event could be found in Nuremberg city archive.

Paracelsus created a few effective medications. One of his great achievements was the explanation for the nature and causes of silicosis (professional disease of miners). In 1534 he helped to stop the plague epidemic, taking measures reminding of vaccination.

The following years Paracelsus traveled a lot, he wrote, cured, made researchers and alchemical experiments and also made astrological observations. In 1530 in Beratzhausen castle he finished his work titled “Paragranum ”, published in 1535. After he visited Augschburg and Rengschburg for a short time, he moved to St. Gallen and then in the beginning of 1531 he finished him work, at which he had been working for years, that was about the causes and circuit of diseases “Paramirum”, published in 1532. In 1533 he arrived in Villach, where he wrote his “Labyrinth of mistaken medics” and “Chronics of Kamten”.

Last years

The last years of his life, Paracelsus worked at his treatises “Philisophy” of 1534, “Hidden philosophy” (the first version was published in Flemish in 1533), “Great astronomy” of 1531 and a couple of short natural philosophy works, such as “Book about nymphs, sylphs, pigmies, salamanders, giants and other spirits” of 1536. After that he moved to Kamten, Krain and Hungary, but settled down in Salzburg. He was invited there by the duke Ernst, who was also Bavarian duke, being fond of secret science. That was the place where Paracelsus could finally see the results of his works and find fame. Finally he could continue his medical practice and writing books, not worrying that the following day he might have to move to another city. He had his small house in the outskirts, a cabinet and his own laboratory. He got everything except one thing – health. A deadly disease caught him one of the September days of 1541.

On 24 September, having suffered from the disease, Paracelsus died at the age of 48 in a small room of hotel “White horse”, located on the embankment. He was buried at St. Sebastian cemetery. The circumstances about his death were not clear. But the latest research confirms the version of his contemporaries that Paracelsus was attacked by bandits at one dinner party. The bandits were hired by some physician. Paracelsus fell down and a stone broke his skull, that caused his soon death. A German doctor examined Paracelsus’s skull, which could not be mixed up with any other skull because of its unusual shape, and noticed a crack on the temporal bone (the skull had been examined before many times and because of manipulations the crack became even more evident). The doctor was sure that such a crack could appear only while Paracelsus was alive, because of the fact that the bone of the old and dried skull could not be divided in such a way.

Paracelsus’s remains were exhumed in 1572, when the building of the St. Sebastian cemetery was being rebuilt, as the body had been buried behind the wall of the building. Now, one can find a monument for Paracelsus in that place. In the centre of the ruined pyramid made of white marble there is a deeping with his portrait, and a note just above it in Latin: “Philippi Theophrasti Paracelsi qui tantam orbis farnam ex auro chymico adeptus esf effigies et ossa donee rursus circumdabitur pelle sua”. And just behind the portrait there are words: “Sub reparatione ecclesiae MDCCLXXII. ex sepulchrali eruta heic locata sunt”. Which meant that because of the repairs in 1772 Paracelsus’s remains were digged out and placed there.

Paracelsus’s reproach

The medicine of the Middle Ages was based on Aristotle’s Galen’s and Avicenna’s doctrines. Paracelsus opposed Hippocrates’s medical theory to it. He taught that living beings consist of the same quicksilver, sulphur, salts and other substances, as the substances of the bodies of nature. When a human was healthy those substances were in balance, and disease meant that the substances were misbalanced. There was too little or too much in some of them. Paracelsus was one of the first doctors who started to use chemistry in curing.

Paracelsus was also trying to connect cabbala ideas with alchemy and wizardry practice. That made the start for many occult cabbala currents.

Paracelsus considered a human to be a microcosm reflecting all the elements of macrocosm. The connecting point of the two words was power “M” (mane of mercury began with this letter). As Paracelsus thought, a human (who was a quintessence too or the fifth true main point of world) was made by the God from extraction of the whole world and carried in image of the God. There was no forbidden knowledge for a human, and he could, as Paracelsus said, and had to examine all the components not only in nature but out of it too. Paracelsus wrote several works about alchemy.