Saturday, 21 November 2009
Phillip von Hohenheim, better known to the World today as Paracelsus, was born in Switzerland in 1493, the son of a physician and chemist.
He commenced his University education at the age of 16, initially at the University of Basel and later completing his Doctorate at the University of Ferrara.
With an insatiable thirst for knowledge, he became a travelling physician, working his way through France,Spain,Germany,Sweden,Russia and Hungary.
Paracelsus was steeped in Hermetic, Neo-Platonic and Pythagorean philosophy and as was common at the time amongst physicians, he was a practising Astrologer.
An experimental practitioner, he was always seeking new ways to treat disease, which sometimes brought him into conflict with accepted methodologies and authorities, both academic and religious.
Often considered arrogant in the way he expressed his views, he lasted less than a year in the Chair of Medicine at the University of Basel, before being run out of town!
Resuming his travels, in pursuit of ancient and hidden knowledge he journeyed throughout Europe, Asia Minor and Africa.
The result of these journeys and the knowledge he acquired, culminated in the publication of 'The Great Surgery Book', the first editions of which appeared in 1536, helping to restore his reputation throughout Europe.
In his lifetime he used Alchemical practises more for experimentation on chemical and mineral elements than for personal development.
Paracelsus believed in treating the whole being, body and spirit as you would expect in a follower of Hermetic philosophies.
He was the first to suggest that many diseases of the human body were caused by outside agents, created the use of Laudanum, an opiate tincture, used up until Victorian times as a pain reliever.
Today he is considered the father of Toxocology and is quoted as saying,' all things are poisonous and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous'.
Modern holistic medical practitioners owe much to the early work of Paracelsus and some would go even further by stating that he initiated the foundations of what would become medicine as we recognise it today. Another three centuries would have to pass before this happened.
What Paracelsus can still teach us today across a wide range of sciences is this. Knowledge is universal and in nature is not narrowed down into specialist fields.
For truly great advances in the understanding of the universe and man's place in it, scientists of many disciplines need to cooperate and collaborate.
A simple example might be the discipline of archaeology which steadfastly refuses to engage with other disciplines which might disagree with pet theories, these being archaeo-astronomy,
geology and anthropology.
These sciences all working together in an open minded way, might yet discover that human civilisation is much older than current convention suggests.
This is merely one example amongst many where the high priests of science will consider anyone not conforming to their view of the World is a heretic, an experience Paracelsus new only too well.
He left this World in 1541 at the age of 47.