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Philip von Hohenheim
BirthplaceEgg, near Einsiedeln, Old Swiss Confederacy (present-day Switzerland)
NationalitySwiss, German


Philippus Aureolus , real name Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim. 1493--1541, Swiss physician and alchemist, who pioneered the use of specific treatment, based on observation and experience, to remedy particular diseases
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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Paracelsus. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.

Paracelsus (1493-1541)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

"Paracelsus" Philippus Aurelis Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim was born in Switzerland, near Einsiedeln, in the canton Schwyz. He named himself Paracelsus, probably as an indication that he was superior to Celsus, the first century Latin medical writer.

Paracelsus studied at the University of Basle and, later, with the abbot of Sponheim. In 1529, after a controversial three years of lecturing on medicine at the university, during which he burned the works of Avicenna and Galen, he was thrown out and wandered Europe. He settled in Salzburg in 1541 under the protection of Archbishop Duke Ernst of Bavaria. There he died in September of that year, some say from being thrown down a steep hill by his enemies.

Paracelsus earned a reputation as an alchemist and was certainly a doctor with a great gift for healing, believing that the body and soul must be treated together to bring about a cure. Although he looked askance at ceremonial magicians, he did believe that they possessed greater healing power than did his contemporary physicians. He strongly believed that there was a "natural" magic available that came from deity and conferred on the user the true power to heal. His beliefs included the use of talismans and the study of astrological influences. Paracelsus's Astronomica et astrologica opuscula (Cologne, 1567) features a woodcut illustration of him holding a sword with the word "Zoth" engraved on the pommel. It was generally believed that his famous sword had a demon named Azoth imprisoned in that pommel. Grillot De Givry, however, points out that azoth was the word Paracelsus used for the so-called "vital mercury" of the alchemists.

Paracelsus was the first to describe zinc and to introduce the use of chemical compounds into medicine. A book of his medical theories, Die grosse Wundartzney, was published in 1536.

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References in periodicals archive ?
For example, Hester's collection of Paracelsian remedies seem to display similar attitudes to menstruation and menstrual blood as more Galenic tracts do, viewing both as dangerous in too great or too little a quantity.
(54) Trying to expand the marketability of these works to the broadest medical audience, Cole broadly advertised Culpeper's titles in his other publications and refuted the idea, furthered by practicing alchemists, that Culpeper was exclusively Paracelsian in outlook.
Yates and Walter Pagel, among others, on natural magic, Hermeticism, and Paracelsian medicine.
Soukup, a structural chemist who has analyzed archaeological remains of laboratory waste pits in Lower Austria, adds to our understanding of the links between mining and alchemy and of the importance of patronage in supporting such laboratories for practical purposes, the latter theme echoed in Didier Kahn's analysis of King Henry IV of France's patronage of alchemy and Paracelsian medicine.
Music retained a privileged status in Hermetic writings: in particular, courtly Paracelsians continued to be deeply interested in music for at least the next century, and several important musical figures were attracted to occult thought.
(11) "The exception is Gouk, 2005, who argues for music as an essential component of Gohory's (and other early Paracelsians') thought and experimental practice.
Illustrated with symbolic engravings, these books constructed a complicated rhetoric out of a blend of alchemy, Paracelsian theosophy, Hermeticism, and Christian Kabbalah.
Thus, the Paracelsian royal physician to the early Stuarts, Theodore Turquet de Mayerne, accompanied his account of the dissection of Isaac Casaubon with an admiring biographical portrait and narrative of the last illness of the Calvinist scholar.
Distancing himself from the more mystical Paracelsians, Jean Baptiste van Helmont attempted (with limited success) to reform chemistry in order to make it more acceptable to the new philosophers.
It seems to me equally plausible that Boerhaave's interest in semina as vehicles for God's immediacy in a providential nature came from Paracelsian and Helmontian sources, only some of which were Calvinist.