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Bibliotherapy

A Little Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim Sampler – Part I

Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, a.k.a. Paracelsus.
A 1927 reproduction of etching by A. Hirschvogel, 1538. In the collections of the Welcome Trust.

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Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is a little rare treat, the first part of a planned series devoted to Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, a.k.a. Paracelsus, (c. 1493 – 24 September 1541). Here in part I, with extracts from ‘The Gospel of a Wandering Doctor‘, edited and translated from the original German by Lucien Braun for Editions Arfuyen in 1991 (there will be a second re-edition in 1996 and a third in 2015). English translation by Via-HYGEIA from the French edition . The sampler’s choice is ours and does not follow the books’ order. You are about to discover an intimate Paracelsus, sharing with us his inner world in simple words. His warm voice coming from the busy crossroads of the end of the fifteen century & the early Sixteeen century is surprisingly modern and this coming sampler-cycle will display exactly why through his very own words.

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Introduction from the publisher

Historian & Philosopher, Lucien Braun- 24 February 1923 – 13 March 2020. Picture by Frédéric Maigrot for L’Ami-Hebdo.

The figure of Paracelsus, physician of the poor and wandering philosopher, is fascinating in its strength and modernity. He leaves behind an immense work that has become legendary but is very little known.

This book presents the philosophical and spiritual thought of Paracelsus, centered on the search for harmony between the microcosm and macrocosm, between Man and the universe. A thought to address today’s concerns.

Lucien Braun, who translated these texts, is a professor emeritus at the University of Strasbourg. He is one of the leading specialists on Paracelsus, to whom he has dedicated two important essays and several translations: “On Alchemy” (2000), “On Astrology” (2002), and “On Magic” (1998).

Despite a constantly itinerant existence dedicated to the care of the sick, Paracelsus wrote thousands of pages. His complete works comprise 26 volumes. Intolerable to some because he did not conform to the practices of scholars (he wrote in Alemannic), admirable to others for the visionary power of his philosophy of nature, Paracelsus unleashed controversies, and as such, few texts were published during his lifetime.

While his texts on medicine and nature are known, his writings on religion and ethics began to be published only very late. For him, God makes himself known through his word (codex scripturae) and through nature (codex naturae), and analogy is the path to understanding nature’s intelligence to that of the spiritual world. For him, everything corresponds and echoes each other.

Paracelsus refuses to practice medicine without understanding, just as he refuses to take the teachings of theologians at face value. Continuously, he opposes the Church of stone, which multiplies external practices, to the Church of the Spirit. He is equally suspicious of the too human order desired by the Reformers. One idea haunts him: the search for blessed life. For him, it must be realized in this life, and inner transmutation is the tool to achieve it: alchemy shows us the way to realize the evangelical purity within oneself.

“Anxiety,” he writes, “is more useful than tranquility.” Through his tireless quest for truth and his dedication to the poor, he will never cease to walk towards this perfection himself.

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Paracelsus, an engraving by Romeyn de Hooghe.

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I-You Shall

not Kill

Is there upon earth something more noble and precious than life? It is given to the rich and to the poor, to the powerful as to the meek; God gives it freely to both, without partiality. As we are given a certain lapse of time to live, a lapse in which we are to accomplish the task allotted to us on this earth: to learn why we were created, what is our origin and because of that, to study and fathom the Scriptures, given to us for that purpose.

But, in order to achieve this, we need the necessary time; the whole length of life is needed to ponder the Scriptures, to discover all the good that God has done through the workings of his Son. God has given us life, so that on Judgement Day we shall not say that the time imparted to us was not enough. On the contrary, we ought to recognize that we had the Sabbath and celebrations days, to deepen our understanding of the Scriptures that teach us about our origin, our sinful condition, about our possible redemption through the son of God. etc…

If, in contrast, we are un-interested in our stay on earth, and if we do not bother to think about it, and if we spend the time gambling, having fun, drinking, warring or any other distraction, then the time is wasted, consumed and we will not even have a clue about why we are on earth-and we will die of the eternal death, because we will not have learned through the Scriptures-while we were able to do so and in good health- what was our purpose and task.

From this point another follows: we shall not kill anybody. And the reason is the following: if we kill someone, we deprived that person of the time God has allocated to him or her on earth; he or she would not be, on Judgement Day, accountable of the task  that was assigned to him or her; and it is us, who has abridged life, who will be under the yoke of his or her deprivation. Because God wants that we wisely use the time ascribed to our lives on earth, and that, on the Day of Reckoning, we become accountable of our use of them.

We ought to stay awake, and not fall asleep when the thief will invade our house. Who is this thief? It is death. It is in relation to death that we ought to be ready. For one person, life is lengthy, for another it is measured sparingly; but for nobody it is too short to prevent reaching its fulfilment.

This is why we ought to kill no one, to cut short the life of another person, so that one day we ought not to bear the consequences of this very missing lapse of time. See how saint Peter was chosen as an Apostle: The person who would have killed him before his time has come, would have achieved a great misfortune; and what punishment he would have attracted upon him, the person who would have prevented saint Peter to become an Apostle! We ought not to kill anybody, so that everyone is able to achieve his or her task to which he or her was called for. Because it is possible for a person to achieve in one hour everything that would not be possible in a whole thirty years.

Nobody ought to deprive anybody of his or her life. God did not say:-“You shall not kill, in this case or another”; but: ‘You Shall Not Kill! “

In fact, we ought not to take what we cannot restore. This is why the fifth commandment stands above all of the other commandments.

The aim of our lives is to learn about God, and you want to deprive another person about it? Throughout life we ought to deepen our understanding of the Scriptures, and you want to deprive another person of this pursuit? In life, we ought to be the servants of God, and you would kill the servant of God, our Lord of us all? We are all ‘bought back‘ (Via-Hygeia note: as in paying a ransom: redemption made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus-Christ) and called to face our own proper death, and you create another death, by stealing another person of the death God had prepared according to His plan? Is there upon earth any bigger joy than to know about Jesus-Christ and his Word? It is exactly this very joy that you are depriving the very person you kill.

But, you shall not kill also, even when you stand on the right side of Justice.

What does the Old Testament say? -“You Shall not kill!”  This is what Jesus-Christ says clearly in the New Testament: -“I want not the death of the sinner.‘ Does it not invalidate our ‘right to kill’? We hang the sinner, we drown him, we slaughter him? But, Jesus-Christ want him to live, so that he may convert, regardless of what he did, we ought not to kill the sinner. Who established the right to kill? The heathens. But, we, the Christians, we know better that we ought not to kill: Only God can.

We are all brothers and, if we are indeed, we cannot be each other’s executioner and assassin.

We ought to abolish the death penalty and not follow what the Old Testament says about lapidation. As Jesus said: -“Let the person among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Now, who has the arrogance to pretend replacing God as a Judge?

To kill the soul is of another nature and there are commandments that are about this sin even more severe punishments than for the death of the body alone; Those who kill the soul sin against the Spirit-this is why this sin will hardly be forgiven, here or elsewhere.

Let us now remind us about this commandment in relation to warriors. Because, where are most of the killings happening, if not at war, where most of the executions happen? Warrior face each other, menacing each other; but both are murderers-let it be the one that is killed and the one that kills and survives, because the one being killed did not have any other desire than to kill his opponent, who ultimately killed him.

It is true that the enemies of Christ ought to be defeated, but it is by instructing them, not by killing them. God did not kill to foster faith; he did not establish His Kingdom through Julius Cesar, Nabuchodonosor or Alexander; but in sending his disciples to preach his Word; not in ordering them to partake in battles upon bloody fields.

From the moment we have received from Christ the commandment to convert the unbeliever by instructing him into God’s Word, originating orders that would lead to killings are but from murderous institutions.

This commandment allows one exception: if you live in peace and someone comes and wants to kill you-then you have the right to defend yourself. God protects life, so you ought to protect it also, as long as it takes. God says: -“If someone wants to take your garment, give it to him, and give him also your coat; do not seek to defend your good right.” But, when the time comes, then we must accept death, so to die in Christ. We know also that until now we haven’t succeeded in learning enough in the teachings of Christ and that the time hasn’t come. So, if someone wants to deprive us from our life before its fulfilment, we ought then to defend our existence, so that with God’s grace we may achieve the plenitude predicted to us and we die blessed in Christ.

Alike it is commanded that we ought not to take a life, we are also commanded to not take our own. This is also why we are commanded to drink and eat in such a manner that on the day of reckoning, we find ourselves accountable.

Nobody should consent to die before the term has come; because in doing so, the person again eagerly replaces God as judge. We ought to wait for the hour and nobody-let him or her be healthy or ill-cannot advance the time of one’s death. Time cannot be restored. Everything must flow according to plan, and our will must be placed in God’s care.

To kill is the ultimate sin. We ought not to kill believers or the unbelievers, even though we stand in justice; we prefer being robbed of one’s goods and clothes than to shed blood-again, even if we stand in our own right.

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II-Of The Invocation

Of The Saints 

There is nobody, among us that is without disabilities. But Divine Providence has created medicine to bring relief, at the condition it is used wisely. This can be achieved according to two ways: The natural and the super-natural ways.

The natural way provides remedies for all diseases, at the condition we ought to discover them, to understand them and to apply what we have learned to produce remedies that serve their purpose. Some people receive this calling and have the vocation to pursue this path: they are the physicians.

The other path, the super-natural way, wants that the human being heals him or her self without the intervention of a terrestrial physician, with the help of God that stands above nature: to heal through the word of Christ and by the faith in it; by Christ and in Christ.

These are the two ways through which the human being may find help and relief; but these two ways proceed both from the only and one God.

Before proceeding further, I wish to answer this question: Why God has created the institution of the physicians to come help other men? Why we ought to invoke such and such saint, so that he may come to our relief? And finally: Why, as we are baptized and by such we stand as Christians, is it not given to us to heal ourselves?

Here is the answer: God has created trees and given to each of them proper virtues; he fixed the type of fruit each of them ought to carry, so that we do not find all kinds of fruit on every tree, but only the one assigned to each tree. It is similar with plants and herbs. We ought to understand the virtue God has designed to each of them and therefore fixed in them. God has established this order in nature; He did the same for the human being. He has given great powers to the Apostles: the power to cast away demons, to resurrect the dead and heal the sick. But, He did not allocate this power to all Christians, even though they would be pious, honest and faithful. God gives to everybody according to His will.

We are consequently led to seek and find help with those God has provided the gift and the power, so to fulfil their task. He then has set a difference between all humans: one is born for this, another is born for that; and if these powers are so widely distributed, it is because God wants to be honored throughout all of His saints, according to what He has granted each of them. Alike in nature, He has fixed for each plant a proper virtue, similarly His saints received in sharing particular powers according to God’s design; because God wants to be recognized properly in each of His creatures. He wants to be praised and honored through the specific deeds that are born of these powers.

God has distinguished these properties and create them separate. It is the same for humanity. Did He not make a person a physician in service of the Church, another an expert in Ethics, and to another person He provided the gift of healing? This is why we ought to discover what God has assigned us to do and what virtues come with the task and not to believe that all of the gifts are concentrated in one single person; we ought to seek where they are. It is the repartition that we ought to seek to understand that God wants to be honored, throughout all of His saints, according to the character of each of them.

Truly, each human being has received from God a gift, a virtue, through which he or she is able to come to help his or her neighbor, when he or she is in need.

It is in this manner that everybody exists to come to help his or her neighbor, so to achieve the other commandment: “Love your neighbor like yourself.” Which means that the gift received from God, we ought to make our neighbors benefit of it as much as we are from it. It is this very aspect of the love for our neighbor that is tested in this manner. It is the art of challenging ourselves. This is why we ought not to be surprised to not find all the qualities in one and only person.

Let it be known that God has given many privileges to His saints and not all of them to only one, but, to each of them in a proper manner, according to His good will. God is wonderful in His works and through His saints. And the saints, even though dead, continue to live and form a communion with those who are alive within the Church. But, the help we ought to expect is proportional to our faith, and in the nature of our needs. Such herb is a remedy for such a disease; it is a relief, but it heals on person and not another. It is the same in the super-natural aspect of life. In fact, our prayer is granted or is not; God knows what we need; He knows what is the best in all things. If help is granted, it is because God agreed. Everything depends on our heart, our internal disposition. Our heart saves us, or condemns us.

Let’s take an example: we invoke saint Peter, so that he may help. For that, we need to know what gift God has graced him, and what He tasked him regarding his mission in saving humanity. We invoke him and we compare him to a shepherd, that will help us in leading his flock to the green pastures. He is indeed the shepherd; him and not anybody else.

But, if we do not partake in the Christian faith, we would be tempted to say: ‘But, saint Peter is dead; he is not alive; his has return to dust. How can he be helping us? We ought to invoke another saint.’ Only the ignorant speaks like that, not the wise person. It is like we would say: ‘God does not exist because he died on the cross.’ The ignorant did not understand he is misled; because God is immortal and IS forever; alike His saints within Him, so does saint Peter. The saints do not know death, as they praise God forever, unlike the dead who could not. It is through their deeds that they praise God. Consequently, their deeds ought to be manifested, known, and through them God is found glorified.

But, we ought not to forget that two sorts of Church exist: One in Christ, the other on earth. Christ’s church is the one saint Peter is the shepherd of and that, forever. So, if we ask something to saint Peter regarding a need of ours, we ought to be careful and ask ourselves if we belong to the Church of Christ and if we are a lamb in the flock of God. If it is so, then what we are asking, will be granted-it is certain-as it is saint Peter’s function as shepherd forever. We ought to strive to belong to the true Church and partake of the lambs of Christ. Then, nothing can happen to us.

If we are looking at the writings of a prophet, and we do not understand, we ought to make ourselves worthy of belonging to the Church of Christ and we ought to pray this very prophet and he will give us the interpretation of the text. Only, we shall not doubt. This is why we ought to ask, knock at doors, seek…and not doubt. We should not rely on the works of common people, as they are works inspired by Satan-because we would be neither Christians nor lambs of Christ and saint Peter would not be our shepherd. We would be misled and wronged, because our prayer would originate from a false faith and fake heart and the communion of the saint would not be a reality for us. What would come to us would be oozing from Satan; he is the master of delusion & lies, that rule the world we live in.

Nothing originates from the saints; everything they have comes from God: it is God that acts through them. We may ask why we should not implore God Himself directly, and only Him, because it is His saints and they have no powers by themselves other than the power gifted to them? Why implore them and ask for this or that? The answer is: Christ asks to his disciples to go all around the world, to preach the Gospel to all creatures, to heal the sick, to cast demons, to speak in tongues, etc…But He could have managed all of this in a different manner, without them; but He chose that those who go all around the world in His Name may act accordingly. They are of God, act through God and hence are able to perform miracles.

And in order to perform miracles it is necessary that people exist, worthy of benefiting such marvels found in the trails of the saints and they are the blind, the paralytics, the sick and the dead.

This is why it is appropriate to visit often the saints, to pray and beg them; because they are from God and God wants to be known and honored in them and through them. If the saints would be the originators of their powers, it is then appropriate to pray God alone and not his saints. God would be necessarily first. But they are of Him, and their deeds testify of God’s might. God has granted a special power to each of them, so that we could recognize by their actions that they are from God. But the saints are the messenger of God to us on earth. This is why we ought to not despise them. They are like angels in the entourage of God.

And here is another reason to invoke the saints: God has raised them and gave them the power we expect from each of them. When we are sick, we run to the natural physician. He helps us through ordinary means, with the help of the ordinary light; all of this also comes from God and the wise person does not reject it. Our wisdom manifests in the fact that we recognize in the physician and his medicine, blessings established by God.

But, we need to seek much more above this natural level, right into the super-natural level! This is not folly, but wisdom. As we said before, we ought not to reject natural medicine, and even more not to reject the super-natural remedy. Blessed is the person that knows how to recognize the super-natural remedy that nature conceals. Even more blessed is the person who understands the super-natural order and seeks divine strength where it lies, where he can find it. This wisdom which is human proceeds from God, and not from the earth. When we are sick, we tend to seek a natural medicine physician and we do not think further; but the person who understands Christian wisdom, knows better and more fully, and he directly seeks of the super-natural doctor that can come to our help.

Christ said: -“Woe to the person who is alone; if he or she falls, he or she has nobody to help him or her.” What does this sentence mean? This: If we are sick and the natural medicine physician has deserted us, it is a misfortune, but if the super-natural doctor also has abandoned us (because then we are truly alone), woe to us, because God has abandoned us in our need: Nobody can come to our help.

But, when we are partaking in the Church of Christ and we stand in communion with its saints, then we are not abandoned; everyone comes to the relief of one another, and the super-natural being comes to the relief of the mortal beings. This is why we ought to not make a difference and seek help from both, because in a time of trial, we need all the help we can get. What we need we find it, at the condition to seek, without hesitation, without doubt, because God demands a sincere heart and not a doubting and wavering one.

In conclusion, we-of the new birth-ought-in all needs-to invoke the saints and ask them through Christ, our Lord, who wants to be honored through His saints, and wants to act by them, so to manifest what comes from God and what does not.

Blessed, and even more blissful is the person to whom the saints come to help! Damned is the person who is help-less and has nobody to come to his or her rescue!

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III- How To Recognize Signs

And Fake Apostles

We know that summer is coming by signs, signum & prognosticum, that suggest its arrival. From them, we know it is near. All things are marked by signs through which we can know what is to happen, what will happen to us. Summer cannot come if the leaves of the trees haven’t properly grown on their branches, similarly, nothing happens to us without a forerunning sign, let it be favorable or unfavorable. The cloud announces rain, thunder, a storm. As we know the forerunning signs of summer, we ought to recognize the false apostles and distinguish them from the real ones.

In order to achieve this we ought to judge the whole context and not be halted by a mere detail, just like the Pharisees did. Because heat is not a sign announcing summer, but greenery, growth and all that goes with them. It happens that we can have a warm winter day.

We can observe that all great transformation represents a rule, a monarchy. An important discovery establishes such a monarchy for as long its effects can be felt-whatever the domain: let it be the intellectual world, the political world, the spiritual world. David establishes the monarchy of prophets, Adam the monarchy of generations up to the end of time, Christ the monarchy of redemption, Cesar the monarchy of emperors, Melchizedek the monarchy of the priests. Solomon the monarchy of wisdom, John the Baptist the rule of preaching and penance, John the Evangelist the monarchy of the prophets of the New Testament.

But, there is no monarchy, let it be small or big, that isn’t marked by signs related to its development and its future transformation. The snake was the forerunning sign of the temptation and of the sin of Man; because there is no reason why this very snake could enter Eden and could speak in there. Therefore, when an event strays from its natural course of things, it becomes the sign that something new is about to happen within the history of humanity.

It matters, consequently, that we train ourselves into the understanding of signs. We will then become agile like the farmer is with his field, and far-sighted, prone to recognize signs, those of the blossoming of plants and their coming fruits, those of the fall of the leaves-the signs of Spring and Autumn. Nothing happens without forerunning signs, pleasant or unpleasant. The sword is the forerunning sign of the wound; envy and hate are the signs of the effects they are born from. We ought to be attentive to the beginning and the development of things; from there, we can predict what is to follow. Because, what we do not see, what we let escape, will be lost for us: the understanding of what is to come.

If, therefore, someone preaches me about God, I expect to see in him perfection. What is such a perfection? It is to be the master and the master is Christ. The person who is heralding His Word ought to walk in His footsteps, he ought to come in the name of the Lord-otherwise he comes in his own name.

Christ has taught us the signs by which we can recognize the true prophets and their impostors. The person who acts in the name of the Lord,  their speech and their deeds are united-alike in a marriage between a husband and a wife-but if they are separated, if we believe speeches that are not followed by deeds, then we were mistaken, because the Word that comes from God never comes without deeds, without the Spirit the speech is powerless; it is even the beginning of evil; to speak the Word of God, it is good; but if the Spirit of God is away, only mistakes and lies follow.

As Man has put himself in the place of God; he says: ‘Believe! Believe into my word and its interpretation.’ But this is against the commandments, because it is by the Spirit of God that we are enlightened, and not by the spirit of Man. Even though God’s Word is collected through Man.

This is why we ought not to add to God’s Word and not to preach our speech outside of the Word of God.

When we ask from them, the fake prophets and preachers, signs that would validate their quality as apostles, their answer is that they are asked what the Pharisees required from Jesus-Christ. It is not the same! Because the Pharisees were asking signs in the sky, and not in Man; they were asking that Jesus-Christ unsettles the order of nature. But it is about Christian signs and not Heathen ones: God loves simple souls that do not distort His Word, that do not hold speeches pouring-out from their fantasies, that receives the Word of God as it is given, in itself. The person that remains in the teaching of the Lord is truly a free person; he or she does not seek to substitute his or her babblings to the Word of God; he or she announces the Gospel in its simplicity, without any ceremony.

Christ said: -“Go all around the world, preach to those who do not know; not to those who know.” The Christians know Christ. If they do not harbor Him in their hearts-He who was announced a thousand and five hundred years ago-then they remain on the side of the road and no sermon will change this sad situation. It is to the Heathens that they ought to preach; and this ought to be carried out in simplicity alike the apostles by aligning their speech to their deeds.

But there will be also true apostles, that will open the eyes of the unbelievers and bring the Gospel alive to them; they will accomplish signs alike the Blessed Apostles; they will resurrect the dead and heal the lepers; they will possess neither gold nor silver; they will be true pilgrims, patiently waiting to be fed.

(To be continued)

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The memorial stone at the birthplace of Paracelsus near the Devil’s Bridge, close to Einsiedeln, SZ. Picture by Martin Sauter/Fotos & Grafiken.

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How lucky we are to have had elders such as Jean,

who with great patience, among many things,

taught us what to look for &

how and where to look for it

Et in arcadia

Ego’…

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More about Paracelsus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracelsus 🌿 https://www.theatrum-paracelsicum.com/Main_Page🌿About Lucien Braun: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucien_Braun
A Little Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim Sampler – Part I

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