Paracelsus (1493—September 1541) - Witchcraft Hall of Fame

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Paracelsus (1493—September 1541)
Witchcraft Hall of Fame

Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim called himself Paracelsus, probably to indicate that he believed himself superior to Celsus, the first-century Roman medical authority. He inevitably is identified solely by his nickname today, perhaps because his true name is such a mouthful.

Magus, alchemist, astrologer, philosopher, and physician, he was a controversial figure in his own time and aroused passionate opposition especially from other physicians and apothecaries.

Born in Switzerland, he spent his childhood in Carinthia, a province of Austria.

He is believed to have studied medicine under his father, a physician. He received his doctorate from the medical school at the University of Ferrara c.1515. He traveled to Rome, Naples, Spain, Portugal, Paris, London, Moscow, Constantinople, and Greece.

He was the first researcher to describe zinc and to use chemical compounds in medical practice. In 1526, he was appointed Professor of Medicine at Basel University and City Physician. He began by publicly burning the works of Avicenna and Galen.

Paracelsus was so foul-mouthed that Thomas Thompson, Scottish historian of chemistry, was incapable of completing a translation of his work. After only 11 months, he was obliged to resign his chair at Basel and spent the rest of his life wandering through Europe as an itinerant physician, mainly in Austria and Germany.

His specialty was bronchial illnesses. He developed the first comprehensive treatment for syphilis. He was fascinated by potential links between weather and illness and wrote extensively on the connections between astrology and medicine.

Paracelsus regarded illness as a form of imbalance. His theories would now be described as “holistic”; he insisted that body and soul must be simultaneously addressed in order to bring about a true cure.

“Everywhere I enquired diligently and gathered experience of the medical art, not alone from doctors, but also from barbers, women, sorcerers, alchemists.” (Paracelsus)

He believed in the existence of natural magic powers, and allegedly kept a spirit named Azoth imprisoned in the crystal pommel of his sword.

In 1541, utterly impoverished, he settled in Salzburg under the protection of Archbishop Duke Ernst of Bavaria. He died there, allegedly thrown off a precipice by his enemies.