THE Prophecies of Paracelsus attracted my attention at an early stage of my studies in the Occult, which have now extended to over forty years, but I have only recently thought of bringing them to public notice, the extraordinary events of the present time acting as an incentive.
The famous French Kabbalist, Alphonse Louis Constant, in La Clef des Grands Mystères, p. 378, wrote:
'The Prophecy of Paracelsus, of which we here give the Preface, is composed of thirty-two chapters with allegorical figures.
'It is the most astounding monument and indisputable proof of the reality and existence of the gift of natural prophecy.'
Abbé Constant (born 1809, died 1875), better known by his Hebraistic pseudonym, Eliphas Lévi Fahed, was a distinguished Adept, Magus, and Writer on the Occult. Most of his works have been ably translated by Mr. A. E. Waite.
The Preface Eliphas Lévi refers to is not given here, but will be found preceding the Predictions.
The Prophecies of Paracelsus
Eliphas Lévi then continues:
'Following this Preface commence a series of figures.
'The first represents two millstones, the two powers of the state, the people and the aristocracy; but the people's stone is crossed by a serpent holding a bundle of birchrods in its jaws; a hand armed with a sword comes out of a cloud and seems to direct the serpent, which overthrows the millstone and causes it to fall upon the other.
'The second figure represents a dead tree, the fruits of which are fleur-de-lys, and the text announces the exile of the family of whom the fleur-de-lys is the emblem.
'Farther on the millstone, representing the people, falls upon a crown and breaks it.
'Farther on still a bishop is shown immersed in water and surrounded by spears that prevent him from reaching the bank. In the text it says:
"'Thou hast come out of thy bounds, now thou demandest the earth, but it will not be surrendered to thee."
(The German text is slightly different.)
'Then can be seen an eagle hovering over the Bosphorus, where the Sultan appears to be drowning.)
And as this eagle has not two heads and is not black Eliphas Lévi considers that this excludes Russia and Austria.
The great French Kabbalist then concludes:
'It would perhaps not be prudent at present to publish the remainder. Curious persons can consult the Latin book printed with the title Prognosticatio eximii doctoris Theophrasti Paracelsi, which should be found in the National Libraries.
'We possess two copies, one in manuscript and the other photographed after a copy printed in the sixteenth century.'
Thus far Eliphas Lévi in 1861; this is the year 1915.
Now the world is in the throes of a great European war, there is no reason why these pregnant Prophecies should any more be kept secret, and every reason why they should be widely known.
Great changes in the world are before us, both in Religion and Politics. Considering the importance at the present critical time of a clearer outlook, this glimpse into the future coming from the past may not be inopportune, and the present publication of the Predictions of Paracelsus may assist and interest, both from a religious and political point of view, all who are concerned in the world's progress. It may
also serve to aid the reader to a better acquaintance with the great Adept of the Renaissance, when his own quaint words on Past, Present, and Future are reproduced.
THEOPHRASTUS BAUMBAST VON HOHENHEIM, commonly known as Paracelsus, the famous Swiss Physician, Alchemist and Occultist of the sixteenth century, was born on the 10th November, 149 3, at Sihlbrücke, near Einsiedeln, Canton Schwyz, and died on the 24th September, 1541, at Salzburg.
Contemporary with Charles V, Luther, Erasmus, and Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus stands out as an extraordinary character that has been for a long time misunderstood by the majority of the learned and unlearned alike.
Living in the age of the Reformation, siding neither with Catholic nor Protestant, he distinguished himself as a free lance in Medical Science and Occult Philosophy, and would have been known as a Mystic had his religious writings not been so carefully suppressed as to be altogether forgotten. Paracelsus then claims our attention as Alchemist, Physician, Occultist, Mystic, Astrologer and lastly as Prophet, and it is in this last capacity that we shall regard him, as we are about to study and thereby rescue from oblivion those at one time
famous predictions, of which some have been remarkably accomplished,, while others may be considered to be still in actual course of fulfilment.
Concerning the life of this remarkable man we are informed that his first teacher was his father, the learned Wilhelm Baumbast von Hohenheim, a physician, who took pains to instruct him in all the learning of the time, especially in Medicine.
At the age of sixteen young Baumbast entered the University of Basle. But he soon abandoned academic studies, preferring the mystic and occult teachings of the famous Adept, Johannes Trithemius, Abbot of Spanheim, a noted Alchemist and Divine, whose ideas he absorbed.
However, he soon forsook the Abbot, as he had previously forsaken University culture, to study Metallurgic Chemistry in the mines then owned by the Fuggers in Tyrol.
It is not my intention to give a description of the Life of Paracelsus, as such an excellent account appears of him in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Fuller biographical details are given in The Life of Paracelsus, by Dr. Edward Berdoe, M.R.C.S., in the Life and Teachings of Paracelsus, by Franz Hartmann,
M.D., and in The Life of Paracelsus by Anne M. Stoddart.
Those who read German will find interesting details in the little volume, Theophrastus Paracelsus, sein Leben und seine Persönlichkeit, by Franz Strunz.
I must, however, differ from the last-named author, who would claim Paracelsus for the Pantheon of German fame and would endeavour to prove that he was a German. He was not. Paracelsus, although he preferred to lecture and write in German, was all his life, heart, soul and backbone, a Swiss. This en passant.
Paracelsus, in his book Von der grossen Wundarznei, volunteers concerning himself the following information: 'From childhood upward have I followed these studies and received instruction from those experienced in Adept Philosophy.'
He then mentions his principal teachers. 'First, Wilhelm von Hohenheim, my father, who never failed me.
'I studied the writings of ancients and moderns, and had a number of teachers I can hardly name.
'Some of them took great trouble with me, such as the Bishops of Stettgach, of Lavantall, and of Yppen, the Abbot of Spanheim, and further,
Sigmund Fugger von Schwatz, and many workers in his laboratory.'
Fugger may have largely influenced his mind in Alchemy, but in the recently unearthed theological writings of Paracelsus mentioned by Professor Karl Sudhoff in his learned work Versuch einer Kritik der Echtheit der Paracelsischen Schriften, 2. vols., Berlin, 1894-1899, we find a clear indication that he derived his prophetic gift from that source of all Prophecy--Mystic Illumination.
Paracelsus--he assumed that name when he began to teach, to indicate his superiority to Celsus--was for all his numerous instructors, to a great extent, like all adepts, self-taught and soul-inspired.
A mystic leading a sexless life, he had glimpses of Cosmic Consciousness or Divine Illumination, far transcending the knowledge of his time, and while under such inspiration, that secret spring of all genius and prophecy, he wrote and said more than he knew in his mortal mind.
Searching for knowledge and truth, roving through various countries, practising and teaching a system of empirical medicine which we will not here discuss, he got into touch with life in all its phases, and into a state of mind most favourable to the attainment of that Kabbalistic state of Cosmic
Consciousness, or Divine Illumination, which rays forth throughout his luminous writings.
Famous, yet hated and persecuted by unprogressive contemporaries, misunderstood by the unenlightened of the following centuries, posterity has at last vindicated the fame and character of this hero of Occult Science.
Professor Strunz observes of Paracelsus:
'His was a mind of mighty features whose rare maturity converted the stating of scientific problems into warm human terms, and we owe to him the realisation of a cultured human community based upon Christian and humanitarian piety and faith, which things we may well regard as the bases of his teaching concerning both the actual and the spiritual. His restless life never robbed him of that witchery which ever and again flushed the immortal impulses of his soul like golden sunshine; that vision which belongs to the great nature-poet. And yet few men of his time recognised, as he did, the incalculable result to be attained by the empiric-inductive method. . . . Paracelsus felt like an artist and thought like a mathematician, just as he combined the laws of nature with the laws of the microcosm, that is of man with his consciousness, his feelings, and his desires. It was this delicate
artistic sense which proved to be the daring bridge from the man Paracelsus to the keen-visioned observer of reality, a wondrous viaduct resting upon the traverses of the new humanity, the Renascence. For upon this viaduct moved forward that reconstruction of the universe of which Paracelsus was one of the greatest architects.' *
The poet Robert Browning made Paracelsus the subject of one of his finest poems, describing him as an idealist and student of Nature's mysteries.
Professor Dowden in his Biography 'Robert Browning' explains the poem 'Paracelsus' as follows:
'The poem is the history of a great spirit, who has sought lofty and unattainable ends, who has fallen upon the way and is bruised and broken, but who rises at the close above his ruined self and wrings out of defeat a pledge of ultimate victory.
'Paracelsus as presented in the poem is a man of pre-eminent genius, passionate intellect, and inordinate intellectual ambition. If it is meant that he should be the type of the modern man -of science Browning has missed his mark, for Paracelsus is in fact as much the poet as the man of science . . .
'Paracelsus is a great revolutionary spirit in an
epoch of intellectual revolution; it is as much his task to destroy as to build up; he has broken with the past, and gazes with wild-eyed hopes into the future, expecting the era of intellectual liberty to dawn suddenly with the year One, and seeing himself the protagonist of Revolution.
'Such men as Paracelsus, whether their sphere be in the political, the religious, or the intellectual world, are men of faith; a task has been laid on each of them; a summons, a divine mandate, has been heard. But is the mandate indeed divine?
'Very nobly has Browning represented the overmastering force of that faith, which genius has in itself, and which indeed is needed in the struggle with an incredulous or indifferent world!
22:* Quoted in Stoddart's Life of Paracelsus.