Born near Basel, Switzerland in 1493, Paracelsus was an alchemist who clearly believed in physical immortality. He traveled widely, and made a deep study of minerals, plants, and animals. He utilised astrology and taught the theory of the four elements. He invented two words that are in use today: Sylph - a spirit of the air element; and undine - a spirit of the water element.
Paracelsus believed that if we could extract the quintessence, or essential essence, from all things in nature, and then combine these forces, the result would confer Everlasting Life. This idea is very similar to the mystical concept of the universal sacrament - that it is possible to receive from everything in nature, an immortal grace or elixir which can keep the body in an incorruptible state.
There is a mystery surrounding his supposed death. In 1541, at the young age of 48 he disappears from history. One tradition says he died in Salzburg, Austria, 24 September, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Sebastian. Cause of death is obscure: A night of wild drinking; his enemies throwing him off a cliff; and being poisoned by rivals are all suggested. But, perhaps he did not die, and his body was never placed in the churchyard. One immortalist tradition has him leaving Salzburg and entering a nearby forest - following an antlered white hart.
Paracelsus made many scientific and medical discoveries which are still in use today. He is regarded as the father of the subtle practice of homeopathy. He broke with many traditions - as a professor at Basel, he lectured in German, rather than Latin. Many books have been written about Paracelsus. Two classics are Life of Paracelsus, by Franz Hartmann; and A.E. Waite's The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus. Did he disappear from history following the white hart? Or is he in the grave at St. Sebastian? The mystery remains... What is certain is that he had the True Will for Everlasting Life.
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