The Causes of Diseases and their Treatment
In the following article I have endeavoured to compile a summary of the causes of diseases out of the extensive works of Paracelsus without alienating Paracelsus’ thoughts.
In his book, “Paramirum“, Paracelsus writes that there are only five causes for any kind of disease. He called these the five Entia: “Notice it well, there are five Entia which create and cause all diseases”. Thus, there are, for example, five causes for an influenza infection and not only one – in the form of four – as is stated today. “So be aware that there are fivefold pestilences, not with regard to their nature, their shape and form but with regard to their origination, even if they may later manifest themselves in any manner. These are namely five kinds of jaundice, five kinds of fever, five kinds of cancer and thus five kinds of any disease”. Here, Ens – according to Paracelsus – signifies the being, the idea, the existence of something “which has unlimited power over the body.“ Thus, something spiritual is at first existent which later brings the visible and tangible body into illness. The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, makes a similar statement, “Diseases are dynamical irritations of our spiritual life in feelings and actions; they are immaterial irritations of our health“.
An illustration shows the five powers of the human, called Entia by Paracelsus, in the shape of a pentagram. Similarly proportioned as Leonardo da Vincis “vitruvian man”, man inside this pentagram is also shown by Agrippa von Nettesheim in 1533 in „De occulta philosophia“. At the head, both feet and hands, as well as at the penis of the depicted man who stretches out legs and arms to both sides to obey the pentagram drawn inside a circle, we find a symbol of alchemy at any respective point. Here, the symbol at the head is that of iron, at the right hand that of brass, at the right foot mercury, at the left hand tin and the sickle of the moon is displayed at the penis.
The Entia are subdivided into two groups. One comprises three causes of diseases which concern the physical sector, thus the soma. The second group comprises two origins of diseases which take their effect on the spiritual level.
The three physical causes are first of all the “Ens astrale“, namely, as Paracelsus says, “…the power and the nature of the stars and their power over the body.“ This also includes environmental influences like radioactivity, earth radiation and water veins which are also under the influence of the stars.
The second physical cause, “Ens veneni“ refers to the toxins which on the one hand the body produces itself as end products of his metabolism or which on the other hand take their effect on the body from the outside. If the excretion of these toxins cannot be sufficiently realized by the body, it comes – according to Paracelsus – to an “inner putrefaction”. This can then lead to any kind of disease.
The third physical cause, “Ens Naturale“, is the personal disposition of each individual, thus his constitution and disposition. He writes with regard to this, „If our own body makes us ill due to its confusion and because it damages itself.” The second group of causes for diseases which take effect on the spiritual level comprise for one the so-called heathen causes – these are psychosocial and psychosomatic influences which can concern any person, independent of his belief. These he calls “Ens spirituale“ and he describes them as follows: “the spirits which make our body sick”. Besides psychosocial factors, practised black magic which caused the diseases was thoroughly realistic for Paracelsus. The second cause working on the spiritual level is called “Ens dei” by Paracelsus. Thus, basically, these are causes willed by god. From the perspective of other philosophies one could also speak of karmic load.
Besides these five origins of diseases, Paracelsus does not allow for any other cause and writes with regard to this, “Because there are five effect-taking possibilities for each individual person. He who forgets some of them and turns up with others may well be a false prophet.”
One should rather – he writes – always analyse all five parts at the same time when judging a disease. The logical consequence for Paracelsus is the fact that all five causes certainly also require five different therapeutical paths which also have to be applied to the patient at the same time. He writes with regard to this, „I have to particularly call attention to the fact that the diseases do not have to be treated as if they originated from one source, but one has to apply different methods depending on the five Entia. The treatment of poison should not be used for the disease which stems from the Ens of the stars. The spiritual treatment should not be applied to the disease stemming from the Ens Naturale. The disease from the Ens Deale does not agree with the spiritual treatment“. Here, Paracelsus did not always consider the presence of a physician necessary during treatment. “The external physician only takes over when the internal one is defeated, despairs, fatigues.” In this sense, prophylaxis thus means nothing else than the protection of the internal physician in such a way that he can fulfil his mission as extensively as possible. Therefore he writes, “if only the nature is protected then it is nature itself which heals all diseases because it knows how to treat them. The physician is not able to know and therefore his only task is to protect the nature“.
Only if the internal physician is at a loss does the external physician have to take an active role in helping to apply all necessary five paths of therapy together. According to Paracelsus any kind of therapy should be structured on the basis of these five pillars. Here the “Ens astrale“ is supported by measures which build up energy and which should mainly be applied during waxing moon. Elixirs of life like the Aqua vitae, according to Paracelsus, play an important role here. Such elixirs of life were stockpiled by many pharmacists under the term of theriak. The alchemic manufacturing processes have to be subordinated to certain cosmic constellations in order to supply the medicament with the necessary energy. Likewise, various stimulation and realignment therapies can be used. Logically, the “Ens veneni“ has to lead to a detoxification of the organism. By the administration of bitter substances like artichoke, vermouth, calamus roots and dandelion, the so-called Amara, the liver function and the gall secretion is encouraged. With the aid of this the liver is able to detoxificate a lot easier and the peristalsis is stimulated by the gall, and thus the stool output is encouraged.
Diuretics like stinging nettle and horsetail stimulate detoxification via the kidneys. Antidyscratics improve the bodily fluids and deacidify the organism. Sauna, bloodletting and blood cupping detoxificate in a splendid way. The “Ens Naturale“ requires for each patient individually-created therapy concepts. Here, the idea is in fact the recognition of the types of constitution and disposition and the highly specific treatment of them. The patient with weak nerves is administered passion flower, the one with a weakness of the connective tissue will be given horsetail, the gout patient will be given rampion. Every person, however, also requires a specific mineral, for example, by way of processed precious stones and most of all by various metals. Certainly some metals react toxically if they are applied in their original form. For this reason alchemy digests the metals and makes them organically utilizable. Additional catalysts like tartar are also alchemically treated and ensure a proper resorption of the metals all the way into the individual cells of the body. Such preparations then bear names like Aurum portabile, the low-temperature liquefied gold. Work with metals is part of the work of an advanced adept of alchemy. The “Ens spirituale“ is treated by means of a counter spell, spiritual healing, incenses, salt baths, and psychoactive plants, whereas the “Ens dei“ has something to do with the processes of becoming aware of the patient and his understanding of why he has become ill, which has to be aroused.
But how does a therapist gain this knowledge?
The first thing to do is to enter into contact with the spiritual world and to look amongst the immaterial spiritual entities for one or more competent contact partners in order to be able to answer all open questions during self-study. He writes with regard to this, “Therefore take care of your inner garden because – which way ever the internal person is created – he should only listen with the external one to himself. Then he will learn which nobody else can teach him, and everyone will be surprised“. As an example, Paracelsus cited Hildegard von Bingen who gained her knowledge of healing in dreams.
„We have no man who teaches us and no man who knows herbs from within himself and who is familiar with them. He must have got this from others who are more than or different from human beings“. Thus, one should clearly maintain aimed contact with the spiritual world in order to learn those things which a living person cannot know.
The second way to gain knowledge is the occupation with the tradition of the ancestors. This way, however, contains lots of sources of errors which result from misinterpretations of the ancestors. For this reason it is necessary to subject all researched knowledge to a practical test. With this one also gets the chance to make random discoveries during practical work. It is exactly these chances which constitute the third way for gaining knowledge, as Paracelsus thinks.
The fourth possibility to acquire knowledge is the contact with existing elemental beings: This contact can be simply established by means of divining rods and pendulum or by the so-called automatic writing.
The fifth way is the study of “chiromancy“. This means that one has to observe certain external criteria which a healing plant possesses. For example: mistletoes grow on trees as parasites and use the life juices of the trees. There, mistletoes are so reckless that they destroy their own host and thus also themselves. It is exactly this property which the mistletoe owns and which is visible for everybody. And it is for this reason that the mistletoe is one of most important therapeutics for the treatment of cancerous diseases.
The sixth way is the study of the “physiognomy” of substances. Here one can lead to a conclusion from the outward appearance on the effect of a substance within an organism. If a patient suffers from diarrhoea he has to take up dry food like rusks, rice, etc. If, however, he suffers from constipation then “moist“ food is advisable. Here, melons and cucumbers are only two examples.
The last and most important way for gaining knowledge over nature is the understanding of all features in their entirety which, for example, define a healing plant. Here, it is also invisible properties that matter like taste, smell, but most of all the interaction of the planetary forces. One has to observe a plant over a longer period of time and to examine it before one knows when its active substances content is highest, when it should be harvested or processed. In earlier times the look at the sky and the observing of the stars as an orientation in time have always played an important role. From these trains of thoughts Paracelsus developed the four pillars which make up the art of healing. The most important pillar which supports all the others is virtue. Without virtue all those busily gathered realizations and agglomerations of knowledge are built on sand. Thereby, the motives which cause a man to be healer or physician play a great role. These are decisive for the fact whether this one is a good or a bad physician, no matter how much knowledge he has acquired. This virtue certainly has to be imparted, writes Paracelsus in his book “Paragranum“.
For this mediation he considers three ways to be a good therapist. Either, virtue and abilities were placed into the cradle, or the therapist had a good teacher for the transfer of knowledge or finally there is the third and most important mediation, that the therapist was called by god. “It is the works which make the master and doctor, and not emperor nor pope nor faculty nor privileges nor a high school. Never has a physician emerged from the High Schools, and never one who might have been in a position to clarify the cause of just few diseases with true knowledge.” It is only one’s own endeavour to brotherly love which is the base of all healing. Paracelsus – according to his own statements – treated the poor ones without charging or for board and lodging. The most important virtues of a healer are comprised summarised by Paracelsus as: modesty, love of your neighbour, optimism and humility towards God. “You have to have an honest, upright, strong and truthful belief in God, with all your mind, heart senses and thoughts, with all your love and trust”.
There, he was at loggerheads with the buildings and rituals of the church and had to be permanently aware of being persecuted by the church and being destroyed. “I allege and say that it is more useful to wash the defects of the poor, to dress their wounds than standing there, celebrating mass and whining during Terce, Vespers, and Compline. You say that I am no Christian because of that and that I am acting against Christian belief. I have got this, however, from Christ who says, ‘You should eat, drink, and clothe yourself’ – he did not think of mass when he said that“. Paracelsus regards two of the four pillars which bear the art of healing always in companionship. He means philosophy and astronomy here. This way of thinking is already becoming clear from Egyptian mystery cults. Today, students of medicine who have received their training in the West do not even know one little spark of philosophy lessons, let alone of astronomy.
”He who has not studied philosophy makes a physician like a chimney sweep a baker’s hand.“ Philosophy gives one the opportunity to grasp the invisible. According to Paracelsus, philosophy is the knowledge of “the light in nature. It is the knowledge of the plants of the earth and of the water, of their nature and their power. He is also a philosopher who knows the tide of humans, who has experienced it and explored it.” Everything in nature bears a signature. Only in philosophical observation do these signs of nature reveal themselves and one realizes what to do with the individual plants in the art of healing. Astronomy determines the time of harvest and of processing as well as of the optimal intake. This way, the spiritual “elementary power“ of matter can be recognized and can be curatively employed in the form of the “quintessence”. Paracelsus calls the teachings of these coherences “golden chains“.
The last one of the four pillars of the art of healing is to be found in certain transformation processes of matter. These transformation processes are called transmutations. Besides the transformation of matter, these transmutations work at the same time to change vices into virtues by knowledge. The persons’ participation in this work as well as people who take such transmuted medication are subject to this process.
…..to be continued
..taken from 3/VIII Paracelsus “Health & Healing”, January 2011
Prof. E.h.Iwailo Schmidt BGU