The history of mankind has been marked by profuse cultural, sociological and individual searching for a ‘higher level’ of existence and consciousness. Historically punctuated by the attempts and explanations of the two major branches of thought, philosophy and science, the existential questions that have formed the fabric of this journey have yet to be solved. Despite their differences in reasoning, philosophy and science have both, seemingly and inadvertently, arrived at the same questions on which other methods have sought to further expand. These questions are the “Big Questions” about what defines humanity and its role in the cosmos. From examining the definitions of health and disease, the dichotomy between life and death and the question of transcendence of one’s physical being, mankind’s questioning has resulted in branches of thought that try to answer them both from a philosophical and scientific viewpoint.
The purpose of this paper is to arrive at an understanding of the intertwined relationship between the two major sciences, arts and philosophies of human history – alchemy and homeopathy. United by the common goal of reaching the highest level of existence, the two branches propose ideas that seem unrelated on the surface, but are truly and inherently connected.
Alchemy has sought to find the Philosopher’s Stone, and Homeopathy’s ultimate goal is to reach the freedom of health on all planes of existence. I hope to demonstrate how homeopathy has been strongly influenced by alchemical philosophies and principles in order to promote its own individual purpose of holistic healing.
History of Alchemy:
Alchemy is one of the oldest sciences in the world (Hall, 1928 ).The ancient word “Khem” originated from Egypt, the land alchemy arose from. In their time, the Egyptians and their land were invaded by the Greek Empire followed by the Arabs. Many things changed during their reigns including the language. The Greeks believed matter was made from four elements: fire, water, air and earth. Once their belief merged with that Egyptian sacred science of Hermes, the previous word “Khem” was changed to Khemia. Subsequent to that the Arabs overcame the Greek rulers and took control over Egypt. Finally, the Arabs added the word “Al” to “Khemia” which formed the word Alkhemia: meaning “black land” of Egypt. (Hall, 1928)
From the 400’s to the 1600’s alchemy was spread throughout the world from Egypt to Greece, to Muslim empires, to India (in the 1100’s) and to Europe during the 14th, 15th and 16th century. (http://www.sibyllineorder.org/magical_studies/ms_alc_history.htm)
History of Homeopathy:
Homeopathy had its start as a rebuttal to the common methods of 18th century medical practitioners. These methods, which included over-drugging, bleeding and cupping, were administered to the ill. The medical approach of homeopathy can be traced back to the time of the medieval alchemists. These practitioners include: Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), Agrippa Von Netsheim (1486-1535) and most important of all, Theophrastus Paracelcus (1493-1541) and even Hippocrates (468-377BC) (Morrell, 1999).
Samuel Christian Frederick Hahnemann, the founder of the homeopathic system of cure, gave reference to Hippocrates in the law of similars. However, no other person was the biggest influence in homeopathy and its practice than Hahnemann (1755-1843). Hahnemann combined all the previous ideas of his predecessors and joined them with his own, to form what we now know as homeopathy. (Danciger, 1987)
Many question if Hahnemann was influenced by the works of the physician and alchemist Paracelsus. In his time Hahnemann denied any parallels to Paracelsus and his practice of medieval alchemy. Some evidence disputes Paracelsus’ influence on Hahnemann and his work in homeopathy. Paracelsus did not use homeopathy in the way Hahnemann used it; he did not conduct provings like Hahnemann and neither did he dilute and potentize doses. The processes of provings, potentizing and diluting remedies was exclusively established by Hahnemann. (Morrell, 1999) However, general consensus supports speculation that Hahnemann was in fact influenced by Paracelsus and his work. Hahnemann and the advancement in homeopathy were influenced by the law of similars, (Danciger,1987). This method is most attributed to Paracelsus and his extensive clinical use of it. Paracelsus was also known for using small and single doses in his practice, which is one of the main principles of classical homeopathy.(Danciger, 1987).
An article written by Peter Morrell, a contemporary homeopathic researcher published in (http://www.homeoint.org/morrell/articles/pm_alchem.htm) affirms conventional opinions that Hahnemann built upon the work of Paracelsus. He speculates the reason for Hahnemann’s disassociation with the alchemist as being related to the controversy surrounding Paracelsus and his method of healing. Morrell goes on to say ” The fact is that Hahnemann was a brilliant thinker and practitioner, he was very inventive and precise in everything he did, although he left very little evidence behind that he was influenced by Paracelsus’ work”. Both Hahnemann and Paracelsus were fascinated by chemicals , made use of poisons, minerals, acids and metals to heal disease. They both had university teaching posts and were denounced later on, and they both rebelled against the medical practices of their time.(Morrell, 1999)
Additionally, both Paracelsus and Hahnemann were opposed to the Galenic method, created by the roman physician Galen( AD 129-199), which was based on four humours: blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. Galen’s methods were derived from Hippocrates’ and Aristotle’s views on the nature of men. It was the opinion of Paracelsus that the Galenic method was limited in its approach to illness. To Paracelsus, a true physician must have knowledge of illness and nature. It was in his work that Paracelsus merged his study of alchemy with his medical practice. He believed that only those who understood the mysterious work of nature could be true medical art practitioners and discover the power of the remedy. (Morrell, 1999)
The physician should be versed in all branches of philosophy, physics and alchemy as well, as thoroughly, as profoundly as possible and should not lack any knowledge in these fields. He should stand on solid ground, founded in truthfulness and highest experience. For, of all men, the physician is supreme in the study and knowledge of nature and her light, and that is what enables him to be a helper of the sick.” (Paracelsus Samtliche Werke Sudhoff Matheissen Edition, vol. 10, part I, pp 277-8)(Danciger, 1987, P14)
The followings are two separate, but extremely similar quotes written by both Paracelsus and Hahnemann, each during their own time, outlining their aversion to the way medicine was being practiced:
“I found that the medicine I had learned was faulty, and that those who had written about it, neither knew nor understood it. They all tried to teach what they did not know. They are vainglorious babblers in all their wealth and pomp…[Paracelsus in Das Buch Paragranum, quoted in Coulter,Vol. 1, p.346]( Morrell, 1999)
” The unholy chief business of the old medicine seems to be, out of ignorance, to render the majority of diseases if not fatal, then at least incurable through the continuous debilitating and tormenting of the weak patient who, moreover, is already suffering from a. his disease and b. the addition of a new destructive disease. This is a very easy business once one has got the knack of this ruinous procedure and has become properly insensitive to the warning of conscience!”(Hahnemann, 1843 P.3).
The fact remains that the two healers had very similar systems of practice; “indeed many of the metals, acids and minerals including Mercury, Arsenic, Sulphur, Tin, Lead, Gold, Iron, Copper and Salt that were proved by Hahnemann, were originally introduced into medicine by Paracelsus”. (Morrell, 1999)
Although Hahnemann denied any association with alchemy or Paracelsus’ ideas, the fact remains that there is an underlying link to alchemy in Hahnemann’s work that makes one safely assume that he had a great knowledge about this sacred art and science. (Morrell, 1999)
Alchemy and its philosophy and Principles
Alchemy, and its philosophies, are a highly complex study that forms the source of much discussion. Alchemy is a science that teaches about the transformation of metals. (Hauck, 2004). Roger Bacon a British alchemist, in his book titled Mirror of Alchemy stated:
” Alchemy is a science teaching how to make and compound a certain medicine called the Elixir, which when cast upon metals or imperfect bodies of any kind, fully perfects them in the very projection.” (Hauck, 2004. P. 21).
The Elixir to which Bacon makes reference is “Aracanum” also known through medieval tradition, Powder, and Stone. (Hauck, 2004) In the book “The Secret Of The Emerald Tablet,” written by Dr. Gottlieb Latz, he postulates that Arcanum has the ability to “perfect anything.” An example of this may be found during the metamorphosis of baser metals to gold. Latz also professes that the cure to disease and the power to make man whole, is within Arcanum (Latz, n.d).
Paracelsus himself proclaimed Archaues, a common name for what is now known as Archanums, as playing an important role in healing. He believed Archanum to be “an essence that is equally distributed in all parts of human body. He also believed Archanum is “the Spiritus Vitae (Spirit of life) and takes its origin from Spiritus Mundi (Spirit of Universe) ( Danciger, 1987). This relationship between the transcendentally-cosmic spirit “entities” and the study of metallic transformation will become more apparent when specific reference is made in the next section of this report.