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Human History in the Light of Spiritual Investigation

Schmidt Number: S-2474

On-line since: 15th February, 2016

From Paracelsus to Goethe

Berlin, 16 November 1911

During a nice September day of this year, I drove with some friends from Zurich to the neighbouring town Einsiedeln. There a Benedictine Abbey was founded in the early Middle Ages and acquired a certain notoriety through diverse circumstances. At that day, just a pilgrimage day took place. Einsiedeln was prepared to welcome many pilgrims. At that time, I myself also wanted to do a kind of pilgrimage, but not directly to that place Einsiedeln, but from there to an adjacent site. A car was taken to drive to the so-called “Devil's Bridge.” Finally, on a quite rough way, uphill and downhill, we arrived there and found a quite modern inn that was built relatively short time ago. In this inn, a board is found: “Natal site of the doctor and naturalist Philippus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, called Paracelsus, 1493–1541.”

This was the goal of my pilgrimage at first: the birthplace of the famous, in many respects also infamous, Theophrastus Bombastus Paracelsus von Hohenheim. At first one saw meadows with many flowers and grazing cows all around in a strange place where many ways crossed. One could feel something particular by the peculiar of nature as you can hardly find it in Europe anywhere but in the Alpine regions. Nature has something there, as if the plants have an own language, as if they wanted to say anything, as if they could become rather talkative. This site is also suitable to grow together with that which the spirit of nature can tell you.

There the picture of a boy emerged before my soul who grew up during the first nine years of his life in that nature who really had his birthplace in a house which stood once there, and which was replaced with the new one. Since the old doctor Bombast von Hohenheim lived in the fifteenth century at this place, and his little son was the future Paracelsus. I tried to put myself in the situation of that boy about whom I knew that he had grown together with the whole nature already from his earliest childhood. I tried to imagine this boy in this nature talking intimately with the plants. In a certain respect, the outer configuration definitely shows what that boy Paracelsus let speak to himself from the early morning to the late evening, except those times in which he went with his father on the ways that this undertook to the adjacent places. One can consider as sure that the father could exchange some interesting thoughts about the interesting questions with the little boy in the midst of nature at that time, questions that that child could already put about what the experience of nature directly shows. Something that matured in that boy that we may come to know in the life of Paracelsus faces us in a childlike figure if we have the picture of the old honest-good, but very expert licentiate, the old Bombastus von Hohenheim taking the inquisitive boy by the hand.

While this picture emerged in my soul, I remembered another picture which I already had many years ago when I stood in Salzburg in front of a house where a board displayed that in this modest house Theophrastus Bombastus Paracelsus von Hohenheim died at the age of 48 years. Between these two pictures this eventful, this unique life is enclosed to me.

If we look a little closer at his life, we find, indeed, still completely with the character of the fifteenth, sixteenth centuries, a deep knowledge of nature arising which became then medical science and philosophy, theosophy. A knowledge of nature, which originates from deeper clairvoyant soul forces whose true figure I have already suggested in the talks of this cycle. What waked up these deeper soul forces and enabled Paracelsus to look within nature behind that what the outer senses and the outer intellect can recognise only, was really caused by the intimately adherence with nature, by feeling his soul forces related to that what germinates, sprouts and blossoms in nature. When the nine-year-old boy moved with his father to Carinthia into a similar nature, he could also feel related with the spirit of nature.

Paracelsus growing up in such a way advanced further and further just in an individual, in a quite peculiar and personal view of nature. How could this be different? Everything was connected that took root in his mind with the forces peculiar to him and with the abilities, with the way as he stood to the things how they were talking to him. Hence, he also especially appreciated throughout his life to have grown together so intimately with nature. If he wanted to stress to his enemies that his inside was related to nature, he often pointed to it later. These were his words: “Give ear how I justify myself: I am not spun subtly by nature, it is also not the habit of my country that one attains something with silk spinning. We are brought up neither with figs, nor with mead, nor with wheat bread; but with cheese, milk, and oat bread, this cannot make subtle fellows. Those are educated in soft clothes and in women's rooms, and we who grew up in pine cones do not understand each other well. This is why someone can even be considered as rude who believes to be subtle and gracious. The same applies to me what I regard as silk, the other call it drill.” He is of such a type, he thinks, as the human beings are who have not completely separated themselves from the topsoil of natural existence but are intimately connected with it. He takes his power and wisdom from this connection. That is why his motto was throughout his life: “Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself.” This penetrated his whole character; it shows us this man mental-plastically. Hence, we can understand that when he came to the university later he could not familiarise himself with the way how he should continue scholarly now what he knew about medical science naturally, only encouraged by the conversations with nature and with his father. He could not cope with this at first actually.

In order to realise what he had to withstand there, we have to look at how at that time medicine was done. There it was authoritative above all what one could have in the old traditions and documents of the old doctors Galen (131-~200 AD), Avicenna (AbÅ« AlÄ« al-Husain ibn AbdullÄh ibn SÄ«nÄ, ~980–1037) and others. The lecturers dealt preferably with commenting and interpreting what one could read in the books. This was deeply antipathetic to the young Philippus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, and he probably thought above all that a big distance was between that which one could get directly and intuitively from the spiritual work of nature and what had gone away so far from it as scholarship, as mere intellectual concepts and ideas. Hence, he wanted to go through another school. He went through this other school thoroughly. We soon see Paracelsus leaving the university and wandering about in Germany, Austria, Western and Southern Europe, Poland, Holland, Lithuania, and Scandinavia, with the intention to get to know something from the way everywhere — to speak with Goethe — “how nature lives in creating.” Since he had the thought in mind, actually: indeed, the whole nature is a uniform, but she speaks in many languages, and just because one learns to recognise how one and the same thing changes its form in the different regions, one advances to the being of the inner unity, to that what underlies as something spiritual everything only sensorily discernible. However, he wanted to get to know not only how any ore, any metal directly results from the configuration of the mountains and of its source to get such a picture how nature lives in creating, he wanted to get to know not only how the plants assume other shapes depending on the climate and the environment, but he had something else still in mind. He said to himself: with its surroundings, the whole human organism is connected. One cannot understand the human body and soul as the same everywhere; at least one does not recognise the human being if one looks at him only at one place.

Therefore, he wandered through the different regions that were accessible to him to recognise with his look deeply penetrating into the spiritual how the human being is related with nature, depending on the different influence of climate and region. Not before one experiences this different influence everywhere, one gets to that what informs us about the nature of health and illness in the sense of Paracelsus. Hence, he was never satisfied to get to know any illness only at one place, but he said to himself, the fine substances are different which compose the human organism, depending on whether the human being lives, for example, in Hungary, in Spain or in Italy, and nobody recognises the human being who cannot pursue the finer substances with penetrating look.

When one reproached him that his “high school” was vagrancy, he referred to the fact that the divine spirit does not come to anybody who is sitting on the fireside bench. He realised that the human being has to go where the divine spirit works in the different shapes of nature. A clairvoyant knowledge developed in him that he could have only because of his connection with nature.

However, Paracelsus also felt that this knowledge had so intimately grown together with his soul that he became more and more aware that, actually, one could bring to mind only by an intimate way of pronouncing what he had learnt directly on the high school of nature. He called nature his “book” and the various areas of the earth the “single pages” of this book which one reads walking on them. He despised those increasingly who studied the old Galen, Avicenna and others only and removed from the book that spreads out with its various pages as the “book of nature” in front of him. However, he also felt that that what he could learn in such a way in his high school could be put only intimately into words. Hence, he wanted to use another language than Latin that had become foreign, actually, to the immediate soul life, which was used in those days only at the universities. Since he believed that he could not succeed in bending the words and in formulating so that they could immediately express what flowed out of all being. Therefore, he felt the urge to express in his mother tongue what he wanted to express. Two things resulted from that. Once, that he had a high self-confidence of the value of his knowledge not because of boasting or arrogance, for he was a humble nature strictly speaking. That is why he said that one could not learn anything from medical science, actually, but one must approach nature directly again while renewing medical science. — Hence, his proud words: “Who wants to follow the truth has to go to my kingdom. Follow me, you Galen, Avicenna (AbÅ« AlÄ« al-Husain ibn AbdullÄh ibn SÄ«nÄ, ~980–1037, Persian polymath), Rhazes (AbÅ« Bakr Muhammad ibn ZakarÄ«yÄ ar-RÄzÄ«, 854–927, Persian polymath), Montagnana (Bartolomeo da M., ~1380–1452) and Mesue (YÅ«hannÄ ibn MÄsawayh, ~777–857, Assyrian physician), I do not follow you. You from Paris, you from Montpellier, you from Swabia, you from Meissen, you from Cologne, you from Vienna, and from the regions of the Danube and Rhine rivers, you from the islands, you from Italy, you from Dalmatia, you from Sarmatia, you from Athens, you Greeks, you Arabs, you Israelites. Follow me and I do not follow you ... I become the king, and the kingdom will be mine, I lead the empire and gird your loins!” Not from arrogance and haughtiness, but from the consciousness that nature speaks out of him, he said, the kingdom is mine. — With it, he meant the kingdom of scientific and medical knowledge of his time.

The second thing that resulted was that he was soon by such a disposition and such a knowledge an opponent of the official representatives of his discipline. First, they could not stand at all that he expressed himself in German what they regarded only as possible to express in Latin language. He was a complete innovator of that. They could also not understand that he walked through the lands and wanted to learn. They could not at all believe that someone who was connected with the whole nature had a living sensation of the fact that the human soul-life is everywhere a fruit of natural existence in the region and that one has not only to observe the plants blossoming and the animals thriving there. Hence, Paracelsus appreciated farmers, shepherds, even knackers who worked in and with nature. He was convinced that in their simple knowledge something would be included of a real knowledge of nature from which he might learn something, so that he learnt as it were as a vagrant from vagrants. Hence, he says about himself: “I followed the art at the risk of my life and was not ashamed of learning from vagrants, headsmen, and barbers. My teaching was tested sharper than silver in poverty, fear, war and misery.” — One could not forgive him this. When he was appointed later at the university of Basel — as it were like by an error of the representatives of his discipline —, one of the scholars noticed with horror that Paracelsus walked in the street not in the costume of the professors, but like a vagrant, like a carter. This was not acceptable; this violated the reputation of the entire profession.

Therefore, it happened then that he encountered the contradiction of his colleagues where he wanted to apply what he had learnt from the big book of nature, and experienced what those have to experience who have to experience envy and opposition the worst. However, what one could least forgive him was that he was successful with his deep insights into nature where others had no success where they had applied everything that was in their power and could reach nothing. It is true if one offered resistance to him there or there he was not sparing with rude words, but if one considers the conditions with which he worked, one knows that it was completely justified. Where he was urged to discuss this or that medical problem with these or those colleagues, the debates became heated. There, for example, the others talked in Latin that he understood rather well, then he shouted back towards them in German what he regarded as proofs, they regarded, as follies. A picture of the whole way resulted how he collided with his contemporaries.

We can briefly explain in the following way what he gained as insight. He said: the human being, as he faces us as a healthy and ill being, is not a single entity, a single species, but he is placed in the big nature. One can assess health and illness in a certain respect only if one knows all effects that originate from the big world, from the macrocosm to pull the human being into their circles. — Thus, the human being appeared to him at first like a single entity in the macrocosm. This was one direction as he looked at the human being. Then he said to himself: someone must attain an intimate knowledge of all events in the big nature outdoors who wants to assess how all phenomena which happen, otherwise, outdoors in wind and weather, in rising and setting of stars and so on flow through the human nature as it were, work into them. — Because Paracelsus did not confine himself to the special knowledge of the human being, but let the clairvoyant gaze wander over the whole macrocosm, over physics, astronomy, chemistry, and collected everything that he could get hold of, the human being was a part of the macrocosm for him.

However, besides the human being appeared to him as a being independent largely, while he processes the substances of the macrocosm and by the way, in which he processes them, he lives either in connection or in opposition with the macrocosm. As far as the human being is a part of the macrocosm, Paracelsus looks at him as the lowest, most primitive, purely physical-bodily human being. But as far as the human being receives a certain circulation of substances and forces in his organisation and develops independently, is active independently in them, Paracelsus saw something included in the human being that he calls the “archaeus” that was to him like an inner master builder whom he also called the “inner alchemist.”

He draws the attention to this inner alchemist who trnsforms the outer substances which do not resemble what the human being needs as material inside as he changes milk and bread into meat and blood. This was to him a big riddle. In it expressed itself what he saw working as the inner alchemist who adapts himself harmoniously in the universe or opposes it. This was to him the human being in a second direction who can have such an inner alchemist in himself who transforms the substances into poisons destroying the organism, or into those means furthering and developing the organism.

Then he distinguished a third one: that what is the human being apart from the outer world. There Paracelsus realised that the human organisation is so designed that in the cooperation of the forces and organs a little world, a microcosm, an image of the big world exists. Notabene: this is something different from the first viewpoint of Paracelsus. After the first viewpoint, the human being is a part of nature. As far as with his third viewpoint the single parts of nature co-operate, he finds a likeness of the mutual relation of sun and moon in blood and heart, in the nervous and cerebral systems and in the interactions of them. In the other organs, he finds an inner kingdom of heaven, an inner world edifice. The outer world edifice is to him like a big symbol that recurs in the human being like a little world. In a mess that can originate in this little world, he sees the third way in which the human being can become ill.

He saw the fourth viewpoint in the passions and desires, which exceed a certain measure, for example, rage and fury. They react then again on the physical organisation.

Finally, he still saw the fifth viewpoint that is by no means admitted today, in the way, how the human being is integrated into the course of the world, and how to him from the whole spiritual development the causes of illness can result.

Paracelsus developed five viewpoints this way which he demanded not theoretically, but which he realised from the nature of the human being in immediate view of the relation of the human being to nature. Because he saw the human being placed in nature, and did not intellectually but clairvoyantly consider the way in which the single parts co-operate Paracelsus could position himself in a particular way to the sick human being. Strangely enough, he related not with one, but with all soul forces to the whole world. Hence, his nice sentence: with the mind we learn to recognise God the Father in the world; by faith we learn to recognise Christ, the Son; and by imagination, we learn to recognise the Spirit.

As the knowledge of the healthy and sick human being results from these three aspects, he wanted to put the human being before his soul. However, he wanted to look not only at the human being, but he wanted to observe how the single things are related in nature with each other and with the human being. Something peculiar could thereby happen: if he faced a sick person, he beheld how nature worked under the just cited viewpoints; the irregularity of the substances and of the organs resulted to his intuitive sight. He had the whole human being before himself.

He could not dress in abstract words what he experienced in front of the sick person, he could not formulate it; but he settled in the sick person. He needed no name of the illness, but while he was like submerged in the illness, he realised something quite new: how he had to combine the substances that he knew in nature, so that he could find means against this illness. However, it was also not only the mental in which he submerged, but also the moral, the intellectual and spiritual. Call him a vagrant if you want, as one did; maybe call charlatanism what he did. Nevertheless, stress also that he was bared of all means that he had to run up debts and so on. But then do not forget that he unselfishly became completely one with the illness he faced.

Hence, one could say, if he used everything that nature gave him for the sick person, the most important remedy would be love above all. Not the substances heal, he said, but love. — Love also worked from him onto the sick person, because he completely saw himself transported in the nature of the other human being. The second what had to arise from him by his especially intimate relation to nature was that he beheld the effective means in any single case that he applied; he beheld it developing its forces in the human organism. From it, the second arose to him: confident hope. He calls love and hope his best healing powers, and he never set himself to work without love and hope. The man who walked around as a vagrant was completely filled with the most unselfish love. However, he often had weird experiences. His love went so far that he cured those free of charge who had no money. However, he also had to live on something. Some people often cheated him out of his fee; then he went on and did not care. However, also collisions happened with the surroundings. Thus, the following occurred to him, for example.

When he was in Basel, because he was later appointed city doctor, also like by a kind of error, he accomplished some famous cures. Once he was called to a Canon Lichtenfels who had an illness that nobody could cure. Paracelsus had stipulated a fee of hundred thalers if he cured him; the canon agreed. Then Paracelsus gave him the remedy, and after three or four times the illness was cured.

There the canon meant if this was done so easily, he also does not pay the hundred thalers, — and Paracelsus was left with nothing. He sued the canon to set an example; but he did not win his case at the Basel court: he should keep to his rate. Then he distributed, as one said, bad flyers against the court and especially against the canon. This bred bad blood. A friend drew his attention to the fact that his stay was no longer safe in Basel. Then he fled in the dead of night from Basel. Had he gone half an hour later, he would have been imprisoned.

Someone who knows the peculiar life of this person understands the impression deeply penetrating into our hearts originating from the picture that comes from Paracelsus' last years: a picture that shows a face in which a lot of spiritual is expressed. He experienced a lot, but at the same time, the life badgered this soul and this body badly. On one side, you notice the suffering, relatively young man with the old features, wrinkles, and baldness and which struggle and striving which essence of the whole time evolution were in Paracelsus and on the other side, how he had to experience the tragic of a human being who confronted his time this way. Even if it is a legend, what should have happened in Salzburg that the Salzburg doctors would have decided once to incite one of his servants to precipitate Paracelsus from a rock who thereby met his death and was carried to his house. Even if that is not true, the life of Paracelsus was already in such a way that one must not split his skull; one worried his life out so that we understand his early death completely.

Such a man like Paracelsus made a deep impression on all who searched the way to the spiritual worlds in the next time. Someone who knows Goethe's life feels that Paracelsus whom Goethe got to know soon made a deep impression on him. Goethe had grown together like Paracelsus as it were with the surrounding nature. On another occasion, I have already told that Goethe showed this emotional attachment as a seven-year-old boy while he built an altar, rejecting everything that he has as religious explanations about nature from his surroundings. He took a music stand, laid minerals of his father's collection and plants on it, waited for the sun rise in the morning, collected the sun beams with a burning glass and lighted a little aromatic candle, which he had put on top, to light a sacrificial fire which was kindled in nature itself, and offered a sacrifice to the God of the big nature that way. This affinity to nature appears with Goethe so early and develops later into the great, also clairvoyant ideas about nature. We see in Goethe who is already in Weimar this way of thinking working on in the prose hymn To Nature: “Nature! We are surrounded and embraced by her, we are unable to escape her, and unable to penetrate deeper into her. Uninvited and unwarned she takes us along in the circulation of her dance until we are tired and fall from her arms ...”

Also in another way, we see a lot of resemblance between Goethe and Paracelsus. He becomes a true student of nature in botany and zoology. We realise how he tries to recognise the being of the objects of nature on his Italian Journey spiritually observing how the single appears in its variety. It is nice as he sees the innocent coltsfoot transformed which he knows from Germany. There he learns how the outer forms can express the same being in various way. Thus we realise that he wanted to recognise — everywhere searching the unity in the variety — the uniform as the spirit. It is significant what he writes from Rome to his friend Knebel (Karl Ludwig von K., 1744–1834) in Weimar on 18 August 1787: “After I have seen many plants and fish near Naples and in Sicily, I would be tempted if I were ten years younger to travel to India, not to discover anything new, but to look at the discovered in my way.” He wants to behold intuitively spiritually what spreads out in the sensory world. Paracelsus headed for the spirit in nature, Goethe headed for the spirit.

No wonder, hence, that Paracelsus' life appeared beside Faust's life vividly in Goethe's soul. If we open ourselves to Goethe's life especially, his Faust stands not only as the Faust of the sixteenth century before us who was a kind of contemporary of Paracelsus in a certain respect, but Paracelsus himself stands before us as he worked on Goethe. We have something in the Faust figure in which Paracelsus played a part. Why did Goethe resort to Faust? — One tells in the legend of Faust that he laid the Bible behind the bank for a while, became a doctor of medicine, and wanted to study the forces of nature.

Indeed, we realise that Paracelsus remained loyal to the Bible and was even a Bible-expert, but we see him laying the old medical authorities, Galen, Avicenna and others “behind the bank,” even burnt them once and went directly to the book of nature. This trait did a big impression on Goethe. And further: do we not see a similar trait when Faust translates the Bible into his “beloved German,” so that that which comes from it can directly flow into his soul, and when Paracelsus translates that into his beloved German which natural science is to him? We could state som other traits that would show that in Goethe something of the reappeared Paracelsus lived when he created the Faust figure. Yes, one would like to say, one sees in the Faust — Goethe translates it only into the ideal — what often happened between Paracelsus and his honest father when they were together, where Faust tells how he had contact with his father. Briefly, we can look at Paracelsus if Faust works as a figure of the Goethean creating on us.

While we have both figures beside ourselves, something faces us that shows in peculiar way how Goethe could make something quite different from the Faust figure as from the Paracelsus figure of the sixteenth century. If we look at the Goethean Faust, he is dissatisfied about what the different sciences, medicine, theology and so on can give him. However, Goethe can present this Faust not in such a way that we see the immediate settling in nature. Goethe could do it, but there had to be something for him, why he did not do it. Why did he not do it?

There it is remarkable at first, what is not only an outer fact that Paracelsus died with a harmonious soul that has grown together with the spirit of nature in the years in which we can imagine Faust saying the words:

I've studied now, to my regret,
Philosophy, Law, Medicine,
and — what is worse — Theology
from end to end with diligence ...
(Verses 355–357)

What now Faust further experiences, he experiences it in an age which Paracelsus did not reach in the physical world. Therefore, Goethe presents a kind of Paracelsus as it were from the age on in which Paracelsus died, but a Paracelsus who could not settle in the living spirit of nature.

How does he present him? Although he shows that Faust found a deep understanding of nature, also a kind of feeling related with nature, it is different than it was with Paracelsus. We feel this, when Faust speaks to the spirit of nature:

Spirit sublime, all that for which I prayed,
all that you now have granted me
you showed your face to me, but not in vain.
You gave me for my realm all Nature's splendour,
with power to feel and to enjoy it. You grant
not only awed, aloof acquaintanceship,
you let me look deep down into her heart
as if it were the bosom of a friend.
You lead the ranks of living beings past me,
and teach me thus to know my fellow creatures
in air and water and in silent wood.
(Verses 3217–3227)

Faust grows together with her in a way, because he was separated from nature before. Nevertheless, Goethe cannot show that Faust penetrates so vividly into the details of nature as Paracelsus penetrated; he cannot show that this happens at once, while he speaks to the sublime spirit of nature. Goethe cannot show how Faust would grow together with nature, but he must show an inner soul development. Faust has to go through a merely mental-spiritual development to reach the depths of the creating of nature and world. Thus, we realise with this way of Faust, although he often reminds of Paracelsus, that everything that Faust experiences is experienced in the moral, in the intellectual, in the emotional life, and not like with Paracelsus with whom as it were the feelers reach nature. It had really to happen that Faust could ascend to unselfishness, to the intimate love of the spiritual at the end of the second part, not while he grows together with nature, but goes even farther away from her. Goethe lets Faust go blind:

The darkness seems to press about me more and more,

But in my inner being there is radiant light.
(Verses 11,499#8211;11,500)

Faust becomes a mystic, he develops the soul in all directions, and he faces the resisting Mephistophelean forces. Briefly, Faust must develop purely inside his soul, has to raise the spirit in his soul. When this spirit is raised inside, the manifest to the senses is destroyed even with Faust because he goes blind: “But in my inner being there is radiant light.”

Faust realises — we recognise this at the end of the drama — that the spirit working in nature forces up the inner soul forces if the human being develops them. If this spirit is developed enough, the human being directly attains what penetrates as something spiritual the human being and nature.

Thus, Goethe let his Faust experience an inner soul path so that his Faust comes to the same goal to which Paracelsus came. If one thinks about what induced it, one realises that the powers of time cause the successive epochs of development, the historical life.

One recognises then what it means that the year of Paracelsus' death is something before that big revolution which the work of Copernicus caused for the outer natural science. Paracelsus' life still falls into the time in which it was right that the earth was stationary in the universe that the sun walks around it, and so on; this still worked beyond Paracelsus. Only after his death, the quite different kind of the view of the solar system and the world system prevailed. People literally lost the ground. Someone who regards the Copernican world system as a matter of course today gets no idea of that storm which broke out when the earth “was set in motion.” One can say, the ground under the feet faltered literally. But that also caused that the spirit did no longer stream immediately like an aroma into the soul as with Paracelsus. If Copernicus had confined himself to that which the senses perceive, he would never have put up his world system. Because he did not trust in the senses, he could put up his world system, while he exceeded the sensory appearance with intellect and reason. The course of development was this way. The human being had to develop his mind and his reason immediately. The times since the sixteenth century have passed not without effect.

While Goethe had to lift his Faust out of a Paracelsus figure of the sixteenth century to a Faust figure of the eighteenth, he had to consider that the human being could no longer be connected with nature in such an immediate and primitive way as Paracelsus was. Hence, Faust became a figure that could not discover the forces of existence, the sense of being by the immediate connection with nature but by the hidden forces from the depths of the soul.

However, at the same time the essentials appear that in the human being the stream of existence does not pass by insignificantly. Paracelsus is a son of his time as a great, superior figure. Goethe created a figure in his Faust poetically, which he made the son of his time in a certain direction which learnt to use reason and intellect in the natural sciences of his time, and which could work out the mystic. Hence, one has to say, because Goethe felt pressured into presenting not a Paracelsus figure but another figure, the deep caesura appears in the development of the European humanity in this period. The importance of such a caesura even appears in the greatest geniuses, and in the difference between these both figures. It is interesting for someone who wants to get to know Goethe to the highest degree to look at his creating in the Faust figure, because his Faust informs us about Goethe more than his other figures.

If we look at spiritual science from these observations, it can feel intimately related with Goethe, but can also feel intimately related with Paracelsus in another way. How with Paracelsus? Paracelsus could receive the deepest insights into nature from the developed forces of his soul by immediate contact with nature. However, this time in which one was able to do this is past since Copernicus, Galilei, Giordano Bruno and Kepler. Another time has begun. In his Faust Goethe showed the type of this time in which one has to work with the hidden soul forces, so that higher sensory forces come into being from the depths of the soul. As the eyes see the colours as the ears hear the tones, these higher senses perceive the spirit in the surroundings and that which one cannot behold as spirit with the usual senses.

Thus, the modern human being has to experience the deeper soul forces, while he does not grow together with nature as Paracelsus did but while he turns away from her. However, if he gets around to bringing up the deeper forces from his soul, to developing an understanding also of what lives invisibly as a spiritual and supersensible behind the visible, behind the sensory nature, if the human being works out the Faustian from himself, then the Faustian becomes the clairvoyant insight into nature. In a way any human being can experience developing the inner spirit that he can say indeed — even if he cannot believe to have solved the riddles of the world by what his eyes and outer senses teach him: “But in my inner being there is radiant light.” This can lead us to the spirit that prevails in everything.

Thus, the way from Paracelsus to Goethe is extremely interesting if one sees reviving in the Faust figure from Goethe's soul what for Paracelsus what also for Faust is the essentials is: the fact that the human being can penetrate into the depths of the world and into the laws with which the everlasting immortal spirit of the human being is related not by the outer senses, but only by an immediate connection with nature, as with Paracelsus, or by a development of higher senses, as Goethe poetically indicated in the continuation of the Faust figure of the sixteenth century. That is why for Paracelsus that became more and more a principle that then Goethe stressed for his Faust with the words:

Nature, mysterious in day's clear light,
lets none remove her veil,
and what she won't reveal to your mind,
you can't extort from her with levers and with screws.
(Verses 671–674)

With it one does not mean — neither in the sense of Paracelsus nor in that of Goethe — that one could not investigate the spirit of nature, but that the spirit reveals itself in nature, indeed, to the spirit woken in the soul, but not to the instruments which we have in the laboratory, not to the levers and the screws. Hence, Goethe says: “What she won't reveal to your mind, you can't extort from her with levers and with screws.” But to the spirit she can reveal it. This is the right interpretation of this Goethean word. Since Goethe agreed absolutely with Paracelsus, while he created a reflection of Paracelsus in his Faust, and Paracelsus together with Goethe would have regarded the spirited words as valid:

to understand some living thing and to describe it,
the student starts by ridding it of its spirit;
he then holds all its parts within his hand,
except, alas! For the spirit that bound them together.

Goethe adds, namely, when he conceived his Faust first, because he himself was still in high spirits in a juvenile way and did not belong to the “extremely clean and superfine” people in the sense of Paracelsus:

which chemists, unaware they're being ridiculous,
denominate encheiresin naturae.
(Verses 1936–1941)

However, this wants to say that nobody who wants to approach nature without developed higher cognitive forces can recognise the primal grounds of nature and cannot recognise how the immortal spirit of the human being is connected with nature, or to speak with Jacob Böhme where it comes into being (German: urständet).

If one covers the way from Paracelsus to Goethe as we have tried to outline it today, then you realise that Paracelsus and Goethe are living confessors of the other principle, not of the principle of those views of nature and world which they wanted to meet with the Goethean saying:

To understand some living thing and to describe it,
The student starts by ridding it of its spirit;
He then holds all its parts within his hand,
Except, alas! For the spirit that bound them together.

No! Paracelsus and Goethe approach nature and the human being in such a way that for them counts:

Who wants to recognise and understand some living thing,
looks for the spiritual light in primal grounds.
There he holds all its parts within his hand,
And never will he misjudge
The truth of the things within the spiritual tie.




Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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