Spagyrics, Alchemical Herbalism &
Paracelsus’ Nature Philosophical Approach
Theoprastus Philippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, called “Paracelsus”
It was Paracelsus who coined the term “Spagyric”, which describes a process of medicine making that involves the repeated separating and recombining of herbs or other substances in a lab to purify and extract healing energetic forces. Preparations done in this tradition are known to be easily absorbed and to both strengthen vitality as well as stimulate the self-healing powers in the individual taking them.
Paracelsus started studying medicine at the early age of 16, but he found more value in learning from healing experiences he encountered during his extensive travels around Europe and “Learning from the book of Nature”. He considered Nature as a great healing agent – it was his understanding that any effective doctor and healer should master four disciplines: Philosophy, Astrology, Alchemy and Virtue.
- Philosophy: Without a deep understanding and respect of the laws of Nature a physician or healer would not be able to work toward restoring a naturally healthy state. All of life is interwoven, interconnected, and interdependent. A healer should consider him- or herself as a servant of nature.
“An organism is not a machine but it grows.
An organism is an energetically open system.
An organism is in ecological relation to its environment.
An organism targets rhythmic-dynamic processes.
An organism has the ability to self-regulate.”
According to Paracelsus, the Light of Nature is an intelligent force that enables adaptation and responsiveness in living plants and also in properly made medicines.
In other words with “Spagyric” medicines we strive to work with purified, living intelligent medicines mostly derived from plants. The resulting tinctures interact intelligently with corresponding characteristics in the patient. Whether this happens on a conscious level or without our awareness depends largely on our human state of mind. When we are in a meditative state with a blank mind, free of anxiety, fear, worries or desires we can perceive the teachings of nature represented by trees, herbs, crystals or others. In this receptive state of mind, working with Spagyrics has the potential to develop into a meaningful two-way conversation.
- Astrology: The ability to interpret the cycles we experience in our lives and how our human bodies and our entire beings relate to the stars contributes to a deeper constitutional understanding of each individual’s aspects of being. It adds guidance where the patient’s strengths lie and where he/she might tend to go out of balance, in situations of excessive stress. Astrology studies relationships between Heaven and Earth. Its description of energetic archetypes of the stars acts as a unifying terminology between the different realms of minerals, plants, animals or human life, between spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible or the heart and the mind. Microcosm and the macrocosm are in essence two sides of the same coin. Each part contains the whole and reflects it within patterns of relationships. With awareness and attention, we can perceive the signatures, or “signs of nature” inscribed into the plant. Astrology gives us the language to describe them.
“As Above – So Below”
In working with Spagyrics, Astrology plays a role in:
- Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology: We describe correspondences between our constitution, organ systems, tissue states, disease states and the stars.
- Plant Classification: We discover star signatures in plants based on our understanding of their habitat, life cycle, morphology, actions, constituents, tastes, organ affinities, and other properties. This is a subjective process of perception guided by the intuitive heart that can differ from person to person – much like when different people pick up different information from reading the same book. Depending on personal experience of the plant, we finally assign planetary rulerships for each specific Spagyric tincture we are creating.
- Medicine Preparation: Astrological timing is very important when we start and end plant extracts, and even more importantly when we re-combine the purified and separated salts, alcohol extract and essential oil components ending on a planned “birthday” of the Spagyric.
Time is based on astrological principles – a year is the time the Earth takes to travel around the Sun; a month is the time the Moon takes to travel around the Earth; a week has seven days – one day for each principal planetary ruler: Monday – Moon, Tuesday (mardi in French) – Mars, Wednesday (mercredi in French) – Mercury, Thursday – Thor=Jupiter, Friday (vendredi in French) – Venus (Freya), Saturday – Saturn, Sunday – Sun. Each day’s first planetary hour starts at sunrise with the planet that rules that day. For example on Sunday, January 21st 2018 the sun rises at 7:46 AM and the first ruler of that day is the Sun. The ruling planets cycle throughout the day in the order of the Tree of Life in the Qabalah (Kabbala), an ancient mystic expression of creation (both macrocosm as well as microcosm) with its omnipresent Laws of Nature applicable to many realms. All major steps in the process of creating a Spagyric occur on days and during hours dedicated to the chosen planetary ruler.http://www.lunarium.co.uk/planets/hours.jsp?selectedDate=21%2F01%2F18
« Visita interiora terra – rectificando invenies occultum lapidem »
It means: “In visiting your inner self and by rectifying it, will you find the Philosopher’s Stone (wisdom, the Divine)”
Alchemy describes the process used to create Spagyric Medicines. It is an art that is depends on pure intent. The intent is to magnify unique signatures and correspondences within plants and minerals and transmute them into a new form of expression. Reflections on what nature does guide the process. The lab where Spagyrics are created becomes a microcosm of the transformational cycles of life initiated by the Alchemist’s intentions. Creating a Spagyric is about working not only with plants, but also with stars, elements, and spirits – and of course, it is at the same time a spiritual purification process of oneself. Everything is alive. When we use Spagyrics within a healing context, our entire being shifts and interacts with the energetic forces of the plant. Both Healing and Alchemy are about self-alignment with one’s highest purpose and knowledge of our own heart. It is the connection to the universal life force that enlivens the Spagyric; it guides the creator and it brings about healing in the person taking it.
The three alchemical principles representing Body in the midst of the seven cosmic principles/traditional stars (flowers), Spirit in the center of the hermetic Sun (father) and Moon (mother) and Soul as a new expression rising from the elements initiated by Chronos centered between the water and fire.
Source: “receuil des manuscrits chymiques” 1760 quoted from: “Pflanzenalchemie” by Manfred Junius; edition from Olaf Rippe
- Virtue: This discipline describes the need for Compassion which every physician should display. Love and genuine Care greatly help a relationship of trust between healer and patient. A physician should strive to act with intent of serving the highest good of all involved. Truth is the standard of measure in everything we decide to engage in.
Working on planetarily aligned Spagyric tinctures for the last several years has been the most rewarding project I’ve been engaged in so far in my life. I’ve grown my own herbs and engaging in this intimate relationship with them throughout the Spagyric process (separation/purification/recombination) has been a blessing and truly transformational for me.
A great resource is Sajah Popham’s “School of Evolutionary Herbalism”. They offer useful, free introductory content on Spagyrics, Alchemy and Medical Astrology on their site: https://www.evolutionaryherbalism.com/category/spagyrics/
I am forever grateful to my teachers at the School of Alchemical & Spagyric Arts http://al-kemi.com/alchemy/school/ for everything they set in motion in my life. Among many other things, they taught me how to assess a person’s personal constitution and planetary rulers.
Knowing your own constitutional assessment, can help you discover connections between your goals or issues and likely areas of imbalance as well as what plant Spagyrics might be suitable to help address those.