Symbolic Life

The author has asked me for some introductory words to the     English edition of her book on Paracelsus.

I am more than willing to comply with this request, for Paracelsus, an almost legendary figure in our time, was a preoccupation of mine when I was trying to understand alchemy, especially its connection with natural philosophy.

In the sixteenth century, alchemical speculation received a strong impetus from this master, notably from his singular doctrine of “longevity”—a theme ever dear to the alchemist’s heart.

In her book, Dr. Jacobi emphasizes the moral aspect of Paracelsus.

She wisely lets the master speak for himself on crucial points, so that the reader can gain first-hand information about this strange Renaissance personality, so amply endowed with genius.

The liberal use of original texts, with their vivid, imaginative language, helps to develop a striking picture of the man who exerted a powerful influence not only on his own time but on succeeding centuries.

A contradictory and controversial figure, Paracelsus cannot be brought into line with any stereotype—as Sudhoff, for instance, sought to do when, arbitrarily and without a shadow of evidence, he declared that certain aberrant texts were spurious.

Paracelsus remains a paradox, like his contemporary, Agrippa von Nettesheim.

He is a true mirror of his century, which even at this late date presents many unsolved mysteries.

One excellent feature of Dr. Jacobi’s book is her glossary of Paracelsus’ concepts, each furnished with a succinct definition.

To follow the language of this physician, this natural philosopher and mystic—a language freighted with technical terms and neologisms—is not easy for readers unfamiliar with alchemical writings.

The book abounds in pictorial material which, coming for the most part from Paracelsus’ time and from the places where he lived, rounds out and sharpens the presentation. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 784-785