Knowledge in Nature, Knowledge of Nature: Paracelsus and the Elementals

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Knowledge in Nature, Knowledge of Nature: Paracelsus and the Elementals

Edmund Siderius

Quote:In this regard the elementals’ great natural intelligence must be considered. Paracelsus consistently attributes to the elemental spirits an almost limitless wealth of knowledge. In Liber de Nymphis, he says of them that: “They also know all future affairs, present affairs and the past, which are not apparent but are hidden”. In his Concerning the Nature of Things he describes “giants, pigmies, and other marvelous people, who are the instruments of great things, […] and know all secret and hidden matters”. This consistency is important, since in some ways Paracelsus’ treatment of the spirits is inconsistent. This is particularly evident in regards to what creatures he accepts as being either elemental or monstrosity and their means of generation. In the Astronomia Magna they make an appearance as Inanimatum and some creatures he will later classify as monsters are described as elementals. Here Paracelsus also writes that they are spontaneously generated, rather than born from a man and woman of their kind as he does later in Liber de Nymphis. In his Concerning the Nature of Things the elementals are likewise claimed to be produced by the homunculus, rather than being born. Despite this, throughout his various treatments the concept of their great intelligence remains constant.

Quote:This intelligence is largely based on the relationship between the elemental spirits and the natural world. Hall states that “in the case of elemental spirits, soul [spirit] and body are not differentiated because these creatures have not been individualized as man has been”. This puts them in a more immediate relationship with the light of Nature, since they are only composed of a natural body and heavenly (astral) spirit, both of which are fully in the domain of nature. Pagel observes that this demonstrates the ambivalent condition of man in nature. As he says: “[Man] has ‘bought’ his freedom and mastery of the elements at the price of detachment and ignorance – remaining far below the ‘wisdom, art, [and] activity’ of these intermediate beings”. Even though man is a microcosm, having a reflection of all things within him, his very completeness leads him to follow the slow unfolding of the light of Nature itself, rather than having the knowledge inborn within him. Unlike the elementals, which are purely composed of the corruptible elements, humankind also has an immortal soul, which enables their freedom, but separates them from the immediacy of nature.


Was first posted here but relevant to this thread ->

Paracelsus, Nature Spirits and Faeries

Neil Rushton

Quote:They were supernatural, with the ability to live in environments in which humans would not survive, but under the right circumstances (Paracelsus describes these circumstances as ‘when we see naturally’) they could interact with humanity and even form relationships with humans – an important point explored below. He was also keen to iterate that these beings were created by God as guardians of nature. Paracelsus was twice accused of sorcery for his beliefs (although never tried in an ecclesiastical court) and he was on thin ice when discussing entities that would customarily be seen by the 16th-century Church as nothing more than demons. So he encapsulated the nature spirits within a Christian epistemology, even though they had no doctrinal credence. He reinforced this by suggesting they had no souls and could only be redeemed by being brought into the human world and accepting Christianity. But the tenor of his thesis implies this was a cover to make his concept of an overriding spirituality to nature acceptable. Paracelsus was importing pagan metaphysics into a Christian world, but he was pragmatic enough to realise this needed to be coded to the prevailing 16th-century Christian worldview.

Interesting in that it presents the idea that elementals having no souls as a way to avoid being judged as a heretic/blasphemer which is somewhat contrast to the first posted Siderius.

Though I guess if one thinks of the "intellect" as a soul, then there isn't anything about elemental intelligences that requires hem to be soulless. But if elementals have souls are they also "microcosms" of Nature?

Getting into actual reports of these beings, we might find it doesn't really matter...

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