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Paracelsus’s understanding of magic--which he discussed in terms of the types of natural, “celestial” (or Christian), and demonic astronomy—is based largely on his idiosyncratic Biblical exegesis. An important and iconoclastic voice within early modern natural philosophy and medicine as well as Reformation spiritualism, the Swiss-German broke with medieval theories of magic via his synthesis of theology and magic. Although incorporating the mostly extra-Biblical concepts of the tria prima (salt, sulphur, and mercury), elemental matrices, and microcosm-macrocosm analogy, Paracelsus’s spagyrical world (or magico-alchemical cosmos) also featured a concept developed in his extensive theological writings, namely, that the universe consists of two overlapping cosmologies, the natural and the divine, the former a mortal creation by God the Father, and the latter an eternal creation by God the Son. In this context Paracelsus countered the types of natural magic—e.g., nectromantia, astrologica, and signatum—with its more potent “celestial” analogues.

Publication Date

Spring 2020


Paracelsus; Magic


History | Philosophy | Religion

Paracelsus and the Biblical Foundations of Magic: Natural, Celestial, and Demonic Astronomy