Authors/Gerhard Dorn

From Theatrum Paracelsicum

Personal Bibliography

Bibliographia Paracelsistarum/Gerhard Dorn

Dedications, Prefaces, Postfaces

Dorn acknowledges his debt of learning to Bodenstein and to their common mentor, Theophrastus Paracelsus. The letter laments the ungratefulness and shortsightedness of their contemporaries, especially university scholars, who deride Paracelsus for his unconventional writing style and ideas. Dorn champions Paracelsus's contributions to medicine, physics, and metaphysics and asserts that truth will eventually triumph. In conclusion, he urges Bodenstein to continue advocating for Paracelsus's work and ideals, expressing faith in Bodenstein's commitment to the cause.

Dorn laments that many who are ignorant of Paracelsus's teachings disgrace him, even though Paracelsus surpassed other physicians in both experience and skill. These critics, Dorn says, fail to acknowledge their own ignorance while Paracelsus strived to educate and elevate those skilled in their art. Dorn encourages the learned to admire Paracelsus's achievements rather than condemn him. He criticizes those who deride the advancements made by Paracelsus and others in the medical arts, and suggests that this is due to envy and a lack of understanding. Dorn also critiques those who misappropriate the teachings of Paracelsus for their own gain, using his advanced knowledge without understanding it, and discarding those who have truly studied and practiced under his guidance. He calls on his peers to resist such behavior, defend the legacy of Paracelsus, and remain committed to his teachings, despite the slander and misinterpretation that followed his death. Finally, Dorn signs off by reminding his peers of their duty to their teacher, Theophrastus Paracelsus, and the need to continue his work and preserve his legacy.

Dorn urges the reader to read and re-read the book carefully, assuring that if done correctly, he can uncover the beautiful secrets of the art. Dorn mentions the value of practical application over theory, highlighting his own experiences of learning more from mistakes and failures than from passive reading. He also cautions the reader about the potential pitfalls of overreaching, warning against using alchemy for the transformation of common metals.

Dorn states he has composed a key to understanding Alchemy, offering a demonstration of its stages to serve as a guide for those interested in the subject. Dorn acknowledges the criticism he might face from individuals who are resistant to new ideas, particularly those not widely taught or accepted in traditional academic environments. He argues that experience is often a more powerful teacher than formal education and that philosophical truth is not determined by polished speech or complicated arguments. Dorn emphasizes that the principles outlined in his work may have moral implications, serving to guide ethical conduct, not just physical transformations. He argues that one must progress through philosophical stages to truly understand and apply Alchemy. The preface concludes with a discussion about the misconceptions of Alchemy, explaining that the true value lies not in the mythical transmutation of metals into gold, but in its potential application in healing the human body. Using this philosophy, he argues, one can achieve divine help in treating illnesses, thus improving overall health.

In this preface to a book, Dorn explains his decision to add a new title to a work of Paracelsus. He notes that many readers, who form judgments without fully understanding a text, might be deterred by the term 'Vexation' in the original title. The author hopes that the additional title will encourage these readers to delve deeper into the text and gain a proper understanding. He explains that Paracelsus embedded deep mysteries in his works, making accurate translations and interpretations a challenging task. Paracelsus wrote this work primarily to support those seriously committed to the study of Alchemy ('Pyrophilists'), encouraging them to endure its challenges patiently. The author believes the term 'Pyrophilia' encapsulates the spirit of the book and hopes that the revised title will better guide and serve its intended readership.

Dorn defends Paracelsus's teachings, criticizes traditional scholastic and pagan philosophy, and advocates for Paracelsus's approach to learning, which is based on experience and practical work. Dorn contends that Paracelsus's works, though fragmented and criticized by detractors, offer valuable insights into natural philosophy and medicine. He highlights the value of empirical knowledge and laments the misinterpretation and misuse of Paracelsus's work by those who focus solely on theory. Dorn also argues that Paracelsus was divinely chosen to reform traditional philosophy and medicine, and he requests the Prince's protection and patronage in defending Paracelsus's teachings.

Dorn metaphorically presents his work as a fledgling bird that he sends out into the world despite threats from detractors. He suggests that his work may seem unworthy due to its tattered appearance and style, but emphasizes the importance of the truths it contains. Dorn believes these truths align with natural principles and hopes that they could lead to significant advancements, such as in the field of medicine. Despite anticipating criticism, he hopes Prince Frederick will protect and support his work because of its dedication to exploring natural laws and the pursuit of truth.

Dorn criticizes the conventional study of Natural Philosophy for its lack of practical application and suggests a more beneficial, ancient philosophy which has been suppressed over time. He is inspired to teach this philosophy, which he believes was originally shared by ancient Egyptians and later preserved by Hermes Trismegistus. Despite the knowledge being criticized and dismissed by some, the author insists on its value and truth. The work is structured in two main parts: theory and practice. The theoretical section covers the life cycle of natural things, the transformation of things both naturally and artificially, and the concept of formlessness and health. The practical section will demonstrate necessary tools, the use of furnaces, and a guide to manual practice. The author invites readers to approach his work with open minds, to learn from it, and to add their own insights if they can.

Dorn discusses his work translating the philosophical writings of Theophrastus Paracelsus from German into Latin. He believes Paracelsus's work is more sincere and in accordance with Christian religion than many earlier writings. He specifically mentions works on Meteors, the Womb, and the first three substances and principles of things. Dorn criticizes those who use pagan texts to try to refute Paracelsus's writings, and he urges his detractors to try to refute his works based on philosophical and religious merit rather than using human authorities. Dorn hopes that the Prince, who he notes respects truth above all else, will protect Paracelsus's works from slander and assist in the reform of abuses he left behind.

Dorn discusses his efforts to translate the philosophical works of Theophrastus Paracelsus from German into Latin for a wider audience. He reveals that certain Astronomical and Astrological works of Paracelsus have recently come to his attention. These works only contain a portion of Paracelsus's ideas, but Dorn believes they hold great value. He expresses his commitment to make these teachings accessible to foreign nations like France and Italy, believing that wisdom is not only for one's own benefit, but for the collective good. He requests Prince Charles's support and patronage to assist in his endeavors. Dorn hopes that with the Prince's backing, they could resist those opposing the truth and complete this important work for the benefit of all.

Dorn seeks Egenolph's patronage for his Latin translation of the works of Paracelsus, originally written in German. Dorn reveals that he undertook the translation project due to the high demand in France and other foreign countries to understand Paracelsus' works. Despite the renowned scholar's native Germany undervaluing his teachings, Paracelsus is highly celebrated abroad. Dorn sees his mission as one of introducing Paracelsus' overlooked wisdom to regions where it would be cherished. However, his efforts have met opposition from those who hold portions of Paracelsus' legacy. They fear losing control over the scholar's teachings and criticize Dorn's translations, believing them to be crude or plain. Dorn challenges these critics to produce their own faithful translations or refrain from criticism altogether. He accuses some of holding back key teachings and others of publishing Paracelsus' works under their own names, actions he considers more disgraceful than ambitious. Dorn holds a strong conviction that his translations, even if they're in a "rough style," will shine a light on Paracelsus' teachings. He is motivated by a desire to see Paracelsus' wisdom shared more widely, for the betterment of mankind and the honour of Germany.

Dorn expresses gratitude for the Prince's patronage. He discusses his endeavors to unravel nature's secrets and theology, accessible only to the enlightened, while maintaining discretion. Dorn indicates his contributions to alchemy and support for those committed to hidden studies. He dedicates his work to the Prince, seeking to safeguard the contained truths against suppression.

Dorn explains the complexities of understanding the enigmatic teachings of Hermes, stressing that they have been interpreted differently by various scholars based on their intellectual capacity. However, Dorn expresses a unique interest in the medicinal application of these teachings for the benefit of society. Hermes' teachings are not only about metaphysical matters or transmutation of metals, but also applicable to the natural world, including plants and animals. Dorn encourages the reader to learn and understand the universal medicine, a concept which seems to imply a cure or solution that can address all diseases or problems, transcending the categories of mineral, vegetable, and animal. He ends with an invitation to the reader to study the following text in depth, as well as a warning: understanding these teachings will require a significant effort. Despite the difficulty, Dorn encourages the reader to persist, promising that their hard work will be rewarded.

Dorn expresses his dismay at how many Christian philosophers and physicians remain "entangled in pagan darkness," failing to incorporate theological understanding into their practices. He criticizes their separation of philosophy, theology, and medicine, suggesting that philosophy serves as the bridge between the divine and human realms. Dorn speaks highly of Paracelsus for his unique approach, which integrates spiritual enlightenment and empirical discovery to advance medical knowledge. He then sets out to elucidate Paracelsus' Spagyric process, which involves understanding the correlations and interconnections of the world and the human being. Dorn details Paracelsus' philosophical and medicinal principles and criticizes the adversaries of Paracelsus for their unwillingness to learn from him, attributing this resistance to envy and their desire for personal gain. Dorn ends the dedication with his intent to translate the works of Paracelsus from German to Latin, hoping to make Paracelsus' insights more accessible to non-German speakers. He emphasizes that his motivation is not for personal glory but to spread knowledge and truth.

Dorn praises August's support for literature and fine arts, especially Medicine. He seeks patronage for the Latin translation of Theophrastus Paracelsus' surgical books from German, which will make them accessible to those unfamiliar with German. He recognizes that Paracelsus' works, while desired worldwide, face opposition from those clinging to familiar, yet unjust and false methods, fearing loss of status and profits. He laments that corruption often overshadows truth and argues that embracing truth leads to unshakeable conviction. Dorn defends Paracelsus against detractors who criticize him without understanding his principles, arguing that any alleged weaknesses only further demonstrate his exceptional abilities. For instance, if Paracelsus lacked Latin skills, it proved his divinely bestowed gift of surpassing the Latin and Greek scholars in doctrine. His choice to live among commoners was seen as humility. Dorn stresses that his focus is on the content of Paracelsus' teachings, not the elegance of the language in which they are expressed, deeming those overly concerned with language as 'ignorant chatterboxes.' He observes that attempts to malign Paracelsus only serve to further promote his teachings.

Dorn laments the decline of the arts and knowledge in the current age, compared to earlier times, particularly in the realm of philosophy and magic. He emphasizes how these fields, initially pure, have been corrupted over time. Dorn extols Paracelsus for his efforts to restore the original and true essence of philosophy and magic, in the face of false accusations and misunderstanding from his adversaries. These detractors, led by their ignorance and influenced by the Devil, wrongfully label Paracelsus as a Necromancer because he knew the powers of the higher and lower worlds, and was a diligent experimenter. Dorn defends Paracelsus's magic as a form of wisdom, beneficial and medicinal to mankind, and aligned with God's teachings and the Holy Scriptures. He emphasizes that Paracelsus's works aimed to heal diseases, preserve human life, and maintain health, and contained nothing that would harm one's neighbor. He also warns of the misuse of magic, stating that those who abuse it for evil would justly face punishment. Dorn requests the adversaries of Paracelsus to publicly provide grounded reasons from the Gospel, if they believe any of Paracelsus's teachings contradict God's commandment. He shows willingness to withdraw his support if such evidence is provided. Finally, Dorn implores Prince Frederick to protect and support Paracelsus's philosophy, hoping that upon understanding the nature's hidden mysteries contained within these teachings, the Prince would help in defending Paracelsus's works from his detractors.
from: Gerhard Dorn, Lapis metaphysicus, aut philosophicus, 1570
Dorn criticizes the decline in the value of ancient wisdom and metaphysics in favor of material wealth and superficial beauty. He praises those who seek deeper truths, seeing value in the humble and the overlooked. The author also criticizes the widespread acceptance of pagan Physics and Metaphysics over their true forms. He entrusts his works to Prince Ludwig, whom he believes is capable of uncovering nature's mysteries, and expresses his dedication to revealing higher truths despite societal disdain.
from: Gerhard Dorn, Lapis metaphysicus, aut philosophicus, 1570

from: Gerhard Dorn, De naturae luce physica ... tractatus, Frankfurt am Main: Christoph Rab, 1583
Dorn addresses the conflict between traditional doctors and the ideas of Paracelsus, calling for clarity and understanding. He argues that true medicine can only be realized through a comprehensive understanding of both Astronomy and Chemistry, reflecting the pure and impure parts of nature as described in Genesis. Dorn emphasizes the importance of separating pure from impure, as taught by the creation of the world. He sees the role of chemists as providing pure material for medicine and cautions against attempts to imitate creation. Dorn's goal is to explain how the higher aspects of nature can aid the lower, how to acquire higher understanding, the unity of the natural ternary monarchy, and the right disposition of the body in philosophical pursuits.
from: Gerhard Dorn, De naturae luce physica ... tractatus, Frankfurt am Main: Christoph Rab, 1583
Dorn metaphorically discusses the Philosophical Key. He reflects on his life's work and struggles in promoting truth, referencing the teachings of Paracelsus, and preparing to face a significant challenge, depicted as a giant.
from: Gerhard Dorn, De naturae luce physica ... tractatus, Frankfurt am Main: Christoph Rab, 1583
Dorn emphasizes the importance of hands-on practice, rather than mere reading, in understanding the hidden truths of the world. He discusses how many criticize the art or its practitioners out of envy, ignorance, or an inability to understand, without contributing positively. He states that he will only respond if provoked and that his writings are intended for those sincerely interested in learning. Dorn also emphasizes that true understanding of these subjects can only be achieved through practical application and experience, comparing the writings to a key that needs to be turned to unlock the hidden knowledge.

Notices, Editorial Remarks etc.

The translated texts primarily deal with the preparation and use of various tinctures, such as those of gold, oil, coral, balsam, antimony, and philosophers' salt, with particular emphasis on their relevance to the treatment of serious diseases. Dorn also addresses criticism from a Parisian Doctor, Leo Suavius, who he accuses of being driven by envy rather than reason in his critiques. Dorn invites readers to compare the works and discern the truth for themselves, and he asserts his right to refute any further criticisms Suavius might levy against his translations.



Other Texts

This text is an Apology where the author defends Paracelsus against accusations typically levelled against him by his adversaries. The detractors claim that Paracelsus wrote his books while inebriated and that he wrote in the vernacular because he was ignorant of Latin. The author refutes these accusations and suggests that they are slanderous rumors spread by those who are resistant to the truth that Paracelsus brings forth. He goes on to argue that such criticisms do nothing to diminish the value of Paracelsus' work and that the naysayers, in their attempts to defame Paracelsus, only end up discrediting themselves. The text ends with a plea to the reader to form a fair judgment and not to fall for false rumors and slanders.