Short Catechism of Alchemy

From Theatrum Paracelsicum
Manuel de Paracelse

I. Basic information

Printing History, Manuscripts. First printed anonymously in 1766 [by Théodore Henri de Tschudy (1727–1769)] in L’Étoile Flamboyante, ou la Société des Francs-Maçons, vol. 2 (Frankfurt-Paris: Antoine Boudet, 1766) as Catéchisme ou instruction pour le grade d’adepte ou apprentif Philosophe sublime et inconnu (not attributed to Paracelsus). A German translation of the French original appeared in Der flammende Stern. Oder die Gesellschaft der Freymäurer, vol. 2 (no place, 1779) as Catechismus, oder Unterricht für den Adeptengrad, oder den Lehrling der erhabenen und unbekannten Philosophen. – First printed as a work of Paracelsus by Arthur Edward Waite in 1894.

Editions. Not edited by Huser or Sudhoff.

Relationship between different versions. Only one known version.

Structure, genre/form, perspective, style.

Relationship to other texts. Tschudy actually plagiarised the Statuts des Philosophes inconnus loosely attributed to Sendivogius and published in pseudo-Michael Sendivogius, Traitez du Cosmopolite Nouvellement découverts (Paris: Laurent d’Houry, 1691), 10–40.

Authenticity, authorship. The Paracelsification of the text was initiated by Éliphas Lévi (1810–1875). In the second volume of his Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (1861) he praised the Manuel de Paracelse, a work that according to him contained “all the mysteries” of alchemy and cabala and was only to be found in the Vatican library where Sendivogius prepared a copy that in due course served baron Tschoudy for his publication of the Catéchisme. Sudhoff searched in vain for this manuscript. Waite included an English translation in his collection of mostly pseudo-Paracelsian texts.

Time of writing. Probably written in the late 17th century.

II. Sources

Manuscripts: no manuscripts known

First printed:

  • 1766 (in: [Théodore Henri de Tschudy], L’Étoile Flamboyante, ou la Société des Francs-Maçons (Frankfurt-Paris: Antoine Boudet, 1766), 2: 234–302) [not attributed to Paracelsus]
  • 1779 (German translation; in Der flammende Stern. Oder die Gesellschaft der Freymäurer (no place, 1779, 2: 162–203) [not attributed to Paracelsus]
  • 1894 (in: The Hermetic and Alchemical writings of Aureolus Philippus Theophrastus Bombast, of Hohenheim, called Paracelsus the Great, ed. Arthur Edward Waite (London: James Elliot, 1894), 1: 288–305)
III. Bibliography

Essential bibliography: Sudhoff, Paracelsus-Handschriften, 808.

Further bibliographical references:

Éliphas Lévi, Dogme et rituel de la haute magie, (Paris: Germer Ballière, 1861), 2: 296.

Harold Fisch, “Bacon and Paracelsus,” The Cambridge Journal, 5, n° 12 (1952), 752–758, on 754.

Didier Kahn, “Alchimie et franc-maçonnerie au XVIIIe siècle,” revised version (February 2012), online (, accessed 20 November 2020), on [4].