Are there connections between homeopathic and alchemical systems of healing? While many would balk at the mere suggestion, a closer, unprejudiced look reveals deep allegiances. The alchemist Paracelsus held the view that the microcosm and macrocosm were intimately and inextricably bound together by way of a complex network of correspondences, which served as the invisible ground of all phenomena, including health and disease. Disease for Paracelsus, then, was not to be understood as a materially based phenomenon. The same is true for Samuel Hahnemann, who understood that disease is a mistunement or derangement of the Vital Force, the dynamic, spiritual principle that animates and governs the life of the organism.
The reason that Paracelsus was at odds with the medical establishment of his day is the same reason that Hahnemann was at odds with that of his (and, needless to say, ours). This is precisely because Paracelsus and Hahnemann both understood that the underlying source and meaning of disease could not be adequately approached by way of mechanical, chemical or physiological modes of understanding. To treat localized pathologies (focusing on the diseased organs themselves), is to remain fixated on the external effects of internal causes. Both Paracelsus and Hahnemann recognized that, in order to affect the greatest depth and breadth of healing, the physician must look to the innermost spiritual causes from which outward (material, measurable, and quantifiable) afflictions ultimately stem.
The task of the physician then becomes “to treat the very essences out of which corporeal organs become crystallized, and to supply them with the power of vitality of the quality which they require” (Franz Hartmann).
To affect a cure by means of a transformation on the level of the innermost spiritual causes of disease is the shared aim of both alchemy and homeopathy. Both Paracelsus and Hahnemann postulated the existence of an immaterial Vital Force that regulates and governs the body in health and disease, a single universal principle of life that oversees the parts that make up the whole. If this life principle is functioning harmoniously, health is the result. If it is obstructed or impeded, disease is the consequence.
Homeopathy and alchemy are both concerned with transformation, evolution, and realization. As a branch of modern alchemy, homeopathy leads us to “turn the base lead of our gross existence into the pure gold of service, not only for our fellows, but for our own spiritual selves, so that we may shine like living suns” (Martin Miles).