In November of 1989 I had the opportunity to spend time in the Castle Von Bernus with the wife of the famous alchemist Alexander von Bernus. Our co-workers at World Research Foundation in Stuttgart, Prof. Dr. Walter and Heide Kleber brought me to see Isa von Bernus who was 90 years old. During his lifetime, her husband Alexander, had once again brought to the surface, the hermetic and alchemical teachings that stretched from Hermes to Paracelsus.
Alexander Von Bernus was born in 1880. He studied the teachings of Hermes Trismegistos and writings of Paracelsus that had been handed down through Paracelsus’s students. Von Bernus was not interested in money or producing gold, his wife said, his intent was in benefiting humanity by producing medicaments that would truly heal people. Paracelsus had stated there are five possible causes for a disease, von Bernus dedicated his life’s work to create a healing system that would address these causes. Paracelsus had given the name ‘inner alchemist’ to all metabolic activities in the human body and von Bernus followed that same philosophy.
Von Bernus was a poet, philosopher and alchemist during his life and had many friends including Rudolf Steiner, Hermann Hesse, Rainer-Maria Rile and other renowned intellectuals of that period. I was told, during the Second World War, many people came to the castle and were protected from the Nazis. The Nazis did not want to interact with Alexander Von Bernus, ‘The Alchemist.’
Von Bernus believed the important points when addressing an individual with a difficulty; was to regenerate the functions of the various organs, bolster the self-healing inner alchemist and place the individual back into working harmoniously with the cosmic rhythms of the planet.
For von Bernus, as it was for Paracelsus and other alchemists, they knew that all natural elements contain a spiritual essence or quintessence. This is why most manufactured products and processed substances, although they have their own new essence, don’t enrich the body with the required spiritual energy that the body needs. The old alchemical traditions were based on the doctrine of signatures, which involved working with substances according to their appearance, shape and odor. Von Bernus worked through astrology to determine the proper timing, regarding the constellations and relationships of planetary bodies, to determine when the greatest energetic aspects of various herbs and plants was present. Von Bernus’s philosophy was steeped in the philosophy of the macrocosm and the microcosm.
Von Bernus wrote 20 volumes of poetry which contained spiritual and metaphysical truths. He also wrote several books on Alchemy and Health.
The Baroness shared with me that her husband followed the guidance of Paracelsus; when you sit humbly in front of any herb, plant or object, with open mind and quiet expectation, with a desire to be of service, all nature communicates to you.
Through translation, because the Baroness did not speak English, she said that she and her husband had been waiting for my visit and knew that I was coming even before Heidi had arranged the visit. Alexander von Bernus had passed away more than 30 years ago so her comment was very intriguing. Later her husband would appear to me in a physical manifestation.
Heidi, Karl and I were supposed to stay for only a few hours and then leave on a two week trip through Europe. After some hours, everyone got up and I assumed we were going to begin our journey. At that moment, Heidi told me that the Baroness wanted me to stay in the castle for three days. I would have full access throughout the castle and could read anything that I chose. Heidi and Karl would return in three days. I was shown to my room on the third story of the castle. Upon returning to my bed at night, I noticed a large old trunk.
In the trunk were hand written parchments, scrolls and other documents dating to the 1300s. I was told the next morning that these documents were from the Neuburg Abbey, an original Benedictine abbey that was formerly owned by the Goethe family.
In 1825 it became the property of Johann Friedrich Heinrich Schlosser, a nephew by marriage of Goethe, and after his death to his wife's relatives, the von Bernus family. Alexander Von Bernus had access to Goethe’s books and papers along with alchemical and philosophical documents collected since the 1300s. In 1926, Alexander von Bernus returned the Neuburg Abbey to the Benedictines, but held on to these old documents. None of the writings were in English. I held each one, they spoke, and I listened. A librarian’s nirvana!
Alexander von Bernus created alchemical tinctures that followed faithfully the formulas of the great alchemist Paracelsus. Von Bernus did not use shortcuts in their preparation and he did not take credit for the wisdom that had been passed down to him through inner teachings, old manuscripts and the words of wisdom from others he met.
The Baroness shared that some of the wisest people in Europe would come to the castle and evening would be spent in philosophical and musical discussions. These nightly gatherings full of the richness of the journeys of those in attendance was also a practice of Goethe in the early 1800s. The fruits of your awareness are dependent upon the environment and people you choose in your life.
May you receive some gifts of wisdom from the past contained within this post.
To be in service, beautifies the heart,
And greater love arrives, to play its part.
Opening the mind, to greater capabilities,
Will be demonstrated by your actions, for all to see.
And when you are humble, like a child at play,
Nature shares all her wisdom, each and every day.
To inspire and empower with love, in love and through love.