Alexander von Bernus was a well-known alchemist, poet and playwright in Germany who passed away in 1965. His wife, who was in her 90s, was still alive, and Heidi had a strong feeling that I should visit the castle. Heidi told me the Baroness didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak German. When we knocked at the door, Heidi spoke with the Baroness and then the Baroness turned toward me and said in English, ‘We’ve been waiting for you.’ That she spoke in English took Heidi and Karl by complete surprise.
I was given a short tour of the castle with the Baroness holding on to my forearm. I noticed incredible artwork, floor to ceiling books in most of the rooms, and books from the 1600s lying on top of end tables.
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!
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.
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.
When Karl and Heidi came to pick me up, we were about to leave, when the Baroness grabbed my arm and pulled me toward her. Heidi told me to just go with her. We walked down a corridor with many doors. The Baroness stopped and pulled out a long key, just like in the movies, and opened a door. It was an office with many journals and books. The Baroness pointed to a chair and we sat quietly for twenty minutes. As Heidi, Karl and I were driving away from the castle, Heidi told me that the office of Alexander von Bernus was left exactly as it was when he passed away in 1965. Heidi, who was a close friend of the Baroness, remarked that she had never heard of anyone, other than the Baroness, entering the office since her husband’s death.
That night we returned to Stuttgart and I slept in a beautiful area in the attic of Karl’s home. During the night I heard the floor creaking and I said, who is there? I heard a real voice say, ‘Von Bernus is here.’ The following morning I shared my experience with Heidi. Heidi called the Baroness, but before she could speak, the Baroness told Heidi about her husband’s visit. The Baroness said, ‘Steven visited our castle and my husband visited Steven to reiterate that life continues after one crosses through the veil.’
Be open to all things. Make no boundaries. Live, love, laugh and be in joy knowing that all things are possible to those who expect the same. To inspire and empower.