Gerolamo Cardano was born in 1501. Due to his work of propounding mathematical theory to probability he has been referred to as the ‘Gambling Scholar.’ He was a medical doctor, inventor, philosopher, astrologer and a keen observer or life. He was considered one of the greatest algebraists of his time.
He researched into tuberculosis, asthma and venereal disease and it was due to his cure of asthmatic illness of Archbishop Hamilton that he rose to the pinnacle of international fame. “In medicine, Cardano ranks with Hippocrates, Galen, Maimonides, and other physicians of classical and medieval times. He fought against prejudice and superstitions that in the dark ages had become associated with the study of physical ills.” He wrote more than two hundred books on everything that interested him.
He remarked late in his life, “Sickness of body, and gloom of mind in consequence of some injustice in my tutelage, were my daily companion.” At a very young age he contracted the plague, which he survived, but ended up with five plague-warts; one on the end of his nose, one on his forehead, one on each cheek, and one on the chin. Growing up his mother wanted nothing to do with him and all of the paid wet-nurses were afraid of him. He received frequent whippings from his parents and aunt.
He was totally accident prone. He would sit on a wall and a brick would come loose. He would stand on a roadway and the road where he stood would give way. Numerous times he fell down flights of stairs. One time as he fell from the top of the stairs, a hammer in his hand was released and made a perfect arc, striking him on the top of his head at the bottom of the stairs. How do we not love this man! He always believed the future would be better which made it easier to accept whatever he was experiencing in the present.
Eventually the people around him began to love him and supported his inquiring mind and heart. He had a fascination for numbers and he utilized his skill in mathematics to calculate chance and proper betting in gambling. It has been said that when his money ran low he replenished himself through gambling. His study on mathematics and gambling led to the propounding of the Laws of Probability as we know them today. In his writings he states that his interests were not so much in the winning of money as it was the observation of human nature involved with gambling. Even with this attitude I am sure the casinos Las Vegas would have had a watchful eye on him.
He studied medicine at Padua University. He was such an intelligent student that he finished his medical studies in one-fourth the normal time. The group of physicians who grant the final medical degree, continuously rejected his receiving his degree. In order to receive his degree he had to persuade, one by one, enough of the physicians until he reached a majority who would grant his medical degree. Those who still were against him would continue to battle his theories of medicine for the rest of his life.
His battle against the College of Physicians was escalated when he edited and published his medical thesis entitled, “On the Bad Practice of Medicine in Common Use.” The common medical practices that Cardano vehemently denounced were seventy-two in number. He attacked first of all the principle that in every case of illness, immediate recourse, should be powders and potions. “To do nothing with chemicals is far better than to do too much, and a physician acting rightly should consider a great number of things before setting down prescriptions.” He stated that considerations should include, lifestyle, hygiene and the mental state of the patient. Considerations should include the atmosphere in which the patient lived which was drawn upon his own experiences during his life. Remember this is in the early 1500s!
Cardano had several prominent patients that he helped when other doctors failed. Francesco Gaddi, prior of the order of Augustinian Friars in Milan, had suffered from scrofulous infection which was probably tuberculoid leprosy. Normal treatment was branding the patches of the skin with hot irons. “Cardano did not immediately use ointments but considered the patient’s mode of life, which included complete neglect of the bodily needs in the cause of spiritual dedication. He arrived at the common sense conclusion of cleaning the body, nourishing the body, and he prescribed regular hours of sleep and exercise. He added the wearing of linen instead of sackcloth next to the skin and included a diet of fish and wine.” “Astonishingly Gaddi recovered and his body was left with clear skin and completely whole without anything being cut away.”
Other patients included Martha Mott, who for thirteen years had suffered from an ulcerated leg and was bedridden. She was cured and completely restored to health. Cardano worked with syphilis, gonorrhea, asthma, tuberculosis and treated famous and high profiled religious leaders, who were afflicted and no one else could cure. He established the principles of the sanatorium, which would not be rediscovered for another three hundred years. His therapies included cleanliness, diet, sunshine and exercise and appropriate rest times. Cardano was a contemporary of Paracelsus but no records show that they met each other.
At the end of his life he would be arrested and tried by the Inquisition for laying out a horoscope of Christ. His freedom was won, due to the intercession of the Archbishop Hamilton, a patient he had cured.
Cardano demonstrated perseverance against great odds and a positive attitude in the face of seeming disaster. He also is a reminder to be cognizant of the little things, that are in reality not so little, which can often bring assistance to help a health problem. He utilized the healing forces of nature and prescribed natural living. He bet on nature and his patients were the winners for it.
In 1576 in his last year of life, Cardano finished his ‘The Book of My Life.’ His areas of interest were vast and his writings showed he thought deeply about most topics. I was drawn to his chapter on Guardian Angels. He also called them guardian spirits. He stated in this chapter that recorded history shows several people of the past including Socrates, Plotinus, Josephus and others, “now including himself,’ who seemed to have been favored by attending guardian spirits.
“Truly the guardian spirits have clearly been operative, and it has been my lot to be attended by a good and compassionate spirit, I believe. This, I am persuaded, had long attended me, but how it apprised me of perils impending I did not realize until I had completed my seventy-fourth year of life and was in the act of writing this autobiography. Then was I only able to grasp it all.”
Cardano goes on to discuss the signs and signals that were presented to him that changed the course of his activities. Some of these signs were of such a strong manifestation that others with him witnessed them at the same time as himself. But there were other signs he was given, as he looked back, that were just as profound but not so dramatic…they were subtle.
He goes on to ask why he was blessed with such loving guidance. ‘Why me? Was it because of my boundless love of truth and wisdom accompanied by a contempt of wealth? Was it because of my great longing for justice?” Or was it because of his love for his fellow human beings?
As one looks through the past and reads about these experiences, by both well-known personages and people who you might not be aware of, it is very obvious. They listened, they saw, they slowed down for one moment to allow a more profound guidance around them to provide input. The guidance did not immediately change or alter the impending event, but created a pause and allowed the individual to still make their own choice. We each have our own spiritual guiding mechanism coming from spirit. Why are we more aware of certain people from the past who seem special to us? Perhaps they slowed down and took the time to listen and then made their choice of the highest and best reaction.
To inspire and empower with love, in love and through love.