Hermetica

PaganGreen Paganism and Witchcraft

Hermetica Forty-two sacred books of mystical wisdom
attributed to the mythical Hermes Trismegistus, or
“thrice great Hermes,” the combined Egyptian and Greek
deities of Thoth and Hermes, respectively. The books,
which date from somewhere between the third century
b.c.e. and first century c.e., had an enormous impact on
the development of Western occultism and magic. Many
of the spells, rituals and much of the esoteric symbolism
contained in Witchcraft folk magic, and contemporary
Wicca and Paganism are based upon Hermetic material.
The Hermetica may have been authored by one person—according
to one legend, Hermes Trismegistus was
Hermes Trismegistus (Jacques Boissard, De Divinatione
et Magicis)
160 Hermes Trismegistus
a grandson of Adam and a builder of the Egyptian pyramids—but
probably was the work of several persons in
succession. According to legend, the books were initially
written on papyrus. Clement of Alexandria, a chronicler
of pagan lore, said 36 of the Hermetic books contained
the whole philosophy of the Egyptians: four books on astrology,
10 books called the Hieratic on law, 10 books on
sacred rites and observances, two on music and the rest
on writing, cosmography, geography, mathematics and
measures and priestly training. The remaining six books
were medical and concerned the body, diseases, instruments,
medicines, the eyes and women.
Most of the Hermetic books were lost with others in
the royal libraries in the burning of Alexandria. According
to legend, the surviving books were buried in a secret
location in the desert, where they have survived to the
present. A few initiates of the mystery schools, ancient
secret cults, supposedly know the books’ location.
What little was left of the surviving Hermetic lore has
been handed down through history and has been translated
into various languages. The most important of these
works, and one of the earliest, is The Divine Pymander.
It consists of 17 fragments collected into a single work,
which contain many of the original Hermetic concepts,
including the way divine wisdom and the secrets of the
universe were revealed to Hermes and how Hermes established
his ministry to spread this wisdom throughout the
world. The Divine Pymander apparently was revised during
the early centuries c.e. and has suffered from incorrect
translations.
The second book of The Divine Pymander, called Poimandres
or The Vision, is perhaps the most famous. It
tells of Hermes’ mystical vision, cosmogony and the
Egyptians’ secret sciences of culture and the spiritual development
of the soul.
The Emerald Tablet. Also called the Emerald Table, the
Emerald Tablet is one of the most revered of magical documents
in western occultism. Hermes Trismegistus was
portrayed in art as holding an emerald upon which was
inscribed the whole of the Egyptians’ philosophy. This
Emerald Tablet was said to be discovered in a cave tomb,
clutched in the hands of the corpse of Hermes Trismegistus.
According to one version of the legend, the tomb was
found by Sarah, wife of Abraham, while another version
credits the discovery to Apollonius of Tyana. The gem
was inscribed in Phoenician and revealed magical secrets
of the universe. A Latin translation of the Tablet appeared
by 1200, preceded by several Arabic versions. No two
translations are the same, and little of the Tablet appears
to make sense.
The significance of the Emerald Tablet, however, lies
in its opening: “That which is above is like that which is
below and that which is below is like that which is above,
to achieve the wonders of the one thing.” This is the foundation
of astrology and alchemy: that the microcosm of
mankind and the earth is a reflection of the macrocosm
of God and the heavens.

 

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