The Divine Pymander
Hermes Trismegistus: His First
The Second Book Called
A Treatise on Initiations: or
- Part I
- Part II
- Part III
- Part IV
- Part V
- Part VI
- Part VII
- Part VIII
- Part IX
- Part X
- Part XI
- Part XII
- Part XIII
- Part XIV
- Part XV
Emerald Tablet (Tabula Smaragdina)
- 1) It is true without untruth, certain
and most true:
- 2) that which is below is like that which
is on high, and that which is on high is like that
- which is below; by these things are made
the miracles of one thing.
- 3) And as all things are, and come from
One, by the mediation of One, So all things are born from this unique thing by
- 4) The Sun is the father and the Moon the
- 5) The wind carries it in its stomach.
The earth is its nourisher and its receptacle.
- 6 The Father of all the Theleme of the
universal world is here.
- 6a) Its force, or power, remains
- 7) if it is converted into
- 7a) You separate the earth from the fire,
the subtle from the gross, gently with great industry.
- 8) It climbs from the earth and descends
from the sky, and receives the force of things superior and things
- 9) You will have by this way, the glory
of the world and all obscurity will flee from you.
- 10) It is the power strong with all
power, for it will defeat every subtle thing and penetrate every solid
- 11a) In this way the world was
- 12) From it are born wonderful
adaptations, of which the way here is given.
- 13) That is why I have been called Hermes
Tristmegistus, having the three parts of the universal
- 14) This, that I have called the solar
Work, is complete.
The Divine Pymander
(The Shepherd of
HERMES TRISMEGISTUS: HIS FIRST BOOK
- 1. I, O MY SON, write this First Book, both for Humanity's
sake, and for Piety towards God.
- 2. For there can be no Religion more true or just, than to
know the things that are; and to
- acknowledge thanks for all things, to Him that made them, which thing
I shall not cease continually to do.
- 3. What then should a man do O Father, to lead his life well;
seeing there is nothing here true ?
- 4. Be Pious and Religious, O my Son; for he that doth so, is
the best and highest Philosopher, and without Philosophy it is impossible ever
to attain to the height and exactness of Piety and Religion.
- 5. But he that shall learn and study the things that are, and
how they are ordered and governed, and by whom, and for what cause, or to what
end, will acknowledge thanks to the Workman, as to a good Father, an
excellent Nurse, and a faithful Steward, and he that gives thanks
shall be Pious or Religious, and he that is Religious shall know both where the
truth is , and what it is, and learning that he will be yet more and more
- 6. For never, 0 my Son, shall, or can that soul, which, while
it is in the body, lightens and lifts itself to know and comprehend that which
is good and true, slide back to the contrary. For it is infinitely enamored
thereof and forgetteth all evils; and when it hath learned and known its
Father and Progenitor, it can no more apostatize or depart from
- 7. And let this, O Son, be the end of Religion and Piety;
whereunto thou art once arrived, thou shalt both live well and die blessedly,
whilst thy soul is not ignorant whither it must return, and fly back again.
- 8. For this only, O Son, is the way to Truth, which our
Progenitors traveled in; and by which making their journey, they at
length attained to the good. It is a venerable way and plain, but hard and
difficult for the soul to go in that is in the body.
- 9. For first must it war against its own self, and after much
strife and dissension, it must be overcome of one part; for the contention is
of one against two, whilst it flies away, and they strive to hold and detain
- 10. But the victory of both is not like, for the one hasteth
to that which is Good, but the other is a neighbor to the things that are Evil;
and that which is Good desireth to be set at liberty, but the things that are
Evil love Bondage and Slavery.
- 11. And if the two parts be overcome, they become quiet, and
are content to accept of it as their Ruler; but if the one be overcome
of the two, it is by them led and carried to be punished by its being and
- 12. This is, O Son, the Guide in the way that leads thither;
for thou must first forsake the Body before thy end, and get the victory in
this contention and strifeful life, and when thou hast overcome, return.
- 13. But now, O my Son, I will by Heads run through the things
that are. Understand thou what I say, and remember what thou hearest.
- 14. All things that are are moved, only that which is not is
- 15. Every body is changeable.
- 16. Not every body is dissolvable.
- 17. Some bodies are dissolvable.
- 18. Every living being is not mortal.
- 19. Nor every living thing is immortal.
- 20. That which may be dissolved is also corruptible.
- 21. That which abides always is unchangeable.
- 22. That which is unchangeable is eternal.
- 23. That which is always made is always corrupted.
- 24. That which is made but once is never corrupted, neither
becomes any other thing.
- 25. Firstly, God; secondly, the World; thirdly, Man.
- 26. The World for Man; Man for God.
- 27. Of the soul; that part which is sensible is mortal, but
that part which is reasonable is immortal.
- 28. Every Essence is immortal.
- 29. Every Essence is unchangeable.
- 30. Everything that is, is double.
- 31. None of the things that are stand still.
- 32. Not all things are moved by a soul, but everything that
is, is moved by a soul.
- 33. Everything that suffers is sensible; everything that is
- 34. Everything that is sad, rejoiceth also; and is a mortal
- 35. Not everything that joyeth is also sad, but is an eternal
- 36. Not every body is sick; every body that is sick is
- 37. The Mind in God.
- 38. Reasoning (or disputing or discoursing) in Man.
- 39. Reason in the Mind.
- 40. The Mind is void of suffering.
- 41. No thing in a body true.
- 42. All that is incorporeal, is void of Lying.
- 43. Everything that is made is corruptible.
- 44. Nothing good upon Earth; nothing evil in heaven.
- 45. God is good; man is evil.
- 46. Good is voluntary, or of its own accord.
- 47. Evil is involuntary, or against its will.
- 48. The gods choose good things, as good things.
- 49. Time is a Divine thing.
- 50. Law is humane.
- 51. Malice is the nourishment of the World.
- 52. Time is the corruption of man.
- 53. Whatsoever is in Heaven is unalterable.
- 54. All upon Earth is alterable.
- 55. Nothing in Heaven is servanted; nothing upon Earth free.
- 56. Nothing unknown in Heaven; nothing known upon Earth.
- 57. The things upon Earth communicate not with those in
- 58. All things in heaven are unblamable; all things upon Earth
are subject to reprehension.
- 59. That which is immortal is not mortal; that which is mortal
is not immortal.
- 60. That which is sown is not always begotten; but that which
is begotten is always sown.
- 61. Of a dissolvable Body, there are two times: one for sowing
to generation, one from generation to death.
- 62. Of an everlasting Body, the time is only from the
- 63. Dissolvable Bodies are increased and diminished.
- 64. Dissolvable matter is altered into contraries; to wit,
Corruption and Generation, but Eternal matter into itself, and its like.
- 65. The Generation of Man is Corruption; the Corruption of Man
is the beginning of Generation.
- 66. That which offsprings or begetteth another, is itself an
offspring or begotten by another.
- 67. Of things that are, some are in Bodies, some in their
- 68. Whatsoever things belong to operation or working, are in a
- 69. That which is immortal, partakes not of that which is
- 70. That which is mortal cometh not into a Body immortal; but
that which is immortal cometh into that which is mortal.
- 71. Operation or Workings are not carried upwards, but descend
- 72. Things upon Earth, do nothing [to] advantage those in
Heaven; but all things in Heaven do profit and advantage all things upon Earth.
- 73. Heaven is capable, and a fit receptacle of everlasting
Bodies; the Earth of corruptible Bodies.
- 74. The Earth is brutish; the heaven is reasonable or
- 75. Those things that are in Heaven are subjected or placed
under it, but the things on Earth are placed upon it.
- 76. Heaven is the first element.
- 77. Providence is Divine order.
- 78. Necessity is the Minister or Servant of Providence.
- 79. Fortune is the carriage or effect of that which is without
order: the Idol of operation, a lying Fantasy or opinion.
- 80. What is God? The immutable or unalterable Good.
- 81. What is Man? An unchangeable evil.
- 82. If thou perfectly remember these Heads, thou can't not
forget those things which in more words I have largely expounded unto thee; for
these are the contents or Abridgement of them.
- 83. Avoid all conversation with the multitude or common
people; for I would not have thee subject to Envy, much less to be ridiculous
unto the many.
- 84. For the like always takes to itself that which is like,
but the unlike never agrees with the unlike. Such discourses as these have very
few Auditors, and peradventure very few will have, but they have something
peculiar unto themselves.
- 85. They do rather sharpen and whet evil men to their
maliciousness; therefore it behoveth to avoid the multitude, and take heed of
them as not understanding the virtue and power of the things that are said.
- 86. How dost thou mean, O Father?
- 87. This, O Son: the whole nature and Composition of those
living things called Men, is very prone to Maliciousness, and is very familiar,
as it were nourished with it, and therefore is delighted with it; now this
wight, if it shall come to learn or know that the world was once made, and all
things are done according to Providence and Necessity, Destiny or Fate, bearing
rule over all, will not be much worse that himself, despising the whole,
because it was made? And if he may lay the cause of Evil upon Fate or
Destiny, he will never abstain from any evil work.
- 88. Wherefore we must look warily to such kind of people,
that being in ignorance they may be less evil for fear of that which is hidden
and kept secret.
The End of the First Book
SECOND BOOK CALLED POEMANDER
(The Vision of
- 1. My thoughts being once seriously busied about the things
that are, and my Understanding lifted up, all my bodily Senses being
exceedingly holden back, as it is with them that are heavy of sleep, by reason
either of fullness of meat, or of bodily labor; Methought I saw one of an
exceeding great stature, and of an infinite greatness, call me by my name, and
say unto me, What wouldst thou hear and see? Or what wouldst thou
understand to learn and know?
- 2. Then said I, Who art Thou? I am, quoth he,
Poemander, the mind of the great Lord, the most mighty and
absolute Emperor: I know what thou wouldst have, and I am always present
- 3. Then I said, I would learn the things that are, and
understand the nature of them, and know God. How? Said he. I answered that
I would gladly hear. Then said he, have me again in my mind, and whatsoever
thou wouldst learn, I will teach thee.
- 4. When he had thus said, he was changed in his Idea or
Form, and straightway, in the twinkling of an eye, all things were
opened unto me. And I saw an infinite sight, all things were become light, both
sweet sand exceeding pleasant; and I was wonderfully delighted in the beholding
- 5. But after a little while, there was a darkness made in
part, coming down obliquely, fearful and hideous, which seemed unto me to be
changed into a certain moist nature, unspeakably troubled, which yielded
a smoke as from fire; and from whence proceeded a voice unutterable, and very
mournful, but inarticulate, inasmuch as it seemed to have come from the Light.
- 6. Then from that light, a certain holy Word joined itself
unto Nature, and outflew the pure and unmixed Fire from the moist nature
upwards on high; it was exceeding Light, and sharp, and
operative withal. And the Air, which was also light, followed the
Spirit and mounted up to Fire (from the Earth and the Water),
inasmuch that it seemed to hang and depend upon it.
- 7. And the Earth and the Water stayed by themselves so mingled
together, that the Earth could not be seen for the Water, but they were moved
because of the Spiritual word that was carried upon them.
- 8. Then said Poemander unto me, Dost thou
understand this vision, and what it meaneth? I shall know, said I. Then
said he, I am that Light, the Mind, thy God, who am before that
moist nature that appeared out of darkness; and that bright and lightful
Word from the mind is the Son of God.
- 9. How is that, quoth I? Thus, replied he, understand it:
That which in thee seeth and heareth, the Word of the Lord, and the Mind
of the Father, God, differ not one from the other; and the union of these is
- Trismegistus--I thank thee. Pimander--But first
conceive well the Light in thy mind, and know it.
- 10. When he had said thus, for a long time we looked
steadfastly one upon the other, inasmuch that I trembled at his Idea or
- 11. Bur when he nodded to me, I beheld in my mind the Light
that is in innumerable, and the truly indefinite ornament or
world; and that the Fire is comprehended or contained in, or by a
great moist Power, and constrained to keep its station.
- 12. These things I understood, seeing the word, or
Pimander; and when I was mightily amazed, he said again unto me, Hast
thou seen in thy mind that Archetypal Form which was before the interminated
and infinite Beginning? Thus Pimander to me. But whence, quoth I, or
whereof are the Elements of Nature made? Pimander.--Of the Will and
counsel of God; which taking the Word, and beholding the beautiful World (in
the Archetype thereof) imitated it, and so made this World, by the principles
and vital seeds or Soul-like productions of itself.
- 13. For the Mind being God, Male and
Female, Life and Light, brought forth by his Word another
Mind or Workman; which being God of the Fire, and the
Spirit, fashioned and formed seven other Governors, which in
their circles contain the Sensible World, whose Government or
disposition is called Fate or Destiny.
- 14. Straightway leaped out, or exalted itself from the
downward Elements of God, The Word of God, into the clean and pure
Workmanship of Nature, and was united to the Workman, Mind, for
it was Consubstantial; and so the downward born elements of Nature were
left without Reason, that they might be the only Matter.
- 15. But the Workman, Mind, together with the
Word, containing the circles, and whirling them about, turned round as a
wheel, his own Workmanships; and suffered them to be turned from an indefinite
beginning to an indeterminate end, for they always began where they end.
- 16. And the Circulation or running round of these, as
the mind willeth, out of the lower or downward-born Elements, brought forth
unreasonable or brutish Creatures, for they had no reason, the Air flying
things, and the Water such as swim.
- 17. And the Earth and the Water were separated, either from
the other, as the Mind would; and the Earth brought forth from herself,
such living creatures as she had, four-footed and creeping beasts, wild and
- 18. Bur the Father of all things, the Mind being
Life and Light, brought forth Man like unto himself, whom
he loved as his proper Birth; for he was all beauteous, having the image
of his Father.
- 19. For indeed God was exceedingly enamored of his own form or
shape, and delivered unto it all his own Workmanships. Bur he, seeing and
understanding the Creation of the Workman in the whole, would needs also
himself fall to work, and so was separated from the Father, being in the
sphere of Generation or Operation.
- 20. Having all Power, he considered the Operations or
Workmanships of the Seven [Governors]; but they loved him, and every one
made him partaker of his own order.
- 21. And he learning diligently, and understanding their
Essence, and partaking [of] their Nature, resolved to pierce and break through
the Circumference of the Circles, and to understand the power of him
that sits upon the Fire.
- 22. And having already all power of mortal things, of the
Living, and of the unreasonable creatures of the World, stooped down and peeped
through the Harmony, and breaking though the strength of the Circles, so
showed and made manifest the downward-born Nature, the fair and beautiful Shape
or Form of God.
- 23. Which, when he saw, having in itself the unsatiable
Beauty, and all the operations of the Seven Governors, and the Form or
Shape of God, he smiled for love, as if he had seen the shape or
likeness in the Water, or the shadow upon the Earth, of the fairest Human from.
- 24. And seeing in the Water a Shape, a Shape like unto
himself, in himself he loved it, and would cohabit with it, and immediately
upon the resolution ensued the operation, and brought forth the unreasonable
Image or Shape.
- 25. Nature presently laying hold of what it so much loved, did
wholly wrap herself about it, and they were mingled, for they loved one
- 26. And from this cause Man above all things that love
upon earth is double: Mortal, because of his body, and Immortal,
because of the substantial Man. For being immortal, and having power of all
things, he yet suffers mortal things, and such as are subject to Fate or
- 27. And therefore being above all Harmony, he is made
and become a servant to Harmony. And being Hermaphrodite, or Male
and Female, and watchful, he is governed by and subjected to a Father, that is
both Male and Female, and watchful.
- 28. After these things, I said, thou art my mind, and I am
in love with Reason.
- 29. Then said Pimander, this is the Mystery that
to this day is hidden and kept secret; for Nature being mingled with man,
brought forth a Wonder most Wonderful; for he having the nature of the
Harmony of the Seven [Governors], from him whom I told thee, the
Fire and the Spirit, Nature continued not, but forthwith brought forth seven
Men, all Males and Females, and sublime, or on high, according to
the natures of the seven Governors.
- 30. And after these things, O Pimander, quoth I, I am
now come into a great desire and longing to hear; do not digress or run out.
- 31. But he said, Keep silence, for I have not yet finished the
- 32. Trismegistus. Behold, I am silent.
- 33. Pimander. The Generation therefore of these
Seven [Men] was after this manner:--the Air being Feminine
and the Water desirous of Copulation, took from the Fire its
ripeness, and from the æther Spirit, and so Nature produced Bodies after
the species and shape of men.
- 34. And man was made of Life and Light, into
Soul and Mind; of Life the Soul, of Light
- 35. And so all the members of the Sensible World,
continued unto the period of the end, bearing rule and generating.
- 36. Hear now the rest of that speech thou so much desireth to
- 37. When that period was fulfilled, the bond of all
things was loosed and untied by the will of God; for all living
Creatures being Hermaphroditic, or Male and Female, were
loosed and untied together with man; and so the Males were apart by themselves
and the Females likewise.
- 38. And straightway God said to the Holy Word, Increase in
increasing and multiplying in multitude all you my Creatures and
Workmanships. And let him that is endued with mind, know himself to be
immortal; and that the cause of death is the love of the body, and let him
learn all things that are.
- 39. When he had thus said, Providence by Fate of
Harmony, made the mixtures and established the Generations, and all things
were multiplied according to their kind. And he that knew himself, came at
length to the Superstantial of every way substantial good.
- 40. But he that through the error of Love loved the
Body, abideth wandering in the darkness, sensible, suffering the things
- 41. Trismegistus. But why do they that are ignorant,
sin so much, that they should therefore be deprived of immortality?
- 42. Pimander. Thou seeemest not to have understood what
thou hast heard.
- 43. Trismegistus. Peradventure I seem so to thee; but I
both understand and remember them.
- 44. Pimander. I am glad for thy sake if thou
- 45. Trismegistus. Tell me why are they worthy of death,
that are of death?
- 46. Pimander. Because there goeth a sad and dismal
darkness before its body; of which darkness is the moist nature, of which moist
nature the Body consisteth in the sensible world, from which death is derived.
Hast thou understood this aright?
- 47. Trismegistus. But why, or how doth he that
understands himself, go or pass into God?
- 48. Pimander. That which the Word of God said, say I:
Because the Father of all things consists of Life and Light, whereof man is
- 49. Trismegistus. Thou sayest very well.
- 50. Pimander. God and the Father is Light and Life, of
which man is made. If therefore thou learn and believe thyself to be of the
Life and Light, thou shalt again pass into Life.
- 51. Trismegistus. But yet tell me more, O my Mind, how
I shall go into Life.
- 52. Pimander. God sayeth, Let man, endued with a mind,
mark, consider, and know himself well.
- 53. Trismegistus. Have not all men a mind?
- 54. Pimander. Take heed what thou sayest, for I the
mind come into men that are holy and good, pure and merciful, and that live
piously and religiously; and my presence is a help to them. And forthwith they
know all things and lovingly they supplicate and propitiate the Father; and
blessing him, they give thanks, and sing hymns unto him, being ordered and
directed by filial Affection and natural Love. And before they give up their
bodies to the death of them, they hate their senses, knowing their Works and
- 55. Remember I that am the Mind itself, will not suffer the
operations or Works, which happen or belong to the body, to be finished and
brought to perfection in them; but being the Porter and
Doorkeeper, I will shut up the entrances of Evil, and cut off the
thoughtful desires of filthy works.
- 56. But to the foolish, and evil, and wicked, and envious, and
covetous, and murderous, and profane, I am far off, giving place to the
revenging Demon, which applying unto him the sharpness of fire,
tormenteth such a man sensible, and armeth him the more to all wickedness, that
he may obtain the greater punishment.
- 57. And such an one never ceaseth, having unfulfilled desires,
and unsatisfiable concupiscences, and always fighting in darkness; for the
Demon always afflicts and tormenteth him continually, and increaseth the
fire upon him more and more.
- 58. Trismegistus. Thou hast, O Mind, most excellently
taught me all things, as I desired; but tell me, moreover, after the return is
made, what then?
- 59. Pimander. First of all, in the resolution of the
material body, the Body itself is given up to alteration, and the form which it
had becometh invisible; and the idle manners are permitted, and left to the
Demon, and the senses of the Body return into their Fountains, being
parts, and again made up into Operations.
- 60. And Anger, and Concupiscence, go into the brutish or
unreasonable nature; and the rest striveth upward by harmony.
- 61. And to the first Zone [the Moon] it giveth the
power it had of increasing and diminishing.
- 62. To the second [Mercury], the machinations or plotting of
evils, and one effectual deceit or craft.
- 63. To the third [Venus], the idle deceit of Concupiscence
(sensual desire, lust).
- 64. To the fourth [the Sun], the desire of Rule, and
- 65. To the fifth [Mars], profane Boldness, and the headlong
rashness of confidence.
- 66. To the sixth [Jupiter], Evil and ineffectual occasions of
- 67. To the seventh Zone [Saturn], subtle Falsehood,
always lying in wait.
- 68. And then being made naked of all the Operations of
Harmony, it cometh to the Eighth Nature [or Sphere--the Starry World],
having its proper power, and singeth praises to the Father with the things that
are, and all they that are present rejoice, and congratulate the coming of it;
and being made like to them with whom it converseth, it heareth also the Powers
that are above the Eighth Nature, singing Praise to God in a certain voice that
is pecul;iar to them.
- 69. And then in order they return unto the Father, and
themselves deliver themselves to the Powers, and becoming Powers they are in
- 70. This is the Good, and to them that know, to be desired.
- 71. Furthermore, why sayest thou, What resteth, but that
understanding all men thou become a guide, and wayleader to them that are
worthy; that the kind of Humanity, or Mankind, may be saved by
- 72. When Pimander had thus said unto me, he was mingled
among the Powers.
- 73. But I, giving thanks, and blessing the Father of all
things, rose up, being enabled by him, and taught the Nature of the Nature of
the whole, and having seen the greatest sight or spectacle.
- 74. And I began to Preach unto men, the beauty and fairness of
Piety and Knowledge.
- 75. O ye people, men, born and made of the earth, which
have given yourselves over to drunkenness and sleep, and to the ignorance
of God, be sober and cease your surfeit, whereunto you are allured and
visited by brutish and unreasonable sleep.
- 76. And they that heard me come willingly and with one accord;
and then I said further:
- 77. Why, O Men of the Offspring of Earth, why have you
delivered yourselves over unto Death, having power to partake of
Immortality? Repent and change your minds, you that have together walked in
Error, and have been darkened in ignorance.
- 78. Depart from that dark light, be partakers of Immortality,
and leave or forsake corruption.
- 79. And some of them that heard me, mocking and
scorning went away, and delivered themselves up to the way of Death.
- 80. But others casting themselves down before my feet,
besought me that they might be taught; but I, causing them to rise up, became a
guide of mankind, teaching them the reasons how, and by what means they may be
saved. And I sowed in them the Words of Wisdom, and nourished them with
Ambrosial Water of immortality.
- 81. And when it was evening and the brightness of the same
began wholly to go down, I commanded them to go down, I commanded them to give
thanks to God; and when they had finished their thanksgiving, everyone returned
to his own lodging.
- 82. But I wrote in myself the bounty and benevolence of
Pimander; and being filled with what I most desired, I was exceedingly
- 83. For the sleep of the body was the sober watchfulness of
the mind; and the shutting of my eyes the true sight, and my silence great with
child and full of good; and the pronouncing of my words the blossoms and fruits
of good things.
- 84. And thus it came to pass or happened unto me, which I
received from my mind, that is Pimander, the Lord of the Word; whereby I
became inspired by God with the Truth.
- 85. For which cause, with my soul and whole strength, I give
praise and blessing unto God the Father.
- 86. Holy is God, the Father of all things.
- 87. Holy is God, whose will is performed and accomplished
by his own powers.
- 88. Holy is God, that determineth to be known, and is known
of his own, or those that are his.
- 89. Holy art thou, that by thy Word hast established all
- 90. Holy art thou, of whom all Nature is the Image.
- 91. Holy art thou, whom Nature hath not formed.
- 92. Holy art thou, that are stronger than all power.
- 93. Holy art thou, that art stronger than all
- 94. Holy art thou, that art better than all praise.
- 95. Accept these reasonable sacrifices from a pure soul,
and a heart that stretched out unto thee.
- 96. O unspeakable, unutterable, to be praised with
- 97. I beseech thee, that I may never err from the knowledge
of thee; look mercifully upon me, and enable me, and enlighten with this
Grace those that are in Ignorance, the brothers of my kind, but thy
- 98. Therefore I believe thee, and bear witness, and go into
the Life and Light.
- 99. Blessed art thou, O Father; thy man would be
sanctified with thee, as thou hast given him all power.
The End of the Second
Treatise on Initiations: or, Asclepios
Translation by Dr.
Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland
THE UNWISDOM OF
INDISCRIMINATE DISCLOSURE OF
- "It is a God who hath brought thee to us, Asclepios, that thou mayst
assist at a divine discourse, and one which will be the most truly religious of
all we have as yet held, or with which we have been inspired from on high. In
understanding it thou wilt be in possession of all blessings,--if so be indeed
there are several, and if it be not more correct to say there is but one
blessing which comprises all. For each one of them is bound to another; all are
derived from one and make but one, so that their mutual bonds make separation
impossible. This is what thou wilt understand by paying attention to that which
we are about to say. Bur first, Asclepios, go away for a little while and look
for another hearer for our discourse."
- [Asclepios proposes to call
- "There is no objection to Ammon's presence among us," says
Trismegistus. "I have not forgotten that I have addressed to him, as to a dear
son, several writings on Nature and other subjects relating to exoteric
teaching. But it is thy name, Asclepios, which I shall inscribe at the head of
the present treatise. And call no other person than Ammon. For a discourse upon
the holiest matters of religion would be profaned by a too numerous audience.
It is an impiety to deliver to the knowledge of a great number, a treatise full
of divine majesty."*
- [Ammon enters the sanctuary, and
completes the holy quartet,** filled with the presence of God. The invitation to devotional silence comes from the
lips of Hermes, and in the presence of the attentive souls who hang upon his
words, the divine Love thus begins:--]
- *It is the
indiscriminate disclosure of spiritual mysteries to those who, by reason of
their exclusively materialistic condition, are incapable of appreciating and
reverencing them, that is called by Jesus a "casting of pearls before
fourth being Tatios, the son of Hermes. All such discourses required--for
occult reasons--the presence of a minimum number of four. The four above
represented the four great divisions of existence, and constituted an epitome
of the Universe. [These may be represented by the four Kabbalistic
Worlds--i.e., Atziluth or Emanation [the Divine world],
Briah or Creation [the Spiritual World],
Yetzirah or Formation [the Psychic World],
and Assiah or Action (Making) [the Physical World of
crystallization in time].
- "Every human soul, Asclepios, is immortal; but this immortality is
not uniform. It differs both in mode and in duration."
- "It is because souls, Trismegistus, are not all of the same quality."
THE ONE AND THE MANY, THE
TYPE AND THE INDIVIDUALITY:
- "How quickly thou understandest the reason of things, Asclepios! I
have not yet said that all is one and that one is all, since all things were in
the Creator before the creation and we can call Him all since all things are
His members. Wherefore, throughout all this discourse, bear in mind Him who is
One and All, the Creator of all things.
- "Everything descends from heaven upon the earth, into the water, into
the air: only fire is vivifying, because it tends upwards; that which tends
downwards is subordinate to it. That which descends from above is generative;
that which emanates and rises is nutritive. The earth, alone self-supported, is
the receptacle of all things, and reconstructs the types which she receives.
That Universal Being which contains all and which is all, puts into motion the
soul and the world, all that nature comprises. In the manifold unity of
universal life, the innumerable individualities distinguished by their
variations, are, nevertheless, united in such a manner that the whole is one,
and that everything proceeds from unity.
- "Now this unity, which constitutes the world, is formed of four
elements: fire, water, earth, and air:--one single world, one single soul, and
one single God. Lend me now all the powers and all the penetration of thy
thought; for the idea of Divinity, which cannot be conceived save by divine
assistance, resembles a rapid stream precipitating itself onwards with
impetuosity, and often, therefore, outstrips the attention of the listeners,
even of him who teaches.
- "Heaven--God manifest--regulates all bodies. Their growth and their
decline are determined by the sun and the moon. But He who directs heaven--the
soul itself and all that exists in the world--is very God, the Creator.
- "From the heights where He reigns descend innumerable influences
which spread themselves throughout the world, into all souls both general and
particular, and into the nature of things.
- "The world has been prepared by God in order to receive all
particular forms. Realizing these forms by means of Nature, He has updrawn the
world to heaven through the four elements.
- "Everything is in accordance with the designs of God; but that which
originates from on high has been separated into individualities in the
following manner. The types of all things follow their (representative)
individualities in such way that the type is a whole; the individual is a part
of the type.
- "Thus the Gods [higher creative hierarchies] constitute a type, the
genii [angels or devas] also. Similarly, men, birds, and all beings which the
world contains, constitute types producing individuals resembling them.
- "There is yet another type, without sensation, but not without soul.
It consists of those beings which sustain themselves by means of roots fixed in
the earth [i.e., plants]. Individualities of this type are found everywhere.
- "Heaven is full of God. The types of which we have spoken have their
habitation extending up to that of the beings whose individualities are
immortal. For the individuality is a part of the type, as, for instance, man is
a part of humanity; and each one follows the character of its type, hence it
comes that, while all types are imperishable, individuals are not all
- "Divinity forms a type of which the indidualizations are as immortal
as itself. Among other beings eternity belongs only to the type; the individual
perishes, and is perpetuated only by reproduction. There are, then, some mortal
individualities. Thus man is mortal, humanity is immortal.
- "Nevertheless, individuals of all the types mix with all the types.
Some are primitive; others are produced by these, by God, by genii, by men, and
all resemble their respective types.
- "For bodies can be formed only by the divine will; individualities
cannot be characterized without the aid of the genii; the education and
training of animals cannot be conducted without men.
- "All those genii who have forsaken their own type, and become joined
in individuality to an individuality of the divine type, are regarded as
neighbors and associates of the Gods.
- "The genii who preserve the character of their type, and are properly
called genii, love that which relates to mankind. The human type resembles, or
even surpasses, theirs; for the individuality of the human is manifold and
various, and results from the association mentioned above. It is the
indispensable link between nearly all other individualities.
- "The man who has affinity with the Gods through the intelligence
which he shares with them, and through piety, is the neighbor of God. He who
has affinity with the genii approximates himself to them. They who are
satisfied with human mediocrity remain a part of the human type. Other human
individualities will be neighbors of the types or individualities with which
they shall be in affinity.
THE DUAL NATURE OF
- "Man, then, Asclepios, is a great marvel; a creature worthy of
respect and adoration. For amid this divine Nature he moves as if he himself
were a God. He knows the order of the genii, and, aware that he is of the same
origin, he despises the human side of his being in order to attach himself
exclusively to the divine element.
- "How happily constituted and near to the Gods is humanity! In joining
himself to the divine, man disdains that which he has in him of the earthly; he
connects himself by a bond of love to all other beings, and thereby feels
himself necessary to the universal order. He contemplates heaven; and in this
happy middle sphere in which he is placed, he loves all that is below him, he
is beloved of all that is above. He cultivates the earth; he borrows the speed
of the elements; his piercing thought fathoms the deeps of the sea. Everything
is clear for him. Heaven does not seem to him too high, for knowledge lifts him
to it. The brightness of his mind is not obscured by the thick mists of the
air; the earth's gravitation is no obstacle to his efforts; the profundity of
deep seas does not disturb him; he includes everything and remains everywhere
- ". . . The soul of the world sustains itself by perpetual motion. . .
. The spirit which fills everything, mingles with everything, and vivifies
everything, adds consciousness to the intelligence, which, by a peculiar
privilege, man borrows from the fifth element--the æther. In man, the
consciousness is raised to the knowledge of the divine order.
- "Since I am led to speak of the consciousness, I will presently
expound to you its function, which is great and holy as that of divinity
itself. I was speaking of union with the Gods--a privilege which they accord
only to humanity. A few men only have the happiness of rising to that
perception of the Divine which subsists only in God and in the human
- "Are, then, not all men similarly conscient, Trismegistus?"
- "All, Asclepios, have not the true intelligence. They are deceived
when they suffer themselves to be drawn after the image of things, without
seeking for the true reason of them. It is thus that evil is produced in man;
and that the first of all creatures lowers himself almost to the level of the
- "But I will speak to you of the consciousness and all that belongs to
it, when I come to my exposition of the mind. For man alone is a dual creature.
One of the two parts of which he consists is single, and, as the Greeks say,
essential; that is, formed after the divine likeness. The part which the Greeks
call Kosmic--that is, belonging to the world--is quadruple, and constitutes the
body, which , in man, serves as an envelope to the divine principle. This
divine principle, and that which belongs to it, the perceptions of the pure
intelligence. conceal themselves behind the rampart of the body."*
- *"The five
elements of the Microcosm are here made to correspond with the five elements
which the Greeks allotted to the Macrocosm;--earth, water, air, fire, and
æther. Trismegistus says that man obtains his intelligence from 'the
æther--the fifth element.' Trismegistus includes in the body the physical
particles [the dense physical body], the exterior consciousness [the five
ordinary senses], the magnetic forces [vitality or Prana working through
the vital body], and the sensible or mundane mind [the concrete mental body].
In the fifth element he includes the immortal part--soul and spirit; since he
speaks of the 'divine principle and that which belongs to it--the perceptions
of the pure intelligence [the higher abstract mind (Manes) and the intuition
(Buddhi)].' The soul, as we have already seen . . . is the percipient principle
of man; the spirit is the divine light by means of which she sees. It is
advisable, in this place, to point out, for the sake of a clear understanding
of what follows, that Hermetic doctrine regards man as having a twofold nature.
For he is in one sense a child of the earth, developed by progressive evolution
from below upwards [the evolution of the form side of the nature]; a true
animal, and therefore bound by strict ties of kinship with the lower races, and
of allegiance to Nature. In the other sense, man descends from above [the
involution of the spirit through experience in progressively more complex
levels of force-matter], and is of celestial origin; because when a certain
point in his development from below is reached, the human soul focuses and
fixes the Divine Spirit [through the link of Mind], which is peculiarly the
attribute of man, and the possession of which constitutes his sovereignty over
all other creatures. And until this vivification of the soul occurs, man is not
truly Man in the Hermetic sense."--Dr. Anna Kingsford (A.
GOD, THE WORLD, AND
- "Why then, O Trismegistus, was it necessary that man should be placed
in the world, instead of where God is, to dwell with Him in supreme beatitude?"
- "Thy question is natural, O Asclepios, and I pray God to assist me in
replying to it, for everything depends upon His will, especially those great
things which are at this moment the subject of our inquiry; listen, then, to
me, Asclepios. The Lord and Author of all things, whom we call God, brought
forth a second God, visible and sensible; I describe him thus, not because he
himself has sensibility, for this is not the place to treat such a question,
but because he is perceptible to the senses. Having then produced this unique
Being who holds the first rank among creatures and the second after Himself, He
found His offspring beautiful and filled with all manner of good, and He loved
it as His own child.* He willed, then, that another should be able to
contemplate this Being so great and so perfect whom He had drawn forth from
Himself, and to this end He created man, endowed with reason and intelligence.
"second God" is the Visible Universe, which in most Hermetic writings is spoken
of as the "Son of God"--"the Word made flesh."--A. K.
- "The will of God is absolute accomplishment; to will and to do are
for Him the work of the selfsame instant. And, knowing that the essential could
not apprehend all things unless enveloped by the world, He gave to man a body
for a dwelling-place. He willed that man should have two natures; He united
them intimately and blended them in just proportion.
- "Thus, He formed man of spirit and of body; of an eternal nature and
of a mortal nature, so that, a creature thus constituted, he might, by means of
his double origin, admire and adore that which is celestial and eternal;
cultivate and govern that which is upon the earth. I speak here of mortal
things, not of the two elements subjected to man, to wit, earth and water, but
of things coming from man, which are in him or depending on him, such as the
culture of the soil, the pastures, the construction of buildings, of ports,
navigation, commerce, and those reciprocal exchanges which are the strongest
bond among men. Earth and water form a part of the world, and this terrestrial
part is sustained by the arts and sciences, without which the world would be
imperfect in the eyes of God. For that which God wills is necessary, and the
effect accompanies His will; nor can it be believed that anything which has
seemed good to Him can cease to seem good to Him, because from the beginning He
knew what should be and what should please Him.
THE REASON FOR MAN'S DUAL
- "But I perceive, O Asclepios, that thou art anxious to know in what
manner heaven and those who inhabit it can be the object of the aspiration and
adoration of man; learn, then, O Asclepios, that to aspire after the God of
heaven and all those who are therein is to render them frequent homage; for
alone of all animated beings, divine and human, man is able to render it. The
admiration, adoration, praise, and homage of man rejoice heaven and the
celestial inhabitants; and the choir of the Muses has been sent among men by
the supreme Divinity in order that the terrestrial world might not be without
the sweet science of hymns; or rather that the human voice might celebrate Him
who only is All, since He is the Father of all things, and that the tender
harmonies of earth might ever unite themselves with the celestial choirs. Only
a few men, rarely endowed with a pure intelligence, are entrusted with this
holy function of beholding heaven clearly. Those in whom the confusion of their
two natures holds the intelligence captive under the weight of the body, are
appointed to have communion with the inferior elements. Man is not, then,
debased because he has a mortal part; on the contrary, this mortality augments
his aptitudes and his power; his double functions are possible to him only by
his double nature; he is constituted in such a manner that he can embrace alike
the terrestrial and the divine. I desire, O Asclepios, that thou mayest bring
to this exposition all the attention and all the ardor of thy mind; for many
are wanting in faith concerning these things. And now I am about to unfold true
principles for the instruction of the holiest intelligences.
THE THREEFOLD NATURE OF
- "The Master of Eternity is the first God, the world is the second,
man is the third. God, creator of the world and of all that it contains,
governs all this universe and subjects it to the rule of man. And man makes of
it the object of his special activity. So that the world and man become the
appendage one of the other, and it is with reason that in Greek the world is
called Kosmos. Man knows himself and knows the world; he should, therefore,
distinguish that which is in accord with himself, that which is for his use and
that which has a right to his worship. While addressing to God his praises and
his acts of grace, he should venerate the world which is the image of God;
remembering that he is himself the second image of God. For God has two
similitudes: the world and man. The nature of man being complex, that part of
him which is composed of soul, of consciousness, of mind, and of reason is
divine, and from the superior elements seems able to mount to heaven; while his
cosmic and mundane part, formed of fire, water, earth, and air, is mortal and
remains upon the earth; so that what is borrowed from the world may be restored
- "It is thus that mankind is composed of a divine part and of a mortal
part, to wit, the body. The law of this dual being, man, is religion, whose
effect is goodness. Perfection is attained when the virtue of man preserves him
from desire, and causes him to despise all that is foreign to himself. For
terrestrial things, of which the body desires the possession, are foreign to
all parts of the divine Thought. Such things may indeed be called possessions,
for they are not born with us, they are acquired later. They are then foreign
to man, and even the body itself is foreign to man, in such wise that man ought
to disdain both the object of desire, and that whereby he is made accessible to
- "It is the duty of man to direct his soul by reason, so that the
contemplation of the divine may lead him to take but small account of that
mortal part which has been joined to him for the sake of the preservation of
the lower world. In order that man should be complete in both his parts,
observe that each of these possesses four binary subdivisions--to wit, the two
hands and the two feet, which, with the other organs of the body, place him in
relation with the inferior and terrestrial world. And, on the other hand, he
possesses four faculties: sensibility, soul, memory, and foresight, which
permit him to know and perceive divine things. He is able, therefore, to
include in his investigations, differences, qualities, effects, and quantities.
But if he be too much hindered by the weight of the body, he will be unable to
penetrate into the true reason of things.
- "When man, thus formed and constituted, having received for his
function from the supreme God, the government of the world and the worship of
the Divinity, acquits himself well of this double duty, and obeys the holy
Will, what should be his recompense? For if the world is the work of God, he
who by his care sustains and augments its beauty, is the auxiliary of the
divine Will, employing his body and his daily labor in the service of the work
produced by the hands of God. What should be his recompense, if not that which
our ancestors have obtained? May it please divine goodness to accord this
recompense also to us; all our aspirations and all our prayers tend toward its
attainment; may we, delivered from the prison of the body, and from our mortal
bonds, return, sanctified and pure, to the divine heritage of our nature!"
- "What thou sayest is just and true, O Trismegistus! Such indeed is
the price [reward] of piety toward God, and of care bestowed on the maintenance
of the world. But return to the heavens is denied to those who have lived
impiously; upon them is imposed a penance which holy souls escape, to wit,
migration into other bodies. The end of this discourse, O Trismegistus, brings
us to the hope of eternal future for the soul, as the result of her life in the
world. But this future is for some difficult to believe; for others it is a
fable; for others, again, perhaps a subject of derision. For it is a sweet
thing to enjoy what one possesses in the corporeal life. Therein lies the evil,
which, as one may say, turns the soul's head, attaches her to her mortal part,
hinders her from knowing her divine part, and is envious of immortality. For I
say unto thee, by a prophetic inspiration, no man after us will choose the
simple way of philosophy, which lies wholly in application to the study of
divine things, and in holy religion. The majority of men obscure philosophy
with diverse questions. How come they to encumber it with sciences which ought
not to be comprehended in it, or after what manner do they mingle in it diverse
- "0 Asclepios, they mingle in it, by means of subtleties, a diversity
of sciences which belong not to it--arithmetic, music, geometry. But pure,
philosophy, whose proper object is holy religion, ought to occupy itself with
other sciences only in so far as to admire the regular phases of the stars,
their positions and their courses, determined by calculation; the dimensions of
the earth, its qualities and quantities; the depth of the sea; the power of
fire; and to know the effects of all these things, and Nature; to adore Art,
the artist, and his divine intelligence. As for music, that is apprehended when
one apprehends reason and the divine order of things. For this order by which
everything is ranged singly in the unity of the whole, is indeed an admirable
harmony and a divine melody."
- "What then, after us, will men become?"
- "Misled by the subtleties of the sophists, they will turn aside from
the true, pure and holy philosophy. To adore God in the simplicity of thought
and of the soul, to venerate His works, to bless His will, which alone is the
fullness of good--this is the only philosophy which is not profaned by the idle
curiosity of the mind. . . ."
OF MIND AND SIMILAR
- "Let us begin to speak of Mind and of other similar things. In the
beginning were God and Hylè--it is thus that the Greeks term the first
matter or substance of the universe. The Spirit was with the universe, but not
in the same manner as with God. The things which constitute the universe are
not God, therefore before their birth they were not in existence, but they were
already contained in that from which they were produced. For besides and
without created things is not only that which is not yet born, but that also
which has no generative fecundity, and which can bring forth nothing.
Everything which has the power of generating contains in germ all that can be
born of it, for it is easy to that which is brought forth to bear that which
shall bring forth. But the eternal God cannot and never could be born; He is,
He has been, He will be always. The nature of God is to be His own Principle.
But matter, or the nature of the world, and mind, although appearing to be
brought forth from the beginning, possess the power of birth and of
procreation--fecundative energy. For the beginning is in the quality of Nature,
who possesses in herself the potentiality of conception and of production. She
is then, without any foreign intervention, the principle of creation. It is
otherwise with that which possesses only the power of conception by means of
mixing with a second nature. The matrix of the universe and of all that it
contains appears not to have been itself born, holding however, within it,
potentially, all Nature. I call that the matrix which contains all things, for
they could not have been without a vehicle to contain them. Everything which
exists must exist in some place (or vehicle), neither qualities nor quantities,
nor positions, nor effects could be distinguished in things having no place and
being nowhere. Thus the world, although not having been born, has in it the
principle of all birth; since it affords all things a fitting matrix for
conception. It is, then, the sum-total of qualities and of matter susceptible
of creation, although not yet created.
- "Matter, being fecund in all attributes, is able also to engender
evil. I put aside, therefore, O Asclepios and Ammon, the question asked by
many:--'Could not God hinder evil in the nature of things ?' There is
absolutely nothing to say to them; but for you I will pursue the discourse
begun, and I will give the explanation. They affirm that God ought to have
preserved the world from evil; now, evil is in the world as an integral part of
it. The sovereign God indeed provided against it inasmuch as was reasonable and
possible, when He bestowed upon humanity sentiment, knowledge, and
intelligence. By these faculties solely, which place us above other animals, we
may escape the snares of evil and vice. The man who is wise and protected by
divine intelligence, knows how to preserve himself from such immediately he
beholds them, and before he has been entrapped thereby. The foundation of
knowledge is supreme goodness. Spirit governs and gives life to all that is in
the world; it is an instrument employed by the will of the sovereign God. Thus
we ought to comprehend, by intelligence alone, the supreme Intelligible called
God. By Him is directed that secondary sensible God (the universe), who
contains all spaces, all substances, the matter of all that engenders and
produces,--in a word, all that is.
- "As for the spirit (or Mind), it moves and governs all individual
beings in the world according to the nature which God has assigned to them.
Matter--Hylè, or the Kosmos--is the receptacle, the motion, the
replication of everything which God directs, dispensing to each of them that
which is necessary to it, and filling them with spirit according to their
- "The form of the universe is that of a hollow sphere having in itself
the cause of its quality or of its figure, wholly invisible; if, choosing any
given point of its surface, one should seek to behold its depths, one would be
unable to see anything. It appears visible only by means of those special forms
whose images appear graven upon it, it shows itself only in effigy; but in
reality it is always invisible in itself. Therefore, the center, the depths of
this sphere--if indeed one may call it a place--is in Greek named Hades,
the invisible, from eidein, to see, because the center of a sphere
cannot be seen from without. Moreover, the types or formative appearances were
called Ideas, because they are the forms of the Invisible. This interior of the
sphere which the Greeks call Hades, because it is invisible, the Latins name
Hell (Inferno), on account of its profound position. These are the primordial
principles, the first sources, of all things. Everything is in them, or by
them, or comes forth from them."
- "These principles are, then, O Trismegistus, the universal substance
of all individual appearances ?"
- "The world nourishes bodies, the spirit nourishes souls. Thought, the
heavenly gift which is the happy privilege of humanity, nourishes intelligence,
but few men only have an intelligence capable of receiving such a benefit.
Thought is a light which illuminates the intelligence, as the sun illuminates
the world. And even more, for the light of the sun may be intercepted by the
moon, or by the earth when night comes; but when thought has once penetrated
into the human soul, it mingles intimately with her nature, and the
intelligence can never again be obscured by any cloud. Therefore, with reason,
it has been said that the souls of the Gods are intelligences. As for me, I say
not this of all of them, but of the great supernal Gods."
THE PRIMORDIAL PRINCIPLES OF
- "What, O Trismegistus, are the primordial principles of things?"
- "I reveal to thee great and divine mysteries, and in beginning this
initiation I implore the favor of heaven.
- "There are many orders of the Gods; and in all there is an
intelligible part. It is not to be supposed that they do not come within the
range of our senses; on the contrary, we perceive them, better even than those
which are called visible, as this discussion will inform thee.
- "Thou wilt apprehend this fact if thou lendest all thine attention to
our discourse; for this order of ideas, so sublime, so divine, so elevated
above the intelligence of man, demands an uninterrupted attention without which
speech merely flits across the mind and flees away, or rather, returns to its
source and is lost therein.
- "There are, then, Gods superior to all appearances; after them come
the Gods whose principle is spiritual; these Gods being sensible, in conformity
with their double origin, manifest all things by a sensible nature, each of
them illuminating his works one by another.* The supreme Being of
heaven, or of all that is comprehended under this name, is Zeus, for it is by
heaven that Zeus gives life to all things. The supreme Being of the sun is
light, for it is by the disk of the sun that we receive the benefit of the
light. The thirty-six horoscopes of the fixed stars have for supreme Being or
prince, him whose name is Pantomorphos, or having all forms, because he
gives divine forms to diverse types. The seven planets, or wandering spheres,
have for supreme Spirits Fortune and Destiny, who uphold the eternal stability
of the laws of Nature throughout incessant transformation and perpetual
agitation. The ether is the instrument or medium by which all is produced.
here includes as Gods the sensible Forces of Nature, the elements and phenomena
of the universe.--A. K.
- "Thus, from the center to the uttermost parts, everything moves, and
relations are established according to natural analogies. That which is mortal
approximates to that which is mortal, that which is sensible to that which is
sensible. The supreme direction belongs to the supreme Master, in such wise
that diversity is resolved into unity. For all things depend from unity or
develop from it, and because they appear distant from one another it is
believed that they are many, whereas, in their collectivity they form but one,
or rather two Principles. These two Principles, whence all things proceed, and
by which all exist, are the substance of which things are formed, and the Will
of Him who differentiates them."
- "What is the reason of this, O Trismegistus?"
- "It is this, Asclepios. God is the Father, the universal Ruler--or
whatever other name yet more holy and religious may be given to Him--and which,
because of our intelligence, ought to be held sacred between us; but, in
considering His divinity, we cannot define Him by any such name. For the voice
is a sound resulting from the concussion of the air, and declaring the will of
man, or the impression that his mind has received through the senses. This
name, composed of a determined number of syllables, serving as a token between
the voice and the ear, and, moreover, sensation, breath, air, all that is
concerned with, and belonging to its expression--these convey this name of God,
and I do not think that a name, however complex it may be, is able to designate
the Principle of all majesty, the Father and Lord of all things. Nevertheless,
it is necessary to give Him a name, or rather every name, since He is one and
all; therefore we must say either that All is His name, or we must call Him by
the names of all things. He, then, who is one and all, possessing the full and
entire of both sexes, ever impregnated by His own Will, brings forth all that
He has willed to beget. His Will is universal goodness, the selfsame goodness
that exists in all things. Nature is born of His divinity, in such wise that
all things should be as they are, and as they have been, and that Nature may
suffice to generate of herself all that in the future is to be born. This, O
Asclepios, is why and how all things are of two sexes."
- "Sayest thou this also of God, O Trismegistus?"
- "Not only of God, but of all beings, whether animated or inanimate.
For it is impossible that anything which exists should be barren. Were we to
suppress the fecundity of existing things, it would be impossible for them to
remain what they are. For I say that this law of generation is contained in
Nature, in intellect, in the universe, and preserves all that is brought forth.
The two sexes are full of procreation, and their union, or rather their
incomprehensible at-one-ment, may be known as Eros, or as Aphrodite, or by both
names at once. If the mind can perceive any one truth more certainly and
clearly than another, it is this duty of procreation, which God of universal
Nature has imposed for ever upon all beings, and to which He has attached the
supremest charity, joy, delight, longing, and divinest love. It would be
needful to demonstrate the power and necessity of this law, if everyone were
not able to recognize and perceive it by interior sentiment. Behold, indeed,
how at the moment when from the brain the tide of life descends, the two
natures lose themselves each in each, and one eagerly seizes and hides within
itself the seed of the other! At this moment, by means of this mutual
enchainment, the feminine nature receives the virtue of the male, and the male
reposes on the bosom of its mate. This mystery, so sweet and so necessary, is
enacted in secret, lest the divinity of the two natures should be constrained
to blush before the railleries of the ignorant, were the union of the sexes
exposed to irreligious observation. For pious men are not numerous in the
world; they are, even, rare, and one might easily count them. In the majority
of men malice abides, for lack of prudence and of knowledge of things of the
- "The understanding of divine religion, the basis of all things, leads
to the contempt of all vices in the world, and supplies the remedy against
them; but when ignorance asserts itself, then vices develop and inflict upon
the soul an incurable hurt. Infected by vices, the soul is, as it were, swollen
with poison, and can be healed only by knowledge and understanding. Let us then
continue this teaching, even though but a small number should profit by it; and
learn thou, O Asclepios, why to man only God has given a part of His
intelligence and of His knowledge. Wherefore, hearken.
- "God the Father and the Ruler, after the Gods,* formed men by
the union in equal proportions of the corruptible part of the universe and of
its divine part, and thus it happened that the imperfections of the universe
remained mingled in the flesh. The need of nourishment which we have in common
with all creatures, subjects us to desire and to all other vices of the soul.
The Gods, constituted of the purest part of Nature, have no need of the aid of
reasoning or of study; immortality and eternal youth are for them wisdom and
knowledge. Nevertheless, seeing the unity of Order, and that they might not be
strangers to these things, God bestowed on them for their reason and their
intelligence, the eternal law of Necessity.
here intends the mundane deities.--A. K.
- "Alone, among all creatures, whether to avoid or to overcome the
evils of the flesh, man has the aid of reason and of intelligence, and the hope
of immortality. Man, created good, and capable of immortal life, has been
formed of two natures: one divine, the other mortal; and in thus forming him,
the Divine Will rendered him superior to the Gods, who have an immortal nature
only, as well as to all mortal beings. For this reason, man, united in close
affinity with the Gods, pays them religious service, and the Gods, in their
turn, watch with a tender affection over human affairs. But I speak here only
of pious men; as for the wicked, I will say nothing concerning them, in order
that I may not, by pausing to talk about them, sully the holiness of this
THE RELATIONSHIP AND
RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN MEN AND GODS
- "And since we are brought to speak of the relationship and of the
resemblance between men and Gods, behold, O Asclepios, the power and capacity
of man! Even as the Ruler and Father, or to give Him the loftiest name--God--is
the creator of the firmamental Gods, so is man the creator of the Gods who
dwell in temples, pleased with human proximity, and not only themselves
illumined, but illuminating. And this both profits man and strengthens the
Gods. Dost thou marvel, Asclepios? Dost thou lack faith as do many?"
- "I am confounded, O Trismegistus; but yielding myself willingly to
thy words, I judge man to be happy in that he has obtained such felicity."
- "Certes, he deserves admiration, being the greatest of all the Gods!
For the race of the Gods is formed of the purest part of Nature, without
admixture of other elements, and their visible signs are, as it were, only
heads.* But the Gods which mankind makes, possess two natures--one
divine, which is the first and by far the purest, the other belonging to
humanity, which is the matter of which these Gods are composed, so that they
have not only heads, but entire bodies, with all their limbs. Thus mankind,
remembering its nature and its origin, persists in this matter, in the
imitation of Deity, for even as the Father and Lord has made the eternal Gods
after the similitude of Himself, so also has humanity made its Gods in its own
speaks of the Stars, and of the Astral Powers, not of the Divine Intelligences.
The whole of this discourse has a hidden and profound meaning, relating to the
human organism, and to the elemental genii, which through man are
- "Dost thou speak of the statues, Trismegistus?"
- "Yes, of the statues, Asclepios. See how wanting thou art in faith!
Of what else should I speak but of the statues, so full of life, of feeling,
and of aspiration, which do so many wonderful things; the prophetic statues
which predict the future by bestowing dreams and by all manner of other ways;
which strike us with maladies, or heal our pains according to. our deserts? Art
thou not aware, O Asclepios, that Egypt is the image of heaven, or rather, that
it is the projection below of the order of things above? If the truth must be
told, this land is indeed the temple of the world. Nevertheless--since sages
ought to foresee all things--there is one thing thou must know; a time will
come when it will seem that the Egyptians have adored the Gods so piously m
vain, and that all their holy invocations have been barren and unheeded.
Divinity will quit the earth and return to heaven, forsaking Egypt, its ancient
abode, and leaving the land widowed of religion and bereft of the presence of
the Gods. Strangers will fill the earth, and not only will sacred things be
neglected, but--more dreadful still--religion, piety, and the adoration of the
Gods will be forbidden and punished by the laws. Then, this earth, hallowed by
so many shrines and temples, will be filled with sepulchers and with the dead.
O Egypt! Egypt! there will remain of thy religions only vague legends which
posterity will refuse to believe; only words graven upon stones will witness to
thy devotion! The Scythian, the Indian, or some other neighboring barbarian
will possess Egypt! Divinity will return to heaven; humanity, thus abandoned,
will wholly perish, and Egypt will be left deserted, forsaken of men and of
- "To thee I cry, O most sacred River, to thee I announce the coming
doom! Waves of blood, polluting thy divine waters, shall overflow thy banks;
the number of the dead shall surpass that of the living; and if, indeed, a few
inhabitants of the land remain, Egyptians by speech, they will in manners be
aliens! Thou weepest, O Asclepios! But yet sadder things than these will come
to pass. Egypt will fall into apostasy, the worst of all evils. Egypt, once the
holy land beloved of the Gods and full of devotion for their worship, will
become the instrument of perversion, the school of impiety, the type of all
violence. Then, filled with disgust for everything, man will no longer feel
either admiration or love for the world. He will turn away from this beautiful
work, the most perfect alike in the present, the past, and the future. Nor will
the languor and weariness of souls permit anything to remain save disdain of
the whole universe, this immutable work of God, this glorious and perfect
edifice, this manifold synthesis of forms and images, wherein the will of the
Lord, lavish of marvels, has united all things in a harmonious and single
whole, worthy for ever of veneration, of praise and love! Then darkness will be
preferred to light, and death will be deemed better than life, nor will any man
lift his eyes to heaven.
- "In those days the religious man will be thought mad; the impious man
will be hailed as a sage; savage men will be deemed valiant; the evil-hearted
will be applauded as the best of men. The Soul, and all that belongs
thereto--whether born mortal or able to attain eternal life--all those things
which I have herein expounded to thee, will be but matters for ridicule, and
will be esteemed foolishness. There will even be peril of death, believe me,
for those who remain faithful to religion and intelligence. New rights will be
instituted, new laws, nor will there be left one holy word, one sacred belief,
religious and worthy of heaven and of celestial things. O lamentable separation
between the Gods and men! Then there will remain only evil demons who will
mingle themselves with the miserable human race, their hand will be upon it
impelling to all kinds of wicked enterprise; to war, to rapine, to falsehood,
to everything contrary to the nature of the soul. The earth will no longer be
in equilibrium, the sea will no longer be navigable, in the heavens the regular
course of the stars will be troubled. Every holy voice will be condemned to
silence; the fruits of the earth will become corrupt, and she will be no more
fertile; the very air will sink into lugubrious torpor. Such will be the old
age of the world; irreligion and disorder, lawlessness, and the confusion of
- "When all these things shall be accomplished, O Asclepios, then the
Lord and Father, the sovereign God who rules the wide world, beholding the evil
ways and actions of men, will arrest these misfortunes by the exercise of His
divine will and goodness. And, in order to put an end to error and to the
general corruption, He will drown the world with a deluge or consume it by
fire, or destroy it by wars and epidemics, and thereafter He will restore to it
its primitive beauty; so that once more it shall appear worthy of admiration
and worship, and again a chorus of praise and of blessing shall celebrate Him
Who has created and redeemed so beautiful a work. This rebirth of the world,
this restoration of all good things, this holy and sacred rehabilitation of
Nature will take place when the time shall come which is appointed by the
divine and ever-eternal will of God, without beginning and always the same."
- "Indeed, Trismegistus, the nature of God is Will reflected; that is,
absolute goodness and wisdom."
- "O Asclepios, Will is the result of reflection, and to will is itself
an act of willing. For He Who is the fullness of all things and Who possesses
all that He will, wills nothing by caprice. But everything He wills is good,
and He has all that He wills; all that is good He thinks and wills. Such is
God, and the World is the image of His righteousness."
- "Is the world then good, O Trismegistus?"
- "Yes, the world is good, Asclepios, as I will inform thee. Even as
God accords to all beings and to all orders in the world benefits of divers
kinds, such as thought, soul, and life, so likewise the world itself divides
and distributes good things among mortals, changing seasons, the fruits of the
earth, birth, increase, maturity, and other similar gifts. And thus God is
above the summit of heaven, yet everywhere present and beholding all things.
For beyond the heavens is a sphere without stars, transcending all corporeal
things. Between heaven and earth he reigns who is the dispenser of life, and
whom we call Zeus (Jupiter). Over the earth and the sea he reigns who nourishes
all mortal creatures, the plants and fruit-bearing trees, and whose name is
Zeus Sarapis (Jupiter Plutonius). And those to whom it shall be given to
dominate the earth shall be sent forth and established at the extremity of
Egypt, in a city built towards the west, whither, by sea and by land, shall
flow all the race of mortals."
- But where are they now, Trismegistus ?
- "They are established in a great city, upon the mountain of Libya.
Enough of this."*
- *By "Egypt"
is denoted not only the country of that name, but the physical system generally
of the world, and especially--as in the Hebrew Scriptures--the human
CONTRAST BETWEEN THE IMMORTAL
AND THE MORTAL
- "Let us speak now of that which is immortal and of that which is
mortal. The multitude, ignorant of the reason of things, is troubled by the
approach and the fear of death. Death occurs by the dissolution of the body,
wearied with its toil. When the number which maintains unity is complete--for
the binding-power of the body is a number--the body dies. And this happens when
it can no longer support the burdens of life. Such, then, is death; the
dissolution of the body, and the end of corporeal sensations. It is superfluous
to trouble oneself about such a matter. But there remains another necessary law
which human ignorance and unbelief despise."
- "What law is this which is thus ignored or unregarded?"
- "Hearken, O Asclepios. When the soul is separated from the body, she
passes under the supreme power of Deity, to be Judged according to her merits.
If found pious and just she is allowed to dwell in the divine abodes, but if
she appears defiled with vice she is precipitated from height to depth, and
delivered over to the tempests and adverse hurricanes of the air, the fire, and
the water. Ceaselessly tossed about between heaven and earth by the billows of
the universe, she is driven from side to side in eternal penance, her immortal
nature gives endless duration to the judgment pronounced against her.*
How greatly must we fear so dreadful a fate! They who now refuse to believe in
such things will then be convinced against their will, not by words, but by
beholding; not by menaces, but by the pains they will endure."
passage resembles a fragment of Empedocles, cited by Plutarch:-- "The etherial
force pursues them towards the sea, the sea vomits them forth upon its shores,
the earth in turn flings them upward to the untiring sun, and the sun again
drives them back into the whirlwind of space. Thus all the elements toss them
from one to another, and all hold them in horror." [It is needless to add that
the whole of this passage is allegorical, and that the penance referred to is
that of Purgatory, or Kama Loka--the intermediate state of
- "The faults of men, O Trismegistus, are not then punished only by
- "O Asclepios, all that is terrestrial is mortal. Those who live
according to the corporeal state, and who fall short during their life of the
laws imposed on this condition, are subjected after death to chastisement so
much the more severe as the faults committed by them have remained hidden; for
the universal prescience of God will render the punishment proportional to the
passage qualifies the previous statement in Sect. IX, concerning the duration
of the purgatorial state, and shows that it is not to be regarded as eternal,
but as proportional to the faults committed. Moreover, it supplies a reason for
the Catholic custom of shriving the dying, seeing that unconfessed sin entails
heavier penalty than sin confessed, and therefore no longer "hidden."--A.
- "Who are they who deserve the greatest penalties, O Trismegistus?"
- "Those who, condemned by human laws, die a violent death, in such
wise that they appear not to have paid the debt they owe to Nature, but to have
received only the reward of their actions.*** The just man, on the
contrary, finds in religion and in piety a great help, and God protects him
against all evils. The Father and Lord of all things, Who alone is all,
manifests Himself willingly to all; not that He shows any man His abode, nor
His splendor, nor His greatness, but He enlightens man by intelligence alone,
whereby the darkness of error is dissipated, and the glories of the truth
revealed. By such means man is united to the Divine Intelligence; aspiring
thither he is delivered from the mortal part of his nature, and conceives the
hope of everlasting life. Herein is the difference between the good and the
wicked. He who is illumined by piety, religion, wisdom, the service and
veneration of God, sees, as with open eyes, the true reason of things; and,
through the confidence of this faith, surpasses other men even as the sun the
other fires of heaven. For if the sun enlightens the rest of the stars, it is
not so much by his greatness and power as by his divinity and sanctity. Thou
must see in him, O Asclepios, a secondary God, who rules the rest of the world,
and illumines all its inhabitants, animate and inanimate.
obscure passage. Probably its meaning is that great sinners, cut off by violent
means in the midst of their iniquity, have no time to work out their penance in
life, and, being thus deprived of the opportunity of restitution and amendment,
suffer the more acutely in purgatory. For since they cannot discharge their
debt on earth, they are delivered to torment after death until the "uttermost
farthing" is paid.--A. K.
- [The opinions expressed in the above, or
other scholarly annotations herein, must be disclaimed being in any way
necessarily accepted as expressive of, or identical with my own.--Robt. H.
- "If the world is an animated being which is, which has been, and
which will be always living, nothing in it is mortal. Each of its parts is
alive, for in a single creature always living there is no room for death. Thus
is God the plenitude of life and of eternity, for He necessarily lives
eternally; the sun is lasting as the universe, and governs perpetually all
living creatures, being the fount and distributor of all vitality. God is,
then, the everlasting Ruler of all things which receive life, and of all that
give it, the eternal dispenser of the being of the universe. Now, He has once
for all bestowed life on all living creatures by an immutable law which I will
expound to thee. The movement of the universe is the life of eternity; the
sphere of this motion is the eternity of life. The universe will never cease
from movement, nor will it ever become corrupt; the permanence of eternal life
surrounds it and protects it as a rampart. It dispenses life to all that is in
its bosom; it is the bond of all things ordained under the sun. The effect of
its motion is double; it is vivified by the eternity which encompasses it, and,
in its turn, it vivifies all that it contains, diversifying everything
according to certain fixed and determined numbers and seasons. All things are
ordained in time by the action of the sun and the stars, according to a Divine
law. Terrestrial periods are distinguished by the condition of the atmosphere,
by the alternatives of heat and cold; celestial periods by the revolutions of
the constellations, which return at fixed intervals of time to the same places
in the heavens. The universe is the stage of time, the course and movement of
which maintain Life. Order and time produce the renewal of all things in the
world by recurring seasons.
THE ETERNAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND
BEING OF DEITY
- "Since such is the state of the universe, there is nothing immutable,
nothing stable, nothing unchanging in nature, either in the heavens or on the
earth. God alone, and rightly alone, is wholly full and perfect in Himself, of
Himself, and around Himself. He is His own firm stability, nor can He be moved
by any impulsion, since all things are in Him, and He alone is all. Unless,
indeed, we should dare to say, that His movement is in eternity, but this
eternity itself is motionless, since all the motion of time revolves in
eternity and takes its form therein. God, then, has ever been and is for ever
immutable; with Him likewise is the immutable eternity, bearing within it, as
the image of God, the uncreated universe not yet manifest. Hence, the created
universe constitutes the imitation of this eternal universe. Time, despite its
perpetual movement, possesses, by means of its necessary revolutions on itself,
the force and nature of stability. Thus, although eternity is fixed and
immutable, nevertheless, since the motion of time unfolds itself in eternity,
and this mobility is the very condition of time, it appears that eternity,
immutable in itself, yet revolves by means of the time which is within it, and
which contains all motion. Thence it results that the stability of eternity
appears mobile, and the mobility of time, stable, by the fixed law of their
course. And thus it might seem even that God moves in His own immutability. For
there is in the immensity of the equilibrium an unchangeable movement; the law
of His immensity is unchangeable.
- "That, therefore, which is not subject to sense--the Infinite, the
Incomprehensible, the Immeasurable--can not be sustained, nor carried, nor
sought out; neither can we know whence it comes, whither it goes, where it is,
how it is, nor what it is. It is contained in its own supreme stability, and
its stability in it; whether God be in eternity, or eternity in God, or both
one and the other in the two. Eternity is undefinable by time; and time, which
may be defined by number, by alternative, or by periodical revolutions, is
eternal. Thus both appear equally infinite and eternal. Stability being the
fixed point which serves as the basis of Movement, must because of this
stability, hold the principal place. God and Eternity are, therefore, the
principle of all things; but the world, which is mutable, cannot be considered
the principle. The mutability of the world takes precedence of its stability,
by means of the law of eternal movement in equilibrium. The whole consciousness
of Divinity is then immutable, and moves only in equilibrium; it is holy,
incorruptible, eternal; or to define it better, it is eternity, consisting in
the very truth of the Supreme God, the plenitude of all feeling and knowledge,
or indeed, so to speak, in God Himself. The consciousness of the natural
universe includes all sensible things and species; the consciousness of
humanity involves memory, by which man remembers his acts performed.
- "Now, the consciousness of Divinity descends even to the human
creature. God has not seen fit to extend to all beings this supreme and divine
consciousness, lest, were it common to all animals, the glory of it should be
diminished. The intelligence of the human mind,--whatever may be its quality
and quantity,--lies wholly in the memory, and it is by means of this tenacity
of memory that man has become the lord of the earth. The intelligence of
nature, the quality and consciousness of the universe, may be understood by
means of the sensible things it contains. Eternity, in the next place, is
understood as to its consciousness and its quality, according to the sensible
- "But the intelligence of the Divine Being, the consciousness of the
Supreme God, is the only truth, and this truth cannot be discovered,--no, nor
so much as its shadow,--in this world full of illusion, of changeful
appearances, and of error, where things are known only in the dimension of
- "Thou seest, O Asclepios, what lofty matters we dare to treat! I
thank Thee, O most high God, Who hast illumined me with the light of Thy Grace!
As for you, O Tat, Asclepios, and Ammon, keep these Divine mysteries in the
secret place of your hearts, and conceal them in silence. Intellect differs
from perception in this--that intellect, by means of study is competent to
understand and to know the nature of the universe.
- "The intellect of the universe penetrates to the consciousness of
eternity, and of the supermundane Gods. And as for us who are men, we perceive
heavenly things as it were darkly through a mist, for thus only does the
condition of our human sense permit us to behold them. Feeble, indeed, is our
strength to penetrate things so Divine; but, when at last we attain to them, we
are indeed blessed by the joy of our inward consciousness.
FORM, PLACE AND THE
NON-EXISTENCE OF A VOID
- "Concerning the Void, to which so much importance is attached, my
judgment is that it does not exist, that it never has existed, and that it
never will exist. For all the various parts of the universe are filled, as the
earth also is complete and full of bodies, differing in quality and in form,
having their species and their magnitude one larger, one smaller, one solid,
one tenuous. The larger and more solid are easily perceived; the smaller and
more tenuous are difficult to apprehend or altogether invisible. We know only
of their existence by the sensation of feeling, wherefore many persons deny
such entities to be bodies, and regard them as simply spaces, but it is
impossible there should be such spaces. For if indeed there should be anything
outside the universe, which I do not believe, then it would be a space occupied
by intelligible beings analogous to its Divinity, in such wise that the world,
which we call the sensible world, would be filled with bodies and creatures
appropriate to its nature and quality. We do not behold all the aspects of the
world; some of these indeed are very vast, others very small, or else they
appear small to us by reason of their remoteness, or the imperfection of our
sight; their extreme tenuity may even cause us to be wholly ignorant of their
existence. I speak of the genii, for I hold they dwell with us, and of the
heroes who dwell above us, between the earth and the higher airs; wherein are
neither clouds nor any tempest.
- "For in truth, O Asclepios, it cannot be said that there is anywhere
a void, unless care be taken to define what is signified by void; as, for
instance, void of fire, or water, or of some other such thing. And even if this
or that space, small or great, be empty of these elements, nothing can be empty
of the spirit and aerial fluid. The same thing may be said of place; this word
alone cannot be understood, unless it is applied to something. By omitting the
chief term, the sense intended is lost; thus, it is correct to say, "the place
of water," "the place of fire," or of any other similar thing. For as it is
impossible that there should be space void of everything, so also it is
impossible there should be place by itself. If a place is supposed without its
contents, then it is an empty place, and, in my judgment, such a place does not
exist in the universe. But if nothing be void, then there can be no such thing
as place in itself, unless it be qualified by length, breadth, and depth, even
as human bodies have distinguishing signs.
- "If, then, these things be so, O Asclepios and you who are also
present, know that the Intelligible World, that is to say, God, Who is
perceived only by the eye of intelligence, is incorporeal, and that nothing
corporeal can be mingled with His nature, nor anything that can be defined by
quality, quantity, or numeration, for there is nothing of such a kind in Him.
This world, which is called the sensible world, is the receptacle of all
sensible appearances, qualities, and bodies, nor can this universe exist
without God. For God is all, and all come forth from Him, and depend on His
Will; He contains everything that is good, orderly, wise, perfect, perceptible
for Him alone, and intelligible for Him alone. Apart from Him nothing has been,
nothing is, nothing will be; for all proceed from Him, are in Him, and by Him;
whether manifold qualities, vast quantities, magnitudes exceeding measurement,
species of all forms. If thou understandest these things, Asclepios, render
thanks to God; and, observing the universe, comprehend clearly that this
sensible world, and all that it contains, is enfolded, as in a garment, by the
supernal world. O Asclepios, beings of every kind, whether mortals, immortals,
reasonable, animate, inanimate, to whatever class they may belong, bear the
impress of that class, and although each of them has the general appearance of
its kind, there are yet among them special differences. Even so, the human kind
is uniform, and man may be defined by his type; nevertheless, under this
general likeness, men present many dissimilarities. For the character which
proceeds from God is incorporeal, as is all that is comprehended in
intelligence. Since the two principles which determine form are corporeal and
incorporeal, it is impossible that they should generate a form wholly
resembling something else, at whatever distance of time or of place. Forms,
nevertheless, are as changeful as the moments in an hour's space, in the
moveable circle wherein is that omniform God of whom we have spoken. Therefore
the type persists, producing as many images of itself as the revolution of the
world has instants of time. The world has changes in its revolution, but
species (individuality) has neither period nor change. Thus the forms of every
species are permanent, and yet various in the same species."
- "And does the world also vary in its species, Trisrmegistus?"
- "Why then, Asclepios, hast thou been asleep all the while we have
been discoursing? What is the world, or of what is it composed, if not of all
that is generated in it? Or dost thou speak of heaven, of the earth, and of the
elements, for other beings continually change in appearance? But even so the
heaven, now rainy, now dry, now hot, now cold, now clear, now covered with
clouds, has many successive changes of aspect beneath its apparent uniformity.
So also the earth constantly changes its aspect, for now it brings forth its
fruits, now it hides them in its bosom, bearing products of diverse quality and
quantity; here is repose, there is movement, and every variety of trees,
flowers, seeds, properties, odors, savors, forms. Fire, likewise, has its
manifold and divine transformations, for the sun and the moon have all manner
of aspects comparable to the multitude of images beheld in mirrors. And now we
have discoursed enough of these things.
MAN AND THE DIVINE GIFT OF
- "Let us return to man, and inquire concerning the divine gift of
reason which entitles him to be called a reasonable creature. Among all the
wonders we have noted in man, that which above all commands admiration is
this:--that man has discovered the divinity of nature, and has made it
efficient to his designs.*
section continues and elucidates the argument of section IX. An acquaintance
with occult doctrine regarding the Nature-spirits or mundane Gods, will, I
think, enable the reader to follow intelligently the observations of Hermes in
regard to the sacred images. Precisely the same virtues as those attributed by
the ancients to the idols of their various deities, are in our day attributed
by Catholics to the idols of their saints. We hear of the "Virgin" of this or
that town being propitious to a petition which the "Virgin " of some other
place has refused to grant. Sacred images still heal the sick, avert
pestilences, discover hidden springs, and confer blessings upon devotees.
Hermes points out that the powers by which these things are accomplished belong
to the divinity of Nature, individualized and differentiated by human
intervention; and that mankind necessarily passes through the stage of
nature-worship before becoming competent to realize the celestial order and the
being of the heavenly Gods. For before the empyrean can be reached by the,
human intelligence, it must traverse the spheres intermediate between earth and
heaven. Thus the images of the Gods are worshipped before the Gods themselves
are known; nor are these images necessarily of wood or stone. All personalities
are eidola (idols) reflecting the true essentials, and having, as it
were, a portion of Divinity attached to them and resident in their forms, but
none the less are they images, and however powerful and adorable they may
appear to the multitude who know not divine religion, they are to the Hermetist
but types and persona of essentials which are eternally independent of
manifestation and unaffected by it. The signs of the truly Divine are three:
transcendence of form, transcendence of time, transcendence of personality.
Instead of form is Essence; instead of time, Eternity; instead of persons,
Principles. Events become Processes, and phenomena, Noumena. So long as the
conception of any divine idea remains associated with, or dependent on, any
physical or historical circumstance, so long it is certain that the heavenly
plane has not been reached. Symbols, when they are recognized as symbols, are
no longer either deceptive or dangerous; they are merely veils of light
rendering visible the "Divine Dark," towards which the true Hermetist aspires.
Even the most refined, the subtlest and most metaphysical expression of the
supreme Truth is still symbol and metaphor, for the Truth itself is
unutterable, save by God to God. It is Essence, Silence, Darkness.--A.
- "Our ancestors, wandering astray in matters of faith concerning the
Gods, and unable to lift their minds to the Divine knowledge and religion,
discovered the art of making Gods; and, having discovered it, they invested
their products with appropriate virtues drawn from the nature of the world.
And, as they could not make souls, they evoked the spirits of genii and angels,
and endowed with them the holy images and sacraments, thus enabling their idols
to exercise powers for good or ill. In such wise thine ancestor, O Asclepios,
the inventor of medicine, has a temple on the Libyan mountain by the shores of
the crocodile-frequented river, where also lies enshrined all of him which
belonged to the earth--that is, his body. For the rest of him--his better part,
or rather, indeed, himself--because the principle of consciousness and of life
is the whole man--is restored to heaven. And now, by his divinity, he lends
help to men in their sicknesses, who once instructed them in the art of
healing. So also, Hermes, my own ancestor, whose name I bear, now enshrined in
the country which is called after him, hears the prayers of those who come
thither from all parts of the land to obtain of him assistance and health.
Behold, again, what blessings Isis, the spouse of Osiris, confers upon men when
she is favorable to them, and what ills she inflicts when she is angered! For
these mundane and earthly Gods are accessible to wrath, being formed and
composed by men out of Nature. Of such sort in Egypt is the adoration paid to
animals; and thus also do cities honor the souls of those men who, in their
lifetime, gave them laws and whose names they preserve. And for this reason, O
Asclepios, those deities which are adored in some places, receive in others no
worship; whence arise many wars between the cities of Egypt."
- "And of what kind, O Trismegistus, is the divinity of these Gods who
inhabit the earth?"
- "It consists in the divine virtue, which naturally subsists in herbs,
rocks, and aromatic principles, wherefore these deities love frequent
sacrifices, hymns, and praises, and sweet music resembling the celestial
harmony, which heaven-like rite, attractive to their sacred nature, draws them
and retains them in their shrines, so that they patiently endure their long
sojourn among men. It is thus that men make Gods. Neither must thou suppose, O
Asclepios, that the acts of these terrestrial deities are controlled by hazard.
For while the supernal Gods abide in the heights of heaven, keeping each the
order which belongs to him, these Gods of ours have also their special
functions. Some predict by means of lots and divination the events of the
future; others preside, in various ways, over things depending on their care,
or come to our assistance as allies, as kinsmen, or as friends."
THE ROLE OF DESTINY OR FATE
IN THE GRAND SCHEME
- "O Trismegistus, what is the part taken in the order of things by
Destiny or Fate? If the heavenly Gods rule the universe, and the mundane
deities control special events, where is the part of Destiny?"
- "O Asclepios, Destiny is the necessity which compels all things that
happen, the chain which binds together all events. It is thus the cause of
things, the supreme deity, or rather the second God created by God, that is the
law of all things in heaven and earth established upon divine ordinances.
Destiny and Necessity are bound together indissolubly: Destiny produces the
beginning of all things, Necessity enforces the effect which ensues from these
beginnings. And hence arises Order--that is, the sequence and disposition of
things accomplished in Time; for nothing is performed without Order. And thus
the world is perfected; for the world is founded on Order, and in Order the
universe consists. Therefore these three, Destiny (which is Fate), Necessity,
and Order, depend absolutely on the will of God Who governs the world by His
divine law and reason. These three principles have no will in themselves;
inflexible and inaccessible to favor as to anger, they are but the instruments
of the eternal Reason, which is immutable, invariable, unalterable,
indissoluble. First comes Destiny, containing, like newly-sown soil, the germs
of future events. Necessity follows, urging them to their consummation. Lastly,
Order maintains the fabric of things established by Destiny and Necessity. For
all this is an everlasting sequence without beginning or end, sustained by its
immutable law in the continuity of eternity. It rises and falls alternately,
and as time rolls onward, that which had disappeared, again rises uppermost.
For such is the condition of the circular movement; all things are interchained
in such wise that neither beginning nor end can be distinguished, and they
appear to precede and follow each other unceasingly. But as for accident and
chance, they pervade all mundane affairs."
- "And now, inasmuch as it is given to man, and inasmuch as God has
permitted, we have spoken concerning everything; it remains only, therefore,
that we should bless and pray to God and return to our mortal cares, having
satisfied our minds by treating of sacred things which are the food of the
* * * * * * * * * *
- Therewith, coming forth from the Sanctuary, they addressed to God
their oraisons, turning themselves to the south, because when the sun begins to
decline, he who would praise the God should direct his gaze thither, as in like
manner, at sunrise, he should look towards the orient. And even while they
pronounced their invocations, Asclepios, in a low
voice, spoke thus:--
- "O Tatius, let us ask our father that our prayers may be accompanied
with odors of incense and perfumes."
Trismegistus heard, and was
- "May the omen be favorable, O Asclepios," he said. "It is almost a
sacrilege to burn incense or any other perfume during prayer; He Who is all and
Who contains all, desires nothing. Let us give Him praise and adoration only;
the divinest odors are acts of grace which mortals render to God.
- "We give Thee thanks, O Lord Most High, for by Thy grace we have
received the light of Thy knowledge; may Thy Name be adored and venerated, only
Name by which Deity is praised according to the religion of our fathers! For
Thou dost vouchsafe to accord to all of us the ancestral faith, piety, love,
and the most worthy and gracious gifts, in that Thou bestowest upon us
consciousness, reason, and intelligence. By consciousness we discern Thee, by
reason we seek Thee, and intelligence endows us with the joy of understanding
Thee. Saved by Thy divine power, let us be glad in beholding the manifestation
of Thyself; let us be glad that, from the hour of our sojourn in the body, Thou
dost deign to consecrate us to eternity. The only joy of Man is the knowledge
of Thy majesty. We have known Thee, O magnificent Light, who art apprehended by
Intelligence alone! We have known Thee, O true Way of Life, inexhaustible
Source of all births! We have known Thee, O generative Plenitude of all Nature,
Eternal Permanence! And in this our oraison, adoring the sanctity of Thy
holiness, we ask of Thee only to grant that we may persevere in the love of Thy
knowledge, in such wise that we may never separate ourselves from this manner
of life. With which hope being filled, we go forth to take a pure repast
without animal flesh."*
- *The words
with which this Discourse on Initiation ends are full of significance. The key
to the Hermetic Secret is found when the aspirant adopts the Edenic Life: the
life of purity and charity which all mystics--Hebrew, Egyptian, Buddhist,
Greek, Latin, Vedic, with one consent, ascribe to man in the golden age of his
primeval perfection. The first outcome of the Fall, or Degeneracy, is the
shedding of blood and eating of flesh. The license to kill is the sign-manual
of "Paradise Lost." And the first step towards "Paradise Regained" is taken
when man voluntarily returns to the manner of life indicated by his organism as
that alone befitting him and thus reunites himself to the harmony of Nature and
the Will of God. No man who follows this path and faithfully keeps to it will
fail to find at length the Gate of Paradise. Not necessarily in a single
life-time, for the process of purification is a long one, and the past
experiences of some men may be such as to shut them out for many lives from the
attainment of the promised land. But, nevertheless, every step faithfully and
firmly trodden, brings them nearer to the goal, every year of pure life
increasingly strengthens the spirit, purges the mind, liberates the will, and
augments their human royalty. On the other hand, it is idle to seek union with
God in the Spirit, while the physical and magnetic organism remains insurgent
against Nature. Harmony must be established between man and Nature before union
can be accomplished between man and God. For Nature is the manifest God; and if
man be not in perfect charity with that which is visible, how shall he love
that which is invisible? Hermetic doctrine teaches the kinship and solidarity
of all beings, redeemed and glorified in man. For man does not stand aloof and
apart from other creatures, as though he were a fallen angel dropped from some
supernal world upon the earth, but he is the child of earth, the product of
evolution, the elder brother of all conscient things; their lord and king, but
not their tyrant. It is his part to be to all creatures a Good Destiny; he is
the keeper, the redeemer, the regenerator of the earth. If need be, he may call
on his subjects to serve him as their king, but he may never, without
forfeiting his kingship, maltreat and afflict them. All the children of God, in
every land and age, have abstained from blood, in obedience to an occult law
which asserts itself in the breast of all regenerate men. The mundane Gods are
not averse to blood, for by means of it they are invigorated and enabled to
manifest. For the mundane Gods are the forces of the astral element in man,
which element dominates in the unregenerate. Therefore, the unregenerate are
under the power of the stars, and subject to illusion. Inasmuch as a man is
clean from the defilement of blood, inasmuch he is less liable to be beguiled
by the deceptions of the astral serpent. Therefore, let all who seek the
Hermetic secret, do their utmost to attain to the Hermetic life. If entire
abstinence from all forms of animal food be impossible, let a lower degree be
adopted, admitting the use of the least bloody meats only--milk, fish, eggs,
and the flesh of birds. But in such a case, let the intention of the
aspirant be continually united with that of Nature, willing with firm desire to
lead, whenever possible, a yet more perfect life; so that in a future birth he
may be enabled to attain to it.--A. K.
The Nazarenes of Mount Carmel
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