The Emerald Tablet is an ancient artifact whose current whereabouts are unknown. What was written on it is the foundation of Hermetic Philosophy and perhaps it contains a recipe for preparing the philosopher’s stone which can turn metals into gold. Or else it symbolizes the spiritual equivalent, purifying the soul. Versions of its text became known to the Christian world after the fourteenth century through Arabic translations.
The physical Emerald Tablet was described as a rectangular object of exquisite workmanship, with its sacred message written in bas-relief or carved out, using an alphabet similar to Phoenician. Supposedly this tablet is made of emerald, a gem cherished by the ancients. But since large quality emeralds from the old world (if it was from the old world or from earth even) probably never existed and since there is confusion over what was, and what was called an emerald in the old world, it was perhaps more likely another green crystal, jasper or jade. It may have been simply green colored glass.
Most consider the writings on the Emerald Tablet to be one of the earliest of all extant Western alchemical works, originating from pre-Greek sources. In mystical circles it is still popular with modern-day alchemists. The writings are considered to belong to the Hermetic Tradition, a non-Christian branch of Hellenistic Gnosticism. The Arabs called alchemy the Hermetic art. There were generally two types of Hermetic writings, philosophical and alchemical/magical. Like many texts from this era, most of these texts (the Corpus Hermeticum) were lost somewhere, sometime in history and nobody really knows how many there were.
Renaissance depiction of Hermes Trismegistus
The roots of the Emerald Tablet are not so easy to pin down. The magic or spiritual secrets that it imparts came directly from Hermes himself, the messenger of the gods, and lord of magicians. Or more specifically, Hermes Trismegistus, a Hellenistic Egyptian mix of Hermes the Greek god and Thoth the Egyptian god. The Greeks in Egypt at the time thought Hermes was the same as Thoth. They are similar in many ways although there are some differences too and some Greeks did not accept this version of the god. Both gods were gods of wisdom, science, magic and the afterlife who taught man how to do all manner of things. The
stories and the origins of these gods go back very far into murky history, 10,000 years ago and beyond. And with them go the stories and possible origins of the tablet that they/he created. But that is what makes it interesting, that it could be a surviving thread of ancient wisdom.
Legends have placed the tablet in various locations, for example, in the Ark of the Covenant, found in Sri Lanka, hidden in the Great Pyramid by Alexander the Great and found and hidden in other caves in the middle east. But what do we know exactly of the text? The portions or versions that survive today have been translated from Arabic, Latin, Chaldean, and Phoenician, by notable figures such as Isaac Newton and Madame Blavatsky. It recounts succinctly the central points of alchemy – that we can access the ultimate truths of our existence from understanding the vital and mysterious relationship between earthly and heavenly things.
Here is a version from Diane Morgan’s book From Satan’s Crown to the Holy Grail:Emeralds in Myth, Magic, and History:
It is true without falsehood, certain and absolutely true.
What is below is like what is above and that which is above is like that which is below, for the performance of the miracles of the One Thing. And just as all things come from that One, through that One’s meditation, so all things in nature are adapted from It.
Its father is the Sun. Its mother is the Moon. It will carry the wind in its belly. Its foster-mother is the Earth. Here is the father of all the perfected designs of the world. Its power is complete if it is integrated with the Earth. You will part the Earth from the Fire, the Subtle from the Heavy, sweetly, with great genius.
It ascends from the Earth into Heaven, then descends again to Earth and receives powers from things below and above. Thus you will have the glory of the entire world. Therefore all obscurity will flee from you. This is the Force of all Forces, which conquers all subtle things and penetrates all solid things.
Thus the world is created. Here are miracles opened, the method of which is here. Thus I am called Hermes Trismegistus who have three parts of the Philosophy of all the world.
What I have said of the operation of the Solis is completed.
Some claim that further works of Thoth/Hermes are awaiting rediscovery in a secret hidden library. There has long existed this idea, as far back even as the ancient Egyptians people where looking around for the works of Thoth. It was written about by Clement of Alexandria in the early Christian era. He claimed that 42 sacred books exist and these books or tablets are hidden away until mankind is worthy to read from them.
As Above, So Below
The Life and Legacy of Hermes Trismegistus
by Jamie McGraw firstname.lastname@example.org
Who Was Hermes Trismegistus?
So many thousands of years have passed and so many scholars have written about the ancient gods and deities that it is difficult to decipher the being known as Hermes Trismegistus and separate fiction from fact.
Unfortunately, conflicting views exist on whether Hermes Trismegistus was a man or a god. Frances A. Yates suggests those living in Renaissance times believed he was a man: “It was on excellent authority that the Renaissance accepted Hermes Trismegistus as a real person of great antiquity and as the author of the Hermetic writings.” A city known as Hermopolis that existed in Egypt in ancient times strengthens the claim.
Other scholars conjecture that different individuals completed the Hermetic writings over several hundred years. Perhaps the most important piece of evidence to back up this claim is the Syrian philosopher Iamblichus crediting Hermes with writing over 20,000 books and an Egyptian priest named Manetho crediting him with writing more than 36,000 books. Both of these men lived around 250-300 BC. Iamblichus went on to state he had seen forty-two of these books, thirty-six of which contained “the whole of human knowledge”.
Many scholars have long held Hermes Trismegistus to be the equivalent of the Egyptian god Thoth, which certainly suggests he was not a real person. Frans A. Janssen subscribes to this view, describing Hermes Trismegistus as a “fictitious author” in his essay Dutch Translations of the Corpus Hermeticum. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Hermes was a man elevated to deity status and even if Hermes Trismegistus did not write the texts attributed to him, it is likely that a priest of the Egyptian god Thoth did. Others, such as Stock, state that Hermes Trismegistus was actually the grandson of the Hellenistic god Hermes, the messenger of the gods.
The word Trismegistus literally means “thrice-greatest” and some believe Hermes’ title may actually come from the Rosetta Stone. There are many theories on the acquisition of the name Trismegistus, but most academics believe Hermes acquired his name from the epithet used for the Egyptian god Thoth – “greatest and greatest god, great Hermes.” Another popular and widely accepted interpretation of the term “Thrice Great” comes from Hermes’ reputation as the greatest philosopher, king and priest in the entire world.
The Emerald Tablet
The Emerald Tablet or Tabula Smaragdina is Hermes’ most famous legacy and his best known work among modern-day practitioners of alchemy. Many legends exist regarding the discovery of the Emerald Tablet, although the most popular seems to be the story of Alexander the Great unearthing the text in Hermes’ tomb. The original Emerald Tablet, however, is lost to time.
The content of the Emerald Tablet is quite short and deals with the nature of magic and the creation of life and matter by one God. Philosophical in nature, the text is often ambiguous and requires abstract interpretation. Hermes may have also derived his moniker “Thrice Great” from the tablet, its twelfth entry stating: “Therefore am I called Hermes Trismegistus, possessing the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.” It is difficult to identity the “three parts of the philosophy of the whole world”. It may have been in reference to the process of deifying a mortal. Others apply a more literal meaning, stating he was the greatest philosopher of various intellectual disciplines, such as natural science.
The Corpus Hermeticum
Whereas the Emerald Tablet remains lost to modern civilization, the Corpus Hermeticum presents a different tale. The texts of the Corpus Hermeticum remained comparatively obscure until 1460, when Cosimo de Medici received them as a gift. He immediately commanded the texts be translated into Latin so he might read them for himself. Almost two hundred years later, in 1650, a man by the name of John Everard translated the texts into English.
Much of the Corpus Hermeticum is theoretical in nature, but the teachings often clearly set out the nature of alchemy. Hermes’ writings also recorded accurate scientific observations, such as the polarity of objects and the principle of cause and effect.
The repressive Inquisition had a terrible effect on uncovering the knowledge of Hermeticism, however a number of cathedrals – including the one in Sienna, Italy – bear depictions of Hermes Trismegistus. It is important to remember that Hermes Trismegistus (assuming he was not a god himself) was a monotheist and one of his disciples was actually reputed to have been the Biblical Moses. Some believe that Hermes even prophesied that a man from the “lower social classes” would lead the Jews to freedom.
In the Corpus Hermeticum, there are accounts of the creation of mankind, although in this creation theory man is somewhat more power than in the Biblical version: he creates the animals of Earth after traveling through the “seven levels of reality” (keeping in mind that seven is a holy number) and becoming subject to the vagaries of fate.
Hermes Trismegistus and Alchemy
Hermes is perhaps alchemy’s most important ancient figure, and a patriarch of the art. Hermes Trismegistus was the god of mathematics, writing and scholars and the reason why alchemy is now often known as the “Hermetic Art”. Many believe he also designed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built several pyramids and even taught the great mathematician Pythagoras.
The long correlation between alchemy and Hermes began two hundred years after the birth of Jesus Christ, when Gnostics interpreted the texts of Hermes Trismegistus literally and began consistently applying the teachings to their alchemical pursuits. Jean-Pierre Mahe believes there were Judaistic Gnostic communities who acted much like secret societies do today in addition to a more open system of Hermeticism in Egyptian lands prior to extensive Roman conquest.
The knowledge moved to Arab lands in the following centuries, possibly due to the rise in power of the Roman Catholic Church, but found its way back into Europe via Cosimo de Medici during the Renaissance. With independent learning once more encouraged and buoyant, alchemists used the texts and alchemy eventually became known as the “Hermetic Art”.
The Corpus Hermeticum was invaluable in advancing learning throughout the Renaissance. In the book Hermetica, Adrian Gilbert writes: “The Hermetica have had a long and checkered career and attitudes towards them have alternated between the extremes of enthusiasm for a lost source of knowledge to scholarly disdain… It provided a justification for studying astrology and this in due course led inevitably to the discovery that the sun and not the Earth lies at the center of the solar system.”
Despite the significance of the Hermetic texts to the study of ancient civilizations and the belief systems of ancient times, the study of alchemy quickly became the poor cousin of chemistry as the world entered the Industrial Revolution and the modern age. Alchemy concentrated first on the purification of the mind followed by self-knowledge, but chemistry skipped straight to the lesser, physical aspects of the art.
Alchemy endured a long period where scholars disregarded and scoffed at it whenever the opportunity arose. Hermes Trismegistus was a figure of new age spiritualism, one to ignore and consider a myth like so many other ancient gods.
That has changed. Even if Hermes Trismegistus did not write all of the texts attributed to him, the works that collectively make up the Hermetic writings were a bastion of learning in ancient times and allow us a fascinating insight into the progression of knowledge up to the present day. The University of Bristol School of Chemistry even features alchemy and Hermes Trismegistus on its website. Perhaps one day Hermes Trismegistus will be as well-known to the everyday person as Benjamin Franklin or Sir Isaac Newton … and rightly so.
———————- Bibliography ———————
- Gilbert, A., Hermetica Page, [Online]. Available at URL:http://www.adriangilbert.co.uk/docus/docus/books/hermetic.html (accessed 21 September, 2002).
- The Gnostic Society Library, The Corpus Hermeticum, [Online]. Available at URL: http://www.webcom.com/~gnosis/library/hermet.htm (accessed 15 September, 2002).
- ‘Great Theosophists – Alchemy and the Alchemists’ 1937, THEOSOPHY, vol. 25, no. 11, pp. 490-496.
- Hermes Trismegistus, Hermes Trismegistus and the Hermetic Writings, [Online]. Available at URL:http://students.roanoke.edu/groups/relg211/bennett/index.html (accessed 17 September, 2002).
- Hermes Trismegistus, [Online]. Available at URL:http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/satchmo13/Hermes.html (accessed 9 September, 2002).
- Hermes Trismegistus, [Online]. Available at URL:http://theosophy.org/tlodoes/teachers/HermesTrismegistus.htm (accessed 26 September, 2002).
- Hermeticism, [Online]. Available at URL:http://www.belirus.co.uk/mythology/Hermeticism.html (accessed 12 September, 2002).
- Janssen, F.A., Dutch Translations of the Corpus Hermeticum, [Online]. Available at URL: http://www.xs4all.nl/bph/dutch_ch.html (accessed 15 September, 2002).
- Shumaker, W., 1972, The Occult Sciences in the Renaissance: A Study in Intellectual Patterns, University of California Press.
- Trismegistus: A Rediscovery, [Online]. Available at URL:http://www.dnafoundation.com/members/akh/8artic/8tri.htm (accessed 29 September, 2002)
- University of Bristol School of Chemistry, Spiritual Alchemy, [Online].Available at URL:http://www.chemsoc.org/exemplarchem/entries/2002/crabb/spirit.html (accessed online 27 September, 2002).
- Voice of Truth, Ancient Egyptian Wisdom, [Online]. Avaialble at URL:http://www.voiceoftruth.com/ancientwisdom.html (accessed 21 September, 2002).
On the Emerald Tablet of Hermes
by Janet K. Turner
The Emerald Tablet not only operates on the grand scale of personal enlightenment but also on an every day, day to day, level when you are seeking answers to questions and situations. Each question or situation you find yourself to be in represents a different aspect of the whole macro process of enlightenment. So even if you find yourself to be perplexed about a seemingly small matter, by following the procedure of the Emerald Tablet and letting go of the dross and piercing the clouds of unknowing, the answer to that small matter will be revealed to you just as the experience of total enlightenment was. That is the whole theme of the Emerald Tablet, a continuing spiral stream of enlightenment, knowledge by going from Above to Below and back again. No matter how small, no matter how large, it is the same – Above to Below and back again, a continuing spiraling process.
After Enlightenment – what next – chop wood, carry water, do the laundry. The small chores of life can be just as entangling as the search for your essence and so to retain your balance, your Enlightenment, you must continue to employ the same process over and over again seeking your answers in the Above and bringing them down to the Below.
After all, as sophisticated as man is with his technology and his vast accomplishments and levels or organization, it is the small thing, the O-ring, the microbe, that can bring those “measures of mankind” crashing down into oblivion. And so the process goes, above to below, work and prayer, labor and oratory – always asking, checking, verifying, praying, being unattached – watching for the rock in the road. The big ones are easy to see. It is the small, the minute that are treacherous, that can spell unseen disaster and that is the message of the Emerald Tablet in so many words. As Above so Below – as Below, so Above – continually over and over – as long as you live this earthly life.
For it is in the Above, the universal knowledge, that unseen cosmic swirl of energy and information that you must tap into for your answers – for all your answers come from Above and all your questions come from Below.
For we, humans, came from above to learn these special earthly lessons – the answers and solutions and exercises come from Above to be realized here in the Below. So the Emerald Tablet is not just an archaically phrased bit of ancient knowledge for us to ponder it’s meaning in our lives. It is to be used each and every day, each and every minute, so to speak, constantly throwing off the dross, cutting to the chase – piercing the clouds of unknowing and reaching into the Above for the answer.
The Hermetic Significance of Planetary Changes
Submitted by L. Dee and Roy Rohe of the Earth Changes Group
Recent work by Russian scientist Dr. Dmitriev (Russian National Academy of Sciences Planetary Research Project in Novosibirsk, Siberia) shows that the planets themselves are physically changing at an accelerated pace. Most notably, they are undergoing major changes in their atmospheres.
For example, the Martian atmosphere is getting sizably thicker than it was before. The Mars observer probe in 1997 lost one of its mirrors, which caused it to crash, because the atmosphere was about twice as dense as they calculated, and basically the wind on that little mirror was so high that it blew it right off the device. Earth’s moon is growing an atmosphere Also, the moon is growing an atmosphere that is made up of a compound Dmitriev refers to as alchemical “Natrium.” Dmitriev says that, around the moon, there is this 6,000-kilometer-deep layer of Natrium that was not there before. And we are having this kind of change in Earth’s atmosphere in the upper levels, where HO gas is forming that was not there before; it simply did not exist in the quantity that it does now. It is not related to global warming, and it is not related to CFCs or fluorocarbon emissions or any of that stuff. It is just showing up.
Magnetic fields and brightness of the planets are also changing. The planets are experiencing sizable changes in their overall brightness. Venus, for example, is showing us marked increases in its overall brightness. Jupiter has gotten to have such a high energetic charge that there is actually a visible tube of ionizing radiation that is formed between its moon, Io. You can actually see the luminous energy tube in photographs that have been taken more recently. And the planets are having a change in their fields. The magnetic fields are becoming stronger. Jupiter’s magnetic field has more than doubled. Uranus’s magnetic field is changing. Neptune’s magnetic field is increasing. These planets are becoming brighter. Their magnetic field strength is getting higher. Their atmospheric qualities are changing.
Uranus and Neptune appear to have had recent pole shifts. When the Voyager 2 space probe flew past Uranus and Neptune, the apparent north and south magnetic poles were sizably offset from where the rotational pole was. In one case, it was 50 degrees off, and in the other case the difference was around 40 degrees, both of which are pretty big changes. The overall changes could essentially be broken down into three categories: Energy field changes, luminosity changes, and atmospheric changes. Overall volcanic activity has increased 500 percent since 1975.
On the Earth, we are seeing the changes even more completely. For example, Michael Mandeville has done research that has shown that the overall volcanic activity on the Earth since 1875 has increased by roughly 500 percent. The overall earthquake activity has increased by 400 percent just since1973. Natural disasters increased 410 percent between 1963 and 1993 Dr. Dmitriev did a very elaborate calculation of natural disasters. He showed that if you compare the years 1963 through 1993, the overall amount of natural disasters of all different kinds – whether you are talking hurricanes, typhoons, mud slides, tidal waves, you name it -have increased by 410 percent. The Sun’s magnetic field increased by 230 percent since 1901 There is a study by Dr. Mike Lockwood from Rutherford Appleton National Laboratories in California, who has been investigating the Sun. He has discovered that since 1901, the overall magnetic field of the Sun has become 230 percent stronger than it was before. Some people get into the idea that there is an interaction between the Earth and the Sun that is going on here. Very, very few people are aware of the work that is being done in the Russian National Academy of Sciences in Siberia, specifically in Novosibirsk, where they are doing this research.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that the only possible thing that could be causing this energetic change all throughout the Solar System is that we are moving into an area of energy that is different – that is higher. The glowing plasma at the leading edge of our Solar System has recently increased 1000 percent. The Sun itself has a magnetic field, of course, and that magnetic field creates an egg around the Solar System, which is known as the heliosphere. The heliosphere is shaped like a teardrop, with the long and thin end of the drop pointing in the opposite direction from the direction that we are traveling. It is just like a comet, where the tail is always pointing away from the Sun. The Russians have looked at the leading edge of this heliosphere, and they have observed glowing, excited plasma energy there. This plasma energy used to be 10 astronomical units deep (an astronomical unit is the distance from the Earth to the Sun, 93,000,000 miles). So ten astronomical units represents the normal thickness of this glowing energy that we used to see at the front end of the Solar System. Today, that glowing plasma has gone to 100 astronomical units deep. Although Dmitriev’s paper does not give an exact timeline, we can assume that this increase happened in the same 1963 to 1993 period as the increase he found in natural disasters.
In any case, that is a 1,000 percent increase in the overall brightness of the energy at the front end of the Solar System! And this means that the Solar System itself is moving into an area where the energy is more highly charged. That higher-charged energy is in turn exciting the plasma and causing more of it to form, so you see more luminosity, more brightness. This energy is then flowing into the Sun, which in turn emits the energy and spreads it out along its equatorial plane, which is called the Ecliptic. This in turn is saturating interplanetary space, which causes the solar emissions to travel more quickly and charge up the energy on the planets.
From the Hermetic viewpoint, this is conscious energy that is changing how the planet works, how it functions, and what kind of life it supports. The harmonics of the DNA spiral itself are also altering because of this. There is some evidence that solar changes are the real, hidden cause of spontaneous mass evolutions in previous epochs of time. All these planetary changes are happening on all levels (physical, mental, and spiritual) at the same time. Many who are familiar with ancient teachings point to the prophecies of planetary change that will work up to a crescendo leading to a sudden shift in our reality. In other words, we will get to the point where we are so far into the new level of energy that there will be a sudden expansion of the basic harmonic wavelengths that the Sun emits as it radiates energy out of itself. This increase in energy emission will change the basic nature of all matter in the Solar System. The planets are pushed slightly farther away from the Sun and the atoms and molecules that make them up actually expand in terms of their physical size. As Above, so Below!
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Topics in Hermetism
Hermes Trismegistus (Ancient Greek: Ἑρμῆς ὁ Τρισμέγιστος, “thrice-greatest Hermes”; Latin: Mercurius ter Maximus) is the purported author of theHermetic Corpus, a series of sacred texts that are the basis of Hermeticism.
Origin and identity
He may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. In Hellenistic Egypt, the Greeks recognised the congruence of their god Hermes with the Egyptian god Thoth. Subsequently the two gods were worshipped as one in what had been the Temple of Thoth in Khemnu, which the Greeks called Hermopolis.
Both Thoth and Hermes were gods of writing and of magic in their respective cultures. Thus, the Greek god of interpretive communication was combined with the Egyptian god of wisdom as a patron of astrology and alchemy. In addition, both gods were psychopomps; guiding souls to the afterlife. The Egyptian Priest and Polymath Imhotep had been deified long after his death and therefore assimilated to Thoth in the classical and Hellenistic period. The renowned scribe Amenhotep and a wise man named Teôs were equally deified as gods of wisdom, science and medicine and thus placed alongside Imhotep in shrines dedicated to Thoth-Hermes during the Ptolemaic period. These associations to Thoth-Hermes could partially explain why some later Greek scholars linked Hermes Trismegistus to a hypothetical historical figure, given the numerous deifications.
A Mycenaean Greek reference found on a Linear B clay tablet at Pylos to a deity or semi-deity called TI-RI-SE-RO-E, Trisheros (the “thrice or triple hero“) could be connected to the later epithet “thrice wise” “Trismegistos”, applied to Hermes/Thoth. On the same Tn 316 tablet as well as other Linear Btablets, found in Pylos and Knossos, appears the name of the deity “Hermes” as E-MA-A, but not in any apparent connection with the “Trisheros”. This interpretation of poorly understood Mycenaean material is disputed, since Hermes Trismegistus is not referenced in any of the copious sources before he emerges in Hellenistic Egypt.
The majority of Greeks, and later Romans, did not accept Hermes Trismegistos in the place of Hermes. The two gods remained distinct from one another. Cicero noted several individuals referred to as “Hermes”: “the fifth, who is worshipped by the people of Pheneus [in Arcadia], is said to have killed Argus, and for this reason to have fled to Egypt, and to have given the Egyptians their laws and alphabet: he it is whom the Egyptians call Theyt.”In the same place, Cicero mentions a “fourth Mercury (Hermes) was the son of the Nile, whose name may not be spoken by the Egyptians.” The most likely interpretation of this passage is as two variants on the same syncretism of Greek Hermes and Egyptian Thoth (or sometimes other gods); the one viewed from the Greek-Arcadian perspective (the fifth, who went from Greece to Egypt), the other viewed from the Egyptian perspective (the fourth, where Hermes turns out “actually” to have been a “son of the Nile,” i.e. a native god). Both these very good early references in Cicero (most ancient Trismegistus material is from early centuries CE) corroborate the view that Thrice-Great Hermes originated in Hellenistic Egypt through syncretism with Egyptian gods (the Hermetica refer most often to Thoth and Amun).
Hermes Trismegistus, floor mosaic in theCathedral of Siena
The Hermetic literature added to the Egyptian concerns with conjuring spirits and animating statues that inform the oldest texts, Hellenistic writings of Greco-Babylonian astrology and the newly developed practice of alchemy (Fowden 1993: pp65–68). In a parallel tradition, Hermetic philosophyrationalized and systematized religious cult practices and offered the adept a method of personal ascension from the constraints of physical being, which has led to confusion of Hermeticism with Gnosticism, which was developing contemporaneously.
As a divine source of wisdom, Hermes Trismegistus was credited with tens of thousands of writings of high standing, reputed to be of immense antiquity. Plato‘s Timaeus and Critias state that in the temple of Neith at Sais, there were secret halls containing historical records which had been kept for 9,000 years. Clement of Alexandria was under the impression that the Egyptians had forty-two sacred writings by Hermes, encapsulating all the training of Egyptian priests. Siegfried Morenz has suggested (Egyptian Religion) “The reference to Thoth’s authorship…is based on ancient tradition; the figure forty-two probably stems from the number of Egyptian nomes, and thus conveys the notion of completeness.” The Neo-Platonicwriters took up Clement’s “forty-two essential texts”.
The Hermetica, is a category of papyri containing spells and initiatory induction procedures. In the dialogue called the Asclepius (after the Greek god of healing) the art of imprisoning the souls of demons or of angels in statues with the help of herbs, gems and odors, is described, such that the statue could speak and engage in prophecy. In other papyri, there are recipes for constructing such images and animating them, such as when images are to be fashioned hollow so as to enclose a magic name inscribed on gold leaf.
The origin of the description Trismegistus or “thrice great” is unclear. Copenhaver reports that this name is first found in the minutes of a meeting of the council of the Ibis cult, held in 172 BCE near Memphis in Egypt. Fowden however asserts that the earliest occurrence of the name was in the Athenagora by Philo of Byblos circa 64–141 CE. Another explanation is that the name is derived from an epithet of Thoth found at the Temple of Esna, “Thoth the great, the great, the great.” The date of his sojourn in Egypt in his last incarnation is not now known, but it has been fixed at the early days of the oldest dynasties of Egypt, long before the days of Moses. Some authorities regard him as a contemporary of Abraham, and some Jewish traditions go so far as to claim that Abraham acquired a portion of his mystical knowledge from Hermes himself (Kybalion).
Many Christian writers, including Lactantius, Augustine, Giordano Bruno, Marsilio Ficino, Campanella and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola considered Hermes Trismegistus to be a wise paganprophet who foresaw the coming of Christianity. They believed in a prisca theologia, the doctrine that a single, true theology exists, which threads through all religions, and which was given by God to man in antiquity and passed through a series of prophets, which included Zoroaster and Plato. In order to demonstrate the verity of the prisca theologia Christians appropriated the Hermetic teachings for their own purposes. By this account Hermes Trismegistus was either, according to the fathers of the Christian church, a contemporary of Moses or the third in a line of men named Hermes, i.e. Enoch, Noah and the Egyptian priest king who is known to us as Hermes Trismegistus, or “thrice great” on account of being the greatest priest, philosopher and king.
This last account of how Hermes Trismegistus received the appellation “Trismegistus,” meaning “Thrice Great,” is derived from statements in the The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, that he knows the three parts of the wisdom of the whole universe. The three parts of the wisdom are alchemy, astrology, and theurgy. The Pymander, from which Marsilio Ficino formed his opinion, states that “they called him Trismegistus because he was the greatest philosopher and the greatest priest and the greatest king”.
The Asclepius and the Corpus Hermeticum are the most important of the Hermetica, writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which survive. During the Renaissance it was accepted that Hermes Trismegistus was a contemporary of Moses, however after Casaubon’s dating of the Hermetic writings as no earlier than the second or third century CE, the whole of Renaissance Hermeticism collapsed. As to their actual authorship:
|“||… they were certainly not written in remotest antiquity by an all wise Egyptian priest, as the Renaissance believed, but by various unknown authors, all probably Greeks, and they contain popular Greek philosophy of the period, a mixture of Platonism and Stoicism, combined with some Jewish and probably some Persian influences.|
During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, known as Hermetica, enjoyed great prestige and were popular among alchemists. The “hermetic tradition” consequently refers to alchemy, magic, astrology and related subjects. The texts are usually divided into two categories: the “philosophical”, and the “technical” hermetica. The former deals mainly with issues of philosophy, and the latter with practical magic, potions and alchemy. Spells to magically protect objects, for example, are the origin of the expression “Hermetically sealed“.
The classical scholar Isaac Casaubon in De rebus sacris et ecclesiasticis exercitationes XVI (1614) showed, through an analysis of the Greek language used in the texts, that those texts which were believed to be of ancient origin were in fact much more recent: most of the “philosophical” Corpus Hermeticum can be dated to around AD 300. However, flaws in this dating were discerned by the 17th century scholar Ralph Cudworth, who argued that Casaubon’s allegation of forgery could only be applied to three of the seventeen treatises contained within the Corpus Hermeticum. Moreover, Cudworth noted Casaubon’s failure to acknowledge the codification of these treatises as a late formulation of a pre-existing oral tradition. According to Cudworth, the texts must be viewed as a terminus ad quem and not a quo. 
In Islamic tradition
See also: Idris (prophet)
Antoine Faivre, in The Eternal Hermes (1995) has pointed out that Hermes Trismegistus has a place in the Islamic tradition, though the name Hermes does not appear in the Qur’an.Hagiographers and chroniclers of the first centuries of the Islamic Hegira quickly identified Hermes Trismegistus with Idris, the nabi of surahs 19.57 and 21.85, whom the Arabs also identified with Enoch (cf. Genesis 5.18–24). Idris/Hermes was termed “Thrice-Wise” Hermes Trismegistus because he had a threefold origin: the first Hermes, comparable to Thoth, was a “civilizing hero,” an initiator into the mysteries of the divine science and wisdom that animate the world: he carved the principles of this sacred science in hieroglyphs. The second Hermes, in Babylon, was the initiator of Pythagoras. The third Hermes was the first teacher of alchemy. “A faceless prophet,” writes the Islamicist Pierre Lory, “Hermes possesses no concrete or salient characteristics, differing in this regard from most of the major figures of the Bible and the Quran.” A common interpretation of the representation of “Trismegistus” as “thrice great” recalls the three characterizations of Idris: as a messenger of god, or a prophet; as a source of wisdom, or hikmet (wisdom from hokmah); and as a king of the world order, or a “sultanate.” These are referred to as, müselles bin ni’me.
In the Bahá’í writings
New Age revival
Modern occultists suggest that some Hermetic texts may be of Pharaonic origin, and that the legendary “forty-two essential texts” that contain the core Hermetic religious beliefs and philosophy of life remain hidden in a secret library.
Spiritualist writer Tom DeLiso claims that Hermes Trismegistus taught him in out of body states  and that Hermes Trismegistus is a newer incarnation of Thoth. Both are conscious energy constructs without bodies.
In the Ægypt sequence, John Crowley both observes and parodies the New Age interest in Hermetica, as well as through his protagonist Pierce, suggests ways Hermetic principles remain relevant to modern life.
Within the occult tradition, Hermes Trismegistus is associated with several wives, and more than one son who took his name, as well as more than one grandson. This repetition of given name and surname throughout the generations may at least partially account for the legend of his longevity, especially as it is believed that many of his children pursued careers as priests in mystery religions.
- Emerald Tablet
- Hermetic (disambiguation)
- Hermetic Qabalah
- Herbert Silberer
- ^ (Budge The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 415)
- ^ a b Hart, G., The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, 2005, Routledge, second edition, Oxon, p 158
- ^ http://www.ams.org/journals/bull/2012-43-02/S0273-0979-06-01111-6/S0273-0979-06-01111-6.pdf
- ^ ’Thoth or the Hermes of Egypt: A Study of Some Aspects of Theological Thought in Ancient Egypt’,p.166-168, Patrick Boylan,Oxford University Press, 1922.
- ^ Pylos Tn 316
- ^ V(otum) S(olvit) L(ibens) M(erito) - Heroes and HERO cults
- ^ De natura deorum III, Ch. 56
- ^ Mercurius unus Caelo patre
- ^ Dan Merkur, Stages of Ascension in Hermetic Rebirth.
- ^ Copenhaver, B. P., “Hermetica”, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992, p xiv.
- ^ Fowden, G., “The Egyptian Hermes”, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987, p 213
- ^ Yates, F., “Giordino Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition”, Routledge, London, 1964, pp 9–15 and pp 61–66 and p 413
- ^ Heiser, James D., Prisci Theologi and the Hermetic Reformation in the Fifteenth Century, Malone, TX: Repristination Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4610-9382-4.
- ^ Yates, F., “Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition”, Routledge, London, 1964, pp 14–18 and pp 433–434
- ^ Hanegraaff, W. J., “New Age Religion and Western Culture”, SUNY, 1998, p 360
- ^ Yates, F., “Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition”, Routledge, London, 1964, p 27 and p 293
- ^ a b Yates, F., “Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition”, Routledge, London, 1964, p52
- ^ Copenhaver, B.P., “Hermetica”, Cambridge University Press, 1992, p xlviii
- ^ (Scully p. 322)
- ^ Copenhaver, Hermetica, p. xlviii
- ^ Copenhaver, Hermetica, p. xli
- ^ Haanegraaff, W. J., New Age Religion and Western Culture, Brill, Leiden, New York, 1996, p 390
- ^ (Yates Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition pp. 2–3)
- ^ Cudworth, Ralph – The True Intellectual System of the Universe. First American Edition by Thomas Birch, 1837. Available at Googlebooks.
- ^ Kevin Van Bladel, The Arabic Hermes. From pagan sage to prophet of science, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 168 “Abu Mas’har’s biography of Hermes, written approximately between 840 and 860, would establish it as common knowledge.”
- ^ (Faivre 1995 pp. 19–20)
- ^ Bahá’u'lláh (1994) [1873–92]. Tablets of Bahá’u'lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. pp. 152. ISBN 0-87743-174-4.
- ^ Hermes Trismegistus at Wisdomdoor / Reality Creator Books
- ^ Hermes Trismegistus at Wisdomdoor / Reality Creator Books
- Ebeling, Florian, The secret history of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism from ancient to modern times [Translated from the German by David Lorton] (Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 2007),ISBN 978-0-8014-4546-0.
- Festugière, A.-J.,La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste. 2e éd., 3 vol., Paris 1981.
- Fowden, Garth, 1986. The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Princeton University Press, 1993): deals with Thoth (Hermes) from his most primitive known conception to his later evolution into Hermes Trismegistus, as well as the many books and scripts attributed to him.)
- Yates, Frances A., Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. University of Chicago Press, 1964. ISBN 0-226-95007-7.
- Lupini, Carmelo, s.v. Ermete Trismegisto in “Dizionario delle Scienze e delle Tecniche di Grecia e Roma”, Roma 2010, vol. 1.
- Merkel, Ingrid and Allen G. Debus, 1988. Hermeticism and the Renaissance: intellectual history and the occult in early modern Europe Folger Shakespeare Library ISBN 0-918016-85-1
- CACIORGNA, Marilena e GUERRINI, Roberto: Il pavimento del duomo di Siena. L’arte della tarsia marmorea dal XIV al XIX secolo fonti e simologia. Siena 2004.
- CACIORGNA, Marilena: Studi interdisciplinari sul pavimento del duomo di Siena. Atti el convegno internazionale di studi chiesa della SS. Annunziata 27 e 28 settembre 2002. Siena 2005.
|Greek Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Copenhaver, Brian P. 1995.Hermetica: the Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a new English translation, with notes and introduction, Cambridge; New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 1995 ISBN 0-521-42543-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Hermes Trismegistus|
- Corpus Hermeticum along with the complete text of G.R.S. Mead’s classic work, Thrice Greatest Hermes.
- Hermetic Research is a Portal on Hermetic study and discussion.
- Dan Merkur, “Stages of Ascension in Hermetic Rebirth”
- Asclepius - Latin text of the edition Paris: Henricus Stephanus 1505.
- Pimander - Latin translation by Marsilio Ficino, Milano: Damianus de Mediolano 1493.
- THE DIVINE PYMANDER of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus in English
- Online Galleries, History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries High resolution images of works by Hermes Trismegistus in .jpg and .tiff format.
- The Great Pyramid and the 153 Fish in the Net Mathematical Explanation of where he got his name
That that which is Above is like that which is Below and that which is Below is like that which is Above, to accomplish the Miracle of Unity.
The Emerald Tablet
The figure of Hermes Trismegistus, the Thrice Great Hermes, looms large in the Western esoteric tradition. Born from the fusion of the Greek and Egyptian spiritual traditions, the writings attributed to this great sage had a decisive effect on the Renaissance. Marsilio Ficino, the great Renaissance philosopher and astrologer, was asked by his Medici patron to put aside all other work to translate the Corpus Hermeticum, series of treatises attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. The availability of the complete Corpus Hermeticum in Latin set off an explosion of interest in Hermetic philosophy and the three allied esoteric fields of astrology, alchemy and magic.
From the time of its first emergence in the great free trade zone of the Roman imperium, epitomized in the teeming city of Alexandria, filled as it was with Greeks, Jews, Egyptians and all of the myriad races and cultures of the Mediterranean, whenever the Zeitgeist, or Spirit of the Age, turns to Hermeticism there is a surface effulgence of art, literature and culture as well as a hidden flowering of the esoteric arts. This phenomenon was the hidden current in the Renaissance and we are experiencing a similar rebirth in our own age.
The Traditional View of Hermes Trismegistus
This extract is from Francis Barrett’s The Magus:
HERMES Trismegistus, (who was the author of the divine Pymander and some other books,) lived some time before Moses. He received the name of Trismegistus, or Mercurius ter Maximus, i. e. thrice greatest Intelligencer, because he was the first intelligencer who communicated celestial and divine knowledge to mankind by writing.
Johannes Functius, in his Chronology says, he lived in the time of Moses, twenty-one years before the law was given in the wilderness. Suidas seems to confirm it by saying, “Credo Mercurium Trismegistum sapientem Egyptium floruisse ante Pharaonem.” [I believe that Hermes Trismegistus, the Egyptian sage, flourished before Pharoah.] But this of Suidas may be applied to several ages, for that Pharaoh was the general name of their kings; or possibly it might be intended before the name of Pharaoh was given to their kings, which, if so 1, he makes Trismegistus to exist 400 years before Moses, yea, before Abraham’s descent into Egypt.
Francis Barrett, The Magus, page 150-1.
Does the Date of the Writing of the Corpus Hermeticum Matter?
The modern received “wisdom” with regard to Hermetic philosophy, particularly as it was seen in the Renaissance is that while Renaissance humanism, which hearkened back to classical Latin rhetoric and literature, was historically rooted, Renaissance Hermeticism, “…the return to a pure golden age of magic, was based on a radical error in dating.” Francis Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, (UChicago, 1964) at 1.
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