What’s a Hermeticist? Someone who studies or practices Hermeticism, which is a philosophy based on wisdom teachings attributed to a mythical figure called Hermes Trismegistus, a conflation of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.
Hermeticists believe that there are certain universal, timeless truths (“the Perennial Wisdom”) which have always been, and will always be, accessible anyone through the powers of symbol, parable, analogy, myth and initiation. Hermeticism is, in the words of the great Valentin Tomberg, the search for the “communal soul of religion, science, and art.”
This is why Hermeticism seeks to infuse all human endeavor with sacredness — to align all human activity with the Divine Will. This idea is embodied in the great Hermetic axiom, “As Above, So Below.”
There is no conflict between Hermeticism and Christianity whatsoever. Christ Logos, the Truth Itself, was with us from the beginning (John 1). Humanity’s brushes with Logos are revealed in ancient art, architecture, and philosophy. Pagan religions were mis-hearings of God’s approaching voice, and the greatest pre-Christian sages and philosophers were the distant rumbles of thunder before the lightning strike of Jesus Christ.
On an individual level, Hermeticists strive to unify thoughts, desires, actions and beliefs — to behave with integrity — which is exemplified in the Hermetic Quaternary: “To Know, To Will, To Dare; To Keep Silent.”
Hermeticits believe that there is no conflict between science, religion, and art. The three of them should walk arm in arm. So it’s no surprise that a list of famous Hermeticists includes scientists (Sir Isaac Newton, Dr. John Dee), authors and poets ( William Butler Yeats and Arthur Machen), artists (Pamela Colman Smith). and clergy (Giordano Bruno, William Alexander Ayton).
The mot enduring Hermetic text is the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, which makes a fitting end to this brief definition.
The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus
- True it is, without falsehood, certain and most true.
- That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above, to accomplish the miracles of one thing.
- And as all things were by contemplation of one, so all things arose from this one thing by a single act of adaptation.
- The father thereof is the sun, the mother the moon; the wind carried it in its womb; the earth is the nurse thereof.
- It is the father of all works of wonder throughout the whole world.
- The power thereof is perfect.
- If it be cast on to earth it will separate the element of earth from that of fire, the subtle from the gross.
- With great sagacity it doth ascend gently from earth to heaven; again it doth descend to earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and things inferior.
- Thus thou wilt possess the glory of the brightness of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly far from thee.
- This thing is the strong fortitude of all strength, for it overcometh every subtle thing and doth penetrate every solid substance.
- Thus was this world created.
- Hence there will be marvelous adaptations achieved, of which the manner is this.
- For this reason I am called Hermes Trismegistus, because I hold three parts of the wisdom of the world.
- That which I had to say about the operation of sol is completed.