What’s a Hermeticist? Well, I suppose the technical definition would be “someone who studies or practices Hermeticism, which is a philosophy based on the teachings of the mythical figure Hermes Trismegistus.”
But that’s like saying a physicist is a somebody who practices or studies Physics. Doesn’t help much, does it?
My definition of a Hermeticist is someone who believes 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.
Sometimes called “Western Zen” Hermeticism values experiential truth over written truth, direct experience over second-hand knowledge, and sacred experience over dogmatic belief. The world’s most famous Hermeticists are probably Sir Isaac Newton and Dr. John Dee.
Its most prized axioms are the Hermetic Quaternary (“To Know, to Will, to Dare; to Keep Silent”) and the famous “As Above, so Below” which comes from its most enduring written text, the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus.
The Emerald Table 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.