Saturday, January 13, 2018

[Part 1] Introduction to the Seven Hermetic Principles of Spellcraft

Spanning all religions by connecting science and the occult, Hermeticism allows the practitioner of magic to rationalize the seemingly irrational through in-depth theory.  How exactly does magic work?  Why does it work?  What is energy?  How does a spell actually follow through?  Where do we aim when we cast?  How does it get there and how do we know?

But what is Hermeticism and why does it have any authority to claim the basis of magical theory?  Before we take a detailed look at the seven Hermetic principles of Spellcraft, let's dig into the history behind Hermeticism itself.

Who was Hermes Trismegistus?

All Hermetic theory and writing claims to come from an entity known as Hermes Trismegistus.  Some claim he is a syncretic deity of the Greek god Hermes and Egyptian god Thoth, and one could certainly see why.  Both were gods of writing and magic, both psychopomps who ushered souls across the veil and both specialized in communication, especially of the occult secrets.  In fact, Khemenu, the city where the Temple of Thoth was located, was called Hermopolis by the Greeks because of Thoth and Hermes's similarities.

During the Renaissance, and particularly as Christianity gained a foothold, it was generally accepted that Hermes Trismegistus was a prophet or sage.  In fact, it was claimed that he foretold the coming of a god of trinity - the Christian god and Christ.  Some even believe that he had both a God form and a human presence.

Whatever the case may be, a large body of ancient occult work is attributed to him.  This work, perhaps passed to man through divine intervention or through the prophet himself depending on your beliefs, became the basis for much of the occult religions we work with today.

What is Hermeticism?

Simply put, Hermeticism is the following of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus.  Three major texts outline the doctrines found in Hermeticism: The Corpus Hermeticum, the Emerald Tablets and the Asclepius.  Other books are claimed to have been written or influenced by Hermes Trismegistus as well, including The Kybalion and multiple works in reference to the Golden Dawn and ceremonial magick.  The papyri associated with the three major texts is thought to have been written around the first to third century during the Roman rule of Egypt.  Because Egypt was a part of the Roman free-trade market and thus saw the merging of various cultures and practices, Hermeticism draws together philosophy from a variety of religions.  All of these works create an equal playing field for all occult religions - something known as prisca theologia - and attempt to equate the science of antiquity with religious and esoteric practices through philosophy and theory.  In fact, the common phrase heard in modern witchcraft, "As above, so below," is first seen in the Emerald Tablets.

Hermeticism claims three wisdoms: Alchemy, the study of the reconstitution of various matter, including distillation and fermentation; Astrology, the study of the metaphorical and spiritual value of the movement of planets and stars; and Theurgy, the study of various entities and how they relate to the work.  Hermeticism can be seen as either a practice or a religion, and can be either the practitioner's sole spiritual theory or used in conjunction with other practices.

What is The Kybalion?

For the purposes of this series, we're going to look directly at The Kybalion.  Written around 1912 (though it claims 19th century origin) by an anonymous person or persons referred to as the Three Initiates, the Kybalion is an intensive theoretical philosophy on how we can shape and manipulate the world while staying within the constructs of science.  The Three Initiates take the Seven Hermetic Principles, attributed as quotes from Hermes Trismegistus, and offer interpretations.

It should be noted that it is clear that these interpretations are a product of their time.  The claim of gender as biological sex, feminine as receptive and demure and a number of other frustratingly obsolete interpretations of the principles riddle the pages - to the point that my copy of The Kybalion was scribbled on, battered and eventually given away.

We desperately need a more modern interpretation.

How will this series help?

The Seven Hermetic Principles, when the translations and interpretations are updated to a modern age, will help deepen your connection to spellcraft and spell work, producing more effective and meaningful spells.  The seven principles help us to understand how we can manipulate our universe without breaking the laws of science, where we should direct our energy and how to manipulate that energy to achieve the desired effect.  It is the what and why of magic.

While the principles may seem wordy and complicated, it's likely that you already know the philosophy behind them intrinsically.  Bringing them into full light will help strengthen your spell work.  Along with my modern interpretations and your personal knowledge, we will fine-turn your spell work to be the very best it can be!

Join me as we talk about the Seven Hermetic Principles of Spellcraft.

Coming Soon

More Hermeticism Resources/References
Corpus Hermeticum: The Divine Pymander
The Emerald Tablet of Hermes
Asclepius: The Perfect Discourse of Hermes Trismegistus by Clement Salaman
The Kybalion: A Study of The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece by Three Initiates
The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism from Ancient to Modern Times by Florian Ebeling
The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind by Garth Fowden
The Virgin of the World of Hermes Mercurius Trismagistus - Translated by A. Kingsford, E Maitland
Gnosticism and Hermeticism in Antiquity edited by Roelof van den Broek
What is Hermeticism? - Hermetic Fellowship
The Hermetic Tradition - Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Hermeticism - Witchcraft and Witches
Hidden Mysteries: The History of Hermeticism by Christopher Warnock (video)
The Hermetic Library
The Public Library of the Hermetic Academy

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