Spiritus Hermeticum: part eleven
An investigation of the origins of Hermeticism and the true teachings of Hermes Trismegistus
In the first two parts of this 12-part investigation we discussed the origins of Hermeticism, the Greek and Egyptian conceptions of the God variously known as Thoth, Theuth, Tat, and Tahuti, and the origins and extent of the Corpus Hermeticum. This was followed by an examination of the actual teachings of Hermes as they have come down to us in the various Hermetic books and fragments. In part eight we began a detailed study of the Seven Universal Hermetic Laws, beginning with the Laws of Mentalism and Correspondence. We discussed the Laws of Vibration and Polarity in part nine and Rhythm and Cause and Effect in part ten. In this penultimate article we discuss the seventh and final Law, that of Gender or Sex.
Our continuing aim in this investigation is to recover—as far as possible—the original truths Hermes taught, and to distinguish these without fail from the half-truths and speculations grafted onto the Corpus Hermeticum over the centuries. For these reasons, we are in no doubt that this article, like the ten which preceded it, will appeal to very few readers. But if our efforts increase these few, if only by a handful, we shall have achieved our objective.
In the twelve afterwords accompanying this investigation we are meticulously dissecting the so-called Emerald Tablets of Thoth the Atlantean written by the twentieth century occultist—Dr Maurice Doreal. In this eleventh afterword we analyse tablets twelve and thirteen. If you have not read the previous parts of this investigation now is the time to do so, for it forms an ascending scale of revelation which cannot be understood by skimming through one or more individual articles in a haphazard and piecemeal manner or reading them out of sequence.
Gender or Sex
We said at the end of the previous part of our investigation that Gender is perhaps the least known and most misunderstood of all the Seven Universal Hermetic Laws. Now why did we say that? Because nowadays the meaning of the word 'gender' is fraught with ambiguity and controversy. To make matters worse, it has been hijacked to support various socio-political theories and agendas. Here are a few random examples to show the extent of the problem. Wikipedia tells us: "gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity." This is in broad agreement with the Hermetic Law of Gender which states that everything has its masculine and feminine principles. But when Wikipedia goes on to say: "Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex, sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gender identity," we enter the realm of political rectitude, sociology and psychology. These are entirely man-made constructs that can tell us nothing whatsoever about the real meaning of Gender, and how it manifests, both materially and spiritually in all things and beings.
Many dictionaries have now jettisoned the standard definition of gender given by Wikipedia and embraced a wholly political position. Collins dictionary tells us: "Gender is the state of being male or female in relation to the social and cultural roles that are considered appropriate for men and women. The emphasis is ours. The World Health Organization (WHO) in its Factsheet No.43 published in 2012 goes even further in stating that: "gender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men—such as the norms, roles and relationships that exist between them." The Encyclopaedia Britannica goes one better, firstly by listing 'gender' under the category of 'human behaviour' and secondly by providing its readers with this choice piece of nonsensical nescience: "Gender is an individual's self-conception as a man or woman or as a boy or girl or as some combination of man/boy and woman/girl or as someone fluctuating between man/boy and woman/girl or as someone outside those categories altogether." This is socio-political propaganda of the most distasteful and blatant kind.
Let us say at once that all such definitions are completely wrong in every conceivable way. You, of course, are free to disagree with us; no doubt there will be some readers who do so indignantly and vehemently. Indeed, one reader from the United States has already done so in regard to our introduction to Seán Mac Gréine's The tale of Oisín. What a pity they didn't read this article. Then again, judging by their comments, it is unlikely we have anything worthwhile to say to them. Need we quote the Kybalion again? "The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of understanding." What greater misunderstanding can there be than to imagine that gender is some artificial construct that can be altered to suit the whims and cultural mores of the prevailing socio-political climate? This reduces gender to a mere cultural convention, and an infinitely variable convention at that. Let us leave the sexologists, behavioural scientists, sheep-like virtue signallers, and other arbiters of political correctness and contemporary culture to their delusions and hear what Hermes had to say about the Universal Law of Gender or Sex.
To recap; everything has its masculine and feminine principles, or positive and negative in other words, and this duality manifests on all planes. The two principles are ever at work, and neither can work without the presence of the other. The Law of Gender applies to matter as well as spirit, to mental conditions of both the Higher and lower self and to the very Soul itself, which some call the Spirit. On the material planes it manifests as sex, and this applies to the realms or planes which comprise the so-called 'Astral World' as well, for these too are all material, though made of finer or denser matter than the physical plane we are familiar with. In conformity with the Hermetic Law of Correspondence we discussed in part eight and enshrined in the much quoted but little understood maxim 'as above, so below', it must also apply to the finer, spiritual planes and the dwellers in them, though in a much higher and sublime sense of course. All must be male-female, just as mankind are. We may observe the Law of Gender at work in the positive and negative principles of all matter as well as in all living things, from the smallest bacterium to the whale, and all other creatures in between. No creation, material, physical, mental or spiritual is possible without it.
The Law of Gender works at all times in the direction of creation, generation, and regeneration. That every thing or being has these two principles of male and female in him or her was well known to the wise ancient Egyptians. This is one reason their civilization flourished for so very long—far longer than Rome or Greece. Egypt never knew or countenanced a patriarchal or matriarchal society at any time. Just as every one of Egypt's male gods had his female counterpart without whom he was incomplete, so too did ordinary Egyptians consider themselves but half alive without their natural mate of the opposite sex. There was never any 'war of the sexes' in Egypt, for every man and woman knew themselves to be equally essential to the Divine Order which they saw reflected in their pairs of gods and goddesses, such as Osiris and Isis, who watched over them. It was not until foreign invaders overthrew the native rulers and substituted their cruel and twisted patriarchy for the wise and balanced laws of Hermes that gender inequalities and injustice gained a foothold in Egypt. Yet even today Egyptian women still enjoy greater freedoms than their sisters in other Arabian countries. Which goes to show the persistence of the Teachings of Hermes, even in the face of countless invasions and occupations of the land of the Pharaohs.
And here we must sound a note of warning. We live in dark and dangerous times when the unchanging and unalterable Divine Laws that Hermes taught to his faithful followers are overturned and mocked. Times when vice and wickedness stalk the Earth and men and women increasingly regard one another as objects of sensual gratification only. Pernicious and degrading sexual theories, teachings and practices are now taught to children as young as seven under many fanciful titles, the better to disguise their unsavoury nature. In this and similar ways does evil in the guise of so-called 'experts' hoodwink the unsuspecting and ignorant seeker after forbidden fruits, as well as the innocent victims of their own confused sexuality. All this is an insidious prostitution of the great natural Law of Gender. There is nothing new in our modern, 'liberated' views of 'fluid' gender, casual sex, and sex education. They are nothing more than base revivals of the ancient forms of phallicism which tend to ruin the mind and body, and can even affect the very Soul itself with its low vibrations. Please take this warning seriously. All such distortions of the Law of Gender belong to the devils of the lower realms, and not to God-created Man. Unbridled lust, licentiousness and perversion of Nature's great Laws degrade the Higher Self and send it on its downward path, and this applies especially to so-called 'sex magic,' no matter under what disingenuous name it advertises itself. We have issued such warnings before in other articles, but cannot do so often enough.
Gender, or sex, is the instrument of generation and also of the reproduction of the species generated. This applies to all forms of positive and negative combinations, animate or inanimate, for material things are the results of 'sex' too if we regard the Law of Gender in the right manner and in all its implications and complications. We may use the name of any ancient Egyptian goddess to indicate the feminine principle and any god, to indicate the masculine principle. You may recall we illustrated this in part nine of our investigation with a depiction of the Egyptian Trinity of Father–Mother–Son. It is for this reason that the goddess Isis was called 'Nurse', and 'All-receiving' by Plato, and she is known as 'She of ten-thousand names' through her being re-transformed by Reason and receiving all forms and ideas and shapes and appearances. The Egyptians themselves venerated her under a variety of epithets as the archetypal feminine principle in the highest sense. As the Mother-principle, she has an innate love of all things good, and longs after and pursues it. But she flees from and repels the domain of what is called (and is) 'evil.' Although she is the field and matter of both 'good' and 'evil' as we understand these polarities, yet she ever inclines to the better part of herself, and offers herself in order to beget and sow into herself emanations and likenesses, with which she joys and delights that she is pregnant and big with their generations. You can read more about the attributes and functions of the goddess Isis in The Virgin of the World translated by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland.
Mother-love is the sign of the perfect female principle in whatever form it appears. Absence of that love is the sign of degeneration and evil attunement, which leads unto perdition, as we told you in our article on the Mystery of Love. Therein we also quoted William Thackeray who, in his 19th century novel Vanity Fair, wrote: "Mother is the name of God in the lips and hearts of little children." Among the many crimes the Christian Church has committed over the centuries, the excision of the Mother-principle from the Holy Trinity is among the worst. This has led to endless misery and untold woes, culminating in the present-day excesses of pornography on the one hand and prudery on the other, oppressive patriarchy, militant feminism and gender confusion.
The principle of Generation and that of Regeneration, which latter doctrine we discussed in parts four and five, is illustrated in the ancient Egyptian myth of the death, bodily dismemberment and resurrection of the god Osiris. This tells us that the Soul of Osiris is eternal and indestructible, no matter how often his adversary—the god Set—dismembers his body and conceals the pieces which Isis seeks in order to reconstruct a fresh body for that 'Soul.' This, of course, is an allegory for the ever wandering, reincarnating Higher Self, whose body is destroyed at the end of each incarnation, only to be reconstructed at each new birth. Isis' search is mirrored in the Higher Self's quest for wisdom and experience during many lifetimes. Only when the purpose of all these countless wanderings has been fulfilled is it finally liberated from the prison of the body and the wheel of rebirth.
Hermes taught that the Higher Self in its first conception is the essence of pure goodness, unalloyed by any material taint. But once it enters into incarnation and is joined to the lower self and body it is subject to their influence. This knowledge filtered down to Plato and others and was incorporated in their ideas about the imprisonment and death of the soul (Higher Self in our terminology) which we discussed in our series of articles on esoteric philosophy. The images which the lower self beholds by means of the senses of the corporeal vehicle in which it dwells, which are ever false, are like seal-impressions in wax, which cannot and do not last, but are seized upon by the lower self and for the time being, accepted as true by the indwelling Higher Self. This, like the people in Plato's Allegory of the Cave, is entirely deluded by these illusions. Hence, to continue the ancient Egyptian myth, the human child which Isis brings forth is not the Pure Being that dwells on High, but its image or shadow, which has its being in the physical senses alone. For there was not one Horus in the Egyptian Mythos, but two; the elder and the younger. One is the God in Spirit and the other his reflection in matter, or the true Soul dwelling on High and the Higher Self imprisoned in matter as Gerald Massey explains in his masterwork—Ancient Egypt: the Light of the World.
It is for this reason that Set charges Horus with bastardy because he is not pure and unalloyed like his Sire in Heaven. This 'Sire' is of course the true Soul discussed in the final article in our occult studies course. The earthly vehicle of the younger Horus is spirit mixed with matter on account of the corporeal element in which that Horus, or Higher Self dwells whilst on earth. Thus matter and spirit intermingle to the temporary detriment of the Higher Self, which is tainted for a time with the presence of the lower self, which it must learn to tame and conquer for the good of both. Our regular readers will recall we discussed this battle in our article on Inner Peace through applied Wisdom. Thus—according to the teachings of Hermes preserved in the Egyptian Mythos—each man or woman has their own Saviour, which is the true Soul that leads the Higher Self back to the Light in the end. In this way the human or younger 'Horus' becomes the risen elder Horus who rejoins his Father, Osiris, which is another name for the true Soul in this respect. It is, or should be, the aim of every human Horus to escape from the tentacles of the material world for ever. All this is part and parcel of the operation of the Universal Hermetic Law of Gender.
A. Andrew Gonzalez — Alchemico d'Amore — Acrylic on clayboard, 2002
The Light of Hermes
If there is one thing that runs through all the sublime Laws of Hermes like a golden thread and is the essence of his elevated Teachings, it is Light. It has been said that Light is, perhaps, the most wonderful of all visible things. What does this mean? Has any of us ever seen the Light, even if we think that our Earthly light is the Light? No! A thousand times no. No one can see the light, we can only see the things that are made visible by means of it. Yet, our Earthly light is the deepest darkness when compared with the Light which illumines the high realm described in Vision Six of The Golden Star. But even that great Light is as nothing when compared with the still more dazzling and brilliant Light of the Divine Realm so graphically depicted in Vision Ten of the same book? Therein we may read:
"A brighter effluence of that bright golden Essence spreading luminosity till all began to shine in keen, electric, bluish-white; luciferous, pellucid, splendidly scintillant, so strong that both Ma-uti and Ma-u cried out and had to shade their eyes and cover them with both their hands. But still the glowing, blazing, argent flame increased in power and seared the brain with dazzling beams of fulgid silvery splendour.
" 'Oh, Messenger, it is too much,' sobbed Ma-uti at last.
" 'Be calm, my children,' answered he, and laid cool hands upon their brows.
"Miraculously, the pain caused by that unbearable brightness ceased, and presently the two opened their eyes and found that all the Region of Astral Fire had vanished. There was nothing but LIGHT. They seemed to be standing upon it and leaning against it and even be part of it, for it went right through them as if they were made of crystal. The effect was indescribable and beautiful. Within the white radiance every shade and tint of colour imaginable could be seen; yet—all was White! And every colour had its being in a note of sweetest music; and all the notes did blend in softest harmony and seemed to live in superconsciousness of Being. On every vibration of the Cosmic Scale rang out a coloured sound which floated in that Great White Light, or dashed with lightning speed in every direction; as if a shining star with myriad points had burst and every point became a mile-long silver spear—thrown by the Gods themselves."
When poets tell us that the very plants turn with joy to the light, what they really mean is that they turn to the invisible source of the Light. We may assume that to a moth darkness is a kind of light; as our daylight is a kind of light to us so long we are still in the flesh and see with our physical eyes. The American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said that light is the first of painters and he was right. It shows us the things it paints, or lights up, but that is all we can say about its 'visibility'. All living beings turn instinctively towards the light, whatever form it may take as darkness or illumination. This shows that in the end all living beings will return to that God who is their maker, whether he is a God of Light or of Darkness—such as Shelley's Demogorgon—as we understand these bewildering terms. In other words, all living beings will return to the Mind that made them and with which they are one. This brings us full circle to the Law of Mentalism with which we began our survey. By 'making' Hermes meant 'called into being', by awakening their slumbering consciousness and bringing it into manifestation after having constructed a vehicle suitable to its needs. Thus, when in the Hermetic Fragments we will consider next, and elsewhere, we read that God had no beginning, but always was, we know that this is not so, for His Mind sprung from another Mind, the same as yours and the writer's, but so long ago that to us it seems to be Eternity.
Beware of illusions; they lead us into darkness, though this too is a kind of light. To say that God created the Light is pure ignorance, for all He could do is to bring it into being by means of the Light of His Mind, so that our minds should be able to attune with it, and have that same illusion of light which is our common heritance. It is by means of the light that we may see our truths and errors, and thus our realities, which are realisations of the ever erring physical senses. But there is another Light, which is the Light of higher Reason, which reaches us by means of the Soul, via the Higher Self, always provided we are not wilfully blind to its great revelations. Only when we become aware of that Light shall we be able to see, and hear, and feel Truth. This is illumination of the Higher Self—the Higher Mind which is One with our own Soul. Meanwhile we should render thanks to God for having produced for us our temporal light, which is the smile of heaven and joy of the world, spreading it like a cloth of gold over the face of the air and earth and sea, and lighting it all as if it were a torch by which we may behold His wondrous works, as a preparation for the greater Glory which awaits us all in Heaven.
Besides the two books of the Poemander and the Asclepios we have examined so far, there are a number of Hermetic Fragments preserved by various writers. Foremost among these was Joannes Stobaeus, who flourished during the fifth century A.D. As we told you in part two of this investigation, his work was originally divided into two volumes containing two books each. Contemporary scholars now refer to both volumes as the Anthologium or Anthology from which we will discuss a few passages here. Stobaeus says that when God first created the earth the land was at first only half solid, and quivered like jelly. But the heat of the sun soon dried it up and made it hard and firm. The 'quivering' probably referred to earthquakes and the eruption of hills and mountains.
On the subject of souls Stobaeus says that God sets about making souls in order that a certain region may not remain uninhabited. But since 'heaven' and 'earth' have already been provided with inhabitants, the only region which is still empty is the space between earth and heaven, this, he says, must therefore be the place where the souls dwell. At first they dwell in the atmosphere there, and then they are sent into incarnation. This is not so very wrong if by 'atmosphere' he meant the invisible but still material realms of the Astral World which surround our physical Earth-plane. Hence we may be tolerably sure this was a distortion of what once must have been a true teaching of Hermes when he spoke of the various Realms and those who dwell there before and after their earthly incarnations. In Stobaeus' time these teachings must have been in a very parlous state, so it is little wonder we read about these various versions, which no one could explain, because no one knew what they really meant any more than people do today, least of all the various interfering editors and commentators who, whatever their academical qualifications, know nothing whatsoever about the occult sciences.
Stobaeus also wrote about the making of souls but it is clear from what he tells us that he considered the soul to be a material thing. He says that it is made out of a mixture of breath, or air, and fire, combined with certain 'unknown materials.' This is a Stoic concept that has nothing whatever to do with Hermes as those of our readers familiar with Greek philosophy will readily see. Moreover, Stobaeus has added to this notion such modifications as his Platonic principles seemed to him to demand. These ideas on the making of souls being entirely fantastic, even before the Stoic and Platonic principles were added to it, they were hailed as great 'revelations', but the only quality of greatness one can attach to them are that they are very great errors! For this reason everyone believed them, for Truth is the stumbling block of the inept, who flee from it as soon they behold the least glimmer of its Divine Light.
Whole philosophical and mystical systems have been built on such erroneous concepts, and every system, or its maker or makers, added something of their own to it, so that the ancient world, and the middle ages, and the modern times as well, are full of messiahs, adepts, gurus and teachers and believers of all sorts who wander in the mazes of their own and others 'fantasms of the mind', never getting anywhere except into rebirth on earth. 'Dr' Maurice Doreal, whose so-called Emerald Tablets of Thoth the Atlantean we are analysing in the afterwords to our investigation is a perfect example of this odious breed. The same thing comes to pass in the astral realms or planes to which the deceased is translated after so-called 'death' on Earth. In the 'Summerland' of the Spiritualists and the 'Devachan' of the Theosophists there are swarms of similar 'wise' men just like Doreal who lead astray the seekers who dwell there for a time, just as they do on Earth. When the true Teacher appears before them, here or in the Realms just mentioned, the chances are that he or she will be cursed and persecuted if they should be unwise enough to preach wisdom to the unwise. The masses prefer lies—here and elsewhere in God's Universe—for that is what they can understand, so they think, and know for truth. How sad it all is, and what a waste of time it seems to be if one forgets for a moment that time is an illusion.
Stobaeus tried to describe fire as both a material element and as God Himself, his nature being fire and the 'air' the atmosphere from which it is taken, and this became God's breath. Thus, he thought, both fire and air would become conscious and intelligent. The Stoics went further, believing that God pronounces a spell, just as a human magician would do on similar occasions; for, they said, without this spell God's manipulation of the materials would not produce the desired effect. It was taught that the substance of which souls are made is not the mixture as a whole, but the 'purer' stuff which rises to the surface of the mixture. This stuff, then, would be perfectly transparent—like clear water or pure air—and therefore invisible; God alone could see it. Would you, dear reader, subscribe to such teachings? Don't be too hasty in your answer, for if you had never before read what we have put before you in this investigation, you might easily have accepted Stobaeus' ideas as the veritable teachings of Hermes, as so many millions of others have done before you, and will do in future. But once the Truth has been declared and accepted by the wise, then all such fantasies are recognised for what they are; fit fodder for those who prefer fantasy to the Wisdom and Enlightenment Hermes teaches us.
Besides the Anthologium and the writings preserved by Lactantius there is another important fragment of Hermes known as the Suidas, from which we quoted a most remarkable passage on the Trinity in part two of our investigation. As promised, we will now analyse this passage in greater depth. Here it is again:
"Before Intellectual Light was Light intellectual; Mind of mind, too was there eternally, Light-giving. There was naught else except the Oneness of this (Mind) and Spirit all-embracing. Without this is nor god, nor angel, nor any other being. For He is Lord and Father, and the God of all; and all things are beneath Him, (all things are) in Him. His Word (Logos), all-perfect as he was, and fecund, and creative, falling in fecund Nature, yea in fecund Water, made Water pregnant."
Suidas is not playing with words here or needlessly repeating himself. 'Light intellectual' is not the same as 'Intellectual Light,' nor is 'Mind' the same as 'mind.' Please pay careful attention to what follows. The use of capital letter 'I' for the first iteration of the word 'intellectual' but lowercase 'i' for the second instance is deliberate. The same applies to the capitalisation of the letter 'M' in 'Mind' followed by the same word in lowercase. Herein lies an important clue for us. The seemingly arbitrary use of upper and lower case tells us that Suidas is referring to three distinct mental types or states in a concealed manner; namely Light, Intellect and Mind. From this we learn that only the Supreme God of all, mentioned here as Light intellectual, which became Intellectual Light, was pure Spirit, bodiless, but Mind gave eternally Light to mind. Thus, at first, there was naught else but the Oneness of the Supreme Deity's Mind. Such a pure Spirit in the highest sense of the term, needs no body, for all is present within His mind and Intellect, complete in its divine duality of Male-Female in accordance with the Law of Gender. In this state of utter Bliss, enlightened by the Spirit of perfect Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding, He may dwell for time periods utterly inconceivable to mankind who are always in a hurry, but never arrive anywhere, except at death and rebirth of the body, with unenlightened, wandering minds, devoid of intellect, understanding or wisdom!
After the declaration on the nature of the Trinity we have analysed, Suidas (who may or may not have been the author of the book) intones the following Hymn.
"Thee, Heaven, I adjure, wise work of mighty God; thee I adjure, Word of the Father which he spake first, when He established all the world!
"Thee I adjure, (O Heaven), by the alone-begotten Word (Logos) himself, and by the Father of the Word alone-begotten, yea, by the Father who surroundeth all; be gracious, be gracious!"
But material and spiritual evolution must go on, for that is the unalterable Law of the Universe, which even the Highest must obey, and from which there is no escape whatever. So in due course, after long and careful meditation and preparation, He, the Supreme and Bodiless Spirit, the All-Highest God, sends forth his Word of Command, that Word so little understood as to its true meaning, and his Word, or Command takes shape, and becomes the Logos in the sense that He is given command over a whole Solar System to be evolved out of the universal dust of interstellar space which floats about in clouds sinister, obstructing the Light, and concealing the Face of the Supreme, also shielding all and everything from its blazing radiance, which glows as if it were a Fire, but is, instead, that Intellectual Light which sprang from Light intellectual! Please note again, that the first Intellectual has a capital 'I' whilst the second has a lower case 'i'—a further clue!!
So here stands the Logos, but Hidden, because He too is all Light and Intellectual Mind, so that his Hidden glory acts like a Shield which protects Him from all who dwell below His Majesty. But the Word, or Logos, or God of a System, solar or galactic has been given the power of fecundity by His Father, and it is His function to commence creation within His Empire of the unmade worlds that will spring into being at His behest. For only thus can Evolution carry on the task of ever new creations. And out of the countless hordes of beings he creates comes forth at last the animal called man, and from him will rise the future Logoi who rule the Sun and Moon and planets in their turn, and govern all that is within their Realms, planetary or spiritually, high or low, according to the behest of the first and Hidden Logos. Thus we behold Nature by the Light of our Intellect, as Intellectual Light from Light intellectual, which is the Highest God. Light always comes first, and radiates the coming intellect and gives its Mind illumination. Without Light—no mind, no intellect; for darkness is death, like the gloom of the dust which obscures the Face and Countenance of that Light which is the Supreme Deity. For by His Light we know Him, and can see Him in our Visions as He was and is and ever will be, utterly Holy and Divine. Thus can man see and know the invisible, unknowable God, and dwell in the serenity of His Peace and Love and Wisdom for all Eternity. But before that can come to pass he must first overcome and utterly vanquish the many tormentors we mentioned in part four of our investigation when we discussed the Mind of Light and Regeneration with you. This then is our final task and the crowning glory of this revelation: to tell you about the doctrine of the twelve Torments and Vices and how they may be overcome.
© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. First published 14 February 2021. Updated 24 December 2022.