Hermeticism Posts

Ever since I started using this website as my personal platform for writing about magic, so much of that has involved Hermeticism, the mystical-occult practice associated with the mythical Hermēs Trismegistos.  Whether I’ve only touched on it before in passing or centered it for a whole series of posts, Hermeticism is (and, arguably, has almost always been) a primary guiding approach for me in my own spiritual life and practices, both from a practical/technical point of view and a philosophical/theoretical point of view.  Over the years, I’ve dug more and more into exploring the classical underpinnings and foundations of Hermeticism, not being satisfied with the mere introductions most modern magical manuals provide, and have made it one of the core focuses of my writing.  While the technical and practical aspects of my research have been written about in abundance (as evidenced especially by the large number of posts under the “pgm” category alone, to say nothing of many other such posts that delve into later post-classical or Renaissance Hermetic magical approaches or my own quasi-Pythagorean demi-Hermetic Mathesis stuff), I’ve also dug deep into the theoretical and philosophical side of Hermeticism, exploring the doctrines, teachings, and ways of living that Hermēs Trismegistos encourages us all towards.  To that end, I’ve compiled this index of posts that center on “philosophical Hermeticism” (omitting the more heavily magical, astrological, or occult stuff for the purposes of this index), loosely grouped together by series or collection.

I’m sure I’ll continue writing more about Hermeticism, of course, but if there’s a specific topic that you don’t see addressed in the list below, feel free to contact me and ask about it!

Hermeticism FAQ (June 2021) Although I’m engaged in plenty of Hermeticism-related discussions online, I noticed a trend of the same questions getting asked over and over again.  While understandable given a constant new influx of people interested in Hermeticism, I realized that it might be good to have a sort of list of frequently-asked questions with answers compiled ready to go, both to head off confusion at the start as well as to function as a sort of primer for Hermetic studies.  Realizing that nobody else was likely to do it, I took it upon myself (with the ample help of my various friends online) to compile a list of questions and offer my own answers for those who are interested in Hermeticism.  If you are at all new to Hermeticism or just want a refresher, please read these posts first!

  1. Part I, Overview and History
  2. Part II, Texts
  3. Part III, Doctrine
  4. Part IV, Practice

On the Third Book of the Corpus Hermeticum (May and June 2020) One of my favorite texts from the classical canon of philosophical Hermetic literature is that of the Third Book of the Corpus Hermeticum (CH III), titled the Ἑρμοῦ Λόγος Ἱερός, or “The Sacred Sermon of Hermēs Trismegistus”.  It’s a short text, certainly obscure and corrupt at parts whether by degeneration of the medium or by the degeneration of the language of the original author, and nobody seems particularly sure of its actual origins, but the meaning of is is fairly clear and straightforward: this is a guide of how to live life properly in a Hermetic sense, perhaps even proto-Hermetic when allowing for its Jewish and Stoic influences heavier here than in other parts of Hermetic literature.  Not content with existing translations of it, I decided to translate it myself from the original Greek (my first major translation work for the language!) and dig in deep into what it’s actually saying.

  1. Introduction to CH III (an unofficial prologue and anticipation of this current series)
  2. Translation of the text from Greek along with my own notes and commentary
  3. Contextualization and similarities with other Hermetic texts
  4. Interpretation on the first section of CH III
  5. Interpretation on the second section of CH III
  6. Interpretation on the third section of CH III
  7. Interpretation on the fourth section of CH III
  8. Summary and recap

49 Days of Definitions (November — December 2013)  Though I consider myself a Hermeticist, I also consider myself a Hermetist at least as much.  The difference between Hermeticism and Hermetism is a subtle one, with Hermeticism (with the ‘c’) being the Renaissance development of classical spiritual knowledge and philosophy based on the writings of Hermes Trismegistus especially after the translation of the Corpus Hermeticum by Marsilio Ficino, and with Hermetism being the actual classical origin of such knowledge and philosophy in the time period in which it began.  As part of my studies in the Red Work Course by Fr. Rufus Opus of Head for the Red, one of the classical Hermetic texts I studied was the Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, a series of 49 maxims or axioms of Hermetic cosmology and theology that helped to illuminate my own Hermetic practice.  I set my mind to writing a separate blog post fleshing out each maxim in late 2013, culminating on the very last day of the year.

  1. Introduction
  2. Part I: one, two, three, four, five
  3. Part II: one, two, three, four, five, six
  4. Part III: one, two, three, four
  5. Part IV: one, two
  6. Part V: one, two, three
  7. Part VI: one, two, three
  8. Part VII: one, two, three, four, five
  9. Part VIII: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven
  10. Part IX: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven
  11. Part X: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven
  12. Review

On Gender in Hermeticism (March 2021) Everyone knows I have no love for the Kybalion, and one of its most awkward “principles” is that of gender.  There’s much in a lot of New Age and occult models and cosmology that insists on a gendered view of the cosmos or which insist on using gendered language and metaphors to describe occult and spiritual practices, and this lands us in a whole lot of problems constantly.  Based on a Reddit thread I saw that raised the issue of transgender people in Hermeticism (tl;dr: there isn’t one), I got tired of having this conversation, and so decided to look at what the extant classical Hermetic texts actually have to say regarding sex and gender and how that impacts the nature and work of the soul.  Based on that, it’s clear what the Hermetic doctrines and texts teach, and—mirabile dictu—it’s not anything resembling New Age tripe about gender being an essential quality of anything or anyone.

  1. Excerpts and Commentary
  2. Analysis, Ranting, and Questions

Tormentors and Powers (various) Although not a post series in its own right, I’ve made a lot of to-do and fuss about a particular notion of Hermetic “sins”, as it were, and several Hermetic texts like CH I and CH XIII focus on how particular vices act as “tormentors” that serve to keep us incarnated.  While useful for the work of incarnation, they are something of an impediment to discarnation and the salvation of the soul—thus the central Hermetic drive to free ourselves from these “irrational tormentors” that are part and parcel of being embodied.  While there is a large impetus in many Hermetic texts that strive for the taming of the drive and desire of the body, these texts elaborate on how we can consider these specific energies, enumerate them, and offer insight on how we might remediate them.

  1. The Twelve Irrational Tormentors and the Ten (or Seven) Rational Powers
  2. On Hermetic Tormentors and Egyptian Sins
  3. Twelve, Ten, and Seven: Clarifying and Rethinking the Tormentors from CH XIII
  4. The Hermetic Refranations and Repentances
  5. Insights from Grese’s “Corpus Hermeticum XIII and Early Christian Literature”

The Difficulty of Thinking About the Way of Hermes (April — May 2020) Annoyed at the time as I was with the countless, faceless hordes of people insisting that the Kybalion is Hermetic (it’s not and never was despite its loud protestations to the contrary), I ended up going on a three-post rant that wasn’t intended to be a series but ended up becoming something of one all the same.  In the course of it, not only do I distinguish “Hermeticism” from “Hermetism” (i.e. the broader development of Western esotericism tied to Hermetic myth and lore vs. the classical mystical practice itself in its own Greco-Egyptian context), but I also talk about what a set of “principles” for Hermeticism would even look like a la the Kybalion’s seven so-called laws—and why it’s so hard to think of Hermeticism in such terms, considering how it never talked about itself in those terms.  Not only that, but the many various doctrines of Hermeticism in the Hermetic texts alone don’t lend themselves to principalization in that way, not least because of how often they bring up their own dissonance and contradictions.  Despite this, we can still come up with some core themes across all the Hermetic texts that synthesize their doctrines and work from there, making sense out of what might otherwise (sensibly) be called a mess.

  1. Labeling Myself as a Follower of the Way of Hermēs Trismegistus
  2. The Difficulty of Principalizing the Way of Hermēs
  3. The Difficulty of Centralizing the Way of Hermēs

Prayers and Recitations (various) As a mystical way of theurgy and spiritual ascension, Hermeticism makes use of prayer as a tool and practice in its own right.  While there may not be as rich a documented history in Hermeticism as the countless ‘ad`iyah of Islam or many parittas of Buddhism or other prayers from other religions, there are already at least a few already present in the Hermetic texts themselves, some certainly more famous than others, some bearing the hallmark of Abrahamic influence and others more pagan ones, and other notions of why and how certain things can be considered as prayer or reformulated into prayers.  Considering the content of the Hermetic texts as devotionally instructive and instructionally devotional in their own right, one can transform mere reading of a text into a work of prayer and divine contemplation.  A number of these have also been expanded upon in the Prayers pages of my website (especially under the Hermetic Prayers pages), too, so check those pages out as well!

  1. The Three Versions of the Hermetic Thanksgiving Prayer
  2. A Simple Hermetic Prayer Rule
  3. A Hermetic Praise Prayer from Book V of the Corpus Hermeticum
  4. The Prayer Whispered In The Temple
  5. The Royal Praises from Book XVIII of the Corpus Hermeticum
  6. Original Greek and faithful transcriptions up for two ancient Hermetic prayers!
  7. On the Hymns of Silence

The Hermetic Shrine (June — July 2022) Although not intended to be a post series, I ended up talking in a few posts in quick succession about my thoughts and notions about shrines, specifically for a Hermetic context.  What should such a shrine look like?  What should happen at such a shrine?  Why should such a shrine be made at all, and how should we go about maintaining it and ourselves at it?  Based on my own experience over a number of years of applying myself at a number of shrines (both of my own creation and others’) coupled with research from various Hermetic texts, fragments, and testimonia across the centuries, I came up with a number of protocols and ideas to establish as a sort of baseline for my own take on Hermetic practice, nominally for household or low-key individual approaches but which could easily be scaled up for broader, institutional ones, too.

  1. Lighting the Shrine to Light the Way
  2. Offerings at a Hermetic Shrine
  3. Feasts at a Hermetic Shrine
  4. Setting Up a Hermetic Shrine

On the Hermetic Afterlife (October — November 2022) A simple question on Discord prompted me to get to thinking: “when we die, do we become wandering souls until we incarnate again?”  Like with many such questions, the answer is surprisingly complex, partially due to the incomplete picture we have from the classical Hermetic texts regarding its model of the afterlife and how reincarnation and a final ascent comes into the picture, but also due to all the nuances that arise from what we do see.  This is a topic I had given some thought to before, but this was the first time anyone had prompted me for my thoughts, and while I was able to give a quick outline of what my thoughts looked like in Discord, it was hardly satisfying, even for me.  To that end, I decided to do a deeper dive into what we can find and what we might piece together through reason and extrapolation for a Hermetic view of death, the dead, and how we can relate to them while alive.

  1. Evidence from the Texts
  2. Initial Impressions, Questions, and the Role of a Daimōn
  3. Answering Assessments About Aborted Ascents
  4. Ramifications for Religious Works
  5. Ramifications for Necromancy
  6. A Cause for Theurgy

Hermeticism, God, and the Gods (March 2023) When many people read texts like the Corpus Hermeticum or Asclepius, what with all the talk of “God”, it’s not uncommon for them to think that Hermeticism is some kind of monotheistic spirituality, or some sort of Christianity Lite.  It’s a common-enough thing to wonder and ask about, but a simple surface reading of part of the classical Hermetic texts doesn’t quite describe the whole situation accurately.  In truth, Hermeticism is a polytheistic form of mysticism, and the Hermetic texts are a product of a polytheistic people writing for a polytheistic audience; not only do the Hermetic texts explicitly state that multiple gods exist, but they outright encourage our worship of them.  However, the focus in Hermeticism is not on the gods, but on God—and yet, perplexingly, God is *not* a god, and the reason why so much of the Hermetic texts talk about God is to try to make out exactly what God is if not a god. What Hermeticism is is fundamentally a form of monist mysticism, but it’s easy to conflate monism with monotheism.  To better explain the differences here, I put together a post series exploring the nuances of how Hermeticism is fundamentally polytheistic, how that frames the monism of “the God”, and how that relates to otherwise exoteric polytheistic religion as well as how this is adapted to monotheistic traditions.

  1. Expecting (and Finding) Polytheism
  2. What God Is and Isn’t
  3. Monism vs. Monotheism
  4. A Cast of Divinities

Other Miscellaneous Posts (various) As the name says, these are other posts composed across my blogging history on miscellaneous Hermetic topics, from the exegesis of Hermetic texts to analysis of opinions in a Hermetic light.

  1. Geographical Points of Interest for Hermeticism (and not the one you probably thought of first)
  2. A Fishy Story to Tell
  3. Ordering an Approach to the Classical Hermetic Texts
  4. On Compassion in Hermeticism
  5. A False Fork in Hermeticism: Different Approaches, Same End
  6. On Hermeticism as “Philosophy” (and why that word is misleading)
  7. No, Evola is not a good source to learn about Hermeticism. Or anything. Stop asking.
  8. Definitions, Instructions, and Sentences: On Different Didactic Texts for the Hermeticist
  9. On the “Emerald Tablet” vs. “Emerald Tablets of Thoth the Atlantean”
  10. Justifying a Hermetic Vegetarianism
  11. Selected Hermetic Meditations on Death and Dying
  12. A Hermetic Musing on Fate, Necessity, and Providence
  13. On Good and Evil in Hermeticism
  14. The Mixing-Bowl of Mind
  15. On the Hermetic Hieroglossa
  16. Hermetic Evangelism and Kerygma
  17. A Reminder to All Those who (Claim to) Follow the Way of Hermēs
  18. The Kybalion is Still Crap, No Matter Who You Think You Are
  19. The Golden Chain of Homer
  20. There’s learning, and then there’s Learning.
  21. Hermetically Computeristic, Computationally Hermetic

As stated at the top of the page, the above index is for posts related to my inquiries and research as to “philosophical/theoretical Hermeticism”, i.e. away and apart from “practical/technical Hermeticism” which focuses more on the occult and magical side of things as opposed to the mystical, devotional, or religious. For other posts I’ve written regarding Greco-Egyptian magic, extrapolating spiritual perspectives from cues and clues in the Greek Magical Papyri, Renaissance developments of Hermetic magical practice, astrology, talisman and statue consecration, and the like, please consider  browsing the other categories, tags, and pages on my website.