Hymn to the Eighth and Ninth

In Hermes Trismegistus’ famous Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth, preserved in the Nag Hammadi texts, Hermes begins the process of initiating his student Tat into the Eighth and Ninth Spheres, the layers of the cosmos above those of the Earth and the seven planets, through an ecstatic prayer that leads into a vision quest of sorts.  This prayer commences a type of initiation that allows Tat to commune with these higher planes of reality, and is broken into two parts.  The first part is Hermes’ initial prayer, followed by Tat’s response and continuation of the hymn.

The initial prayer:

I call upon you,
who rules over the kingdom of power,
whose word is an offspring of light,
whose words are immortal, eternal, immutable,
whose will produces life for forms everywhere,
whose nature gives form to substance,
by whom souls, powers, and angels are moved,
whose word reaches all who exist,
whose providence reaches all who exist,
who produces everyone,
who has divided the eternal realm among spirits,
who has created everything,
who, being Self within Self, supports everything,
to whom one speaks in silence, being perfect, the invisible God,
whose image is moved when it is managed, and it is so managed,
who is exalted above majesty, mighty one in power,
who is superior to those honored!


Lord, grant us wisdom from your power that reaches us that we may relate to ourselves the vision of the Eighth and the Ninth.
Already we have advanced to the Seventh since we are faithful and abide in your law.
Your will we fulfill always.
We have walked in your ways and have renounced evil so your vision may come.
Lord, grant us truth in the image!
Grant that through your spirit we may see the form of the image that lacks nothing and accept the reflection of the Fullness from us through  our praise.

Recognize the spirit within us,
for from you the cosmos received soul,
for from you, the one unbegotten, the begotten came to be.
The birth of the self-begotten is through you, the birth of all begotten things that exist.
Accept these spiritual offerings from us which we direct to you with all our heart, soul, and strength.
Save what is within us and grant us immortal wisdom.

After proceeding with contemplation of this prayer and any accompanying trance work, the prayer continues:

I shall offer up the praise in my heart as I invoke the end of the cosmos, and the beginning of the beginning, the goal of the human quest, the immortal discovery, the producer of light and truth, the sower of reason, the love of immortal life.  No hidden word can speak of you, Lord.  My mind wants to sing a hymn to you every day.  I am the instrument of your Spirit; Mind is your plectrum, and your guidance makes music with me.  I see myself!  I have received power from you, for your love has reached us.

O Grace!  After this, I thank you by singing a hymn to you.  You gave me life when you made me wise.  I praise you.  I invoke your name hidden in me!


You exist with spirit.
I sing to you with godliness.

The barbarous words, which are mostly just the intonation of the Greek vowels in varying lengths, are transliterated as follows.  It is likely that these sets of vowel intonation have been corrupted over the ages, given their partial incompleteness and variable length of intonation.

    A ŌŌ
    EE ŌŌŌ
  2. A Ō
    EE Ō

Intriguingly, the close of this text contains an instruction to preserve this discourse from Hermes:

  • The book is to be engraved on steles of turquoise in hieroglyphic characters, surrounded by eight guardians of the Sun: four frog-faced male guardians on the right, and four cat-faced female guardians on the left.  The tablets are to be set atop a “square milk-stone”.
  • The book is to be engraved when either Mercury or the Moon (depending on the planetary association of Hermes Trismegistus to be used, Mercury through his Greek connections or the Moon for his Egyptian ones) is at or after 15° Virgo, between the hours of sunrise and noon.
  • An oath is prescribed for those who read the book: “I make him who will read this holy book swear by heaven and earth, and fire and water, and seven rulers of substance, and the creating spirit in them, and the unbegotten God, and the self-begotten one, and him who has been begotten, that he will guard the things that Hermes has said. And those who keep the oath, God will be reconciled with them and everyone whom we have named. But wrath will come to each one of those who violate the oath.”  This oath is to prevent the abuse of the Discourse so that none use it to “oppose the acts of fate”, and to encourage all to “submit to the law of God…in purity asking God for wisdom and knowledge”.  Those who are not naturally gifted by God to this knowledge are encouraged to begin first with the “general and guiding discourses”, since “he will not be able to read the things written in this book, although his conscience is pure within him, since he does not do anything shameful, nor does he consent to it. Rather, by stages he advances and enters into the way of immortality. And thus he enters into the understanding of the eighth that reveals the ninth.”