A Reminder to All Those who (Claim to) Follow the Way of Hermēs

Whether you call it Hermeticism or Hermetism, regardless of how much Hellenic or Solomonic or qabbalistic influence it may bear, irrespective of whether you’re focused on classical or medieval or Renaissance or modern approaches to it all, the Way of Hermēs Trismegistos is fundamentally Egyptian at its core—and Egypt is still a place in Africa. None of us should ever, ever forget that.

Those Hermet(ic)ists who aren’t stepping up to aid those who belong to an oppressed minority and aren’t stepping up to bring life and light to their fellow humanity through healing and wisdom need to reconsider what they’re really doing with their lives and to do better to actually implement the teachings in their own Work—especially if they’re white, straight, cis, or otherwise privileged to belong to one non-oppressed majority or another. And those Hermet(ic)ists who aid or abet racism, fascism, or other such oppressive thoughts and practices need to take a good, long look at themselves, pray, go back to the original texts and philosophies, relearn the inherent dignity and holiness of all humanity, and reconsider literally everything it is they are—and to fuck all the way off and out of the way of humanity until they get a grip on the Way of Hermēs, no matter which route they’re taking.

Even if ancient Egyptians didn’t see themselves like other African ethnicities, even if Hermet(ic)ism wasn’t pan-Mediterranean syncretic from the start, even if Hermetic practices hadn’t changed over millennia, racism and fascism and oppression have no place in the Way—and it is not enough to simply not participate in those things, but it is on us to stand up against them and to actively work against them.

Black Lives Matter.

Work accordingly.

For the love of God and the gods, for the sake of all humanity all made in the image and likeness of the Divine, for the betterment and salvation and good order of the whole Creation of the Creator for all its creatures, let all followers of the Way of Hermēs—whether Hermeticist or Hermetist—hear and help.

Original Greek and faithful transcriptions up for two ancient Hermetic prayers!

As many of my readers know, I have my Etsy shop set up for the things I make.  I tend to stick to beadwork nowadays, bracelets and necklaces and chaplets and rosaries and that sort of thing as well as my ebooks (which you can also find directly on my website on the Books page), but in the past, I’ve taken commissions for wands, Tables of Practice, and other woodworking things.  I don’t do the woodworking thing as much anymore; there are several others I would recommend on Etsy, instead, for things along those lines, who have better setups and tools and skill than I do.  Still, depending on the need and the medium, I’m certainly not opposed to taking on commissions.

Recently, I received an interesting request for a commission.  Rather than it being a physical thing, it was a digital item; sure, I can do those, too, and I’ve made designs and the like for others by special request.  After all, art is art, and craft is craft.  This, though, was also unusual; I suppose it could be said to that I was contracted rather than commissioned.  I was contacted by one Soror MNA to help her with some of her own research and work.  She took a heavy interest in two of the things I’ve shared previously on my website, the Hermetic prayers from the Greek Magical Papyri known as the Hymn of the Hidden Stele (PGM IV.1115—1166) and the Stele of Aiōn (PGM.1167—1226).  These are beautiful hymns indeed, and I’ve used them to powerful effects in the past for serious and heavily theurgical purposes.  However, I’ve only basically given my (minor) variants of them in English, with the Greek barbarous words of power rewritten in the Greek script for ease of analysis and preservation of nuances in pronunciation.

What the good Soror MNA wanted me to do was to get her copies written in Greek of these two prayers.  After all, it’s not hard to find Preisendanz’s transcriptions of the PGM online (volume 1 for PGM I through PGM VI, volume 2 for PGM VII and after); all she needed was these prayers in their original Greek as well as transliterated into Roman script for study and use in her own rituals.  So, since this was a pretty clear-cut job of typing and transcribing, I gladly took the job.

All of this is simple and straightforward and otherwise unmentionable and not worthy of note if it weren’t for the fact that, at the end, I requested a change to the terms we had agreed to that would be in both our favor.  As it was, I was just going to give her a document with the transliterations she requested, but for the same reasons she found it valuable to have these prayers in their original Greek and transliterated into Roman script, I figured it would be good for the broader occult community, especially those interested in PGM-style Hermetic work, to have access to the same.  She agreed, and to that end, graciously permitted me to share the fruits of my labors on my website.

To that end, the Hymn of the Hidden Stele and the Stele of Aiōn pages on this website have been updated and augmented with the orignal Greek and their transliterations.  All of this is thanks to the gracious and generous support and sponsorship of Soror MNA, who has my thanks for helping me and funding improvements to my website!  If it’s been a while since you last checked these hymns out, or if you’re unfamiliar with them and have any interest in some pretty potent prayers, go and take a look!  The transliteration scheme I use is custom to my own work, which I feel preserves the pronunciation and accenture of the original Greek slightly better than other texts; most of the accenture is unnecessary unless you’re intimately familiar with the byzantine Byzantine use of polytonic Greek, but in order to keep it as faithful as possible, I included it all the same.  Thank you again, Soror MNA, for your generous support!

Just to remind all my wonderful readers: if you’d like to support the Digital Ambler in my projects, writing, and other work, remember that you can do so through Ko-fi!  Every little bit counts, and you’ll have my unending, undying thanks and appreciation.  Heck, if you wanted to sponsor a post or something big for my website like what Soror MNA said, suggest something in the comment when you donate and I’ll see what I can do!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Support the Digital Ambler on Ko-fi!

Looking back through my archives, it amazes me how much I’ve actually written.  The Digital Ambler has been around since 2010, at first on Blogspot as a devotional blog to XaTuring, the modern god of the Internet, but in 2011, when I started actually studying and practicing magic in earnest, I shifted gears to be less devotional to that deity (which, admittedly, I never got too far with) and more studious and practical in my approach.  Skip ahead seven and a half years, over 600 posts and 700,000 views later, and here we are.

It really has been a trip, you guys.

More importantly, the focus of that trip has changed.  Long-time readers of my blog have noticed that I recently redid my blog layout and appearance, but a more subtle change is up there at the top of the page.  The blog motto used to be “embrace the detours on a Hermetic path”; after all, when I was starting out, I had no idea where I’d end up, much less what paths I’d be taking or skipping or changing.  Now, the motto is changed: “always forward between Heaven and Earth”.  The path, the Work, has not ceased, but it has shifted; I’m done taking detours, and now I have a (however slightly) better grasp on what the path I’m on actually looks like.  The most important thing, though, is that I don’t stop on this path that’s been laid out for me.

Over the years, I’ve made the commitment to share my notes, experiments, thoughts, and details of my Work publicly.  I don’t share everything like this; I have some stuff kept in ebooks now, other things are saved for future publications, some topics will be reserved for worthy students-to-come, and yet other secrets will remain as such.  But, of the things I do share, I share gladly and freely.  As a result of my writing and sharing, this blog has become something of a useful resource for many students of the occult, magic, and divination across the Internet.  It humbles me, and it makes my heart glad that I’m able to help others just by doing what I do.  Besides, I consider it good that I write so much, because even I forget half the stuff I come up with unless I’ve written it down; this blog is as much for my own benefit as it is for the public’s.

This blog has always been free to read, and I intend to keep it that way.

Unfortunately, bills pile up, and the bitter taste of economic insecurity is in the air.  No, I’m not suffering from some cataclysm or huge emergency, but things can get worrisome now and again.  The more things I have to take care of, the less time I have to write or Work; the less time I have to do those things, the more dust my blog gathers.  After the past 18 months of significantly-decreased output, I want to get back to the Work, but it’s hard when there’s so much else to take care of.  While I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and the support of my readers over the years, pride and good cheer don’t pay for my gas or power bill.

But you know what you can do?  You can buy me a coffee on Ko-fi, an internet tip jar service that lets people support their favorite content creators by donating a few dollars, the price of a cup of coffee.  Every little bit counts, and every little bit gets my deep gratitude and appreciation for your support.  Yes, you’ll be able to keep me caffeinated and awake and energized enough to continue to Work and write, but your support will also help me cover ritual supplies, research materials, travel expenses, and much more.

If you’ve ever found yourself entertained by my rambling and whining, spurred onto deeper research and study because of my notes, or enthused enough to incorporate my Work into your own, please consider supporting my blog once in a while; it’ll help go towards making sure there’s always more to be entertained, interested, and enthused with.  Check out this little video I made talking about me, the blog, and Ko-fi:

(This was my first time using A/V editing software.  Happy as I am with it, please forgive me my shoddy work.)

So, if you like the content I post on the Digital Ambler and want to help support me in making more content, buy me a coffee on Ko-fi!  And, if you like the good work Ko-fi is already doing and the fact that it’s a free service for both creators and supporters, consider buying them a coffee to them, as well.

49 Days of Definitions: Part III, Definition 4

This post is part of a series, “49 Days of Definitions”, discussing and explaining my thoughts and meditations on a set of aphorisms explaining crucial parts of Hermetic philosophy.  These aphorisms, collectively titled the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”, lay out the basics of Hermetic philosophy, the place of Man in the Cosmos, and all that stuff.  It’s one of the first texts I studied as a Hermetic magician, and definitely what I would consider to be a foundational text.  The Definitions consist of 49 short aphorisms broken down into ten sets, each of which is packed with knowledge both subtle and obvious, and each of which can be explained or expounded upon.  While I don’t propose to offer the be-all end-all word on these Words, these might afford some people interested in the Definitions some food for thought, one aphorism per day.

Today, let’s discuss the fifteenth definition, part III, number 4 of 4:

God is the good (which is) previous to all the intelligible (beings); God is the father of the intelligible; heaven is the maker of the body.  The magnitude of the light of the sun is earth and sea; the magnitude of heaven (is) the world; the magnitude of the world is God.

From the last few definitions in this section, we know that the Definitions provide a Hermetic panentheistic view of the universe: God is both immanent in creation and transcendent of it, existing both as part of all things that exist and outside existence entirely.  Further, all of creation isn’t one solid thing; there are different parts to creation, namely heaven, the world, and humanity.  Humanity exists only in part of the world; the world exists only in part of heaven; heaven exists only in part of God.  Thus, God is in all things that we can possibly know, but also exists outside it as well in a place of weird non-existence-yet-not-not-existing (it’s hard to talk about things that we don’t have words for, after all).

The current definition talks a little more about God and it’s relationship with heaven, the world, and man.  God is “the good”, specifying him as something that is or is part of the Nous (II.1), as well as likening him to the light of sense (II.6).  More importantly, God is “the good which is previous to all the intelligible beings”.  In other words, God is the thing that came first before anything else that has ever existed, might exist, can exist, or doesn’t exist; God has always been.  “God is the father of the intelligible”, so not only did God come first before all other things, but God also created all other things; things that are sensible (heaven, the world, Man, etc.) are a subset of things that are intelligible (things higher than heaven but still part of God).

In addition to being intelligible and coming from God, “heaven is the maker of the body”, so anything that’s sensible or has a body comes from heaven.  Just as heaven itself comes from God, so too do bodies also come from God, but bodies only exist in and under heaven.  Thus, heaven plays a microcosmic role in comparison to the macrocosmic God; heaven provides sensibility just as God provides intelligibility.  Thus, bodies don’t exist outside heaven because there’s nothing to make them, support them, or provide for them outside of heaven; beyond heaven, there is no sensibility, but only intelligibility.  This is basically saying that “the planes are discrete and not continuous” when it comes to certain characteristics of intelligible entities, in that sensibility cannot be taken out of the sensible realms into realms where sensibility isn’t actually a thing.

The next part of the definition waxes on a bit about comparisons, starting from small things and going to big things, but it talks about “magnitude”.  Magnitude, or greatness, was previously discussed in definition II.2, when it discussed that “heaven is as much as both the earth and the sea”, yet in II.3, we know that “heaven is larger than everything…for it extends beyond [the sun and the Earth]”.  So, clearly, physical size isn’t really being used as a grounds for comparison, especially since things without bodies (the strictly intelligible) don’t have any notion of “size”.  Spiritual fullness, complexity-while-being-one-ness, goodness, intelligibility, or other characteristics might be the grounds for comparison, but there’s little to go on here except a vague notion of “greatness”.

“The magnitude of the light of the sun is earth and sea”: thus, that which we receive from the heavens (being represented as a whole by “light of the sun”) is the greatness of the physical Earth we live on and all the humanity on it.  In a sense, the greatness that comes down here is that which remains down here; what comes down here is the totality of things that come from above.  “The magnitude of heaven is the world”: here, “heaven” is linked back to the previous comparison by referring to “the light of the sun”, which fills the heavens.  Just as the “earth and sea” is less than “the light of the sun”, so too is the world less than heaven; however, just as the Earth consists of the totality of everything that comes from above it, so too does the general world (which includes both the Earth as well as the sun) receive the influences of things higher than itself.  Thus, all of the world is the sum total of all the influences it receives from heaven.  “The magnitude of the world is God”:  this is where we get an interesting reversal of the sequence, when read in the same way as the others.  Here, God is certainly more than the world, and we know that there’s a lot more going on in creation than just the world (there’s also heaven, and the things part of God that are not part of heaven); thus, we can’t simply say that God is the sum total of all the influences it receives from the world, since the world is what receives influences from God, and to say that God is influenced by the thing it’s influencing implies that the world is equal with God, which contradicts many of our definitions.  Thus, we need to revise our interpretation a bit.

The first comparison likens the “magnitude of the light of the sun” to Earth, or “earth and sea”.  We haven’t really encountered “light of the sun” yet in the Definitions, though we have encountered “light”, which we know makes things visible and known (II.6).  We can take “light of the sun” to mean “visible light”, since the Sun is a visible body and not something merely intelligible.  Thus, if we take the comparison to really be more of a strict equality, we can say that visible (“light of the sun”) supports and enables the existence of things that become visible in light (“earth and sea”), as well as vice versa; they support each other.  Similarly, that the “magnitude of heaven is the world” indicates that heaven supports and enables the existence of the world, and vice versa; although things exist outside of the world in heaven, heaven as a whole cannot exist without the world, nor can the world exist without heaven.  Finally, this means the same thing for the world and God: God enables and supports the existence of the world, and the world supports and enables the existence of God.

This last bit is counterintuitive, perhaps, but isn’t as contradictory as our first attempt at understanding this.  What this means is that the world is a necessary part of God; although God is bigger and outside the world, the part of God that is the world and in the world is what enables the other things as well.  Everything is permeated with divine essence, in other words, but everything is also therefore intrinsically connected by it as well.  If the magnitude of the world is God, and the magnitude of heaven is the world, then that also means that God’s existence enables and is enabled by that of heaven as much as it is by the existence of the world.  Everything that exists is not only part of the Whole, the All, or the One, but everything that exists is necessary for the existence of everything else in the Whole.  Just because something exists outside another thing (uninhabited land outside inhabited land, heavenly places outside the worldly places, God outside heaven, etc.) doesn’t mean it’s independent of the rest, because that would make God “disjointed” in a sense that would break the interconnectedness of everything within God; if something exists independent of something else, then it would also have to be independent of everything including God, which contradicts definition III.1 (“nothing is uninhabited by God”).  Everything is connected by and through the connection to God.