Posts Tagged ‘Hermetics’

Toward a Modern Gnostic Philosophy of Mind

The psyche (or soul, or mind; except where specifically noted, these three terms will be used interchangeably throughout this article) has an important place in spiritual practice. Nevertheless, the psyche is not identical to the spirit, Nous, Atman, Divine Spark, or essence of being. That being said, we must have a proper understanding of the psyche’s role in the process of spiritualization. To this end, a “philosophy of mind” is necessary, one which not only agrees with Gnosis, but which also takes into account the findings of modern neuroscience. Neuroscience is now seen as an enemy to religion, seeing as how the common assumption—even, or especially, among neuroscientists—is that contemporary studies of the brain have dismantled the very concept of a “mind” separate from the physical processes of the brain itself. This assumption, however, requires an overturn in light of new data, in light of quantum physics, and in light of Gnosis.

Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist David Hubel, quoted in Jeffrey M. Schwartz’s book The Mind & The Brain, said, “The word Mind is obsolete.” (pg 25) What he meant by this is that, based on the scientific investigations of the functions of the brain, every function formerly ascribed to the immaterial “mind” can now be seen as a function of the material brain. On the surface, this seems true to many people. However, materialism (or physicalism) is a metaphysical assumption; just as a person’s religious bias can blind him or her to evidence, so too can “irreligious” bias. Doctor Schwartz’s research, as well as the research of others (Mario Beauregard, Wilder Penfield, Henry Pierce Stapp, just to name a few), has demonstrated that there is “something” at work upon the brain, not merely in it. This “something” is what we call “the mind”.

The primary function of the mind appears to be that of volition; that is to say, the psyche makes choices between different possible brain-states. The contents of our everyday consciousness seems to be seated in the brain (as far as science can presently tell, anyway), but awareness of those contents is not. The question of the interplay between mind and brain, too, has found a resolution in the sciences, namely in physics. The Newtonian view of billiard ball atoms bouncing one into another into another and eventually producing “something” in the process has been overturned for a century, now, but has yet to find its way fully outside of the physics department. This is exactly the mechanism—fully, inescapably deterministic in nature—which many neuroscientists and “philosophers of mind” propose is at work in consciousness. Consciousness itself is, the claim goes, merely a “user illusion”, even an “interface error”, resulting from the functioning of the brain; consciousness thus has no essential reality apart from the brain, and really has no function as mind-brain causality runs in only one direction: the brain affects the mind, but not the other way around. However, this is clearly not the case. Something is causing the brain’s very physical structure (in macro scales, no less) to shift, however gradually, in response to the will (Jeffrey Schwartz’s “mental force”) being exerted upon it in, say, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, or even just the exertion required to resist biting one’s nails or tapping one’s foot. To simplify, “habits” are the functions of brain circuits, while “decisions” are the functions of mind.

None of this is to say that there is not a physical component to volition; there are regions of the brain which become more active during the exertion of will. However, this is a chicken-or-egg question, and there is strong physical evidence that a decision is made prior to the activation of those brain centers. For instance, electrical impulses move across the surface of the scalp in anticipation of such a volitional brain change measurably before the brain change occurs. None of this is a slam dunk, of course, but it makes quite clear that the question is, scientifically speaking, still wide open.

Thoughts, memories, and other mental events can be seen as the yoke which binds the mind and the brain together; without the contents of consciousness, there wouldn’t seem to be anything to choose from, at least not during normal states. The quantum processes (please see the work of Schwartz, Stapp, et al) which hold the mind to the brain carry these mental events up and down the chain. This constant subatomic flurry of activity is what permits the immaterial mind to choose between brain states; it also corresponds to what occultists know as the “etheric double” and the “silver cord” which links soul and body. In other words, these quantum activities form a constantly shifting matrix of information “between” the mind and the central nervous system.

Spiritual practice—within the Gnostic, Hermetic, and related frameworks—is a series of volitional events by which we choose where to place our attention and where to identify our”selves”. If we take the (maybe overused) image of an onion, we can roughly say that during our normal experiences, the body is the outermost layer, then the etheric double (see last paragraph) just underneath, then the psyche, then something else, and then the spirit or Nous (which, again, will be used interchangeably). The Nous is that with which the many and varied spiritual traditions identify the “true Self”; it is not merely the individual soul of mainline religion, as that is the psyche or mind of which we have been speaking. Instead, it is simultaneously individual and collective, immanent and radically transcendent, so far from our ordinary waking experiences that Buddhism, Gnosticism and Advaita Vedanta all use apophatic/negative language to describe it: it is not this, not that; cannot be compared to this, that or the other; cannot even be said to exist but certainly cannot be said not to exist; etc. When discussed at all, it is always discussed in paradoxical or non-literal poetic language of which we can make little or no sense rationally. And yet, the fact that it is so very weird to rational consciousness is itself a rational conclusion, for how could something more exotic than dark matter (because it is not a substance at all) be meaningfully put into the limited clothing of words, or even abstract mathematical formulae?

The spirit only begins as an abstraction; as our attention draws closer and closer to it, and as our consciousness gradually becomes truly aware of it, we actually find that we are it. In a sense, we have reversed the layer order of the onion: the physical body now rests within the mind, which itself rests within the Nous which is its archetype. Abstraction falls away, leaving an experience more concrete than anything we had experienced with our fingers and toes and eyes and ears and noses and tongues. This process requires grace, which is to say that the steps along the way are freely given by a force beyond our mere conscious minds; but the process still requires the participation of our psyches, because a gift given but not accepted is just a box with pretty wrapping paper, a decoration at best and an unasked-for burden at worst.

The participation of psyche in the whole process is, once again, the task of volition, the capacity to actively choose between two or more possibilities. For most of us, will begins as a weak thing—a squeaking grunt of effort against a door made of oak—but through various disciplines (yoga, contemplative prayer, theurgy, even magic) and through direct application (making oneself do chores on a hot, balmy day), we gradually build up our reserves (so to speak). Like a muscle regularly worked, the power of mental force grows bit by struggling bit. Luckily for those of us on the spiritual path, the mere practice of our regular disciplines of prayer, meditation, and the like, perform double duty: not only do they bring us into closer contact with Nous and Things Beyond, they also strengthen our will as we go.

In Gnosticism, we usually describe there being three “states of the soul”, and every person can be said to act from one of these. There are the hylics (materialists) who focus entirely on their bodies and on physical things and experiences; the psychics (soulish) who are said to be “in the Midst”, experiencing things primarily of the emotions, passions, and imaginations; and there are the pneumatics (spirituals) who experience things “from the top down”, so to speak, or from the perspective of the Nous. Hylics may become passionate or emotional,  but generally only over physical things; psychics may be intellectuals or have an aim to achieve spiritual things, but tend to be waylaid by their own literalism and zeal; pneumatics, however, have achieved what Buddhists and Hindus call “clear mind”, a mental state allowing for intellectual inquiry from a bird’s-eye-view, from which emotions, imaginal visions, and even purely material life all continue to exist but enter into an infinitely larger, more tightly interwoven context.

Now, it is my contention that these categories are not fixed destinies, but rather that they are states through which we can pass (in both directions, unfortunately). The ultimate goal, of course, is to achieve the pneumatic framework and stay there; here, the material life is not forgotten, but is put in its proper place, and likewise emotions do not dry up but rather take on their appropriate value, and all work in accordance with true Wisdom. And here is where volition comes in.

Psyche gets to choose where to aim attention throughout life. A hylic is a person who “looks down” more often than not, and even when the gaze turns upward it is usually momentary and immediately interpreted according to the individual’s understanding of purely physical events. “That feeling of oneness with something far greater than myself must have just been the sudden activation of certain neural circuits in my right hemisphere, involving the release of a specific shopping list of ‘feel good’ neurtransmitters, etc., all toward the end of greater environmental and social awareness and responsibility.” None of this is necessarily a bad thing, or entirely incorrect, but it is a narrow view.

A psychic is a person who primarily looks horizontally, at all of the wonderful thoughts and feelings floating around, the beautiful and horrible visions available, and the potential present and future realities which have not yet been actualized. The life of a psychic can be either irrationally optimistic (see New Age and New Thought movements for examples), or else overwrought with pessimism (see fundamentalist movements); either way, it is the passions which preside, and not the intellect. Once again, this is not to say that the intellect is nonexistent in a psychic, any less than the emotions are dead in a hylic; instead, it is a matter of which “layer” is used as the basis of interpretation. In the case of a psychic, literalism tends to hold sway, as their visions and emotions are not only taken quite seriously (which, in truth, they deserve to be), but are actually taken to be the greatest reality. The psyche, then, is the realm of the spirits of passion, the flowering of the elements, and the vengeful gods of the world; this realm of the Midst is not necessarily a place of evil, but is certainly one of illusions which can be used productively or which can become an ever-shifting maze in which a soul becomes lost.

A pneumatic is able to remain calm even in the Midst, to look upon things of the body and soul as the temporary ephemera that they are, and to apply a standard of intellectual rigor to all questions and experiences, not merely those within the purview of the material world. A pneumatic, then, is a person whose psyche has “looked Heavenward” and been rewarded by the true Beautific Vision beyond visions and become identified with the Nous. That last part is vital for understanding: the psyche identifies itself with the Nous; this act of identification is, of course, an act of will by which the psyche travels beyond itself and is taken into the archetype of which it is a reflection. And just as the psyche influences the brain by way of semi-material quantum effects, so too the Nous influences the psyche by way of a corresponding entanglement (the something else mentioned above in the onion analogy). And so, there is a multilayered, instantaneous interplay of influences constantly flitting through the whole economy of the individual human being. The psyche’s relationship to the Nous is that of a reflection to the original; the brain’s relationship to the psyche is a similar one. The process of spiritualization is that by which the psychic reflection is not only gradually made aware of its own reflective nature, but is also finally fully identified with that which it reflects; the brain, unfortunately, never has this sort of opportunity for enlightened immortality, but its job is to remain a healthy intermediary between the immaterial psyche and the material world, between the subjective and the objective.

Gnosis (or jnana, in Sanskrit) is the information, the practice, the gift, and the process by which this spiritualization occurs. Gnosis happens in so many ways and in so many layers, and comes from so many sources, that it is impossible for us to put all of the pieces together until we have made it quite a long way up the mountain. Still, if we don’t constantly try to revise our conscious, rational understanding, we are liable to lose our way altogether. Our ultimate goal, beyond even the process so far described, is beyond words (or, at least, beyond my words). So let the above, a whirlwind tour of my own philosophy of mind in relation to the Gnosis beyond space/time, be helpful to you in formulating your own understanding. I pray to God’s Sophia and the Divine Logos that I have at least succeeded in getting some gears turning (an analogy grown from the outdated clockwork model of consciousness!) for others, as my own continue to turn; as Gnostics, mystics, and theurgists, it is our right and responsibility to always keep the lights shining.

See Also:

Beauregard, Mario, & Denyse O’Leary. The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul. New York: HarperOne, 2007.

Schwartz, M.D., Jeffrey M., & Sharon Begley. The Mind & The Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force. New York: Harper Perennial, 2002.

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Evaluation of Magic Revisited

I have written previously on the limitations of magic within the context of the spiritual quest. At the time, I saw that article as a necessary rebuttal of a common view in Western occultism that somehow magic and spiritual practice (mysticism, in a very specific sense) are identical or “two sides of the same coin.” This is flatly false; magic is not authentically “spiritual” insofar as magic has no capacity to bring us into direct contact with the Reality behind the physical, astral, and mental planes. The belief that it can is largely the result of a misunderstanding of the levels of being. Broadly speaking, the great teachers of humanity have felt quite comfortable in referring to all planes of existence (as defined and explored by occultism, rAja yoga, etc.) as being “material” in nature, even if the constituting matter of any given plane is quite subtle compared to physical matter. I maintain the position of that article, as do all of the great Masters who have come before us. We ignore their experience out of our own ignorance (or arrogance), and at our own peril.

That said, there is an equally problematic position which places magic firmly within “the devil’s camp”, or else denies it any spiritual utility at all. Indeed, magic has a potentially important role to play in the continuum of human striving toward the Light. Magic has at least served us as a tool of survival in the inhospitable reaches of the natural world, but today it maintains relevance as a very human, cultured, yet ineradicably primal link between ourselves and those forces of Nature which can serve as foundations, or even propellants, along the Way.

Let me begin this discussion in earnest by defining some very useful terms: rAja yoga; bhakti yoga; karma yoga; j~nAna yoga; theurgy; and, finally, magic. (Note that the strange spellings of the Sanskrit words are intentional; please see the Wikipedia article on ITRANS for more information. ITRANS is a method of representing Sanskrit and other Indian language scripts in ASCII in a more phonetically accurate manner than a lot of more plain transliterations provide.)

rAja yoga is what most occultists in the West think of when the term “yoga” is used. The term can be translated as “royal yoga” or “royal union”. Yoga, generally, is any disciplined practice the goal of which is to attain “union” with the Divine. The various physical yogas are only preparations for and aids to rAja yoga, traditionally speaking, and are said to possess little to no spiritual value outside of that context. It is from rAja yoga that we get the idea of the seven chakras, the various energy channels, etc. The central discipline of rAja yoga is simply mental concentration; every other facet of rAja yoga develops somehow out of concentration. This is quite similar to authentic esoteric practice in the West, as well. Disciplined training in concentration comes first, and only after some degree of mastery has been gained in it will a teacher move the student on to other things. Even the so-called “siddhis” or “occult powers” cannot be gained except through concentration. So, it should be clear that the capacity for concentration is of paramount importance, whether a person’s interest is in mere psychism, or in the actual spiritual pursuit. Nevertheless, even rAja yoga cannot reach the pinnacle of spiritual attainment; instead, it serves as a preparation, and one can either get “stuck” in it, or else learn its lessons and move forward.

bhakti yoga, or “devotional union”, is rather distasteful to most Western occultists, but is still considered to be a vital preparation for the highest spiritual goals. bhakti essentially consists of some form of intense, earnest religious practice; it ultimately matters little which religion this is, as long as its focus is towards the Highest God of both law and mercy, beyond wrath and jealousy. Thus, the devotees of Christ-as-Logos kneel in awe alongside devotees of Ishvara/Siva, and the cultus of the Holy Mother in many cultures. This is not to say that there is no difference between these religious practices, or even their conception of God, but that the results are ultimately the same. bhakti yoga develops in the adherent a sense of honest humility, which eventually blossoms into the knowledge that it is not I who act but God who acts through me or, rather, that “I” and “God” are not as distinct as we are generally taught. It is the very “emptying-out” of self and “giving over” of one’s power (which is really God’s to begin with) to God which make Western occultists wrinkle up their noses in derision, much to their own detriment. (Note that Aleister Crowley wrote a truly awful essay on the practice of bhakti yoga based on his profound misinterpretation of it; I cannot recommend his essay for a proper understanding of bhakti because of his cynical, utilitarian approach to all things spiritual.)

This same “giving over” of one’s power, sense of self-will, and so forth, constitute karma yoga. Without going too deeply right now into the concept of karma, karma yoga can be translated as “action union”. This yoga is equally vital as a preparation; bhakti and karma practice generally grow with one another. It should be clear how karma yoga can grow out of bhakti yoga, and vice versa. The practice of karma yoga is simply dropping the sense of being “the doer”. This generally begins by first doing away with attachment to the “fruits of action” (karmaphala), realizing that once you have performed an action the results of it are out of your hands. Eventually, this practice itself fructifies into the realization that it was never “I” who “did” anything in the first place.

Both bhakti yoga and karma yoga serve to gradually undermine the sense of “I” (as in the limited little ego), which helps to make way for j~nAna yoga. j~nAna yoga, like the authentic practice of gnosis here in the West, is a process of enquiry, meditation, discernment and intuition which bring about insight. It is translated as “wisdom union”. While it is true that all of the preceding methods are essentially preparations for j~nAna yoga, that is not to say that they all lose their meaning the moment a person begins to practice j~nAna; no, many j~nAna practitioners remain bhaktis throughout, and it is quite impossible for them to give up karma yoga in any case. bhakti yoga, in a purely pragmatic sense, helps the j~nAni to maintain the “humility in wisdom” for which the Christian theurgist prays, but beyond even that pragmatism, a spiritual eye ever upturned towards God is what ultimately allows our minds to give in to the Reality of God. That said, j~nAna is definitely the most “advanced” of them, insofar as it requires a mind purified by the processes of bhakti yoga and a discriminating faculty honed to a fine edge by karma yoga. Yes, intuition will sometimes spontaneously “flash” before this point, but we cannot truly rely on it until we are capable of dispassionately observing intuition and “feeding” it with appropriate intellectual and devotional materials, and in any case it will not be reliably active until the ego-mind is quieted down.

I use all of these Sanskrit terms found in Hindu (and, to a certain extent, Buddhist) teachings because they are useful organizational categories for various practices which generally fall under the heading of “spiritual”. In other words, these four yogas—rAja, bhakti, karma, & j~nAna—differentiate quite nicely between the authentically spiritual (the trinity of bhakti, kamra, & j~nAna) and the purely psychic (rAja). With this information in hand, we can move back to the topic of magic.

In Hermetism, we largely split magic into two broad categories: magic proper, and theurgy. The difference between them is subtle but important.

A powerful example of theurgy is the Eucharistic Mass found in the Sacramental Churches, such as the Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and most Gnostic churches. The other sacraments and sacramentals are also theurgic in nature, as are many prayer practices such as the rosary and the Eastern Orthodox prayer rope. Of course, many of the practitioners of these methods, whether priests or congregants, would not recognize the word “theurgy” to describe them, but that’s what it comes down to.

The word “theurgy” translates roughly to “God-work”. Theurgic practice slots quite snugly into the category of bhakti yoga, insofar as it is a primarily devotional art, and because it acknowledges at the outset that it is not the practitioner him- or herself who brings about the results but rather it is God, and the practitioner is simply a tool or channel for that influence. The rituals of theurgy serve to “clear” or “broaden” that channel in the same way that Hindu bhakti yoga breaks down the personal, egoic barriers which keep the yogi from channeling the Divine Light. The differences in the types of theurgy are largely a function of who they are supposed to benefit. The Mass, and similar religious rituals, are theurgic in nature but serve a much larger number of people, at least in principle: a Mass performed by somebody with both the training and authority to do so not only sheds Grace upon (awakens Grace within) the priest him- or herself, but also upon the entire present congregation, and even out into the surrounding neighborhood. There are also “private” group theurgic practices, such as those found in theurgic lodges, healing circles, prayer groups, and so forth, which serve the needs of the members of the group and perhaps anybody else who is “linked” to their theurgic practice, such as those who ask the group to perform a healing for them, etc. Finally, there are private, solitary theurgic practices, such as praying the rosary or prayer rope, or performing a solitary theurgic ritual in one’s bedroom or home oratory (an oratory being similar to a combined “home shrine” and “meditation room”).

Naturally, this sort of devotional work, when practiced in an authentically devotional spirit, not only serves to bring about Grace-results (“miracles”) in the outside world, but also to connect the practitioners, beneficiaries, and parishioners with Grace within for the sake of their spiritual awakening; it also serves, just as with bhakti yoga, to gradually sever the sense of “I-as-doer”, leading into karma yoga, wherein the individual begins to more and more identify him- or her”self” as being only an instrument of the True Reality in the form of God.

Magic-proper is generally not so concerned with the emptying-out of self, but rather with the strengthening of it. All it takes is the close reading of any given manual of ritual magic to see this. The “exalted experiences” of ritual and ceremonial magic generally consist of contacting a being of the mental plane, because magic cannot truly reach beyond the manifest planes. However, there have been and still are magical practices and practitioners who find that the tools at their disposal, whether so-called “high ritual magic” or “low folk magic” (the latter generally working more consistently than the former anyway, despite the “high” and “low” designations) need not be the tools of the ego.

I have known ritual magicians, for instance within the Golden Dawn tradition, who understood that their magic was best used as an expression of Divine Grace rather than as a grasping for personal power. They are uncommon, but such individuals can be found. Within folk magic, it is much more common. The Pennsylvania Dutch methods of Braucherei are a personal favorite of mine for the deeply-ingrained devotion to God inherent in them which cannot be stripped away; if the bhakti is removed from the Brauche, the Brauche ceases to be. A prayer-charm with which I am familiar in the tradition of the Braucherei says that, “Dei Hand und mei Hand iss Gottes Hand.” That is, “My hand and your hand are God’s Hand.” (For those who are familiar with German, the form of the language spoken by the Pennsylvania “Dutch” is a bit different, due to a primary root in continental “low German”, contact with other Germanic languages such as Dutch, and the process of change inherent in having been settled in a non-German-speaking locale for multiple generations. See C. R. Bilardi’s The Red Church and his bibliography for more information.)

Has, then, the practice of Braucherei, the previously mentioned Golden Dawn magicians, and others like them, transformed their “magic” into “theurgy”? In a very real sense, yes. While they may not be practicing within any of the traditions which refer to their practices as being specifically “theurgic”, their intent is clearly as theurgic as those of any Martinist. They act for God, from God, and through God to achieve Godly ends. And while the healing of a damaged limb, or the removal of a curse from milk cows may not be specifically spiritual results, unlike with the “mere magic” of the egoic practitioner, the magic of the Braucher serves as a finger pointing to the Moon: the Braucher’s eyes are turned toward God and her magic turns the eyes of her patient Heavenward as well.

That, then, is the value of magic along the spiritual path. It is not flippantly that Draja Mickaharic has written that,

Being a magician is a stage in the process of developing spiritually. It is not the height of development; in fact, it is only a step in the first part of the range of real human development. the fact that many religious sects speak and act harshly against those who have the ability to practice magic is most revealing of the true character of the leaders heading those religions. Those whom they speak against may be more developed spiritually than the so-called religious people who speak against them! (Draja Mickaharic, Practice of Magic, page iiiv from the Introduction)

So magic is a stage of human development, and a potentially very important one for the people who have to pass through it. Even for many those who have passed beyond it, magic still remains a useful tool in guiding others and in aiding an ailing world. Dedicated to God, magic turns our gaze upward and inward; dedicated to self, magic solidifies and increases our suffering.

The Rational of Ritual

[Another excerpt from the upcoming book. I promise, there will be original content again soon!]

There is a purpose for structured ritual, and it is not just for the sake of pomp and circumstance. There is a pervasive misunderstanding that ritual has no place in “real magic” or “real religion”, both of which ought to “just come naturally”. It is said that we should just be able to do what “feels right” and let the details attend to themselves. While there is a place for spontaneity in magic, it is rarely appropriate or useful in the core of any given operation.

Magic is based upon certain specific laws, principles by which the universe works from the mental plane on down to the physical, and just as in engineering on the physical plane, we must follow certain formulae in order to take full advantage of those laws. Ignorance of those laws does not abrogate them; if we do not know of gravity, we will still find that we fall down when we trip. Likewise, arrogance will not circumvent the laws; if we defy gravity by throwing ourselves over a cliff, we will suffer the consequences. Granted, most impacts with the laws of magic will not result in such dramatic bone-shattering, but the illustration can be taken further in demonstration of the point. We may play one law against another, such as the laws of aerodynamics or the laws of tensile strength, to find ways around our predicament. Airplanes and suspension bridges are solid examples.

Likewise in magic, failure to observe the laws equals failure to produce results. If we do whatever we feel like in an attempt at producing magical effects, we may occasionally blunder into appropriate uses of law, but we will lose much in the way of efficiency. I, as a layman, may be able to construct a simple bridge out of available materials in order to cross a creek by foot; I may even, with a bit of planning, be able to produce a bridge strong enough to support a heavy car or truck. I will not, however, be able to produce a truss bridge by which a whole line of heavily-laden trucks and 18-wheelers may cross a river or ravine until I spend time studying the appropriate type of engineering, including the materials used and the mathematics involved. In addition, I will have to experiment many times in order to learn precisely how those various elements may be applied, and how to configure them to best effect under different circumstances. Magic is the same way. If we do not study the laws, and the various ways in which we may apply them, we can only get so far.

This is ultimately the difference between a sorcerer and a magician. Sorcery is the blind blundering about. A sorcerer may learn a few formulae for specific circumstances, but until he understands the laws behind those formulae, they will be only situationally useful; a true magician learns first rudimentary formulae, and studies the ways in which those formulae interact with the applicable laws, and builds upon this foundation through further study and practice. This is the way in which all true magic must be learned, whether natural magic or ritual magic. A natural magician begins by learning some basic spells, how to compile the appropriate materials, and perhaps some safe substitutions if all of the materials are not available. Those spells are studied inside and out, picked apart and put back together again, until the trainee understands what each ingredient does alone, and how they interact with one another. This process will eventually open the trainee up to the possibilities inherent in the law of correspondence, which makes further experimentation possible. Similarly, a ritual magician will begin by learning the foundational ritual of her teacher’s system. This ritual will usually begin, or intensify, a long process of inner transmutation and unfoldment which will compound and increase with practice. Just as with natural magic, there are steps involved in the learning process.

The first step is that of studying the ritual thoroughly. This involves first analyzing all of the elements of the ritual, including motions, drawing of lines of force, symbolism, sigils and figures, Names of God, words of power, invocations and incantations, and so on. The student will certainly not be able to understand every layer of the ritual from the first, but if this preliminary study is not conducted, usually lasting a week to a month, including research and contemplation, there will be little hope of a full success and advancement. Without this phase, the ritual will remain only so many words.

The next step involves rehearsal. The ritual need not be memorized start to finish, at first, but it is important to run through the physical aspect of it a few times, at least three, before the first true performance, so that the movements may perform their necessary function rather than merely serve as distractions from the inner side of the effort. This is the part which, if skipped, has the effect of leaving the ritual a halting mess of physical motions.

Finally comes the actual performance, putting the pieces together into an operative ritual. The first performance will usually not be the most powerful one, but it will be far and away more intense than if the first two steps had been skipped. If those phases are skipped, it is possible that, over many months or even years of consistent practice, the performance of the ritual will eventually develop the effects of the first two phases, but it is not likely, and that method lacks efficiency. In fact, failure to follow this scheme, or failure of the teacher to present it in full, has resulted in more aborted or significantly retarded magical training than perhaps any other single factor. It is also important, following this scheme, that only once the core ritual formulae have become well integrated into the trainee’s life, through consistent and disciplined study and practice, the student will be permitted to move on to further ritual work within the system. At this time, the individual will be able to see how the formulae of this first ritual expand outward into other rituals of limitless applications.

When we first begin to study a ritual, and when we finally perform it, we must look deeply into the many elements of it. These elements are manifold. A partial list of the more common and vital such components includes: projection of force, lines of force, sigils & figures, conscious movement, incantations, words of power & Names of God (two distinct components which we can, nevertheless, count as one for the sake of this basic discussion), and ritual tools. We will examine each one, in basic terms, in turn.

Projection of force and lines of force are closely related, the second depending upon the first. The projection of force is simply the capacity for directing the invoked energy wherever it is required within the ritual. This is often an entire area of training within a complete system, though only a rudimentary familiarity with its methods are required for beginning ritual work. The common methods are through visualization, and through kinesthetic imagination, or “imaginary feeling”. I find that combining the two is ideal, so that the student can learn to simultaneously feel the energy as it moves, and create channels into and through which it may move by way of strong visual concentration. Elemental fire alone may create effects if directed properly, but when directed into the lines of a crimson red upward-pointed equilateral triangle, the fire is stabilized and will even attract more elemental fire to itself, building and intensifying over the course of the ritual. The tracing out of such energy circuits in forms appropriate to the energy being worked and the purpose to which it will be put is known as the tracing or drawing of the lines of force. These visualized and physically traced lines actually behave like wires to electricity, providing a path of least resistance for the energy in question to take on the form required of it.

This takes us to the drawing of figures. These are very specialized lines of force which serve specifically to invoke more specific forces, or more specific forms of a given type of force. Some figures, which are often called sigils or seals, perform the function of gateways or conductors for conscious forces which we often term spirits. This can include archangels, angels, nature spirits, demons, and even the shades of the dead, depending upon the sigil, the force with which the sigil is traced, and the intent of the ritual. The red triangle mentioned above is an example of a figure, specific to elemental fire, while an angelic signature extracted from the appropriate planetary kamea would exemplify the sigils and seals. Before moving on, I must mention that archangels and angels cannot be summoned or have their energy drawn from without their consent, but the sigils and seals can serve as requests for their aid in the form of very particularized force.

Though not explicitly mentioned in a lot of training systems, conscious movement is essential to the full effect of ritual magic. Conscious movement, simply, is the process of conducting each movement in the ritual, including the drawing of lines of force, circumambulation, symbolic salutes, and such, not only physically, but also astrally and mentally. That is to say, the magician must be able to concentrate upon the action of all three of his bodies during each and every phase of the ritual. For example, while drawing the triangle above, the magician must be aware first of the physical tracing, the astral action of projecting force and the attendant emotion, and the mental motion of concentration upon the purpose of the particular force and the shape in which it is being formed. These are all movements upon their own proper plane, and are all important to the effective completion of the ritual.

Incantations must also be done consciously, in the same manner. Their effect is layered. First of all, the sonorous chanting, melodic singing, or dramatic recitation of the words will, on its own, produce very real changes in the atmosphere of the ritual area. The sound of an impassioned human voice sets off physiological changes in a person’s nervous system, including the individual making the incantation as well as any participants and assistants. Similarly, the emotion put into the words creates perturbations within the astral matter in the vicinity, making the flow of certain forces easier, and the flow of others more difficult, depending upon the emotional content of the words. Lastly, on the mental plane, the meaning of the words themselves is translated into a corresponding shift in the atmosphere in the uppermost reaches of creation. Of course, the process actually works in reverse order, beginning with the mental interpretation of the words and moving down to the psychic component, finally manifesting as the physical sound vibration and physiological shift, but we tend to be so materially focused that we become aware of things from the ground up, as it were; as such, the conscious use of incantations will tend to exalt the magician’s awareness from the physical to the mental.

Words of power are closely related to incantations, and are often included in them. Their action is even similar. Words of power, however, have much more specialized and precise functions. Very often, they seem like gibberish upon first glance, but are in fact constructed out of letters or syllables (depending usually upon the structure of the foundational language) according to specific rules. Even the ones that do not seem like gibberish, for instance the titles of the Angelic Hosts, are constructed according to formulaic rules. Let us take as an example the Angelic Host of the third sephirah, Binah, who are known as the Aralim. In Hebrew, this would be spelled אראלים (ARALIM). The first syllable, composed as it is of Aleph-Resh-Aleph, represents the solar power in its gentlest aspect, its energy carried in elemental air. This syllable may be seen as shorthand for the phrase from the Emerald Tablet, “The father thereof is the sun […] the wind carried it in its womb[.]” In short, it refers to the whirling of creative force. The second syllable is composed of Lamed-Yod-Mem, which points to a balanced descent into materiality. “Lamed” translates to “ox-goad”, and represents the putting into effect of authority, while it corresponds to the sign of Libra, representing the balancing authority of karmic law on the psychic plane. “Yod” is a hand, and corresponds to Virgo, the mutable earth sign, while “Mem” means water and points to the lower astral, etheric, and physical levels of creation. Now, the word “Aralim” itself translates as “Thrones”. All of the above symbolism combines to form a picture of Divine Authority manifesting creatively. So, when we intone “Aralim” within a ritual, we are calling that very influence, in the form of the Angelic Choir so named, into effect by allowing it to channel down through our mental, psychic, and finally physical bodies. The names of archangels, and of most spirits, are of similar composition and purpose. This is not to say that those angelic choirs or individual spirits do not exist, but because they are not as constrained by space as we ourselves are, they tend to manifest as pure forces unless we provide them with telesmatic (visualized) bodies.

Divine Names, or Names of God, work in a similar fashion, although they of course deal with forces flowing directly from Heaven. These Names are more properly titles, each of which points toward a certain type of Divine Force, Energy, or Influence upon creation. We will take as our example the simplest, yet most profound: Eheieh (אהיה). This Name means, simply, “I Become”. It is the very kernel of creation and of God’s relationship with creation, which makes it the perfect Divine Name to relate to the first sephirah, Kether. We can also analyze its letters in the same way we did with the Aralim. Aleph is again elemental air, and also the whirling rush of creative power. “Hé” means “a window”, while “Yod” is once again both Virgo (mutable earth) and the initial point of creation. All of these symbols point to creative power flowing forth from Heaven, through the cracks in our reality, and into creation. And, in fact, that is the very energy of this Name.

Finally, there are magical tools. These are perhaps the most maligned aspect of ritual magic, and yet one of the most genuinely and immediately useful. Each system of ritual magic has its own set, though some are common among multiple systems. For example, we may examine the four elemental tools found in most systems which have grown out of Hermetism. These are the fire wand, the air dagger, the water cup, and the earth disk. The usual criticism is that we can channel these forces without the use of physical tools, so why bother with them? That is technically true, however when a ritual tool used to channel one specific type of energy is properly constructed and prepared by a ritual of consecration for that one task, the efficiency of the task goes up enormously. A well-made fire wand, having been imbued with its task by the appropriate formulae, will accomplish the task of directing a line of elemental fire with much greater intensity than the ritualist’s own index finger. It is true that we must learn how to move these forces with only our own bodies, but if we can do so with greater efficiency and power with a tool, why would we not take advantage of the opportunity outside of an emergency? It has wisely been observed that it is only with long years of practice that the formulae of the ritual tools become internalized thoroughly enough for us to accomplish the same tasks as easily without them, and this only as we approach true adeptship.

A big part of the problem encountered with ritual tools stems from the fact that most people equate efficiency with multitasking. In magic, however, efficiency is better defined by the ratio of expended or directed energy to the result achieved. From that perspective, it is better to have a large variety of very specialized tools, whereas most would-be magicians think that they can cut down on a lot of “clutter” by using only a few generalized ones. Thus, many use their dagger to both direct air (or fire, in some traditions), and to direct any other forces required. This was done in an attempt at simplifying the older Hermetic tradition of using the four elemental tools derived from the Tarot suits, as listed above, as well as a separate dagger for the directing of the simpler vital energy used for many more general ritual tasks. It is also common in many schools of the Hermetic tradition to construct and consecrate multiple wands of different materials and forms for the directing of specific forces, one for fire, one for the electric fluid, one for pure Will, and so on. Likewise, a dagger for air would be used alongside a sword for the projection of the magician’s own divinely-granted authority. Even the clothing worn during rituals count as tools, from the white robe of purity to the hat or headband of correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm, from the girdle of strength to the pentacle of balance and power, each has a purpose to fulfill and an energetic function which can only be dispensed with gradually, over years or decades. Some magicians never dispense with them, if they have the space and time to use them, simply because properly prepared ritual tools always take some of the burden off of the shoulders of a very busy ritualist. Even adepti will usually have a store of tools at their disposal in order to make their jobs easier.

This has just been a brief survey of the many facets of a ritual system, and why they exist as they do. It is important that we remember that magic is not simply ritualized psychology, but is instead the technology of the superphysical planes. We may perform some tasks with nothing but our bare hands, so to speak, but the appropriate tools, used wisely, can help us in producing effects far beyond our naked capabilities with much less time and effort.

Or foundational rituals, though the better systems are built out of just one efficient rite.

Telematic, or telesmic, images are another important element of many rituals, but their study and use is an entire field of exploration unto itself. See William G. Gray’s Inner Traditions of Magic and Magical Ritual Methods for information on them.

Categories: Book Excerpts Tags: , ,

Sophia, The Demiurge, and the Soul

[Excerpted from an upcoming book on Christian Hermetism.]

There are many understandings, and misunderstandings, of the myth of the Fall of Sophia, and of the Demiurge. Many Gnostic Christians assert that at least the common outline of the story must be taken literally, while many others prefer a largely symbolic view. Based on my own gnosis, I take an archetypal perspective, one which cuts across the simplistic boundaries of literalism and symbolism and provides us with guidance for our own spiritual well-being. This is not an uncommon approach; I am far from special in this. However, I wish to emphasize that it is by my own personal gnosis that I have come to this view, so any errors herein are my own and any truth is that of God.

First, let us reiterate the framework of the story, a framework which seems common to most tellings of the Sophia myth, from the various Christian gnostic traditions to Jewish Lurianic Kabbalah. At core, we have it thus: Sophia, as the “lowest” or “outermost” of the Divine emanations (or aeons, in Greek) was tasked with performing the act of creation. That is, the Father imbued her with his creative force (Logos), and Sophia, for her part, veritably gave birth to the created universe (from the mental plane down to the physical). Somehow, she became wrapped (rapt) in her creation, forgetting to some extent where she had come from and what she was supposed to be doing, and so rays or sparks of the Divine Light fractured from her and became conscious entities of their own: the spirits of gods, humans and animals alike, and whatever other conscious beings there ever where, are now, or ever will be, insofar as they are spirits. This did not all happen at once, as we shall see, for some of these beings were created on purpose for specific tasks, once Sophia regained herself somewhat.

The common Christian forms of the story add here that the greatest of the creations, whether accidental or simply botched in-process, was a being commonly referred to as the Demiurge, or lesser craftsman. He is sometimes given a name, Ialdabaoth and Samael being frequent examples, but in any case, the Demiurge took over the job of shaping the astral and physical planes. It is even possible to say that the Demiurge is the astral plane, or at least the consciousness of the astral plane, for it is from the astral layer that the patterns and forms of physical creation are formed and projected downward.

Now, with that specific element, we run into the primary argument between Gnostic Christianity and Hermeticism: is the Demiurge twisted and evil, as many Christians would have it, or is he simply imperfect, but performing an important task or job to the best of his ability, as the Hermetists say? What is his nature?

Here, we must make an aside to human beings. Regardless of the purpose for which we were created, we can know from experience that each of us is, ultimately, a spirit which wears as garments a mind, a soul, and a physical body. Most of us, however, are firmly entrenched in what we may jointly refer to as our ego, composed generally of the physical body, the soul, and perhaps the lowest regions of the mind. The ego, it has been said, is that in us which claims most loudly the holy “I am”, but which deserves it least. This is not to say that the ego is essentially evil. On the contrary, awareness of the body, the astral soul (or personality), and even the lower portions of mind, are important for our functioning in this world and the next. The problem is not with them as they ought to be, but with the fact that they rarely are what they ought to be. We are trapped in a state of ignorance, believing as we often do that this world is all that there is, or at least all that we can experience right now. This belief system is truly sinful, not because we must ignore this world, but because we must serve in this world for a higher purpose, a purpose connected intimately with awareness of ourselves as spirits.

We may speak here of involution and evolution. Involution is the process by which anything becomes physical. It begins as a spiritual ideal, which is then clothed in a mental archetype, which filters into an astral form, which creates an etheric pattern, ultimately manifesting as an individualized physical being, object, or substance. This is not an evil process! It is merely the first half of a rhythmic cycle. The problem is that the descent into matter is a confounding one, which often leaves any conscious beings going through it in a state of confusion. The first things that they sense are their own physical bodies, and the small piece of the physical world immediately surrounding them. If, from there, the developing life-form is not instructed, gently but rigorously, in the truth of their existence, it is almost impossible not to be fooled into believing in what is immediately before it above anything else.

That is the process we each go through. But it is only the beginning. We are each destined also for evolution, which is the continuing process by which we develop our individualities, strengthen them, become wise, and rise back to our Home in the Fullness of Heaven. This process of individuation, far from being one of jettisoning our egos entirely, is instead one of purifying and even spiritualizing mind and soul, until they are no longer mere clothes for the spirit but fully integrated organs or limbs of it. We do not seek to “kill our egos”, a popular phrase in the New Age movement, but instead to consciously transcend them so that, from the perspectives of our clear minds, we may see how best to live in and through our souls and bodies.

“That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above,” and so it is with matters of spiritual awakening, that process which we call evolution. Just as we ourselves have become confused in the world of matter, forgetting our Home and our purpose, so too has the universe itself become confused by the process of involution. Just as the universe is an organism of infinitely greater scale than we, so is its process of involution and evolution on an infinitely greater scale.

The universe’s transcendent spirit is none other than the Divine Sophia, who was asleep within her creation for so long until Jesus, the Christ of God, came into the world to restore her to her Heavenly Throne. Jesus’ mission was on many levels. He came into creation, sacrificing himself in more ways than one before the Cross, before even his birth by the Blessed Mary. He, too, suffered involution, the descent into matter, though he did so in full consciousness so that he could awaken Sophia and rescue us, aiding us in awakening as well, discovering who we truly are in spirit so that we might fulfill our destinies and help he and Sophia in saving the creation.

The Demiurge, then, is Sophia’s ego, her unredeemed soul, her child as truly as our psyches are the children of our true Selves. The Demiurge is not evil, but ignorant, and the Spirit which presides over him is doing everything she can to make him aware of her, to spiritualize him and fully unify with him at last, bringing about the final restoration of the world and the descent of the New Jerusalem whose foundations are already planted in the hearts of all sentient beings.

The spirit, in addition to the upper regions of the mind, or the “clear mind”, make up what the Greeks called the individual Nous, or “conscious spirit”.

Though throughout this book the Demiurge has been referred to using the masculine pronouns, he is not, strictly, a masculine figure. Referring to the Hermetic Principle of Polarity, the Demiurge is the Masculine element to the etheric and physical substances, but is Feminine when influenced from above by Sophia or the Father. In her feminine aspect, when she is performing her function aright, the Demiurge is the Soul of the World known of in Neoplatonism and Hermetism alike.

Alchemy Unveiled – Part 2: Preparations for Alchemy

Before getting much further into the study of alchemy, I think that it’s important to discuss the preliminaries. That is, how can a person prepare herself for the study and practice of alchemy so that they will be balanced and safe in the process?

There are a myriad of ways which people have used through the centuries, though certain modern Hermetists have devised some extremely safe and efficient methods which work much better for the majority of people than previous systems. These ware the approaches I favor and are thus the approaches which I will recommend.

First, I recommend a foundation in general Hermetic theory and practice. This is best gained through the careful and disciplined approach of Franz Bardon’s Initiation Into Hermetics (2001, Merkur Publishing). At least the first three steps of Bardon’s training system should be perfectly mastered before moving on to alchemy. I myself waited significantly longer than that, though that was because I was not privy to the arcana of alchemy at the time. It also depends upon which stage of development you are at: that of a magician, or that of a mystic. If you are at the stage of magician, you should work your way through most or all of Initiation Into Hermetics before considering any intensive practice of alchemy.

As you work through the initial stages of IIH, it is a good idea to study some of the finer points of the theory behind sacred magic and alchemy. For this, there is no better book than The Philosophy of Magic by Arthur Versluis (1986, Arkana). Study this book deeply.

Two other books are of primary importance in this preliminary training. These books are of both practical and theoretical import: The Tarot by Mouni Sadhu (2007, Hermetica Press) and Meditations on the Tarot (anonymous; 2002, Jeremy P. Tarcher).

A number of other works are of secondary importance. They can be done without, but they are extremely helpful in clarifying certain points. First among these is the Bhagavad Gita. In addition to being a fascinating look into Hindu mystical cosmology, the material within on the three gunas is quite useful in coming to an understanding of the three principles of alchemy. Next is Mouni Sadhu’s In Days of Great Peace, a beautiful and fascinating book describing Sadhu’s own spiritual quest and especially his time in the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi. The Way of Hermes (2004, Inner Traditions), an outstanding translation of the Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Asclepius, is the primary set of Hermetic scriptures and is well worth study and contemplation. Finally, The Kybalion by Three Initiates (1914, Yogi Publication Society) is a modern exploration of Hermetic practical concepts.

Of course, Alchemy Unveiled by Johannes Helmond (2000, Merkur Publishing) is a wonderful guide to alchemy, though it is necessarily quite dense and difficult reading. I suggest it be added to any Hermetic library.

All of this should present years of work, and more than enough for a balanced ascent.

Alchemy Unveiled – Part 1: What is Alchemy?

This is the first in a series of articles I’ll be posting here exploring the arcana and art of alchemy. I do not claim to have all the answers on the topic, but through a series of recent miracles, I have been given something of the practical arcana of the Royal Art. I have been given some degree of freedom to share what I have learned. Still, all arcana require practice and application for full understanding. As such, I can only reveal so much, so I will do my best to make it count.

I have chosen to name this series after one of the books which I have found to be most helpful to me in my study of alchemy: Alchemy Unveiled by Johannes Helmond (English translation copyright 1991 Gerhard Hanswille and Deborah Brumlich). The publishers, Merkur Publishing, have kindly permitted me to quote extensively from the text, so these articles will largely take the form of commentaries upon portions of Helmond’s work. I pray that my own writing does honor to the work of the Order of the Hermetic Initiated Gold- and Rosicrucians, and all other Hermetic adepts who have opened the way for me.

All that said, let’s begin.

What is alchemy? It is not a simple thing to define, like horticulture or cooking. We may say that alchemy is the Hermetic art of transmutation, but that still leaves us with many questions. What do we mean by “Hermetic”? Transmutation of what? And to what end? What are the methods used? And so on. So let us begin with these and see where they lead.

What do we mean by “Hermetic”? There are multiple ways to answer this, each useful in its way. First, we have the common use of the word: hermetically sealed. This point will become more clear in later articles, but for now it is enough to know that the principle work of alchemy is performed within the alchemist, who must make of himself an athanor, a sealed vessel wherein the transmutations take place. There are many techniques used to establish and maintain this seal. One of the most famous, but also most often neglected, is to keep silent. This refers specifically to silence concerning your alchemical practices and interests. The more detail you reveal to others, the more gaps you create in the seal; each one may be relatively small, or temporary and easily fixed, but if you keep creating those small gaps, they add up and the seal is never perfect. Good general advice along these lines is to only tell those very close to you about your interest in alchemy, and do not share any details with any but your most trusted friends who also share an interest in the topic.

Alchemy is also Hermetic in that it is based on the teachings of Hermes Trismegistos, that great semi-mythical adept of ages long past who left for us the Emerald Tablet. In fact, study of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes can alone reveal much about alchemy, though I personally have found that there is always more to coax out of it.

Next, alchemy is an art insofar as it cannot be performed according to unchanging formulae like a chemistry experiment. It has often been believed that alchemy is simply a primitive form of chemistry. The fact is, they are not even terribly closely related disciplines. It has been said, not without some truth, that chemistry and alchemy are not even family, they just live in the same house. Alchemy requires discipline and study like a science, but it also requires creativity, inspiration, and revelation.

Johannes Helmond says it well: “True alchemy, in reality, is a Kabbalistic art which requires a patient examination of the genuine Hermetic writings and a deep-founded study of Nature. It also requires a revelation, either through an initiated adept or through an inner divine illumination.” (Helmond, pp 13-14) Alchemy is “Kabbalistic” in the sense that it is transmitted “from mouth to ear”, personally from teacher to student. The teacher need not be a living human being, though that is an obvious possibility. It is founded upon the study and observation of nature, certainly, but without illumination all the study in the world cannot make an alchemist.

Transmutation is perhaps more difficult to explain. Obviously, transmutation is the changing of one substance into another. The important thing to understand here is that there must be the seed of the desired substance within the original substance in order for the transmutation to take place. If there were not the essence of gold in the lead, it could not be changed into gold and all effort would be wasted. Luckily for us, the essence of the gold we truly desire lies at the core of all other substances with which we might begin.

What substances are those, then? There can be no pat answer to this question, but the most important substance, the one which must be transmuted before any other transmutation can have full effect, the materia must be the total human being:

“The subjectum artis of the alchemists is therefore the human being — not the human being in the common external sense, but as an internal Paracelsic microcosm and a small worldly astral firmament.” (Helmond pg 22)

The precise meaning of this “internal Paracelsic microcosm” will be made clearer in later parts of this series. For now, we must be content with the knowledge that it is, indeed, the human being that we are trying to transmute and perfect, transforming it utterly.

What, then, of the laboratory side of the art, with its transformation of plant, mineral and animal substances into medicines, precious metals and gems, and so on? This is the romance of alchemy in the popular mind, but it is truthfully a relatively small part of it. Not to say that it is totally unimportant, but it is not the essence. Something of the “practical” applications of alchemy will be said in conclusion of this series of articles.

So, that is all that can really be said by way of a short introduction to the Royal Art of Alchemy. Details will have to await future installments. For now, we at least have something like a definition which can provide a basic intellectual foundation as we move forward.

The Emerald Tablet of Hermes the Thrice-Great

1. True it is, without falsehood, certain and most true.
2. That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above, to accomplish the miracles of the one thing.
3. And as all things were by contemplation of the One, so all things arose from this one thing by a single act of adaptation.
4. The father thereof is the sun, the mother the moon; the wind carried it in its womb; the earth is the nurse thereof.
5. It is the father of all works of wonder throughout the whole world.
6. The power thereof is perfect, if it be cast on to earth.
7. It will separate the element of earth from that of fire, the subtle from the gross, gently and with great sagacity.
8. It doth ascend from earth to heaven; again it doth descend to earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and things inferior. Thus thou wilt possess the glory of the brightness of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly far from thee.
9. This thing is the strongest of all powers, the force of all forces, for it overcometh every subtle thing and doth penetrate every solid substance.
10. Thus was this world created.
11. Hence there will be marvellous adaptations achieved, of which the manner is this.
12. For this reason I am called Hermes Trismegistus, because I hold three parts of the wisdom of the world.
13. That which I had to say about the operation of sol is completed.

In praise to God for giving me to understand the Arcanum of which I sought, I pray as Hermes did to the Divine Poimandres (Corpus Hermeticum 1:30-32)

I have come, divinely inspired by the truth. Wherefore, I give praise to God the Father with my whole soul and strength:

Holy is God the Father of all.
Holy is God whose will is accomplished by his own powers.
Holy is God who wills to be known and is known by those that are his own.
Holy art thou who by the Word has united all that is.
Holy art thou of whom all Nature became an image.
Holy art thou whom Nature has not created.
Holy art thou who is stronger than all power.
Holy art thou who art higher than all pre-eiminence.
Holy art thou who suprasses praises.

Receive pure offerings of speech offered to you by inner mind and heart, thou who art unutterable, vast, beyond description, who art spoken of by silence.

I beg you that I may not fall from the knowledge that leads towards our essence, and endow me with vitality; by this grace, I shall enlighten those of the race who are in ignorance, my brothers and your sons. Wherefore, I have faith and I bear witness. I go to life and light. You are blessed, Father. He who is your man wants to share in your holiness, as you have given him all authority.