History of Neo-Pagan Druidism, Requirement 6
Discuss the origins and practices of hermetic or ceremonial magic, and how they have influenced Neopaganism. (minimum 300 words)
Hermeticism, it is said, has its roots in ancient Egypt, though these roots are the subject of much debate. Primarily, there was a (re)birth of Hermeticism in 1460, when a copy of the
Corpus Hermeticum was brought to Cosimo de'Medici. Questions about its origins caused it to run in cycles of popularity and disgrace until about 1945, when some Hermetic writings were found at Nag Hammadi.
Three major texts are generally cited as the primary source of Hermeticism: The Corpus
Hermeiticum, The Emerald Tablet, and The Kybalion. The Corpus involves 16 books of dialogue between Hermes and various other persons. In the first book of the
Corpus, Hermes receives the secrets of the universe from "God", and the rest of the books contain his
transference of the information to others.
The Tablet is a short piece, but it contains the origin of one of the most oft-quoted statements in Neo-Paganism: "As above, so below." Supposedly, this tablet was found by Alexander in Hermes' tomb.
The Kybalion was published in 1912 by a group of Freemasons, and is primarily good for explaining the principles of Hermeticism: it is not an original source.
Hermetic wisdom is divided into three parts: alchemy, astrology, and theurgy. Alchemy is the process of self-transformation, astrology is the orientation of man within the universe, and theurgy is the process of
ascendance to the divine consciousness.
Hermeticism sees the divine in all things, and that every being and thing is part of a
singular concept of deity. The four elements are representative of various forces (e.g. fire as
ascendance, active and masculine). The idea that everything has two sides, that opposite attributes exist within things is also prominent: polarity is important. the concept of "as above, so below," alluded to above, is also important. Reincarnation is mentioned in a few Hermetic sources.
The influences on Neo-Paganism from Hermetic magic seem rather obvious from the above. The sense of pantheism, the calling of four elements, the idea of
duality and polarity, and the concept of sympathy between that which is below and that which is above all can be traced, in some way, to Hermeticism. They seem primarily transmitted through the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
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