Ellen Lloyd - AncientPages.com - In the Hellenistic era, worship of the Greek god Hermes was combined with the cult of the Egyptian god Thoth, which gave rise to the cult of Hermes Trismegistus ("thrice-greatest Hermes").
As such, Hermes played his role in later esoteric cults.
Left: God Thoth. Credit: Public Domain. Right: Hermes Trismegistus. Credit: Public Domain
Hermes Trismegistus was a teacher, magician and author of “Hermetica”, Egyptian-Greek wisdom texts from the 2nd century AD and later.
The “Hermetica” contains a religious, philosophical, and esoteric tradition that forms the basis Hermetism, which was of great importance during both the Renaissance and the Reformation. Anyone interested in esotericism should read the Hermetica.
Who Was Mysterious Hermes Trismegistus?
As the first intelligencer in the world and a divine source of wisdom, Hermes Trismegistus influenced many ancient thinkers. He was credited with producing tens of thousands of writing that contained profound knowledge about the Universe, nature of time, creation of humankind, incarnation of the soul and many other subjects that later became very interesting subjects, especially to secret societies.
The ancient city of Sais.
According to Plato, there were secret halls containing 9,000-year-old historical records in the temple of Neith at the city of Sais, Egypt. As previously mentioned on Ancient Pages, history of Sais goes back to Egypt’s pre-dynastic times (prior to 3100 BC) but the only visible ruins are not older than 11th century. At the ancient site, there is now a village of Sa al-Hagar (‘Sa - means stone’ in Arabic). There are today no surviving traces of this town prior to the Late New Kingdom (c.1100 BC).
Hermes Trismegistus was undoubtedly a fascinating individual who was considered by some a contemporary of Moses and a forerunner of Christ.
Still, it is very difficult to say with certainty who he really was because our understanding of this great personality depends on the ancient source we rely on.
Hermes Trismegistus, floor mosaic in the Cathedral of Siena. Credit: Public Domain
As Gary Lachman wrote in his book The Quest For Hermes Trismegistus, according to one source Hermes Trismegistus lived “before the Flood and, after inventing hieroglyphics, inscribed his wisdom in them on stele, to preserve it from destruction. After the Flood, another Hermes Trismegistus translated this wisdom into Greek, and transcribed it into books.? One built the pyramids.? Another created the fantastic city of Adocentyn, where talismanic images were used to regulate the Nile, as well as to make the inhabitants virtuous, and where a towering multi-colored beacon flashed a different color every day.
One was Adam's grandson, and inscribed his wisdom on two columns, one of brick and the other of stone, again to preserve it from some world conflagration. Another did the same, this time in secret chambers below Egyptian temples.? One passed on his wisdom to Abraham (perhaps through Sara), and thus was responsible for the rise of Israel.”
Many ancient sources state Hermes Trismegistus walked with gods and he passed his divine wisdom to mankind. It has been written that Hermes Trismegistus, who was an extraordinary intellectual advised an even important a god as Osiris.
Though many claim he was only a fictional person, there are also those who are convinced he did exist, and he remains one of the most enigmatic persons in intellectual history. It has also been suggested that Hermes Trismegistus was no god like Thoth or Hermes, but a prophet.
Powerful Legacy Of Hermes Trismegistus
Students of esoteric knowledge have always been fascinating with the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus. The mysterious Emerald Tablet we previously wrote about on Ancient Pages is of special interest. The Emerald Tablet, also known as the Smaragdine Table, or Tabula Smaragdina, is an ancient artifact, of which original source is unknown.
The tablet is part of the Hermetica and is one of the most revered magical documents in Western occultism. It reveals a profound spiritual technology, has survived to this day despite many efforts to suppress it. The tablet’s true origin is lost in ancient legends that go back more than 10,000 years, and one of such legends says that the artifact was discovered in a caved tomb, clutched in the hands of the corpse of Hermes Trismegistus.
Many hermetic texts were lost during the Middle Ages, but some were re-discovered in Byzantine copies. During the Renaissance, the wisdom of Hermes Trismegistus was revived again. And Hermetic texts became very popular in Italy much thanks to Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), an Italian scholar and Catholic priest who was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance who was a member of the Queen Catherine de Medici court.
Ficino translated the texts and the incredible knowledge of Hermetica became of great interest to scholars such as Giordano Bruno, Paracelsus, and Pico della Mirandola, who was regarded as an important Renaissance philosopher.
In the book The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism from Ancient to Modern Times, author Florian Ebeling writes that “Pico’s nine hundred “philosophical, cabalistic, and theological conclusions” argued that there was fundamental agreement among the various traditions of intellectual history, which included the Greek philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, the Judeo-Christian tradition of the Bible and its theological interpretation in the works of Thomas Aquinas, and the esoteric traditions of the Cabala, Hermeticism, and Arab philosophy.
Among Pico’s nine hundred theses, ten referred to Hermes Trismegistus:
1. Wherever there is life, there is soul. Wherever there is soul, there is mind.
2. Everything moved is corporeal, everything moving incorporeal.
3. The soul is in the body, the mind is in the soul, the Word is in the mind, and the Father of these is God.
4. God exists around all and through all things. The mind exists around the soul, the soul around the air, the air around matter.
5. Nothing in the world is devoid of life.
6. Nothing in the universe can suffer death or destruction. Corollary: Life is everywhere, providence is everywhere, immortality is everywhere.
7. God announces the future to man in six ways: through dreams, portents, birds, intestines, spirit, and the Sibyl.
8. What is true is not perturbed, not determined, not colored, not fashioned, not agitated, but is naked, transparent, comprehensible through itself, intransmutably good, and fully incorporeal.
9. Within each thing there exist ten punishers: ignorance, sorrow, inconstancy, greed, injustice, lustfulness, envy, fraud, anger, malice.
10. A profound contemplator will see that the ten punishers, of which the preceding conclusion spoke according to Mercury, correspond to the evil order of ten in the Cabala and its leaders, of whom I have proposed nothing in my Cabalistic conclusions, because it is secret.”
An imaginative 17th century depiction of the Emerald Tablet from the work of Heinrich Khunrath, 1606. Photo: Wikipedia
Queen Catherine de Medici who was very interested in occult knowledge was also one of many who found this secret ancient wisdom fascinating. The knowledge of Hermes Trismegistus spread across Europe. It was a time when many scientists and philosophers were interested in alchemy and many alchemy symbols were based on the knowledge found in Hermetica.
Many secret ancient societies such as for as example the Rosicruciansstudied the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus because it was believed his wisdom opened the doorway to the ultimate truth. These ancient secrets were closely guarded by the mystery schools whose initiates had taken an oath of secrecy, punishable by death.
The divine knowledge of Hermes Trismegistus has been preserved for future generations and is accessible to the general public.