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Hermeticism - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Hermeticism - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

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Published by Carl Cord
An open source definition of Hermeticism and its principles.
An open source definition of Hermeticism and its principles.

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Published by: Carl Cord on Apr 28, 2014
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Hermeticism
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hermeticism
 
, also called
Hermetism
 
,
[1][2]
 is a religious and philosophical tradition based primarily upon pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus ("Thrice Great").
[3]
 These writings have greatlyinfluenced the Western esoteric tradition and were considered to be of great importance during both theRenaissance
[4]
 and the Reformation.
[5]
 The tradition claims descent from a prisca theologia, a doctrine whichaffirms that a single, true theology exists which is present in all religions and was given by God to man inantiquity.
[6][7]
Many Christian writers, including Emerson, Lactantius, Thomas of Aquinas, Augustine, Giordano Bruno,Marsilio Ficino, Campanella and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola considered Hermes Trismegistus to be a wise pagan prophet who foresaw the coming of Christianity.
[8][9]
An account of how Hermes Trismegistus received the name "Thrice Great" is derived from the
The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus
, wherein it is stated that he knew the three parts of the wisdom of the wholeuniverse.
[10]
 The three parts of the wisdom are alchemy, astrology, and theurgy.The Poimandres, from which Marsilio Ficino formed his opinion, states that "They called him Trismegistus because he was the greatest philosopher and the greatest priest and the greatest king."
[11]
 The
Suda
 (10thcentury) states that "He was called Trismegistus on account of his praise of the trinity, saying there is one divinenature in the trinity."
 
[12]
Much of the importance of Hermeticism arises from its connection with the development of science during thetime from 1300 to 1600 A.D. The prominence that it gave to the idea of influencing or controlling nature ledmany scientists to look to magic and its allied arts (e.g., alchemy, astrology) which, it was thought, could put Nature to the test by means of experiments. Consequently it was the practical aspects of Hermetic writings thatattracted the attention of scientists.
[13]
 Isaac Newton
 
 placed great faith in the concept of an unadulterated, pure,ancient doctrine, which he studied vigorously to aid his understanding of the physical world.
[14]
 Many of  Newton's manuscripts—most of which are still unpublished
[15]
 —detail his thorough study of the CorpusHermeticum
 
, writings said to have been transmitted from ancient times, in which the secrets and techniques of influencing the stars and the forces of nature were revealed.
Contents
1 Etymology2 History2.1 Late Antiquity2.2 Renaissance3 Philosophy3.1 Prisca theologia3.2 "As above, so below"3.3 The three parts of the wisdom of the whole universe3.4 Posthumous lives3.5 Good and evil3.6 Cosmogony
 
The caduceus, a symbol of Hermeticism.
3.6.1 Alternative account4 As a religion4.1 Religious and philosophical texts5 Societies5.1 Rosicrucianism5.2 Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn5.3 Esoteric Christianity5.4 Mystical Neopaganism6 See also7 References8 Bibliography9 External links
Etymology
The term
 Hermetic
 is from the medieval Latin
hermeticus
, which is derived from the name of the Greek god,Hermes. In English, it has been attested since the 17th century, as in "Hermetic writers" (e.g., Franz Bardon).The word
 Hermetic
 was used by Dr. Everard in his English translation of
The Pimander of Hermes
 (1650).
[16]
Mary Anne Atwood mentioned the use of the word
 Hermetic
 by Dufresnoy in 1386.
[17][18]
The synonymous term
 Hermetical
 is also attested in the 17th century. Sir Thomas Browne in his Religio Mediciof 1643 wrote: "Now besides these particular and divided Spirits, there may be (for ought I know) a universaland common Spirit to the whole world. It was the opinion of Plato, and is yet of the Hermeticall Philosophers."(R.M. Part 1:2)
History
 Main article: Hermetica
Late Antiquity
Further information: Hellenistic religion and Decline of  Hellenistic polytheism
In Late Antiquity, Hermetism
[19]
 emerged in parallel with earlyChristianity, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, the Chaldaean Oracles, andlate Orphic and Pythagorean literature. These doctrines were"characterized by a resistance to the dominance of either purerationality or doctrinal faith."
 
[20]
The books now known as the
Corpus Hermeticum
 were part of arenaissance of syncretistic and intellectualized pagan thought that took  place from the 3rd to the 7th century
A.D.
 These post-Christian Greek texts dwell upon the oneness and goodness of God, urge purification
 
of the soul, and defend pagan religious practices such as the veneration of images. Their predominant literaryform is the dialogue: Hermes Trismegistus instructs a perplexed disciple upon various teachings of the hiddenwisdom.Many lost Greek texts and many surviving vulgate books contained discussions of alchemy clothed in philosophical metaphor.
[
citation needed 
]
 One of these, known as
The Asclepius
 (lost in Greek but partially preserved in Latin), contained a bloody prophecy of the end of Roman rule in Egypt and the resurgence of  paganism in Egypt.
[
citation needed 
]
Renaissance
Plutarch's mention of Hermes Trismegistus dates back to the 1st century
A.D.
, and Tertullian, Iamblichus, andPorphyry were all familiar with Hermetic writings.
[21]
After some centuries out of favor (though apparently a subject of study at least in the eastern part of the RomanEmpire), Hermeticism was reintroduced to the West in 1460 when a monk, Leonardo da Pistoia,
[22]
 broughtthe
Corpus Hermeticum
 to the city of Pistoia to be translated by Ficino. "Leonardo da Pistoia" was actually the pseudonym of Leonardo Alberti de Candia, a nobleman of the Alberti (family) of the counts of Prato in Pistoia.De Candia was one of many agents sent out by Florence's ruler, Cosimo de' Medici, to scour Greek monasteries for ancient writings and to either get a copy or steal the original.
[23]
"Leonardo da Pistoia" searched for ancient Hermetic manuscripts throughout the regions surroundingConstantinople, Pera, and Galata. He conducted his investigations under the protection of the Byzantine podestàduring the period of the joint Byzantine and Italian podestà and before the capture of Constantinople byOttoman Turks in 1453.In 1614, Isaac Casaubon, a Swiss philologist, analyzed the Greek Hermetic texts for linguistic style. Heconcluded that the writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus were not the work of an ancient Egyptian priest but in fact dated to the 2nd and 3rd centuries
A.D.[24][25]
Even in light of Casaubon's linguistic discovery (and typical of many adherents of Hermetic philosophy in Europeduring the 16th and 17th centuries), Thomas Browne in his
 Religio Medici
 (1643) confidently stated: "Thesevere schools shall never laugh me out of the philosophy of Hermes, that this visible world is but a portrait of the invisible." (R.M. Part 1:12)In the 19th century, Walter Scott placed the date of the Hermetic texts shortly after 200
A.D.
, but W. FlindersPetrie placed their origin between 200 and 500
B.C.[26]
In 1945, Hermetic texts were found near Nag Hammadi. One of these texts had the form of a conversation between Hermes and Asclepius. A second text (titled
On the Ogdoad and Ennead 
) told of the Hermeticmystery schools. It was written in the Coptic language, the latest and final form in which the Egyptian languagewas written.
[27]
Philosophy
In Hermeticism, the ultimate reality is referred to variously as God, the All, or the One. God in the Hermetica isunitary and transcendent, he is one and exists apart from the material cosmos. Hermetism is therefore profoundlymonotheistic, in a deistic and unitarian understanding of the term. "For it is a ridiculous thing to confess theWorld to be one, one Sun, one Moon, one Divinity, and yet to have, I know not how many gods."
[28]

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