A Treatise preliminary to the Study of the Hermetic Philosophy
By Fr. K. X°
In commencing the exegetical study of any system of philosophy it is absolutely necessary that we adjust our perspective as accurately as possible, in conformity with the known FACTS regarding the character, personality, individuality, words and works of the founder.
Perhaps no character in history has formed the subject of so much and so varied study and speculation as that of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus and we shall realize the truth of this statement as we individually seek light upon the sublime philosophy rightly attributed to this Avatar.
At the very outset, we are confronted with a remarkable dearth of exact information regarding his person and life. A dearth all the more inexplicable when we realize that from the Rosicrucian standpoint Hermes may be justly regarded as one of the greatest of all Messiahs who have incarnated on this sphere.
Yet the very mythos, which apparently surrounds his existence, has a special value to occultists, for a similar obscurity and absence of specific data attaches to the characters of Melchisedek, King of Salem, Osiris, Attis, Confucius, and John the Baptist, of all of whom the origin is unknown.
Our consideration of Hermes must necessarily be along the lines of what is called external and internal evidence, a process similarly employed by theologians in the critical and exegetical study of the collection of Scriptural writings known as the Bible, both the old and the new cannons.
The external evidence regarding the man Hermes is distressingly scant, and for the most part, is now encyclopaedic. The title “Trismegistus” or “Thrice Greatest” is an honorary appellation given to the Egyptian sage afterward deified as Thoth, the God of Wisdom. In later hieroglyphics we find the name of this deity often accompanied by the title “Twice Very Great” and again, the “Thrice Very Great.” In the demotic or popular language the title “five times very great” has been found to have been in use as late as the third century BC. A careful examination of all the references to this deity throughout the known dynasties seems to leave no doubt that the title “Thrice Greatest” originated in the Egyptian epithets referred to.
Thoth was the “Scribe of the Gods,” or as the papyri have it, the “Lord of Divine Words” and this is exactly the title given to Hermes by the later Greek commentators, and to him is ascribed the authorship of the collection of archaic writings commonly known as Hermetic.
According to Clemens Alexandrinus, the only ancient authority worthy of consideration by modern scholars on this subject, there were forty-two of these writings or books, subdivided into six divisions. The ten books constituting the first division were under the charge of the Chief “Prophet” of the Temple, and related to laws, deities, and the education of priests. The next ten books were those of the Stolistes, the Temple official who was entrusted with the care of the statues of the Gods, a peculiarly solemn and responsible function among the ancients. This group of books treated of sacrifices and offerings, and contained prayers and hymns for festive occasions. The third set of books were those of the hierogrammatists and bore the title “Hieroglyphics” and was devoted to cosmographical, geographical, and topographical information.
Four books known as the “Horoscopus” were devoted to astronomy and astrology; two books known collectively as the “Chanter” consisted of a collection of songs in honor of the Gods, and a description of the royal life and its duties. This book or set of books was one of the ancient authorities for the concept of the divine origin of kings.
The sixth and last subdivision of the writings constituted the “Pastophorus” and was largely medical. Clemens’ statements must be accepted for the tombs, papyri, bas-relief, and monuments abound with references to geography, astronomy, ritual, medicine, myths, and philosophy, the originals of which are also found in the Hermetic writings.
The native priests ascribed these mural documents to Hermes, which is of importance to us as there were already a goddess of writing, Seshit, and the holy scribes Imuthes and Amenophis, and the later inspired doctors Petosiris and Nechepso. Whether the whole of these Hermetic writings ever constituted a canon, even in later times, is not certainly known, though it is certain that some of them undoubtedly did so, the others possibly bearing a relation similar to what we now call the apocryphal books of the Bible.
From the papyri it is known however, that the Vizier of Egypt (Upper) at Thebes in the eighteenth dynasty, required forty out of the forty scrolls to be before him in the Hall of Audience. Forty-two was the number of the Divine Assessors at the Judgement of the Dead before Osiris, and was also the number of the homes or districts of Egypt.
The very name of Hermes has been indiscriminately juggled by historians and theologians. From the third century on, it seems to have been regarded as a convenient synonym to place at the head of numerous syncretistic writings in which it was sought to combine Neo-Platonic philosophy, Philonic Judaism, and Cabalistic Theosophy as a substitute for the increasing popularity of Christianity, which even at that time gave evidences of the wide spread acceptance it was destined to attain.
Of these pseudo-epigraphic writings some have survived, but the most of them have perished utterly, the survivors coming down to us in Greek, Latin and Arabic.
The writings preserved to us which will form the subject of our immediate study, taken from the Divine Pymander, consist of seventeen chapters and treat of the Nature of God, the Origin of the World, the Creation and Fall of Man, and the Divine Illumination necessary to effect his deliverance. The principal edition of this work appeared in Paris in 1554, and has had several subsequent editions. Other Hermetic writings of undoubted genuineness were preserved by Patricius in the Nova de Universis Philosophia, 1593. An address to the Human Soul was translated from the Arabic and put out by H. L. Fleischer in 1870.
The translation of the Pymander, which name is of Greek, not Egyptian origin and means, broadly rendered, “Shepherd or Guide of Man” is a facsimile reprint of one from the Arabic by Rev. John Everard who was born about 1575 and died about 1650. Dr. Wynn Westcott mentions the various translations prior and subsequent to the Everard work. It is not to be assumed that any scriptural writing could reach the scholar of today without suffering the inevitable corruption due to oft repeated translation, not to mention religious and philosophic partisanship. But it is quite probable that the translation before us is as complete and accurate as we could reasonably hope in a document of such vast antiquity.
The student will note the reference in Dr. Westcott’s edition, to the name of Hiram, the ancient operative Grand Master in Masonry. But as the Masonic legend is of so much later origin than the subject matter of any of the Hermetic writings, it seems logical to assume that the analogy is at best, little more than a coincidence.
Again, Dr. Westcott, while admitting the identity of Hermes with the God Thoth, places the former as about 1800 BC. Egyptian chronological records are as yet far from being established on a basis of inviolate accuracy, and many archaeologists, and scholars both in and out of the domain of occultism, place Hermes as about 5000 years before Christ.
The ascription of this date is not made as ex cathedra utterance on behalf of the Brotherhood, but in the opinion of many well-informed Rosicrucian scholars, this date approximately would meet the various conditions implied with a much greater degree of accuracy. Neither this date, nor any other that might reasonably be advanced would be susceptible of demonstrable truth or proof. A large portion of the members of the Brotherhood accepts this hypothesis, but it is not offered as an incontrovertible truth.
In taking up the study of the internal evidence as to the authenticity of the Hermetic writings, we enter a much more gratifying and inspiring field. While various leaders of Rosicrucian thought unite in placing Hermes as one of the World’s Messiahs, considerable difference of opinion exists as to his exact sequential place. This is not of material value. Hermes, in his teachings undoubtedly originated the concept long cherished and preserved among the Egyptians that the royal chief of state was the child of the Sun. As many scholars ascribe the beginning of the dynasties of richly endowed rulers of ancient Egypt to Hermes, he is, in the opinion of many, the original incarnation of the sun spirit, or incarnation of the highest initiate of the Sun period.
The last incarnation we unitedly agree in ascribing to the Christos, who obsessed or occupied the physical vehicle of the Man Jesus. Both India and China claim records of an antiquity so vast as to pass human comprehension. These claims, however, are not subject to proof of any sort and while we may not ascribe them to flights of the imagination, we must remember that, if true, some of them would antedate even Lemuria. Then again, all occult scientists know, that time, except as progression of incident, does not exist cosmically. And while events may undoubtedly be read and recovered from the Akashic Records, it would require some degree of hardihood for any occult scholar to attempt to voice an expression of exact time data. The Rosicrucian Brotherhood eschews the realm of the speculative and hypothetical and confines itself strictly to what data of evidential value may be specifically at hand.
Archaeologists ascribe the civilizations of the Ganges and Euphrates to Nilitic origins, and we have no evidence of importance, to the contrary.
If this be true, and we believe it to be the most logical conclusion, Hermes was the first to our knowledge of the long line of Messiahs or Avatars which included Osiris, Zarathustra, Confucius, Gautama Buddha, Moses, Melchizedek, Enoch and Abraham, up to Jesus, and it is held by competent occultists and taught by many schools that all were the continued incarnation of one and the same Sun Spirit.
If, by their works we shall know them, we observe that in the Book of the Dead, the Book of Light, the Golden Mean, the Song Celestial and the Sermon on the Mount, identical parallels force themselves inevitably upon our attention.
The same mysteries of Theosophy, Alchemy and Magic are taught in all, as specifically stated in the form of parable. And the greatest evidence we could desire as to the inspiration of the Hermetic work lies, not alone in the foregoing statement of fact, but in the still more impressive truth of the continuity of these works throughout the very ages in which later scriptures and later revelations of divine wisdom and power were given.
Great root and race religions have come into manifestation since the Hermetic writings were first given to humankind. Yet their strength and virility remain undiminished even to this day, which is witnessing a renaissance of Hermeticism, which but a few years ago would have appalled the doctors and fathers of orthodoxy. Although in the world to a much greater length of time than any subsequent scriptures, they have undergone fewer changes than any other.
Many arcane and occult bodies esteem and even venerate the Hermetic writings and their author, and from remote periods even to this day there have been organizations and Brotherhoods calling themselves Hermetic. But to the Rosicrucian Brotherhood alone belongs the distinction of hailing the “Thrice Greatest” as the Father of its Art. For it has long been a Brotherhood tradition that Hermes Trismegistus was the originator of what has since been known to the world as the Rosicrucian Brotherhood.
This tradition does not imply that Hermes by any manner of means definitely and constructively organized the outward and visible fabric of the Brotherhood. It means simply that the Rosicrucian organization was the first to develop from the principles laid down in the Hermetic writings, and that at a time which also according to tradition must have more closely approached the actual promulgation of the principles than any aggregation of scholars and students known at the present time.
Throughout the Rosicrucian rituals the appellation “Father of our Art” repeatedly occurs, and as these rituals are of the most obscure and remote origin it is quite evident to students of liturgical and ceremonial origins that some very specific reason therefor must have existed when they were first formulated.
Taking up the thread of internal evidence again, we note another feature, which stands out with marked prominence, namely, the tone of authority employed throughout the entire writings.
This quiet, unassuming, yet uncompromising authoritative note reminds us of the New Testament writers who said of the Master Jesus, “He spake as one having authority.” If this was true of Jesus, it was equally true of Hermes. There is no dogmatism, little doctrinalia, but quiet, forceful, convincing, impressive authority in every line of the Hermetic writings, which is undoubtedly the true cause of their longevity and survival through the storms of controversial and argumentative debates of schools, academies, ecumenical councils and forums of ancient and modern times.
The supreme power of true spiritual origin is manifest in every line of the entire collection. “I and the Father are One” said Jesus. “No man cometh unto the Father except through Me.” Thus did the man Jesus proclaim His Divine Son-ship and authority. “Therefore, am I called Trismegistus, as possessing the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world, said Hermes. A claim or statement no man could make unless well assured of his complete at-one-ment with the Divine Source of being, and the author of the known universe. For to possess the knowledge of the whole, one must be at one with the whole, and history does not record it as said of any other human beings save those whose at-one-ment with the Father or Divine Source was clearly and unmistakably evident that they made any similar claim to possession of the complete knowledge of the arcana of Nature. And it is well known to all spiritual aspirants, whether within or without the pole of occult science that the farther one progresses in spiritual attainment, the more humble does such an one become in his or her attitude toward the members of the human family among whom they may be called to work.
And in still another sense, this claim of Hermes to possession of the three parts of the knowledge of the whole world is analogous to the sayings of Jesus which have led to the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. For Hermes gave that knowledge, which had been entrusted to him by his Divine Source of inspiration, to the world of his day, and the power of the Divine Spirit has preserved that knowledge unto us of this day, for our study and enlightenment, even as it perpetuated the teachings of the Man Jesus, who when leaving the scene of his mortal mission said, “I leave you not comfortless” and informed his fellow workers that the Holy Spirit should come.
As to the concept that Hermes was an Atlantean avatar, we are not concerned. Early Christian teachings warned the followers of that system against antichrist, and against those who should arise in later days, with such plausible claims to authority, preaching and healing in the name of Jesus in such a manner as deceive the very elect. In the same manner we may take warning in a day when the revelations of occult science are opening to our vision and our thought truths indeed stranger than the strangest fiction, against those who teach and work under claims which are far from susceptible to demonstrable proof or evidence. Civilizations wax and wane, and from time to time the celestial hierarchies clear the stage for a new scene or chapter in the activities of earthly children. But it is also as far as our present light extends, reasonable to conclude that with the obliteration of one system of evolution, the advanced or initiate members of that evolution continue their labors in planes and spheres far removed from those of the next succeeding era.
The Rosicrucian concept of Hermes is that of the first avatar to the human family as known to students of history, sociology, and archaeology, whose mission was performed at a time not beyond the comprehension of modern man, and whose contact with the unseen and Divine Source of creative power was so intimate and personal as to make the results of that mission effective throughout the whole extent of the present evolutionary wave. In each succeeding incarnation he amplified that mission, its works and teachings with clearer revelations and observations according to the race or age in which they were given, until ultimately they have spread to the uttermost parts of the world, exactly as the man Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the gospel; to all the world and to every nation, and behold, the teachings of the first and the last avatars are practically identical. Nowhere do the Hermetic teachings and the Mosaic and Christian teachings conflict, when the true esoteric meaning of each is clearly understood.
All the above named writings, and in fact all the teachings of the several avatars, have been given in parable, allegory and simile. Of the man Jesus it is recorded, that without a parable spake He not unto them. The best efforts of learned Jewish Rabbis and Talmudists have been exerted to reveal the true meaning of the Qabalah, exactly as the theologians of Christianity have been at work for ages to define the exact meaning of the sayings and teachings attributed to Jesus, with the result that the few, those who are entitled in this evolution to understand, have attained the light, while those who have gained but a partial glimpse have organized and subdivided their organizations into multifold sects and schools. This is true to an even greater extent of the Hermetic writings.
World-renowned scholars have sought for ages to reveal the Hermetic mysteries, mysteries so intense that no church or definite religion has ever been built upon them, and almost the entire number of those scholars have failed in their endeavors. Yet, behold we find a man here and there unexpectedly who in the simplest phrase lets the light into our spiritual vision upon this masterwork of the ages. Not to the great ones of the academies and the universities does the Hermetic knowledge come; only to those who are entitled to it by virtue of the sincerity and purity of their spiritual desires.
And it is only just to state to our students that though we may engage in the study of the Hermetic writings in our Colleges though the words be read most carefully, the light will not come through the spoken word of any leader or teacher, nor by virtue of membership in this Brotherhood, but only in accordance with the intensity of legitimate desire, and singleness of purpose, individual concentration and personal prayer of each member of the Order.
Erudition and strong desire to know may be worthy in their place, but taken solely by themselves they will accomplish nothing in progress toward the supreme knowledge. There is no royal road to this knowledge, and the simple personal conviction that one desires knowledge and is therefore certain that one is entitled to it, is no passport to the higher vision in the eyes of those upon whose assistance we must depend for spiritual guidance and illumination.
Spiritual sincerity is the keynote to the Hermetic mysteries. Hermeticism, like Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity constitutes a “Secret Doctrine” and is perhaps the most secret of them all, for even the name “Hermetic” has been a synonym throughout the ages not alone for the occult and mystic, but for the most intense secrecy.
In approaching the study of the Hermetic Art, let us keep one fact in mind; that we are to study the works of Hermes, not as philosopher, or sage, but as those of Hermes the” Man with a message.” The Hermetic writings are not attempts to found a school of philosophy, not mere records of the profound cosmic wisdom of one advanced being but a direct message to the world, intended to last to the very end thereof. If we keep in mind the fact as we read and study the various lessons and chapters that there is in each, a concealed message, and strive diligently by inward prayer and outward life to realize that message, we shall accomplish a measure of progress in this Art which has been denied to many who have sought in darkness.
And in pursuing this study, it is earnestly recommended that you do not attempt to seek the assistance of the various works on the Hermetic philosophy which are to be found in nearly all libraries and which are sold by all publishers of occult books. The Rosicrucian Brotherhood is not sectarian, nor does it seek to inhibit the liberties of its members, but this warning is given for much deeper reasons. In the first place all such writings are at best commentaries and opinions, and it is not well to limit or influence your own possibilities by those of some commentator however learned or well intentioned he may be.
In the second place, true progress will be measured by ability of the student and seeker to contact the great author of the science himself.
Nearly all the members of our Colleges have come from the ranks of religious orthodoxy. Undoubtedly, nearly all are not only familiar with but have repeated in all sincerity the words of the creed common to all Christian bodies Evangelical and Catholic.
“I believe in the Communion of Saints…. The Resurrection of the Body, and the Life Everlasting.”
While its interpretation may differ somewhat, nevertheless the Rosicrucian Brotherhood holds those affirmations most strongly, as made under differing verbiage at every Mass of the Four Elements, and as witnessed by our invocation of the presence of departed fraters and the Invisible Brotherhood at every convocation. The man Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” If that saying of the great Initiate is true, and if that Initiate is the last incarnation of the Great Sun Spirit of which Hermes was the first in our wave of evolution, then we must keep in mind that his presence is just as real, just as powerful to inspire, direct, guide and illumine, as though he were with us corporeally. Therefore, let the words or works of no human commentator or helper intervene, but enter each period of study of the Hermetic Mysteries, with the strong, sincere desire to know and to feel the real presence of the Great Initiate, the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega, with you consciously, and while no man knoweth the time thereof, it may be the inestimable privilege of each one to be taken, even as those of olden time, up into the third heaven, there to witness sights which it is not lawful for the tongue of man to utter.
In your study, at all times keep the inner vision keen and alert for the visualization of that heroic figure, towering so majestically over the rise and fall of empires, the wrecks of nations, schools, systems, philosophies and opinions, dogmas and doctrines through succeeding ages, overshadowing and surviving all by the intense virility and spiritual potency of his mission and message, and who in his last incarnation as in many former ones, said, “If with ALL your heart, ye TRULY SEEK ME, ye SHALL surely find me.”
Spiritual knowledge is not given merely for the asking, nor is it given in the vernacular. All truth is given under conditions of apparent concealment, simply because its attainment necessitates actual, positive, definite, personal activity. You MUST SEARCH, and search with all your heart if you expect to find. And the Master meant exactly what he said. Not a portion of the heart will do. All of it must enter into the search, which must be actuated not by mere desire for knowledge, however sublime that knowledge may be, or however strong the desire therefore may be, but because one hungers and thirsts after that Divine Light to which the human Ego and soul is heir, but which demand that the heir struggle and strive earnestly for his inheritance, for only by so doing can he prove himself worthy to be entrusted with the powers which result from its attainment.
But we can be comforted with the personal assurance of the historic avatar in his many incarnations, that whose does search in this manner shall surely find.
All so called sacred scriptures, of which the Hermetic writings must certainly be considered a part, have been cherished and studied faithfully and conscientiously, and have just as often been misunderstood, and oceans of blood have been shed in the propaganda of many. Not one drop of human blood has ever been shed to human knowledge in the study of the Hermetic spiritual teachings or their propaganda, but the blood of many Hermeticists has been shed by those who remained faithful to the light given them through those teachings. Such is their strength. The message of the first avatar was one of peace. The message of the last incarnation of that avatar was not. He said, “I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”
The message of the last Messianic incarnation was essentially one of action. The first message, the message we have to consider was essentially an appeal to the higher faculties of humankind, and while we are certainly to embody and adapt its precepts in our life activities, the method of assimilation of the inherent principles is an intellectual and spiritual process.
The Hermetic writings should be read and studied solely from the spiritual standpoint keeping in mind the fact that the greatest secret of the greater and lesser mysteries of antiquity and the greatest mystery in all the mysteries, was the sublime truth that God is one -UNITY. That all things are of his substance and essence, and that Nature’s processes through which this unity and oneness are made manifest are summed up in the words of the Gospel from Hermes, “All is One, and that One is All.” And we can call Him “All” since all things are his members. “As above, therefore, so below,” in all things – unity.
This doctrine of unity was the powerful influence, which nearly rent Christendom during the Athanasian controversy in the early post-apostolic era, and it was the failure to recognize this unity in its real sense. Coupled with the failure to realize the process through which it was to be rightly conceived, that caused the ancient and medieval alchemists, or more properly speaking, a portion of their number, to be called black magicians, a term which has struck terror into the minds of the sensitive and timorous during the ages since. The unity of all substance, by virtue of which all elements can be reduced to their primal status and recombined into any desired mass composite, is to be sought first of all, spiritually, not through alembics and retorts. The beginning and end of all things is Deity-God, and whosoever seeks the formula to any of the recondite processes of Nature other than by beginning the approach to God, is predestined to failure. With God, all things are possible, and whosoever seeks the secrets of Nature by commencing his search with God, is destined to a degree of success commensurate with his sincerity of purpose and steadfastness of endeavor.
It is a notable fact, that of all the alchemists known to occultists, those who are accredited with having accomplished the Summum Bonum and the Magnum Opus and demonstrated the accomplishment of transmutation, have been without exception, deeply spiritual men, who have so carefully veiled the secret of their processes and art, that while giving tangible evidence of the truth of their efforts, have by no means made it possible for a selfish world to profit thereby.
Hermetic operators, and we use the term advisedly because students of Hermetic Philosophy are classified under two broad general divisions, the speculative group whose study is confined to concentration and meditation, and the operative group whose work embraces both the philosophy and the actual laboratory application and demonstration of the Hermetic principles, have been made the subjects of the epithet “Black Magician” largely through the ignorance of an age which placed implicit faith in the potency of love charms, philters, spells, etc. Needless to say, these have never formed any part of the Hermetic alchemists’ art although it is also true, that often times the ancient Hermeticists used to avail themselves of the popular superstition to divert the attention of the too curious from the real work they had in hand.
It is nothing more or less, that has given to New Thought, Christian Science, and the various other mental science organizations of today their power, than the strength and virility of the Hermetic teachings, to which each and all of these systems of thought revert openly or otherwise for their authority. The doctrine of oneness with God or the essential unity of all things is fully expressed in the New Thought concept that God is all, God is good, and Christian Scientists treasure with the greatest reverence the cherish maxim of their late leader Mrs. Eddy, “God is my all.” And right at this point it is well for the members of our Colleges to keep in mind constantly throughout the study of the Hermetic Sciences and Mysteries, the permanent mantram of the Hermetic Section, “In Him we Live, and Move, and have our Being.” For on careful spiritual meditation it will be found to sum up the Hermetic philosophy in its entirety, and for that reason is given to the Colleges.
To those who enter upon the study and assimilation of the Hermetic truths in the right spirit will come home with greatest force the truth of the statement by the unknown author of the quaint treatise entitled the “Hermetical Triumph, or the Victorious Philosophical Stone.” It is as follows; “They will see that this same Mercury as a Phoenix, who takes a new birth in the Fire, arrives by the Magistery to the last perfection of the fixed Sulphur of the Philosophers, which gives it a sovereign power over the three genders of nature, of which the Three Fold Crown (upon which is set for this purpose, the hieroglyphic figure of the world) is the most material or essential character.
This will be clearly understood when the elements mentioned are comprehended. Mercury is the Mind, Sulphur, Love the Invisible Fire, and they are two of the three Hermetic and Alchemical substances, the third being Salt, the Will. The Threefold Crown is the combined Body, Soul and Spirit. Thus, the Mind, awakened to new birth in the Fire of Wisdom, attains to mastery of the Self through the principle of Divine Love as known to the Philosophers. Such mastery is expressed in the dominion over the Body, Soul and Spirit of each of the three great departments of life, in Nature.
Mere memorizing or reading of the paragraphs in the lessons to follow in our work will not suffice nor will they be productive of results worthwhile. In taking up each lesson, read the lesson in its entirety carefully. With the view of gaining a broad general idea of the subject matter of the discourse of Hermes with those to whom he is talking. Then take each paragraph or a section of paragraph as a special mantram for profound meditation. Analyze it from every standpoint, which you may be able to bring to bear. Then it is an excellent plan to hold one paragraph in mind as you retire to sleep, revolving it carefully in your mind, desirous of attaining its real significance, and as you become more proficient in so holding it, you will find that it will expand in your consciousness, with a degree of illumination that will reveal its message and hidden meaning often times phantasmagorically, and as you progress farther in concentration and meditation, you will find that one particular item in so expanding will many times throw a flash of illumination on the subject matter of the whole lesson.
All practical occultists know that sometimes the key to an entire theorem or mystery is given in a flash through one word. If so given to you, hold the word and its significance, but do not seek to force it further. Be content with what is given at the time, knowing that you will certainly receive according to merit due to labor and sincerity of purpose.
In the study and PRACTICE, of the Hermetic art, you will find the identical principles whose potency and inner strength enabled the early Fathers to become martyrs and heroes. And while we may not be in danger of physical violence today, nevertheless it often requires, a degree of spiritual strength hardly imaginable, to combat the conditions presented even today, to those who dare to out-step the recognized limits of orthodoxy. This spiritual strength can be developed, and those who do not care to make the attempt to develop it cannot expect to attain any specific degree of progress or interior illumination through the study of the Hermetic Art.
This Art is primarily and essentially the work of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. The day and age of miracles is past, and we are not concerned with them. The greatest of all miracles is the conquest of self and a few there are who succeed in so doing. The study and practice of the Hermetic Art will assist the novice to this accomplishment and his persistence in this practice will assure him of ultimate victory.
No study period should be commenced without first engaging in several moments of silent concentration, entering into the silence, with the strong desire to visualize the avatar and Messiah Hermes, and an invocation of his presence. And only when, the calm of one’s own mental processes is assurance of that presence realized, should the active mental assimilation and analytical study of the lesson begin.
Freemasons are taught that before entering upon any great or important undertaking they should always invoke the aid of Deity. No undertaking could be more important to the human soul than the study of the Message of Hermes, the Messenger of Deity, His word incarnate as it were. And so, it is well to invoke both the aid and guidance of Deity and also to attempt day after day to visualize and realize the presence of his messenger, as you engage upon the interpretation of a message so profound and of such a vast antiquity. For be well assured that a message of principles so tremendously important to the human race, and of a power that has shaped the destiny not only of individuals, but through them, of races and nations, is effective to accomplish results in your own lives commensurate with your willingness and desire to abide by that guidance.
Let the Salt, Sulphur and Mercury combine in perfect affinity to produce the alchemical gold of Divine Wisdom made manifest in each member of these Colleges, and a power will become operative in our midst that will enable us to realize consciously, not theoretically, our at-one-ment with our Divine Source. This will also enable us to bear the responsibilities of mortal life as men and women who are in manifestation solely because they consciously realize that they chose to be so. And have but one desire, that of living a life of such good works as will live after, even as the works of our Father Hermes live after him through the thousands of years that have elapsed since humanity first heard his voice in incarnate expression. Hermes still lives, not alone through his works, but in that resurrected body, in the life everlasting, in which, with the communion of saints, or those who have conquered mortality, we all believe. And thus living we can be very sure that his presence will be felt wheresoever two or three are gathered together to study and make of their own selves, the spiritual essence of his message.
Enter not upon the Hermetic study, as upon that of a textbook, but as the message to us of this present day, of one of our mystic Brothers who, gone before us, yet, lends his invisible presence to our earthly convocations. And in the process of this study endeavor to realize that the “Thrice Greatest” is actually speaking to us, and will assuredly guide to the higher knowledge and vision each student and neophyte who truly seeks him in all singleness of purpose.
If one desires proof of this assurance let him read but the first lines of the first book or lesson;
1. “I, O my Son, write this first book, both for Humanity’s sake, and for piety towards God.”
2. “For there can be no religion more true or just, than to know the things that are: and to acknowledge thanks for all things, to him that made them, which thing I shall not cease continually to do.”
And in the seventh verse—
7. “And let this, O Son, be the end of Religion and Piety; where unto when thou art once arrived, thou shalt both live well, and die blessedly, whilst thy soul is not ignorant whether it must return and fly back again.”
8. “For this only, O Son, is the Way to Truth, which our Progenitors traveled in; and by which, making their journey, they at length attained to the Good. It is a venerable Way and Plain, but hard and difficult for the Soul to go in that is in the Body.”
How this suggests the description in later Christian writings of the “way in which our Fathers have walked” in, and the “Straight and Narrow Way.”
Finally, Fraters and Sorores, in commending the study of this laudable and divine knowledge to you as members of our Colleges of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood, we can close with no better words than those supplied by Elias Ashmole, the English alchemist and astrologer, in the preface to his work on the Hermetic Art entitled “The Way to Bliss;”
“But if any whose Ignorance in, or Disaffection to this Divine and laudable science, shall think no better of the Work, then of a Spider’s Web, I shall nevertheless confidently hope that it will fall into some other hands, that may consider the curiosity of the Work, and esteem it worthy their contemplation, to observe how our Author hath composed a discourse whose excellencies will not discover themselves to the satisfaction of a superficial eye, but only the Intent and Serious Inquisitor; And that such may reap all possible Advantage by their Labor, is the hearty desire, of – E. ASHMOLE.”
Many students of the mysteries are so constituted that their greatest individual progress may be indicated along lines of isolated personal endeavor, but such progress to some extent defeats itself, for it embodies a certain measure of selfishness. Such was the progress of the monks, anchorites, hermits and devotees of medievalism, and their attainments taken as a whole, have been of little practical value to the busy world of humanity at large.
It is the progress and advancement accomplished in the midst of a world of strife, which enables the student to meet the exigencies of every day existence with courage and fortitude and the certainly that all is well, that really counts on the debit side of our individual karmic account.
That is the sort of progress one may expect from the united work of our classes. If the Hermetic study is undertaken by a class of Rosicrucian novices in a spirit of true harmony, zeal, and sincerity, we may confidently expect the blessing of the higher illumination to ensue.
May it be the personal endeavor of each Frater and Soror in our classes to strive for such harmony and unity of intent and purpose, as shall bring to each the soul satisfying consciousness of months well spent in the pursuit and attainment of somewhat of the sublime knowledge of our Father Hermes. The blessed realization of our “sonship” to him and the illustrious line of cosmic avatars, and the knowledge of the real presence of the Infinite amongst us and within each of us. Thus will the Rose bloom upon the Cross of Spirit and Matter within each Frater and Soror, in the perfect unfoldment of the spiritual vision to those things which it is not lawful for the tongue of man to utter, and which mortal eye hath not seen.