The Hermetic Principles
By Paul Von Ward
The Hermetic Principles, named after a legendary personality, Hermes Trismegistus (meaning "thrice" great), have been known and articulated in esoteric scientific circles for more then five thousand years. For many centuries, the term "hermeticism" was inappropriately associated only with alchemy, or the alledged transmutation of metals into gold. By focusing purely on the material realm, such references obscured the deeper mental, energetic, and spiritual meanings of this ancient wisdom. Today, the term "hermetic" has come to mean secret or sealed (as in the term "hermetically sealed").
identified by some as the god Thoth, was one of the "wise beings" who
shared knowledge and insight with the pre-pharaonic Egyptians. Hermes
is considered by many to be the source of the basic teachings that infused
all the highly intellectual, esoteric traditions of the Egyptians, Greeks,
Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians*. A few learned initiates guarded
the insights and passed them on discerningly over the centuries to those
deemed ready for the teachings**. During the Inquisition and other periods
of religious persecution, it was dangerous to reveal ones belief in an
alternate reality. Consequently, most of the understanding was lost on
the masses, as well as the scholars and students of the modern era.
Hermetic Principles are Mentalism, Correspondence, Vibration, Polarity,
Rythmn, Cause and Effect, and Gender***. Although they can appear to be
so simple and mundane that the casual reader is wont to skim them lightly,
they may actually be far more reaching then the basic assumptions of Newtonian
mechanics or quantum physics. The current works of various frontier scientist
and grounded metaphysicians is confirming the validity of these concepts.
We can now begin to test them in an integrated way to determine their
application to all dimensions of our universe.
* Some believe
the same or similar being was a source of knowledge for the Toltecs, Mayans,
and the Incas of the Western Hemisphere. For example, the Mayan calendrical
system had several principles similiar to the Hermetic ones presented
** This tradition
is the basis for the plot of the currently popular The Celestine Prophecy".
*** In Hindu
metaphysics we find similar principles: The primordial sound of Aum indicates
the Principle of vibration, while the concept of Brahman coincides with
the Principle of Mentalism.
The Principle of Mentalism is reflected in the Biblical quotation, "In the beginning was the Word." Ultimately all external reality is based on idea or concept. In the context of quantum physics, Mentalism means the physical world can be reduced to patterns of potential connections among potential concentrations of matter/energy that might or might not come into form, depending upon the introduction of consciousness. Twentieth-century physicists and consciousness researchers are thus on the edge of unraveling the implications of Mentalism that Hermetic initiates have known all along. Now anyone can grasp it's meaning: the basic force in the universe is mental.
The Principle of Correspondence, "as above, so below," means that one can infer the nature of distant realms from local experience. The dynamics of cells are parallel to the dynamics of galaxies. Just as a small laboratory or computer program can simulate the bahavior of stars billions of light years away, the consciousness of an individual being can confer with the Ultimate Consciousness that existed when there was only the word. This principle ensures, for example, that humans need not dread exposure to the idea of, say, extraterrestrials; they are derived from the same universal consciousness.
The Principle of Vibration, which asserts that everything is in continual motion, is now a basic tenet of science. Subatomic particles are continually moving in relation to each other in every concentration of energy and mass in the universe.. The patterns of vibration occur in all manifestations- from dense stone, to gaseous molecules, to the thoughts and emotions of human beings. We have intuitively grasped the validity of this principle: we get "good vibes" about this or that. When we are on different frequencies with someone, we can wind down or increase the tension, thereby moving a situation to a congruent level of vibration.
The Principle of Polarity embodies the truth that two seeming opposites are in truth compliments that differ only in degree- the obverse and reverse sides of the same coin. This principle applies in all realms. Photon particles are inextricably linked in pairs, with each as either the positive or negative aspect of the other. Hot and cold are but different aspects of the same temperature gradient. Any characteristic in nature or cosmic experience has it's own gradient-large and small, high and low, black and white, sharp and dull, male or female. Where does each pole end and the other begin? What about the shades of good and evil? The crucial point here is that all such polarities are only different vibrations on the same continuum. One can be transmuted into the other employing the Principle of Polarity.
of Ryhthm means that everything manifests itself in a pattern of to and
fro, up and down, in and out. The movement in one direction is always
compensated for by a return. For every action, there is a reaction and
for every advance there is a retreat.. The principle applies in all the
affairs of the cosmos-stars, beings, mind, energy, and matter. It works
in the interactions within a plane, and in communications between dimensions.
Over time, the rythmns result in spiraling shapes that characterize much
of the universe.
Understanding of the dynamics of this principle makes it possible to mitigate some of its more extreme effects. We can recognize that fatigue, followed by rest, leads to renewed energy. Anger gives way to remorse and pain succumbs to release. By being aware of the rhythmns, one is less likely to resist their flow, thereby reducing the buildup of extremes.
The Principle of Cause and Effect is more commonly known by its ordinary meaning: "x" acts on "y" and causes "z". From the Hermetic perspective, to say each effect has many causes is more accurate. This multilevel reality is epitomized by Carl Jung's use of the word "synchronicity" to describe events that, though outwatdly appearing to occur by chance, are actually the inner workings of one or more "cosmic laws". Indeed, all events are at some level the workings of cosmic law. What we attribute by "chance" is usually an event whose governing law is not evident. True chance or randomness probably occurs only at the level of quantum gaps, where there is a true break between past and future.
The Hindu concept of karma is an illustration of the principle of Cause and Effect, as is the Christian admonition,"as you sow, so shall you reap." Human societies are only now learning the dramatic effect of this principle in ecological systems. now humankind must become more aware of cosmic law in the realm of consciousness, in it's role as Conscious C0-Creators of the Universe.
last Hermetic principle, has remained the most obscure because we tend
to equate gender with primary physical sex characteristics. However, every
being and every plane in the cosmos contain the dual elements of Yin and
yang, feminine and masculine. The term "gender" recognizes the complimentariness
within all self contained units of the universe. Even in apparent single-sexed
entities, one aspect is the receptive nurturer, while another is the expressing
creator. The principle of gender itself obeys the Principles of Polarity
and Rhythm, in one circumstance manifesting the masculine aspect and in
another the feminine. Neither is ever totally absent: in space-time balance
is assured. Fully aware cosmic beings seek harmony in living their dual
nature (Gender), honoring the ebb and flow (Rhythm) called for by the
organic developements in self, society, solar system, and cosmos.
principles are simple keys to the mysteries of matter-energy, spirit-mind,
and consciousness. They can open the gateways through which a profound
transformation of conscious life becomes possible. This book is an argument
for undertaking such a journey, demonstrating that transformation on the
mental and energetic planes will have immediate consequences in the material
realm. Not one principle stands alone: all affect each other in a mode
of reciprocation, thereby assuring the cohesion and unity of the multifaceted