For our next interviewee, we have chosen an expert in the field of Hermeticism, a moderator for the Sanctum Arcanum discord server and r/Hermeticism subredddit, a YouTube content creator, and our friend and peer from the HHOL discord server: G. R. Gallaspie.
While moderating the Sanctum Arcanum discord server and the Hermeticism subreddit, Gallaspie also moderates a number of other subreddits such as r/Esotericism, r/Mysticism, r/Neoplatonism, r/Hermetics, and others.
His Sanctum Arcanum Discord server and YouTube channel provide a place to learn about and discuss Western esoteric traditions such as Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Platonism, and Kabbalah, as well as subjects including Eastern tradition, philosophy, occult, mythology, and history. The Sanctum Arcanum also delves into practices such as magick, meditation, alchemy, astrology, and also includes discussion about the arts.
Dear G.R. Gallaspie, we are very happy that you want to do this interview. Of course we are very curious why you are interested in an ancient spiritual tradition like Hermeticism. Can you tell us more about that?
Many years ago, I was met with a harsh realization that I did not have a clue as to what was going on, with life, existence, purpose, and so forth. This crisis of sorts led me to question myself, my beliefs, and everything around me, later leading me to the beauty of Philosophy.
Later down the line I became fascinated with Hermeticism and all its intricacies. Apart from Hermeticism I study and enjoy several other topics such as Gnosticism, Kabbalah, Platonism, Neoplatonism, Pre-Socratic Philosophy, Sufism, and Spinoza’s Philosophy, just to name a few. Out of everything I have delved into, I have spent the most time with Hermeticism.
After years of questioning, research, and refinement, I have been left with the view of creation being Non-Dualistic/Panentheistic. I wholeheartedly believe that this is as close to the fine line of Truth as we can possibly get.
Nowadays I live as much of an ascetic lifestyle as I can, meditating, fasting, contemplating, and studying, whilst still functioning in society and maintaining an online presence. This is more than an academic interest of mine, this is a way of life.
7 Hermetic Questions for…
Below you will find seven questions based on sections from the hermetic text Asclepius, also known as the Perfect Discourse. We are very curious about your personal views on the timeless wisdom of Hermes and maybe how it relates to our modern world.
“This therefore is the all, as you remember; it is the essence of the all and it is the all. The soul and the cosmos being embraced by Nature are set in movement by her with such diversity of quality, evident in all images, that countless forms are known to exist by the contrast of their qualities. Yet these forms are also united so that all things appear as one whole and from the one.”(Asclepius 2)
Question 1: How do you view this statement about the One of – and in – All?
I see that all of creation is from, within, and is The One/God/The Source, whatever you may call it. “He is bodiless and many-bodied; or, rather, he is all-bodied. There is nothing that he is not, for he also is all that is.” (CH V).
The One in my view, is the primordial principle from which all has enveloped, or come into actualization per se, and cannot be separated from everything, including us!
“See what power you have, what quickness! If you can do these things, can god not do them? So you must think of god in this way, as having everything – the cosmos, himself, (the) universe – like thoughts within himself. Thus, unless you make yourself equal to god, you cannot understand god; like is understood by like. Make yourself grow to immeasurable immensity, outleap all body, outstrip all time, become eternity and you will understand god. Having conceived that nothing is impossible to you, consider yourself immortal and able to understand everything, all art, all learning, the temper of every living thing. Go higher than every height and lower than every depth. Collect in yourself all the sensations of what has been made, of fire and water, dry and wet; be everywhere at once, on land, in the sea, in heaven; be not yet born, be in the womb, be young, old, dead, beyond death. And when you have understood all these at once – times, places, things, qualities, quantities – then you can understand god.“(CH XI)
Realizing this, the unity of all things, not that all is one, but all is The One, is essential for the ascent of the soul. How liberating, to know your place, and role in existence as the expression of this source (while not separate) and unified with all things. If you can’t see God in all, you won’t see God at all, “For there is nothing in all the cosmos that he is not.” (CH V)
“Thus, O Asclepius, Man is a great miracle, a being to be adored and honoured. He passes into the nature of God as though he were God. He understands the race of daemons as he knows that he originates from the same source. He views with contempt that part of nature in himself which is human since he has put his entire trust in the divinity of the other part.”(Asclepius 6)
Question 2: Do you also think that man is a (divine) miracle and why?
I cannot say with complete certainty that I know how creation came to be, or if it was by divine will or miracle/chance. Regardless of how you may view creation coming to be, or the emergence of life occurring, after all, we are still here.
Whether it was by chance, by will, or whatever, we are still truly blessed with life, this existence, and the chance to be. I am extremely grateful for my life, and life and creation in general.
This existence is extremely mysterious, intricate, and profound, and I am truly grateful for being able to live this divine experience, regardless of its ups and downs.
“How much happier is the nature of a man when it is tempered by self-control! He is united to the gods through a common divinity. He inwardly despises that part of himself by which he is earth-bound. All other beings, to whom he knows he is necessary through divine dispensation, he binds to himself in a knot of love. He raises his sight to heaven while he takes care of the earth. Thus he is in the fortunate middle position: he loves those things that are below him and is beloved by the beings above.”Asclepius 6
Question 3: How do you view the role of man as ‘middle manager’ of the world? And how do you possibly put that into practice?
I have never agreed with the world neglecting and anti-cosmic themes within Gnosticism, it is very nowadays easy to slip into a nihilistic worldview and to be consumed with an unhealthy desire to escape.
Loathing existence will not make it any better, we have the opportunity to tend to the world around us, loving, cherishing, and appreciating this astonishing work of creation, as well as we can connect, have reverence for, and contemplate the divine. This is exactly why I hold the Hermetic literature dear to my heart.
We are in an intermediary position here, and having hate for your material existence, and desiring an escape is just as damaging as constantly desiring intercourse. After all, desire and attachment are responsible for most if not all of our suffering.
So I agree with the last lines of this excerpt from Asclepius, we should love what is around us, but we should not be consumed by it.
“Not all men, O Asclepius, have attained true understanding, but through a rash impulse and without the true insight of reason most, pursuing an illusion, are deceived. This begets evil in minds and transforms the nature of the best living creature into that of a wild beast and makes it behave like a savage monster.”Asclepius 7
Question 4: How do you view this insight that our focus on appearances is bad and makes us behave like animals?
Like unreasoning animals, many people are led in life purely by impulse, instinct, and the passions of the flesh. I think it is very important to zoom out per se and see that being led by these desires and vices is not serving you no matter how many times you give in.
The more and more you give in, the more you are contributing to your own mental enslavement. Having reason is a virtue and is so very important that you can see past the phantasmata (internal images) as Aristotle calls it.
Regardless, it is in our human nature to desire, lust, and want more, but you can either ride the wave and see these phenomena as they are, or drown in it. It is truly a virtue to be led in life by reason and reverence.
“Now I will speak to you as a prophet: after us there will be no one who has that simple love, which is the nature of philosophy. This consists in frequent contemplation and reverent worship by which alone the divinity may be known. Many destroy philosophy by their multifarious reasoning.”Asclepius 12
“Those men who come after us will be deceived by cunning sophists and turned aside from true, pure and holy philosophy. To worship the Supreme Being with single mind and heart and to reverence what has been made of his substance, to render thanks to the divine will, which alone is infinitely full of the Good: this is a philosophy that has not been dishonoured by the perverse curiosity of the mind.”Asclepius 14
Question 5: How do you view this criticism that religion, philosophy, spirituality or worldview is made unnecessarily complicated by many people?
Yes, in my view, religion, philosophy, and spirituality are made unnecessarily complicated in some instances. If you think you can say what God/The One/The Source (whatever you may call it) wants, chooses, or deems “good” or “bad”, in the nicest way possible, I would say that is ridiculous.
These topics can not be understood or explained by any rational/intellectual means. Trying to corporealize the incorporeal or limit the unlimited will ultimately fall short of Truth, and lead to a very warped and false view.
I think that we can in fact approach that very fine line of Truth if truly dedicated, and that is what Philosophy is and should be all about. Regardless I am unsure if we could ever fully understand/grasp the entire picture. “Concerning truth, Tat, a human being dares not speak.” (SH 2A)
“The dark will indeed be preferred to the light, and death thought better than life. No one will have any regard for heaven and a spiritual person will be deemed mad, and a materialist, wise. An angry man will be considered strong and the most evil regarded as good. ‘All the teaching about the soul that I have explained to you is that the soul is born immortal or expects to attain immortality. This teaching will not only be laughed at, but considered an illusion. It will be held as a capital offense, believe me, for a man to have given himself over to reverence of the divine mind.”Asclepius 25
Question 6: How do you view this prediction? Does it describe our current times?
In a sense yes, this does describe our current times, but people have been this way since the dawn of man. Not everyone understands the “spiritual” or incorporeal side of things (maybe more so in the present day), many are purely concerned with the material and corporeal gains.
Some may be led purely by impulse and the passions of the flesh. This all stems from a lack of understanding, and like I have said previously, not everyone does understand, and this lack of understanding is not exclusive to our times.
The concepts present within Hermeticism and many other esoteric schools of thought are not easily understood by many people, so yes, it would make sense that “a spiritual person will be deemed mad, and a materialist, wise”, in a world where these “tormentors of the soul” are commonly accepted and deemed normal.
If you know, you know, if you don’t, you don’t, life continues, the world keeps turning, and time marches on. What the mass population is pursuing is not concerning me.
“The world is good, O Trismegistus?”Asclepius 27
“It is good, Asclepius, as I will teach you. For just as God husbands and distributes to all individuals and classes all the good things which are in the world [mundo], senses, soul and life, so the world [mundus] apportions and provides all those things which seem good to mortals: the succession of births in due season, the germination, growth and ripening of the fruits of the earth and similar things. Throughout all this God, abiding above the vault of the highest heaven, is everywhere observing all that is around.”
Question 7: Do you also see the world as inherently good and filled with goodness?
I try to stay away from concepts such as “good” and “bad” when it comes to philosophical speculation. We must realize that the cosmos and God do not act (if in fact he does choose to act) in accordance with human conceptions and distinctions such as “good” and “bad”.
Death, decay, and impermanence are all necessary for the cycle of life to continue, a cycle of endless energy and matter transferring in an infinite amount of ways. In the view of the cosmos, this ebb and flow is truly just nature naturing, regardless of what we make of it.
I truly believe that creation, life, and existence, are blessings and that the cosmos/God is either neutral or if we went about it in a Platonic or Hermetic approach, The Good.
Thanks again for doing this interview. Your answers show how Hermeticism may be an ancient spiritual system, but can still have relevance in our modern times. Is there anything else you want to add to the interview, maybe something we forgot to ask that you think is important to mention regarding Hermeticism?
I might suggest to anybody getting into Hermeticism, to make sure you are reading legitimate Hermetic texts, and take your time reading and contemplating the information.
If you have questions you can always ask on /r/Hermeticism, you will likely get an answer from me or one of the many great people who help and contribute to the subreddit.