The Hermetic tradition is an ancient spiritual and philosophical system that emphasizes the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom as a path to spiritual growth and transformation.
At the heart of Hermeticism is the belief in a divine principle that is the essence of all of creation called Nous (divine mind), and the goal of Hermetic practice is to align oneself with this principle in order to achieve a state of unity and harmony with the cosmos.
One of the most powerful tools for achieving this state of alignment is prayer. In Hermeticism, prayer is not simply a petition for divine intervention or a plea for mercy, but rather a means of attuning oneself to the divine and invoking its presence and power in one’s life.
If you are interested in creating your own Hermetic prayers, you will find in this article some tips and suggestions to get you started.
A Hermetic dialogue between Hermes and Tat
In the Corpus Hermeticum there is not one specific book where Hermes talks specifically about the activity of prayer, but maybe such a text would have looked like this:
Hermes: ‘O son, I see that you are deep in thought. What is on your mind today?’
Tat: ‘O Father, I have been contemplating the role of prayer in our spiritual lives. Is it necessary to pray, or can we reach God without it?’
Hermes: ‘You ask an good question, my son. Prayer is a powerful tool for spiritual growth and transformation. It helps us connect with the divine and cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude and humility.’
Tat: ‘But how does prayer help us connect with God, O father? Is it simply a matter of asking for help or guidance?’
Hermes: ‘O son, prayer is much more than just asking for things. It is a way of aligning ourselves with God’s will and opening ourselves up to the guidance and wisdom that flows from it. When we pray, we are acknowledging our dependence on the divine and affirming our commitment to His will.’
Tat: ‘O father, I see. But what if we don’t feel comfortable praying in a traditional way? Is there another way to connect with the divine?’
Hermes: ‘Absolutely, my son. There are many ways to pray, and each person must find the approach that resonates best with them. Some may find comfort in reciting traditional prayers, while others may prefer to express themselves in their own words.’
Tat: ‘That makes sense, O father. But what about the idea that we can reach God without prayer? Is that possible?’
Hermes: ‘It is true that some individuals have reached God without prayer, O son, but for most of us, prayer is an essential part of the spiritual way. It helps us cultivate the qualities of piety, thankfulness, humility, and surrender that are necessary for true spiritual growth.’
Tat: ‘O father, Do I understand correctly that prayer is a way of connecting with the divine and cultivating spiritual growth, and there are many different ways to pray that each person must find for themselves.’
Hermes: ‘You have understood what I have said well, my son. Remember, the path to God is a unique journey for each person. The most important thing is to stay committed to the way and to learn to see with the eyes of the heart.’
Authentic hermetic prayers
In the authentic hermetic texts, we encounter two prayers. The first prayer is short and found at the end of Corpus Hermeticum Book I, after the Holy Trisagion.
Receive my pure offerings of speech offered to you by inner mind andCorpus Hermeticum
heart, thou who art unutterable, vast, beyond description, whose name art
spoken of in silence.
I beg you that I may not fall from the knowledge that leads towards my essence, and endow me with vitality; by this grace, I shall enlighten those of the race who are in ignorance, my brothers and sisters, your siblings. Wherefore, I have faith and I bear witness. I go to life and light. You are blessed, Father. Share your holiness with this human, as you have given him all authority.
The second prayer, known as the prayer of thanksgiving, is longer and found at the end of the book Asclepius (from paragraph 41):
“We render you thanks, most high and potent God, for it is only by your grace that we have come to the light of your knowledge. Holy and reverend is your name, the one name by which God alone is to be praised according to the religion of our fathers. We do indeed thank you since you deign to give all beings your paternal care, your religion and your love, and even sweeter, upon us you have bestowed these powers: perception, reason and intelligence; perception, that we may recognise you; reason, that we may follow up our intuition, and knowledge, that in knowing you we may find joy.Asclepius
Having been saved by your divine power we rejoice, because you have shown yourself to us in your totality. We rejoice, because while we are still in these bodies, you deign to consecrate us for Eternity. This is the only way human beings have of giving thanks: to acknowledge your majesty. We have known you and the supreme light by conscious intelligence alone. We understand you, O true life of life, O fertile womb of all that has come into being. O eternal steadfastness, we have known you in your conception of the whole of abundant Nature. In every prayer through which we reverence the Good of all good, we plead only for this: that you may wish us to continue to serve you in the love of your knowledge and that we may never be separated from this kind of life.“
There is also the secret hymn in Book XIII of the Corpus Hermeticum. This is more a song of praise, or hymn, than a prayer. Hermes does not want to impart this song easily, as it is only suitable to be sung by students who have reached the very end of the Way of Hermes. For this article, we, therefore, do not look at this secret hymn for inspiration.
Some common elements
To come up with our own hermetic prayers we can look for common elements found in the two authentic prayers above and see if we can incorporate them into our own prayers. Here are some common elements with suggestions for your own prayers:
Acknowledgment of God’s vast and unutterable nature
You can express this by using poetic and metaphorical language to describe the greatness and majesty of God. For example, you could describe God as a vast ocean or a boundless sky, emphasizing the sense of awe and wonder that comes with contemplating his infinite nature.
Request for guidance, understanding or light
You can express this by asking for God’s grace and wisdom to help you navigate life’s challenges and stay true to your faith. For example, you could ask for clarity and insight to help you discern God’s will in difficult situations, or for the strength to resist temptation and stay on the path of righteousness.
Expression of gratitude for God’s blessings
You can express this by thanking God for the gifts he has bestowed upon you, both material and spiritual. For example, you could thank God for the gift of mind, knowledge, and understanding, or the gifts of life, health, family, friends, and the opportunities and experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today.
Use of poetic language and metaphor
You can use vivid and imaginative language to express your love and devotion to God. For example, you could describe God as a loving parent who cares for his children, a radiant sun that brings light and warmth to the world, or a healing balm that soothes the soul and lifts the spirit.
Emphasis on the importance of knowledge (gnosis) and understanding (nous)
You can express this by acknowledging the importance of spiritual growth and seeking a deeper understanding of God’s will. For example, you could pray for the wisdom to discern truth from falsehood, or good from evil, the patience to persevere in the face of doubt and uncertainty, and the humility to admit your own limitations and shortcomings.
New Hermetic prayers
Based on the common elements and suggestions above we came up with three new prayers:
Prayer 1: Divine Father, we offer our purest words to you, knowing that it is only by your grace that we have come to know your unutterable and vast nature. Holy and reverend is your unutterable name, the one name by which you alone are to be praised. We give thanks for the gift of understanding (nous) that enables us to recognize your presence, and the power of reason (logos) that guides us towards your truth. Endow us with life and light, so that we may be a source of inspiration for those who are lost in ignorance. May we never fall from the knowledge that leads toward our essence and always bear witness to your infinite power.
Prayer 2: Most high and compassionate God, we offer our thanks for your paternal care and love, which have bestowed upon us the powers of perception, reason, and intelligence. We praise your holy name, the one name by which you alone are to be praised. We rejoice in the knowledge of your totality and consecration of our souls for eternity. Grant us the grace to always serve you in the love of our knowledge and may we never be separated from this kind of life. May we find joy in knowing you and may our prayers always be in reverence to the goodness of all that is good.
Prayer 3: O God, we come before you with grateful hearts for the gift of your divine grace that has brought us into the light of your knowledge. We acknowledge your majesty and holy name, which is spoken of in silence. We thank you for the gift of perception that allows us to recognize your glory, and the power of reason that enables us to follow our intuition. Through your divine power, we have been saved, and we rejoice in the knowledge of your presence. May we always seek your guidance and be a reflection of your holiness for all to see.
No prayers in the authentic hermetic texts mention Hermes as a prophet or guide. The reason is of course that in the hermetic texts it is Hermes himself who says the prayers, but we can direct our own prayers to him.
Here are three more prayers like the ones above but mentioning Hermes Trismegistus as Prophet and guide to Mankind.
Prayer 1: Thrice-great Hermes, Prophet and Guide of Mankind, we give thanks for the wisdom and knowledge that you have shared with us. You have revealed to us the mysteries of the universe and the secrets of the divine, and we are forever grateful for your teachings. Help us to walk in your way, to seek truth and understanding in all things, and to live our lives in accordance with your teachings. May your light continue to shine brightly, illuminating the way that leads to the divine.
Prayer 2: O Hermes Trismegistus, Herald of the divine and Teacher of the Wise, we beseech you to guide us on our journey towards the divine. You have shown us the way to spiritual transformation, and we are humbled by your teachings. Help us to awaken our minds (nous) and soul to the divine presence that surrounds us, and to become vessels of light and wisdom in this world. May your teachings continue to inspire us and guide us toward the realization of our highest potential as loving caretakers of the Cosmos.
Prayer 3: Beloved Hermes Trismegistus, we direct our prayers and devotion to you. You have shown us the way to the innermost depths of our being, and have revealed to us the way back to the divine. Help us to unlock the wisdom and knowledge that lies within us, and to use it for the betterment of all beings. May your guiding presence be with us always, and may we never lose sight of the truth that you have revealed to us.
Creating your own Hermetic prayers
We now know what are some common elements of hermetic prayers and we have some examples to use for inspiration. If you are interested in creating your own Hermetic prayers, here are some tips and suggestions to get you started.
Begin with an invocation
“We render you thanks, most high and potent God, for it is only by your grace that we have come to the light of your knowledge.”
The beginning of a Hermetic prayer typically includes an invocation or greeting that acknowledges the presence and power of the divine. This can be as simple as a statement of praise or gratitude, or it can be a more elaborate invocation that calls upon specific aspects of the divine.
For example, when directing your prayer to Hermes, you might begin your prayer with a statement like “Hermes Trismegistus, guide and teacher of humanity, I invoke your presence and wisdom in this moment.” This sets the tone for the rest of the prayer and establishes a connection with the divine.
Focus on specific themes or aspects of the divine
“Upon us you have bestowed these powers: perception, reason and intelligence; perception, that we may recognize you; reason, that we may follow up our intuition, and knowledge, that in knowing you we may find joy.”
Hermeticism is a rich and complex tradition, with many different aspects of the divine to explore and contemplate. When creating your own Hermetic prayer, it can be helpful to focus on specific themes or aspects of the divine that resonate with you.
For example, you might choose to focus on the divine qualities of wisdom and knowledge or the transformative power of spiritual growth and self-discovery. By focusing on specific themes, you can create a prayer that speaks directly to your own spiritual journey and aspirations.
Use language that speaks to your heart
“Receive my pure offering of speech offered to you by inner mind and heart, thou who art unutterable, vast, beyond description, who art spoken of by silence.”
When creating your own Hermetic prayer, it’s important to use language that speaks to your heart and resonates with your own spiritual journey. This might mean using formal language and archaic terms, or it might mean using more modern language and phrases that feel more personal and intimate.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to create a prayer that feels authentic and meaningful to you, and that helps you connect with the divine in a deep and profound way.
End with a statement of affirmation or gratitude
“We plead only for this: that you may wish us to continue to serve you in the love of your knowledge and that we may never be separated from this kind of life.”
At the end of your Hermetic prayer, it can be helpful to include a statement of affirmation or gratitude that affirms your connection with the divine and expresses your gratitude for its presence and power in your life.
For example, when directing your prayer to Hermes, you might end your prayer with a statement like “Thrice-great Hermes, I am grateful for your guidance and wisdom, and I affirm my commitment to seeking knowledge and spiritual growth on the path of the Hermetic tradition.“
Study the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus
Before creating a hermetic prayer, it is essential to have a good understanding of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus. Read his works, such as the Corpus Hermeticum and Asclepius, and contemplate their messages. This will give you a deeper understanding of the principles of hermeticism, which you can incorporate into your prayer.
Reflect on your personal experiences
Reflect on your personal experiences and how they relate to hermetic principles. What has helped you to connect with the divine? What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them with the help of the divine? Use these experiences to create a prayer that reflects your unique spiritual journey.
Hermes: “Wherefore my son, when giving thanks to God, you should pray for a mind that is noble. Then the soul can pass to a better state, not to a worse.”Corpus Hermeticum
Consider the purpose of the prayer
What is the purpose of the prayer you want to create? Is it to seek guidance, express gratitude, or request protection? Knowing the purpose of the prayer can help you to choose the right words and tone to create an effective prayer.
Hermes: “Tat, pray first to the Lord and Father; he is single, but not the One, apart from whom is the One. Pray that through grace you will be able to perceive God as so great that even just one ray of Him may shine in your mind.”Corpus Hermeticum
What are the best times and places for Hermetic prayers?
Now that you know how you can create your own hermetic prayers, the next step is knowing what are the best times and places to do them. But besides time and place, the right mindset is also important.
Hermes: “And so, O son, standing under the clear sky, and facing the south wind, at the setting of the sun, bow down; do likewise facing east at sunrise.“Corpus Hermeticum
The Hermetic tradition places great emphasis on the timing of spiritual practices, and prayer is no exception. The ideal times for prayer are considered to be dawn and sunset. Praying at these times can help you align your spiritual practice with the natural rhythms of the universe.
The place where you pray should be quiet, clean, and conducive to meditation. The Hermetic tradition encourages the use of sacred spaces, such as temples or shrines, for prayer.
If you don’t have access to a temple, you can create a sacred space in your home by setting aside a quiet corner for prayer and meditation. Decorate this space with symbols of your faith and use it exclusively for your spiritual practices.
Before beginning your prayer, take a few moments to clear your mind and focus on your intention. The Hermetic tradition emphasizes the importance of mental clarity and focus in spiritual practices. You can do this by taking a few deep breaths and visualizing yourself surrounded by divine light.
What not to do
‘O Tat, do you think that we should suggest to your father that he order frankincense and perfumes to be used when we say our prayer to God?’
When Trismegistus heard Asclepius suggest this he sternly reprimanded him, saying that it is almost sacrilege to burn frankincense and other things when you pray to God.
The reason that you do not need to thank God with material things, and this probably also holds for material sacrifices, is that God lacks nothing because He Himself is all things or in whom are all things. Rather you should adore Him in giving thanks since this is the finest incense for God: thanks given to Him by you as a human being.
Personal and intimate experience
Following the tips and suggestions in this article, you can hopefully create a powerful and effective Hermetic prayer practice that will help you connect with the divine and deepen your spiritual understanding.
Creating a hermetic prayer is a personal and intimate experience. Allow yourself the time and space to connect with the divine and find the words that best express your spiritual aspirations. With practice, you can develop your own unique voice and create powerful prayers that reflect your personal journey toward the divine.
Remember that the most important aspect of prayer is your intention and sincerity, so approach your practice with an open heart and a willingness to learn and grow.