How to start your own group to study the Hermetica – Tips and Pitfalls
Starting your own group, either online or offline, to study the Corpus Hermeticum and other hermetic texts can be both fun and important. Starting your own group offers many benefits, including personal growth, community building, and the preservation of knowledge.
In Ancient Egypt, small groups of mystics probably met in temples or houses to study and discuss the hermetic texts. In the early days of the Way of Hermes, these groups were probably centered around a spiritual master and consisted of only a few students. The books that are preserved in the Corpus Hermeticum might very well be the writings of these early groups.
Garth Fowden, in his The Egyptian Hermes, proposed that the followers of the Way of Hermes met in groups resembling the Gnostics: “small, informal circles of the literate but not (usually) learned gathered round a holy teacher and given up to study, asceticism and pious fellowship.”
Fowden likens these circles to those of the Platonists, the Manichaeans, and especially the Gnostics, with a two-tiered structure of initiates and “listeners”. Egyptian priests may have been involved with such groups.
Wouter Hanegraaff in his book Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination describes the activities of these hermetic groups as:
“The chief elements of communal practice suggested by the sources are prayers or hymns, and it seems that meetings were followed by a vegetarian meal. As practitioners got together, they probably opened their sessions with a prayer for divine inspiration or a moment of meditative silence. Hence at the beginning of the Asclepius, we are told that the room falls silent while the four men feel the divine presence taking possession of the space, and the experiential part of NH VI6 begins with a prayer. What happened next? I assume that a large part of the actual practice would be done at home, in the form of meditative exercises focused on calming the bodily passions, achieving a state of equanimity, and learning to concentrate on true reality. Hence it would make sense that during communal meetings, practitioners would seek advice from the elders about how to deal with problems or obstacles they were encountering in their daily practice, how to meditate more effectively, or how to respond to changes in consciousness or unexpected phenomena that might occur. It seems likely that part of the meetings would be devoted to some form of group meditation under the guidance of the leader. Then, of course, teachers would be giving lectures and engaging in discussions of the kind that we find in the Hermetic treatises.“Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination
Nowadays finding such dedicated like-minded groups is difficult, but why not start your own group? It is not necessary to find a living hermetic teacher as there are plenty of authentic hermetic texts to study and learn from.
Why is starting your own group important?
Studying the Corpus Hermeticum and other hermetic texts can be a fascinating and rewarding experience. These texts offer a unique perspective on spirituality, philosophy, and mysticism, and delving into them with a group of like-minded individuals can be a fun and engaging way to learn.
Joining or creating a group to study these texts can also be a great way to meet new people and build a sense of community around a shared interest. By discussing and exploring these texts together, you may find that you deepen your understanding and appreciation of them and develop close relationships with other members of the group.
On our Community-page you will find links to online communities where you might meet people that want to help you in starting a local group.
The hermetic texts can be complex and multi-layered, and exploring them in a group can provide valuable insights and perspectives that you may not have considered on your own. As a group, you can discuss and debate the meaning of these texts and gain a deeper understanding of the ideas they convey.
Studying the Corpus Hermeticum and other hermetic texts can be an important part of personal growth and development. These texts can challenge your existing beliefs and provide a new perspective on the world, which can lead to personal growth and self-discovery.
Studying the Hermetica can also be important for the preservation of knowledge. These texts offer a unique insight into the history of spirituality and philosophy, and by studying them, you can help preserve this knowledge for future generations.
How to start a group?
Below 9 steps that you could follow to create a group that studies the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus:
1. Research the Hermetic tradition: Before creating the group, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus and the Hermetic tradition. Read the Corpus Hermeticum, other Hermetic texts, and secondary sources that provide historical context and analysis. The online course The Way of Hermes can be a good starting point and it can also give your new group some useful structure.
2. Define the group’s purpose: Determine what the group’s goals and objectives are, and what kind of activities and events you would like to organize. For example, you may want to focus on the study and practice of Hermetic philosophy and spirituality, or you may want to learn and practice magic and theurgy, or maybe you want to explore the Hermetic tradition’s influence on other esoteric and spiritual traditions like alchemy, the Golden Dawn or Sufism.
3. Find like-minded individuals: Reach out to people who are interested in the Hermetic tradition and who share your goals and interests. You can use social media, online forums, or local groups to find potential members. On our Community-page you will find links to recommended online communities.
4. Organize meetings and events: Once you have a core group of members, start organizing meetings and events. You could hold regular study groups, workshops, and lectures
5. Establish a governance structure: Every group needs people that take the lead. Decide on the size of the leadership team and how decisions will be made. Consider using a democratic model so that all members have a say in what the group does. The book Inside the Magical Lodge can give you some useful advice.
6. Plan activities and events: Determine how often the group will meet and what format the meetings will take, such as lectures, discussions, or workshops. Plan activities and events that will engage members and promote the study of the Corpus Hermeticum and the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus. Make sure to also organize social events, like cooking and sharing meals.
7. Choose a location for meetings: Decide on a suitable location for meetings, such as a community center, library, or private residence. You do not need any special things for a hermetic group, only some study materials like pens and paper, chairs or cushions to sit on, and some food and drinks. But you can also meet online, for example using Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
8. Create a system for communication: Set up a method for members to communicate and share information, such as a group email list, social media platform, or online forum.
9. Build partnerships: Reach out to other organizations and individuals who share a similar interest in the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus to increase visibility and reach a wider audience.
What are some pitfalls to avoid?
Some potential pitfalls that a group focused on studying the Corpus Hermeticum and the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus may face are:
1. Lack of understanding or misinterpretation of the teachings: Without proper guidance and understanding, some members may misinterpret or misunderstand the teachings, which could lead to confusion or division within the group.
2. Limited membership: There may be a limited number of individuals interested in the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, which could make it difficult to find people and maintain an active membership.
3. Differing interpretations and perspectives: The teachings of Hermes Trismegistus have been interpreted and understood in different ways over time, and members of the group may have differing perspectives and interpretations. This can lead to disagreements and disputes within the group.
4. Insufficient funding or resources: Without sufficient funding or resources, it may be difficult to sustain the group’s activities and events, and to attract new members.
5. Inadequate leadership or governance structure: If the group lacks strong leadership or a clear governance structure, decision-making may become difficult and there may be a lack of direction or accountability.
6. Time constraints: Members may have limited time and resources, which can limit their ability to participate fully in the group’s activities and events.
It is important for the group to be aware of these potential challenges and to have a plan in place to address them. This can help to ensure the success and longevity of the group. Make sure to discuss these pitfalls with the members and ask them to come up with solutions.
What is a good name for the group?
In case you struggle with coming up with a name for your group, here are some suggestions for names for a group focused on studying the Corpus Hermeticum and the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus:
The Hermetic Order
The Hermetic Society
The Trismegistian Circle
The Hermetic Study Circle
The Hermetic Study Group
The Hermetic Fellowship
The Hermetic Philosophy Group
The Hermetic Temple of Wisdom
It’s important to choose a name that reflects the mission and purpose of the group, and that is memorable and easily recognizable. Ultimately, the name should serve as an effective tool for attracting new members and promoting the study of the Hermetica.
Starting your own group to study the Corpus Hermeticum and other hermetic texts can be a fun and rewarding experience that offers many benefits, including personal growth, community building, and the preservation of knowledge, but make sure to avoid the pitfalls.
If you have experience starting or maintaining such a group please leave a reply below with your tips and maybe pitfalls to avoid.