The Father, the Mother, the Son: Musings on the Hermetic Trinity
This article explores the concept of the Hermetic Trinity. Some might say: “No! The trinity is a Christian concept, and has nothing to do with Hermeticism!” and don’t even want to talk about it. This is obviously true. The Hermetic Trinity has little to do with the Christian Trinity.
The Trinity is mentioned in Hermetic texts (sulphur, salt, mercury) and it is different from the Christian trinity, which has its own unique principles and evolved over the centuries in a way that’s different from the Hermetic Trinity, but Hermetic Trinity is still a trinity.
Now let me say what I’ve understood the Hermetic Trinity to be.
Because God is so perfect, he can do nothing but create, but his creation is not separate from Himself, and is only an emanation of God: the cosmos emanates from God and man emanates from the cosmos, forming a trinity God/Cosmos/Man (triplex natura personarum).
We sometimes also speak of paternity, to indicate man’s kinship with God. In antiquity people often spoke of a creator Father, of a Mother and a Son. There is only one God ontologically speaking. But God exists in three persons.
The triad can also be described, depending on the context, in terms of The Word (Logos), the Mind-Maker (Nous-Demiurgos), the Man (Anthropos).
The father is transcendent, and not knowable by Man, except indirectly when he manifests Himself in His creation. He is hidden and the source of All.
It is also called the infinitely Good or Poimandres in the Hermetica. He is androgynous, and because of his androgyny one could say that He was born from Himself. Sometimes He is considered to be unborn or without origin or ungenerated.
Man can ascend to Him, or at least aspire to be one with Him. When we think of the trinity the Christian trinity comes to mind, but unlike the Christian God, the hermetic God is not directly involved in earthly matters. He neither punishes nor forgives; sin and forgiveness are unknown concepts in hermetic thought.
The Mother is the Cosmos. The Cosmos, according to hermeticists, is the second living being after God. It is produced by God, who is hidden in It but with the knowledge of reality in all its aspects, the way to God is unblocked.
The Mother proceeds from the Father. At no time have the Hermeticists, whoever they were, declared that the Mother also proceeds from the Son. From the womb of the Mother, Man is generated.
The Son is Man, who proceeds from the Father. Man is called the third living thing and surpasses all other living things on earth. The Son has full form identity with the Father and He is in love with nature (Physis), and has a dual nature: according to His body he is material, mortal and Not Good, but according to his inner being He is spiritual, immortal and He’s Good.
In his material body there is also the true spiritual Man, who is characterized not only by Spirit (soul) but also by Understanding (logos) and Mind (nous). The current view is that the Mind gives Man Understanding, and that the Soul gives Him the intuitive vision of the Unity of things.
These two can be brought into unconsciousness by the desires of the body, a state experienced as deep sleep or drunkenness. In this state Man knows and experiences his true Self, experiences the Unity with the Divine.
It is useful to remember the principle of correspondence. This principle says that there is always a correspondence between the phenomena of the different planes of life or dimensions.
Macrocosm and microcosm, in the hermetic and esoteric fields, designate two entities of which one is a scaled-down reproduction of the other, and which due to their similarity form an indivisible whole, a unity where the parts (the microcosm) are relation to the whole (the macrocosm).
Man is the microcosm of the universe, within us we have everything that is present outside of us. Everything that exists, in the various planes, derives from a divine primary energy that is the source of life of the whole universe and manifests itself in all planes or dimensions. Understanding this rule means solving many of the many paradoxes and secrets of nature.
One of the mysteries of nature is the concept of the Trinity. Some people wonder why Hermeticism is not polytheistic given that it speaks of a Trinity. The Trinity of divine personae/persons in Hermeticism does not question Unity, because each person, is truly distinct from the others, and it is identified with the one divine substance.
The “Trinity is therefore consubstantial” and the three persons are hypostases of the One. “Hypostasis” is a Greek word that was used for the first time in the first century BC by the thinker Posidonius. Means “manifestation”, “essence” or “foundation”.
Causality causes in God the distinction of persons, who occupy a certain place in the Trinity. The Father is unbegotten, the Son begotten (from the Father), and the Mother proceeds (from the Father).
The whole Trinity participates in his mission through a common energy since all divine energies are common to the whole of the Trinity.
The fact that the two hypostases derive only from the Father creates the easily dissipated impression of the monarchy of the paternal hypostasis. But the properties of the Son and of the Mother are certainly not held inferior to those of the Father; they are effectively distinct only in relation to the cause which must remain rigorously single to avoid any kind of dualism, but they are not so in relation to uncreated nature.
The hypostases are not called first, second and third; they are of equal value – and unnumbered -, they are designated by their name, they are one God, All kinds of subordination lead to polytheism.
These distinct hypostases are related in such a way that none can be conceived without the others and that each presupposes the other two. They constitute three perfect persons, inseparably united.
The unity of the hypostases of the triad is happily expressed by the identification of power, energy and will. The activity of the Trinity is common although certain energies appear at times to separate due to the hypostases.
In creation, for example, the Father is the initial cause of all that is created in the world, the Son the creative cause and the Mother the perfecting cause, but the source is unique. It is a unified will; each hypostasis is willing to act in accord with the others.
The word person is different from the word personality. The human mind can understand that there are 3 persons but does not know God’s personality, which remains a mystery, because God is unknowable.
To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Mother – is equivalent to believing in one God or Godhead who is Love, but this is equivalent to saying: God exists in a three-way relationship, as every relationship requires: a lover, a loved one and a love that unites them, that unites the persons of God. It’s a perfect trialogue.
Written by: Sara Caredda