An exclusive interview with the developers of the online course The Way of Hermes.
In the age of rapidly expanding digital knowledge, the pursuit of ancient wisdom and esoteric traditions is for many people mainly done on the internet. One such venture is The Way of Hermes, the innovative online course on Hermeticism, an ancient and profound philosophy that has fascinated seekers of knowledge for centuries. Delving into the depths of this timeless tradition, we had the opportunity to sit down with the minds behind this new hermetic journey.
Through their meticulous research, passion for ancient wisdom, and dedication to sharing transformative knowledge they have crafted an online experience that promises to unlock the practical wisdom of this mystical path, bringing its timeless teachings to a global online audience.
In this interview, we delve into the motivations that drove these developers to embark on this ambitious project. We learn about their initial inspiration to the countless hours spent researching and refining the course’s content, we gain a glimpse into the deep reverence they hold for this profound philosophy.
The two people behind this innovative course are determined to make ancient wisdom accessible to all, transcending the barriers of time to a place where the ancient and the modern converge to illuminate the path to self-discovery and spiritual growth.
1. Can you describe the overall development process you followed for creating the online course on Hermeticism?
“The Way of Hermes online course is a comprehensive course on Hermeticism following the Corpus Hermeticum and other Classical Hermetic texts, such as the Asclepius. The course is aimed at everyone, including beginners and advanced students of Hermeticism alike.
Because of this need to be comprehensive and user-friendly to all learners, the course starts by introducing some core Hermetic concepts as well as the ensemble of characters you will find throughout the textual Hermetica such as Hermes Trismegistus, Asclepius, Tat, Poimandres, etc. Each lesson and chapter builds upon the previous lessons, and the course is formed in such a way that the theoretical Hermeticism dominates the first half of the course and then practical Hermeticism dominates the second half.” -Patches
“The idea for developing the online course came about when we saw how much ‘bad Hermeticism’ is out there. When Hermeticism is mentioned most people think of the book The Kybalion or magical orders like The Golden Dawn, which have really not much to do with authentic Hermeticism. If we want people who are interested in Hermes Trismegistus and Hermeticism to not fall into the Kybalion-trap, we need to offer them something else.
So, the online course was developed to offer people interested in Hermeticism an easy-to-find place where they can find reliable information about authentic Hermeticism and where they can start with both the study and practice of this ancient spiritual way. And this is how we set up the development of the course. We wanted to offer people a step-by-step introduction to both the theory as well as the practice of the Way of Hermes.
Our online course is the only online course on authentic Hermeticism worldwide. We know that one website and one course will not be enough to fight the tsunami of ‘bad Hermeticism,’ but at least we hope it is a start.” – Sigismundo
2. What were the key steps involved in designing and structuring the course content?
“We wanted to make sure to cover both theoretical and practical Hermeticism in our course. Due to this factor, we dedicated about half the course to be based in Hermetic theory and philosophy while the other half is dedicated to the practicality and practice of Hermeticism in one’s own life.” -Patches
“The key steps involved were to design an online course that was both easy on the eye as easy to navigate through and to structure the online course in such a way that students, who maybe have no idea what authentic Hermeticism is about get introduced to it step by step without feeling bewildered or frustrated.
Regarding the design and structure we decided to use the best software we could find. We decided on using LearnDash as this learning management system (LMS) is trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, best-selling authors, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. The software is expensive, but now we have a good foundation to build the online course upon if we decide to add to it in the future. Maybe offer more personal lessons or give specific teachers access to their own classes and students.” – Sigismundo
3. How did you approach the selection and organization of the course materials and resources?
“Both Sigismundo and I have years of Hermetic study under our belts with a deep knowledge of the entire textual Hermetica as well as the secondary reference texts and even extra-Hermetic texts; but, we are also students as one never stops the process of learning. The course was developed with our own journeys, as well as the journeys of others, in mind as we wanted to share a clear path to the knowledge we have obtained through our solo and group studies.” -Patches
“Although the hermetic texts are freely or cheaply available, most of the studies necessary to understand this ancient way can only be found in rare, obscure, or expensive books. Especially the last couple of years many interesting and essential books and studies have been published, but most of them are financially out of reach. But authentic Hermeticism should not be only available, or understandable, to people with deep pockets or who work in the academic world.
So, we first selected all the information that is necessary (we think) to understand authentic Hermeticism, for example, important information on its Egyptian roots. This was of course a difficult process as we could not use everything. So, the second step was to filter all the information into two big piles, namely interesting or necessary for beginners and intermediate students, which is of course the biggest group, and a pile for advanced students.
As the online course is mainly targeted at beginners and intermediate students we decided to focus on the first pile. This meant that all the advanced information about the Rebirth (Book XIII of the Corpus Hermeticum) and the Discourse of the 8th and 9th Spheres from the Nag Hammadi texts – which we think are really only useful for advanced students – would only need to be addressed in a general way.
The last step was to organize everything in separate lessons and topics in a logical sequence so that students can learn and practice Hermeticism in small, easy to understand and easy to do steps.” -Sigismundo
4. What considerations did you make regarding the target audience when developing the course?
“As the website and online course were developed to ‘fight’ bad Hermeticism we decided that our target audience would be people who are starting to get interested in Hermeticism and people we maybe have taken their first steps on the Way of Hermes by buying and reading the hermetic texts but do not know where to go from there.
As the online course is mainly targeted at beginners and intermediate students we decided not to delve too much into the advanced stuff, namely the Rebirth (Book XIII of the Corpus Hermeticum) and the Discourse of the 8th and 9th Spheres. We think that the study and practice of these steps are very important in Hermeticism but maybe cannot be done well in an online course as it is probably necessary to find a teacher or hermetic friend that can assist with these steps. Of course, we do mention these important texts, but hopefully in a beginner-friendly way.” -Sigismundo
5. How did you ensure that the course content was accurate, reliable, and aligned with the principles of Hermeticism?
“To ensure a course that remains authentic to the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, we developed our syllabus around the teachings of The Corpus Hermeticum and we have also consulted the following additional sources in developing the online course:
- M. David Litwa, “Hermetica II” (Stobaean Fragments and many other smaller texts)
- Hans D. Betz, “The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation“
- Garth Fowden, “The Egyptian Hermes“
- Christian Bull, “The Tradition of Hermes Trismegistus“
- Kevin van Bladel, “The Arabic Hermes“
- Wouter J. Hanegraaff, “Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination“.
We worked with a team of editors and proofreaders that are well versed in Hermetic knowledge during the development of the online course, furthermore, the course undergoes additions, changes, and improvements over time as we (as developers) learn more and expand our own knowledge on Hermeticism.” -Patches
6. What challenges did you face during the development process, and how did you overcome them?
“The biggest challenge was to organize hundreds of books, texts, and studies in a coherent structure. And not all experts and studies agree with each other about important terms and subjects. The next challenge was learning the learning management system necessary to build the course. Another challenge was that after years of books and studies concerning authentic Hermeticism people will have strong opinions about it and therefore some people will not agree – or maybe even very strongly disagree – with some information we share in the course. The last challenge is making sure that people can find the website and the online course.
The first challenge was overcome by following our heart and imagining how it was for us when we started out. The online course does not need to be perfect and complete, as that would be impossible. It needs to be good enough that people can follow it and complete enough that people get a good idea of what authentic Hermeticism is, or can be for them. By doing this we also overcame the challenge of sharing possible controversial information.
The second challenge was overcome by finding our inner IT-nerd. Learning a new LMS is a challenge but luckily it was relatively easy to learn, install and set up.
The last challenge is still something we are struggling with. The amount of bad Hermeticism out there is immense. How many social media posts, websites, and YT-videos are out there about the Kybalion? And every day hundreds more are being added. It is undoable for us to get to the top search results when someone is looking for Hermeticism. We are therefore very dependent on people sharing the website and the course by word of mouth.” -Sigismundo
7. Did you collaborate with subject matter experts or other individuals during the course development? If so, how did you leverage their expertise?
“Actually, yes! We collaborated with the finest Hermetic groups that Reddit and Discord have to offer, r/Hermeticism (Reddit) and the “Hermetic House of Life” (Discord) which includes members that range from beginners all the way to Hermetic experts and teachers. While Sigismundo and I spearheaded the course, it was an open source project from its inception with knowledge and input from many members of these Hermetic groups taken into consideration.” -Patches
8. How did you test and gather feedback on the course during its development, and how did you iterate and improve based on that feedback?
“During the development of the online course, we created a Discord-channel for collaborators to discuss and share feedback. We uploaded all the texts to Google Drive and invited people to read and edit them. After all the texts were final, we copied them to the LMS and gave people access to the online course on the website, so they could try out and give feedback on their final form.
We gave a couple of carefully selected playtesters access to the online course before its official launch and asked them to share their experiences and feedback. And after the official launch, we created a Subreddit for interested people and students to discuss the course and give feedback.
It is great to see that we get mainly positive reviews and not much (critical) feedback. So it seems we have succeeded in our first humble goals. The online course is affordable, easy to use, and easy to understand. This leaves us with completing our final quest, namely slaying the powerful dragon called Kybalion so that authentic Hermeticism can take its place and pure hermetic wisdom can once again reach the hearts of seekers.” -Sigismundo
9. Before we finish, is there anything you would like to let everyone know?
“We are available for further interviews and to answer any questions, comments, or inquiries. We can be contacted at WayOfHermes.email@example.com
The Way of Hermes will have many exciting things to come! We are constantly uploading new blog posts and we are also currently looking over the logistics of personal video chats and possibly hosting live online classes in the future.
Thank you for your time. We really appreciate it!” -Patches