Is the Way of Hermes workable today?
Despite several thousand years, humanity has not fundamentally changed: we still eat, sleep, shit, procreate, fight, live, and die, much the same as our forebears did and have done. While there’s many things that are different nowadays compared to previous times, it’s mostly just window dressing and aesthetics.
The same major problems that plague us today are the same problems that the authors (and their students) of the Hermetica would have faced, so there is no need to “update” or “reinterpret” much of the Hermetic texts (except where the texts talk about biological or cosmological topics where it’s clearly not accurate, but that’d apply to any religious tradition or such texts, too).
Followers of the Way of Hermes are supposed to live their lives reverently and devoutly, coming to know God through the works of the divine and the workings of divine Nature. As part of this, they also need to come to know themselves (gnōthi seauton). This live dedicated to honoring and cultivating the divine is now just as important as it was 2000 years ago.
What this entails means we need to relearn, remember, and reclaim our divine nature from ourselves, yes, but that also means coming to learn about our purpose, function, and role to play in life, both as an essential human being in soul and as an incarnate human being in body.
To that end, in the course of our coming to revere and honor God and the cosmos of God’s creation, we engage in our proper works concerning both (which are unique to each individual person), and (since we’re endowed with all the powers of creation ourselves, as CH I states) we do so fundamentally as co-creators of creation with God.
How do we do this?
Based on the classical Hermetic texts and informed by what came afterward, we have a pretty good notion of the big things we need to do. This exercises are still just as useful for us, as they were for the followers of Hermes thousands of years ago. They consist of:
- Prayer to God (including silent adoration)
- Prayer and offerings to the gods (depending on your religion and spiritual path, as well as depending on what you consider “gods”)
- Purification, both in terms of physical pollution as well as spiritual vice
- Cultivating right-thinking and right-living so that we avoid engaging in evil and train ourselves to become better at being and becoming human
There’s certainly a lot more than just this, of course, and the specific kinds of practices you engage with will need to consider what your background is, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what it is you need to accomplish.
However, all of this can be summed up by CH III.3:
“We are made to observe the sign-seeding acts of Heaven, the course of the heavenly gods, the works of the divine, and the working of Nature so that we might be able to examine that which is Good and know the turbulent lots of divine Power, since we are made to come to know that which is Good and that which is not and to discover the arts of everything that is good (or Good).“CH III.3
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