What is Hermeticism?

Hermeticism a Greco-Egyptian pagan philosophy with multiple texts and fragments that we can academically date from about the 3rd or 2nd century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. Although it is polytheistic in nature with the mention of multiple Greek and Egyptian gods in the texts, it is a monistic philosophy that believes there is a God/Father/the One/the All/Source/etc. that created all of the Cosmos, which is itself, essentially, a second God- a craftsman/creator (dēmiurgōs), created from God’s mind (νους).

Humankind is created by God as a sibling to the Creator because of our desire and ability to imitate the Creator, thus being put into creation. By participating in creation through Logos (λόγος) we can partake of, become, and join in this mind, or Nous, which is essentially akin to obtaining gnōsis or being one with God. The texts heavily reference reincarnation and suggest it as as way to go through multiple lives until we’ve finally made it to gnōsis.

Some other key points:

  • ⁠We are our souls and we are not our bodies
  • Hermeticism has a sort of rejection of the worldly, while at the same time acknowledging that the saddest part of humanity is that we need this materiality to live and survive in this life. “One must love thyself, but one must also hate thyself.” One of the hardest quote of Hermes for people to grasp.
  • ⁠This philosophy seems to have, as a basis, Platonism and also Egyptian temple religion at its core, but scholars are still going back and forth about whether one or the other had a more prominent and significant influence on Hermeticism, or if it was birthed and developed as a complete fusion of its time and of the Greco-Egyptian culture.
  • All of this is taught to us in texts through Hermēs Trismegistus (meaning “Thrice Great”- who gets his name from the Egyptian God, Thoth. Which would always be written in the Egyptian language as “Thoth O O O” each “O” representing a higher level of “great”-ness. So “Thoth O O O” = “Thoth, the great, the greater, the greatest.” Translated into a Greek we have simply: “Hermes, Thrice-Great” or Hermēs Trismegistus).
  • The texts not given to us through Hermēs Trismegistus are typically through His sons Asclepius and Tat, whom were taught by Hermēs previously.

This is just the quick rundown, as there is actually quite a bit more nuance to the whole philosophy, but this is a good jumping off point for beginning to learn about Hermeticism.

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