Emerald Tablet of Hermes
"The winds gushing at my face, I pushed hard into the darkness. I was not going to give up. I had waited all my life for this chance. *cough*"
"Great grandfather, are you ok?" you ask concernedly, while eyeing the frail old man sitting before you. Even though he has outlived even your own father, he still looks no older than 50. Nevertheless, you know in your own heart that time isn’t his friend.
You gently touch his hand to comfort him. He cracks a smile and looks at you fondly.
"You have come into your own and your power as a magus is well recognized. Why do you keep harassing a dying man with requests fit only for children?" His eyes brighten as he watches you squirm.
"Grandfather, you know very well that you never get tired of telling the story of the discovery of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, by the founder our order." You assume a look of indignation and hurt over your grandfather’s jab.
You press on, "One would think it was you who actually discovered the tablet and not Apollonius of Tayana!"
Surprisingly, your grandfather falls silent for a few minutes as he closes his eyes. You are not sure if he is in deep contemplation or his pangs of pain have returned. He opens them with a serious look on his face.
"Tell me, young magus, what do they say about the tablet in the halls of the laity?"
"I am sorry, grandfather. They say that the Tablet is of Egyptian origin and some say it comes from a long lost civilization. The Wushwush shamans who sell many of their miracle ointments in the bazaars now say that the tablet contains the key to the laws of fascinations. All that the common men need to do is focus their minds on their desires, form these in their imaginations and the Gods, like wish-fulfilling genies, will bring it into their lives."
"Then it is time. It is time you know the full story of the Emerald Tablet and its mysteries. It is time for you to reveal those mysteries to others so that the keys of our art are not lost."
Your grandfather spasms in pain as a chain of coughs waves through his frail body.
Grandfather! Maybe later…"
"No! The sands of my hour glass have almost run out. I can’t afford later."
You listen attentively.
"Many moons ago our hero was born in an old city, known in our tongue as Tuwanuwa, located at the feet of the Taurus Mountains and near the Cilician gates."
"Apollonius of Thoana or Tyana." You nod your head and let your grandfather continue his story.
"Indeed! In the prosperous city of Thoana was a stone statue on a golden pedestal. It was a statute of one of the Hermes."
"Was it Hermes Charidotes, the Giver of Charms, or was it Hermes the Babylonian who travelled to Alexandria with the migration of the Chaldean Magi?"
"I will let the hero tell the story! On the pedestal was written:
I am Hermes thrice wise. I made this sign publically and veiled it with my wisdom so it could only be reached by a sage like me.
On the chest of the statue was written:
Whoever wants to learn the mysteries of creation and craft of nature, look underneath my feet.
People would look at the feet of the statue and see nothing but dirt. Year after year the puzzle remained unsolved – that is until our hero was of age."
Your grandfather squints his eyes, as if trying to remember an event that occurred to him long ago. He takes a deep breath and continues:
"Our hero was an orphan in his youth. He was a poor boy, but what he lacked in gold he made up for with his strong mind and inquisitive nature. He returned to that statue when he had become a mature man."
"He figured it out, didn’t he?" you ask, although redundantly, for you heard this part of the tale so many times growing up as a child yourself.
"Yes! He began to dig underneath the statue and discovered a tunnel leading to a catacomb. It was a catacomb filled with suffocating darkness and terrifying wind. You see, not a single ray of sunlight made it inside this catacomb. Whoever built it was a master magician and was especially adept at summoning the winds."
"That is the point where the hero says in his journal: "The winds gushing at my face, I pushed hard into the darkness. I was not going to give up. I had waited all my life for this chance."
The old man cracks a smile at you.
"Indeed you remember! He said that and he pushed hard, but he failed. The talismanic enchantment placed inside the catacomb meant the winds wouldn’t let up. He couldn’t keep a torch lit if his life depended on it. He couldn’t see, so he had no choice but leave heartbroken. But the tale doesn’t end here …"
"I thought it did, because we also seem to go back to the beginning the next time you tell it."
"No, it doesn’t, because our hero was special. He was one of the chosen. Just as he was succumbing to sadness and a sense of abject failure, he was rescued by a materialization of a being that looked just like him!"
"Who was it, grandfather, that appeared to him?"
"Shsh...all things will become clear in their due time. Anyway, where was I?"
"He saw an apparition that looked like himself."
"Ah yes! The apparition spoke to him and said: ‘O Apollonius get up and enter this catacomb to reach the knowledge of the secrets of creation and from it, attain the craft of nature.’ Apollonius, puzzled by all this, replied, ‘I can’t see in its darkness and no torch will remain lit, due to the strong winds.’"
You wonder why, in the past, your grandfather has never finished his story. You always thought it was due to age, but now you know better.
"Where did I put that? Ah yes, here it is." He picks up a blanket and wraps himself in it.
"The apparition didn’t seem at all phased by Apollonius’ objections. He looked at him and again commanded him to go back in: ‘O Apollonius get up and enter the catacomb. Put your light in a transparent glass bottle to shield it from the winds and it will not extinguish and you will be illuminated by its light in the darkness.’ Apollonius was really ecstatic at that idea, but one more question remained unanswered."
"Who was this apparition?"
"That is the question isn’t it? Apollonius outright asked him: ‘Who are you, for you have given me a gift?’ The apparition responded: ‘I am your subtle perfect qualities.’"
Your grandfather seems to be waiting for your ‘aha!’ moment to hit. Moments pass without a word spoken. Showing signs of mild frustration and disappointment he proceeds:
"There is a great mystery in this revelation. For the qualities in question are: coldness, dryness, heat, and moisture. There are two major states.
There are the subtle and the dense. The dense is all that we see with our exterior senses from the physical world.
The subtle matter is what we refer to as Ruah or Pneuma – of which sentient and intelligent spiritual bodies are made from transparent, spiritual light, which are connected with the physical bodies of all things. It is the substance from which all other qualities emerge. In its purest form is known as Aether or the Light of the Heavens and the Earth."
"What does the subtle body influence?"
"It influences your inner senses such as intuition, spiritual sight, logic, deduction and all other facets of deep consciousness. This is why, when the apparition had left, Apollonius stated that he awoke. For he was in a state many would consider similar to dreaming, as his awareness was more attached to the subtle spiritual state than the veiled materialism."
"Did he successfully venture in and what did he find?"
"The glass did indeed keep the flame safe from the wind. Inside the catacomb, he found an elderly man sitting on a golden chair and in one hand was an Emerald tablet. Written on the tablet was:
This is the description of nature.
Between his hands was a book; written in it was the mystery of creation and the knowledge of causes of all things. He contentedly took the book and left the catacomb."
"The Emerald Tablet of Hermes," you repeat reverently.
The old man bites his lips and looks unsure about how to proceed.
"It is true that many of the scrolls containing the record of the Tablet of Hermes used the word Zumrud, which means of greenish color or emerald. It is also true that many such records remain locked in the library of our elders that refer to it as Zabarjad, which is peridot."
"I should point out that although Zumrud was used mainly to refer to Emeralds, Zabarjad had dual meaning. It was sometimes used as another name for Peridot."
"Peridot Tablet of Hermes," you intone, not as confident as you were a few minutes earlier.
"It is still green in color even if it may not have been an Emerald stone. Do you still carry your copy of the Tablet of Hermes?"
"Yes and, believe it or not, many copies of it with variations are being sold by scribes and the wushwush shamans. I fear, grandfather, that if we don’t preserve the original, its meaning will be lost to us forever."
"I am saddened, but not surprised. Our copy comes directly from the Book of Causes by Apollonius himself. He said the original inscriptions he found were in the primordial language, the language of the Assyrians, or Eastern Syriac.
It has been considered to be the holy language of magic by many of the Near East, for it is the closest to the liturgical language of the Magi of Chaldea and Harran. Very few today speak the sacred Akkadian language, so it is easy for wushwush shamans to pass off the mistranslations of scribes in modern tongues as great truth."
"Here let me read it to you, grandfather:
1) It contains an accurate commentary that can’t be doubted.
2) It states: What is the above is from the below and the below is from the above. The work of wonders is from one.
3) And all things sprang from this essence through a single projection. How marvelous is its work! It is the principle part of the world and its custodian.
4) Its father is the sun and its mother is the moon. Thus the wind bore it within it and the earth nourished it.
5) Father of talismans and keeper of wonders.
6) Perfect in power that reveals the lights.
7) It is a fire that became our earth. Separate the earth from the fire and you shall adhere more to that which is subtle than that which is coarse, through care and wisdom.
8) It ascends from the earth to the heaven. It extracts the lights from the heights and descends to the earth containing the power of the above and the below for it is with the light of the lights. Therefore the darkness flees from it.
9) The greatest power overcomes everything that is subtle and it penetrates all that is coarse.
10) The formation of the microcosm is in accordance with the formation of the macrocosm.
11) The scholars made this their path.
12) This is why Thrice Hermes was exalted with wisdom.
13) This is his last book that he hid in the catacomb."
"Do you know why it says the above is from below and the below from the above? There are two interpretations to this mystery.
The first has to do with the movements of the qualities in a single circuit. From the four compounds emerge four Elements: Fire (Heat and Dryness), Air (Heat and Moisture), Water (Coldness and Moisture), and Earth (Coldness and Dryness).
Fire and Air are considered of the above since they are light in weight. Earth and Water are considered of the below for they are heavy in weight. All of them are united by a single quality that is subtle and luminous, known as Aether or Spirit. They are from each other, because they are of the same substance and are nothing more than various mixtures of the same qualities. The air of the above contains the water of the below. Just like the earth of the below contains the fires of the above.
The second interpretation has to do with the connections between the celestials and terrestrials. The upper world is filled with stars and planets whose subtle bodies directly affect the compositions of things in our terrestrial world.
This is why the sages have ascribed to each of the above a myriad of things from the world of the below, such as foods, smells, colors, animals, metals, and so on. This emanating Spirit penetrates both the subtle and dense bodies of these terrestrial beings and things and influences them because they all share the one quality and are united by a harmony."
"Grandfather, are you saying that these qualities and Elements in my nature are the same as those in this tree in our garden?"
"Yes, they are. Your qualities can influence their qualities through the agency of the One. Through this Spirit, all kinds of wonders that many call magic can be done in the world by the interactions of the qualities and their various compounds."
"It said all things sprang from this essence in a single projection."
"Indeed, for this world is a projection of the One thing. We look at the various mixtures and compositions of the qualities as they form different dense bodies and give them names. The darkness hides the subtle bodies from the senses and hinders a person’s qualities from ascension on the ladder of the spirit of wisdom."
"What happens if a person is connected with the subtle body?"
"If a person is in harmony with the subtle body, then the light of the One will penetrate the dense body. It will lift the darkness from the exterior senses and fill the interior senses. That person will be empowered over all things by this subtle and luminous power."
"Is that why it was called the principle part of the World and its custodian?"
"Correct! For no matter the compound of qualities and the variations of species, they are all projections of the same quality. Only through it can things occur, even if it appears that we have taken action to bring about changes."
"What does this have to do with talismans?"
"If the subtle luminous body enters an object such a statue, it shall give to it what in nature is known as a soul. That is why one of the greatest secrets of the Magi lies in animating statues or golems and bringing them into life. It was said that they would place words inside them and they would have the power of speech. This is the greatest talisman.
The lesser talisman is when the powers of the stars are summoned by a perfect subtle body of the sage, to enter into the dense body of the talisman. It is then empowered not only with the ability to affect other dense and subtle bodies through the agency of the one quality, but it also develops a soul."
"No wonder it was called Father of Talismans and Keeper of Wonders. What is the meaning of the Sun and the Moon?"
"There are again two mysteries. The first has to do with the art of talismans. The Sun and the Moon are the two luminaries and their movements and alignments are essential to the great works of our art. When the moon moves through various mansions, from it descend different Ruhaniah or Pneuma that will affect the various mixtures of qualities being evoked.
The rising of the Sun on the horizon and its cycle through the great belt of the heaven are also important in determining the nature of the subtle energy present that can be infused into the body of the talisman.
It is futile to try to summon the subtle body of love at a time that the luminaries are emanating subtle bodies of conflict.
The second has to do with the soul of the sage and the four stones of the work. The sun is the Fire and the moon is the Water. With the wind (Air) and the Earth, they form the four elemental compositions in all things. They all contain the fifth element, which empowers the subtle body of the sage. To attain perfection of this subtle body, the sage must complete the work of the four stones toward perfecting his qualities.
You need to purify your nature to perfect the stone of Fire. You need to make your spirit tranquil to perfect the stone of Water. You need to cleanse your body to perfect the stone of Earth. You need to stabilize your imagination and whims to perfect the stone of Air.
It is why the sages before us have said:
He whose nature is pure, whose spirit is tranquil, his body cleansed, and his imagination and whims stabilized, and who has followed the truth, has gained a great kingdom."
"Is this why in our initiations we focus on the movement of the four Elements?"
"The apprentice must do the work of the four stones and be empowered by the subtle bodies of the Elements to balance and perfect his qualities. The Tablet of Hermes states that the Spirit is a fire that becomes our earth.
The Fire is the above of the above, while the Earth is the below of the below. The Fire represents the creative subtle body that contains the power of regeneration and destruction. It has transformed through the circuit of qualities into Earth. Our Earth is our bodies, just like the Fire is the subtle body of the life-giving force of the One that becomes the seed of our soul body.
When only manifested through the dense, this Fire is the energy raised in the groin. When you focus your fire away from the dense and free your Fire, then it will return to its natural state as subtle. It will manifest as light that flows through your dense body and you will have a stronger connection with the subtle bodies."
"Why is that important?"
"It is important because then you come into harmony with things that are subtle. At which point, it is easier for you to summon the subtle force of greater things so they make take form and penetrate the bodies and be fixed to them.
This is why it is said that through it your spirit and subtle body can ascend from the earth to the heaven. You can then pull down the lights, which are the subtle bodies of the celestials and, bringing them down into the earth, can affect the world as you merge the subtle power of above with the dense bodies of the below.
"This is the secret of master Talisman workers, but what does it have to do with initiation?"
"A strong subtle body and connection with the Aether enable you connect with the light of the lights. This is the principle power of the world and the key to the mysteries of the universe. If its presence in your life becomes fixed, then the darkness will flee from you and you will be illuminated. Through this illumination, your own inner reality will be in harmony with the greater reality. The keys of this universe will open to you and you will be a reflection of the great power that we call the light of lights.
Your inner senses will connect with the subtle bodies and be empowered by them. No longer will you only see the forms and images summoned by the qualities. You can now see the true causes of the world. You will awaken and your actions in harmony with the light of lights will be seen as miracles."
"So is it false that the Tablet of Hermes talks about manifestation through attraction of the imagination of the mind?"
"You need to root your imagination in the subtle and luminous. Only by direct action of the luminous spirit through your evolved and perfected qualities will you be able to affect other physical bodies, not through attraction by one of the inner senses, but through infusion of the subtle and its penetration of the dense."
"Why is it that we can’t initiate through reliance on the imagination via the astral plane and having it manifest in the physical?"
"When we speak of the astral plane, we mean the world of the subtle bodies of planetary spheres. It is a world filled with the Ruhaniah of the heavenly orbits. We do say that the qualities of the above are the same as the qualities of the below. We don’t say that what our imagination creates will naturally manifest itself through invisible agency.
What we truly mean here is that our will is influenced by the subtle body of the orbit of Mars, just as our bones are influenced by the subtle body of Saturn. This influence of the subtle bodies is possible because we share the same qualities, which all emanate from the One.
For the subtle bodies of the celestials to influence the physical body, your subtle body needs to ascend to the heights, pull from the lights of these subtle bodies with the light of lights, and then descend back into your dense body.
The primary initiations occur through the agency of Elements and the One, thus the subtle bodies of the astral plane are not always necessary. Even if they were, the initiator needs to interact with both your subtle and physical body at once through his subtle and physical body."
"Can you do it by sympathetic magic such as initiating a person who will stand as your replacement?"
"Indeed it is possible to conduct sympathetic magic, for we know that the subtle body can be infused into a physical object, then passed to the target’s subtle body via a talismanic physical body and thus influence the target’s physical body.
The key here is that the physical object be passed to the target so that it touches their subtle and physical bodies. If a person stands for another, that subtle body isn’t being passed physically, for if it could be passed physically there would be no need for a replacement.
Sometimes the candidate’s imagination and faith, through focus on the subtle, will attract a luminous subtle body that can empower. This may lead to belief that the work from afar has been successful, but this isn’t so. The candidate’s subtle body’s ability to attract is due to the One substance, but it will only attract within the limits of the perfection of the qualities.
It is the elevation and perfection of those qualities that are the purpose of the initiation. Thus, the candidate may experience small wonders from the temporary connection with the higher subtle through the Aether, but this remains restricted due to lack of the actual initiation. In many cases, this experience will fade over time, for the dense will again shroud the luminous and the imperfect qualities will continue until a proper infusion of the subtle has occurred."
"What may I tell the laity of this Emerald Tablet of Hermes?"
"Tell them it contains the code for successful talismanic magic, it reveals the key to the working of the Elements and the qualities, and is the road of true initiation that leads to enlightenment. It is indeed a gem of gems passed to us by Apollonius of Tayana in his work."
"That it is but a single page from his Book on the Causes that spans hundreds of pages."
You can’t help but smile and your mind begins to work on how you will pass on these teachings to the laity.