Hermes Trismegistos – Various Hermetic Fragments


Hermes Trismegistos


There are, then, essential spirit, reason, intelligence, perception. Opinion and sensation tend towards perception, reason towards the essential spirit; thought advances independently. Thought is associated with perception. Conjoined, all these become a single form, which is that of the soul. Opinion and sensation tend also towards perfection, but they do not continue in the same condition, they exhibit excess, failure, or variation. Separated from perception, they deteriorate; approximating to and following it, they participate in the intellectual reason through the sciences. We have the power of choice; it depends on us to choose either the best or the worst by our will. The choice of evil approximates us to the corporeal nature, and subjects us to Destiny. The intellectual spirit which is in us, being free, the intellectual reason is free also, always identical with itself, and independent of Destiny.

Therefore, in following this higher and intelligent reason, ordained by the supreme God, the spirit is superior to the order of Nature over creatures; but the soul which attaches herself to these creatures participates in their destiny, though foreign to their nature.


There is, then, a state of Being superior to all beings, and to all that actually is. Being is that by which universal essentiality is common to all intelligible entities actually existing Nature is sensible essentiality, including in itself all sensible objects. Midway are the intellectual and sensible gods. The concepts of intelligence are related to the intellectual gods, the concepts of opinion to the sensible gods, which are reflexions of the intelligences; as, for instance, the sun is the image of the creative and celestial God. For as God has created the universe, so the sun creates animals, produces plants, and governs fluid things.


Wherefore the incorporeal vision comes forth from the body to contemplate beauty, lifting itself up and adoring, not the form, nor the body, nor the appearance, but that which, behind all, is calm, tranquil, substantial, immutable; that which is all, alone and one, that which is by itself and in itself, similar to itself, and without variation.


If thou understandest this one and only Good, thou wilt find nothing impossible, for all virtue is therein. Think not that this Good is in anyone, nor that it is outside of anyone. It is without limit, being the limit of all. Nothing contains it, it contains all in itself. For what distinction is there between the corporeal and the incorporeal, the create and the uncreate; that which is subject to necessity and that which is free; between terrestrial things and things celestial, corruptible things and things eternal? Is it not that these subsist freely, and that those are subject to the bondage of necessity? That which is below is imperfect and perishable.


Beneath nature and the ideal world is placed the pyramid. Its corner stone, placed on its summit, is the Creative Word of the universal Lord, which, after Him, is the first Power, uncreate, infinite, begotten of Him and antecedent to all His creations. He is the offspring of the Most Perfect, the fruitful and true Son. The nature of this intelligent Word is a generating and productive nature. Call it as thou wilt generation, or nature, or character. But think this only, that he is perfect in the Perfect, and issued from the Perfect, that all his works are perfectly good, and that he is the source of creation and of life. Since such is his nature, he is well named.

But for the providence of the Lord of the universe Who causes me to reveal these words, you would not have so great a desire to seek out such matters. Now, therefore, hear the end of this discourse. This Spirit of whom I have so often spoken is necessary to all; for he maintains all, he gives life to all, he nourishes all. He outflows from the holy Source, and without ceasing comes to the aid of spirits and to all living creatures.


“Thus the Ideal Light was before the Ideal Light, and the luminous Intelligence of Intelligence was always, and its unity was nothing else than the Spirit enveloping the universe. Out of Whom is neither God, nor Angels, nor any other essentials, for He is the Lord of all things and the power and the light; and all depends on Him and is in Him. His perfect Word, generative and creative, descending into generative Nature and into generating water, rendered the water fruitful.”
Having thus spoken, he rose and said: “I adjure thee, Heaven, holy work of the great God; I adjure thee, Voice of the Father, uttered in the beginning when the universal world was framed; I adjure thee by the Word, only Son of the Father Who upholds all things; be favorable, be favorable!”


Seven Planets revolve in the ways of Olympos, and by them Eternity is measured: The Moon which illumines the night, the gloomy Kronos, the gentle Sun, the Paphian Goddess, protectress of marriage, the valiant Ares, the fruitful Hermes, and Zeus the principle of birth and the fount of nature. These, likewise, have received the human race in heritage; and there are, within us, the Moon, Zeus, Ares, Aphrodite, Kronos, Phoebus, Hermes. Moreover, we draw from the etherial fluid our tears, our laughter, our wrath, our speech, our generation, our sleep, our desire. Tears are of Kronos, generation of Zeus, speech of Hermes, valour of Ares, sleep of Artemis, desire of Kytheræa (Aphrodite), laughter of Apollo, for he it is who pours joy upon human thought and on the infinite world.


Hermes affirms that those who know God, are preserved from assaults of the evil one, and are not even subject to Destiny. The knowledge of God is religion.