Hermetica as a Religious Philosophy

Something I’ve been giving a lot thought to lately is the idea of Hermetica, or maybe better phrased the Hermetic philosophy, as a religious practice. Does this foundation of the western mystery tradition hold-up as a practice of religious devotion or in some ritual practice?

On the outside, i think I’ve wanted to think it does. That, at it’s core, one could utilize the ideas of the mysterious emerald tablet as a set of ideals that promote some kind of philosophical religious ideation. And, like the Christian Bible, the Hermetic texts could offer some degree of direction or ethos to inform and guide religious decision making. But, the more and more I’ve considered this, the more often I’ve come back to the decision that it doesn’t, or that it can’t.

As a teaching, Hermetica offers an interesting philosophical take on approaching the world. That it offers a syncretic zest to elevating above the fray of dogmatism, while itself establishing it’s own set of dogmas and thou shalt and shalt-nots.

It’s in these dogmas that, perhaps, the religion exists.

So then, should hermetic be re-imagined? Take the good, reject the bad and construct a new ethic of what it means to be Hermetic? It could keep the teachings of the Kybalion, and still layer in with the Rosicrucian or masonic ideas (it is, after all about initiation and seeing things from a different perspective not considered before). And why can’t it retain the syncretism of a trans polytheism as being adoptable under all faiths constructing a new layer or dynamic to understanding the god of Judaism, the god of Islam and the path if the Buddha.

It’s under this key aspect that always bring me back to the conclusion that Hermetica is, itself, the religion of religions. That it is the underlying philosophical bones of modernism itself in that while it’s teachings come from great antiquity, the ideas themselves find newer relevance the smaller the world gets — a condition we find the further along we get in the path of history. Hermeticism, then, is that closed loop of time, without beginning or end, looping back upon itself in a way that seems to be without beginning or end. It simply is.

And yet, all things start and stop, and start again as the forward motion of the universe continues. It is all and nothing at the same time. This is where my head is at in considering the place of Hermetica in the grand cosmic scheme of things. This is how I find validation in my ideas of it having fingers and thought in all aspects of religion, all aspects of life. Hermetic isn’t this, or that, it just is.And by being, it continues on to be re-imagined, changed and evolved into some other construct of it’s former self.

Which brings me back around full circle.

To Live , First You Have to Die

Change is an endemic aspect of the universe.

We’re born, we grow, we live, we die, and the great solar circle turns in the heavens and gravity holds our bones to the earth.  But, even these two elements of universal constancy are subject to change.  Luminary balls of fusion energy form and break apart and the internal engines of molten iron cool and stop turning.

Everything changes.

As people, I think we get caught up in the idea that we want peace and perfection only to become unhappy and irritated at the boring blandness of it all. We say we want stability, but isn’t that really just a metaphor for an imprisoned existence?

As a species, our penultimate punishment for a criminal is to lock them up in a small cell with three square meals daily, fresh water always at the tap, reasonable climate accommodation (not to hot and not to cold) and some form of daily entertainment, albeit probably not what they would themselves choose to be entertained by.

This is life without change.  Is this not what we seek when we cry out at the pains of something new forced upon us?

I know I do.  I resist. I struggle. I spit, scratch, cry and fight at the first sign of change that didn’t come from my own hand.

What doers the Hermetic texts tell us about change?  It says:

Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates

That everything is in motion, nothing is static.  That motion is change.  Maybe its subtle, slow, imperceptible and invisible to the naked eye. Maybe it’s all at once and with such force that it feels as if the very universe is doing it’s very best to make different everything around you, almost as if you were going to die.

Sometimes, that’s what it takes to get through something.  Sometimes it’s that piece of ourselves that needs to die in order for us to be ready for that next thing, that next challenge.

I say this on the heels of being in the middle of a process of change that I struggled against.  My mind wanted that jail cell of uniformity and familiarity. Sure, my lips would say otherwise and I would tell my conscious self that I was ok with what has been going on.  But my mind… My mind wanted (and still does) to keep things from vibrating into that next state of being.  It refuses to let go of what is a fast evolving state of human development and my unwilling mind of the selfish ego is not taking well to the change.

But, like it or not, that piece of my existence needs to die.  Not the physical death, but no less painful and excruciating to undergo.

Turning the Wheel – Defining the Tradition of Hermetic Thought

Hermetic, time, circle,

So what is this consideration of the tradition of Hermetic thought?

This is a question that frequently echo’s through the recesses of my unconscious mind. In my day to day waking existence, I eat, argue, laugh, struggle, play and exist as any other man.

When I sleep, my dreams are of my common and mundane existence, my daily trials, victories and defeats. I can’t honestly say that there is anything extraordinary about my sensory perceptions or my connection with the divine. I can neither call down angels nor summon up demons to do my bidding or protect me from harm yet who am I to say that others cannot?

In much of what might be considered Hermetic thinking, Magick (with a capital M and a k at the end) plays a central role in the conduct of its practice. Whether it is Enocian sigils, angelic names, traversing metaphysical paths of illumination through the spheres, or an outright symbolic initiation into one of the traditions that claim linage to times immemorial – each of these aspects of the Hermetic Art are themselves a form of magical tradition, a means of seeing the world differently that symbols have deeper and more powerful meanings, tradition and lineage have some currency with authenticity and the invisible forces of the universe manifest through a variety of non-traditional metaphysical archetypes. Perhaps the linchpin to them all to exist as a broad spectrum Hermetic tradition is the fact that each tradition relies so heavily on the symbolic and the allegorical.

Perhaps, ultimately, this is an oversimplification of a rich tradition of thought that to suggest it is to become heretical to the body itself. But, as I see it, the Hermetic Art, as it exists today is the sum totality of those magical, initiatic, and metaphysical journeys. That to be a member, if members we be, of the Hermetic tradition (faith), you can possess a belief in all, some, or none of these things and still openly be a Hermeticist. In many respects, this left hand path isn’t wrong or counterproductive to other traditions. To the contrary, it is merely the wide open compass circumscribing a very wide and embracing circle to see and accept all within its spectrum.

This is, in my estimation, what is encompassed in the spectrum of Hermetic thought.