A Hermetic Prophecy for Our Time

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Ancient prophecies point to a time when the sacred will not be honoured, accepted, or believed in, thus generating chaos in a world “bereft of the presence of its deities” (Hermes). Materialism fills the spiritual void, causing disintegration, deception, crime, war, and environmental degradation. Their idols are their possessions, and their magic is technology; “they worship the work of their own hands” with no reverence for the mystery and wonder of the Cosmos.  The earth, with all its resources, is considered mere pre-production inventory, not a living presence or animating goddess (Sophia), worthy of reverence. Science and technology reinforce the paramount importance of production—we all have our parts to play, so that we might feel successful and receive approval, fulfilling our purpose as cogs in the great wheel of materialism. In the end, having done our duty, we are discarded like so many worn-out parts, no longer fulfilling any purpose or function.

In the tragic/comedy film “About Schmidt” a sense of emptiness in Schmidt’s retirement leads him to re-visit the office to see if he can be “useful.” Once there, he finds his entire life’s work  neatly packed in cardboard boxes on its way to the incinerator, as a new generation of middle management finds a better way. No, it really isn’t pretty what a world without pity can do.

As well as offering the only life worth living, the religion of scientific materialism even promises a kind of technological immortality, called, “transhumanism,” a vain belief which ignores an immutable law of the universe—entropy. Everything returns to dust, even the most sophisticated artificial life form.

And this leads me to the prophecies of the thrice great (Thoth) Hermes as delivered to his pupil, Asclepius, in the Hermetica:

Do you not know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of heaven, or, to speak more exactly, in Egypt all the operations of the powers which rule and work in heaven have been transferred to earth below?

Nay, it should rather be said that the whole Cosmos dwells in this our land as in its sanctuary. And yet, since it is fitting that wise men should have knowledge of all events before they come to pass, you must not be left in ignorance of this: there will come a time when it will be seen that in vain have the Egyptians honoured the deity with heartfelt piety and assiduous service; and all our holy worship will be found bootless and ineffectual. For the gods will return from earth to heaven; Egypt will be forsaken, and the land which was once the home of religion will be left desolate, bereft of the presence of its deities.

0 Egypt, Egypt, of thy religion nothing will remain but an empty tale, which thine own children in time to come will not believe; nothing will be left but graven words, and only the stones will tell of thy piety.

Darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be thought more profitable than life; no one will raise his eyes to heaven; the pious will be deemed insane, and the impious wise; the madman will be thought a brave man, and the wicked will be esteemed as good. As to the soul, and the belief that it is immortal by nature, or may hope to attain to immortality, as I have taught you, all this they will mock at, and will even persuade themselves that it is false. No word of reverence or piety, no utterance worthy of heaven and of the gods of heaven, will be heard or believed.

And so the gods will depart from mankind, a grievous thing!, and only evil angels will remain, who will mingle with men, and drive the poor wretches by main force into all manner of reckless crime, into wars, and robberies, and frauds, and all things hostile to the nature of the soul.

Yet, Hermes foresees an end to this Matrix and an escape from this “desert of the real” by a dramatic re-ordering of all things, “a new heavens and a new earth” as predicted in the Book of Revelation. Hermes calls it a “new birth of the Cosmos”:

But when all this has befallen, Asclepius, then the Master and Father, God, the first before all, the maker of that god who first came into being, will look on that which has come to pass, and will stay the disorder by the counterworking of his will, which is the good. He will call back to the right path those who have gone astray; he will cleanse the world from evil, now washing it away with waterfloods, now burning it out with fiercest fire, or again expelling it by war and pestilence. And thus he will bring back his world to its former aspect, so that the Cosmos will once more be deemed worthy of worship and wondering reverence, and God, the maker and restorer of the mighty fabric, will be adored by the men of that day with unceasing hymns of praise and blessing. Such is the new birth of the Cosmos; it is a making again of all things good, a holy and awe-striking restoration of all nature; and it is wrought in the process of time by the eternal will of God. For Gods will has no beginning; it is ever the same, and as it now is, even so it has ever been, without beginning. For it is the very being of God to purpose good.

In all corners of the globe, the remnants of ancient civilizations, much older and more advanced than previously known, speak of a piety and reverence for nature and connection to Spirit, which is almost incomprehensible to the modern mind. It is as though they occupied a parallel universe, one viewed by them in a manner which we can barely understand.  From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the living stones of Sacsayhuamán, their piety is written in the stones, some weighing 350 tonnes and placed with a precision that modern science has great difficulty explaining; and all this to honour the sacred and the divine. The production and consumption of endless “stuff” did not interest them; the cycles of the heavens and communion with Spirit did. For them, the veil between dimensions was thin.

In Cuzco, Peru, in 1589, Don Mancio Serra de Leguizamo — one of the last survivors of the original conquerors of Peru—wrote in the preamble of his will, the following:

“We found these kingdoms in such good order, and the said Incas governed them in such wise [manner] that throughout them there was not a thief, nor a vicious man, nor an adulteress, nor was a bad woman admitted among them, nor were there immoral people. The men had honest and useful occupations. The lands, forests, mines, pastures, houses and all kinds of products were regulated and distributed in such sort that each one knew his property without any other person seizing it or occupying it, nor were there lawsuits respecting it… the motive which obliges me to make this statement is the discharge of my conscience, as I find myself guilty. For we have destroyed by our evil example, the people who had such a government as was enjoyed by these natives.”

Leguizamo left all his worldly goods to help the Inca people.

Not all the New World was found in this condition, where indeed some tribes worshipped cruel gods demanding human sacrifice, but this was no more the whole story of indigenous culture than conquest and exploitation is the whole story of European civilization.  Every civilization, every tribe and every individual has a dark side or shadow, and in fact, the brighter the light the darker the shadow. Perhaps “the new birth” will be a coming together of all the tribes of the earth, the contribution of each elevating the whole.

 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

 And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

 And he shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.(Isaiah 2)

The Hopi Indians had a word in their prophecies for a world of consumer driven madness, devoid of Spirit.  They called it Koyaanisqatsi.  Koyannis means “corrupted” or “chaotic” and the word qatsi means “life” or “existence.” The Hopi called it “crazy life” or “life out of balance.”  A documentary film of the same name presents this concept in artistic form and can be accessed by using the link below.  The film helps us to visualize ourselves encased in an artificial environment that has replaced the original. Nature is only a resource to keep the artificial world alive.

If we dig precious things from the earth, we will invite disaster (Hopi prophecy)

(c) Adrian Charles Smith 2021

Hermeticism and the Transformation of Consciousness

Egyptian God Thoth

In Hermetic tradition, the Egyptian God Thoth, the Ibis-headed god with a writing implement in his hand, was considered the font of all wisdom; a man-god revealing to the Egyptians their knowledge of astronomy, architecture, geometry, medicine and religion. From this advanced knowledge, wonders emerged, such as the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Greek name for Thoth is Hermes, otherwise known as Hermes Trismegistus, the “Thrice Great Hermes”, the greatest of all priests, the greatest of all philosophers and the greatest of all kings.

The Egyptians were not materialists, so spiritual understandings and principles were not excluded from their science. Therefore, chemistry blended into alchemy, the notion that anything could be transformed, including consciousness.

The Principle of Mentalism, central to Hermeticism, embodies the idea that “All is Mind.” Everything that happens arises from a preceding mental state. For anything to exist, thoughts had to form first, which then manifest as physical reality. This ancient concept is confirmed by some of the most famous modern physicists.

Physicist Max Planck said, “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force —. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

Planck, the originator of quantum theory, received the Nobel Prize for physics in 1918.

Cambridge physicist, Sir Arthur Eddington,  wrote, “The universe is of the nature of a thought or sensation in a universal Mind … To put the conclusion crudely — the stuff of the world is mindstuff.”

During WW1 Sir Arthur collaborated with Albert Einstein to prove Einstein’s new theory on gravity. This was made into an excellent film, Einstein and Eddington. (I have posted a link in the Recommended section.) Eddington was renowned for his ability to explain relativity in understandable terms, and his lectures on this topic were compiled in a book, The Mathematical Theory of Relativity, which Albert Einstein suggested was “the finest presentation of the subject in any language.”

Albert Einstein himself, as well as Stephen Hawking, have described science as an attempt to understand the mind of God.

Copernicus made his momentous claim that the sun, not the earth, was the centre of our solar system, after studying hermeticism.

The Principle of Mentalism is the first of seven Hermetic principles. “The All is Mind; the Universe is Mental”, The Kybalion (a hermetic manuscript). Implicit in this view is the notion that the material world, including our compulsions, addictions, moods and attitudes, is plastic to our thought.  Human beings, viewed as individual holographic expressions of an all-encompassing Mind, may have more influence over ourselves and over the world than we can possibly imagine.

This brings us to the Sixth Hermetic Principle, the Principle of Cause and Effect.  The world, and our reaction to it, are the effects of thinking. Can we move mountains with our thinking?

In The Matrix, Neo asks Morpheus, “What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?” Morpheus replies, “No Neo, I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.” Perhaps we are ready once we realize who we truly are — an aspect or fragment of the Divine.

But the prevailing philosophy of determinism says that we have no choice, that we are victims of circumstances, mere pawns in the game of life, that our choice is an illusion; but the Hermeticists, rising to the plane above, learned to master their moods, compulsions, obsessions as well as the world around them by operating from a higher plane of existence, rising above what appears to be a deterministic prison. They became players, rather than being played by their internalized demiurge or tossed to and fro by the will and intentions of others.

Change your thinking and change your world. Sounds easy but we all know it is not. The transmutation of base metal into gold, an allegory for mental mastery, is not easy but still possible.

Psychiatrist Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning, was a holocaust survivor. His story tells us we might not always dodge the bullet, but we can still retain mental mastery. He did not dodge the bullet when he lost everything in the camp. In the camp everything was taken away, except one thing, the power to choose one’s mental state. He chose to find meaning in the completion of an academic paper and this act of will saved his life. He did not dodge the bullet but, in the end, he did not have to. He survived to find out “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” (Nietzsche); yet he has the humility to admit, “the best of us did not survive”. 

On one occasion when I was discouraged about something, I picked up a book to see if I could find some words to make me feel better (a very crude from of divination). My eyes immediately fell upon a verse from Milton’s Paradise Lost: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

If Victor Frankl could find meaning in Auschwitz, why then is there misery in mansions? The answer lies in the power of the mind to create within itself a heaven or a hell and to do so regardless of external circumstances.

The passage had quite an impact. After a while I put the book down and turned on the television. At that precise moment, someone was reading that very passage. Another of those astonishing synchronicities Jung wrote about, meaningful co-incidences in a meaningless world. In a meaningless world, we cancel the deficit of meaning by rising to the higher planes (pleroma) of our transcendent mental capabilities.

(c) Adrian Charles Smith 2020