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Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy

Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy

What Do Hermetic Philosophy & Alchemy Have In Common?

Hermetic philosophy and alchemy are two ancient traditions that have a deep and intertwined history. Hermetic philosophy emerged in ancient Egypt and was based on the idea that the universe is governed by universal laws and principles that can be understood and harnessed through spiritual development. Alchemy, on the other hand, was a tradition that emerged in ancient Egypt and was closely linked to Hermetic philosophy. It was seen as a way to achieve spiritual transformation through the use of various techniques, such as the use of special substances and the manipulation of energy.

In this article, we will explore the fascinating connection between Hermetic philosophy and alchemy, discussing the history of alchemy and how it aligns with the teachings of Hermetic philosophy. We will also delve into the symbolism of alchemy and how it relates to the journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth.

This topic is explored at length on this episode of the Beyond Homo Sapien about the link between Hermeticism and Alchemy. Listen to it here…

Keep reading to learn more about Alchemy and how the church created the need for this esoteric philosophy back in the Middle Ages…

The History of Alchemy

Alchemy is a cryptic esoteric tradition that has its origins in the middle ages but its inspiration much earlier. It draws on the same esoteric concepts as Hermetic philosophy or Freemasonry. It was seen as a way to achieve spiritual transformation through the use of various techniques, such as the use of a special “athanor” forge of purification and the manipulation of energy. Alchemists were believed to be able to transform base metals into gold, symbolizing the transformation of the individual from a state of ignorance to a state of enlightenment.

All the esoteric philosophies have these teachings in common. Whether we are talking about Gnosticism, Hermetic philosophy, Freemasonry, Alchemy, the Kabbalah, or Rosicrucianism, we are discussing the ancient practices of reality creation and the teaching that man can be “one with god”. This viewpoint that mankind was divine was deemed heretical by the Church during the time of the Inquisition. As a result, the church began to demonize the esoteric philosophies and created the need for an “underground” philosophy. Thus, a “living language for the disciple of Hermes” was created and alchemy was born.

This living language was used to encrypt the esoteric teachings and keep them safe from the Christian persecutors who would have had the ancient fire snuffed out.

The goal of alchemy was to achieve a state of spiritual perfection known as the “philosopher’s stone.” This was believed to be a substance that had the power to grant eternal life and enlightenment to those who possessed it. Alchemists were believed to be able to tap into the universal life force and use it to bring about spiritual transformation.

Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy

Hermetic philosophy and alchemy are closely connected, with Hermetic philosophy providing the philosophical foundation for alchemy. According to Hermetic philosophy, the universe is governed by universal laws and principles that can be understood and harnessed through spiritual development. These principles include the Principle of Mentalism, the Principle of Correspondence, and the Principle of Vibration. You can read more about the Kybalion and the Hermetic Principles here.

Alchemy was seen as a way to put these philosophical principles into practice and achieve spiritual enlightenment. It was believed that through the use of alchemical techniques, individuals could tap into the universal life force and bring about spiritual transformation.

Hermetic philosophy served as the inspiration for alchemy but alchemy served to keep Hermeticism safe from the persecution of the church. Due to religious persecution and the threat of death, Hermetic philosophers and other students of magic had to abandon their normal vernacular and create the language of alchemy. They became “alchemists” instead of magicians.

The Symbolism of Alchemy

Alchemy is full of rich symbolism that relates to the journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth. The process of turning base metals into gold, for example, is seen as a metaphor for the transformation of the individual from a state of ignorance to a state of enlightenment. The concept of the “philosopher’s stone” also holds deep symbolism, with the stone representing the ultimate goal of spiritual perfection.

In the Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic, Eliphas Levi writes about the Philosopher’s Stone and the symbolism of alchemy:

“What then, in truth, is this stone? It is the foundation of absolute philosophy, it is supreme and immovable reason. Before contemplating the metallurgical work, one must forever be fixed upon the absolute principles of wisdom, one most possess the reason which is the touchstone of truth. Never will a biased man be the king of nature and the master of transmutations.

“The philosopher’s stone is thus necessary before all else; but how does one find it?

“Hermes teaches us how with his Emerald Tablet. One must separate the subtle from the fixed, with great care and attention. Thus we must free our certitudes from our beliefs and render distinct the respective domains of science and faith.”

The philosophers stone is absolute reason. In his work “The Paradoxes of the Highest Science”, Eliphas Levi writes a simple truth: “Reason is god”. This truth ties in with his writings on the philosopher’s stone and helps us to understand this:

When the alchemist’s write of “the philosopher’s stone that can do all things and grant immortality”, they are referring to the astral light and the connection to the divine within all humans. This “divine spark” is accessible to all. You can activate it through meditation and magical ceremony. 

The Role of the Divine in Alchemy

Hermetic philosophy and alchemy both place a strong emphasis on the role of the divine in the universe. In Hermetic philosophy, the divine is seen as the ultimate source of all knowledge and understanding, and it is through spiritual development that individuals can connect with the divine and achieve enlightenment. In alchemy, the divine is seen as the source of the universal life force, and it is through the manipulation of this life force that individuals can bring about spiritual transformation.

Once again, we see the parallels between the two.

Hermetic philosophy and alchemy are two ancient traditions that have a deep and intertwined history. Hermetic philosophy provides the philosophical foundation for alchemy, while alchemy provides a way to put these philosophical principles into practice. Through the use of alchemical techniques, individuals can tap into the universal life force and bring about spiritual transformation and self-enlightenment.

In alchemy, we see this idea of the “athanor”. This is the purifying fire and workstation that we approach every day to transmute lead into gold. Through this purifying fire, the alchemist finds the secrets of the universe and creates gold.

This athanor is meant to be a vocation that we serve which materializes our spirit into the world. Through this great work, we learn how to serve and evolve our spirit. In this way, alchemy serves as a sort of practical application for the spiritual truths protected by Hermetic philosophy. Let us all follow the example of the alchemist and do our best to turn lead into gold in our daily lives.

Want to dive into some of the alchemical source texts? Click here to check out the Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus. 

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