The Divine Pymander: The Hermetica
of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, translation by John Everard
Hermes, by Frater F.
Be Here Now, by Ram Dass
The Emerald Tablet, also known as
Smaragdine Table, Tabula Smaragdina, or The Secret of Hermes, is a
text purporting to reveal the secret of the primordial substance and
its transmutations. It claims to be the work of Hermes Trismegistus
("Hermes the Thrice-Greatest"), a legendary Hellenistic
combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.
This short and cryptic text was
highly regarded by European alchemists as the foundation of their
art, in particular of its Hermetic tradition.
Not to be confused with the 13
Emerald tablets of Thoth.
The oldest documentable source for
the text is the Kitab Sirr al-Asrar, a compendium of advice for
rulers in Arabic which purports to be a letter from Aristotle to
Alexander the Great. This work was translated into Latin as Secretum
Secretorum (The Secret of Secrets) by Johannes "Hispalensis" or
Hispaniensis (John of Seville) ca. 1140 and by Philip of Tripoli c.
In the 14th century, the alchemist
Ortolanus wrote a substantial exegesis on "The Secret of Hermes,"
which was influential on the subsequent development of alchemy. Many
manuscripts of this copy of the Emerald Tablet and the commentary of
Ortolanus survive, dating at least as far back as the 15th century.
The Tablet has also been found
appended to manuscripts of the Kitab Ustuqus al-Uss al-Thani (Second
Book of the Elements of Foundation) attributed to Jabir ibn Hayyan,
and the Kitab Sirr al-Khaliqa wa San`at al-Tabi`a ("Book of the
Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature"), dated between 650 and
The tablet text
A new translation bypassing the Latin
has just been published by Nineveh Shadrach from the original Arabic
of Book of Causes attributed to Apollonius of Tyana.
It contains an accurate
commentary that can't be doubted.
It states: What is the above is
from the below and the below is from the above. The work of
wonders is from one.
And all things sprang from this
essence through a single projection. How marvelous is its work!
It is the principle [sic] part of the world and its custodian.
Its father is the sun and its
mother is the moon. Thus the wind bore it within it and the
earth nourished it.
Father of talismans and keeper of
Perfect in power that reveals the
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.
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
The greatest power overcomes
everything that is subtle and it penetrates all that is coarse.
The formation of the microcosm is
in accordance with the formation of the macrocosm.
The scholars made this their
This is why Thrice Hermes was
exalted with wisdom.
This is his last book that he hid
in the catacomb.
A 17th century depiction of the Tablet by
Heinrich Khunrath, 1606
One translation, by Isaac Newton,
found among his alchemical papers as reported by B. J. Dobbs in
Tis true without lying, certain
That which is below is like that
which is above that which is above is like that which is below
to do the miracles of one only thing.
And as all things have been
arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their
birth from this one thing by adaptation.
The Sun is its father, the
moon its mother,
the wind hath carried it in its
belly, the earth its nurse.
The father of all perfection in
the whole world is here.
Its force or power is entire if
it be converted into earth.
Separate thou the earth
from the fire, the subtle from the gross sweetly with great
It ascends from the earth to the
heaven again it descends to the earth and receives the force of
things superior and inferior.
By this means ye shall have the
glory of the whole world thereby all obscurity shall fly from
Its force is above all force. for
it vanquishes every subtle thing and penetrates every solid
So was the world created.
From this are and do come
admirable adaptations whereof the means (Or process) is here in
Hence I am called Hermes
Trismegist, having the three parts of the philosophy of the
That which I have said of the
operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended.
Another translation from Aurelium
Occultae Philosophorum by Georgio Beato:
This is true and remote from all
cover of falsehood.
Whatever is below is similar to
that which is above. Through this the marvels of the work of one
thing are procured and perfected.
Also, as all things are made from
one, by the consideration of one, so all things were made from
this one, by conjunction.
The father of it is the sun, the
mother the moon.
The wind bore it in the womb. Its
nurse is the earth, the mother of all perfection.
Its power is perfected.
If it is turned into earth,
Separate the earth from the fire,
the subtle and thin from the crude and coarse, prudently, with
modesty and wisdom.
This ascends from the earth into
the sky and again descends from the sky to the earth, and
receives the power and efficacy of things above and of things
By this means you will acquire
the glory of the whole world, and so you will drive away all
shadows and blindness.
For this by its fortitude
snatches the palm from all other fortitude and power. For it is
able to penetrate and subdue everything subtle and everything
crude and hard.
By this means the world was
And hence the marvelous
conjunctions of it and admirable effects, since this is the way
by which these marvels may be brought about.
And because of this they have
called me Hermes Tristmegistus since I have the three parts of
the wisdom and Philosophy of the whole universe.
My speech is finished which I
have spoken concerning the solar work.
Original edition of the Latin text. (Chrysogonus
Polydorus, Nuremberg 1541):
Verum, sine mendatio, certum et
Quod est inferius est sicut quod
est superius, et quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius,
ad perpetranda miracula rei unius.
Et sicut res omnes fuerunt ab uno,
meditatione unius, sic omnes res natae ab hac una re,
Pater eius est Sol. Mater eius
Portavit illud Ventus in ventre
Nutrix eius terra est. Pater
omnis telesmi totius mundi est hic.
Virtus eius integra est si versa
fuerit in terram.
Separabis terram ab igne, subtile
ab spisso, suaviter, magno cum ingenio.
Ascendit a terra in coelum,
iterumque descendit in terram, et recipit vim superiorum et
Sic habebis Gloriam totius mundi.
Ideo fugiet a te omnis obscuritas.
Haec est totius fortitudinis
fortitudo fortis, quia vincet omnem rem subtilem, omnemque
Sic mundus creatus est.
Hinc erunt adaptationes mirabiles,
quarum modus est hic. Itaque vocatus sum Hermes Trismegistus,
habens tres partes philosophiae totius mundi.
Completum est quod dixi de
Contemporary rendering of Latin
[It is] true, without error,
certain and most true,
That which is below is as that
which is above, and that which is above is as that which is
below, to perform the miracles of the one thing.
And as all things were from the
one, by means of the meditation of the one, thus all things were
born from the one, by means of adaptation.
Its father is the Sun, its mother
is the Moon, the Wind carried it in its belly, its nurse is the
The father of the whole world [or
"of all of the initiates"?] is here.
Its power is whole if it has been
turned into earth.
You will separate the earth from
the fire, the subtle from the dense, sweetly, with great skill.
It ascends from earth into heaven
and again it descends to the earth, and receives the power of
higher and of lower things.
Thus you will have the Glory of
the whole world.
Therefore will all obscurity flee
Of all strength this is true
strength, because it will conquer all that is subtle, and
penetrate all that is solid.
Thus was the world created.
From this were wonderful
adaptations, of which this is the means. Therefore am I named
Thrice-Great Hermes, having the three parts of the philosophy of
the whole world.
It is finished, what I have said
about the working[s] of the Sun.
In its several Western recensions,
the Tablet became a mainstay of medieval and Renaissance alchemy.
Commentaries and/or translations were published by, among others,
Trithemius, Roger Bacon, Michael Maier, Aleister Crowley, Albertus
Magnus, and Isaac Newton.
C.G. Jung identified "The Emerald
Tablet" with a table made of green stone which he encountered in the
first of a set of his dreams and visions beginning at the end of
1912, and climaxing in his writing Seven Sermons to the Dead in
Because of its longstanding
popularity, the Emerald Tablet is the only piece of non-Greek
Hermetica to attract widespread attention in the West. The reason
that the Emerald Tablet was so valuable is because it contained the
instructions for the goals of alchemists. It hinted at the recipe
for alchemical gold, as well as how to set one's level of
consciousness to a new degree.
It is credited as an influence for
the best selling book and film, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, that
also says our intentions and emotions will manifest in our lives and
Hart, G., The Routledge
Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, 2005, Routledge,
second edition, Oxon, p 158
(Budge The Gods of the Egyptians
Vol. 1 p. 415)
 Translation from the original
Arabic of Book of Causes attributed to Apollonius of Tyana
"Newton's Commentary on the
Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus" in Merkel, I. and Debus,
A. G., Hermeticism and the Renaissance. Folger, Washington 1988.
Sometimes written Thelesmi. This
indicates a Greek origin. The Latin word "Tela" (ae,fem.)
roughly means "loom" or "incomplete cloth". The true meaning of
the word is somewhat obscure.
Holmyard, E.J. "The Emerald
Table" Nature, No. 2814, Vol. 112, October 6, 1923, pp 525–6.
Holmyard, E.J. Alchemy, Pelican,
Harmondsworth, 1957. pp95–8.
Needham, J. Science and
Civilisation in China, vol. 5, part 4: Spagyrical discovery and
invention: Apparatus, Theories and gifts. CUP, 1980.
Ruska, Julius. Tabula Smaragdina.
Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der hermetischen Literatur.
Ruska, Julius. Die Alchimie
ar-Razi's. n.p., 1935.
Ruska, Julius. Quelques problemes
de literature alchimiste. n.p., 1931.
Stapleton, H.E., Lewis, G.L,
Sherwood Taylor, F. "The sayings of Hermes quoted in the Ma Al-Waraqi
of Ibn Umail. " Ambix, vol. 3, 1949, pp 69–90.
M.Robinson. "The History and
Myths surrounding Johannes Hispalensis," in Bulletin of Hispanic
Studies vol. 80, no. 4, October 2003, pp. 443–470, abstract.
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