the
benmecíc
CRAÜÍCÍOT)

¡ .  . .  . .  ¡ .  ¡ .  . .  . .  . .  . o q .  o ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ .  ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ u u r o .  . n o

Teach...
Inner Traditíons International
One Park Street
Rochester,  Vermont 05767

Copyright to 1971 Edízioní Mediterranea
Original...
COÏTCGTTCS

¡ ¡ o u o .  n ¡ ¡ .  - o o o

horewotd by H.  T.  Hansen vii
Translatofs Note xiv
Preface xv

PARÍS one:  the...
Eighteen:  Shadow,  Ashes,  and Remains
Nineteen;  Philosophical Incest

Twenty:  The Tomb and Thirst
Twenty-One:  Saturn:...
FORGÜJORÜ

or Julius Evola (1898-1974) alchemy was nor-as is

generally believed-a single specialized subject con»

cernin...
With hermetism.  In the UR group (1927-29),  of which Evola was a member, 
specific alchemical symbols were employed in th...
Formisanti,  1861-1930).  Evola mentions in the notes to chapter 11 that the
Xlyrianfs “Pamphlet Dm’ laid the groundwork l...
who espounded on the great importance of the breathing techniques in alcherny
and how it helped to ingest certain substanc...
and lor him alchemy and the possibility of continuíng to experiment on the
spiritual plane-the "art” aspect—were extremely...
Evolas work after the publication of Mondo magico degli lieroi was more and
more polítically defined,  and aside from the ...
that there also exist completely different ways of thinking "and that is why the
astronomer does not understand the astrol...
CRADsLAtows
Doce

ítles of Works that appear in English in the.  text will
appear in their original languages ín the notes...
PneFACe

O

n the present work we shall use the expression “her-

metic tradition" in a special sense that the Middle Ages...
our precíous art is concealecl”;  that the operations to which we allutie are not done
nranually;  that its "elements?  ar...
zttvsticísm.  We will demonsttate rather that it is a rea] science,  in which reintegra-
zon (with the primordial state) d...
Thus we can easily understand the second reason for disguising the doctrine. 
With the fall of the Roman Empire,  the pred...
Our work will not be directed toward convrncirlg those who do not veish to be. 
convinced.  But it will supply firm points...
11765

w
a
C
¡ .  ¡ .  ¡ ¡ a A o A ¿ .  o u

¡ I .  n I ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ a a

Che cites, 
the SGRPGDC, 

ADO f
the‘ CÍCADS

  ne of the sv...
of irnmortality (soma or amrita) and whoever sips it is inspired with a vision
Laeyond the reaches of time,  a vision that...
those of Holger and Prester john,  whom we have mentioned elsewhereas In these
legends the Tree is often doubled-the Tree ...
all the efforts of Mara,  who,  in another tradition,  stole the hghtning from Indra? ’

Ás chief oi the Devas,  Indra hir...
elemental uncertainty.  In Hesiods rheomachies,  typícally in the legend of the King
of the Forest.  gods or transcendenta...
Syrian alchemical hermetism and brings us back to the same point.  Tertullian”
says that the “damned and worthless” works ...
rnvented the arts,  and who transmitted the mystery of magic. “ VN/ hat more
ticcísíve proof concerning the spirit of the ...
Life" as a substitute for the lost one23 lt persists in seeking access "to the center
of the tree in the midst of the terr...
over the Spiritual powers,  by supematural means if you will (the symbolíc hermetic
Fire is often called "unnatural” or "a...
his natura!  state,  that is before his fall,  when instead of instilling fear,  he hímselí
succumbed to fear:  "This Fear...
Ífilg.  hidden;  potential rather than active.  It is precisely the one who keeps
«ztanchng.  who [ias kept standing above ...
the PLuRALicg
ADD ouALicg
o;  CiviLizACions

ecently,  in contrast to the motion of progress and the
idea that history has...
progress-which came into fashion more or less at the same time as materialism
and Western scientismg-nevertheless,  we sho...
TIIIPQPHHI Fun-unn . ... . v. 

LiviDG DAtuRe

he fundamental issue in.  our study is the human experi-
ence of nature.  T...
celebrate in me the All and OneV-these are the words of a hymn that the "Sons
of Hermes” recited at the beginning of theí ...
che beïtmecic
KDOÜJLGOGG

O

t is on the above basis that we have to understand the

whole idea of the hermeticoalchemical...
"living" ones,  which are "our elements" (the "our” refers to those who had
preserved the original spiritual state of the ...
ourselves to pointing out that Within the framework of hermetism,  asceticism does
not have a moral or religious justifica...
“one the ALL” Ano
che ÜRAGOÏ)
ouRoBoRos

nly when we have sueeeeded in recapturing a living and

“symbol ic” sensitivity t...
The alchemical ideogram of “One the All, ” is O,  the circle;  a line or Inovement
that encloses within itself and contain...
Father and Mother of itselff-aótortáïopa Kai aúrowitopa- of itself it is the
son,  by itself it is dissolved,  by itself i...
Thve

U n v a

Che beamecic
PRGSGDCG

nce the combination of corporeal and spiritual has been
understood as it must be und...
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Julius Evola about the Alchemy and Hermetic tradition

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31438591 julius-evola-hermetic-tradition

  1. 1. the benmecíc CRAÜÍCÍOT) ¡ . . . . . ¡ . ¡ . . . . . . . . o q . o ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ . ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ u u r o . . n o Teachíngs of the Royal Art Julius Evola Ïvïansíaredfioïn the Italian by E. Rehmus
  2. 2. Inner Traditíons International One Park Street Rochester, Vermont 05767 Copyright to 1971 Edízioní Mediterranea Original Italian titltï; La traciizione ennetica: 5110i Simixrií, neiitl 51m tilottrimï e ileiiti ¿ma ‘Fly-te Regia" English translation copyright ¡D 1995 Inner Traditions International All rights reserved. No part of this book may br: reproduced or utílízed in any form or by any means, eiectronic or mechanical. including photocopying, recording, or by any iniorv ¡nation storage and retrieval system, without pennissitm in mrritnig front the publisher. Lrsnmnr OF Comunas CA-mtoumo-in-Pusucanon DATA Évnla, Julius. [Tradízionc ermetica. English] Th: - hetmetít; tradítion . - in its symbols. dottrine, and "royal art" f Julius Evola ; translatecl from the Italian by E. E. Rizhrnus. p. cin. Includes biblíographical references and index. lSBN 03928145143? i. l-lermetism. 2. Syrnbolism. l. Title BH 1611E9613 1994 133 ‘ 4- -dc.20 94-4085 CIP Printtd and botmd in the United States 109876543 Text design and layout by Virginia L. Scott This book was typeset in Italian Electric. viríthTlior as a display ÏJCE
  3. 3. COÏTCGTTCS ¡ ¡ o u o . n ¡ ¡ . - o o o horewotd by H. T. Hansen vii Translatofs Note xiv Preface xv PARÍS one: the sgmBoLs Ano ceacbiness Introduction to Part One: The Tree, the SEYPEÏIK, and the Titans One: The Plurality and Duality of Civilization-is Two: Living Nature Three: The Hermetic Knowledge Four: "One the All” and the Dragon Otiroboros Five: The Hermetic Presence Six: Creation and Myth Seven: “Woman, ” "Waterf "Mercury, " and "Poison" Eight: The separation: Sun and Moon Nine: Frozen and Flowing Waters Ten: Salt and the Cross Eleven: The Four Elements and Sulíur Twelve: Soul, Spirit, and Body Thirteen: The “Four” in Man Fourteen: The Planets Fifteen: The Centers of Life Sixteeti; The Seven, the Operations, and the Ivfiri-or Seventeen: Gold in the Art OWGNDWLHI-«P-I-«PnnD-LNJUJDULUBJEQDQ
  4. 4. Eighteen: Shadow, Ashes, and Remains Nineteen; Philosophical Incest Twenty: The Tomb and Thirst Twenty-One: Saturn: Inverted Gold Twenty-Two; The Field and the Seed Twenty-Three: The Sword and the Rose TwentyaFour: Stem, Virus‘, and Iron PAR: emo: Che beitmecic itogAL ARC Introduction to Part Two: The Reality of Palingencsis Twenty-Five: The Separation Turenty-Six: Death and the Black Work Twenty-Seven: The Trial of the Void Twenty-Eight: The Flight ol the Dragon TwentyrNine: The Dry Path and the Wet Path Thirty: Herrnetíc Ásceticísm Thirty-One: The Path of the Breath and the Path oi the Blood Thirty-Two: The Heart and the Light Thirty-"Ihree: Denudatitms and Eclipses Thirtyfitiur: The TTIÍTSI for God and the Corrosive Waters Thírty-Five: The Path of Venus and the Radical Path Thirty-Six: The Hermetic Fires "Ihirty-Seven: The Vi/ hite Vx/ tirlt: Rebirth Thitt-y-«Eight: The Coniunctio in VVhite ThirtyNii-ie: The Eternal Vigil Forty: The Body of Light and Production oi Silver Forty-One: Birth into Life and Immortality Forty—Twti: The Red Work: Return to Earth F0rty»Three: The Alchemical Colors and Multiplication Fflrty-FOUT: The Planetaty Hierarchy Forty-Five: Knowledge of the Red and the Triunity Forty-Six: Prophetic Knowledge FortyvSeven: The Four stages of Power FortgpEightz Metallic Transmutation Forty-Nhle: Cortespondences, Times, and Rites Fiiïry: Silence and the Tradition Fiftyaüne: The Invisible Masters Index “ich H-Ch 79 84 86 94 100 104 109 112 115 118 122 126 129 133 138 142 146 149 152 ISS 163 168 173 177 190 193 196 203 208 213 217
  5. 5. FORGÜJORÜ or Julius Evola (1898-1974) alchemy was nor-as is generally believed-a single specialized subject con» cerning itself exclusively with metals and their corre- spondences in man, but rather a comprehensive physical and metaphysical system embracing cosmology as much as anthropology the sense of a complete knowledge of man in body, soul, and spirit)‘ Everything-nature and supernarure- can be found in it. To Evola, herrnetism and alchemy are one and the same. The goal of this system is the understanding and experiencing of an ensouled "holy” organism, replete with living powers. in whom everything is wonderfully interwoven, connected to and communized with everything else. Man stands in the middle where he is microcosm in analogy to the whole rnacrocosm: As above, so below-in the words oi the Emerald Tablet. The alchemical symbol language as the expression of this universal system must therefore also have correspondences in all the other mysteriosophic spheres and can consequently serve as a universal key in these spheres, just as, vice versa, any other mystery teaching has the power to l ill in the lacunae of esotericism in alchemy. Alongside Arturo Regliini (i878—1946)—and surely also at his suggestion- Evola was one ol the few in those years who were aware of this parallel, especially to ancient theurgical practice. ln 1926 Evola published an article in Ultra (the newspaper of the unusually liberal Theosophical lodge in Rome) on the cult ol Mithras in which he placed major emphasis on the similarities of these mysteries l This foreword first appeared in ÁnsatzvVerlagE: Die Hermerische Tradition (lnrerlaken. Switzerland, i989). lr is translated from the German by E. E. Rehmus and H. T Hzmsen.
  6. 6. With hermetism. In the UR group (1927-29), of which Evola was a member, specific alchemical symbols were employed in the teaching of "MagícÏz It is this practical aspect that is emphasized here, for alchemy cannot be grasped by abstract thought alone, much less is it just a psychic process in the unconscíous (C. G. Jungs theory),3 but much more than that: it is an exercise of soul and spirit in the best Platonic ttadition. “¡here did Evolah early preoccupation with alchemical symbolism Come from? After his Dadaist and philosophical period, Evola carne in contact with Theosophi- cal and Freemason círcles. “ Here we can especially point to Reghini, of whom Evola writes in his autobiographyÉ that he either lent him the essential alchemical texts or at least informed him of them. Through the very significant esoteric magazines, Áthanor and Ignis (1924-1925), edited by Reghini. Evola became acquainted with a whole series of contributions to alchemy that were enough to give him his first hjnts of knowledgefi Reghinïs influence must have been decisive because so many of his quotations are also favorite quotations of Evola’s.7 ln his autohiography Evola quotes from early translations of Rene Guénonïs Le Voile d T511; (later the Études tradítionefles), which also gave him suggestions for his vision of alchemy‘. Jacopo da Coreglia“ writes that it was a priest, Father Francesco Oliva, who had made the most far-teaching progress in hermetic science and who-highly prizíng the keen spirit and intellectual honesty of the young seeker-gave Evola access to records strictly reserved for adepts of the narrow circle. These were concerned primaríly with the teachings of the Fraternity of Myriam (Fratellanza Terapeutica Magica di Myriam), founded by Doctor Giuliano Kremrnerz (pseudonym of Ciro 3 ln 1985 Ansata-Verlag published the first volume of the UR group data reports and documents under the title Magie als Wssenschaft vom Ich (Magic as science of the ego) The second and third volumes of these monographs are to be published by Ansata in forthcomírlg years. Many passages difficult to understand in the present book are explamecl in these rrionographs as these monographs are comple- mented in The Hermetíc Tradition. 3 Alchemy is no: a psychotherapeutic path in the classical sense. lt is actually intended for the absolutely spiritually healthy person, in whom "índíviduation" has already been accornplzished. Only then is its practice perrnitted in order to make of "life” a “super-life. " “¡here nature alone can do nothing more, there must the alehernical “art" take over. The alchemital work is psvchotherapeutic only to the extent that the great healing (reintegratíon of man in transcendence) stands in analogy to the small healjng (making the psyche urell). ' l 5er. .‘ Our introduction to Evo-la}: Reisoli ¿igairtsr {hu Nlndusm ‘vlrhrld (Rochester. VI . 1994) 5 Il cammiho del cínabro (Milan. 1972), 109. 5 Nlost prominent of these are "Brevi note sul Cosmopolíta ed í suoi seríttí” (Brief notes on the Cosmopolite and hi5 writings) in {gm}: nos. 5. 4, 5, and “Ode alchemica dí Fra Nlarcantonio Crassellame Chinese” (The alchermlcal ode ol Fra Marcantonio Crassellarne Chinese) in nos, 8 and 9. 7 Especially those of Braccesco, Sendivogius, and Michel Potiefs, Phüosophila pura. 3 Arthos, no. 16 (Genoa), 48H. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . g u o o o . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fgrewnrd
  7. 7. Formisanti, 1861-1930). Evola mentions in the notes to chapter 11 that the Xlyrianfs “Pamphlet Dm’ laid the groundwork l or his understanding of the [our elements. Vx/ here this group in turn got its ltntiwledge remains a secret. In its own rciew. and jacopti da Coreglia also shares this opinion. the Myriam (which seems CO have split intra many groups) is the last torch-bearer of a tradition that has been Éianded down-untler constantly changing names-from the classical times of Px-thagorean paganism and it is independent of the Freemastms or similar eontem» oorary movemetits. ln his Pour la Rose Rouge et la Crane d Or Count]. P. Giudicelli CÍi-essac Bachellerie reveals its inner structure and current gradíng process. ln addition, there is the decisive influence of Ercole Quadrellí, who under the pseudonyms ol Abraxas and Tikaipos, made some especially important contribu« tions to the UR group. And it should be mentioned in this regard that Quadrelli stas trainecl by Giuliano Kremmerz and the Myriam. ” The Ereely accessible works of Kremmerzml draloghr‘ sul! ‘ermetismo (Díalogues on hermetícs) and his magazine Commentarium (1910—12)—-also did much lor Evolaïe spiritual development in the. realm ol alchemy. His acquaintance with the Chyrnrlïa various and with the alchemist Philalethes probably go back to these works. The stroirgest ancl perhaps decisive influence on the Evolian conception ol alchemy as a universal system is probably Cesare Della RivíeraÏs H mondo magico ttiegir’ irertir’ (The magical world of the heroes), (Mantua, i603; Milan, 1605). This is (me ol the few texts of that time that helps itself to a herrnetíCo-alchemlcal language, but is of an unequivocally holo-cosmoltigical character. Alchemy is always placed in petspective with the other hermetic disciplines-such as magic and asrrology-and is not regarded as an autonomous and specific teaching. For an alchemical book the unusually many references to the Ábbot Johannes Trithemius (1462-1516) in this work point also in this direction. The first tangible result of these studies was shown in the periodical K rur(seq_uel to UR)“ There Evola presented a first shot at discussing the hermetic tradition and antícipated the essential content ol the later book. The alchemical tradition was still portrayed only as pagan and not as a royal tradition, an attribute that in the final edition received so central a position that it brought Evola into conflict with other representativas ol the traditional weltailschauting. A broader and altogether different influence on Evola at this time came as a result of his meeting the Indian alchemist C . S. Narayana Swami Áiyat of Chingleput, ‘5’ Áppeareil only as private publication for the inner circle. ln his Eros ano‘ the Mysterfes of Love: ÏÏIE‘ ¿Wütéïpbïi/ SÍCS of Sex (Rochester, VL, 199i) Evola describes some of the sex tnagíc practices of this group. “l See Dr. Retrato del Pontes’ introduction to Meigie als Vfisserrschafr vom loli. l‘ KRUR. i929 (reptinr, Teramo, i981). 154K, ZÜlÏÍÍ. 251 HÏ. 307fl. ; see ‘also p. 374K Foreworïl . . . . . . . . . a. .. . . . . . . . . . .. ... ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. iX
  8. 8. who espounded on the great importance of the breathing techniques in alcherny and how it helped to ingest certain substances. ln 1930 Evola wrote “The Doctrine of Transmutation in Medieval Hermetics” for Bilychnis (no. 275). In abridged form, the articled contained the fundamental precepts of La traciiaione ermctica, which was published by Laterza in 1931. (The 1931 edition was filsignificantly altered and expanded in 1948. This was followed in 197i by Evolaïs last revision. which is the basis for this translation. ) lt is interesting in this regard that Benedetto Croce was instrumental in helping Evola to make contact with this eminent publishing house. ln the archives oi Laterza are several oi Evolas unpublished letters that reier to The Hermetic Tratiitiion, and in which Croceïs mediation appears again and again. One letter in particular is important, for in it Evola seems to answer the publishefs teproaclaes that the work was overloaded with annotations and had too little public appeal. Evola argued that it was not written lor public appeal but only and simply to show for the first time that alcherny was not just the beginning of chemistry, but a profound and forgotten IIIYSECIyeE-SCÍEHCE‘; and without the abundante ol quutatíons Evola would be marked as a visionary and the publisher criticized lor not being serious. Evolafs convíction that alchemy was a universal system clarilies his endeavor to see this work as the completion and synthesis of all his earlíer works in philosophy. magic, and Tantrism. Hence his emphasis on the pre» or, more cor- rcctly, super-Christian character of the hermetic tradition. Naturally, Evolas behcf in the all-inclusive character of hermetism did not go unchallenged. Certainly his most important cri tic was the second great herald of Tradition, Rene Guénon, to whom Evola, neverthelcss, was indebted lor ourstand- ing insights (and the idea of the Tradition in the first place). ln his review of The Hermetic Tradition ín the Voile ¿{Isis in April of i931,” though hasically positive, Guénon rejects quite strongly the idea that alcherny is a complete metaphysical doctríne and reduces it to the status of a mete cosmo- logical system. According to him, a true tradition could never have come from an Egypto-Hellenic origin, then passed on to Islamic tsotericism, and from there to Christian csotericism. In addition, alchemy had always been integrated into these various currents, whereas a pure and complete tradition has no need for some other tradition serving as an auxiliary vehicle. Moreover, it is an indication of the Special character oi alchemy that this path of knowledge in traditional societies should be a domain of the second caste, of the Kshatriyas (warrior caste), whereas only the Brahrnins were truly dedicated to metaphysics. The last argument was correct, as fat as Evola was concerned, lor he had always seen himself as Kshatriya 12 Contained in Formes tratiitiuneiies: er cydes cosmfqui-s (Paris 1970}, iii-Mi", x. ..¡a. ... ..ao . . . . . . . -. ... .-a. a. . . . . . .. Fgrgwgrd
  9. 9. and lor him alchemy and the possibility of continuíng to experiment on the spiritual plane-the "art” aspect—were extremely important. Nevertheless, the present work and its representation of alchemy is no williul or special interpreta tion on Evola's part. although on the ground of his “personal equation" some aspects may have been given a stronger emphasis-especially the active and the inner alchemy (nei-tan). Guenons DPPOSÍKÍOI] was consistent; it is known that the "Redness” represents the highest stage in aichemy and is above the "W/ hiteiïess. ” The Red (or Purple) embodies an active state. which naturally stood in a contrast to the White, which the contemplative Brahmin exhibits. (Evola points this up quite clearly in chapter 23). Against Guénons view that the “white” Brahmín caste unequivocally held the highest place in the traditional world, Evola ser the “purple” king as "pontifex” (bridge-builder) uppermost between Heaven and Earth. Vx/ ith the priority of the symbolic color red over white in hermetism, Evola seems to have a point. But Guenon could only call alcherny a Specíalizatíon and he could never assign it the universal character that Evola did. ln spite of Evola’s decided rejection of ]ung’s psychological interpretation of alchemy, Jung described The Hermetic Tradition as a “detailed account of Her- metic philosoiahy, " and he cites approvi n gly an entire section in translation. ‘ 3 Evola never saw himsell as a shape: or creative interpreter of alchemy, but only as one who did no more than deliver this knowledge, clarifying it, to be sure, but broadcasting it unchanged. Guenon repeated the reproach against un iversality in his review of Evola's i932 edition of Della Rivietas ii mondo magia) degii heroi (published with Evolas commentary). Guénon also blamed Evola lor the assimilation of alchemy by magic. “ To be sure, Guenons authority to judge alchemy has now and then been questioned, consideri ng that he himself had never written a work on the subject. Eugene Canseliet, lor example, the alleged disciple and publisher of the works of Fulcanellifi doubtetl Guénons competence on this matter. “ On the other hand, neither does Cluénon hold his ctiticism back from Fulcanelli, especially his Freres ti Heiiopoiis, 17 13 C_ Cr Jung, Psychology ano’ Áiciiemy. vol. 12 oi the Cbiiecteti Works (Princeton, i968), 228, 242o. ‘l Compras rencias (Paris. 1973), 71W. ‘i’ See especially Pauwels/ Bergicr. Aufbrtich ins drirte Jahrtausend (Berri, 1962) and Kenneth Rayner lohnson, The Fuicaneiir’ Pirenoinenon (St. Helier, i980) ‘l’ Robert Amadou. Le ieu du sofeil (Paris. 1978). ‘7 R, Guénon, Former: rraditioneiies, op cin. 166. Foreword. ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .. . . . . . . . --7t1
  10. 10. Evolas work after the publication of Mondo magico degli lieroi was more and more polítically defined, and aside from the insígnificant changes in the revised editions of The Hermetic Tradition and single reviews and articles, Evola was silent about alcherny. Mention is found of course in his Eros and the Mysteries of Love; The Metaphysics of Sex. where the sexual background of alchemical sym» bolism is ílluminated. Án essential complement of Evolaïs alchemical work was his interest in Chinese aichemy, revealed in his editions of two Chinese alchemical treatises. 18 This interest is also eyitlent in the title of his Spiritual autobiography, Il eammrhci del cmabm (The path of cinnabar). In Chinese alcherny the path of liberation is the journey from the "lower" to the “higher" cínnabat; chemically as well as alchemícally cinnabar derives from the union of Sullut (the masculine princíple) and Mercury (the ïerttinjne prínciple). Despite the widest ctwerage in the present work by the author himself, one point must also be emphasízed here again: if we are now really to understand the following—not just intellectually, but also spiritually and in body and soul, in a word, completely- out consciousness must risk a leap. ln its profundíty the meta« phorical world of alchemy is simply not accessible to the contemporary abstract Understanding. We must, for once, turn off the contíhual din of reason and listen with the "ear of the heart” if we want to have the sytnbols strike responsive Chords in ourselves. Two worlds are met with here: on the one hand a tímeless world, lying beyond reason, prehistorícal, and beyond history. and on the other, a timobound, historical world that is chaíned to clialectícal reason. Between them there is now no gradual passage, but an abyss, which we must leap over. Vs/ hat does Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling say? “Accordingly historical and prehistoria times are not merely relative differences between one and the same time, they are {WD essen tially different kinds of time completely removed from one another, and mutually exclusive. We call it completely different time . . . full ol events, but of quite another sort, and conforrning to quite a different law. "19 Since modern man is so slow to lay asicle hís helief in progress, which stamps his thought patterns and dÍStCIIES his yardsticks-it seems to him almost monstrous ‘S Lu-‘Tsu, H mister-o del llore dbm (The secret of the golden flower [Rome 1971]). and with Lu KWFan Yu (Charles Lula), Lo yoga del tao (Rome. 1976). Both works appear with commentary [the second, necessaríly only in part, because nf his death) by Evola. Not without importance in this context are the Evolian editions of the famous Tao te Clurig; First as Libro della via e della vii-ru (Lanciano, i923), and then Ín a completely revístd version under the title of : li libro deiprincrpe e della sua azione (Milan, 1959) 19 Einieitung ¡‘n die Philosophie der Mythologrr in Sammelte Werlte (1856,- repritit. Darmstatlt, 1976), 1 :233—36.
  11. 11. that there also exist completely different ways of thinking "and that is why the astronomer does not understand the astrologer (in the ancient sense), the modem priest does not understand the Egyptian hierophant, the philostipher does not understand the initíate, and the chemíst does not understand the alchemist. A1- chernical sy-rnbolísm has now adrnittetlly been found to have wídely influenced literature, painting, and sculpture in the past. Literati and art historians concern themselves about the interpretation of this work. They can irnniediately discover worthwhíle suggestions in this book, if they wish to penetrate this other world. H. T. Hansen pomwofll. ... ... ... ... ... ... .
  12. 12. CRADsLAtows Doce ítles of Works that appear in English in the. text will appear in their original languages ín the notes, follow- ing the sources and editions from which Evola cites. No attempt has been made to include publication data on English translations for the many‘ works to which Evola referis. (Some of these works are available in English, hut many of them are no longer in print. ) Braekets ín the quoted material in the text proper contain Evolaïs‘ own glosses and ínterpolatíons; other brackets in the text and footnotes are elaríficatíons and notes from the translator. . XIV-uu-u-anoooo-o - - - - - . . u-u-n-u-nnonna-oonn-
  13. 13. PneFACe O n the present work we shall use the expression “her- metic tradition" in a special sense that the Middle Ages and the Renaissance gave it. It will not reier to the ancient Greco-Egyptian cult of Hermes. nor will it reler solely to the teachings comprising the Alexandrian texts of the Corpus Hermeticum. In the particular sense that we shall use it, hermetism is directly concerned with the aichenrical tradition, and it is the hermetico-alchemical traditioti that will be the object of our study. We shall attempt to determine therein the real sense and spirit of a secret docrrine, a practical and workable wisdorn that has been faithiully transmitted from the Greeks, through the Arabs, down to certain texts and authors at the very tllriïfilïfllcl of modern times. At the outset, we must tlraw attention to the error of those historians of science who want to reduce alchemy to mere chemistry in an ini antile and mythological stage. Against this notion are raisecl the explicit exhortations of the most quoted hermetic authors not to deceive ourselves by taking them literallst, because their wortls are drawn from a secret language expressed via symbols and allegoriesl These same authors have repeated, to the point of weariness, that the "object of ’ Ártephius speaks for all those authors in the following: "Isn't it only too well known that ours is a cahalístic Art? That is, to he revealed onlv orally and tiverlloivitig with mysteries? Poor fool! How can you he so Iiaive as to believe that we would teach you openly and clearly the greatest anti most important of our secrets? l assure you that whoever tries to explain in the ordínary‘ and literal sense oi" the words what the [hermeric] phflosphers h-ave m-rírten will [ind hímseli caught in the meanclerings ul a labvrinth iron-i which he can never escape, because he laclcs Áriadnes thread as guide. ” From Livre dflrtephius in Salmon, ed , Bfblibthéque ¿ies phiiosophes ciuïnirgues (París, 1741), Z144.
  14. 14. our precíous art is concealecl”; that the operations to which we allutie are not done nranually; that its "elements? are invisible and not those the vulgar recogniae. The same authors reier cotitemptutausly to the “puffers” and "charcoal burners" who "mined the science" and whose manipulations could expect "nothing more than smoke, ” and to all those íngenuous alchemists who, in their incompreheirsion, surtendered to experiments of the sort that modems now atttibute to the hermetic science. The proper alchemists have always laid down ethícal and Spiritual condi- tions for their operations. ln view ol their living sense of nature, their ideal world is presented as inseparable from that other-which we can call Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Qabalah, and theurgy-fianytlling hut chenristry Likewise, with a multitude of halfiexpressed formulas, they have given to understand “to those who can read between the lines, " for instance, that alchernical sulfur represents the will (Basíl Valentine and Petnety), that smoke is "the soul separated from the body” (Geber), that "virility” is the mystery of “ar-senic“ (Zosimos)—and in this wise we could Cite an infínite number of texts and authors. So it is that with a bewildering variety of symbols the "Sons of Hermes" all manage to say the same thing and to repeat proudly the quod ubique, quod ab ontníbus ct qufld sempertz _ Jacob Boehme reveals to us the axiom on which this unique knowledge tests. this tradition [hat claims lor itself universality and primordiality: “Between Eter- nal Birth, Restoration f rom the Fall and the discovery of the Plrilosophei-‘s Stone there is no difference. ” Are We standing perhaps before a mystical mainstream? Ti‘ so, Why the tlisguise and hermetic concealment? Holding ourselves to the conventional idea of “mysti- cism" (a sense which in the West it has acquired since the period of the classical Mysteries and especially with Christíanity), we must point out that it is not 3 CL, for example, Geher (Lim-c du inercia-e oriental in Berthelot, ed, La cbrïnfe au tnoyeimge [Paris 1893]. 3.248). “ln reality. there is accord between the authors, though ro the tnninitieltetl it appears that they have differences”, - also A. j. Pernety (Ethics égytrticnnesï et grecqtics dévtrfléer; [Paris 1786], l: ii): "The hermttic tihilostipl-¡ers are all in agreement; none contradícts the principales of the others. And one who wrote thirty years tigo, speaks as one who wrote two thousand years ago. They never tire of repeating the Church axiom: ‘Quod ubique. gtiod ab nmnïhus et quod scrnpcr. ” And even clearer is the Turha pllilfijuplïorun}, one of the oldest and most quoted of western hernieticowalchemical texts (in C. PUÍIIÍ, ed. . fntroduziorre alla magia [Rot-nc 1971], Z245): "Be it noted that whatever the ¡Irannet in Whïílï [the hermetic phílosoplïers] have spoken. nature is one, and they find themselves in accord and all say the same thing. But the ignorant take our words exactly as we say them without understanding the why ot wherefore. instead, the}? should consider whether or not our svords reasonable and natural and then tal-te them las they are]: and if CJUI’ words an: nor reasonable, they should try to rarlse themselves ro Our itltentiïm instead Olvilloftliug to the letter. In any case, you must know that we are ín agreement, whatever we say. So bring one ¿mother together accordingly and study us; because in one it may be clear what in another rtniitiirs hidden and who truly Searches will iínd evervthírïg. " 3 J. Boehme. De sfigiiariira tenim. 7, c578: ‘LS/ ie die cwrge Fehurt En sich selber ist. also 11st auch der Praza)? ITJÍE der Wiederbrtrtgung nach dem baile, und also ÍSC ¿Itich der Prozefi der Weísen nuit ¡hi-em Laprida Phüosophoruni, es ist kero Untcrschikd dazmschen. “ Trans] xviun. uuusus. ... .uaaooo. ..o. ..nooouu. .u¡. ..ao¡ooPrC-[ace
  15. 15. zttvsticísm. We will demonsttate rather that it is a rea] science, in which reintegra- zon (with the primordial state) does not have an intended moral, but is concrete ¿nd ontological, even to the point of conferring certain stipernormal powers, one e’ whose incidental applications may even be the famous transmutatitvn Lnvolving metallic substances. This characteristic of the hermetic process constitutes the first reason for its soncealment. Not for superficial monopolistic purposes, but for inner technical reasons, any science of this type always protects itself by initiatory secrets and expression through symbols. But there is a second reason, which to he understood requires the fundamental knowledge of a general nretaphysic of history. Hermetico» ¿lchemical knowledge has been described as a "sacred" science, but the prevailing ¿lesignation that better characterízes it is that of Ars Regia or "Royal Art. " Ányone who studies the varieties of Spirituality that have evolved in what we call historical times can verify that there is a fundamental opposítion, one that we can reduce analogically to the conflict between “royalty" and “sacerdotality" The "royal" initiatory tradition, in its pure forms, can be considered the most direct and legitimate link to the unique, primordial Traditionfï In more recent times, -_t appears to us in its heroic variants, that is, as a realization and reconquest ctmditionetl by analogous virile qualitíes suitable, on the plane of the spirit, to the warrior. But. on the other hand, there is the sacerdotal PDSÍLÍOH in the nartow sense. with different qualities from the first, and at times opposite to it. This is especially so when, brought to the profane in its theistiodevotional forms, ít confronts what we refetted to above as the “heroic" variations of the royal tradition. From the point of what we symholize as the. original "divine royalty, ” this second tradition now appears as something crumbling to pieces, the blame for which must be attributed to the sentimental. emotional, theistic-devotional and mystical ele« menu-especially in the West-who are constantly gaining ground in their at- tempt to keep its esoteric elements in almost total darkness. lt is no accídent that the hermetico-alchemica] tradition should call itself the Royal Art, and that it chose Gold as a central royal and solar symbol, which at the same time takes us back to the primordial Tradition. Such a tradition presents itself to us essentially as the guardian of a light and adígnity that cannot he reduced to the religioussacerdotal vision of the world. And if there is no talk in this tradition (as in a cycle of other myths) of discovering gold, but only of making ít, that oniy goes to show how important, ín the already indicated sense of reconquest and reconstructon, the heroic moment had become. “l To understand better those ideas that are contrary to the traditional and the primordial state, of the hetoíc. ettz. referente to our work Revolt against the ¿Mtïdern World (Rochester, Ve, 1994), and to the books and texts of R, Guenon is almost Índisperusible. Cf. as well our Maschcra e voiro dello spthttralisnto contemporaneo (Rome, 1971), particularly the chapter on the nation of retuming to Catholícísm. I I o g o 0 o u o u I t u l I l u n u | - l o v I u I i I o I 4 I o y
  16. 16. Thus we can easily understand the second reason for disguising the doctrine. With the fall of the Roman Empire, the predominating principles of the West went on to become the basis for the other tradition-the sacerdotal- -which in its decadente was almost completely stripped of its entire esoteric and metaphysical range in order to convert itself into a doctrine of “salvatiorfl in rhe name of a “Redeemer. ” Things being so, the hermetists, in contrast to other ÍTIÍtÍatDFy organizations that were tributaries of the san-le secret royal vein, instead of coming out into the light and presenting themselves for battle, chose to go into hiding. And the Royal Art was presented as the alchemical art of transmutíng base metals hito gold and silver. By so doing it no longer fell under the suspicion of heresy, and even passed as one of the many forms of "natural philosophy" that did not interfere with the faith, - even among the ranlts of Catholics we can discern the enigrnatic figures of hermetic masters, from Raymond Lully and Albertus Magnus to Abbot Pernety. ln a narrower sense. and leaving asfde the fact that the various Western alchemical authors declare that they have each employed a different ciphered language to refer to the same things and the same operations, there is no question that alchemy is not simply a Western phenomenon. There are, for example, a Hindu alchemy and a Chinese alchemy. And anyone who í s at all in touch with the theme can see that the symbols, the " matters, ” and the lnrinciple otaerations correspond to one another; but especially does the structure of a physical (and ultimately metaphysical) science correspond ínwardly and outwardly at the same time. Such correspondenees are explained by the fact that once present, the same conceptions with respect to the general and "traditional" view of the world, life, and man, lead quite naturally to the same consequences, even in consideration of special technical problems like that ol" transmutation. So, as long as this “tradi- tional" concepríon persistsfieven when only residually í n lifeless philosophical and logical distortions with respect to which the differences between Orient and Occident were minimal in comparison with those that would exist later between alchemy and the modern mortality-while it has continued to remain alive, we will find alchemy recognized and cultivated by ill ustrious spirits, thinkers, theologians, "natural philosophers, ” kings. emperors, and even popes. DCClÍCaEÍÜII to a discipline of this kind has not been considered incompatible with the highest Spiritual or intellectual level. One proof, among many others, is that more than one alchemical treatise has been attributed to the "airgelical master, " Thomas AquinasÏ An alchemí cal tradition has en igmatically extended it self not only across at least fifteen centuries of Western history, but even across the continents, as deeply into the Orient as into the West. 5 See M. —L. von Franz, AUTOR? consurgens. vol. 3 of Mysterium Coniuncrioms (Zurich, 1957). . . . . . "C. II""IPÏO{ace
  17. 17. Our work will not be directed toward convrncirlg those who do not veish to be. convinced. But it will supply firm points of support for anyone who reads it without prejudíce. On the other hand, anyone who is in accord, be it only with a single one of our conclusions, will not f ail to recognize its entire importance. lt is like the discovery of a new land whose existente. was previously unsuspected-a strange land, alarming, sewn with spirits, metals. and gods, whose labyrinthine passages and phantasmagoria are concentrated little by little in a single point of light: the “rnyth” of a race of “kingless" and "f ree" creatures, "Lords of the Serpent and the Mother" to use the proud expressions of the same hermetic texts. Apart from the introduction, the purpose of which is to clarify what we have called the "heroic" expression of the royal tradition, the present work consists of two parts: the first dedicated to the symbols and the doctrine, the second to practice. The limits of the present edition have obliged us to forego a quantity of quotatíons from Greek, Latin, and Arabic texts, so that we have saved only what is essential. We have also tried to be as clear as possible. But the reader should have no illusions. Rarher than being simply read, this book demands study. For this reason, after having acquired a coherent vision, one must go back over basic teachings and particular symbols, which can never be understood isolated from the rest, in «arder to exhaust all their possible and different meanings. For our part we can assure the reader that in the present book he will find a solid basis for dealing with any hermetictiealchemical text no matter how obscure and sybilliire. For the rest, we will insist only that in the practice section there is good deal more than appears at first glance, should the reader really want to know by experience the reality and possíbilities the "Sons of Hermes" are talking about. ln any case. elsewheres we have given everything necessary for integratíng all that can be learned from this book, with a view to the EVUCELÍOH and effective contacts of the spirit with the metaphysical, super-historical elements of the hermetic tradition. 5 Cf, rhe three volun-ies of the collective work lntrodtrzione alla magia Preface. ... ... ... ... . - - . . - . .. -.. a.. ... ... xix
  18. 18. 11765 w a C
  19. 19. ¡ . ¡ . ¡ ¡ a A o A ¿ . o u ¡ I . n I ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ a a Che cites, the SGRPGDC, ADO f the‘ CÍCADS ne of the svmhols that we encounter in diverse traditions l remote in both time and space is that of the tree. Meta- physícally, the tree exptesses the universal force that spreads out in marnfestation the same way that the plant energy spreads out from its invisible roots to the trunk, branches, leaves, and fruit. Consistently associated with the tree are on the one hand, ideas of í m mortality and Supernatural consciousness, and on the other, svmbols of mortal, destructive forces and frightenjng natures such as dragons, setpents, or demons. There also exists a whole cycle of mythological references to dramatic events in which the tree plays a central part and in whose allegory profound meanings are hidden. The biblícal myth of the fall of Adam, among others, is well known. Let us highlight some of its variants, but not without first pomtíng out the universality of the symbolical elements of which it is composed. ln the Vedas and Upanishads we find the "world tree, " inverted sometimes to suggest the origin of its power in “the heíghts, ” in the "heavens. ”1 Here we discover a ready Convergence of many elements and ideas: from this tree drips the nectar l C f ¡{culta-í lgmnirirmi, 6 1; Bhrtrgazsrtd-(Ïjitu, 1:3 1-3, 10 26 z I I u u u u I I u u J o o . . a . r o - - - - . . u u - u A o 4 o 4 - - . a . o o o u I
  20. 20. of irnmortality (soma or amrita) and whoever sips it is inspired with a vision Laeyond the reaches of time, a vision that awakens the memory of all the infiníte forms of existence. In the foliage of the tree hides Yan-ra, the god of beyond the grave, whom we also know as the king of the primordial state? ln lran we also find the tradition of a double tree, one of which comprises, according to the Bundahesh, all seeds, while the other is capable of furníshing the drink of immortality (haovma) and spiritual knowledge? which leads us immedi- ately to think again of the two biblical trees of Paradise, the one of Life, and the other of Knowledge. The first, then, is equivalent (Matt. 1331-32) to the tüprflr Sfntatíün of the kingdom of heaven that sprouts from the seed irrigated by the man zn the symbolical "field"; We encounter it again in the Apocalypse of john (222), ¿nd especially in the Qabalah as that "great and powerful Tree of Life” by which "Life is raísed on high" and with which is connected a “sprinkling” by vírtue of zvhich is produced the resurrection of the “dead? a patent equivalence to the power of immortality in the Vedíc amrita and Iranian haoma. “ Assyro-Babylonian mythology also recognizes a “Cosmic tree" rooted in Erídu, the “House of Profundíty" or "Htiuse of Vvisdtnm. " But what is important to : tcognize in these traditions-because this element will be useful in what f ollows— :5 another association of symbols: the tree also represents for us the personification of the Divine Mother, of that same general type as those great Asíatic goddesses of Nature: lshtar, Anar, Tamrnuz [sic], Cybele, and so forth. We find, then, the ¿ea of the feminine nature of the universal force represented by the tree. This idea :5 not only confirmed by the goddess consecrated to the Dodona oak- which, Íwesídes being a place of oracles, is also a fountairï of spritual knowledge «but also by the Hesperídes who are charged with guarding ‘the tree. whose fruit has the same svmbolic value as the Golden Fleece and the same immortalízing power as that tree cif the Irish legend of Mag Mel], also guarded by a feminine entity. In the Etida it zs the goddess lclhunn who Ís charged with guarding the apples of immortality, while in the Cosmic tree, Yggdrasil, we again encounter the central symbol, rising "before the fountaur of Mimir (guardíng it and reintroducing the symbol of the dragon at the root of the tree), which contains the principle of all Wisdom. “ Finally, according to a Slavic saga, on the island of Bajun there is an oak guarded by a dragon (which we must associate with the biblical serpent, with the monsters of _'Iason’s adventures. and with the garden of the Hesperides), that simultaneously is the residente of a feminine principle called "The Virgin of the Damm. ” Also rather interesting is the variation according to which the tree appears to ¿s as the tree of dominican: and of universal empire, such as we find in legends like t Crohlet Dfilviella, la migration des symboies (Paris. 1891), 151-206. ' jacna. 9 and 10. " Zohar, 1226i‘); 12563., 5.613.; 3128i); 2-515; LZZSÏJ; 11313 Cf DUhlviella. A/ hgrarfon, The Tree, the Sor unLandthc-Ïitana - - - - - - - o - - - - - - - « - - - - - - - 3 P
  21. 21. those of Holger and Prester john, whom we have mentioned elsewhereas In these legends the Tree is often doubled-the Tree of the Sun and the Tree of the Moon. Hermetísm repeats the same primordial symbolic tradition and the Same asso- ciation of ideas, and the symbol of the tree is quite prevalent in alchemical texts. The tree shelters the “fountairf of Bernard of Trevíso, in whose center is the symbol of the dragon Ouroboros. who represents the "Ally lt personifies “Mer- cury, " either as the first principle of the hermetic Opus, equivalent to the divine Water or "Water of Life" that gives resurrection to the dead and illuminates the Sons of Hermes, or else it represents the "Lady of the Philosophers. ” But it also representa the Dragon, that is, a dissohring force, a power that kills. The Tree of the Sun and the Tree of the Moon are also hErmEEÍC symbols, sometimes producing crowns in the place of fruits. This quick glance at the stuff of religion, which we Could expand indefinirely, is enough to establish the permanence and universality of a tradition of vegetable syrnbolisrn expressing the universal force, predominantly in feminine form. This vegetable symbolism is the repository of a Supernatural science, of a force capable of giving immortalíty and domíníon, but at the same time wams of a multiple danger that complicates the myth in turn to various purposes, different truths and Visions. ln general, the danger is the same anyone runs in seeking the conquest of immor- tality or enlightenment by Contacting the universal force , - the one who makes contact must be capable of wirhstanding overwhelming grandeur. But we also know rnyths in which there are heroes who confront the tree, and divine natures (in the Bible, God himself is hypostasized) that defend it and impede access to it. And the result, then, is a battle variously interpreted, according to the traditíons. There is a double possibility: in one case the tree is conceived as a remptation, Which leads to ruin and damnatíon for anyone Who succumbs to it, - ín the other, it is conceived as an object of possible conquest which, after dealing with the dragons or divina beings defending it, transforms the darer into a god and some- times transfers the attributes of divinity or irnmortality from one race to another. Thus. the knowledge that tempted Adams to “become as God" and that he attained only by irnrnediately being knocked down and deprived of the Tree of Life by the very Being with whom he had hoped to equalize hirnself. Yet this is the same knowledge, Supernatural after all, that the Buddha acquires under the tree, despite 5 Evola. H mister-o dei Gras! e ia tradizibne gitibeiiina dal! ’ impera (Milan, 1964). 7 Cf. the ex-libris hermetic reproduction by L. Charbonneau-Lassay, ín Rcgntihit, no. 3-4. (1925). ln the central space of the tree is found the Phoenix, symbol of immortality, who brings us back to ami-ita and haoma. 3 Although we shall return to the topic, let us Pause for a moment to allow the reader to intuir the profound meaning of the symbol, according to ufhich "temptarion" is represented by "womarf-the "Living Evzï-uího orgínally formed part of Adam. 4 a . o o . . . . . . - . n . . - - . - . - . . . . . C113 Syn-¡Lolg ¿ná Ceaghingg
  22. 22. all the efforts of Mara, who, in another tradition, stole the hghtning from Indra? ’ Ás chief oi the Devas, Indra hirnself. in turn, had appropriated amrita from a lineage of anterior beings having characters sometimes dívine and sometimes titanic: the Asuras, who with ¿inn-ita had possessed the privílege of ímmortality. Equally successful were Odin (by means of hangíng himself in self-sacrifice from the tree), Hercules, and Míthras, who after fashioníng a symholic cloak from the leaves ol the Tree and eatín g its Fruits, Was ahle to dominate the Sun. ” ln an ancient Italic myth, the King of the Woods, Nerni, hushand of a goddess (tree = Woman). had to be always on guard because his power and dignity would pass to whomever could seíze and kill him. ” The Spiritual achievement in the Hindu tradition is associated with cutting and lelling the “Tree of Brahma” with the Mwerful ax of Vxïísdonatïz But Ágni, who ín the form of a hawk had snatched a branch of the tree. is struck down: his Feather-s, scattered over the earth, produce a plant whose sap is the "terrestrial soma"; an ohscure allusíon. perhaps, to the passing of the legacy of the deed to another race (now terrestrial). The same advantage Prornetheus gained hy similar daring. but for which he fell, was chained, and suffered the torment of the hawk or eagle laceratmg his innards. And if Hercules is the prototype of the “Olympían” hero who liberates Prometheus and Theseus, we have a quite different personification in the heroic type of Jason, who is of the “Uranían" race. After Jason returns with the Golden Fleece, found hanging on the tree, he ends by dying under the ruins of the Árgo, the ship which, built of Dodonaïs oak, conveyed the very power that had made the theft possible. The story is repeated in the Edda of Lokí Who stole the apples of ímmortality from the goddess Idhunn who was guardíng them. And the Chaldean Gilgamesh, after cultivating the "great crystal- line fruit” in a forest of "trees like those of the gods, " finds the entrante blocked by guardiansÉïT he Ássyrian god Zu, who aspiríng to the supreme dignity took unto himself the “tahlets of destiny” and with them the power of prophetic knowledge, is nevertheless seized by Baal, changed into a bird of prey and exiled, like Prometheus, on a mountaintop. The rnyth speaks to u»; of an event involving fundamental risk and fraught with 9 Cf. Weber, intiische Studten. 3466 1° Cf. F. Cumont. Les mystercs de Nfithra (Brussels, 1913). 133 “ This myth is the center around wluclï is crystallized the exhaustiva material of the famous work ol I. G. Fraser, The Cabitier: Bough. ¡z Bhagavad-Gita, 15, 3 H Connection to the Hebrides is obvious, This tCKt. incomplete as ít is, does not exelude an ulterior phase of the adventure (cf. ïïñlvíella. Adígratfon, 190), The better known text, 771i: Epic of Gflgamesh, gives a negative unravelling of the ¿Idventur-e. Gilgamesh loses. while asleep. the plant of ímmortality that he had {muy won after crossing the “Waters of death” and arrivíng at the "prífllürtlíïll state" kingdom. The Treo, ‘the Serpent, and ‘cho Titans - - - - - - r t - - - - - - - v - - - - - - v 5
  23. 23. elemental uncertainty. In Hesiods rheomachies, typícally in the legend of the King of the Forest. gods or transcendental men are- shown as possessors of a power that can be. transmítted, together with the attribute of divinity, to whomever is capable of attaining it. ln that case the primordial force has a Íemfilzne nature (tree = divine woman). lt conveys the Violence which, according to the Gospels is said to be necessary against the "Kingdom oi Heaven. ” But among those who try it, those who are ahle to break through, triumph, while those who fail pay for their audacíty by suffering the lethal effects of the same power they had hoped to win. The interpretacion of such an event brings to light the pOSsíbílÍty of two opposmg concepts: magical hero and relrgious saint. According to the first, the one who succumbs in the myth is but a being whose Fortune and ability have not been equal to his Courage. But according to the second concept, the religious one, the sense is quite different: in this case bad luck is transformed into blame, the heroíc undertaking is a saerilege and damned, not for having failed, but for itself. Adam is not a being who has failed where others triumph, he has srnned, and what happens to him is the only thing that can happen. All he can do is undo his sin by expiation, and above all by denying the impulse that led him on the enterprise in the first place. The idea that the conquered can think of revenge, or try to maintain the dignity that his act has confirmed, would seem from the "religious" point of view as the most incorrigible “LuciferismÏ But the religíous view is not the only one. Ás we have already shown above, this point of view is associated with a humanízecl and secularízed variation on the “sacerdotal” (as opposed to "royal”) tradition and is in no way superior to the other—the heroic—which has been affirmed in hoth Eastern and Western tradi- tions and whose spirit is reflected in great Ineasure by hermetisrn. One exegesís gives us, in fact, the "rod of Hermes“ with his mother (Rhea, symbol of the universal force). whom he has won after killing the father and usurping his kingdom: this is the symbol of "philosophic incest” that we shall encounter in all of the hermetic literature. Hermes himseli is, of course. the messenger of the gods, but he is also the one who wrests the as a symbol of the union of a son (Zeus) scepter from Zeus, the girdle from Venus, and from Vulcan, god of “Fire and Earth, ” the tools of his allegorieal art. ln the Egyptian tradition, as the ancient authors tell us, Hermes, invested with treble gieatnessál-lernres Trismegístus-ís Confused with the image of one of the kings and teachers of the primordial age that gave to men the principles of a higher Civilization. The precise meaning of all this can escape no one. But there is still more. Tertullían refers to one tradition that reappears in Árab- H ln Áthenagoras (20.292) We find also an interference in the heroic cycle of Hercules; the one in which Rhea is hound by the "tope of Hercules. ” ó - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - symhols and. ceaohings
  24. 24. Syrian alchemical hermetism and brings us back to the same point. Tertullian” says that the “damned and worthless” works of nature, the secrets of metals, the virtues of plants, the forces of magical conjurations, and "all those alien teachings that make up the science of the stars"—that is to say, the whole corpus of the ancient magico-hermetic Sciences-was revealed to men by the fallen angels. This idea appears in the Book of Enoch, wherein it is Completed within the context of this most ancient tradition. betraying its own unilaterality to the rehgious interpre- tatíon. Merejkowsltiïfi has shown that there is an apparent correspondence between the Bhai Elohim, the fallen angels who descended to Mount Her-mon that are mentioned in the Book of Enoch, ” and the lineage of the Vvitnesses and Watch- ers-éypñyopoi-(about whom we are told in the Book of fabricas”) and who came down to instruct humanity. In the same way Prometheus “taught mortals all the arts? ” Moreover, in Enoch (69:6—7), Ázazel, "who seduced Eve, ” taught men the use of Weapons that kill, which, metaphor aside, signífies that he had infused in men the warrior spirit. Here we can understand how the myth of the fall applíes: the angels were seíaed with desire for “women? We have already explained what "woman" means in connection with the tree and our interpretation is confirmed when we examine the Sanskrit word shakti, which is used metaphysically to refer to " the wife" of a god, his “consort, ” and at the same time to his power. ” These angels were prey to the desire for power and, in "mating, " fell-descended to earth-onto an elevated place (Mount I-lermon). From this union were born the Nephelim, a powerful race (the Titans- ‘tiró? vsg-says the Giza Papyrus), allegori- cally described as "giantsf but whose supematural nature remains to be discovered in the Book ofEnoch (15: 11): “They need neither food, nor do they thirst and they evade [physical] perception. ” The Nephelim, the “fallen” angels, are notlúng less than the títans and “the watchers, " the race that the Book of Baruch (3:26) calls, “glorious and warlike. " the Same race that awoke in men the spirit of the heroes and virarriors, who f5 De culta femtnarttm, 1.2i). ‘f’ D Merejkowski. 1.121s Cïeitennntstíes l-‘ulnsturts (Leipzig. i929). chapas. 4 antl 5 17 Book oifEnoch, 61-6‘; 7:1. 13 Book ofjubilees, 4.5. in Kautzch, Ápokryphen und Piseudoepígraphen (Tübingen, 1900), 2:47. 19 Áeschylus, Prometheus, 506. m Fabre dOliVet (The Hebraic Tonga: Restored) in his comrrtentarv on the hihlical passage (Gen. 4:2), stes in “uromen" a symbol df the "creative powers. " A special pertinente to what we will say about the compelling character of the hermetic art is shown in the Tïbetan symbolism whereín Wisdom appears again as a "Woman, " while the "method" or "Art" plays the part of the male in coitus ‘With her. Cf. Sbricbakrasambhara. A. Avalon, ed. (London-Calcuta, 1919), xiv. 23; Dante (Contrivio. 2.15.4) calls the Philosophers the " paramours" of the "woman. " which in the symbology of the Fideli D'En-lore represents Gnosis again, the esoteric Knowledge. The Tree, the Serpent, and the Titans - v v ° - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 7
  25. 25. rnvented the arts, and who transmitted the mystery of magic. “ VN/ hat more ticcísíve proof concerning the spirit of the hermetictvalchemical tradition can there be than the explicit and continuous reference in the texts precisely to that tracli» tion? Vs/ e. read in the hermetic literature: "The ailcíeot and Sacred books, " says Hermes. "teach that certain angels hurned with desire for women. They descended to earth and taught all the works of Nature. They were the ones who created the. [hermetic] works and from them proceeds the primordial tradition of this ÁrtWZZ The very word chemi, from chema, from which derive the words a/ cbenly’ and chemistnv, appears for the first time in a papyrus of the Twelith Dynasty, referríng to a tradition of just this kind. But what is the meaning of this art, this art of “the Sons of Hermes, ” this "Royal Árt”? The words of the theistically conceived God in the hihlical myth of the tree are the following. - “The tiran has heeome as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever. ” (Cien. 3:22—24). We can distinguish two points in this quotation: first of all, the recognitíon of the divine dignity of Adam, which he has ‘won; and after that the implicit reference to the possihility of transferrin g this achieve- ment to the rank of universal power, symholízed hy the Tree of Life, and of confirming it in immortality. ln the unfortunate result of Adamïs adventure, God, heing hypostatized, was unable to irlterfere hut he could keep him from the second possibility: access to the Tree of Life would he barred hy the flaming SWOICl of the cheruhinï. In Orphísm, the n-¡yth of the Titans has an analogous sense: lightning strikes ¿Se scorches “with a thirst that hurns and consumes" those who have "devoured" the god, a thirst that is itself syniholized hy the bird of prey that peclts at Prometheus. And in Phrygia Áttis was mourned, xnptïóv crrdxuv ávryflévra, "corn cut while still green, ” and his emasculatíon, that is to say, the deprivation of the virile power that Attis suffers, corresponds well enough to the prohibititan "of the powerful tree at the center of Paradise” and to the chaining of Prometheus to the rock. But the flame is not extinguished, rather it is transmitted and purífied in the secret tradition of the Royal Art, which in certain hermetic texts is explicitly identified with magic, extending even to the CtmS-Eructiün of a second "Wood of 7’ ln the more Urígllïal concepcion. which we also find in Hesíod, "the watchers” are identified as [aeings of the rímordial a e, the Crolden A . who never died but sim l made themselves invisible to men P 8 7 8“ P Y doven through the ages theteaítel‘ 32 In M. Berrhelofs anthology. La chimie nu HIUyCH-figf (Paris, i893) 1238 (hereafter tired as (WM). The same tratlition is found in the Koi-an (2:96). which speaks of the angels l-larut and h/ Izirut, both henamored” of the "woman" antl who descendred to teach magic to men; and who fell into a hole with their feet sticking u . This could be inte reted as the ‘¡Edit tree. whose head is below i1I1Ll its rC-DIS are "above. " P ‘T’ 8 . . . . . ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Cl1e: Symhg1sa_nclCeac1-1ings
  26. 26. Life" as a substitute for the lost one23 lt persists in seeking access "to the center of the tree in the midst of the terrestrial paradise” with all that that terrible struggle implies. “ It is no more and no less than a repetitíon ol the old temerity, in the spirit of the Olympian Hercules, conqueror of the Titans and liherator of Prometheus , - of Mithras, subjugator of the Sun i in a word, of that very personalíty that in the Buddhist Orient received the name of “Lord of Men and Gods. " VVhat distinguishes the Royal Árt is its character of necessity or compulsíon. Berthelot, hy way of TertulIian’s statements cited above, tells us; "Scientific law is fatalistic and indifferent. The knowledge of nature and the power derived from it can be turned equally to good or evil. ” and this is the fundamental point of contrast with the religious vision that subordinates everything to elements of devout dependency, fear of Ciod and mtvralíty. Ánd Berthelot continues, "Something of this antinomy in the hatred for the [hermetic] sciences runs through the Book ofEntich and Tertullían. "25 Nothing can be more exact than this: although hermetic science is not material science, which is all it could have been in Berthelots view, the annoral and determiníng character that he secs in the latter pertaíns equally to the former. Á Inaxím of Ripley in this regard is quite significant; “If the principles on which it operates are true and the steps are correct, the effect must be certain, and none other is the true secret of the [hermetíc] Philosophers. "26 Ágrippa, quoting Porphyry, spealcs of the cletermin ín g power of the rites, in which the divinities are foi-Ceci by prayet, overcoiiie and tibliged to descend. He adds that the magical formulae lbrce the occult energies of the astral entities to intervene, Who do not cibey prayers but act solely hy virtue of a natural chain of necessíty? Plotinuss idea is no different: the fact in itself of the oration products the effect according to a determinístíc relationship. and not because such entity pays attention to the words ot intention of the prayer itself. ” ln a commentary of Zosimcis, we read: "Experience is the Supreme taskmaster, because on the foun- dation of proven results, it teaches those who understand what best leads to the goal. ”29 The hernietic Art consists, then, in an Ohligatory method that is EXEtCÍSECZl 33 Cesare Della Riviera, Il mondo magico degli’ heroi’ (Milan, i605). 4. 5, 49. 2*‘ Basfl Valentine, Azotlr in Manget, Biblioteca‘ cheriiica curiosa (Genoa, i702), 23214 (hereafter cired as ECC]. ln S. Trisrnosins Aurum VEllü. 'ï(R. (Jl1TSCl1aCl'l, 1598) is an illustration of great significance: we see a man in the act of climhing the "li-ee whose trunlt is traversed by the symbolic stream. Referentes to Hercules. to Jason. and their deeds are explícít and frequent in the literature, and in them-which is even more impottantqhe soul is Linexpectedly called Promerheus. 25 M Berthelot. Las Drig1hc5 de léilcliiinie (Paris, i885), 10, 17-19. 25 Philalerhes. Epist. di‘ Ripley, Q8, W De (Jcculta philosoltïlifa, 2:60: 3:32. l“ Enneads, 4.42.26. 29 Cit. in M Berrhelot, Collection des ¿ziiciens aichimisrcs grecqtres (París. 1887). 2284 (hereafter cited as (.346). The Tree, the Serpcnt, and the Titans - - - v - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 9
  27. 27. over the Spiritual powers, by supematural means if you will (the symbolíc hermetic Fire is often called "unnatural” or "against nature"), but always excluding every kind of religíous, moral, or finalistic tie or any relationship that is alien to a law of simple cleterininism between Cause and effect. To return by way of the tradition to those who "are WaÉClIÍIIg! ’*É]/ pñ}/ OpO1—-th()bi8 who have rohbed the tree and possessed the "woman, " this reilects a "heroic” symbolism and is applied in the Spiritual world to constitute something that-as we shall see-is said to possess a worthiness higher than atlything we have mentioned before ,50 and this is not defined by the teligious term “holy, ” but hy the warrior of the "King. ” lt is always a king, a being crowned with a royal color, the purple, the final color of the hermetico-alchemícal opus, and with the royal and solar metal, gold, that constitute-s, as we have said, the center of all this symbolism. And as lor the worthíness of those who have been reintegrated by the Art, the expressíons in the tests are precise. Zosimos calls the race ol Philosophers: "autono- mous, nonmateríalistie and without king, " and "custodians of the Wisdom of the Centurietï-áfiaoïfltsvrog j/ Úp txÚrcïJv 1'} yan/ Sá xai txútóvopogx“ "He is above Destiny”— ri gbtzlóooqïwg yévog á vwtspo v vfig sittappévqg 51 7tov33—" Superior to men, inunottal, ” says Pebechíus of his master. ” And the tradition passed on as far as Cagliostro will he: “Free and master of Life, " having “command over the angel natures. "3‘l Plotínus has already mentioned the temerity of those who have entered into the world, that is, who have acquited a body, which, as we can see, is one of the meanings of the fall, “ and Ágrippa“ speaks of the terror that inspíred man in 3“ lt n1ustl1e boi-nt in mind that this superioritv depends on the specific perspective ol the heroic point oi view; to which, in the Final analysis, it is relative. The darle ages of the primordial tradition can he seen here. with their "generariotis, " From the putely metaphysical point of view the essence ol all authentic ínitíation ís always the reintegratíon of man with the "pi-irnordial” state. 31 CAG. 2-213 S? lbid, 229 33 CMA, 2z3i0. That the nltlletnists were conscious of l-ashíoning an hnmortalíty Conttary [0 the intention of "Crodf is observed. l ot instar-ice, ín Gehet, who in the ¡livre de la misént-nrtfe (CAM, i173). says, "lf he [God] has put in him [tiran] divetgíilg elements it is because he wanted to assure the purpose of the created being. (Ïrod did not want every being to sui-vive forever, apart front him. so he itiilicted on man this disparity of the hour narures, Which lead to man’: death, and the separation of his soul and body. " But elsewhere (Livra des berlantes. CMA, 3:14? 8), the same author tatoposes to equilíbrate the natures in 111311. Once tlecomptised, to give him a new existente "such that he will no longer be able to die, " hecause "once this Equilibrium is attained, beíngs do nnr change. nor become corrupt nor ever modify themselves ageiiti. ” 34 See this text in the magazine lgnis‘ (1925). 227. 30s. i" Enncads, 5.9.14: cl. 5.1 1: in the Corpus Hermetilcum we ste the analogous audacity in "leaving the spheres" ín the same sense that Lucírei‘ (Boehme, De signaturarertsm, 16. 540) had exíted from the "harrntiny" of the world. 35 De occulta philosophia. 3:40. . o . . . . . . . - n . o . .. . . y u u . o u u . n Symbolg and Ceachings
  28. 28. his natura! state, that is before his fall, when instead of instilling fear, he hímselí succumbed to fear: "This Fear. which is the mark imprinted on n1an by God, makes all things submit to him and recognLze him as superior" as carrier of that "quality called Pachad by the Qahalists, the left hand, the Sword of the Lord. " But there is Something else: the clominion of the "two natures” that contain the secret of the "Tree of Good and Evil. ” The teaching is found in the Corpus Hermeticunr: "Man loses no worthiness for possessing a mortal part, but very much on the contrary, mortality augments his possibility and his power. His double: functions are possible for him precisely because of his double nature: because he is so constítutecl that it is possible for him to embrace both the dívine and the terrestrial at the sai-ne time. ”37 "So let us not he afraid to tell the truth. The true man is above them [the celestial gods]. or at least equal to them. For no god leaves his sphere to come to earth, whereas man ascends to heaven and nreaxures ít_ Let us dare to say that a man is a mortal god and a celestial god is an ímmottal man. "35 Such is the truth of the " new race" that the Royal Art of the “Sons of Hermes” is building on earth, elevating what has fallen, calming the " thirst, " restoring power to the enfeebled, bestowíirg the fixed and impassíve gaze of the "eagle? to the Wounded eye blinded by the "lightning flash, ” conferring Olympian and royal dignity to what used to be a Titan. In a gnostic text pertaining to the same ideal world in which Greek alchemy received its first expressions it is said the "Life Light” in the Gospel of john is "the mysterious race of perfect men, unknown to previous generatfons‘. " Following this text is a precise reference to Hermes; the text recalls that in the temple of Samothrace there stood two statues of naked men, their arms raised to heaven, their members erect. ” “as in the statue of Hermes on Mount Cyllene, " which represented the primordial man, Ádamas, and reborn man, "who is completely of the same nature as the first. " And it is said: "First is the blessecl nature of Man from above , - then the mortal nature here below; third the race of those mthout a king that is raised up, where Mary resides, the one whom we seek. "“° “This being, blessed and ínctirruptible, " explains Simon Magus, "resicles in "l? Corpus Hermentum, 9.4; el. Boehme, Aurora II. 57.2: “The soul of man sees much more deeply than the angels, because it stes as much of heaven as of hell"; and he adds that "because of that man lives in great danger in this world. " ln the Sepher Yetzirah (chap. 6) the seat of the heart is assimilated to that of the "King in war. " 33 Corpus Hennerfcum 1024-25 ‘lg By wav of constituting the figure Y schematícally, wl-¡ích is the sign of "Cosmic-man-urithrupraised— arms, " one of the fundamental symbols of the Hyperborean. Nordic-Atlantic tradition has been preserved as a tune [Rune of Life) in the NUISE—TE‘LIEDI1ÍC tradition. 4° Hippolytus, 1' ïiflosuphunrena, 5.8. This Mariam is evidently the equivalent of the sytnbolic "woman" with whom the “Phllífitïphfiïs” joíned. the "Virgin" who is mentioned in this p-assage of clEspagnet (Arcanum hermeticae ¡rhilosopinae tipus, 558, ín BCC 2); "Take a wínged Virgin. impregnated uvith the semen of the First Male but still preserving the glory oi her vírgínity intacr"; whose meaning is, in turn, The Tree, the Serponf, and [hit-Titans - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - v - - » 11
  29. 29. Ífilg. hidden; potential rather than active. It is precisely the one who keeps «ztanchng. who [ias kept standing above and who Will continue to remain standiilg; who has continued standing here below, having been engendered hy the hnage Ítefleetíon] in the flood of Waters; and who will again stand on high, before infinita: potentiality, whereulaon he will he made petfectly equal to ít. "‘“ This same teaching is tepeated in the many texts of the hetmetie tradition, “ and holds the key to all its meanings, as we shall attempt to illustrate in its príneiple aspects in the pages that follow. the same as Rhea-the bhakti aspect or “powef aspect of the One- which. the father having been killed (the First Male of whom ¿’Espanha siaeaks), Zeus possesses, making of his mother his wife, Also in the Qahalah the “MattonaÏ is mentioned in whom all the powets of the king have been entrusted, (that is to say, jehovah). who i s; the wife (shakti) also of the king and who was "espoused” by Moses as well (Zohar. 2.144h. 145m 3.5121). 4‘ Hippolytus, Phiïosophwnenet, 6.17 ‘¡z Cf. . f or example, the "Tahles of rht Theorems. ” 523 of J. Dee. Mona: hieroginihita (Antwetp. 1564). Whflrüíl‘! art also mentioned three stages: the first refers to 11 "seed of power" prior to the elements and selflconeeiveti". the second to "puníshnient and setiuleher"; the third to a state “existing after the elements. ” which is resurrection by one's own power and "triumph of glory, " l2-. --. ..o. a.o-. .u-. -.. ... .ochesynïlgulgandceaghingg
  30. 30. the PLuRALicg ADD ouALicg o; CiviLizACions ecently, in contrast to the motion of progress and the idea that history has been reptesentecl as the more or less continuous upward evolution of collective human- ity, the idea of a plurality of the forms of Civilization and of a relative incommu- mcability between them has been confirmed. Ácctirdmg to this second and new vision of history. Civilization breaks clown into epochs and disconnected cycles. At a given moment and within a given race a specific conception of the World and ol life is affirmed from which follows a specific system oi truths. principles, under- standings, and realizations. A CÍVÍlÍZaEÍOH springs up, gratlually reaches a culminar- ing point, and then falls into tiarlcness and, more often than not, disappears. A cycle has ended. Perhaps another Will rise again some day, somewhere else. Perhaps it may even take up the concerns of preceding civilizations, hut any connection between them will be strictly analogical. The transitíon from one cycle of civili- zation to another ——one completely alien to the othereimplíes a jump, which in mathematics is called a discontinuityl Although this view is a healthy reaction to the superstition of history as 1 The hem: known exponent of this concept is D. Spengler (The DCClfnC of the West). Since de (jobíneail. this theory has had further clcvelopmenLs in cotinection with the düïïrllïá’ of race. . . . .
  31. 31. progress-which came into fashion more or less at the same time as materialism and Western scientismg-nevertheless, we should be cautious. for in addition to a plurality of civilizations we have to recognize a duality-«especially when we limit ourselves to those times and essential structures that We can embrace with some measure of Certainty. Modern civilizacion stands on one side and on the other the entirety of all the civilizations that have preceded it (for the West, we can put the dividing line at the end of the Middle Ages). At this point the rupture is complete. Apart from the multitudinous variety of its forms, premodern Civilization, which we may as Well call “traditional. ” means something quite different, For there are two Worlds, one of which has separated itself by cutting off nearly every contact with the past. For the great majority of modems, that means any possibility of understanding the traditional world has been completely lost. This premise is indispensable for the examination of our subject. The hermetico- alchemical tradition forms part of the cycle of premodern "traditionaV Civilization and in order to understand its spirit we need to translate ít ínwardly from one world to the other. WhÜ undcrtakes this study without having acquired the ability to rise above the modern mind—set or who has not awakened to a new sensitivity that can place itself in contact with the general Spiritual stream that gave life to the tradition in the first place, will succeed only in fillmg his head with words. symbols, and fantastic allegories. Moreover. it is not just a question of intellectual understanding. We have to bear in mind that ancient man not only had a different way of thinking and feeling, but also a different way of perceivíng and know/ sing. The heart of the matter that will concern us is to reevoke, by means of an actual transformation of the consciousness, this older basis of understanding and action. Only then will the unexpected light of certain expressions dawn on us and certain symbols be cmpowered to awaken our interior perception. Only then will we be conducted through them to new heights of human realization and to the understanding that Will make it possible for designated "rites" to confer "magica? and operant power, and for the creation of a new "science" that beats no resem- blance to anything that goes by that name today. 3 ln fact. the extraordinaiv idea of a coutinuous evolution could only have been born of an exclusive contemplation of the material and technical aspects of civilizations, completely over-looking their qualltative and Spiritual elements. 3 The source i'm the precise concept of "traditional Civilization" as opposed to "modern” is René Guenons The Crisis of tire Modem World (London, 1942) 14. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chesymholsanclceachings
  32. 32. TIIIPQPHHI Fun-unn . ... . v. LiviDG DAtuRe he fundamental issue in. our study is the human experi- ence of nature. The average modern man’s relationship with nature is not the one that prevailed in the premodern "cycle? to which, along with many other traditions, the hermetico-alchemical tradition belongs. The study of nature today devotes itself exhaustively to a conglomeration of strictly reasoned laws conceming various "phenomena"—light, electricity, heat, etc. —which spread out kaleidoscopically before us utterly devoid of any spiritual meaning, derived solely from mathematical processes. ln the traditional world, on the contrary. nature was not thought about but lived, as though it were a great, sacred, animated body, "the visible expression of the invisible. " Knowledge about nature derived from inspiration, intuition, and visions, and was transmitted “by ínitiation” as so many living "mysteries, " referring to things that today have lost their meaning and seem banal and commonplace-as, for example, the art of building, medicine, cultivation of the soil, and so forth. Myth was not an arbitrary ot fantastic notíon: it arose l rom a necessary process in which the same forces that shape things acted upon the plastic faculty of the ímaginatíon, unfettered by the bodily senses. to draniatize themselves in images and figures that were woven into the tapestry of sensory experience and resulted finally in a “significance” of moment. ‘ "Universe, hear my plea. Earth, open. Let the Waters open for me. Trees. do not tremble. Let the heavens open and the winds be silent! Let all my faculties ' Ci. E. W Schellitig, Einieirung in die Phiiosophie der Mythoiogie in Sammeire Werice, Z192. 215- 17. 222; also C. Puini, fiztroduzione alla magia (Lanciano. i919), 3:66.
  33. 33. celebrate in me the All and OneV-these are the words of a hymn that the "Sons of Hermes” recited at the beginning of theí r sacred operations? such was the height to which they were capable of elevating themselves. The following is an even more emphatic version. - The gates cjfffeaven ¿the open; El lie gates tJfEtU-th ¿Ire open, - Ïhe Way ofthe Current is captan; My sÍJirit has been heard by till the gods ¿md gertii; By the spirit ofHeavem-and Earth-the Sea «¿md the Currenrsfi And such is the teaching of the Corpus Hermeticum; "Rise up above every height; clescend deeper than any depth; concentrate into thyself all the sensations of created things of Water, Fire, Dry and Wet. Think of finding yourself sirnul» tanetiusly everywhere, in the earth, sea or sky; think of having never been bom, of still being an embryo: young and old, dead and beyond death. Embrace every- thing at the same time: all times, places, things, qualities and quantities. " These possiblities of perception and communication, this aptitude for connec» tions, despite what we believe today, were not “fantasiesf wild superstitions, or extravagant exaggerations. On the contrary, they were part of an experience as real as that of physical things. More precisely: the Spiritual Constitution of the man of "traditional civilizations" was such that any physical perception had simulta- neously a psychic component, which "animated” it, adding to the naked image a “meaning” and at the same time a special and powerful emotional overtone. "4 This is how ancient "physics" could be both a theology and a transcendental psychol- ogy: it deríved from quite universal metaphysical essences, primarily from the superconscious world, in sudden flashes of light wherein matter was provided by the sense organs. Natural science was a corollary spiritual science and the many meanings of its symbols reflected different aspects of a single knowledge. 2 Corpus Hermencum. 13.18. 3 Leiden papyrus V in M. Berrhelot, introciucnbn á iErtrde de ia chimie ¿ies anciens (Paris, 1889). "l lnvesrigations tinderralten by sociologists (Durkheím. Lévy-Bruhl, etc. ) have uncovered something very similar today Ín the ways that sti-called primítive peüple ¡Jerceive; which people. in reality. are not PIÍIHÍIZÍVE. but the degeneraring remains of a cycle of premodern civilizarion. 1f)------°------------------Chesymbolsandceachings
  34. 34. che beïtmecic KDOÜJLGOGG O t is on the above basis that we have to understand the whole idea of the hermeticoalchemical science. ln a certain sense it can also be called a "Ilatural science, " but completely dísregarding all the present connotations such a term may evoke in our minds. Today the medieval designation of "natural philosophy” expresses rather the synthesis of two elements, now standing on two separate planes, one intellectually unrealistic (philosophy) and the other consciously matcrialistic (sci- ence). But, given the character of organic unity—of a cosInoS-ihat the universe offered to traditional man, there was also an iniplicít anagogical power in this "natural" understanding, namely, the possibility of rising to a transcendent meta, physical plane. On this basis are to be understood such expressions as "hieratic science, ” "divine” and "dogmatic arH-répgvn Gaia, réxvn Soyuarucfi-“Nïithraic mystery, ” “Divine World-Before épyov-appearing with the origí ns of alchemyï and which are preserved within the entire tradition of what Zacharias would call "divíne and supernatural science_"2 And as psychic sensitivity to the deep forces of nature began to dwindle in later eras, it became common to avoid the ambiguiry in the expressions of the hermetic tradition by distinguishing between the "vulgar” or "dead" elements and the ‘Cf, cg, CAG, Z209, 124. 145; 188. 114. 9 Zacharias, De ia piiilosophie natureiie des métatix, 51.
  35. 35. "living" ones, which are "our elements" (the "our” refers to those who had preserved the original spiritual state of the tradition): "our” Water, “our” Fire. “our" Mercury, EEC. ‘—HOÍ "those of the vulgar or commonïua jargon for referring to elements that were (physically) invisible. occult, "magical, " known only to the those "of us who have ltept in our hands" those "elements of creation" that must be recognízed by us as distinct from the earthy. impure "created elements" that are merely the modifications of physical matter. "The four Elements in which all things participate. ” says FlameLS “are not apparent to the senses, but are known by their effects. ” Air and Fire, of which Bernard of Trevíso speaks, are "tenuous and spiritual" and “cannot be seen by physical eyes" , - his Sulfur, Arsenic, and Mercury "are not those that the vulgar think them to be” or that "pharmacists sell, " but they are "the Philosophefs SpÍrÍtsÏ4 So “Philosophical Álchemy” is that "which teaches how to investigate, not by appearances, but according to concrete truth, the latent forms [in an Aristotelian sense, the occult formative principles] of things"5—an idea confirmed by Razi in the Lumen iuminum: “Tlais Art is the study of Occult PÍIÍÍOSOPÏIY. In order to follow it, one must be acquainted with hidden and internal natures. In it one speaks of the rise [incorporeal state] and fall [visible state] of the elements and their compoundsïó The true elements "are as the soul of the mixtures, ” the others are "nothing but the body, ” explains Pernety7 And if the spontaneous presence or absence of the necessary metaphysical sensitivity itself determined the dividin g line between those initiates to whom alone the texts speak and for whom the techniques of the Royal Art bear f ruitíon” and those who are not initiates (for whom it is written not to cast pearls before swine)”—for these last there still remained the possibility of attaining the necessary state by means of an appropriate asceticísm, even if the miracle of illumination was missing. We shall discuss this asceticism later, but for the moment we shall confine 5 N. Flamel, Lc desir desire‘, fió. 4 Bernard of Treviso, La paroic déiaíssée in Salmon, ed. , Bibhbrhéque des philnsophes cinmígucs (Paris, 1741), 2401, 416 (hertafter tired as HPC). Cf. dEzspagnet, Arcanum hermericae, 544: “Vi/ ho says that the Moon or the Mercury of the Philosophers is the vu! gar Mercury, either wants to deceive or is himself deceived"; and Philalethes, Epist. di Ripley, fifii; "They are also deluded, who look for our secret in vulgar SUbSlZflflCÉS and still hope ¿o find the Gold. " 5 G. Dom, Harris philosophiac Chemisticae, ECC, 1210. 5 In CNIÁ,1:312. 7 A. Pernety, Fables égypriennes et grecgues tiévoiiées (Paris, 1786). 1:75. H Cf. C. Agrippa, De occuira piriiosophia. 3:65; C}. Dom. op. cit. , 24-}, This theme derives from the Greek alchemists (CAG, 2:62, 63) who declared that they spoke for those who were initiated and had trained the spirir>“rhose who have understanding, " the Arab authors would say-"Eversrthing we say here is strictly for the Sage. not for the ignorant” (Livra du fet: de ia pierre, CIMA, 3.220}; and ]. S_ 18° ' ' ' ' - ' ' ' ' ' ' ' - - ' ° - ' ' - - ‘ * - Chesymholsandceachíngs
  36. 36. ourselves to pointing out that Within the framework of hermetism, asceticism does not have a moral or religious justification. It is simply a technique. Its purpose is to provide an experience that is not limited to the “dead” or “common” aspect of the Elements-as happens in that ernpiricism on which the modern, profane sci- ences are based. Instead, a subtle, incorporeal, spiritual quality infuses it. Paracelsus describes this quality in this way; “She [Nature] knows me and I her. l have contemplated the light that is in het. l have verified it in the microcosrn and have found it again in the macrocosm. ”9 As is said in the Hermetic Triumph, "To know the inner and outward properties of all things" and "to pene-trate to the bottom of Natures operations” is the condition that is imposed on whomever aspires to possess this knowledge. ” And so it can be said that "who does not understand by himself, no one will ever be able to make understand, do what he will. ”“ This science is not acquired through books or reason—others affirmw-“but by action, by an rmpetuosfty of the spirit. ” "For this reason I declare that neither the philosophers who have preceden} me nor l myself have written anything except for ourselvesï-nisi’ solis nobis scrrpsrmus— “for the philosophers, our successors, and for no one else”? Weidenfeld (De Secreto? Adeptorum, London, i634, p. 47); "Álchemists! Open ‘úiur Eyes and Seizc the Light of Nature! " 9 Thesaurus thesaurorum aicfiinïisturtrm in Á. Poísson, Cinq rrafrés dhlchfmfe (París, 1890), 86. 1" Entretrens dEutioxe et de Pyropliíle sur le Triomphe Hcrmétiquc, BPC. 3225. ‘i B. Treviso, De la phffosophi}: des métaux. BPC, 2398. 12 Ciber. Summa ¡Iïrfectítmis magistcrtï, ECC. 1683. TllelíermeticK-[lowleügeucatalanas-pantano . . . . . ... ...19
  37. 37. “one the ALL” Ano che ÜRAGOÏ) ouRoBoRos nly when we have sueeeeded in recapturing a living and “symbol ic” sensitivity toward everything modern man has. fossilized as dead " nature” and abstract concepts will we arrive at the first principle of the true hermetie teaching. This prmciple ís unity, and the formula that expresses it can be found in the Chrysopoefa of Cliïtlpatrflrl “One the All’- ¿‘v tó Jflóïv-tt) which we can connect the “Telesma. Father of all things” of the Emerald Tablet. Certaitily ít is not a question, in this case, of a philosophical theorywa hypothesis reducíng everything to a single prineíple—but of an actual state brought about by a certain suppressioil of the law of DPPÜSÍEÍÜII between l and not—l and between “msidtf and "uutside” [subjeetive/ objective]. These dualities. with rare exeeptions, dominare the common and most recent perception of reality. The experience of this state is the secret of what the literature calls the "Materia of the Work" or “First Nïatter of the Vs/ ise. " Only from this state is ít possible to “extraer” and "shape? by "rítual” and "art”— rsxvtrtmgueverything that the tradition promises, in spirítual as well as operative (ie. "magícalÚ terms. 1 Marciano Codex (Venice), ms. 2325, lol l88b; and me. 2327 fol. 196.
  38. 38. The alchemical ideogram of “One the All, ” is O, the circle; a line or Inovement that encloses within itself and contains in itself both its end and beginning. In hermetism this symbol expresses the universe and, at the same time, the Great Work? ln the Chrysopoefa it takes the form of a serpent -Ouroboros—-biting its own tail, containing within the. space of the circle that it creares, the EV 1:0 füáv. In the same ivalimpsest is found another pantacle formed by two rings. the inner bearing this inscription; "One is the serpent, which contains the poison, according to the double sign [eigéonv ó fíqbig ó Exaw tóv ióv nerd: 515o auvüeuaral" while in the outer circle it says: "One is the all, the source of all and the Clïlmlflatlvïln of all: if the all did not contain the all, it would be nothing. ‘a This " all” has also been called chaos ("our" chaos), and egg-tzïóv Jtpmówvov- because it contains the undifferenriared potentiality of every development or gen- eration: it sleeps in the. depths of each being as a scnscd m yth, to use Olympiodorusï: expression, and it extends to the chaotic multiplicity of scattered things and forms in space and time here below. The closed line O, the circle of Ouroboros, also has another meaning: it alludes ro the principle of exclusion or "hermetic" sealing that metaphysícally expresses the idea of a unilaterally conceiyed transcendence being extraneous to this tradition. Here the transceildence is Conceived as a mode of being contained in the "one thing, ” which has a "double sign": it is both itself and ulrimarely the overcoming of itself; it is identity and at the same time poison, that is to Say, it has the capacity to alter and dissolve; it is both dominaring (male) ¡Jrinciple and dominated (female) príriciple-Kpaïofitïtx ¡(‘ai rtptxtovuévn-and hen-ce androgynotts. One of the Inost ancient hermetictïvalchemical testaments is the saying that Ostanes confitled to Pseudo-Deniocritus as the key to the books of the "Ártï “Nature rejoices in nature, nature triumphs over nature, nature domínates nature” [f] 4mm; rrj años: TÉpJIETIZI, ñ no01; 177g rbútttv vtrctíz, r7 qbúoïg rfin qbúoïv Kprxtsïl. ” But Zosinros says in the same vein, "Nature fasci- nares [TÉPÍIEI], conquers, and dominates nature" and, he adds: "By the Sulfursí are the Sulfurs dominated and restrained”—a principle found recurring throughout the tlevelopmetit of the tradition, from the Tnrba philosophorumfi on. There proceeds from this a whole series of symbolical expressions intended to indicate the absolute selfasufficietlcy of the unique principle in every "opctatitïr-i”: i Ágathodainrtm, cíted by (Jlympitatlorils, CHC. 2-80; 3:27. 5 Marciano Codex, ms. 2325. foi. 188%). 4 (HG, 2:43. ¡‘This is a play on Before. which in Greek means both "sulfur" and "divinity. " We are referring to the "fires, " the internal forces of thin s. ‘lhese ex rressions. like those lollowin , have both a mitrocostnic g l g and a tnacrocosmíe sense. 5 BCÏÏ. 1 :4‘-J9; cf Rasmus ad Sarratantam cpiscopunx. in Ártis auriferae «quam ciremianr vocant (Basel. i572), i288. “Üne LlIEJAJl” tïllfltllel)l‘agÜHC)11l‘ÜlÏIÜÏÜS I I 0 * ' 0 0 - ' ° - - ' ' - - - - ' v v
  39. 39. Father and Mother of itselff-aótortáïopa Kai aúrowitopa- of itself it is the son, by itself it is dissolved, by itself is killed. and to itself it gives new life. The "unique thing that contains in itself the four elements and rules over them, ” the "matter of the Wise, ” also called their "Stone, " contains in itself whatever we may need. lt kills itself and then brings itself back to life. lt weds itself, ímpregnates itself and dissolves in its own bloodÏg It is its own root-radíx ipsius. We must always bear in mind, moreover, what we've already said: we are not dealing with a philosophical concept, but with the traces of a nature sub specie interiorirariïs‘, that goes beyond the antithesis between matter and spirit, between world and superworld. And so Zaeharias can say, “lf we declare our matter to be Spiritual, that is true and if we declare it to be corporeal, we do not lie. lf we call it celestial, that is its true designation. If we name it terrestrial, we have spoken correetly. "’° The which is the image of the world-¡cóopov nitrato: - receives, in the Hellenistic alchemical texts, the name M8012 tóv OÚ 216cv, “ and Braccesco explains: “This is stone for being, form, corporealitv, tangibility] and not stone, it is found everywhere, is base and precious, hidden and visible to everyoneï“ "It is chaos or spirit in the form of a body [the cosmos, perceived nature], but nevertheless is not body? ” ln one brillíant SUÜkC, these enigmatic yet illuminating words of Zosimos synthesize the knowledge of the marvelous thing, via the double pathway and the double expression. lt is, again in the evangelíc sense, the hermeríc Stone of the "Lords of the Temple‘Loírroósovtóreg-the “Engineers of the SpiriU-qbóivaá Jtvz-ruttártov. Here then is the great divine mystery. the lookedáor tubject, This is the All, From it and by means of it everything comes. It is two natures, one essence: because one is attracted by the other and one is dominated by the other. This is the luminous water (literally, “silver") that is forever fleeing from and attracted by its own elements. it is the divine Water, which no one knew. whose nature is difficult to contemplate because it is not a metal, nor the water of perpetual motion, nor a corporealiry. It is indomitabie. All in all, it possesses a path and a spirit, and the power of destruction. “ 7 Corpus Hermeticum, 4.5.8. Cf. Hippolgttus, Philosophrimena, 6.1? f’ Motienus, Entretrens tfu R01’ Kalid, HPC, 2:86. 9 Triomphe Hermétíque, BPC. 3496. Cf. Rasmus ad Sarratanrem in Artis aut-fieras: 1:32,’); Braccesco. La esposítïtvne dr’ G656!‘ phifusopho (Venice. 1551), fol. 25a. ; Turba philasophnrtrm. HPC, 2:17, etc. “l Phifosophir’ natuneffe des" métaux, BPC, 22523. ” CÁG, 2:18. 13 Espositfone, fol. 66h; cf. R. Bacon, De secretis otaeribus artís et natura, ECC. i:622. ‘¿l A. j. Peri-naty, Dictionnaire mythodrermátrque (Paris. 1758), 281. 1* Text in CAG, 2443-144. 22. . . .. . . . . -CheSymholsandceacbirlgs
  40. 40. Thve U n v a Che beamecic PRGSGDCG nce the combination of corporeal and spiritual has been understood as it must be understood-that ís, not as two principle parts (though one of them is called spiritual) of a theoretical cosmos exterior to conscíousness, but as a líwng process provided by real experience-we come to another fundamental hermetic teaching: that of imma- nence, the presence of the "marvelous thing" in man, the "livin g chaos" in which all possibilities reside. The hertnetic texts continually refer to this ímmanence in the same terms, passing from a cosmico-natural meaning to an inner human meaning. Stone, Water, Mine, Matrix, Egg, Chaos, Dragon, Lead, First Matter, Tree, Spirit. Telesma, Quintessence, Woman, Heaven, Seed, Earth, and so on, are symbols in the hetmetic cipher language that refer, often in the same passage, to one continu- ous object and thereby create an enormous difficulty for the inexperienced reader. The literature is also clear about the "origin of immanence. ” The Emerald Tablet’s "Telesma, Father of all tlfings” is complemented by the redoubtable revelation of the Corpus Hermetioum-ï “Thou art all in all, eomposed of all powets. ” Morienus, in answer to King Kalid, explains: "Oh, King, I will confess the truth to you. God, for his pleasure, created in you this most wonderf ul thing? and wherever you go, it will 1 Corpus Hermeticum. ilï2. 2 This theistieo-creationist niothf, and various others similar ro ít in the medieval texts, are nothing hut a concessíon to the dominating exoteric religious beliefs of the time. . . . . . .

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