The Seven Hermetic Principles
“The lips of Wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding.” – The Kybalion
In the years of old Egypt, a fundamental truth was shared, which had a profound and remarkable effect on all esoteric teachings to come, from Christian mystics and the Jewish Kabbalah, up to the secret knowledge of India written down in the Upanishads. All these occult teachings show a resemblance in their deepest and most basic ideas. The master Hermes Trismegistos, whose actual physical existence had never been proved, has been said to be the “Master of the Masters”, “the Scribe of the Gods”, and even “the God of Wisdom” himself. As a mythological figure, the greek god Hermes is equal to the roman god Mercury and to the egyptian deity Toth; god of the moon, magic and wisdom. Hermes’ philosophy has been passed on both orally and in writing throughout the last several centuries. The first written version is said to be the “Tabula Smaragdina”, a text of twelve sentences that contains all knowledge, found within Hermes’ grave. While the original Tabula Smaragdina is missing, writings about it have been found in Latin, Arabic and Greek since several hundreds of years. In 1908 knowledge from the Tabula Smaragdina and the Corpus Hermeticum (other texts by Hermes Trismegistos) got translated and further elaborated in English, known as The Kybalion. The philosophy of Hermes is the key to the understanding of all mystic teachings, including astrology, alchemy and psychology, as well as the many occult writings of different religions. The purpose of all these teachings is the same - The transmutation of consciousness into a higher vibrational state.
The philosophy of Hermes, and thus of all occult and esoteric knowledge, is based on the Seven Hermetic Principles. These laws are universal and ineradicable.
I - The Principle of Mentalism
“The All is Mind; the universe is mental.” – The Kybalion
Our material universe holds a substantial reality, The All, within itself. This All is pure spirit, a living mind, unknowable and undefinable. It is infinite and eternal in time and space. Matter is a mental creation of the All. But while all matter is illusionary from an absolute point of view, it is very real to the finite mind, and must be treated so; however, always with a clear understanding of the higher truth.
II - The Principle of Correspondence
“As above, so below; as below, so above.” – The Kybalion
Our universe consists of the Three Great Planes: the great physical plane, the great mental plane and the great spiritual plane. The Principle of Correspondence implies that there is a harmony and correspondence between each of these planes, since they were all born from the same source. All laws and characteristics are universal and apply to all three great planes and their sub-planes. The alchemist knew that once he turns metal into gold, the same transformation will be done unto his soul.
III - The Principle of Vibration
“Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.” – The Kybalion
Everything within the All is in motion. Matter, mind and spirit are basically the same energy, but differentiate from each other by their rate of vibration. For us humans, the mental plane is eminently interesting, because all kinds of emotions, thoughts, will or desire, as well as any kind of mental condition, vibrates in its very specific mode. One can gain total control of their own mental states and moods by mastering this principle and change their own vibration, and also affect the minds of others by changing theirs. This phenomena is known as telepathy, induction or suggestion.
IV - The Principle of Polarity
“Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites. Opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree. Extremes meet; all paradoxes may be reconciled. Everything is and isn’t, at the same time.” – The Kybalion
Everything within the All, whether it is material, mental or spiritual, has two poles, which are but the two extremes of the same thing, with many varying degrees between them. Mental transmutation can only happen by changing the vibrational rate within a thing, but a thing can never be changed in its nature. An undesired rate of mental vibration can be transformed by focusing and putting the awareness onto the other pole. As it is written in the Kybalion: “If you are possessed by fear, do not waste time trying to “kill out” fear, but instead cultivate the quality of courage, and the fear will disappear.” The tendency of nature itself is to move into the direction of a higher vibration, back to the pure spirit it once came from.
V - The Principle of Rhythm
“Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.” – The Kybalion
Between the two poles of everything, there is a pendulum-like movement, a measured motion with equal amplitude to the left and to the right. This balance of the swing is called the Law of Compensation. This law also applies to mental states in man, balancing the capacity for pain and pleasure. The more suffering one is able to bear, the more enjoyment awaits him, and vice versa. However, Hermetics use the Law of Neutralization by changing their own vibrations to a higher plane, and thus escape the effects of the negative swing of the pendulum on the lower plane.
VI - The Principle of Cause and Effect
“Every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; everything happens according to law; chance is but a name for law not recognized; there are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the law.” – The Kybalion
There is no such thing as chance; there is a cause for every effect and an effect for every cause. Chance is a term for an effect that results from causes we can’t perceive or understand. Most of us go through life being mere effects; pawns to their own creation.
Those who are able to raise their vibration to a higher plane, those who understand that not only our acts, but also our thoughts and emotions will have an effect, become Causers instead of Effects. They dominate moods, characters, qualities and powers in both themselves and in others. They do not escape from causation, but they serve on the higher plane, and rule on the lower one.
VII - The Principle of Gender
“Gender is in everything; everything has its masculine and feminine principles; gender manifests on all planes.” – The Kybalion
Everything on the material, mental and spiritual plane contains the masculine and the feminine principle. Neither the masculine nor the feminine principle is capable of creating without the operative energy of the other. While the feminine principle tends to receive impressions, and generates thoughts, ideas and the full work of imagination upon these outer perceptions, it needs the masculine principle and its expressive tendency to generate and materialize original mental creations. Creation is only possible by a union of the two elements.
For the Hermetics it was not only essential to know and deeply understand these principles, but also to master, use and express them. Only then could some good come out of it for the possessor of the knowledge, and for the whole race. “True hermetic transmutation is a Mental Art”, speaks the Kybalion, “If the universe be mental, in its substantial nature, then it follows that Mental Transmutation must change the conditions and phenomena of the universe. If the universe is mental, then Mind must be the highest Power affecting its phenomena. “ The Hermetics knew that by raising their own vibration to a higher plane, and thus be able to rule on the lower one, they did not cheat, but play an important part of the game. They still served on the higher planes, fully aware that they could not destroy or avoid any principle.
“The half-wise, recognizing the comparative unreality of the universe, imagine that they may defy its laws. Such are vain and presumptuous fools. The truly wise, knowing the nature of the universe, use law against laws; the higher against the lower; and by the Art of Alchemy transmute that which is undesirable into that which is worthy, and thus triumph. Transmutation, not presumptuous denial, is the weapon of the master.” – The Kybalion