Hermetic Tradition and America

How many of us understand what Hermetic thought is, beyond the idea of “hermetically sealed”?

Last week I attended a lecture, presented by a lodge, here in Southern California by Dr. Stephan Hoeller, the Gnostic “Bishop” of Los Angeles. His title, I assure you, is not a pun or insult, but a very fitting description to a very intelligent man.

The lecture was on “The Hermetic Foundations of the American Republic”, which essentially said that the ideas and efforts of the founding fathers were the results of a broader sub current of the intelligentsia within society, whose ideas manifested themselves into the early documents and foundation of the American Republic.

But first, a note on Heretics.

Hermetic thought is a tradition of knowledge said to date into Ancient Egypt, associated with god Thoth, who the Greeks later related to Hermes. Thoth’s title (one of many) was three times great, which the Greeks translated to Hermes Trismegistos, the believed author of the Emerald Tablet, and Asclepius, within the hermetic texts.

It’s believed that Hermeticism flourished in ancient Alexandria, but moved underground and fell out of common knowledge with the fall of Rome and the onset of the middle ages.

The Renaissance brought about this resurgence of knowledge, including a rediscovery of Hermetic texts, brought to Europe by the Medici family from sources in Byzantium. What these texts contained were ancient ideas of wisdom that talked in detail about a dual nature to man and his pursuit to unify them. The two sides were made up of a human lower self that includes feelings, thoughts, sensation, and ego, the human traits we recognize today. The other half consisted of the spirit, that intangible, ineffable thing that gives us that higher conscience. Its efforts were to cultivate the conscious coming together of the initiates self with his spirit. The idea within hermetics was the joining of the two, the transformation of two separate elements into a new one. Some believe that Hermetic tradition survived the fall of Rome and the middle ages in the mystical field of Alchemy, which has existed in different forms for many centuries.

With the coming of the Renaissance, so returned Hermetic thought which began to weave itself into Christian tradition. This movement was quickly stamped out by the doctrinal inquisition, which has since walled itself off from and philosophical ideation of a personal God consciousness. Some examples of this era of sanitization of this transformative self can be seen in the extermination of both the Templar’s and Cathar‘s in France. But again, the ideas did not die, nor were they eradicated. The Hermeticists moved underground into the “secret societies” of the age, two of those societies were the Rosicrucian’s and the other was Freemasonry.

One of the traits of Hermetic study was a progression of steps, or degrees, where the initiated would learn different aspects of the knowledge slowly to cultivate the eventual merger into the self, which was the physical and mental awakening of the God conscious, epitomized in the phrase “Know Thyself”.

So this unconscious cognition moved though Europe finding a receptive home in England where it was nurtured and incubated amidst revolution and religious freedom, away from the Catholic Church.

So what does this have to do with the foundations of America?

Many of the ideas, inherent in the fabric of our country within our constitution, have direct connections to the tenants of Hermetic thought. One such connection is the separation of Church and State. Hermetic tradition says that the individual chooses his path to the divine, and is not directed or influenced one way or another. Freedom of religion here is a direct extension of this idea, that the state is the vessel of the people and should not dictate one faith by presuming authority of one faith or another. The initiated must find his self and not be told where or what it is.

Public education is an extension of the Hermetic idea of finding the god consciousness, though the exploration of the physical universe. How does one attain this consciousness, by learning about their physical universe and its furthest reaches. Education creates the “divine metal” of the body, giving it its strength and resiliency.

And lastly, the 3 branches of government work in conjunction of opposites striving to find a balance for the good of the body, the ultimate attainment of the self.

The lecture made some interesting links and offered some tantalizing food for thought. Somewhere within our collective body of knowledge, behind the fog of memory, lay the history of Freemasonry. I believe that this is definite step in the right direction to understanding that place that it holds.

Freemason Information
Masonic Journal
Cool Masonic Swag

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~ by Greg on November 27, 2006.

One Response to “Hermetic Tradition and America”

  1. The really weird thing about the Hermetic renaissance is the plain refusal of mainstream historians (aside from Dame Yates) to even acknowledge its existence- it’s just taught that the enlightenment came about as a result of scientific thinking, period. Nobody mentions all those images of Trismegistos on the cathedrals, we learn all about Bacon and Newton without a breath of their Hermetic activities…

    Bleh.

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