(Hermes Trismegistus – Source)
In the first centuries after Christ, when theological and philosophical discussions were still permitted under the influence of gnostic liberty of the communities of Alexandria, appears Hermetism, a spiritual movement that was going to shape the direction of the person to discovering it’s being, of the man to meet and unite with God.
Unlike gnosticism which viewed matter as a product of a dark Demiurge, hermetists considered matter as a condensed spiritual reality. This theologico-philosophical current postulates the successive transformations of conscience from the mineral element to the serafimic, christic and Divine. The key of Hermetism is the return to the self through contemplation and spiritual meditation.
There are three works that secure the tradition and continuity of hermetism in philosophy, theology, high magic and also in the heart of the mystery schools and initiatic societies.
The first, Corpus Hermeticum, a collection of sacred writings attributed to the God of Universal Mind, Hermes Mercurius Trismegistos, who teaches the gods and men the written and spoken language. The Corpus survives the fall of the byzantine roman empire in a single copy, bought in 1469 by the leaders of Renaissance Florence, the Medici Family.
The second work which will feed the collective mentality of the initiates is a dialogue between Hermes and his disciple, called Asclepios.
And the third is a sum of occult knowledge called Picatrix, a codex of High Magic attributed to the great Majriti.
Hermetism of the Renaissance will become the existential motor of the essential initiatic societies and organization such as rosicrucianism. This transforming vision on existence becomes a universal philosophy through the brilliant contribution of Marsilio Ficino, Pico Della Mirandola, Cornelius Agrippa and Giordano Bruno.
The essence of their thinking was that all material forms are the expression of thoughts of spiritual nature. In other words, as God thought the world and then His thoughts become reality through the harmonization of the contraries: masculine-feminine, day-night, darkness-light, good-bad etc.
The concept of Great Architect has been borrowed by Freemasonry from the hermetic system. In the modern era, hermetism will be found in distinct orders such as The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor or The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
To this occidental esoterism (for it was inherited from the latins, greeks and egyptians) was opposing the Theosophical Society of Helena Blavatsky at the same period of time, who affirmed that the true tradition can be found only in Asia.
Today the hermetic ideas stand at the origin of all rosicrucian orders.