(Image presenting the Principle of Correspondence, found in all esoteric traditions beginning with Hermetism, Kabbalah, Alchemy, etc.)
“Kybalion: Hermetic Philosophy” is a book published in 1908 which claims to posses in itself the essence of Hermes Trismegistus’ teachings. The authors, “Three Initiates”, remain unknown to this day. However, a spiritual researcher mature enough can discover for himself by reading the book just how authentic the information is, not necessarily historically connected to hermetism per se, but the ideas contained therein.
The term “hermetic” comes from the latin “hermeticus” which is derived from the name of the Greek god Hermes. This term became to represent a combination between this god’s symbolism and the Egyptian scribe-god Thoth. Sources which cannot be verified historically, say that a man (with several possible reincarnations) named Hermes Trismegistus (“thrice greatest”) is the one standing at the base of the entire hermetic teaching, as well as the collection of texts called “Corpus Hermeticum”. In this article I shall concentrate only on the Kybalion, a rather modern explanation of the hermetic thought.
This book, which is said to appear in a man’s life at the right moment, speaks of the idea of “mental transmutation” or the capacity of transforming both the mental state of a man (and his life) as well as the power to realize this in other peoples lives. In order to understand and realize this, it must be clearly understood what stands at the base of the entire manifestation of Creation, formulated in Seven Principles or axioms that are applied anywhere and in anything. It is obvious that it is not enough to memorize them, but to fully understand them. And as this cannot be done only by processing them logically, it is needed to apply them in a way or another and to seek them in Nature and in one’s own being.
The Seven Principles are:
- Principle of Mentalism
- Principle of Correspondence
- Principle of Vibration
- Principle of Polarity
- Principle of Rhythm
- Principle of Cause and Effect
- Principle of Gender
Their descriptions are detailed in Kybalion, forming the essence of modern hermetic teachings, from the Ancient Egypt when these (though not under this form) were taught in initiatic schools. In order to penetrate the hidden meaning of these principles, as well as the ancient teachings connected to them, we must understand some basic things, some which are unknown to the young disciple (by “disciple” I mean a man who makes his first steps on the path of authentic spiritual knowledge) or which are not accepted as being authentic. A mind in search of Truth must always be opened.
First of all, the Creation which is accessible to man (I say so because we don’t know if all we can access is also all that exists) has a certain Order in its structure which we can call Harmony from which nothing can transgress. The substance that composes the Creation (which, for a better expression I shall call “energy”) takes multiple forms observable by man, is completely under this Harmony; it can be understood not as an opposite of chaos, but as a combination of the processes of creation and destruction that continuously take place in the Creation, through a continuous transformation.
As physicists also discovered, even at 0 degrees Kelvin (absolute zero), there is still a small form of movement at the atoms – nothing can truly stand in Matter. Thus, the first thing that must be understood is that in Creation there is nothing truly static, everything being affected by a continuous change. Perhaps the only thing that is not changing is the Change itself. This Whole, marked by the Harmony of continuous transformation is also compared to a Mind, an analogy with the human mind that orders things and understands them. Of course, this term must not be taken literally, thinking that we live in a big ‘brain’. But the way that the human mind functions in our Microcosm can be compared to the way that the Microcosm governs its own elements. As such, the human thoughts affect matter and not only, showing us the strong connection between the human mental and the architecture of Creation.
As man perceives it, it can be observed a stratification of Creation’s manifestation, an arrangement on something that we can call regions, planes, levels or layers of energ, planes that present distinct features and laws apparently different between them. But we must understand the fact that Man, as a spiritual being, exists in his actual form in a region of Creation, composed of various planes of vibration, in which the Seven Principles (and not only) are permanently available. From these derive many algorithms of energy’s functionality, different between planes, but having the common element of the Seven Principles. This interconnectivity between the different planes of manifestation was formulated under the name Principle of Correspondence, beautifully found in the prayer “Our Father” under the formula “on Earth as it is in Heaven” or “as above so below”. It is essential not to attribute fixed senses to these ideas, but to understand that they refer to symbols, and not to a Heaven as cosmos and Earth as a planet.
Besides this, the hermetic teaching starts from the idea that the Creation was sometime brought in manifestation, thus accepting the idea that It cannot be eternal but only the Creator. As such, a first duality appears, existence-nonexistence, duality that was carried further in Creation under the form of the active and passive principles, “fire” and “water”, principles that reflect the ephemeral nature of Creation’s forms. This duality of the energy poles, found under extremely many forms and manifestations, is expressed under the form of the Principle of Polarity. The interaction between the dual elements of Creation can be observed how is realized rhythmically, perpetuating the continuous transformation given by the Principle of Vibration through a variation of energy from a pole to another. Given the interconnectivity of all forms existent in Creation, without anything being truly separated, everything is connected.
Realizing a continuous transformation, each element in Creation imprints a sort of effect to one or multiple elements. Enunciated under the form of the Principle of Cause and Effect, this asks the existence of a Cause, or of an impulse in one (or multiple elements) that would manifest over another, giving birth to an Effect. The philosophy behind this Principle is difficult to practically understand, because the disciple must verify many things inside him or around him in order to confirm its authenticity. I must mention the fact that by “element” I’m referring to a form or group of forms of manifestation of the energy in Creation.
The last Principle, of the Gender, can be compared to that of Polarity, though it has a very important notion: that of procreation, of producing new effects and forms. The Principle of Gender is found in everything, needing 2 counterparts to give birth to a 3rd. Again, we are talking here about symbolism, and as the article herein does not wish to be a course of Hermetism, I shall not go further into detail. I can however give an example, in the case of the Creation and Creation: the creating force is of masculine nature (with no connection to the masculine human body), being imprinted in the Universal Substance – of feminine nature to give birth to Creation.
The understanding of the Kybalion and of Hermetic knowledge must be realized with an opened mind and capable enough to discover the subtleties through which the Seven Principles are manifested in the Creation accessible to man. From the lack of correct and complete terms that could efficiently describe the phenomena and the ideas in Hermetism, there can result errors. That is why I advise you not to take the terms “Mental”, “Gender”, “energy” or “fire” and “water” with the every day senses.
Understand that the discovery of the senses that are expressed in Hermetism constitutes a big step in the understanding of spiritual science. Even though, the purpose of the hermetic teachings is not the power to do anything, but the understanding of the Seven Principles and of its derivates and their application can offer a true Initiate the power to consciously participate at the Order of the Universe. Knowledge is freedom, but also responsibility.
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