Hermes Trismegistus was the author of the Hermetic Corpus. It is believed that he was a pagan prophet from early Antiquity who foresaw the coming of Christianity. He was a contemporary of Moses and was known to have received the prisca theologia (the doctrine, given to ancient man by God, that proves a true theology, which threads through all religions, exists). The name Trismegistus means “thrice great.” Hermes was called this because he was the greatest priest, philosopher and king. There is some debate as to whether or not he existed or was a combination of the Greek god, Hermes, and the Egyptian god, Thoth. Many of the cults in the last 2,000 years can trace their roots to the Hermetic philosophies and practices.
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I found this interesting video on YouTube. It was posted by The Occult 33.
Alchemy (sun): An investigation into the mysteries that quicken nature’s processes in order to bring something natural to perfection.
Astrology (moon): An understanding of how the movements of the planets have meaning beyond the law of physics and hold value as symbols of the mind of God.
Theurgy (stars): The study of magic which is reliant upon an alliance with divine spirits.
Hermeticism is a religious/philosophical tradition based on the Hermetic Corpus, written by Hermes Trismegistus. Hermeticism descends from a doctrine (priscia theologia) which proves that a single theology exists in all religions and was given directly to man by God during the age of antiquity. Trismegistus believed that there were three parts of the wisdom of the entire universe: alchemy, astrology, and theurgy. Hermeticism became widely used by scientists during the Renaissance and Reformation, because they hoped the use of magical arts could control nature. There was a faith that the Hermetic doctrine, since it was the instructions of a singular God, could explain all. After the doctrine was discarded by the Christian church, Hermetic societies were formed. Many of these societies are still active today. This is primarily a result of a 19th century revival, which included participants like Dr. Anna Kingsford, Edward Maitland, Moina and Samuel Mathers among many others.
Dr. Anna Kingsford (1846 -1888) was a famous women’s rights activist, medical doctor, author, lecturer, vegetarian, and occultist. Kingsford was one of the founders of the Hermetic Society and was an early participant of Theosophy and similar spiritual societies. Kingsford is said to have had mystical visions and psychic powers from an early age. She often had illuminations in her sleep, usually of impending deaths. In 1873, she began corresponding with the spiritual writer, Edward Maitland. They began collaborating on work which they referred to as “Christian pantheism.” They investigated and wrote about esoteric Bible symbolism. Much of their work was used as the foundation for different orders of the occult, including the Hermetic Society. Kingsford died in her forties due to a chronic lung disease. She is remembered today as an early influencer in the struggle for women’s rights as well as an important promoter of occult and mystical organizations.
Both Samuel Lidell MacGregor Mathers and his wife Moina Mathers loved to dress up for rituals. They would often dress according to the location of the event. At the Celtic pantheon he dressed in Highlander garb and for the public invocation of Isis in Paris he and his wife wore Egyptian robes and headpieces. He was considered eccentric by his peers and his ideas were often discredited by many of the magic practitioners who came later, although, to be fair, many of them were affiliated with competing organizations of the Golden Dawn.
Like many of the early practitioners of the “magical way of life,” Samuel Lidell MacGregor Mathers was very progressive in his views for the times. He was an anti-smoker, multi-lingual, and a fervent believer in women’s rights. His mentor was Dr. Anna Kingsford, founder of the Hermetic Society. Mathers dedicated his translation of the “Kaballah Denudata” to her. Surprisingly, he was obsessed with military procedures. He wrote the book, Practical Instruction in Infantry Campaigning Exercise. His personal motto was Deo Duce Comite Ferro, meaning “God as my guide, my companion a sword.”