You do not have to be an occultist in order to see the wisdom in the Seven Hermetic
Principles, you do not have to dive into the realms of obscure mysticism or spend the
rest of your life studying any ancient secrets to understand them. Nor is it necessary to
know one Hermes Trismegistus, whether he might be a variation of an ancient god - Hermes,
Thoth, Enoch, whoever - or merely a kind of medieval superman of the occult revived in
the Victorian fascination for pompous myths. On the contrary, it's always healthier to
have a good grain of salt at
hand when the 'initiated' authors get a tad to melodramatical.. ;)
Nevertheless, the Seven Hermetic Principles contain a good glance at the thought of ancient philosophy, thus embodying an universal truth, independent from any belief, based merely on the nature of 'things' - such as the world, the life, the being, the ALL. They neither contradict philosophy or phsics, and when you think of it, not even copmmon sense.
The Seven Hermetic Principles, as simple and few as they seem, are a set of axioms whose understanding will ultimately refine your view on life and being - doubtlessly an inalienable basic to get behind the depht of Tarot.
Below you find a short list of the Seven Hermetic Principles, clicking the titles will bring you to further reading.
Principle of Mentalism
The All is mind; the Universe is mental
The Principle of Correspondence
As above, so below; as below, so above
Principle of Vibration
Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates
The Principle of Polarity
Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled
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 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 Principle of Gender
Gender is in everything; everything has its Masculine and Feminine Principles; Gender manifests on all planes
The term 'Seven Hermetic Principles' was first coined in a small 1908 book called 'The
Kybalion', and it was in the same book that they were first written down and explained in
detail - at least it seems like this since we have no other.
The authors of the book, pretentiously calling themselfes 'The Three Initiates' were most likely one William Walker Atkinson plus maybe some sidekicks who successfully rode on the wave of popularity for all things occult in those days. Just note that the 'Masonic Temple' listed as the editor's place was but a Chicago warehouse that had little to nothing to do with, say, Freemasonry - but it sure sounded good.
The book comes with an air of omniscience, talks a lot of masters and students and spares no effort to praise the godlike Hermes Trismegistus, who had most likely hid the manuscript under the Great Pyramid where William Walker At.. sorry, the Three Initiates had digged it out with their own hands. Or so or the like. Guess they accidently found the 'Seven Arcane Laws' of the obscure Rosicrucians in the same cave.
This is not to put the Kybalion down - on the contrary, it is a worthwhile book and a great read that I highly recommend. I just ask you to take with a little grain of salt the all too melodramatic pomp with which the author(s) try to supply themselfes with an air of overblown dignity, at times even getting in the way of conclusive reasoning within their own writings.
The Hermetic Philosophy, after all, was modelled to stand between the all too cold rationality of the Greek - as it appears after being 'improved' by Christian translators - and the all too stupid dogmata of Biblical faith. It was a philosophy of Freethinkers, derived from Arabic, African and Middle Eastern origins, turned 'occult' only because such free thinking was forced into the dark by the oppressive rule of Christian stupidity.
When the renaissance of occultism that took place in the late 19. century rediscovered the ancient wisdoms everything was made up with lots of bombast to make it appear as 'mysterious' and 'secret' as even possible - a fashion that seems to be unchanged in our days.
The Three Initiates: The Kybalion
You can also read The Kybalion at Raven's Bookshelf right here on the site: