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The Emerald Tablet

The Emerald Tablet is one of the most revered documents in the Western World, and its Egyptian author, Hermes Trismegistus, has become synonymous with ancient wisdom. His tablet contains an extremely succinct summary of what Aldous Huxley dubbed the "Perennial Philosophy," a timeless science of soul that keeps popping up despite centuries of effort to suppress it. The basic idea is that there exists a divine or archetypal level of mind that determines physical reality, and individuals can access that realm through direct knowledge of God.

The teachings of Hermes -- the Hermetic tradition -- is one of the oldest spiritual traditions in the world, and while no direct evidence links the Emerald Tablet to Eastern religions, it shares uncanny similarities in concepts and terminology with Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. In the West, the tablet found a home not only in the pagan tradition but also in all three of the orthodox Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and many of the most heretical beliefs of the Gnostics are also openly expressed in it. Like the authors of the tablet, the Gnostics believed that direct knowledge of reality could be attained through psychological discipline and meditative exercises. They also shared a common view of the universe in which "All Is One," a pattern of creation and decay symbolized by the Ouroboros (the snake eating its own tail).

Without doubt, the Emerald Tablet was the inspiration behind many other esoteric traditions, including over 1,700 years of alchemy. Most medieval alchemists hung a copy of the tablet on their laboratory wall and constantly referred to the "secret formula" it contained. In fact, during the sixteenth century, Hermes Trismegistus was such a revered figure that there was a movement to have his teachings replace those of Aristotle in European schools.

Five hundred years later, the tablet's words are still held in the highest regard. "The Emerald Tablet is the cryptic epitome of the alchemical opus," noted Jungian analyst Dr. Edward Edinger, "a recipe for the second creation of the world." Ethnobotanist and consciousness guru Terence McKenna agrees, calling the tablet "a formula for a holographic matrix" that is mirrored in the human mind and offers mankind its only hope for future survival. "Whatever one chooses to believe about it," sums up John Matthews in The Western Way (Penguin 1997), "there is no getting away from the fact that the Emerald Tablet is one of the most profound and important documents to have come down to us. It has been said more than once that it contains the sum of all knowledge -- for those able to understand it."

However, there is one nagging problem with the Emerald Tablet: Nobody seems to know for sure where it came from, or who really wrote it.

- Dennis William Hauck

Translations of the Emerald Tablet

Issac Newton (1680)

1. Tis true without error, certain & most true.


2. That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing


3. And as all things have been & arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.


4. The Sun is its father, the moon its mother, the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth is its nurse.


5. The father of all perfection in the whole world is here.


6. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.


7. Separate thou the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross sweetly with great industry.


8. It ascends from the earth to the heaven & again it descends to the earth & receives the force of things superior & inferior.


9. By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world


10. & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.


11. Its force is above all force. For it vanquishes every subtle thing & penetrates every solid thing.


12. So was the world created.


13. From this are & do come admirable adaptations whereof the means (or process) is here in this. Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world


14. That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished & ended.

Aureliae Occultae Philosophorum 
Theatrum Chemicum, Volume IV (1613)

1. This is true and remote from all cover of falsehood


2. Whatever is below is similar to that which is above. Through this the marvels of the work of one thing are procured and perfected.


3. Also, as all things are made from one, by the [consideration] of one, so all things were made from this one, by conjunction.


4. The father of it is the sun, the mother the moon. The wind bore it in the womb. Its nurse is the earth, the mother of all perfection.


5. Its power is perfected. If it is turned into earth,


6. Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle and thin from the crude and [coarse], prudently, with modesty and wisdom.


7. This ascends from the earth into the sky and again descends from the sky to the earth, and receives the power and efficacy of things above and of things below.


8. By this means you will acquire the glory of the whole world,


9. And so you will drive away all shadows and blindness.


10. For this by its fortitude snatches the palm from all other fortitude and power. For it is able to penetrate and subdue everything subtle and everything crude and hard.


11. By this means the world was founded


12. And hence the marvelous conjunctions of it and admirable effects, since this is the way by which these marvels may be brought about.


13. And because of this they have called me Hermes Tristmegistus since I have the three parts of the wisdom and philosophy of the whole universe.


14. My speech is finished which I have spoken concerning the solar work

Dennis William Hauck

1. In truth, without deceit, certain, and most veritable.


2. That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing. And just as all things have come from this One Thing, through the meditation of One Mind, so do all created things originate from this One Thing, through Transformation.


3. Its father is the Sun; its mother the Moon. The Wind carries it in its belly; its nurse is the Earth.  It is the origin of All, the consecration of the Universe; its inherent Strength is perfected, if it is turned into Earth.


4. Separate the Earth from Fire, the Subtle from the Gross, gently and with great Ingenuity. It rises from Earth to Heaven and descends again to Earth, thereby combining within Itself the powers of both the Above and the Below. 


5. Thus will you obtain the Glory of the Whole Universe. All Obscurity will be clear to you. This is the greatest Force of all powers, because it overcomes every Subtle thing and penetrates every Solid thing.


6. In this way was the Universe created. From this comes many wondrous Applications, because this is the Pattern.


7. Therefore am I called Thrice Greatest Hermes, having all three parts of the wisdom of the Whole Universe. Herein have I completely explained the Operation of the Sun.

Vincent Norman Martin

As in truth, separate from and fully opposite falsehood.


Loyally what is below is in relation to that which is above; also what is above is in relation to that which is below to perform miracles of The One.


Child of its father, the Sun; Child of its mother, the Moon. The wind transports it in its belly; its nurse, the Earth. All things were created from The One.


Humanely disunite the earth from fire, the subtle from the gross. It ascends from the Earth to the Above and descends back to the Earth which unites within itself the virtue of both the Above and the Below.


Ergo you will seize the wonder of the universe. Everything obscure will become illuminated to you. This force of forces penetrates the All.


Marvel in the way the universe was created. More marvels can evolve for this is the correspondence.


You see therefore I am called Hermes Trismegistus, since I have the three parts of the philosophy and wisdom of the universe. I have explained the workings of the Sun in its entirety.

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