Practical Gnosis – Hermeticism

We realize from our study of and, more importantly, our encounter with the figure of Hermes Trismegistus that the most difficult task we have as moderns who wish to pursue a spiritual path is that we cannot simply learn new information and fit it into our pre-existing World View, but we must learn a new World View, a new framework in which to fit the Hermetic knowledge. We are handicapped at every turn by the preconceptions we share of Reality, which are part of the Modern World View. The emphasis on the historical truth of Hermeticism, rather than its spiritual truth is but one trap. The attraction to endlessly “study” the area without actually engaging with the material or practicing the Hermetic arts is another. We do not follow this path because we wish to write a thesis or out of idle or abstract interest. Hermeticism is a means to an end and that end is union with the Divine.

So what is the method? Our first step is to learn and actually practice one or more of the Hermetic arts of astrology, magic and alchemy. At the same time we should study and meditate on the Hermetic philosophy that underlies these arts. We must constantly oscillate between theory and practice.

Practice without theory leaves us blindly following our sources and our limited experience. Practice alone also tempts us to focus on the results of our work, often material, leading us astray with the prospect of wealth, influence and power from our ultimate goal.

Theory without practice is essentially an endless series of mental games. By actually working with the Hermetic arts and obtaining results we can assure ourselves of the efficacy and correspondence to Reality of these arts and the philosophy that underlies them.



In choosing to follow the traditional methods of practicing astrology, magic and alchemy, that is those methods used before 1700, we can do our best to avoid the simplifications typical of “New Age” spirituality and the distortions induced by the Modern World View. We do not accept the traditional Hermetic teachings merely because they are ancient, but because they are true.

As interesting and useful as it is to predict the future with astrology, to summon spirits with magic and to create the philosopher’s stone with alchemy, we find the true value in these arts is the transmutation that their successful mastery causes in our World View. This is not to say that these are purely psychological changes. No, astrology, magic and alchemy most assuredly do work and do causes changes of both a material and spiritual nature. Rather, by observing these changes and recognizing our ability to cause these results, we can know, by experience and for ourselves, that materialism and atheism are false and that the title of agnostic, literally one without knowledge, i.e. the ignorant, is properly bestowed on most moderns.

After having learned this knowledge intellectually, a slow process of assimilation takes place and we begin to internalize and to embody this knowledge. If astrology, magic and alchemy work, it can only be because the Cosmos is indeed one great unified Being bound together by myriad chains of spiritual sympathy and interconnection. Once we truly know this, once we have actually experienced the reality of this, then we have truly begun the process of Hermetic gnosis.

Source:  Sacred Texts

Alchemical Transformation in the Golden Dawn ~ by Lyam Thomas Christopher



The Great Work is not an easy task for the human animal. It is the alchemical change from human to more-than-human, and it brings the student of the occult into a direct relationship with the predicament of mortality and with the compromises that he has made in order to survive in the material world. Plunging into these issues when most people would turn back, the student finds himself on a journey through disillusionment, self-doubt, and a dreadful loss of purpose—and possibly a journey that arrives at a new vista of life going far beyond what ordinary consciousness can fathom. In the process of this magical work, life usually gets worse before it gets better. The immortal Self awakened by the Golden Dawn’s Kabbalistic techniques, by its very definition, brings with it a permanent joy and realization, yes, but these rewards are obtained by a journey through darkness. For the true thrust of the Golden Dawn comes as an assault from within. The Great Work brings forth an inner truth that destroys what we hold most dear. It dissolves from the inside the stranglehold that our biology has upon our spirit, subduing the animal and calling forth the god.

This is not good news to the ego, the “assumed identity” that you and I have adopted in order to survive in the world. We have spent at least eighteen years creating a fully functional personality capable of finding food and shelter, forming profitable relationships, and rearing offspring. To discover other possibilities beyond this baseline of existence poses a threat. The human animal fears the power of magic because, in its essence, magic seeks to supplant the animal motives with deeper ones. It seeks to penetrate beyond the boundaries of our daily survival drama. The fact that the body, which you and I work so hard to care for, is mortal—and obviously expendable in the hands of some deeper purpose—is the last reality we want to face!

For those of us morbid enough to value this kind of self-discovery there are available the hidden traditions that still maintain magical practices of self-transformation. The grade system of the Golden Dawn spells out one such program of practice for us. Granted, there are many modern-day offshoots of the Golden Dawn that have become too “respectable” and mainstream to explore the darkness of the human soul. They teach the rudiments of Kabbalah and Egyptology, revealing to us secret handshakes and granting us prestigious certificates, all while oozing an aura of empty mystery with every email. But for those of us who are looking for more than diplomas and historical trivia, there are the less impressive curricula that still teach the distasteful, hands-on work of killing and resurrecting the human animal.

To begin this not-so-glamorous process of transformation, the Golden Dawn student enters the first grade of the Outer Order: Neophyte. In most temples, the student’s primary responsibility in this grade is to perform two exercises every day: the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP)and the Middle Pillar. He must also complete a small amount of reading, study, and group ritual, but these formalities, as important as they can be, are secondary to the actual daily practice of self-initiation.

The LBRP and Middle Pillar exercises restructure the psyche of the student and set the stage for the transformation process to begin. To do this, the LBRP creates a cleared “space” within the student’s imagination. He draws a magic circle of protection, he intones Hebrew names of God, and he draws sigils with the intention of warding off the influences of the material world from his inner landscape. Following this, the Middle Pillar exercise invokes the highest, purest spiritual light from the student’s divine aspect, drawing it downward into the cleared space and into his body, all the way to the feet. The student thereby identifies himself with a continuum of pure, unconditioned consciousness. He becomes the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life. This is not so much pictured as an actual tree, but as a framework of interconnected spheres, which symbolizes the creation of the universe from spirit into matter.

Neophyte is a probationary grade. By creating this cleared space, the student introduces himself to future possibilities. If he isn’t yet ripe for spiritual change, his ego has a chance to wage its war of resistance and win. And it often does win. The student who isn’t ready for transformation either stops the process honestly and quits the Golden Dawn (usually for very “rational” reasons) or he joins the social club of New Age charlatans, accumulating grades, certificates, and a storehouse of impressive and useless information. Invisible to him are the students who proceed onward into the inner roller-coaster ride of the grades that follow. No one can fully understand the changes that come next, except those who have gone before.

The next step then is to jump-start the process of dissolving the personality. The student proceeds into the realm of the four Elemental grades:

  1. Zelator = Earth
  2. Theoricus = Air
  3. Practicus = Water
  4. Philosophus = Fire

In each of these grades, he uses Kabbalistic ritual to call forth one of the Four Elements, experiencing intimately its inner psychic correspondences. His personality becomes temporarily unbalanced, preoccupied with anything that corresponds to that Element. In Zelator (the Earth grade), for example, he feels the heaviness and the grit of life in the world. The physicality of everything around him comes into sharp focus. Even the supposedly exalted phenomenon of light can appear as darkness, as just one kind of brick in the tomb of matter. In Theoricus (the Air grade), thoughts and daydreams become overly pronounced. Elation, wonder, and the temptation to chase after glamorous images become commonplace. This gives the student a chance to reach a better understanding of his powers of imagination and his habits of thought, and to organize them and eliminate obsessions. In Practicus (the Water grade), the student gains gradual perspective over emotion and intuition, seeing these as a playing field that reveals the influence of higher forces, similar to the way that the surface of water that displays the influence of wind. And lastly, in the Fire grade, his ritual invocations fan the flames of his animal powers. Passions and instincts rise from below, and the old personality begins to burn away and disappear.

These four grades call forth, purify, and consolidate the each of the Elements, showing how these four come together to produce the illusion of the personality. The student discovers that his ego isn’t inherently real or composed of any singular essence, but rather that it is an arbitrary patchwork, woven together from separate Elemental threads. The false image of the ego shows itself for what it is, and the question of whether anything lies beyond its ingredients becomes serious.

A new perspective begins to dawn, and the student realizes that the real work hasn’t even begun yet. The Elemental grades actually comprise the preliminary work, and a new landscape awaits him as he readies himself to embark on the Great Work itself.

The next task then is to balance the Elements—the facets of the personality—until their unity-in-diversity yields forth something more than the sum of its parts. The Portal Grade is therefore the last grade of the Outer Order, and it reverses the process of disintegration brought on via the Elemental-Grade exercises. All four Elements, which now stand in the four quarters (North, South, East, and West) symbolically untangled from one another, are brought back together meaningfully. This reintegration creates a healthy, sturdy base on which (or within which) to ignite the “oven” of the Great Work.

In Portal and the grades that follow, the language of alchemy, which has remained unreliable and even impenetrable till now, begins to make sense. The sturdy foundation (or vessel) that the student has built via the Elemental grades becomes tangible to the inner senses as a sort of inner, ethereal body, neither energy nor matter. In the midst of the four Elements the newborn adeptcan discern, for the first time perhaps, a sort of stasis field within which he can manipulate the three hidden alchemical principles: Mercury, Sulfur, and Salt. As he proceeds into adeptship, he graduates from working with the four visible Elements (the outer facets of the quintessence) to the threeinvisible principles of the Trinity (the inner aspects of the quintessence). These three supernal principles, expressed in their raw form, are the Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury of alchemy, and they comprise the intangible “guts” of the Four Elements, beneath the “skin” of tangible sensation. They must not be confused with the salt, sulfur, and mercury of common experience.

Into the stasis field—alchemical Salt—the magician begins to concentrate Mercury, the volatile, meandering aspect of mind, and Sulfur, discipline and concentration. His visualization ability now acts from a higher dimension, and it becomes nearly impossible to relay these deeper activities in words. But this kind of magical work has many symbols that attempt to explain it. The alchemists have sometimes represented the process as a crucified serpent, such as the serpent that Moses affixed to a cross in the desert. The cross represents the framework established by the preliminary work (Salt), the Serpent represents the volatile mind (Mercury), and the nails represent the fixation, the restraint and focus (Sulfur) applied to the volatile mind. The adept, in other words, is now capable of working with the quintessence. He can use visualization, breath, and ritual actions to contain his mind’s volatile tendency (Mercury) within a localized area (Salt) and concentrate it to crystallize into manifestation (via the principle of Sulfur). The end product of this effort is the legendary philosopher’s stone, none other than manifested spirit. His body begins to transform and take on the quality of invisible radiance.

Another image that represents this idea is that of the squared circle, common to Renaissance magicians. Renaissance humanists symbolized the unexpressed, divine self of an individual as a circle (Mercury). It’s expression in matter, in the outer world, they visualized as a square (Salt). So, for the magician of antiquity, the squared circle—or circle with a square drawn around it—represented manifested spirit. Sulfur he represented as a point in the center of the circle. The point is the constant, balanced pressure (or meditation) that gradually pushes spiritual potential into matter, forcing it to crystallize and come forth.

To summarize then, the Work in the Golden Dawn’s Outer Order is to dissolve the false personality and make it disappear. The Work in the Inner Order is to call forth the true “personality,” to make it appear or express itself tangibly in the physical world. Though at first glance, the mysticism of the Golden Dawn seems to focus on dissolving the self into spirit, become more subtle and airy, it may come as a surprise to many that the further work of the inner order actually reverses this process such that the adept actively comes out into the world as a direct expression of his Higher Self. In the open air of awakening, his outer world of appearances is consumed by the Worlds within and by the very process of transformation itself. His very presence, without effort, begins to act as a catalyst for magical change wherever he goes.

Lyam Thomas Christopher
Lyam Thomas Christopher (Florida) has been a student of Hermeticism and the Golden Dawn for over fifteen years. After receiving his BA in Liberal Studies he went on to receive his Adeptus Minor from Ra Horkhty Temple. A former bookseller, the author is currently a learning specialist at a regional community college.

Recognizing Real vs. Artificial Synchronicities | Wake Up World

Real synchronicities and artificial synchronicities both have meaning to the perceiver. Both manifest via highly improbable “coincidences.” Artificial synchronicity is engineered by hyperdimensional negative beings in an attempt to suppress, sabotage, drain, distract, or mislead targets on the verge of awakening. This can happen in a variety of ways… By Guest Writer Montalk

Source: Recognizing Real vs. Artificial Synchronicities | Wake Up World

Gnostic Truths Behind Secret Societies and the Alchemical Mysteries, by William Cooper

GNOSTICISM was at the Foundation of the ancient alchemical mysteries propaged by the Secret College.

This presenter then invites us to refer to this old movie as illustrative of his point … Enjoy!



(Excerpted from the book, The Mysteries of the Great Cross of Hendaye Alchemy and the End of Time, ch. 2, by Jay Wiedner [Destiny Books, 2003].)

At the heart of the alchemical mystery lies a secret.  This is no ordinary secret, however, for it is that which cannot be told.  the experience of gnosis.  Ultimately, this inexplicable knowing cannot be conferred or taught in any ordinary manner, only incubated and gestated through a mysterious process known as initiation.  This initiation can come in a number of different ways, usually through someone who already knows, but occasionally it occurs by means of sacred texts and direct insight.

The alchemical gnosis has been transmitted from generation to generation, through thousands of years.  We find the same content experiences of gnosis from the modern samyana experiments at Maharishi University to the Ancient Egyptians. (1)  We find the same content in spontaneous experiences from mystics of all eras.  The secret at the core of alchemy is an ineffable experience of real workings of our local cosmological neighborhood.

So how can one incubate and gestate such an experience?  The answer may lie in the word transmitted.  Modern sociologists have begun to discuss the concept of memes, or complex idea groups — such as monotheism and democracy — that appear to have the ability to replicate themselves.  Memes seem to have other properties as well, such as an unusual psychic component.  The spread of Spiritualism in the nineteenth century is a superb example of a viral-like meme outbreak, and traces of Spiritualism’s meme can be found surviving into the New Age nineties, with its dolphin channeling and near-death experiences.  Hollywood films such as The Sixth Sense are deeply influenced by Spiritualism’s perspective on the afterlife, conveying the meme directly and powerfully to millions of moviegoers.

It helps to think of the secret at the core of alchemy as a very special and sophisticated variety of meme. Like a spore or a seed, the meme has a protective shell that is also attractive to appropriate hosts. In the case of the alchemy meme, that shell is the seductive allure of the transmutation of base metal into gold.  Even if one absorbs the outer shell of the alchemy meme, however, there is no guarantee that the inner core will blossom and the meme become active.  For that to happen, a series of shocks or initiations is required.

The sophistication of the alchemy meme is such that the experience of gnosis at its core can be stimulated only by these shocks.  Therefore, to transmit the idea of complex of the gnosis meme through time requires a series of encounters between those in whom the meme is active and those who have merely been exposed to it.  From this need evolved the idea of priesthoods and then, as religious structures degenerated, mystery schools and secret societies.  We can think of these as incubation devices for spiritual memes.

Through the millennia, the undigested seed of the alchemy meme was jumbled together with other spiritual memes, creating a seemingly endless series of hybrid spiritual expressions masquerading as alchemy.  From its appearance in first-century Alexandria to its modern expressions, however, the secret at the core of the alchemy meme can be traced by its gnostic ineffableness.  The secret protects itself, but in doing so leaves an unmistakable fingerprint.  By following these gnostic fingerprints, we can track the progress of the alchemy meme through history.


The word alchemy, as a name for the substance of the mystery, is both revealing and concealing of the true, initiatory nature of the work.  Al-khem, Arabic for “the black”, refers to the darkness of the unconsciousness, the most prima of all materia, and to the “Black Land” of Egypt.  Thus, the name reveals the starting point of the process and the place where this science attained its fullest expression.  This revelation, however, important as it is, effectively conceals the nature of the transmutation at the heart of the great work.

For three thousand years or more Egypt was the heart of the world.  Much of the knowledge that is the underpinning of Western civilization had its origins in Egypt.  The lenses of Greek and Judeo-Christian “history” distort our modern, essentially European, view of the ancient world.  The Bible gives us an Egypt of powerful pharoahs and pagan magicians, mighty armies, slaves and invasions of chariots out of the south.  Herodotus gives us a travelogue, complete with inventive stories from his guides.  To the Hebrews of the Old Testament, Egypt was the evil of the world from which God had saved them.  To the Greeks, it was an ancient culture to be pillaged for ideas and information.  To understand the origin of alchemy, we must let go of the Hebraic and Greek bias and look clearly at what the remains of the ancient Egyptian culture can tell us.

When we do this, two things immediately jump out at us.  First, the ancient Egyptians were the most scientifically advanced culture on the planet up to the present day, if we have indeed caught up with them; and second — their science, in fact, their entire culture — seems to have been revealed rather than developed.  The Egyptians claimed that their knowledge was derived from the actions of divine forces in what they called the First Time, or Zep Tepi.  A group known as the Heru Shemsu, or Company of Horus — also called the Company of the Wise, the Companions of Horus, and the Followers of the Widow’s Son — passed down the a body of knowledge through the ages.  Each pharoah, down to Roman times, was an Initiate of the Company of Horus and thus privy to this secret knowledge.

To Know Thyself Is The Prize

Know Thyself Horus

Know Thyself-

The effort of the esoteric student is not so much to know as to become, and herein lies the tremendous import of the Delphic inscription, “Know Thyself”, which is the keynote of esoterism.
The esotericist understands that true knowledge can be attained only through self development in the highest possible sense of the term, a development which begins with introspection and the awakening of creative and regenerative forces which now slumber in man’s inner protoplasmic nature, like the vivicic potency in the ovum, and which when aroused into activity transforms him ultimately into a divine being bodied in a deathless etherial form of ineffable beauty.

This process of transcendental self-conquest, the giving birth to oneself as a spiritual being, evolving from the concealed essence of ones own embryonic nature of self-luminous body, is the principal subject matter of the story which is endeavored to present to the readers in as interesting and understandable form as possible, commensurate with the great theme expounded.

The world of true Being is that of Nous, the real or divine ideas, or archetypes, which are the eternal patterns, so to say, of all things in the manifested universe.

By a paradox which defies the reasoning faculty, but which is readily resolved intuitively, the God is said to be apart from and independent Universe, and yet to permeate every atom of it.

One of the greatest powers possessed by man, when properly developed and used, is the Power of Constructive Imagination, it being the faculty by which we can form a mental image of anything, and bring absent objects and perceptions to the mind, this being the greatest of the mind forces, according to the Natural Laws or Universal Consciousness.

Rightly conceived imagination is the power of the mental representation, and is measured by the vividness and truth of this representation.

If we desire success, happiness, strength and power, the only way is a wise, enlightened use of the power of this representation.
“As a man thinketh, so is he”-as we use our power of mental representation, so will our condition be.

What is Mind?

Hermetics and The Kybalion



Let’s take a simple and brief philosophical approach to the following terms, ideas and concepts …

“Substance” means: “that which underlies all outward manifestations; the essence; the essential reality; the thing in itself,”

“Reality” means: “the state of being real; true, enduring; valid; fixed; permanent; actual,”

“Substantial” means: “actually existing; being the essential element; being real,”

“Under, and back of, the Universe of Time, Space and Change, is ever to be found The Substantial Reality — the Fundamental Truth.” — The Kybalion.

“While All is in THE ALL, it is equally true that THE ALL is in All. To him who truly understands this truth hath come great knowledge.” — The Kybalion

“Under and behind all outward appearances or manifestations, there must always be a Substantial Reality. This is the Law. Man considering the Universe, of which he is a unit, sees nothing but change in matter, forces, and mental states. He sees that nothing really IS, but that everything is BECOMING and CHANGING. Nothing stands still-everything is being born, growing, dying-the very instant a thing reaches its height, it begins to decline-the law of rhythm is in constant operation-there is no reality, enduring quality, fixity, or substantiality in anything – nothing is permanent but Change. He sees all things evolving from other things, and resolving into other things-a constant action and reaction; inflow and outflow; building up and tearing down; creation and destruction; birth, growth and death. Nothing endures but Change. And if he be a thinking man, he realizes that all of these changing things must be but outward appearances or manifestations of some Underlying Power-some Substantial Reality.” — The Kybalion


hermetic traditions

The Rebis figure symbolizes the end of the Great Work (alchemical magnus opus) that we have to do on ourselves. The symbology itself is ancient and represents the end result of the search to “know ourselves” and seek the light at the center. Purification of matter and thought, and the reconciliation of spirit and matter.

Within it one can see the reconciliation of the duality into a whole; male and female, sun and moon, square and compass, the right hand and the left hand. The symbols of the united being are contained within an ancient symbol of the universal, world or cosmic egg.

The understanding that we were divine and eternal right now, was the universal “religion” of antiquity. This was long before the time when portions of the ancient mysteries were seeded to what we know today as the various “religions” or mysteries.

“In this way you will reach the fullness, the unity… How is that done? By union with each other and union within oneself…let perfect unity take the place of primitive dissociation and “division”…

in other words, let the “outside” become as the “inside”, the “upper” like the “lower”, the male like the female; let the first become last and the last first: in short, let there be reunion of opposites…”

―Jesus Christ, Gnostic Texts