The Hermetica are texts attributed to the legendary Hellenistic figure Hermes Trismegistus, a syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. These texts may vary widely in content and purpose, but are usually subdivided into two main categories, the "technical" and "religio-philosophical" Hermetica.
The Prophecy of Hermes Trismegistus
Excerpt from Asclepius III contained in the Corpus Hermeticum, Full text * And in that day men will be weary of life, and they will cease to think the universe worthy of reverent wonder and of worship. And so religion, the greatest of all blessings, for there is nothing, nor has been, nor ever shall be, that can be deemed a greater boon, will be threatened with destruction; men will think it a burden, and will come to scorn it.
- They will no longer love this world around us, this incomparable work of God, this glorious structure which He has built...
- Darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be thought more profitable than life; no one will raise his eyes to heaven.
- The pious will be deemed insane, and the impious wise; the madman will be thought a brave man, and the wicked will be esteemed as good.
- No word of reverence or piety, no utterance worthy of heaven and of the Gods of heaven, will be heard or believed.
- But when all this has befallen, Asclepius, then the Master and Father, God, the first before all, the maker of that God who first came into being, will look on that which has come to pass, and will stay the disorder by the counterworking of His will, which is the good.
- He will call back to the right path those who have gone astray; He will cleanse the world from evil, now washing it away with water-floods, now burning it out with fiercest fire, or again expelling it by war and pestilence.
- And thus He will bring back His world to its former aspect, so that the Cosmos will once more be deemed worthy of worship and wondering reverence, and God, the maker and restorer of the mighty fabric, will be adored by the men of that day with unceasing hymns of praise and blessing.
The Hymns of Hermes (Echoes from the Gnosis)
- I, Mind, Myself am present with holy men and good, the pure and merciful, men who live piously. To such My Presence doth become an aid, and straightway they gain Gnosis of all things, and win the Father's love by their pure lives, and give Him thanks, invoking on Him blessings, and chanting hymns, intent on Him with ardent love (ii, 14).
- But on the pious soul the Mind doth mount and guide it to the Gnosis' Light. And such a soul doth never tire in songs of praise to God and pouring blessing on all men, and doing good in word and deed to all, in imitation of its Sire (ii, 155).
- He is Himself, both things that are and things that are not. The things that are He hath made manifest, he keepeth things that are not in Himself. He is the God beyond all name - He the unmanifest, he the most manifest; He whom the mind alone can contemplate, He visible unto the eyes as well. He is the one of no body, the one of many bodies, nay, rather, He of every body. Naught is there which He is not, for all are He, and He is all (ii, 104).
- A Hymn to All-Father God
WHO, then, may sing Thee praise of Thee, or praise to Thee?
WHITHER, again, am I to turn my eyes to sing Thy praise; above, below, within, without? There is no way, no place is there about Thee, nor any other thing of things that are.
All are in Thee; all are from Thee; O Thou Who givest all and takest naught, for Thou hast all and naught is there Thou hast not.
And WHEN, O Father, shall l hymn Thee? For none can seize Thy hour or time.
For WHAT, again, shall I sing hymn? For things that Thou hast made, or things Thou hast not? For things Thou hast made manifest, or things Thou hast concealed?
How, further, shall I hymn Thee? As being of myself? As having something of mine own? As being other?
For that Thou art whatever I may be; Thou art whatever I may do; Thou art whatever I may speak.
For Thou art all, and there is nothing else which Thou art not.
Thou art all that which doth exist, and Thou art what doth not exist,-Mind when Thou thinkest, and Father when Thou makest, and God when Thou dost energize, and Good and Maker of all things (i, 105).
- There is no one Song of the Powers written in human speech and kept secret; no manuscript, no oral tradition, of some physically uttered hymn.
- The Shepherd, Mind of all masterhood, hath not passed on to me more than hath been writ down, for full well did He know that I should of myself be able to learn all, and see all things. He left to me the making of fair things.
- Wherefore the Powers within me, e'en as they are in all, break into song. The Song can be sung in many modes and many tongues, according to the inspiration of the illumined singer.
- The man who is reborn becomes a psalmist and a poet, for now is he tuned in harmony with the Great Harmony, and cannot do otherwise than sing God's praises. He becomes a maker of hymns and is no longer a repeater of the hymns of others.
- But Tat persists; his soul is filled with longing to hear some echo of the Great Song. "Father, I wish to hear; I long to know these things!"
- For naught is there of which He stands in need, in that He is all things and all are in Him.
- But let us worship, pouring forth our thanks. For this is the best incense in God's sight when thanks are given to Him by men. (ii, 388 ).