Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Way of the Hermetica VI - More on the Egyptian Background

Another indication of an Egyptian philosophical tradition would be some examples of sceptical literature.

Egyptian ideas did develop and change many times during its long history.

If you don't accept that Egypt was a dynamic culture then try to read some new research on Egyptian theology.

but first take a look at:

"Rebel in the Soul: An Ancient Egyptian Dialogue Between a Man and His Destiny
by Bika Reed (Author) "I spoke to my Soul I replied to what it had said: O! Now this I cannot bear My Soul replies not Indeed, worse than..."

For more information on the Egyptian "Ba" see:

Reeder, G, (1999) "Musing on the sexual nature of the human headed Ba bird" KMT, Autumn pp72-78

Way of Hermetica V - Short Answer Test

Short Answer Test
(Your answers may be as long as you like but at least one sentence)

1. What is the Corpus Hermeticum?

2. Approximately when was it composed?

3. In a nutshell, what is its message?

4. What are the names and background of its main characters?

5. Can you describe some contemporary Greek sources that form part of the CH world?

6. How does the CH divide the world both vertically and horizontally?

7. What is a daemon?

8. Who or what is “god” in the CH?

9. How does the CH relate to Egyptian theology?

10. Do Hermeticists practice magic and if so to what end?

11. Any question you would rather answer?

You can email me you answers if you like to:

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Way of Hermetica IX - Relationship to Kabbalah (QBL)

On the face it, the QBL shares a similar structure to the Hermetic/Egyptian cosmological model exposed in the previous discussion.

Points of interest are "sephira" as stations in a process of "ascension".

Early QBL has seven spheres although a later model extends this to ten.

The seven spheres or "caves" bears comparison with the seven "caverns" of ascension evident in many ancient Egyptian and later Hermetic "ascension" texts such as
"The Book of Gates".

Here is a short extract from the very beginning of a late classical Kabbalistic text - "The Hebrew Book of Enoch" . Compare this with Libellos I "The Poimandes" of the CH:

in construction

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Way of Hermetica IV - The Egyptian Background

The Egyptian Background

The Corpus Hermetica benefits from being read in conjunction with a
description of the so-called

"Heliopolitan System of Theology"


Atum (Re)


Shu (wind) + Tefnut (fire)


Geb (earth) + Nuit (space)


Isis + Osiris + Nephthys + Seth



as amended by the so-called "Memphite Theology"
of the Shabaka Stone
(now in the BM)

"But much older is Ptah, who enlivened all the gods as well as their life-forces (kas) through this heart and through this tongue . . . His Ennead is in his presence in teeth and lips, which are the seed and hands of Atum; for Atum's Ennead evolved from his seed and his fingers, but the Ennead is teeth and lips in this mouth that pronounced the identity of everything and through which Shu and Tefnut emerged and gave birth to the Ennead."

Basically the Memphite Theology is same as Heliopolis but headed up by Ptah - an ancient Egyptian god often associated with the creation of the physical hieroglyphs.
(This is a role similar to that of Thoth - although Thoth is more often connected with the smaller set of "phonetic" hieroglyphic signs used by scribes)

The so-called "Memphite Theology" can also be seen as a complement to the Heliopolitan system - Ptah makes possible, or mediating the evolution of Atum's "substance" by the power of his "heart" (consciousness) and "voice" (word). In this way Ptah is very like the "demiurgos" of Neoplatonism - although preceeding it by more than 500 years.

"So has Ptah come to rest after his making everything as well as every divine speech (hieroglyph). . . so have the gods entered into their bodies"


"The Religion of Ancient Egypt"
by S A B Mercer - Chapter on Theological Systems

"Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the language and culture of the Hieroglyphs"
by J P Allen pp. 171-3 "The Memphite Theology".

"The Epistle of Porphyry to the Egyptian Anebo"
(available online at:

See also:

Read these and then consider again who is God in the Corpus Hermetica

next time:
The Mithras Liturgy