by Cohn de Toraeke
from HyddenMysteries Website


This 13 stanza verse may be, to those who understand it, one of the most profound examples of wordmanship ever recorded. To this writer, these words hold within their scope the essence of all scripture, myth, and spiritual metaphor.

The following interpretation of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes is offered by this writer who has spent many years contemplating, and proving, its content. My intent is only to aid those whose inner being responds to the tablet's song. Please understand that there are as many interpretations as there are interpreters, but there is only one Tablet. Did Hermes write it? Was there such a person, after all? We cannot be sure, nevertheless, the words are before us and they resonate with the truth and power of their meaning.

Each person who is drawn to the Emerald Tablet will have their own ideas and understanding of it, as it should be. Hopefully, some of these ideas will be shared so that everyone may benefit. No one person, in my opinion, can comprehend all that these words contain.


- Cohn de Toraeke


The Emerald Tablet Of Hermes

I. I Speak Not Fiction, But What Is Certain And Most True.

II. What Is Below Is Like That Which Is Above, And That Which Is Above Is Like That Which Is Below For Performing The Miracle Of One Thing.

III. And As All Things Are Produced From One, By The Mediation Of One, So All Things Are Produced From This One Thing By Adaptation.

IV. Its Father Is The Sun, Its Mother Was The Moon, The Wind Carried It In Its Belly, Its Nurse Is The Earth.

V. It Is The Cause Of All Perfection Throughout The Whole World.

VI. Its Power Is Perfect If It Be Changed Into The Earth.

VII. Separate The Earth From The Fire, The Subtle From The Gross, Gently, And With Judgment.

VIII. It Ascends From The Earth To Heaven, And Descends Again To Earth, Thus You Will Possess The Glory Of The Whole World And All Obscurity Will Fly Away.

IX. This Thing Is The Fortitude Of All Fortitude, Because It Overcomes All Subtle Things, And Penetrates Every Solid Thing.

X. Thus Are All Things Created.

XI. Thence Proceed Wonderful Adaptations Which Are Produced In This Way.

XII. Therefore Am I Called Hermes Trismegistus, Possessing The Three Parts Of The Philosophy Of The Whole World.

XIII. What I Had To Say About The Operations Of The Sun Is Complete.

The meaning of the term - HERMETIC PHILOSOPHY

The word "Hermetic" comes from the name Hermes Trismagistus; the Egyptian God of Wisdom who was blessed with three Magisteries, and who, it is traditionally believed, wrote the Emerald Tablet.

[hermetic] - sealed and impenetrable from the outside.
[philosophy] - from philo(s); Greek/Latin - beloved, or loving + sophia; Greek - wisdom.

Therefore, Hermetic Philosophy means "The Sealed and Beloved Wisdom."

Hermes' words are simple and eloquent, and yet they encompass the whole Philosophy of the Great Art which includes the practical work of making the plant stone and mineral stone (referred to as The Minor Work and The Major Work, respectively)

Understand that Hermetic Philosophy IS the key. How one makes the stones, according to the sages, is as simple as making bread once the ingredients and processes are understood. They say that when the seeker understands the NATURE of the stones and their correct PROCESSES they will, with industry and perseverance, easily accomplish the work.

In this Spirit and Light Hermes' words apply to the comprehension of both stones for they are similar in nature, but very different in degree. Above all else, according to the sages, you will succeed in possessing the Stone when you have first succeeded in possessing it, metaphorically, within your heart. This is called, "At-One-ment", which is more commonly pronounced, atonement. Also - isn't it curious that At-One-ment and (S)tonement share the same numerical value of 8?

Hermes, through his words, becomes a metaphor for Creation's process.

The EMERALD TABLET OF HERMES - an interpretation


"I SPEAK ..." In the Christian Bible, at the beginning of the Gospel of St. John, it is written, 'In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the Word WAS God.' This implies sound (vibration) as the first cause or affect upon Creation by 'I' (God), the Source of all that is to follow. EveryTHING in the universe, from the incomprehensible, to the most rarefied thought, even black holes, flows from 'I' and carries the essence of 'I' within it, flesh of its flesh, so to speak.

"NOT FICTION, ..." Fiction is imaginary falsehood. Though a thought may be false within its context, it still exists and has its being in Mind; only its application can be false. Just as there is no fiction in a giant redwood that began from a single seed, there is no fiction in Creation, which began from a single word. The first infinitesimal SOUND of the first Word instantly established infinite MIND.

"BUT WHAT ..." This inquisition opens the void of the NO-THING like a mother's womb opens to receive her husband's seed. Though there IS only the ONE, the ONE must acknowledge Itself to become itself, and thus the Word becomes two in ONE Mind - positive, and negative, male and female.

"IS CERTAIN ..." The first stirring of the Word is Potential, undefined yet CERTAIN (Absolute) - 'Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent.

" ... AND MOST TRUE." Potential desires expression. Inherent within the dual nature of Mind, which is both male as LIFE, and female as LAW (here, Law implies the principles of universal structure), is WILL, which, in turn, empowers Mind's desire to express itself through CONCEPTion. Their offspring is LOVE or the REALITY of LAWful LIFE, which is the 'MOST TRUE' love.

... . What is more lovable than the TRUTH itself - their Son?

The phonetics of Son and Sun, or Sol and Soul, is not accidental. Life, Law, and Truth are, alchemically speaking, Spirit (Mercury), Body (Salt), Soul (Sulfur), respectively. The TRINITY.

With these first eleven words Hermes has described creation.


"WHAT IS BELOW IS LIKE THAT WHICH IS ABOVE, ..." and "AND THAT WHICH IS ABOVE IS LIKE THAT WHICH IS BELOW ..." These words bring to mind so many interpretations that it seems redundant to comment upon them. From the Bible - God speaks to Moses, I AM THAT I AM, to the most common contraction - AS ABOVE, SO BELOW.

In essence, for use with alchemical theory and philosophy, my sense is that these words should best be regarded to mean that the universal energies [ABOVE] work through and have their being in their physical counterpart [BELOW], such as a plant, for example.

I define REAL as that which is eternal, and ACTUAL as that which is temporal. Therefore, there is a Real pattern for the plant which represents its eternal idea and, for a period of time, an ACTUALized physical body. Likewise the experiences of the temporal body can exert an influence on the eternal counterpart.

A Stone is made by separating the three essentials, Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury; purifying them, and recombining them. Once done they are empowered exponentially by repeated imbibations and circulations. The Philosopher's Stone and the Plant Stone, to a lesser degree, are like lenses through which the universal power and perfect intelligence pass. The stone focuses and concentrates the threefold primal energy of the creative Word. That is why it will transmute metal, or flesh, to its level of potency. The more potent the stone, the more profound its affects.

"... FOR PERFORMING THE MIRACLE OF ONE THING." Transmuting lead to gold, or restoring the sick, or old, to health is unexplainable and implies a divine source for the Stone's goodness. One thing, which represents the ONE in all its forms; One Universe, One Mind, One energy, One power, One intellect, in one object - the Stone. That is a miracle!


"AND AS ALL THINGS ARE PRODUCED FROM ONE ... " Again, this would first imply the ONE original Source of All. Secondly, since we know that the Above has a Below, and visa-versa, it also implies a physical counterpart which is the Philosophical Mercury, the Prima Materia. Also known as the Great Sea from which springs all life, the Mother of Christ - Mary; from mare - the sea (as in, mariner, etc.). It is written that all things in the objective universe can be absorbed and dissolved in the Mercury of the Wise - without a trace. So, this One thing as a concept is represented by THE Mercury - not metallic mercury.

"BY THE MEDIATION OF ONE ...," The mediator in alchemical philosophy is universal MIND, or SOUL, of which there can only be one. In alchemy this is represented by the philosophical Sulfur [Soul Fire] objectified in our solar system by our sun. Our planet and everything in it and on it came from the differentiation of Solar material [particles].

"... SO ALL THINGS ARE PRODUCED FROM THIS ONE THING BY ADAPTATION." Solar particles may be looked upon as SEED ideas. From this seed grows all things by adaptation. Just as a seed adapts to its environment to grow and fulfill itself, so does a universe, a planet, or a person grow from a seed.


"ITS FATHER IS THE SUN ..." The sun is radical; it radiates and is masculine.

"ITS MOTHER WAS THE MOON, ..." The moon is magnetic; it concentrates and is feminine.

Here, the past tense of "WAS" is used. In my opinion this means that the elemental or nuclear universe was created once only and is constantly renewing and evolving by adaptation, though stimulated by a constant barrage of NEW solar energy - therefore the sun IS its Father. To expand this concept; the infinity of suns [stars] provides the universe with constant renewal and expansion. Black holes [negative polarity] contract the universe. The universe breathes - exhaling / inhaling. In some teachings this is referred to as the Divine Breath.

These are metaphors for the duality of the objective universe. The pure spiritual energy streaming from our sun has to have some kind of body - a photon. This photon carries within itself its identity, or its soul, and as a seed represents that which is above the sun [nonphysical]. It will contribute its seminal virtue as it joins other seminal particles [protons] to coagulate within the concentrating negative field of electrons [the MOON factor], and form a more complex particle like an atom. The atoms make elements which make molecules, etc. - all by Adaptation.

"THE WIND CARRIED IT IN ITS BELLY, ..." This, I think, is literally true. The solar wind showers our high atmosphere with photons and other solar particles [solar seeds] which are carried about the sky in the wind and moisture [when isolated from rainwater it is called Gur, or Ghur]. The seed is then brought to earth via thunder storms and charged with electrical energy. That's why the spring rain and the morning dew are so valued by alchemists; they contain electrically charged solar seed.

One of my early mentors explained that the seven color rays of the sun correspond to the seven tones of the musical scale, and they also correspond to the seven primary particles, or seeds, of material existence, at least on Earth. He taught that from these seven distinct particles, which contain the whole universe in potential, every element on the periodic scale was, by adaptation, created.

"... ITS NURSE IS THE EARTH." Adaptive growth occurs as the earth's rich and infinite array of elements is made available to the solar seed. Whether in the mineral, vegetable, or animal kingdom, the seed will find fertile options with which and in which to evolve. Realize that we are talking about the REAL seed not a seed kernel, like a grain of rice. One cannot see the seed, only its tangible body, the kernel.

Each of the 7 primary solar seeds [masculine] has, within the elemental mix of the earth, a crystalline counterpart that is feminine [negative]. They are alive in nature and they attract one another. The Marriage spoken of by the adepts, when they describe the making of Stones, is the purified union of these two, male and female, which are the volatile and fixed aspects of the same element. While in the marriage chamber, the philosophical vessel, the volatile becomes fixed and the fixed becomes volatile. Eventually, after they have consummated their union by consuming one another their SON (Stone) is born.


Here, I think, is meant perfection as nature has it rather than as man would design it. The universe is slightly out of balance, though it perpetually tends toward balance. If it were in balance there would be no movement and no time, no sense of evolution or growth. However, what we experience as perfection is a form of calm balance within the fray of nature's arena. Perhaps our words joy, bliss, ecstasy, or contentment, may covey this type of perfection.

Another kind of perfection is objective perfection. Gold we say is a perfect metal, a diamond a perfect gem, and so forth. Something without flaws. We also say a strong, healthy, person, is perfectly fit, and our natural scientists are always looking for the perfect specimen. Man can recognize and facilitate what in nature he accepts as perfection, but man cannot create perfection. Only God is perfect.

To the alchemists, perfection was represented by the epitome of the world's virtue, which they thought was the universe's virtue as well - the concentration and empowerment of the Prima Materia - the TRUE Philosophical Mercury. To them, everything that had reached the zenith of its potential had arrived there by virtue of the Mercury and thus contained it, yet some natural objects contained more than others - i.e., the metals.


Understand that in nature the Mercury is volatile, vaporous, and both male and female; the Spirit contains the Sulfur within it. Only after it is isolated, separated, and purified, are the male and female separately discernible.

Through art they are reunited in their perfection with their proper body [Salt] and, once empowered exponentially by many circulations, enabled to penetrate all matter and raise its vibrations to its own highest potential of perfection, like the transmutation of illness to health. Think of the Stone as a super conductor of the virtues of the sun.

The sun's light and virtue passes THROUGH the stone rather than from it. Metaphorically speaking, Jesus (God's Son) felt virtue, which he always acknowledged came from his Father in heaven, go out of him when a sick women touched the hem of his robe (his outer garment, which is analogous to the physical Earth [as the Stone] as stated in stanza VI).

Years ago I had come down with the flu. I had all the symptoms, fever, chills, dry mouth, and headache. My teacher put two drops of his preparation under my tongue and had me lie down. In two hours I was fine, even energetic. What was it? I don't know. Perhaps a charged Antamonial Theriac? By charged I mean it either contained the PM (Philosophical Mercury), or the mixture had been distilled out of a host menstruum of PM. It tasted extremely floral yet metallic.


"SEPARATE THE EARTH FROM THE FIRE, ..." Here, Hermes talks about the process, but he's also implying that nature performs the same operation - As Above, So Below. Think of the Universe as analogous to water's characteristics. You have vapor [moisture], humidity [steam], fluid [water], solid [ice]; and before they combined to make water you had the elements hydrogen and oxygen, which are common to all its forms. Also common to all its forms is FIRE which is put there by the sun.

When you separate the water from most of its fire you have ice - its CRYSTAL formation. Likewise, even one of the most dense element known, osmium, has a melting point of 2700o C as it becomes fluid, and a boiling point of more than 5300o C as it becomes a vapor. Everything is bound by four natural qualities; warm, cold, dry, wet, and four natural states; fire, air, water, earth.

Specifically, he indicates here that the Mercury [fire] - and Sulfur - is to be separated from its body or vehicle, perhaps a plant or metallic ore.

"THE SUBTLE FROM THE GROSS, ..." In the case of a plant, the essential oils must be separated from the gross oils. In the case of minerals and metals - the subtle fire is locked up in their crystalline structure which has to be cracked and broken.

"GENTLY, ..." This is a primary KEY to all alchemical operations. Separation of the subtle parts from the gross parts will usually require an application of some type of externally manipulated heat. If this heat is too violent and too fast it will drive the subtle virtues away; if it is too weak, the subtle virtues can never break free. The great secret of alchemical operations is the CONTROL OF THE FIRE!

"AND WITH JUDGMENT." You do not want to destroy the life in the things you work with. Each kingdom has its own comfortable life sustaining range of temperature, even the metals.

For example: To hatch a fertilized chicken egg there must be the right amount of heat for the right amount of time - approximately 110o F. for several days. Too much heat and you have a cooked chick, too little and it cannot germinate and grow. It is the same in the plant and mineral kingdoms. That's why an alchemist knows that a foundry cast metal is dead because the heat required to melt it drove out the spirit - its Mercury. Learning to correctly sense the heat and the character of your fire takes time and practice. Meditation upon the fire does not hurt, either.


At this juncture many opinions flourish. What, exactly, ascends and descends? The Mercury? The Sulfur and the Mercury? Nature herself may give a clue.

The sun radiates its energy into earth's ionosphere, stratosphere, and atmosphere, its light penetrates the cloud cover, and eventually reaches the earth's surface. Sun rays penetrate the oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, and polar ice fields, invigorating, purifying, and sanitizing them all. It interacts with the earth's water in its various states. Water [the Moon factor] is highly magnetic, and crystalline - a liquid crystal, if you will. It is not only the most abundant fluid on the planet, but the most abundant chemical, and probably the least known and understood.

The earth is an organic, multidimensional, fluxing plasma of life forces, magnetic fields, and energy vortexes, all of which are potentially fertile and depend on water. From the arctic poles to the equator the earth's substance constantly moves. Winds, rains, erosion, volcanoes, tornadoes and hurricanes, undersea volcanic action, and tectonic plate movement all bring forth elemental material that intermixes with the Earth's water and is CIRCULATED.

"IT ASCENDS FROM THE EARTH TO HEAVEN, AND DESCENDS AGAIN TO EARTH, ..." The elementally laden waters evaporate and ascend to the high altitudes where they are charged by the Sun and impregnated under the influence of the Moon before they condense as rain, snow, hail, mist, or dew, and descend back to the earth. They have regained the power to germinate bringing forth new life that will contribute to nature's drama. This process repeats itself perpetually. All life forms cycle through their term from birth to death whether it be for millions of years, or milliseconds. It is a constant circulation that everyday, little by little, evolves the whole planet.

"... THUS YOU WILL POSSESS THE GLORY OF THE WHOLE WORLD ..." Here Hermes suggests that through personal observation one will understand Nature's processes, which are gloriously straightforward, and come to know her Laws. Knowledge of the Laws of nature are indispensable in guiding one through the maze of pitfalls one encounters in producing the Great Stone. The lack of true knowledge instead of wild and confusing theory is the reason so many try, but so few succeed.

For example, observe a rose: During the night, between midnight and three, especially during the full moon, the blossom will cover its petals with microscopic droplets of its precious oil. As dawn nears the descending dew condenses on the rose petals and bonds with the tiny droplets of rose oil. As the first rays of the sun strike and warm the petals the charged water evaporates and ascends into the air with its little passenger of oil. This scene recurs with every tree, plant, and flower in our gardens and meadows and regenerates our atmosphere with its sweet aroma, to say nothing of the medicinal advantage it lends to one who breaths the morning air [prana?]. This happens over the whole planet each day. It is the natural process of steam distillation.

The dew also carries trace minerals and metals that have been exposed through the natural processes of erosion and other surface disturbance.

"... AND ALL OBSCURITY WILL FLY AWAY." I, for one, agree with the sages; nature is our best teacher. We should study the relationship between the three kingdoms and focus on understanding natural dynamics. It is plain and simple once the concept begins to formulate and clarify. The books we pour over represent what someone else perceived - and they can keep us blind to our own light.

To quote a sage that I once studied, "You must break free from thinking with your ego and be like a child observing the wondrous domain you call Earth. Open your heart and be like an infant suckling your daily ration of Wisdom from her breast."

The Stones are made by artificially duplicating Nature's processes as long as we follow her Laws. Indeed, there is a place in this work for Astrology, Qabala, and Magic, but true alchemy has no better friend than Nature herself.

Man is an ignorant being; his knowledge is limited, but his ignorance is infinite. Ram Ashied


On the mental plane, after a stone has been successfully accomplished, a humbling sense of knowing occurs which brings with it understandings of those things pondered in vagueness and obscurity before. It marks a rite of passage that leaves one aware that the accomplishment was not and end of a quest, but rather a preparation for greater responsibility.

"THIS THING IS THE FORTITUDE OF ALL FORTITUDE,..." One's meditations are deeper and more profound. A bit more weight is felt spiritually but this is accompanied with joy and a sense of well being. Yet, one may feel more isolated as one's life changes due to changes in inner values and desires. This can mean changes in relationships and social choices. The FORTITUDE to meet these challenges is in you, nor are you alone because inner dimensional assistance is certainly evident.

On the physical plane the alchemists assure us that the Stones, both Major and Minor, when ingested in very small doses, strengthen the body organically by reinvigorating each system. This is accomplished on an atomic level in each cell by balancing all forces and bringing the cell's body, mind, and spirit into perfect harmony. Fortitude in the physical sense means that one regains the ability to meet all health and personal challenges with full strength.

"...BECAUSE IT OVERCOMES ALL SUBTLE THINGS,..." Diseases are incapable of taking root in the body, the power and virtue of the Stone augments the immune system and overwhelms them. The Philosopher's Stone is, of course, more permanent and more powerful than the plant stone.

Channels are opened as the body rejects its drosses and toxins. The chakras open allowing more vital hormone secretion to occur. The body actually transfigures to a higher state of energy. And the mind opens and expands becoming more psychically sensitive.

"...AND PENETRATES EVERY SOLID THING." On the mental plane this refers to the sages' claim that one can pierce the veil and perceive past and future clearly. One's mental power increases so that one may achieve a certain power and control over the elements, especially the weather.

On the physical, it is claimed by some who write of the virtues of the Philosopher's Stone that they have experienced the renewal of teeth, darkening of hair, renewed sexual potency and desire. Women who have passed menopause conceive and give birth in their fifties and sixties. Tumors and skin blemishes disappear, such as liver spots. Glasses are put away as normal eyesight returns.

In metal transmutation the stone transmutes a metal to its next highest level, tin to copper, copper to silver, silver to gold. According to the story of Bit Nur*, a light emitting crystal called a Billur, made by monastery alchemists, Chakimim, in the Himalayas, transmuted any metal exposed to its brilliant light into the next highest metal, silver to gold, for example. The author stated that the monks told him that their crystal was the TRUE Stone of Hermes.

Are these claims true? Only those who accomplish the glorious Stone will know.

*Paracelsus Research Society, Alchemical Laboratory Bulletins 1960-1972, Page 154.


He speaks here of All THINGS. Creation is a process that is still going on from minute to minute. A constant flow of energy expressing countless forms of objective existence that mirror the unseen. The Stones epitomize that concentrated power that is exercised every moment by Divine Mind. They are artificial, man made, but divinely directed, and yet they transmit the creative power of God.


Once the Stone(s) is in hand, its bearer will be directed from within as to its use - where, when, and how, and for whom. It has been claimed that the stone will make a dead branch flower, a blind person see, a tremor removed from one, palsy from another, and a barren field produce abundantly.


There is contention here as to his meaning. Does he mean that he has achieved mastery over his Body, his Mind, and his Spirit? Or could he mean he has gained mastery or been made a Magistery over Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury in Nature. Some think he means that he is a Master Alchemist, a Master Astrologer, and a Master Magician (Qabalist). Others believe that he is one of the early incarnations of Christ. Actually, we each must decide for ourselves.


I have no more to add.

For comparison I have included another version of the Emerald Tablet. It was first written in the Chaldaen language, then translated to German, and then later to English. It has come from the Chakimim of Bit Nur. According to the story, they sang this like a hymn.

Praise And Honor Be Unto Our Lord Who Created Heaven And Earth Through A Word. And He Created That Which Is Above Like Unto That Which Is Below And That Which Is Below Like That Which Is Above.

His Father Is The Sun, His Mother The Moon, And His Breath The Wind Blowed Gently Over The Earth Fructifying It.

And The Creatures From Below Mix Their Powers With Those From Above And They Beget A Wonderful Being.

Four Elements Does It Contain Within Itself.

In Its Earth Is Our Lord. In Its Water Is Our Lord. In Its Air Is Our Lord. In Its Fire Is Our Lord.

Earth, Water, Air, And Fire Pay Attention To His Will, And Obey The Law Of Our Lord.

Thus Is The World Created And The Name Of Our Lord Is The Key To Its Secret.