1) TRUE, WITHOUT FALSEHOOD, CERTAIN, MOST CERTAIN.
The Emerald Tablet (ET) begins by stating that its words are
universally true. There are many, many levels of Truth, and the ET
here specifies that its words apply on all of these levels. In this
way, the ET gives us a key by which to test our understanding of its
words...if at any level of our experience, these words do not ring
true, then our understanding of them must needs be broadened.
WHAT IS ABOVE IS LIKE WHAT IS BELOW, AND WHAT IS BELOW, LIKE THAT
WHICH IS ABOVE. TO MAKE THE MIRACLE OF THE ONE THING.
Here the ET defines The One Thing as an Infinite Continuum. The term
above (or any of its variant translations) establishes two concepts:
1) the starting point from which there is an above
The term below likewise, establishes:
starting point from which there is a below
2) an unlimited
The statement that ABOVE IS LIKE WHAT IS BELOW, and
vise versa, places them on a continuum of alikeness. This creates an
Infinite Continuum with only one thing clearly defined -- the
Center, from which above and below stretch infinitely.
In an Infinite Continuum, Center occurs any and every who, what,
when, where and why. There is no point along the Continuum from
which above and below do not extend infinitely, and thus, equally.
In this sense, the Infinite Continuum is a One Thing.
I call this
One Thing: Self. It includes all things and all
not-things, and is perhaps the most inclusive and powerful Continuum
we can posit. Such a Continuum places us in relation to a bird in a
tree, an other person, a substance worked with in an alchemical
laboratory, an Archangel, disparate aspects of our personality, a
river, to essentially anything we can imagine.
Within the Continuum, there is no such thing as a miracle in that
the word implies an occurrence outside of Nature's Laws. The
perspective of Hermetics is that what we assume to be miraculous is
merely the interplay of Nature's Laws in ways that we do not
comprehend, and not a breaking of those Laws. With that in mind, the
ET's statement of the MIRACLE OF THE ONE THING, implies that only at
the level of the whole of the Infinite Continuum, is the truly
miraculous an actuality; and, that everything we do here within the
Continuum, is merely the manipulation of Nature's Laws.
3) AND AS ALL THINGS WERE MADE FROM THE CONTEMPLATION OF ONE, SO ALL
THINGS WERE BORN FROM ONE (by) ADAPTATION.
Having established the Infinite Continuum of Self -- The One Thing
-- the ET now turns to a discussion of the production of life within
this Continuum. The ET posits the ONE as "All Mind" and states that
all THINGS arise from the CONTEMPLATION (meditation) of this ONE.
Each of these THINGS , within the Continuum of Self, are
self-conscious aspects of the One, of the All Mind, mirroring the
power of the One, and must follow the methods of the One. So, as the
One "makes" THINGS by contemplation, these THINGS must then "birth"
what they desire by a similar process -- by adaptation of the
process followed by the One.
4) ITS FATHER IS THE SUN, ITS MOTHER IS THE MOON.
5) THE WIND CARRIED IT IN ITS WOMB (belly), THE EARTH BREAST FED
6) IT IS THE FATHER OF ALL WORKS OF WONDER IN THE WORLD.
The ET now describes this "adapted" process of creation. As it
applies to all things, my discussion here will of necessity, be able
to cover only a few aspects of its applicability.
The imagery used is that of the human generative process (Father,
Mother, Womb, Breast Fed), which is concurrently correlated to
geo-centric symbols (Sun, Moon, Wind/Air, Earth). As an equation, it
looks like this:
(Father/Sun + Mother/Moon + Wind/Womb + Earth/Breast)
= equals =
Father of all works of wonder in the world.
This is the archetype of Force (as opposed to Form), of light (as
opposed to dark), of Fire (as opposed to Water), of thought (as
opposed to physical matter). It is half of a polarity -- its
existence implying the simultaneous existence of its opposite pole
Force, energy, creative intent, Mind, Yod, whatever level of this
archetype one employs, it always seeks expression in Form. In an
Hermetic sense, each specific vibration seeks expression through the
levels of vibration which are directly below it. So each specific
vibration is the expression of that which lies above it, and
simultaneously, expresses itself through the levels below it.
creative process outlined in this section of the ET, is a "downward"
movement of Force into Form (the "upward" movement of Form into
Force, comes later). The sperm of the Father, seeks the egg of the
Mother; the rhythm of the Sun (12) is bound to the Earth by the
rhythm of the Moon (13); the Individuality expresses itself through
the personality; the mental infuses the astral; the light knows
itself only when piercing the dark; Chokmah enters Binah.
This is the archetype of in-Form-ing. It is the continuous movement
of energy down the scale of vibration, expressing itself through
ever denser manifestation. It receives the Sun's rays, changes them,
and then reflects them to the Earth; it wraps its Womb around the
egg which has captured the seed; it is the first Heh of
Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh; Binah transformed by the seed of Chokmah, from her
state of Dark Sterile Mother, to that of Bright Fertile Mother.
Creation is primarily a Mother's Work, and this is shown by the next
symbols which are aspects of the Mother archetype.
In classical Hermetic treatment of the Elements, Air is seen as the
product of Fire and Water, representing a synthesis of the two. Air
acts as the intermediary between Fire and Water, and is in effect,
produced by their interaction. Each, implies the existence of all
three -- they exist only in combination. If we posit Fire as
"upwardness", and Water as "downwardness", then Air would be a state
of non-movement, a center between the two.
Air has no movement of
its own accord, yet adopts any movement which is impressed upon it.
In the ET's equation, the movement impressed upon the Air is
downward. Here the Air is WIND, implying a Force behind it, and
stressing that it is an expression of this Force. This expression
acts as a WOMB, carrying the creation through gestation to birth.
The Air clearly acts here as the agency of a downward Force in its
accretion of Form.
In Qabbalistic terminology, this is Tiphareth as the product of
Chokmah and Binah; but in its active downward flow towards Malkuth.
The Vav of YHVH in its aspect of seeking downward expression through
the Heh-final. This is the inclusion of the other planetary
influences into our earthly experience by the cycles of Sun and
Moon. This is the Individual Self of the "Adept's consciousness",
which expresses itself through the personality and physical body.
Fire + Water + Air = Earth, is a common conception of the Element's
relationship; but at an archetypal level. Practically and
functionally however, Earth is experienced as an individual Element
just like Fire, or Water. This is the archetype of Form itself.
Whereas Water is the tendency to Form, Earth is the product of this
tendency, the final clothing given to Force in its descent into
expression. The Earth nourishes the creation, giving it solid and
This is Tiphareth clothed in Yesod, and manifest in Malkuth. The
Heh-final of YHVH. This is the Individual Self, expressed through
the personality, within a physical body.
Father of all works of wonder in the world:
These four Elements combined, plus the Fifth -- the conscious
awareness of the creator -- result in independent life. The ET
symbolizes this here by describing the result as a Father, which
brings us back to the beginning of our equation, like the Uroboros,
finding its end in its beginning in an endless cycle of self
discovery. This nascent Father is said to generate all works of
wonder in the world. Note the distinction here between works of
wonder and miracle, implying that within the Continuum, the Father
obeys the Laws of Nature.
Of paramount importance in the process of creation outlined in the
ET is the factor of the creator's conscious awareness. It is the
Fifth Element, the Quintessence, and though assumed throughout, it
is never directly named. While the expression of the higher through
the lower is a natural phenomena, it is only through the addition of
conscious awareness that it produces the Father of all works of
wonder in the world.
ITS POWER IS COMPLETE (integra) IF TURNED TOWARDS EARTH. IT WILL
SEPARATE EARTH FROM FIRE, THE SUBTLE FROM THE GROSS.
The product of the ET's downward equation of creation, is a Father;
or in an Elemental sense, a Fire. This is an active Force, though
clothed in denser layers of vibration than Father/Sun. This
Father/Fire is none other than the Quintessence clothed in physical
Form -- the power of conscious awareness as expressed through the
The ET states that this power of conscious awareness is *integra*
(whole, complete, entire) if *versa fuerit* (turned-toward, cast to)
the earth. This means that conscious awareness at the human level
(Father/Fire), re-establishes contact (implying then, a
participation in the Whole) with its more archetypal expressor
(Father/Sun), when it is turned inward to the Self clothed in
densest matter (Earth).
This turning inward upon itself, is what initiates the cycle of
return, and brings us to the next equation, that of Force arising
Whereas the ET's first equation was a downward one of the addition
of Form onto Force, this new Father causes an opposite action, one
of separation of Force from Form. The power of this introspection is
two-fold: A) it will separate Earth from Fire; and B) it will
separate the Subtle from the Gross.
With 'A', we see it separating the denser Earth (physical
manifestation) from the initial inspiration of its subtler Fire.
This is the Quintessence working upon itself, from the ground up, so
to speak. Its effectiveness begins from the starting point of its
densest manifestation, separating itself from its Self. This is a
very apt description of the process of human introspection, or of
alchemical putrefaction and fermentation. Here the Fire acts upon
the Whole, and separates the Earth from its Fire (itself),
consciously shedding its clothing of matter.
With the Fire thus freed from its Earth, the ET leads us to the
perspective of 'B', where there is a reaching down, and a separating
of the Subtle, this time, from the Gross. 'A'(Fire-minus-Earth) and
'B'(Gross-minus-Subtle) are the same processes, but on different
levels and as seen from different perspectives: 'A' from Below, and
'B' from Above. The action of the Father/Fire is one of separation
throughout, but in 'A' that action is a movement from Below toward
Above; and in 'B', it is an action from Above, reaching down into
Below to raise it to Above.
This outlines a double process of separation. First the earth is
removed from the Fire, which implies an ascent of conscious
awareness, from Earth to that of Fire. This Fire then acts upon
itself anew, separating its own essence from its Gross aspects. As a
whole, it is a process of the Father/Fire self-consciously releasing
its Self from Form -- almost a direct reversal of the initial
8) WITH GREAT CAPACITY
(Wisdom) IT ASCENDS FROM EARTH TO HEAVEN.
AGAIN IT DESCENDS TO EARTH, AND TAKES BACK THE POWER OF THE ABOVE
AND THE BELOW.
Conscious awareness, now liberated from its clothing of Form, rises
upward through the levels of vibration within the Continuum. It does
so with *magno ingenio* according to the ET. This term translates
roughly as "great (magno) natural ability or talent (ingenio)", and
is often posited as Wisdom. It is a very subtle force, one which
implies an inherent ability -- a natural aspect of the Self-realized
This ascent is from Earth, or the clothing of Form (the Below), to
Heaven (the Above), or a state of no-Form, and completes the ET's
second equation of 'Force from Form'.
The descent of Force into Form, and its subsequent ascent back to a
Form-less state, is however a process of a Self-conscious awareness,
an awareness that learns throughout the process. The Force that
originally descended into Form, is no longer the same, now that it
has ascended -- it has changed and been transformed by the
experience of Form. It now has the power, the Wisdom if you will, to
descend anew into Form, bringing with it the increased awareness of
its nature as a Force. Through its second descent into Form, Force
integrates its Above aspects within its Below aspects, and becomes a
clear expression of the whole Continuum of Above and Below (again we
are brought back to the beginning of our equation,
illustrating that the Uroboros is not merely a circle, but a
spiral). The result is a Self-aware Force, consciously clothed in
Form, intentionally uniting the Above with the Below.
9) THUS YOU WILL RECEIVE THE GLORY OF THE DISTINCTIVENESS (light of
Lights) OF THE WORLD. ALL OBSCURITY (darkness) WILL FLEE FROM YOU.
The ET presents a three-fold equation:
1) Force descends into Form in an act of creation (a four-fold
2) Force acts upon its in-Formed self, consciously ascending to a
Form-less state (a three-fold process); and
3) Self-realized Force descends anew into Form, seeking to
consciously express its Self therein (a one-step process).
Through this sequence, Force acquires a degree of Self-realization,
re-connects with the powers of its true source, and is transformed
into a new Father which receives the glory of the world.
Another active Force is produced, this time with the symbols of
"light" attributed to it (an important echoing of Father/Sun), and
is clearly a higher octave of the Father of all works of wonder in
the world (the Father/Fire). This new Father/Light, has the power of
Understanding and Wisdom, which illumines all darkness. Notice the
progressive shift from a physically active Force, to a mentally
10) THIS IS THE WHOLE MOST STRONG STRENGTH OF ALL STRENGTH, FOR IT
OVERCOMES ALL SUBTLE THINGS, AND PENETRATES ALL SOLID THINGS.
Here the ET describes this new Father/Light, the completely
Self-realized awareness. It does so in three parts, echoing the
three-fold pattern we see throughout.
Part 1: the whole most strong strength of all strength.
This is another triple-superlative, similar to the opening line of
true, without falsehood, certain, most certain. Strength implies a
usable storehouse of Force and here we see that this Force is
applicable on all levels. It is even effective with all other levels
of Force, as this Father/Light is the most strong of all the active
Forces within the Continuum. Please note the similarity between this
aspect of the Father/Light and the initial 4-fold process of
creation -- both are downwardly active, initiated from Above upon
Part 2: it overcomes all subtle things.
This is the Father/Light's upward power to surpass any
upward-tending thing. The second part of the ET's 3- fold equation,
that of the upward movement of Force from Form, is echoed here and
attributed as a power of the Father/Light.
Part 3: penetrates all solid things.
This is the Father/Light's downward power to inhabit (express itself
through) any denser vibration of matter. The active Force
represented here is equivalent to the third part of the ET's
equation, that of the conscious re-descent of Force into Form.
Father/Light, the product of the ET's three-fold equation, mirrors
the attributes of the One Thing, the whole of the Infinite
Continuum. It appears capable of an equal creativity, but only
*within* the Continuum -- an octave lower than the Miracle of the
One Thing -- an expression of it.
This, of course, implies an infinite, cyclic process of continual
re-creation, wherein this Father/Light becomes the Creatrix to a new
generation of Father/Light, and so on.
11) THUS WAS THE WORLD CREATED.
This is a very deep statement.
The Divine Pymander (Librum 1:Corpus
Hermeticum) describes a similar sequential, cyclic process of Force
descending into Form, becoming self-aware and then creative anew,
followed by another descent further into Form. The eventual result
is "the world". This is also seen in Qabbalah as the Kethric Light
Malkuth, and becomes creative anew at each step of the way.
This says something very important about the world around us. It
says that everything is alive. Every thing, every person, animal,
tree, rock, drop of water, pile of dung, everything, is alive and is
the product of the One Thing. Each thing has the power of the
Father/Light tucked away inside of it...no matter at what level of
manifestation we look, this is true, without falsehood, certain,
FROM THIS COMES MARVELOUS ADAPTATIONS OF WHICH THIS IS THE
The this from which come marvelous adaptations, is the world. Here
we see into the heart of Alchemy as the ET states that every natural
thing has the Father/Light within it, and each thing is therefore
the seed of its future self. It is at the level of marvelous
adaptations that we humans intervene, for we must, as physical
beings, work with the substance of the world. We work *within* the
Continuum, mirroring the powers of the One Thing, performing
marvelous adaptations as opposed to the miracle of the One Thing.
Conscious awareness within a physical body, is an example of Force
within Form, of the Above inhabiting the Below. This is what we have
to work with -- this is the world upon which we turn our Fire, our
Father/Light, and self-craft our future selves. What has preceded
this point in the ET, has been a description of the natural
processes of the formation of our
prima materia -- the world. Only
now do we come to the procedure by which we create our marvelous
adaptations (the Stone), and this is revealed in the two closing
THEREFORE I AM CALLED HERMES THRICE-CROWNED, BECAUSE I HAVE
THREE PARTS OF THE WISDOM OF THE WHOLE WORLD.
AND COMPLETE IS WHAT I HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE WORK OF THE SUN.
These lines break down to three sections in echo of the overall
three-fold nature of the ET:
A) Therefore I am called Hermes Thrice-Crowned --
Therefore implies a sense of consequence, and I am called implies a
second-hand knowing. This is the initial bringing of Force into
Form...the novice studying, praying and experimenting...the
Father/Light turning upon itself with its Fire, in cyclic adaptation
of the process of the One Thing...the seed rotting in the earth,
dynamizing the power which will inevitably spring forth.
Hermes Thrice-Crowned is a very potent and broad symbol; one which I
cannot do justice in the space of this short commentary. Briefly, it
is a symbol of the Three-In-One, an image of thesis, synthesis and
antithesis combined. It is Sun and Moon, and every thing that lies
between these two archetypes. More to the point in this context, is
that it represents the power that Center has within an Infinite
Continuum -- it can occur any where and/or every where, and is in
effect a mobile, self-directed agent of the Whole. That Hermes is
Thrice-Crowned, is an indication that this power is active on the
three levels of physical, astral and mental (Sal, Sulphur and
Section 'A)' clearly mirrors the first part of the ET's basic
equation: the creative descent of Force into Form, the inevitable,
natural result of which is the Father/Fire who initiates the
B) because I have (the) three parts of the Wisdom of the Whole
Here there is a sense of personal knowing, of I have, indicating
individual experience. The actual possession of the three Fathers is
implied by the term Wisdom, the Supernal Fire. And here we also see
that they are powerful *within* the Whole Continuum. This represents
the achievement of the second part of the ET's equation, that of the
ascent of Force from Form. There is also an indication that this
process is to be accomplished three times (mentally, astrally and
physically). Please note how this Wisdom of the Whole World is a
slightly different expression of the Father of all works of wonder
in the world (which I've designated with the term Father/Fire).
C) And complete is what I had to say about the Work of the Sun. --
As in part three of the ET's equation, the procedure of marvelous
adaptations is made complete, whole, entire (an echo of "integra")
by the conscious re-descent of Force into Form. Here this is
symbolized by the phrase what I had to say, which implies a
past-tense, intentional expression of an idea (Force) through words
(Form -- remember now, this was supposedly inscribed upon green
Work of the Sun is another broad symbol. In short, it points here to
the fact that this is an active process *within* the Continuum. The
Sun-Tiphareth connection points to this being a Yetziratic, or
creative, process, carried out by the Individual Self. In a
Qabbalistic sense, this constitutes a metallic Work, specifically
that of gold. It is furthermore Mercurial, in that it is
predominantly Fire mixed with Air (Helios). The Sun also implies a
specific rhythm, symbolically uniting the 4-fold Elements and the
3-fold Principles in its journey through the 12-fold zodiac.
This 3-fold procedure of marvelous adaptations is very similar to
the ET's archetypal equation; yet has distinct differences,
occurring as it does, on a lower octave *within* the Continuum.
And so the Emerald Tablet of Hermes ends. "Integra" by virtue of its
having finished with the decent of its essential Force into the Form
of instructions for our enlightenment.