The story of Hermes is one of the central narratives described in many alternative histories, but most notably known as a Greek Olympian god. The debate as to whether this individual actually existed, and what they did remains a mystery.
Instead of trying to prove whether he was real or not, simply consider the what is said, the concepts behind the words. Taken this way, we can gain much meaning from the text, much like a fictional bedtime story.
Hermetic Philosophy, which reflects Natural Law principles, is strongly described in the below translations, and these deep truths manifest everywhere in our reality. Understanding them is like being handed a “manual” for life in the universe, we literally are given the keys to unlock the greatest mysteries about ourselves. Acting within these principles, indicates an honorable being who services themselves while servicing another, an Enlightened Sovereign, so to speak.
HISTORY OF THE TABLET
The Tablet probably first appeared in the West in editions of the psuedo-Aristotlean Secretum Secretorum which was actually a translation of the Kitab Sirr al-Asar, a book of advice to kings which was translated into latin by Johannes Hispalensis c. 1140 and by Philip of Tripoli c.1243. Other translations of the Tablet may have been made during the same period by Plato of Tivoli and Hugh of Santalla, perhaps from different sources.
The date of the Kitab Sirr al-Asar is uncertain, though c.800 has been suggested and it is not clear when the tablet became part of this work.
Holmyard was the first to find another early arabic version (Ruska found a 12th centruy recension claiming to have been dictated by Sergius of Nablus) in the Kitab Ustuqus al-Uss al-Thani (Second Book of the Elements of Foundation) attributed to Jabir. Shortly after Ruska found another version appended to the Kitab Sirr al-Khaliqa wa Sanat al-Tabia (Book of the Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature), which is also known as the Kitab Balaniyus al-Hakim fi’l-Ilal (book of Balinas the wise on the Causes). It has been proposed that this book was written may have been written as early as 650, and was definitely finished by the Caliphate of al-Ma’mun (813-33).
Scholars have seen similarities between this book and the Syriac Book of Treasures written by Job of Odessa (9th century) and more interestingly the Greek writings of the bishop Nemesius of Emesa in Syria from the mid fourth century. However though this suggests a possible Syriac source, non of these writings contain the tablet.
Balinas is usually identified with Apollonius of Tyna, but there is little evidence to connect him with the Kitab Balabiyus, and even if there was,the story implies that Balinas found the tablet rather than wrote it, and the recent discoveries of the dead sea scrolls and the nag hamamdi texts suggest that hiding texts in caves is not impossible, even if we did not have the pyramids before us.
Ruska has suggested an origin further east, and Needham has proposed an origin in China.
Holmyard, Davis and Anon all consider that this Tablet may be one of the earliest of all alchemical works we have that survives.
It should be remarked that apparantly the Greeks andEgyptians used the termtranslated asemerald’ for emeralds, green granites, “and perhaps green jasper”. Inmedieval times the emerald table of the Gothic kings of Spain, and the Sacro catino- a dish said to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba, to have been used at the last supper, and to be made of emerald, were made of green glass [Steele and Singer: 488].
0) Balinas mentions the engraving on the table in the hand of Hermes, which says:
1) Truth! Certainty! That in which there is no doubt!
2) That which is above is from that which is below, and that which is below is from that which is above, working the miracles of one.
3) As all things were from one.
4) Its father is the Sun and its mother the Moon.
5) The Earth carried it in her belly, and the Wind nourished it in her belly,
7) as Earth which shall become Fire.
7a) Feed the Earth from that which is subtle, with the greatest power.
It ascends from the earth to the heaven and becomes ruler over that which is above and that which is below.
14) And I have already explained the meaning of the whole of this in two of these books of mine.
[Holmyard 1923: 562.]
Another Arabic Version (from the German of Ruska, translated by ‘Anonymous’).
Twelfth Century Latin
Translation from Aurelium Occultae Philosophorum..Georgio Beato
Translation of Issac Newton c. 1680.
Translation from Kriegsmann (?) alledgedly from the Phoenician
From Sigismund Bacstrom (allegedly translated from Chaldean).
From Madame Blavatsky
From Fulcanelli (translated from the French by Sieveking)
From Fulcanelli, new translation
From Idres Shah
Hypothetical Chinese Original
On #3 Some Latin texts have meditatione (contemplation), others mediatione (mediation). Some texts have adaptatione (by adaptation), some have adoptionis (by adoption).
Hortulanus: “… the most true Sun is procreated by art. And he says most true in the superlative degree because the Sun generated by this art exceeds all natural Sun in all of its properties, medicinal and otherwise” (Davis modified by `Linden’)
A COMMENTARY OF IBN UMAIL
HERMUS said the secret of everything and the life of everything is Water…. This water becomes in wheat, ferment; in the vine, wine; in the olive, olive oil…. The begining of the child is from water…. Regarding this spiritual water and the sanctified and thirsty earth, HERMUS the great, crowned with the glorious wisdom and the sublime sciences, said [#1] Truth it is, indubtible, certain and correct, [#2] that the High is from the Low and the Low is from the High. They bring about wonders through the one, just as things are produced from that one essence by a single preparation. Later by his statement [#4] Its father is the Sun and its mother the Moon he meant their male and their female. They are the two birds which are linked together in the pictures given regarding the beginning of the operation, and from them the spiritual tinctures are produced. And similarly they are at the end of the operation. Later in his statement [#7 ?] the subtle is more honourable than the gross, he means by the subtle the divine spiritual water; and by the gross the earthly body. As for his later statement [#8] with gentleness and wisdom it will ascend from the earth to the sky, and will take fire from the higher lights, he means by this the distillation and the raising of the water into the air. As for his later statement [#8a] It will descend to the earth, containing the strength of the high and the low, he means by this the breathing in (istinshaq) of the air, and the taking of the spirit from it, and its subsequent elevation to the highest degree of heat, and it is the Fire, and the low is the body, and its content of the controlling earthly power which imparts the colours. For there lie in it those higher powers, as well as the earthly powers which were submerged in it.
Translation from Roger Bacon’s edition of Secretum Secretorum made c 1445
Translation of same source, made c. 1485.
1) The trwthe is so, and that it is no dowght,
2) that lower thyngis to hyer thyng, and hyer to lower be correspondent. But the Werker of myraclis is on Godde alone, fro Home descendyth euiry meruulus werk.
3)And so alle thyngis be creat of one only substauns, be an only dysposicion,
4) of home the fadyr is the sonne, and the mone the modyr,
5 ) qwyche bar her be the wedyr in the wombe. The erthe is priuyd fro her-to.
6 )This is clepyd or seyd the fadyr of enchauntmentis, tresur of myracclys, the
yessuer of vertuys.
7) Be a lytil it is made erthe.
7a) Depart that qwyche is erthly fro that qwyche is fi Fry, for that qwyche is sotel is mor wurthy han that qwyche is grose, and that rar, porous, or lyght, is mor bettyr than qwiche is thyk of substauns. This is done wyseli or dyscretly.
It ascendyth fro the erth in-to heuyn and fallyth fro heuyn in-to erth, and ther-of it sleth the ouyr vertu and the nedyr vertu, so it hath lorchyp in the lowe thyngis and hye thingis,
9) and thu lordschyppist vppeward and downward, and with the is the lyght of lyghtys. And for that alle derkness schal fle fro the.
10) The ovyr vetu ouircomyth alle, for euiry rar rhyng werkyth in to euiry thyk thyng.
11a) And aftyr the dysposicion of the mor world rennyth thys werking.
13) And for that Hermogines is clepyd threfold in filosophye, and of the meruellys of he world.
[See Manzalaoui 1977: 174-5]
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