3922 – Reproduction print of Hermes Trismegistus

Physical description:
This print is a reproduction, printed on glossy poster style paper. It is around the size of an A4 piece of paper. It is framed within a white frame.
Museum classification:
Ritual Magic
Size:
41cm x 30cm
Information:

This black and white reproduction image was framed for display in the Museum's 2018 exhibition "Dew of Heaven: Objects of Ritual Magic."  The original image is probably sixteenth or seventeenth century and seems to relate to alchemy (the sun/moon/fire are alchemical symbols).  Another famous image of Hermes Trismegistus is on the floor of Siena Cathedral.  In that representation, Hermes is described as a contemporary of Moses.

The following text is taken from the exhibition guidebook;

The origins of Ritual Magic – The Corpus Hermeticum

“Hermeticism is a religion without temples or liturgy followed in the mind alone.” Frances Yates

Ritual Magic is largely based on the Hermetic texts or the Corpus Hermetica.

They are said to contain the oldest wisdom and to be the oldest books. They

were believed to be ancient (older than the pyramids) and their contents may well

be but the earliest examples date from the 2nd century AD. They are undeniably

old but so far they have not been proven to be as old as has been claimed.

The texts always involve Hermes Trismegistus: he is either the writer or he

appears in them. This is why they are called the Hermetica and why Ritual

Magic is sometimes called Hermeticism.

 

Hermes Trismegistus “king of all knowledge and father

and teacher of all.” Corpus Hermeticum

Hermes Trismegistus may have been a real person. He is sometimes said to

have been an Ancient Egyptian: a sage, a priest, a scholar. He may have written

some of the texts that are said to have been written by him. This is what people

believed until the 1600s and it could be true but it seems unlikely given the

historical evidence. Ritual Magic is sometimes known as the way of Hermes or

the wisdom of Hermes.

 

What seems more likely is that an ancient God of Wisdom became known as

Hermes Trismegistus. It is probable that Hermes Trismegistus started out as the

God Thoth (Ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom, Writing and Trickery). When

the Greeks encountered Ancient Egyptian culture they called Thoth Hermes.

The Romans later called Hermes Mercury (sometimes Hermes Trismegistus is

called Hermes Mercurius). He is also later associated with the Biblical Enoch.

Hermes Trismegistus mean “thrice great Hermes”. This may be because he had

three roles: priest, scholar and king or it may be because he lived three times or it

may be because three is a powerful magical number. All accounts agree, he was

wise, the source of wisdom: “…the first to bring language to perfection; he named many

nameless things, invented the alphabet…He was the first to perceive order in the stars…”

Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica

 

Things Hermes Trismegistus is said to have done:

  • Built the Pyramids, taught Ancient Egyptian priests, taught Isis and Osiris (the Gods of civilisation)
  • When he died he became the planet Mercury
  • Built an amazing city with moving statues
  • Received a book from the angels and passed it to men worthy of its secrets
  • Wrote over 30,000 books according to some claims
  • Teacher of all natural philosophers, surpassed Plato, fore-runner of Christ,forefather of philosophy and medicine, saviour of wisdom after the Flood (including the language of God)
  • He will lead man to a new happiness which is the oldest original happiness:a Golden Dawn

 

In Medieval and Renaissance Magic (and alchemy), Hermes Trismegistus became

a hugely important figure. The Egyptians were seen as the most advanced

magical society and “The Egyptians traced all knowledge back to Hermes Trismegistus.” (Florian Ebeling) 

He was the Egyptian supersage and it was believed that Moses had been taught

by the Ancient Egyptian priests (who studied the ways of Hermes) so all Jewish

magic also came from Hermes.

 

A key idea was that he knew ancient truths. That he lived three times and each time

he did his best to preserve ancient wisdom and hand it down to those who were

worthy. He was said to have written his wisdom in the hieroglyphs or on a pillar or

a tablet or even on a gemstone. Ritual magicians and alchemists spent a lot of time

searching for these items and trying to decipher the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

 

Resource:
Object
Materials:
Paper, framed in glass and wood
Copyright ownership:
All posters.co.uk

This black and white reproduction image was framed for display in the Museum's 2018 exhibition "Dew of Heaven: Objects of Ritual Magic."  The original image is probably sixteenth or seventeenth century and seems to relate to alchemy (the sun/moon/fire are alchemical symbols).  Another famous image of Hermes Trismegistus is on the floor of Siena Cathedral.  In that representation, Hermes is described as a contemporary of Moses.

The following text is taken from the exhibition guidebook;

The origins of Ritual Magic – The Corpus Hermeticum

“Hermeticism is a religion without temples or liturgy followed in the mind alone.” Frances Yates

Ritual Magic is largely based on the Hermetic texts or the Corpus Hermetica.

They are said to contain the oldest wisdom and to be the oldest books. They

were believed to be ancient (older than the pyramids) and their contents may well

be but the earliest examples date from the 2nd century AD. They are undeniably

old but so far they have not been proven to be as old as has been claimed.

The texts always involve Hermes Trismegistus: he is either the writer or he

appears in them. This is why they are called the Hermetica and why Ritual

Magic is sometimes called Hermeticism.

 

Hermes Trismegistus “king of all knowledge and father

and teacher of all.” Corpus Hermeticum

Hermes Trismegistus may have been a real person. He is sometimes said to

have been an Ancient Egyptian: a sage, a priest, a scholar. He may have written

some of the texts that are said to have been written by him. This is what people

believed until the 1600s and it could be true but it seems unlikely given the

historical evidence. Ritual Magic is sometimes known as the way of Hermes or

the wisdom of Hermes.

 

What seems more likely is that an ancient God of Wisdom became known as

Hermes Trismegistus. It is probable that Hermes Trismegistus started out as the

God Thoth (Ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom, Writing and Trickery). When

the Greeks encountered Ancient Egyptian culture they called Thoth Hermes.

The Romans later called Hermes Mercury (sometimes Hermes Trismegistus is

called Hermes Mercurius). He is also later associated with the Biblical Enoch.

Hermes Trismegistus mean “thrice great Hermes”. This may be because he had

three roles: priest, scholar and king or it may be because he lived three times or it

may be because three is a powerful magical number. All accounts agree, he was

wise, the source of wisdom: “…the first to bring language to perfection; he named many

nameless things, invented the alphabet…He was the first to perceive order in the stars…”

Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica

 

Things Hermes Trismegistus is said to have done:

  • Built the Pyramids, taught Ancient Egyptian priests, taught Isis and Osiris (the Gods of civilisation)
  • When he died he became the planet Mercury
  • Built an amazing city with moving statues
  • Received a book from the angels and passed it to men worthy of its secrets
  • Wrote over 30,000 books according to some claims
  • Teacher of all natural philosophers, surpassed Plato, fore-runner of Christ,forefather of philosophy and medicine, saviour of wisdom after the Flood (including the language of God)
  • He will lead man to a new happiness which is the oldest original happiness:a Golden Dawn

 

In Medieval and Renaissance Magic (and alchemy), Hermes Trismegistus became

a hugely important figure. The Egyptians were seen as the most advanced

magical society and “The Egyptians traced all knowledge back to Hermes Trismegistus.” (Florian Ebeling) 

He was the Egyptian supersage and it was believed that Moses had been taught

by the Ancient Egyptian priests (who studied the ways of Hermes) so all Jewish

magic also came from Hermes.

 

A key idea was that he knew ancient truths. That he lived three times and each time

he did his best to preserve ancient wisdom and hand it down to those who were

worthy. He was said to have written his wisdom in the hieroglyphs or on a pillar or

a tablet or even on a gemstone. Ritual magicians and alchemists spent a lot of time

searching for these items and trying to decipher the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.