The Path – July 1886

THE HERMETIC PHILOSOPHY: II

(Continued from June Number.)

The inscription said to have been found on the Smaragdine Tablet and to which reference was made in a former article, and which Dr. Everard refers to as containing the "Elixir of the philosophers," is further explained by the author of Isis, where it is also said "It is for the Hermetic student to watch its motions, to catch its subtile currents, to guide and direct them with the help of the Athanor, the Archimedean lever of the Alchemist." (1) It is further stated in plain words that this mysterious agent "is the universal magical agent, the astral light, which in the correlation of its forces furnishes the Alkahest, the philosophers' stone, and the elixir of life." (2) Now one great advantage to the student who follows carefully these hints is, that he soon discovers certain basic principles which reach far and wide, and in Hermetic language enable him to ascend from Earth to Heaven, and descend from Heaven to Earth, not in a vague, fanciful way, but as applicable to physical phenomena as to philosophical synthesis. These basic principles are not hypothesis, they are the first principles of Nature, as manifested in the phenomenal universe, a thread or clue to the labyrinth of phenomena.

There is a vast difference between modern and ancient science in regard to the Ether: The former hypothecates it to bridge a gap in phenomena and at once, as if ashamed of its weakness, turns its back upon it. Not so our ancient Hermetic brethren. Modern speculation regarding a fourth dimension of space apprehends the necessity for something beyond the old conception, as does physical science. And yet the latter reaches no solid ground, though the problem lies in the rubbish derived from analytical science, and the necessity which has compelled it to pay tribute. There is a logical, uniform, invariable antithesis in all manifested nature, which at once suggests the unmanifested. Sometimes the change of a letter or an accent in a word or its division into syllables produces wonderful results, e.g., atonement, at-one-ment. So here in the phenomenal universe, nothing and no-thing are not synonymous. To say that the ether tills all space, penetrates the densest matter, and gives rise by emanation to the whole phenomenal universe, and yet that it is nothing is nonsense, but that it is no-thing is perfectly true. The ether is to the phenomenal universe what the 0 is to the mathematician, nothing in itself and yet from association, implication or involution, it enters into even form and quantity. Oken has shown (3) that there are really two zeros, or that zero exists as 0+ and 0–, and even here begins the science of symbolism in the ancient Mathesis. It is in this shoreless ocean of ether that suns and solar systems are suspended. It is the alkahest or universal solvent from which all forms and qualities of matter and life proceeds, and into which they return. It is luminous, and yet the abode of darkness, the Unmoved Mover of Plato.

Take now the three dimensions of space, and we find the idea of length, breadth and thickness are associated with objects. Where there is no object upon which the eye can rest, we have then no length, no breadth, no thickness, i.e., Ether, the antithesis of objective forms in which occur all phenomena. This ether is called the Mirror of Isis, because in it are impressed or mirrored all forms. When these forms are clothed upon then occurs, first, a positing; second, motion; third, the "picture" in the ether is involved and the outer material shape evolved. Nay, there is no first, second, third about it, for all occurs coincidently. The last analysis of physics is matter, force and motion; and these three, inseparable on the physical visual plane, resolve back into the ocean of ether, which contains them all potentially, and which sends them out as an indissoluble trinity. Compared with matter then, the ether is transcendental, and yet we cannot say it is nothing, as has already been pointed out. Now all life, all matter, all forms, are in their essence cyclic. This is readily seen in the colloidal forms incident to organic life, but even in crystalline forms, though often overlooked, it is none the less apparent.

In relation to objective manifestation, preserving the idea of cyclic form, the ether is spoken of as the center which is everywhere, and the circumference which is nowhere.

Proceeding now with the idea of center and circumference (as yet only an idea) let us imagine a globule of protoplasm to spring instantly into visual existence. The act of positing was geometrical, i.e., "position without extension." Let this positing represent force, and extension represent matter, typically, (in all directions) but this tension and extension begets motion, all together; creation, from the hitherto "without form and void" i.e., the ether.

What was the immediate coefficient of the positing? a picture, a Divine idea, an essential form, projected in the ether. This idea is now being clothed upon, or involved in matter, and coincidently the outer material shape and structure is being evolved. Here is an equation being solved, and from this on, it is easy to trace what occurs even under a good microscope. We are, however, interested in principles rather than processes, therefore we will preserve our typical sphere with its center and circumference.

We shall presently come back to the Smaragdine inscription, and then be able to see what a revelation it contains, and what a magical key it affords to unlock the doors of knowledge.

(To be continued.)

FOOTNOTES:

1. Isis Unveiled, p. 507, vol. I. (return to text)

2. Ibid. (return to text)

3. Physio-philosophy. (return to text)


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