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The Emerald TabletComplete  Philosophy
The origin of the Hermes' Emerald Tablet has posed just as much of a mystery as does its interpretation.  The Emerald Tablet is the cornerstone of western alchemical thought.  Alchemy is the practical application of the Hermetic Philosophy which is contained, in total, in its 13 succinct portions.  Hermes Trismegistus (thrice great), a supreme magus, is the author of the transcendent masterpiece called "The Emerald Tablet" which is the most revered magical / transcendental writing in all of Western mysticism.  The date of its origin is unknown, however, some translations of the tablet go back to the 12th century and much earlier.  The Emerald Tablet has challenged many of the greatest minds the world has ever produced, and numerous commentaries have been offered.  Sir Isaac Newton's draft of The Emerald Tablet is reproduced below. A version in modern english follows that of Sir Isaac Newton and I have included my own translation /commentary.


The Emerald Tablet
Isaac Newton
1. Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
2. That wch is below is like that wch is above & that wch is above is like yt wch is below to do ye miracles of one only thing.
3. And as all things have been & arose from one by ye mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
4. The Sun is its father, the moon its mother, the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth its nourse.
5. The father of all perfection in ye whole world is here.
6. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
7. Seperate thou ye earth from ye fire, ye subtile from the gross sweetly wth great indoustry.
8. It ascends from ye earth to ye heaven & again it desends to ye earth and receives ye force of things superior & inferior.
9. By this means you shall have ye glory of ye whole world & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
Its force is above all force. ffor it vanquishes every subtile thing & penetrates every solid thing.
10. So was ye world created.
11. From this are & do come admirable adaptaions whereof ye means (Or process) is here in this.
12. Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of ye philosophy of ye whole world.
13. That wch I have said of ye operation of ye Sun is accomplished & ended.

 

The Emerald Tablet of Hermes 
(Modern Version)
1       True, without falsehood, certain and most true, 
2        that which is above is as that which is below and that which is below is as that which is above, for the performance of the miracles of the One Thing. 
3        And as all things are from One, by the mediation of One,
          so all things have their birth from this One Thing by adaptation. 
4        The Sun is its father, the Moon its mother, the Wind carries it in its belly, its nurse is the Earth. 
5        It is the father of all perfection, or consummation of the whole world. 
6        Its power is complete if it be turned into earth. 
7        Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, deftly, and with great ingenuity. 
8        It ascends from earth to heaven and descends again to earth, and receives the power of the superiors and of the inferiors so thou hast the glory of the whole world and all obscurity will flee before you. 
9        This is the fortitude of all fortitude, overcoming every subtle thing and penetrating every solid thing. 
10      This is how the world was created. 
11      Hence were all wonderful adaptations produced in this way. 
12      Therefore am I called Hermes Trismegistus, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world. 
13      What I have to tell concerning the operation of the Sun is complete.
  • The following is my interpretation / commentary on The Emerald Tablet...  

  • The Emerald Tablet Contemporary
    1        The following is true and, of all truths, it is the truest 
    2        Everything, all of the pairs of opposites, is an expression of The One Thing...the "One Thing" being what Man calls "God". 
    3       The "One Thing" is the mediator and for Man to have a second birth he must adapt himself to the mediations of The One. ("Not my will but thine be done."
    4       The Sun is its' father because the Sun is a symbol of the soul or creative power ("I AM the light"), the moon was its' mother because the moon is a symbol of the body which, like the moon, has no light of its own...the wind carries it in its' belly because it is a spirit...its' nurse is the Earth, the nurturing garden in which Man was created. 
    5        Its desire for perfection brings it forth from the womb (egg, crypt, tomb) of matter, 
    6        In its' original "Adamic" condition it has dominion over all created things, 
    7        To ascend from "the below" to "the above" the fire/light/soul/spirit/consciousness is distilled from the relatively gross physical body, gently and exercising great ingenuity it weans itself from undue material and sense-based desires, 
    8        It ascends from the physical to the spiritual and, formulating an enlightened desire, it incarnates once again, possessing the powers of both heaven and earth, blessed with the glory of the whole world and free of all obscurity, 
    9        It is eternal and is the matrix upon which everything, both subtle and solid, is manifest.
    10     This is how the world was created....spirit into form. 
    11     All wonderful adaptations are produced in this way...desire...patient surrender...and manifestation, 
    12     Therefore, I AM called Hermes Trismegistus, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world, being 
    1) spirit  2) consciousness  and 3) form 
    13     What I have to tell concerning the operation of the Soul (Sol/Sun) is complete.
    Notes:
    -    Alchemy is ostensibly the art of extracting gold from lead.  Alchemy, in reality, is the art of extracting the spirit (gold) from the body (lead or "stone").  The work of alchemy is conducted by the indwelling consciousness working within the auspices of 'Natural Law'. 
    -    The "art" of alchemy is also symbolized by an "emerald".  An emerald is something of great worth extracted from the earth and mirrors the true work of the Hermetic practice of alchemy, i.e., extracting something of great worth (the spirit-consciousness) from the physical body.
    -    The physical body is "The Prime Matter" which must, first, be divided in two (splitting the ADAM) for without the awareness (faith) of the spirit, the body remains intact and incapable of practicing the Hermetic Arts.
    -    The two parts that the body is split into are: spirit and form ('horse and rider' is an apt metaphor).  Consciousness mediates between spirit (The Above) and form (The Below).
    -    The color of 'The Tablet's' emerald is green, which is composed of two chromatic opposites: yellow and blue.  
    The emerald is a symbol of "en-LIGHT-ened" Man.  
    Man, according to the Hermetic Philosophy, is a physical form (symbolized by the moon because the body, like the moon, is a baron wasteland without the spirit or "light" of the 
    Sun / spirit) and is composed of two seeming opposite forces: spirit and matter.  Spirit-Consciousness is symbolized by "yellow gold" and the 'body' is symbolized by the color blue (the chromatic opposite of yellow/gold).  
    Emerald Green is the color of the ideal blend, and it's presence indicates the successful production of a 'living soul'.
     
    Therefore, I AM called Hermes Trismegistus, 
    having the three parts of the philosophy 
    of the whole world, 


    1) spirit  2) consciousness  3) form

     
    The pair-of-opposites-theme that compose Man is also repeated in the sacred symbols of the Star of David which is composed of two eternally interlocked and opposing triangles.  The Christian cross, which is composed of two opposing lines, which meet at 'the heart' is also an Hermetic symbol.  The essence of both symbols is a deft balance that must exist between the pairs of opposites. 
            The Old and New Testaments, together, contain the complete Hermetic Philosophy.
    Moses "freed the slaves" from the ravages and demands of material possessions by leading his people, in a circle, in the desert for 40 years.  He "fathered" one generation of followers who matured being unattached to material possessions (material mindset) and the ever-present drudgery of being a nomad with "too much stuff".  
    After Moses came Christ, who, using love as the great dissolver of self, frees his followers from the drudgery of having a self (another "stone") that was separated from "The One"...i.e. the "moon" without the LIGHT of the Sun.    Lose the bondage of material desires and then lose the bondage of the physical form and all of its ridiculous demands and return to (the above) spirit. 
    Conclusion.... we are in the "underworld"   ("the below") of gross physical form and, despite its delights, it is "hellish" compared to the heavenly "above".   What keeps us here in "the below" is material desire (objects and sense based pleasures) rather than spiritual desires.
     In fact, in esoteric Christianity, the five wounds of the Christ represent the five senses which keep the spirit "crucified" in the sense-based world and chained to death and temporal considerations.  The crown of thorns represents "non-spiritual" (material) thinking and the condition of those who seek a kingdom in the "place of the skulls" (Golgatha), until they are released by a perfect act of surrender.  
    Surrender to 'The One' ("Into your hands I command my spirit") produces the spiritual disposition that creates the opportunity to be "mediated" by the Creator ("The One Thing") and lifted into (the above) perfect balance. It frees the consciousness by "distilling" it (alchemy) out of the morass of a purely material cosmology. 
    The mystery of "The Last Supper" and the Passover "Seder" are two rituals depicting the alchemical process of the transmutation of the lower nature (unleavened bread....not yet "risen") by the indwelling spirit.....the metaphorical "consumption" of the cravings of the "flesh and blood" (bread and wine) by the higher spiritual nature....removing the dross (impurities) from the gold....eating the "bitter herbs" of the ego......and rising out of (the purgation process or passing over) this "reality" into Paradise or The Promised Land. 
    The "prize" for the successful completion of The Great Work?  Eternal life!  The Holy Grail!  The Fountain of Youth!  Paradise! The Return to Eden! The Promised Land!  Atlantis Rising!  The Return of the Goddess! The fulfillment of all promises. 
    In essence, alchemy and its symbolic processes reveal the key to the mystery of the resurrection. 


    Therefore, I AM called Hermes Trismegistus,
    having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world,

    being 1) spirit / Sun HE
    2) consciousness / Soul ME
    and 3) form / Moon HER
    and " S " (plurality)
    for the myriad "adaptations" and expressions of "The One",
      I AM called Hermes

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    John Charles Webb, Jr.- ©Copyright  2009 - All Rights Reserved - United States of America