The Perennial Philosophy
The Hermeticism of the Hermetic Fellowship is also called the Western Esoteric Tradition, and embraces that essential outpouring of the Light known as thePhilosophis Perennis, the Prisca Theologia, the Wisdom Tradition, and the Ageless Wisdom. Esoteric legend holds that this is a body of spiritual teachings that have been passed down through the millennia from generation to generation, teacher to student. The Tradition is said to have been the inner impetus for the blossoming of arts and sciences in many ages and the common inspiration of that which is truest in the world’s religions .
Hermetics are Seekers — Seekers of Divine Truth, Seekers of Wisdom, Seekers of Understanding, Seekers of Gnosis. Hermetic spiritual curiosity encourages openness and tolerance of the ways and spiritual paths of others. This curiosity may be partially satisfied through books. As a literate and literary tradition, Hermeticism holds that as seekers we can benefit through the recorded experiences and insights of others — as well as through the mediation of a living teacher and/or a group of fellow seekers.
But it is not enough to simply read about the spiritual. We will gain little without genuine, personal experience. Therefore, while we highly recommend personal study and teaching, we also stress the irreplacable value of participation in the spiritual through ritual, meditation, and other spiritual practices. The religious devotion of one’s choice will prove extremely valuable in one’s growth as well .
As Above, So Below
Hermetics consider the Divine to be both immanent and transcendent. The Divine is within all things in the manifested Universe (notably including ourselves), and beyond them as well. Because of the interconnection between ‘above’ and ‘below,’ what happens on a spiritual level has consequences in the material. Conversely, what happens in the material can have consequences in the spiritual.
Creating equilibrium between all these things — matter and spirit, body and soul, within and without, night and day, in fact, all polarities — is pivotal to the spiritual Work of the Hermetic. Balance is the key to growth .
All is Divine
Since the Divine is in all things, all is Divine. Through contemplation and understanding of the Universe, including ourselves, through prayer, aspiration, and gnosis (or sacred ‘knowing’), human beings can become more ‘god-like’ and eventually come to reunite with the Divine. Many Hermetics do not believe this goal can be achieved during a single lifetime, and some hold that this ideal is not fully attainable while in the physical body. Attitudes toward reincarnation vary.
In the ancient Hermetica, you will find two different attitudes toward the Universe, which may be distinguished (as by Frances Yates) as optimistic and pessimistic. The optimistic attitude posits a Divine and basically good Universe — although it recognizes the many trials we and all things undergo. The pessimistic attitude sees matter as a distraction from spirit and because of this, qualitatively evil. The Hermeticism of the modern Fellowship is decidedly of the optimistic school .
Nature Reveals the Divine
To the modern Hermetic, Nature is the Divine teacher, the Revealer of the Mysteries. A Rosicrucian motto puts it this way, “Art is the Priestess of Nature.” Thus, in order to accomplish his or her spiritual Art, the Hermetic must also serve Nature as a Priest or Priestess. The physical world is the manifestation or vessel of Divine Power and Love, and we are uniquely entrusted with caring for that vessel.
There is an esoteric tradition that when Adam (i.e.,Humanity) fell, in one sense Nature fell with him. By redeeming Adam through our own spiritual growth and development, we also redeem Nature. The converse is also true: by redeeming Nature, we redeem ourselves. This idea provides one basis for Hermetic environmentalism. In return for our honor and our care, Nature reveals Her Divine Self as an infinitely profound symbol for the spiritual journey. In the rhythms of the Earth and the cycles of the Sun, the Moon, and the Planets, the awesome structure of the Universe, the complementary miracles of birth and death, the Hermetic finds the Divine unveiled — and celebrates
The Will to the Light
Human beings have a unique place in the Divine pattern because of our Will. We have the ability to aspire to the Divine, and this we must do in order to attain to the Divine. A seeker must want to find. A philosopher must desire to know. And furthermore, she or he must use the power of Will to accomplish this. Hermeticism takes an optimistic view of the individual human being as well. Encouraged by Divine Love and through the use of the considerable human power of desire and Will, everyone has the ability to achieve union with her or his Higher Self, and eventually to reunite with the Divine .