Hermes the Messenger, electrical charge!
Conveys hidden meanings, otherwise barred.
CHAPTER I: THE MAGUS
As Trump I, the Magus is the Initiator of the transformational process.
The internal flow of archetypal processes is like a musical symphony.
It is nonlinear, complex and dynamic. It is a flow of pure spontaneous
creativity, unfolding possibilities. Individual archetypes are seen
as the various instruments within that melody. While most are easily
identified, Hermes remains the most vague to grasp and to truly understand.
He is the most diffuse because he is the translator, the magician, the
shape-shifter, the trickster even liar, the chameleon. He is ithyphallic;
his wayside shrines called 'herms' glorified the penis in ancient
times. Wearing an erect phallus fetish was believed to bring good
luck. Exploring the creative consciousness flow is much like being
in a foreign country. We simply do not speak the language. Alchemy
and magick were the psychological languages of the past. Hermes acts
as our communicator, a guide or mentor to deliver messages between gods
and men, divine and mortal -- like a prototypical winged angel -- a psychopomp
Since our attention is usually on the message, not the message-bringer,
we seldom realize it is the magician who pulled the rabbit out of the hat.
We loose the image of what Hermes is when he delivers the message.
When we are immersed in the stream of consciousness, we forget that not
only are we receiving a communication from a specific god, but Hermes's
translation of that message is also present. And it is our individual
reaction to that complex which forms the musical symphony.
His method of communications is through a system of correspondences.
These acausal relationships are experienced as synchronicity. Synchronistic
events are those subjective experiences that make up life's meaningful
coincidences. Hermes is the magician who has the ability to cross
dimensional boundaries, as a mediator between the human and the divine,
the personal psyche and the unconscious.
His realm includes the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual
planes of consciousness. When considering Hermes, remember that "the
medium is the message." He is the archetype of information
theory--how information controls and patterns energy. He is the mentor
of the information age.
As Tom Lyttle puts it, "My higher-intelligence semantics... well it
goes a little like this: Man is made in God's image, and while not equal
to God can do everything Jesus did and more, so Jesus told all of us many
times. So we are both higher-intelligence in real-time, plus HI echoing
itself backwards in time, retrocausally. That way it seeds itself all ways
across time as all potential. So we have feedback and feedforward in our
physical neural-nets - our minds are only partly physical, however. The
other parts of human consciousness, "mind-at-large" if you will... exist
as orthogonal zip-files, in hyperspace...in dreamland.
That is, Godhood is enfolded in each as coded-language/neural-net geometries.
parts are physical, other parts hyperdimensional. We deconstruct, defrag,
unzip, decode, decipher etc. and find the obvious - ourselves, then our
higher-selves, then God, who has been sitting in our hearts waiting for
us, all along, smiling."
Much the same information transduction process occurs in our lives when
we translate ideas into action or live what we aspire to. We can
manipulate our reality and harness our energies, through concentration
on purpose. Through this means we have the ability to change our
desires into a new reality through skill, preparation, effort, persistence,
commitment and integrity. We need to be aware where we are focusing
our energy; what our objectives are; how we are communicating with others,
and what we want others to see and believe. We need to let Spirit
guide that process of unfolding potential.
The Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus was full of this metaphysical spiritual
power. He is the godfather of all the Hermetic Arts, the mystic arts
and occult powers, as well as science. He has power over language,
writing, and signs like his predecesor, the Egyptian god, Thoth.
The Hermetica included works on magic, alchemy, astrology, healing, gnosis,
theurgy, ritual and philosophy. These texts were based on notions
of sympathetic magic, that like substances sharing an essence could influence
one another through resonance effects. Likewise the hypnotic and
magnetic qualities of charismatic individuals can create rapport with others
to influence them.
It has been said (Mulholland, The Art of Illusion, 1944) that,
"Magic is the pretended performance of those things which cannot be done.
The success of a magician's simulation of doing the impossible depends
upon misleading the minds of his audiences. This, in the main, is
done by adding, to a performance, details of which the spectators are unaware,
and leaving out others which they believe you have not left out.
In short a performance of magic is largely a demonstrations of the universal
reliability of certain facts of psychology."
Just as the trump number of the Magician is I, in Hermetic philosophy,
God is One and the creator of all things which continue to depend on Him.
Everything is part of God, and God is in everything, his creative activity
continuing unceasingly. All things are one and the pleroma of being
is indestructible. Divine powers knit together the energies of the
sun, planets and stars, and they operate on all bodies, animate or inanimate.
This is the notion of cosmic sympathy. This doctrine of sympathy applies
to man in both body and spirit, in the magico-religious worldview of The
It is well known that all mass is charged; thus everything is in one sense
electricity. Hermes is the polarity charge on the zygote at the instant
of fertilization. As pure information, Hermes is the DNA code, messenger
RNA, translating from the virtual to the physical realms. He is the
embryonic nervous system, and the electrical charge traveling through that
Electrical signals mediate chemical changes in the body. Since the
charge moving through the body is directly related to physical chemistry,
Hermes is also the "chemical messenger." An excellent example of
Hermes in this aspect is as a hormone. Hormones affect every aspect
of human physiology, from growth to metabolism, organ functioning, sexuality,
Personalities dominated by the perspective of Hermes seem to be interested
in the hidden side of things, the enfolded or implicate aspect. Implicate
comes from the Latin word implicio, to enfold or imply. It
is that aspect of reality which lies behind the "veil" of manifestation.
These individuals see themselves as the carriers of the secret codes or
lore, of things that are not on the surface.
Hermes, as the Trickster, has a dark side, like all archetypes. The
behavior patterns of the Hermes-dominated person may lead into his opportunistic
characteristic pursuits. Hermes rules merchants, thieves, and salespersons.
Hermes is also the god of travelers who inspires an incurable wanderlust.
He is the prime motivator behind compulsive questing, the search for something--the
personal Holy Grail.
Another Hermetic role is to seek out and convey the hidden messages and
meanings in synchronous events. These meaningful coincidences, used
as a form of personal development (pathworking), serve as a form of metaphorical
perception. It means seeking the hidden archetypal patterns in the
apparent chaos of daily life. In this way, the Tree of Life with
its paths, serves as an objective guide to the unconscious--a consciousness
map of the deep psyche. Hermes is also the gods who brings revelations,
whether through depth psychology or the interpretations of divinations
such as I Ching or astrology.
Looking for the god in a disease, Hermes' style is seen in schizophrenia,
as seen in the movie "A Beautiful Mind," about physicist
John Nash. This style thrives on plural meanings, cryptic double-talk,
in escaping definitions, and psychically detaching body parts. The
dissociation aspect of "falling apart" makes possible a new style of reflection
in the psyche--a change in attraction from one archetype to another.
Hermes' particular form of mysticism opens the doors to the transformation
of mysticism into theurgy. It can degrade into thaumaturgy -- the attempt
to influence or control the physical plane -- mundane magic. Then
the master of the secret "names" himself takes on the exercise of power
in the way described in the various magical and theurgical procedures of
which this literature is full. There is a fine line between magic
and mysticism, especially in the use of divine names in mystical prayers
and magic operations -- the danger of slipping from "good, inward" mystical
practices to "degraded, outward" magic is a constant threat which, to Scholem,
must be avoided.
While the main goal of mysticism is an experience of another consciousness,
the use of magical powers only reinforces the mystic/magician's relationship
with mundane reality -- recall, that magic in this sense is called
"Practical," as it has a practical use in everyday living -- e.g.: gaining
wealth, love, health, and good crops. Who made these names important? Where
do the words come from, and how are they calculated?
Magicians who claim to be "Kabbalists" often use the practices of gematria,
notarikon, and temurah to calculate new words of power and angelic names.
It would appear that the magicians believe that anyone who uses these techniques
can be called a "Kabbalist". However, according to Scholem, these practices
were rarely used in classical Kabbalah -- "What really deserves to be called
Kabbalism has very little to do with these "Kabbalistic" practices" (Scholem,
1941; p. 100).
Nonetheless, such practices can be found in Kabbalistic documents.
It is accepted magical doctrine that to know the name of a certain power,
be it an angel, spirit (typically evil), or intelligence (typically good),
is to control that power: "the 'real' name of a god or an idea contains
the essence of the god or the idea, and therefore enshrines its power.
Using the name turns this power on automatically, the same way that pressing
the light switch turns on the light" (Cavendish, 1967; p. 123). In a similar
fashion, Crowley (1976) remarks that the names of God are really names
for the forces of nature, which can then be used.
Specific occupations associated with Hermes are:
Hermes is the god of boundaries; dreams take place in the boundaries between
deep sleep and waking life. We turn to the god Hermes for our dream
messages; he brings us these messages. In sleep the chaotic nonlinear,
multiple consciousness dominates or awareness. Linear consciousness
is asleep and benefits by the rejuvenating contact with the creative consciousness
stream. It helps our adaptability and promotes our evolutionary development.
No matter the effort, the dream is always chaotic, clouded with ambiguity
and the significance carried by symbols because of their multiple meanings.
The dream always seems to carry multiple meanings which can never be unraveled
by our normal consciousness. Dreams are not logical. Yet they
can teach the waking ego something of a different perspective on ourselves,
a perspective which contains an ironical humor.
The Hermetic viewpoint does not take a moral position in regard to the
content of any given dream. Since Hermes embodies paradoxes such
as good/evil simultaneously, no moral guidelines are available from dreams
for the ego or for navigation in day-to-day life. The dream represents
the "underworld," or unconsciousness of the dreamer. The ego's arbitrary
moral views are an alien viewpoint in dreams. Morality is rooted
in the belief system, and dreams originate in a much deeper level.
As a bisexual being, the Hermaphrodite represents the borderline in nature.
The Hermaphrodite is an imaginal being. Hermes and his borderline
nature is the place where sexuality and fantasy meet. He prompts
therapeutic relationships where transference is the movement in life. He
governs the change from one state of consciousness to another--through
synaptic impulse, through chemical mediation with neurotransmitters, and
As the god who presides over boundaries, Hermes is able to transcend them.
He is therefore also the ruler of ceremonial Magick. In Magick, one
transcends the limits of ordinary consciousness and communes with various
forms of divine consciousness. The identification with a given energy
is accomplished by a three-fold ritual.
1). Separation from the profane or ordinary state of consciousness.
Dissolution of the ordinary state of consciousness.
2). The transition stage, or twilight zone which lies between.
Creative or chaotic consciousness.
3). The new order or perception of reality which occurs in the sacred
time of the soul. Identification with an enhanced sense of self,
Hermes is the lord of boundaries, or doorways, the threshold or liminal
area. The inbetween, or twilight zone, in enables a state of receptivity
to become established. It allows an emptying process, a letting go.
Ritual acts reawaken deep layers of the psyche. This brings the mythological
or archetypal ideas back to memory.
Though the basic, or original forms of Magick and schizophrenic fantasy
(wish fulfillment) spring from the same roots, they are not synonymous.
Magick is, in general, the transition from passivity to activity.
The Will is essential. Realistic action does not follow schizophrenic
magic or magical thinking. The fantasy is a substitute for action.
In lower forms of magic, practiced for personal gain or ego gratification
or power, the ego is either weak or absent, or over-inflated. In
ceremonial Magick there is a conscious effort directed at self-transformation,
by harmonizing conscious and unconscious cycles or rhythms.
Writing was originally a form of magic, an epiphany with the god and secret
of the priests. It is perhaps mankind's most far-reaching creation, taking
almost an infinite variety of forms. Many societies have created their
own forms of conventional visible marks linked to spoken language.
No other invention but the wheel has had such a lasting impact.
Much of it's power comes from its flexibility. But the purpose of writing
remains unchanged: to convey meaning from mundane to profound. It
is a potent form of artistic and political expression. We use it
to combat loneliness and establish our sense of self. Aristotle called
it a way to express the "affections of the soul." Writing about feelings
can alleviate depression, loost the immune system, and lower blood pressure.
To write, you must work methodically, forming your thoughts to lead to
the reader toward your conclusions. However, writing can also distort
Writing has immortalized the events and persons of history, religion, passion,
genius, art, and science. It has tremendous evocative power to express
everything from the practicalities of everday life to the most exalted
human emotions. In ancient times, alphabets were alphnumeric, standing
for both letters and numbers. Sacred letters could "add up" to a
meta-meaning shared with other words of the same number. Alphabets
changed the way people thought, leading to formal logic, theoretical science
and the concept of linear time.
Hermes is the god who rules technological acumen, and his latest incarnation
is in our computer-driven society. He is the silicon chip, the electrical
impulse, the fantasy of the cybernaut and cyborg. He is the computer
whiz, the programmer, the tekkie. But he is still the motivating
archetype behind all the sciences--the quest to unravel and control the
hidden secrets of nature and the physical universe. He also governs
the mysteries of the mind--the science of parapsychology, which inhabits
the borderline between "hard" sciences and the occult.
These modern fields all have their own arcane rituals. This is an
exciting field of study that may turn ritual studies, indeed all social
sciences, in new directions. The ritual theorists that are already incorporating
brain science into their work generally rely on a very small circle of
researchers and writers: people like Eugene d’Aquili, Charles Laughlin,
John McManus, and Barbara Lex who have called their field of study biogenetic
"Biogenetic structuralism" is an unfortunately complicated name for a promising
line of inquiry that seeks to apply knowledge of the evolution and structure
of the human body to various human or cultural behaviors. It has particularly
focused upon ritual and religious experience to demonstrate its methods,
which is not unexpected given the strong influence of structuralism on
ritual studies in general and the centrality of ritual and religion in
most human cultures. Even though hampered by an unwieldy name and method,
ritual theorists are beginning to pay attention to the interesting contributions
the field seeks to make. Along with performance theory, Ron Grimes has
called biogenetic structuralism one of the "most promising theoretical
currents regarding ritual."Biogenetic structuralism seeks a holistic understanding
of the universe as it presents itself to the mind through experience
and is comprehended at the theoretical level through the activities of
Charles Laughlin echoes the interdisciplinary nature of the field, noting
that it has sought to take into account "all reasonable sources of data
about human consciousness and culture," but specifically, anthropology,
psychology, and the neurosciences. He adds that it also has sought to be
"non-dualistic in modeling mind and body" and non-reductionistic.
That is, it argued that culturally universal, invariant structures of language,
time and space, dreams, feelings, and some psychopathologies arise from
brain structures that are the product of human evolution.
To the classic Levi-Strauss/Chomski idea of the existence of "deep structure"
within the unconscious that affects human cognition and behavior, they
therefore add that these structures are related to specific parts or neural
pathways in the brain itself.12 The human brain is genetically
predisposed to organize its experience in particular ways and to develop
along predictable paths in a process they called "neurognosis."In a central
chapter of The Spectrum of Ritual, "The Neurobiology of Myth and
Ritual," d’Aquili and Laughlin outlined a basic position that would be
elaborated upon in other places, especially the 1999 book by d’Aquili and
Newberg, The Mystical Mind.
Briefly, the d’Aquili/Lauglin article asserted that ritual accomplishes
two important biological feats. First, it coordinates the neural systems
and functions of ritual participants to allow for group action. Ritual
behavior for most species seems to be a way of overcoming social distance
between individuals so that they can coordinate their activity in a way
that would help the species survive. Mating rituals are the most obvious
example of this, but ritual activity before coordinated group attacks or
hunts are also common. Wolf packs go through ceremonial tail-wagging sessions
and group howls, and ritual aggression among primates establishes social
order and rank for possible battle.
The rhythmic and repetitious nature of ritual stimulation, through ear,
eye, or bodily motion, increases a sense of unity of purpose between individuals.
Further, it leads to coordinated arousal or discharge of the brain’s limbic
system, leading to a sense of profound unity within the participants. The
second biological achievement of ritual is that it causes cognitive development
or socialization within the individual organism. Ritual is "a mechanism
for entraining and transforming the structure of the neuromotor subsystems
in the developing organism." In short, it teaches the younger members of
the species what is important and how to behave.
Tom Driver described humans well when he called us "ritualizing animals."
Like other animals, humans have evolved to enact ritualizations, both,
"to give stability to our behaviors and to serve as vehicles of communication."
We share this tendency with bees that dance, peacocks that display, and
whales that breech and slap their flukes. Indeed, there is evidence that
the domestic dog developed its ritualizations to exploit the human need
for a working companion. So ritualizing is evolutionarily adaptive for
many animals, and none more than the human animal. But human rituals are
unique in that they seem to be invariably connected with myth. How do such
myths arise in the human brain? What is their adaptive significance and
why do we relate them so closely with our ritual behavior?
Myths, according to d’Aquili, present themselves as systems of antinomies,
or opposites: heaven/hell, good/evil, life/death, because of a basic function
of the brain that he calls the "binary operator." This function abstracts
qualities of things and arranges them as pairs of opposites, or dyads,
whose meaning is intimately related to its partner. He conjectures that
it is located on the inferior parietal lobe of the dominant side, and is
simply one way that the mind seeks to understand the world. Myths play
upon these antinomies and propose solutions to them.
So, we create myths to satisfy our need to understand our environment and
to give us some sense of control over it, or at least an understood place
within it. A given myth has stability (is an enduring structure of relationships
of meaning) because it "is adaptive psychophysiologically for an individual
or social group."
But understanding alone is not adaptive enough. Like other animals we seek
to adapt ourselves physically to the environments in which we live. Therefore
we need a way to make the myth real to us, and that is the fundamental
reason why we connect ritual to our myths. One way of describing rituals,
then, is that they are motor actions that seek to enact the reality of
the mythic structure of meaning our brains instinctually produce.This explanation
seems similar to Grimes’ ritual mode of "magic," or ritual as a "means
to an end" and is a common anthropological explanation for the rise of
ritual and religion in human history
D’Aquili and Laughlin report research that shows that when either the arousal
or quiescent system is maximally stimulated it results in a "spillover
effect" or a stimulation of the other system. That is, experts in meditation
may experience a "rush" or a release of energy during a hyperquiescent
state. From the other side, those who engage in rhythmic rituals that engage
the arousal system, such as energetic dancing and singing, may experience
states of bliss, tranquility, and oneness with others. Hyperarousal
and hyperquiescent states seem to stimulate the limbic system, which regulates
our emotions. Hence, these states are experienced as being emotionally
intense, and often pleasurable.
It is also during these "spillover" experiences that the paradoxes presented
to the brain through myth become resolved by the simultaneous functioning
of both hemispheres of the brain. In ritual stimulation of the arousal
system, for example, the presentation of what is an unresolvable logical
problem in the left brain (the wafer is both bread and the Body of Christ),
is experienced as unified in the holistic operation of the right brain.
Ritual participants therefore may experience a resolution of the problems
presented by the myth and a deep unity with other participants: "The simultaneous
strong discharge of both parts of the autonomic nervous system creates
a state that consists not only of a pleasurable sensation, but, also, under
proper conditions, a sense of union with conspecifics and a blurring of
cognitive boundaries." Similarly, those who engage in meditation may report
that they experience resolution of paradoxes during some meditative states,
hence the famous use of such paradoxes by Zen practitioners.
Both meditation and ritual can lead to the spillover effect and the simultaneous
discharge of the arousal and quiescent systems. But they come at the experience
from different directions. Meditation begins with the quiescent system
and by its hyperactiviation can achieve spillover into the arousal system
(from trophotropic to ergotropic). Ritual approaches from the opposite
system (from ergotropic to trophotropic).
In summary, according to biogenetic structural analysis, humans do ritual
for the same reasons other animals do them: to diminish distance between
other members of the species, to coordinate group action, socialize their
young, and communicate status and social structure. What is unique about
human ritualizing is its connection to the human propensity to create myths.
Myths themselves contain logical or story resolutions to the paradoxes
of our lives, but do not solve the problem existentially because they remain
only as logical or left-brain solutions.
D’Aquili and other biogenetic structuralists have countered that ritual,
in fact, does work effectively for us because it brings mythical
paradoxes and unsolved problems to resolution through excitation of neurological
processes by motor activity. The myths become experienced fact. Because
such a resolution promotes a sense of unity with others and is a pleasurable
experience, it is highly adaptive for humans who are trying to make their
way in the world.
The point for ritual theorists and liturgists is that we are in an age
when science is putting forth plausible, if not exhaustive, accounts of
the rise of religion and ritual. Frankly, in many cases, they are doing
much better public theology of ritual than we are, if by that you mean
making a persuasive case for the continued meaning and power of religious
ritual in the future of the human species. It seems inevitable that sociobiology,
neurophysiology, and evolutionary theory will continue to open up new questions
and tools for analysis of our rites. Human religious ritual behavior is
one of the many areas where, as Stephen Gould describes, science and religion,
"belly right up to each other, and interdigitate in the most intimate and
Nor is human religious experience or ritual behavior reducible to an explanation
of neuron pathways. We may confidently say, as Crick does about the soul,
that there is no ritual behavior or religious experience that somehow floats
above the physicality of our brains ("metaphysical news from nowhere,"
as Don Saliers has been heard to say). But the interplay in ritual of brain
physiology, cultural evolution, local religious traditions, group experiences,
individual interpretations and emotions, makes the description of any given
ritual event a highly complex matter, necessarily involving many fields
and specialties. Because ritual is so complex a matter and reaches so deeply
into all the levels of our humanity—biological, cultural, social, and religious—any
method that tends toward black/white language should be suspect. In the
end, gray matters.
Specific keywords associated with Hermes are:
Hermetic philosophy is concerned with secret doctrines, such as alchemy,
Magick, and depth psychology. Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting
the scriptures, so it isn't very surprising to see Hermes identified with
the creative Logos, the messenger with The Word.
Logically, he is the law of reason, being the Word. Hermes is also
the condition of its utterance. Because he is duality, he can represent
both truth and falsehood, wisdom and folly. Hermes is the trickster
in that if he can not attain his ends by fair means, he does it by foul.
As stated earlier, falling apart makes possible a new style of reflection
in the psyche, as the old outworn rigidities dissolve and flow is re-established.
Hermes as Mercury moves among the multiple parts. He is also a cheat
who can deceive with half-truths. Sometimes truths are even harder
to see through, especially paradoxes.
Hermes is an interpreter; understanding is never absolute. It always
requires interpretation. He bridges the unconscious condition that
produces myth, symbols, and metaphors to the conscious mind through this
interpretation. The images are to be left free of moral judgements.
If Hermes is the only appointed messenger to Hades, then he provides his
guidance also within the psychology of the Underworld. Hermes helps
us relate to the difficult, frightening, pathological, and complex part
of our psyche. He can in this way also help us interpret depression.
This forms the basis of psychological analysis.
Hermeneutics is a branch of philosophy. Is is the science and art of interpretation,
especially of spiritual texts. In ancient Egypt the invention of
writing was ascribed to the corresponding deity Thoth, known in Greece
as Hermes, and Rome as Mercury.
Hans-Georg Gadamer is a German philosopher who studied with Heidegger but
developed the theory that language, not time and culture, determines consciousness.
Gadamer only came to prominence as a philosopher with the publication of
Truth And Method in 1960; and his role is best seen as part of the postwar
rehabilitation of German philosophy.
Academic philosophy in 20th-century Germany falls into two distinct phases.
The first half of the century was fascinated by the idea of reason as something
historical. It was to be understood not as some neutral instrument, equally
available to all thinking creatures, and subject to universal rules accessible
to all, but as being rooted in the particular circumstances of time or
culture. Heidegger's celebrated notion of Dasein (existence, but - literally
- "being here") was a revolt against the "analytical" traditions of the
late 19th century and the thought that the truths described by philosophy
were indifferently available to all people, whether "here" (that is, part
of this culture) or not.
Gadamer withdraws from the extreme standpoint of prewar existentialism
- that Being is fixed by historical and cultural circumstance, replacing
this ontological radicalism with a theory of language. For him, Being is
not constituted as such by race and nationality, but, in a celebrated dictum:
"Being that can be understood is language." If I have no word for something,
it does not "exist" for me, so existence, or failure to exist, happens
within language. Without language, there is no understanding, and
language is a product of history and culture.
According to Gadamer, language is a historical phenomenon for two reasons.
One is practical. Language is about communication. It is about transferring,
aggregating and processing information. The ability of language to perform
these functions depends on the skill with which its users understand each
other in any particular case. Language determines consciousness; and this
determination depends on how well people have communicated. "Hermeneutics",
for Gadamer, means "understanding" in this concrete sense. One aspect
of this, for his own work, was a renewed emphasis on rhetoric as the discipline
of making language function in practice. Another aspect is his famous model
of reasoning as dialogue. Language's second historical characteristic
is that it articulates cultural identities.
Gadamer shares the existentialist suspicion of projects which purport to
determine truths and values by means of abstract calculation. As far as
values are concerned, we inevitably start off in the historical "here"
in some way we cannot further analyse. In that respect, as Gadamer argues,
valuative (moral or artistic) judgments are quite properly "prejudices"
(Vor-urteile , "pre-judgments"). This is not a bad thing, for, as long
as we recognise what is happening, we can start to engage in the hermeneutic
dialogue which language offers to us, and so overcome the limitations of
our own starting position and move towards a richer understanding of ourselves
Typically, this takes place in more or less formalised hermeneutic "dialogues"
which strive to reconcile inconsistent valuative positions. Major
examples would be discussion about the value of works of art, and the legal
discourse of the courtroom.
Gadamer's theories bore most philosophical fruit in the 60s and 70s, not
least in exchanges with other "linguistic" theories such as that of J|rgen
Habermas. Subsequently, Gadamer's academic influence has become largely
confined to the cultural disciplines; in Germany itself, the predominant
analytical tone has now more or less extinguished philosophical historicism.
(Julian Roberts, Guardian, Monday March 18, 2002).
Jung, who was perhaps influenced by this school, also extensively explored
the realm of hermeneutics in analytical psychology, particularly in regard
to alchemy. Polyani (1962) carried his ideas forward when he said:
"Heuristic passion is...the mainspring of originality...the force which
impels us to abandon an accepted framework of interpretation and commit
ourselves by the crossing of a logical gap, to the use of a new framework."
Heuristics is behind our current notion of "paradigm shift.
Polanyi goes on to say that, "Having made a discovery, I shall never
see the world again as before. My eyes have become different; I have
made myself into a person seeing and thinking differently. I have
crossed a gap, a heuristic gap, which lies between problem and discovery."
According to Umberto Eco, 'semiotics is concerned with everything that
can be taken as a sign.' Semiotics is the study of signs which have
a role in social life -- anything that 'stands for' something else..
Semiotics also has a correspondence with linguistics as well as Hermes
and Hermetic philosophy. This transdisciplinary subject is difficult
to define. Linguistics is only one branch of this general science.
In a sense every thought is a sign -- how meanings are made and reality
maintained. Semiotics is concerned with how signs mean, not
what words mean. Syntactics (or syntax) is the formal or structural relations
between signs. Semiotics is often used to analyze texts. It
explores various genres or mediums of communication from print to mass
media to interpersonal communication. These are differences of channel
and technology. Our multisensory experience is constrained by the medium
involved; they give us different frameworks for representing our experiences.
Media impose a dialogue with the materials and means of execution -- the
use of the medium is expressive.
It refers not only to visual signs, including drawings, paintings and photographs,
images, objects but also sound, musical sounds and gestures or body language,
and media studies in general. It encompasses all these which form
the content of ritual -- systems of signification. Semiotics searches
for deep structures, the grammar of narrative, the relative positions of
parts within a self-contained system, the use of signs in specific social
situations, and the role of beliefs or ideologies. It is rarely quantitative
or content analysis. It looks at structured wholes, the system of
rules governing the 'discourse' involved in media texts and how semiotic
Semiotics represents a range of studies in art, literature, anthropology,
mass media, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and aesthetics.
It is concerned with significance, linguistic and non-linguistic, intentional
and unintentional communication. It explores modes of production
of signs and meanings, how systems and codes are used, transformed or transgressed
in social practice. Semiotics teaches us that reality is plastic,
a subjective construction. It teaches us reality is a systems of
signs. To decline such a study is to leave to others the control
of the world of meanings which we inhabit (Chandler, http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem01.html).
Further Jungian readings on Hermes are:
GODS IN EVERY MAN, Jean Shinoda Bolin
HERMES AND HIS CHILDREN, Rafael Lopez-Pedraza
FACING THE GODS, James Hillman, ed.
HERMES, GUIDE OF SOULS, C. Kerenyi
How is it possible to know something, even about ourselves, that is radically
new? Metaphors are one of the cognitive mechanisms that lead to the
discovery and advancement of new theories. Often, in science, they
appear spontaneously in dreams which are then applied in real time.
Metaphor and analogy help us create mapping between two domains in a one-to-one
Metaphor still plays a role in the articulation of new scientific theory.
In cognitive psychology, metaphors are drawn from the terminology of computer
science, in transpersonal psychology from mysticism, in Consciousness Restructuring
Process from Chaos Theory, QM, Holographic and other theories. Thus,
science recycles its metaphors in self-referential strange loops.
Alchemists made use of symbolic metaphors, but ascribed causal powers to
metaphorical similarities, (creating the so-called "doctrine of signatures.").
In this way they tried to satisfy their wish to manipulate nature rather
than know it. But, metaphors may be nature, our nature; or
certainly phenomenological expressions of our existential nature.
They provide a reference point without defining reality.
The problem becomes not one of how to know something radically new,
but how to learn something radically new. Thus metaphors are
instructive. They are a central Way of leaping the epistemological
chasm between old and new knowledge, old and new ways of essential being.
Metaphors help us make this leap. They help us enter a problematic
situation in order to solve it, to explore it, and explore the world restructured
by the metaphor.
We can tap the source of creativity, healing and holistic restructuring
through imagination and metaphor. The possibilities for concepts
and for thought are shaped in very special ways by both the body and the
brain that evolved to control it, especially the sensory-motor system.
Conceptual metaphors appear to be neural maps that link sensory-motor domains
in the brain to regions where more abstract reasoning is done. This
allows sensory-motor structures to play a role in abstract reason (Lakoff,
The mind-body split or dualism vanishes when bodily control mechanisms
are being used in abstract reasoning. Conceptual metaphorical mappings
are not primarily matters of language, they are part of our conceptual
systems, cross-domain mappings, allowing us to use sensory-motor concepts
and reasoning in the service of abstract reason and holistic perception.
This metaphorical mapping ability is automatically acquired unconsciously
in our everyday functioning in the world.
In fact, when metaphors are synchronistic, emergent, spontaneous, self-organizing
expressions of our dynamic stream of consciousness, they are an imaginal
encoding of information that bridges the domains of conscious and unconscious
worlds, material and transpersonal realms. Such metaphors can be
deeply transformative--more than mere language, a technology for changing
our behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. Intentional contact
and immersion in these metaphors can transform our spirit and soul.
How can we know or describe anything about the changes we have not yet
experienced, change that by universal consensus takes us beyond the realm
of everyday reality, for which our words and concepts have been fashioned?
Metaphors contain a subtle communication by containing meaning in a delicate
net of imagery. In psychotherapy and mysticism, both, it is characteristic
of the Self to speak to the ego-personality in the language of myth and
metaphor. It allows us to grasp some image of that which remains
The mystical and religious literature of East and West and the secret oral
traditions of esoteric spiritual schools have used myths, parables, similes,
symbols and metaphors to allude to that strange process that somehow changes
or transforms our deepest selves. This is the essence of the Hermetic
We realize that we must rely on the reports of those who have gone ahead,
who have explored further, who have seen and understood more, and who come
back and say, "its like this...," "its as if..." Metaphor
best expresses the as if realm of direct experience which cannot be describe
directly. Classical metaphors are those which are used and understood
Classical metaphors of transformation are embodied in the primordial wisdom
traditions. Though they have used many stories and parables, at least
ten themes seem to be recurrent enough to be considered "classical" metaphors
of transformation within the meditation tradition. They include the
following dynamic transformations of lifestyle, soul and spirit:
1. dream sleep to awakening;
2. illusion to realization;
3. darkness (or blindness) to enlightenment;
4. imprisonment to liberation;
5. fragmentation to wholeness (unifying);
6. separation to oneness (unifying);
7. journey to destination (arriving);
8. being in exile to coming home (returning);
9. from seed to flowering or fruiting plant or tree (unfolding);
10. from death to rebirth (renewal, resurrection).
Metaphors are also strongly related to process-oriented psychotherapy and
immersion in the stream of consciousness [itself a metaphor]. The
notion and phenomenon of metaphor raises as many questions as it answers.
Metaphors do not directly describe perceptual reality, but its language
helps us imagine an "as if" reality.
For example, in Metaphor Therapy (Grove) we ask what an experience is like.
The replies about the nature of feelings and traumas come automatically
couched in somato-sensory metaphor: "like a rock on my chest, like a stab
in the back, it leaves me feeling breathless, disembodied." Following
the 'trail' we might ask, "Disembodied like what?" "Like a
cloud, like smoke, like a vaporous nothingness"... The metaphorical
possibilities or replies are virtually endless. They embody that
which is still unknown and possibly unknowable, yet explorable through
imagery and dialogue.
Metaphor is an artifact of language--saying this to mean that. They
function as tools. That leads us to suspect it is a technology. As
such, it is an aid to understanding. Metaphor represents the convergence
of figurative language, imagination and consciousness. There is a
fundamental distinction between literal and metaphorical language.
John Searle, in his well-known essay Metaphor asserts that there
is no semantic difference between metaphoric expression and literal, because
"sentence and words have only the meaning that they have...Metaphorical
meaning is always speaker's utterance meaning." Even poetic metaphors
can muddle or clarify comprehension by distorting truth conditions.
You say one thing to mean something else. So talking of metaphor
as a kind of meaning may be false.
Yet, the role of conscious and unconscious processes in metaphor production
and interpretation is ubiquitous. The role of "seeing as" permeates
the development of consciousness. It reflects interactions between
imagination, perception and cognition; how bodily and neural processes
create and constrain imagination. Language, concept and world are
the three realms of metaphor which is a mode of cognition.
But metaphors are events, not objects. And generative-metaphors
can be viewed as problem-setting scenes and problem-solving situations.
[Tacit generative metaphors may underlie our perceptual patterns much as
personal and collective mythologies do].
Metaphors describe the internal structure of domains and how they are represented;
the nature and organizational structure of information. They follow
the information processing approach and propose a spatial representation
in which local subspaces can be mapped into points of higher-order hyperspaces,
and vice versa. The distance among concepts in these mental spaces
is the main parameter for establishing the comprehensibility and aesthetic
pleasure of metaphors.
Conceptual metaphors are more than semantic representations; they imply
deep action, even though the locus of metaphor is thought. They directly
reflect our metaphorical understanding of experience. This dual coding
is based on more than a theoretical point of view based in imagery and
Metaphor is not merely a superficial phenomenon of language, but shapes
our judgments, and structures our language. Displaying many facets,
metaphor pervades our everyday non-theoretical language. A metaphor
is a holistic schema, a unifying framework that links a conceptual representation
to its sensory and experiential ground. It embodies the gestalt and
ecological properties of thought.
The network of underlying metaphors form a cognitive map, a web of concepts
organized in terms which serve to ground the abstract. This cognitive
topology, by which we impose structure on space, gives rise to spatial
inferences and images. The subjective ego-centric properties of the
individual are projected onto the world via this cognitive mapping.
Even the same metaphor of 'time' can produce different interpretations,
depending on the relative position of the observer within his cognitive
Mental pictures and verbal processes meet in metaphor which promotes retrieval
of images and verbal information that intersects with information aroused
by the topic. Language is a conduit for this force by transferring
or conveying thoughts and feelings to others. Therefore what is literal
be metaphorical; only the literal use of language can be true or false.
These facts underlie or form the dynamical basis of all talk therapies.
George Lakoff and others have developed contemporary theories of metaphor.
Undeniably, there are a great many irreducible metaphorical concepts in
our everyday life which function in a systematic way and are grounded in
our physical and cultural experience. But what is metaphor a metaphor
for? How do metaphors work? How can we interpret two
levels of understanding, novel and classical metaphors for comprehension
and understanding? Can we learn without metaphors?
Epistemological metaphors help us relate "how we know what we know." They
help us frame and describe our experience and its meaning at both the personal
and collective levels. However, when do our epistemological metaphors
become more than models? When we "know," how do we "know that
we know," and "what is it like?" This bears on the confusion
surrounding the process and products of linguistic understanding.
How do psychological processes figure in metaphor comprehension and memory?
When we think in metaphors, do they create similarity, or state some pre-existing
similarity? Do they produce new knowledge by projecting the "known"
into an unknown domain? How do they emphasize, suppress,
and organize features of cognition and awareness? How do we incorporate
novelty through similar differences, and different similarities?
What are the educational uses of metaphor? How can we tap directly
into multidimensional metaphoric process?
What is beyond metaphor: what is the role in cognition and consciousness
of synecdoche (inclusion) and metonymy (contiguity)? Metonymy is
"the substitution of some attribute or suggestive word for what is actually
meant." Metonymy describes extension involving Whole-Part relations
in contrast to synecdoche, which involves Part-Whole relations. Or,
it is a figurative extension of meaning involving concomitance. It
is arguably possible to distinguish between metaphor and metonymy and between
non-figurative implication and metonymy. The distinctions are cognitively
based and have linguistic relevance, which improve our understanding of
the dynamic role of language in consciousness.
Lakoff and Johnson (1980) claim that our conceptual system is largely metaphorical.
But metonymy and synecdoche may be just as holistically basic. Expressions
in simile are even more common than metaphor; both follow literalisms.
They provide a context for our experience. Metonymy is implied meaning
without restriction to the figurative uses of words. It is a figurative
extension of meaning involving concomitance. Expressing what we sense,
think and believe about things and our existential condition,
they form the ground of our synergetic cognition about self, others and
Although Hades is the Lord of the Underworld, Hermes has some free access
there. In contemporary terms this means he has access to the deepest
recesses of our subconscious, and can therefore function as a psychoopomp
or soul-guide. Both gods share a certain style, both covering their heads
with a helmet of invisibility. This helmet hides their thoughts,
and it also perceives the hidden thoughts of others. When it is their
intention to become invisible, we cannot perceive "where their heads are
Even so, there remains a sense of a hidden watch over our innermost thoughts.
Since their motives and goals remain hidden from our conscious perceptions,
they have both been considered characteristically deceptive, unpredictable,
and even frightening. "We must now accept these basic facts", as
William Burroughs says, "Mankind exists through bestial acts".
Hermes is also the archetypal Trickster, either as a magician or as a clown.
Since the way of descent into the underworld (unconscious) is the way of
human frailty, what is weakness to the hero is the support-system of the
clown. You may extract Hermetic guidance from your sensitive areas
or psychological "wounds," if you can listen with an attentive ear.
To act out the part of the clown in the mundane world, however, is to be
possessed by Hermes (to literalize it). The comic spirit is a soul-guide
which remains an immortal pattern of existence. We do not become
the guide, we are led by him. A healthy relationship to the Hermes
attitude would be when we are able to accept and laugh at our shortcomings.
The superconscious side of Hermes is expressed spiritually in theurgy.
Theurgy is Divine Activity, that of the Magus with his repertoire of magical
operations and regalia. Whereas Thaumaturgy is magick used to make
overt changes in the material world, Theurgy is magick used to make changes
for personal evolution and spiritual growth. It is Divine magic,
as opposed to mere thaumaturgy or sorcery. The appurtenences and technologies
of theurgy include the altar, the magickal weapons representing the fundamental
elements of creation, the operations, the incantations of secret names,
etc. Its goal is apotheosis or, less ambitiously, the "knowledge
and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel" and the working of sublimation
both of self and world.
Jewish scholar Gershom Scholem, in Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
(1941/1961) pp. 56-57 links language and theurgy when he says, "In
this context it is well to remember that the chief peculiarity of this
form of mysticism, its emphasis on God's might and magnificence, opens
the door to the transformation of mysticism into theurgy; there the master
of the secret 'names' himself takes on the exercise of power in the way
described in the various magical and theurgical procedures of which this
literature is full. The language of the theurgist conforms to that of the
Merkabah mystic. Both are dominated by the attributes of power and sublimity,
not love or tenderness. It is entirely characteristic of the out-look of
these believers that the theurgist, in adjuring the 'Prince of Divine Presence,'
summons the archons as 'Princes of Majesty, Fear and Trembling.' Majesty,
Fear and Trembling are indeed the key-words to this Open Sesame of
"The throne-world is to the Jewish mystic what the pleroma, the 'fullness',
the bright sphere of
divinity with its potencies, aeons, archons and dominions is to the Hellenistic
and early Christian mystics of the period who appear in the history of
religion under the names of Gnostics and
Hermetics. The Jewish mystic, though guided by motives similar to theirs,
expresses his vision in terms of his own religious background. God's pre-existing
embodies and exemplifies all forms of creation, is at once the goal and
the theme of his mystical
vision," (p. 44).
"...In the Merkabah mysticism with which we are dealing here, the idea
of the Shekhinah ['light of God'] and of God's immanence plays practically
no part at all. The one passage in the Greater
Hekhaloth' which has been adduced as proof of the existence of such conceptions
is based on an
obviously corrupt text. The fact is that the true and spontaneous feeling
of the Merkabah mystic
knows nothing of divine immanence; the infinite gulf between the soul and
God the King on His throne is not even bridged at the climax of mystical
"Not only is there for the mystic no divine immanence, there is also
almost no love of God. What there is of love in the relationship between
the Jewish mystic and his God belongs to a much later period and has nothing
to do with our present subject. Ecstasy there was and this fundamental
experience must have been a source of religious inspiration, but we find
no trace of a mystical union between the soul and God. Throughout there
remained an almost exaggerated consciousness of God's other, nor does the
identity and individuality of the mystic become blurred even at the height
of ecstatic passion. The Creator and His creature remain apart, and nowhere
is an attempt made to bridge the gulf between them or to blur the distinction.
The mystic who in his ecstasy has passed through all the gates, braved
all the dangers, now stands before the throne; he sees and hears - but
that is all. All the emphasis is laid on the kingly aspect of God, not
his creative one..." (pp. 55-56).
From magician Israel Regardie, we hear (The Meaning of Magic), "I suggest,
then, that what the Magicians imply by the Astral Light is identical in
the last resort with the Collective Unconscious of modern psychology.
By means of the traditional Theurgic technique it is possible to contact
consciously this plane, to experience its life and influence, converse
with its elemental and angelic inhabitants so-called, and return here to
normal consciousness with complete awareness and memory of that experience.
This, naturally requires training. But so does every department of science.
Intensive preparation is demanded to fit one for criticial observation,
to provide one with the particular scientific alphabet required for its
study, and to acquaint one with the researches of one's predecessors in
that realm. No less should be expected of Magic--though all too often miracles
are expected without due preparation. Anyone with even the slightest visual
imagination may be so trained as to handle in but a short while the elementary
magical technique, by which one is enabled to explore the subtler aspects
of life and the universe. To transcend this "many-coloured world." To gain
admittance to loftier realms of soul and spirit is quite another matter.
One calling for other faculties and other powers, particularly a fiery
devotion and an intense aspiration to the highest.
But with the latter, I am not just now concerned, even though it is
the pulsing heart and more important aspect of Theurgy. It is with the
scientific aspect of Magic, its more readily verifiable aspect, that I
shall deal now. Elsewhere I have given as traditional attributions or associations
to the sphere in question the following symbols. Its planet is said to
be the Moon, its element Air, its number Nine, its colour purple--and also
silver in another scale. The Pearl and Moonstone are its jewels, aloes
its perfume, and its so-called divine name is Shaddai El Chai. The Archangel
attributed to it is Gabriel, its choir of Angels are the four Kerubs ruling
the elements, and its geomantic symbols are Populus and Via. The Tarot
symbols appertaining to this sphere are those cards in each of the four
suits numbered IX, and closely associated with it also is the twenty-first
trump card entitled "The World." Here we find depicted a female form surrounded
by a green garland. Actually this trump card is attributed to the thirty-second
path of Saturn which connects the material plain to Yesod. How, now, arises
the question, how were these symbols and names obtained? What is their
origin? And why are they so called attributions or correspondences of that
Sephirah called the Foundation?
First of all, meditation will disclose the fact that all have a natural
harmony and affinity one with the other--though not perhaps readily seen
at the first glance. For example, the Moon is, to us, the fastest moving
planet. It travels through all the twelve signs of the zodiac in about
twenty-eight days. The idea of rapid change is there implicit, revealing
the concept that the astral, while almost a timeless eternal deposit of
world events, is nevertheless the origin of mutations and alterations which
later influence the physical world--in the same way that impulse and thought
must precede any action. Its element is air, a subtle all pervading medium--comparable
to the astral light itself--a medium without which life is quite impossible.
Nine is the end of all numbers, containing the preceding numbers within
its own sum. It always remains itself when added to itself or multiplied,
or subtracted, suggesting the fundamental all-inclusive self-sustaining
nature of the realm.
What is still more important, however, from the scientific viewpoint
is that they are things, names, and symbols actually perceived in that
sphere by the skryer in the spirit-vision. As a matter of solid proof,
one could quote numerous visions and astral journeys obtained by different
people in different places at different times, in which all the traditional
symbols appear in dynamic and in curiously dramatic and vital form.
Magic, as already remarked, is a practical system, and every part has
been devised for experiment. Each part is capable of verification using
appropriate methods. Each student may check it for himself, and thus discover
the realities of his own divine nature as well as of the universe both
within and without him, independently of what any other man may have written
in books. We ask for experiment; demand it even, for the sake of mankind.
We invite the earnest and sincere student to experiment for himself.
Sophisticated people, with a smattering of modern psychology, are likely
to assume that Magic discloses nothing but the hidden depths of the Unconscious.
They will say that these journeys are comparable to dream experiences which
are referred to the working and dramatizing power of the subconscious mind.
What difference does it make if the Qabalists named this sphere or type
of consciousness the Foundation or Astral World and the moderns the Unconscious?
The terms are cognate, and the symbols interchangeable; both mean the same
thing, when all things are considered.
If Magic possesses weapons that are more penetrating and incisive than
scientific ones, shall we reject them because Magic is the discredited
house where they are stored? If magical methods reveal our secret selves
more directly, and unlock the vast store of wisdom and power within our
souls, showing us how to control them in ways that neither psycho-analysis
nor any modern science has succeeded to do, should we not be foolish to
reject its benefits?
Magic is a scientific method. It is a valid technique. Its approach
to the universe and the secret of life's meaning is a legitimate one. If
it assists us to become more familiar with what we really are, it is a
Science--and a most important one. And to the scientist, whether he be
psychologist or physicist, it will open up an entirely new universe of
Thoth, or Tahuti (Egyptian)
Carl Jung brought the messages of the Gods, and opened the way into the
hidden depths of the unconscious, by writing voluminous collected works
on his hermeneutic processes.
Dr. Leon R. Kass, who has taught philosophy and ethics at the University
of Chicago since 1976, has long believed that science could threaten the
human condition, both by undermining human self-esteem and by generating
tools that might be misused, particularly by genetically reshaping the
human mind or body.
Science has become so dangerous, in his view, because it is a powerful
force, yet one that has been deliberately stripped of moral values by scientists
who are trained to pursue the truth objectively. His gloomy criticisms
of biomedical research have led him, though by a very different intellectual
route, to the same restrictive views on many reproductive issues as are
held by conservatives and opponents of abortion. He has opposed genetic
screening that results in abortion and once called the in vitro fertilization
methods of fertility clinics "a degradation of parenthood."
But he has long since changed his mind about in vitro fertilization,
a technique that since 1978 has enabled about a million otherwise infertile
couples to conceive. He is also at ease with the president's decision to
allow some research on human embryonic stem cells, a policy announced August,
2001 at the same time as his appointment.
Dr. Kass's guarded enthusiasm for manipulations of human reproduction have
made him the favorite moral philosopher of many conservatives. It
has also put him at odds with some of his fellow bioethicists who view
him as too willing to see the dark side of biomedical research and too
pessimistic about society's ability to control it. He, in turn, has accused
them of being too willing to give a free pass to whatever new treatment
In trying to inject some soul into science, Dr. Kass has found himself
setting special value on the natural human cycle of birth, procreation
and death. Just as he opposes most kinds of interference in reproduction,
he is also against deliberate efforts to increase longevity. The proper
goal of medicine, in his view, is to improve health, not to conquer death,
which he sees as a necessary and desirable end. "The finitude of human
life is a blessing for every human individual, whether he knows it or not,"
Dr. Kass has written.
With medicine's increasing success, he said, "anything is permitted if
it saves life, cures diseases, prevents death." Dr. Kass argues that death
at the natural time gives meaning and urgency to life and that immortality
might not be quite the blessing it may seem: the new immortals, he says,
"would not be like us at all."
DIALOGUE WITH HERMES
In a dimly lit room, sit with journal ready. Breath quietly and deeply
while contemplating the various attributes and correspondences of Hermes.
These include such symbols as the tarot trump, THE MAGUS, the color orange,
the number 8, and his characteristic regalia (winged sandals, helmet of
invisibility, the caduceus, the four magical weapons--wand, sword, cup
Hermes is a mischievous god, so we should be cautious when contacting him.
If we presume to wield power over this figure of the Magus, the unconscious
will react with a subtle attack on our ego. It deploys the "mana
personality" aspect of the magician and he possesses our ego. This
is a regression of consciousness. If the ego drops its pretentious
claims to victory over the unconscious, then possession of your personality
by the inner magician will automatically cease. Don't let this inner
magician cast a spell over your ego.
The trick of interacting with him for a profoundly individual step forward
is to confess our weakness in the face of the powers of the unconscious.
When we don't oppose the unconscious, it is not provoked into attacking
the personality and we find a new "mid-point" of experience which unites
the opposites of the conscious and subconscious perspectives in a borderland
The hermetic approach to reality is not to take fantasy literally.
We must rather learn to read the messages and symbols contained within
events as signposts on our journey into our deepest self. Then we
find inner harmony. The true value of the symbol is not found in
analyzing it, but in adding further analogies to the one already supplied
by the symbol.
Astrologer Robert Hand sheds light on the nature of the planetary Mercury:
On the highest level, Mercury is associated with the Logos or Word,
the aspect of divinity in which the will of God is translated into the
particular forms and structures of the created universe. Occultists
have always considered the physical universe itself to be nothing more
than a set of signs or a map corresponding to the divine nature.
All knowledge and wisdom come through the Logos, whose symbol is
Mercury. Thus, as long as the process of knowing is recognized to
be less important than that which is to be known, Mercury is one of the
highest symbols of all.
It is this aspect of Hermes we seek to contact, that which represents living
Truth, not the lies or illusions of maya, or the shadow reality.
When you can imagine Hermes's form in front of you, greet him and begin
discussing your reasons for desiring a conscious contact with this inner
figure. There is generally little trouble in getting the figure of
Hermes to communicate. After all, words are his forte. Be sure
to faithfully record both sides of the script. Then reread the dialogue
when you are through and record your feelings and reactions to the encounter.
HERMES IN YOUR LIFE
1. Describe your most vivid recollection of a synchronous event
in your life where inner and outer meanings seemed to mirror one another.
What were the inner and outer circumstances? What were your feelings
and attitudes toward this event? Did it influence your behavior later?
2. What is your attitude toward your dreams? Do you intentionally
try to remember their messages in the morning? Have you ever kept
a dream journal?
3. Have you ever had strong yearning to plumb the hidden mysteries
of life? What discipline, or field of research, did you pursue toward
this end, providing you followed through on the urge? If you've had
the yearning, but haven't answered the call, why is this the case?
4. What Hermetic occupations and preoccupations have you been
involved in? These might include both academic science and occult
science, journalism, or any jobs from the list. Be sure to consider
what aspect of Hermes each represents.
5. Have you ever experienced or witnessed any borderline phenomena
like telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, clairaudience, automatic writing,
firewalking, etc.? How did your rational mind account for this experience?
Did you begin seeking "reasons" or rationalizations for your experience?
6. What sorts of hidden relationships might be revealed to
you by keeping a journal of your inner and outer life? Do you think
you can be psychologically honest with yourself, within the confines of
7. Can you remember a period of your life where Hermes "initiated"
you into a new awareness of the unconscious? If there is more than
one instance, list them. Choose one to write about more fully.
Did some person fulfill Hermes' role as initiator for you, or was it strictly
an inner process?
8. Have you ever studied one of the languages of symbolism
such as tarot, astrology, alchemy, numerology, qabalah, or psychology?
Did you apply this information toward gaining self-knowledge or just to
fulfill your desires or predict the future?
9. How do you think you might improve your communication skills
both in outer and inner worlds? Are you learning the basics of the
correspondence system, or symbolic language through which archetypes communicate
in the deep mind?
10. Do you ever seem to have a restless appetite for input
and new experiences, or can you digest and integrate each event as it happens?
Do you have a mind for detail or find a certain eloquence in ideas?
11. You may have to think long and deep, but can you name a
time when the shadow (or ape) in you tripped up the creative Magus in you?
Has the shadow entwined you in maya (egotistical and emotional reactions),
or a great illusion by controlling your behavior and thinking? What
was the nature of this illusion and how did you overcome its repression
of your true will to creativity?
12. When synchronistic phenomena happen to us the inner Magus
is communicating with us. When sudden or unexpected events happen
he urges us to try to extract the spiritual meaning in them, to overlook
the illusions of space, time, and the ego we have projected onto Reality.
Try to notice spiritual aspects in your mundane life.
File Created: 3/17/02
Last Updated: 7/20/02