The following is a stirring prayer from the Hermetic tradition (with an explanation on this Gnostic school of thought afterwards):
The Knowledge of God has come to us;
and at its coming, ignorance has been driven out.
Truth has come to us,
and with it has followed the Good,
with Life and Light.
No longer has there come upon us the torments of darkness:
they have flown away with rushing wings.
Thus has the Mind been made up in us;
and by its coming to be we have been given sight.
Whoever then has by God’s mercy attained to this divine birth,
abandons bodily sense;
he knows himself to be comprised of powers of God,
and knowing, we rejoice!
God has made me a new being,
and I perceive things now not with bodily eyesight
but by the working of Mind.
Being born again,
I see holy things by seeing things wholly.
Now that I see in Mind, I see myself to be the All.
I am in Heaven and in Earth,
in water and in air,
I am in beasts and plants;
I am a babe in the womb,
and one that is not yet conceived,
and one that has been born;
I am present everywhere.
This is the rebirth.
From the Corpus Hermeticum VIII, translation by Sparkwidget
Gnosis in the Hermetic tradition
The prayer reveals the culmination of Gnosis—a complete acquaintance with higher realms of divinity and one own’s divinity. This transformation is beyond faith and beyond belief, and beyond stale facts. It is pure experience of all that is and all that is not. That which is lost has forever been found. In a recent post, I granted several, intersecting definitions of Gnosis. I also like Gary Lachman’s definition from in his excellent book, The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus:
Immediate, direct, non-discursive cognition of reality. Knowledge of the hidden or invisible realms or aspects of existence. An experiential knowledge.
In fact, the orator of the prayer, Hermes (a character we will get to shortly) promises his listening son, Tat, that due to Gnosis:
Do you not know you have become a god, and son of the One, even as I have?
What is the Hermetic tradition?
As mentioned, the prayer is found in the Corpus Hermeticum, the core documents for the Hermetic tradition. The Hermeticists were known as Pagan Monotheists—as well as Pagan Gnostics due to their allegiance to revealer and awakener Hermes Trismegistus (instead of Jesus Christ, Seth, Simon Magus or other godmen in Christian Gnostic traditions). Hermes Trismegistus is not considering a historical figure but a synthesis of the Egyptian God Thoth and the Greek God Hermes. Most of the Hermetic scriptures deal with the dialogues of and teachings Hermes Trismegistus and his sycophants.
The Hermeticists held a similar theology to Christian Gnostics. However, they were less adverse in their outlook of the cosmos. They believed the world was not a cosmic mistake or flawed illusion, but more of a temporal romance between spirit and matter. But like with other Gnostic schools of thought, they championed the concept of Gnosis mentioned above as a chief vehicle for salvation—ultimately allowing the human spirit to not only communicate with the Godhead but transcend into the Godhead.
The world “Mind” (or Nous in Greek) is capitalized because the Hermeticists—like many adepts of the Greek and Egyptian Mysteries—believed that every human was endowed with a higher intellect that reached beyond sensible reality. The Mind or Nous was the actual intermediary between Heaven and Earth. Hierophants like Hermes Trismegistus stimulated the Mind through their philosophical teachings.
The Corpus Hermeticum was compiled by Renaissance scholars in the 15th Century. These were rescued from the ruins of the Byzantine Empire. The Hermetic writings were popular among Christians as many believed that Hermes Trismegistus and Moses had actually interacted and exchanged ideas.
Some scholars like Joseph Campbell wrote that the Corpus Hermeticum was the spark that ignited the Renaissance; it instilled into the Dark Ages rejuvenating Pagan philosophies, poetry, magic, and alchemy. Even during the Christian Roman and Byzantine Empire eras, the Hermeticists were treated with respect—unlike the persecuted Christian Gnostics. Even Muslim scholars translated Hermetic works during the middle ages.
Most scholars believe the Hermetic tradition began at the same times as the Christian Gnostics. However, some authorities—DM Murdock, April DeConick, and Gordon White—argue that the Hermetic tradition came before Christianity and perhaps even Judaism. It was a direct descendant of the Mysteries of Isis and Osiris.
The Hermetic tradition later influenced many secret societies like the Rosicrucians, Freemasons, the Martinists and the Hermetical Order of the Golden Dawn. Many chief occultists like Giordano Bruno, Eliphas Levi, Israel Regardie, WB Yeats, and Aleister Crowley were heavily influenced by Hermeticism.
The origins and influence of the Hermetic Tradition are not as important as the promises this prayer has to offer to those seeking total union with the Godhead while still in the flesh. There is a Hermetic saying that goes:
Thou hast made us, while still in the body, divine by the sight of Thyself.
Enjoy your awakening, even if your eyes hurt as they open to the brightness of the midnight sun of Isis.
Interview with Gary Lachman starts at minute 26:00: