TRTZ no 46 Hermeticism and Rational Mysticism

Hermeticism & Rational Mysticism

In tonight’s show we will be dipping our collective toes into that area of  ‘occult philosophy’ we know as Hermeticism and at the same time be trying to understand why I particularly like the ‘label’ Rational Mystic.

But first, some items of news…

UK News…

UK January 31st:  A can-you-see-it photograph of a sunlit living room has gone viral after dividing internet communities some of whom are sure there is a demon in the picture.  While it is very similar to many examples of a perception test, many are claiming that the face, staring out from behind a cushion in the picture, is a demon, ghost or other unearthly entity.  Others believe it to be a clear case of Photoshop.  Commenter DBunker amusingly points out ‘Nonsense…. Everyone with half a brain knows that demons are under the stairs, not behind sofas.’


February 2nd

Youtuber slyviatse263 posted the video of a triangular light formation (Similar formations have been seen before, specifically over North America) over Dublin, Ireland today.  Partway into the video, a noise very similar to the one that has been regularly reported on various websites in the past year begins to howl over the voice of the ponderous spectator while the dog in the background barks anxiously.  However, it is interesting to note that the cameraman makes no comments on the strange noise, though continues to remark on the intriguing light show before him.  Is this a viral ad?  Or the real thing?

International News

January 31st:  A youtuber (santosamaru) from China has posted a video of a bizarre but disappointingly easy-to-explain phenomena occurring in the clear skies above their home.  Perihelion can occur almost anywhere and at anytime and appear as spots of light, coloured or otherwise, at odd angles to the sun itself.  Apparently the most likely time to spy these is when the sun is low on the horizon, so at dawn or dusk.  Interestingly, the spheres of light have been associated with the end of the world and the four horsemen of the apocalypse or a symbol of Christ.


February 2nd:  Nash Hand and his wife Amanda Forsythe were astonished when their cat gave birth to a two-faced kitten as well as a litter of normally proportioned kittens.  The Janus-cat (Named after the Roman God with two faces) is healthy, happy and eating well, despite the odds that are stacked against him and the couple have brilliantly named him Harvey Dent after the Batman villain.  “They simultaneously work together, the two faces,” Forsyth said. “When he eats on one side it looks like he is eating on the other. When he meows it comes out of both sides.”  There was a lot of advice from concerned onlookers, who told them to put the kitten down, but Harvey is currently quite content and his owners plan to raise him despite some concerns that he may have a higher than average veterinary bill.

Footage and samples of a so-named ‘super giant’ amphipod have been discovered off the coast of New Zealand.  This type of creature is usually about two or three centimeters in length, even in the unreachable expanse of the deep, but the supergiants discovered in the Kermadec Trench, are between 25cm – 34cm.  lan Jamieson, from the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab, compared the creatures to “…like finding a foot-long cockroach.”

A man in Tempe, Arizona, has been caught stealing spiders from their tanks in a ‘Reptiles and Reefs’ store on University avenue.  Store owner Jared Ohsman had noticed that the man in question, Adam Hartmann, was a regular visitor and suspected that he stole from the store every few times he appeared.  After investigating camera footage his suspicions were confirmed as the thief stealthily swiped spiders from their tanks and stuffed them into his pockets.  We are talking about large tarantulas too!  He’s also visited the store with family members so that he can steal from the shop while Ohsman is distracted.  The case is still being investigated by police.

February 3rd:  Two unnamed Minnesota men reportedly spotted a UFO hovering over the woods where they were hunting for deer.  Instead of observing, filming the spectacle or fleeing the scene, they took a rather unusual approach to the object – they shot at it.  When they first spied the craft they believed it to be an X-47B military drone, but after shooting at it with no effect they are now not sure what it might have been.  “We were in fear,” one of them stated, “and trained a scoped Winchester Sportsman .30-06 deer rifle on the object, and fired three successive shots center mass at the object, with no obvious effect, or ricochet sound. Man with me fired two slugs from a Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun center mass, also with no effect.”  The craft, unperturbed by the bullets, drifted off and the men decided to leg it.  This has prompted a few raised eyebrows among UFO enthusiasts; why did the men shoot at it if they thought it was a military drone?

 Rational Mysticism and Hermeticism

A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.

Carl Sagan

Comment: Whilst preparing this episode of The Real Twilight Zone I came across a blog with the title “Let’s Counter National Occult Day” by some calling themselves a  ‘female bible warrior’.  (see below)

As you can imagine the specific ‘take’ on Occult Day (and I’m not familiar with Occult Day) was one of ‘pray for them’ with the direct inference that occultists need saving.

This is, of course, reflects the same kind of limited thinking expressed by all closed-minded fundamentalists. The very fact that Christian tradition is, in its strictest sense, part and parcel of ‘occultism’ simply makes opinions expressed by those with fundamentalist ideologies even more idiotic – suggesting as it does a misunderstanding of their own tradition.

Rant Over….


Many schools of thought somehow attach hermeticism to their art or practice, including those who practice alchemy as well as the odd magician. The word and ideologies involved seem to have their origin in the Greek God Hermes Trismegistus, the individual who told the secrets of the gods to those who sought sacred gnosis (Hence hermetic gnosis).

As you may have read if you followed TRTZ episode on Alchemy, his roman name is Mercury, god of travel, the protector of sacrifices, god of commerce, good luck and protector of merchants, gamblers, liars, and thieves as well as being noted for cunning, fraud, perjury and theft. He is usually illustrated with winged sandals and a staff entwined with snakes or serpents of wisdom, the caduceus, which, despite being frequently plastered on hospital and medical care centres (In the US especially), is NOT a symbol of medicine. He is said to have invented the lyre.

Christian writer Tertullian called him the ‘master of those who occupy themselves with nature’. Despite the abundance of writings about him, it’s not entirely clear who wrote the earliest description of him.  Some believe that many of the things that have been said were written more to emphasise the basics of the ideology as opposed to outline the facts of the man himself. Early Christian Fathers contradictorily held that Hermes was a sage who lived before Moses and delivered the word of God to the many.

There were no mentions of him being Greek god. The Greek Hermes later found an equivalent in Egypt as the ancient Wisdom God Thoth (Or Thouth or Tahuti). Thoth guided the souls of those who had died through the underworld (The psychopompos), was a recorder for the Gods, invented writing, taught humans how to become Gods (Written in The Book of Breathings), was ruler of the night, was teacher and assistant to the gods Isis, Osiris and Horus, negotiated peace between the gods Horus and Seth and even played a part in their creation myth. Thoth was often depicted as an ibis, either a human with an ibis-like mask or an actual ibis.

The combination of the Greek and the Egyptian entity led to the creation of the Hermes Trismegistus archetype. The figure and principles of Hermeticism were also later slightly influenced by Jewish tradition, where Hermes was regarded more of a wise man or a prophet than a Greek or Egyptian god. The Jewish philosophy in question was Kabbalah, the unwritten mystical elements of Judaism that run parallel to the written ones. This had connections to Neoplatonism and the magic elements of Kabbalah have become important elements in Hermetic and Rosicrucian theurgy. However, it is the Egyptian god that primarily influences Hermeticism as we know it.

The ‘Trismegistus’ part of the name means ‘Thrice Great’ because Hermes is meant to know the three parts of the wisdom of the universe:  the operations of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. These, in turn, refer to the ‘Trivium Hermeticum’ which has a large part to play in the triad of (Hermetic): Alchemy (Operation of the sun). Theurgy (Operation of the moon).  Theurgy is the opposite of Goëtia.  Theurgy is the branch of magic that relies upon divine assistance and alchemy is seen as the key to this.  Goëtia is black magic which requires alignment with demons or evil spirits. Astrology (Operation of the stars) which ‘employs stellar influences for spiritual development using alchemy and theurgy.’ The latter two are similarly reliant upon astrological cycles.

The book of Hermes, discovered in the fifteenth century, was written anonymously and legend holds that it was scribed by Hermes himself. Stephan A. Hoeller, Regionary Bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica, senior holder of the English Gnostic transmission in America and author and scholar of Gnosticism and Jungian psychology points out that ‘The reasoning behind this pseudonymous approach is simple. Hermes is Wisdom, and thus anything written through the inspiration of true wisdom is in actuality written by Hermes. The human scribe does not matter; certainly his name is of no significance.’ Hermetics and Gnostics are thought to share a lot of common goals, both parties ultimately seeking gnosis and both ‘looking upon embodiment as a limitation that led to unconsciousness, from which only gnosis can liberate the human spirit.’

Advanced hermetic students would experience a stage whereby they must envision themselves as beginning a journey, earth as a starting point, and progressing through each of the planets (Planets were regarded as bodies of constraint )to end up in a region of ‘freedom from immediate cosmic influence’.  Gnostic students would experience something similar at some point.

The final stage follows this, the hermeticist coming to a place of transcendental existence beyond the seven planets as a reborn individual, apparently also shared with Gnosticism. Neoplatonism is also said to draw parallels with Hermeticism, a branch highly influenced in turn by Pythagoreanism, which itself led to a resurgence of similar ideals in the form of neopythagoreanism.

Pythagorean tradition was founded in Crotona, Italy. Pythagoras did not record or write anything down, though the branches that extended from his school of thought did. Though Pythagorean tradition was influenced by mathematics (Hence Pythagoras theory) it also dealt with the mystical and with substance. In turn, many Pythagorean practices drew parallels with the Essenes, a mystical branch that some believe Jesus was part of. In particular, they discussed the transmigration of the soul, a theory that was said to have been added to the teachings later by a student of his, but many historians feel that it is too central to the belief system for this.

He also taught that unity was the ‘first great law of the universe’, which led to the belief in the importance of numbers as from this Unity numbers arose, and henceforth from these numbers came points, from points came lines, from lines came planes, from planes came solids and from solids came the four principles of fire,water, earth and air of which the world is composed.

Rational Mysticism

Scientific Reality

Everything is Objective

Observable, Measureable, Testable, Theory

Psychic Reality

Everything is Subjective

Interpretation, Personal Resonance, ‘Truth’

Shamanic Reality

Everything is Symbolic

Metaphor, Allegory, Signs, Portents, Omens

Mystical Reality

Everything is Everything

Relax – Don’t Worry Be Happy

Levels of Reality (from the book Ramblings of a Rational Mystic)

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