The Spiritual Path of the Emerald Tablets
The emerald tablets are a concept deeply rooted in esoteric traditions and therefore have great significance for everyone who finds themself on a “spiritual path”. If they know about it or not. Mysterious and profound, the Emerald Tablets attributed to the ancient sage Hermes Trismegistus, has captivated the minds of seekers, alchemists, and philosophers for centuries. Often regarded as the cornerstone of Western alchemical tradition, this enigmatic text holds the key to both the transmutation of base metals into gold and the spiritual evolution of the soul.
Table of Contents
The Origins of the Emerald Tablets
Hermes Trismegistus: The Divine Alchemist
Hermes Trismegistus, often considered the author of the Emerald Tablets, is a legendary figure, combining the wisdom of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. Hermes Trismegistos means “the threefold great Hermes” Hermes is identical to the god of wisdom Tehuti (Greek: Thoth).
Among the art forms and science teachings that Hermes revealed to mankind, we will find medicine, chemistry, law, art, astrology, music, (Hermes invented the lyric), rhetoric, magic, philosophy, geography, mathematics (especially geometry), anatomy, and rhetoric.
The History of the Emerald Boards
From the 3rd or 2nd century BC, Greek texts attributed to the mythical character Hermes Trismegistus, holder of all knowledge, began to appear in Hellenistic Egypt. First it showed up in early medieval Arabic sources (around late eighth and early ninth century). It got translated into Latin around the twelfth and thirteenth century with many different versions, interpretations and commentaries. Islamic and European alchemists regarded the Emerald Tablet as the foundation of their work.
The Hermetic doctrine can also today be found. The Caduceus for example is the symbol for the pharmaceutical industry as Hermes was regarded as the father of alchemy/chemistry.
‘The Hermetic Philosophy’
The Hermetic Philosophy is the heart of alchemistic teachings. The main concepts are found in the outline of the seven universal principles: Mentalism, Correspondence, Vibration, Polarity, Rhythm, Cause and Effect, and Gender. This teaching is often taken from the Kybalion – a book published in the 1908 that wants to convey the full teachings of Hermes Trismegistus. It has tremendous influence on modern esoteric thinking. As such is Hermes Trismegistus not only the father of medieval alchemy but to this day father of esoteric schools and new age. A quite remarkable influence.
The Content of The Emerald Boards
There are many translations between many languages of the content of the Emerald Tablets, to give an English translation:
“True, without falsehood, certain, and most true: What is below is like what is above, and what is above is like what is below, to accomplish the miracles of one thing. And as all things were derived from one by the meditation of one, so all things are born from this one thing by adaptation. The Sun is its father, the Moon is its mother, the Wind has carried it in its belly, its nurse is the Earth. The father of all telesms of the whole world is here. Its power is whole if it is converted into Earth. You will separate the Earth from the Fire, the subtle from the dense, gently and with great skill. It ascends from Earth to Heaven, and then it descends again to Earth, and receives the power of the superiors and the inferiors. Thus, you will have the glory of the whole world; and all darkness will flee from you. This is the strong force of all forces, overcoming every subtle thing and penetrating every solid thing. Thus, the world was created. From this, marvelous adaptations will arise, of which the manner is here. Therefore, I am called Hermes Trismegistus, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world. What I have said about the operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended.”
to see more and different translations head over to this website with translations of the Emerald Tablets.
The Principle of Correspondence: “As above, so below”
The content of this teaching and the influence of it on all of esoteric beliefs cannot be underestimated. All esoteric teachings can find their roots in these laws that are expressed in the text. But at the same time – true universal truths will always be found in every place.
The Hermetic Maxim
One of the most famous teachings from the Emerald Tablets is the principle of correspondence: “As above, so below, as below, so above.” All humans are a microcosm within the macrocosm. We could also say, all women and men are truly goddesses and gods, which contain all the powers of consciousness found in cosmic consciousness. From this statement it is often derived to say “as outside, so inside, as inside, so outside”.
The Unity of All Things
From this we come to the understanding that the relationship of the spiritual and physical world is really its actual Oneness. There is no separation. Separation is the big illusion. What in hindustic teachings is called “Maya”. What you see, is what you are and what you are is what you see. It’s all one.
Not only is it sometimes difficult to understand this principle intellectually, even more difficult is it to live it and feel it emotionally. It is easy to get upset at others. People standing in your way. People harming you. People annoying you. And here the actual work starts. Once you go beyond entanglement into outside situations and you really understand that you look at yourself when you look in the eyes of others, you can dissolve the emotional barriers that you have built around your heart. You start to feel this universal love that is promised to you by all kind of teachers. You don’t need teachers, you dont need guidelines, you don’t need dogma, you don’t need acceptance from others. All the love and bliss is available to you at every moment.
This principle of the emerald tablets serves as a guiding light in understanding the unity of the universe – which is really you all along.
The Great Work of the Alchemists
The Emerald Tablets serves as a cornerstone in alchemical tradition, guiding seekers on the path to the “Magnum Opus,” the Great Work. The alchemical processes are symbolized as stages of transformation and purification. There are thousand of books and text, outlining of how this transformation of chemical substances can take place in laboratory of the alchemist. When we look back to those scriptures that had the height of its popularity in medieval time, it seems strange to a modern reader who is familiar with the rules of chemistry and physics, that people could actually believe that gold could be created out of “lower” materials. The fact of the matter is, that there is no point in trying to get into the brain of someone hundreds of years ago. We don’t know how they were thinking. What we do understand today is the extreme symbolic nature of this process of refinement. What the scriptures really mean is the mental transmutation.
The Mental Transmutation
The mental transmutation (using the mental body) causes the mind to refine from level to another, from state to state, from pole to pole, from vibration to vibration, from energy to energy. So actually, hermetic transmutation, the work of the alchemist is a mental art: The Art. Transmutation is the art, science or technology of transforming your mind, to refining your mind to “Gold” – the purest of states. Transmutation is the integration of mind and body with spirit. When this step is integrated, the alchemist takes an active part in her own personal growth. It is the development of the Self.
You start the journey with tarot cards and crystals. You learn about astrology and chakras. You start working with energy, become vegan and make meditation your daily practice. And then feeling bad when you don’t follow your practice. Don’t you? But at one point you understand that all of these are only tools. You don’t need any of it. There is nothing wrong with them though. But you don’t need any tools. You can let go of dogma and become free.
True transmutation is a realization that you are one with God (the original will and intention and the universe’s boundless creative intelligence) – that one is God who appears in the form of one’s self exactly as one is. It is the refinement of lead to gold. Which really is the refinement of the soul to become one with God.
Conclusion about the Emerald Boards
The Emerald Tablets by Hermes Trismegistus stands as a timeless testament to the unity of the physical and spiritual realms. Its teachings, encapsulated in the famous principle “As above, so below,” guide us on a transformative journey of self-discovery, inner alchemy, and the pursuit of profound wisdom. As we explore the depths of this ancient text, we uncover not only the mysteries of the universe but also the infinite potential within ourselves. The Emerald Tablets invite us to embrace the alchemical path of personal growth, spiritual evolution, and the quest for the true Philosopher’s Stone – the illumination of our inner world.
- Psychology and Alchemy by Carl Jung
- Alchemy : An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology by Marie-Louise von Franz
- The Mystery of the Coniunctio : Alchemical Image of Individuation by Edward F. Edinger
- Translations of the Emerald Tablet
- The Corpus Hermeticum, attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and translated by George Mead
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Furthermore the content of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Prior to making any health-related decisions, including the use of supplements or dealing with decisions that can affect your mental health, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare provider.
Ulalume is a seasoned writer with a passion for creativity, personal growth, and holistic living. She hold a profound knowledge and interest in self-development, spirituality, and the power of mindfulness in daily life. With a deep appreciation for journaling, meditation, and various esoteric practices, Orion enjoys sharing her knowledge to inspire others on their journey of self-discovery. Orion spent 5 years as an apprentice in shamanic practices, depth psychology, and shadow work with spiritual teachers and went on to travel the world for finding untraveled paths within and without.