VISIONARY REVUE

HERMETIC SALVATION:
THE SOUL’S JOURNEY

      Though man is fallen to the earth and held in Nature’s embrace, the particle of divine light in him allows him to remember the cosmic framework and ‘the way’ of return. This, ‘the Soul’s Journey’ is an Astrological image central to Hermetic salvation.
      The shared aim of Gnosticism and Hermeticism was to knowingly return to the One from whence we came. This is done by acquiring the knowledge (gnosis) which awakens us to our origins in the One. We remember the cosmos’ structure and the way to rise upward through the lower and upper aeons, to re-unite the divine spark in us with the one great Light.
      In the Hermetic view, when the soul ascends it surrenders those qualities or ‘garments’ that belong to each planet’s governor. The Poimandres portrays ‘the Soul’s Journey’ explicitly:
      “Thence, the human being rushes up through the cosmic framework, at the first zone surrendering the energy of increase and decrease; at the second evil machination, a device now inactive; at the third the illusion of longing, now inactive; at the fourth the ruler’s arrogance, now freed of excess; at the fifth unholy presumption and daring recklessness; at the sixth the evil impulses that come from wealth, now inactive; and at the seventh zone the deceit that lies



 
 
 


PARIS - SPRING 2003

in ambush. And then, stripped of the effects of the cosmic framework, the human enters the region of the ogdoad (the eighth realm of fixed stars where) he has his own proper power... and, having become powers, they enter into god.” (C.H. I. 26)
      The qualities or ‘soul garments’ surrendered at each realm correspond, more or less, to the qualities traditionally associated with the planets in Astrology. The first garment belongs to the Moon, whose waxing and waning governs ‘increase and decrease’, which is to say growth (particularly manifest in plants). The second garment belongs to Mercury, the swift messenger who governs ‘machination’ or movement, (particularly manifest in animals). The third quality belongs to Venus, the goddess of love who governs ‘longing’, appetite and desire (particularly manifest in man’s ‘beastial nature’). The fourth quality comes from the Sun, ‘the king’ who governs with a ‘ruler’s arrogance’ (just like man). And so it goes, through Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
      This image of the Soul’s Ascent would naturally suggest its opposite - of the Soul’s Descent just before its birth. The path of the Soul’s Descent, acquiring the influences or garments of the various planets in their constellations is, of course, the main idea of Astrology. The Corpus Hermeticum does not deal with this explicitly, but a body of other Hermetic works, The Hermetica, deals exclusively with Magic, Astrology, and Alchemy.




 
 
 


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