Monday, June 20, 2011

Pieces of the Pymander


The Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus in XVII Books was published in 1650 by John Everard. Translated from Marsilios Ficino's Latin translation of 1471, Everard's work represents the first English translation of the Corpus Hermeticum (the "Hermetic body of writings"), the foundational documents of the Hermetic tradition. The Pymander (Ποιμάνδρης) is one of the chapters in the Corpus Hermeticum. It means "Man-Shepherd," alluding to God as Divine Mind, and in another sense as "the Good Shepherd" or "Shepherd of Men."  Dr. W. Wynn Westcott included the Everard version in his Collectanea Hermetica series, published in 1893.

Over the course of four decades Westcott published a seemingly inexhaustible stream of articles for Masonic journals, books, papers, translations and commentaries on Hermeticism, Alchemy and Qabalah. Much of his work directly benefited his students and fellow Initiates within the Golden Dawn. It should come as no surprise then, that certain words and phrases from Everard's The Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus in XVII Books sound very similar, if not identical in some instances, to language used by Westcott and his companions. Echoes of The Divine Pymander reverberate throughout the initiation ceremonies of the Golden Dawn. For example in the 0=0 grade the Hiereus tells the Neophyte that:

"The Seed of Wisdom is Sown in Silence and Grows in Darkness and Mystery."

In the Seventh Book, called His Secret Sermon in the Mount of Regeneration, and the Profession of Silence, Hermes Trismegistus tells his son Tat:

"O Son, this Wisdom is to be understood in silence, and the Seed is the true Good. [...] Wherefore this is not taught, but hid in silence."  

In another example, the "Adoration to the Lord of the Universe" from the Neophyte Ceremony shows a sentence taken verbatim from The Divine Pymander:

          "Holy art Thou, Lord of the Universe.
           Holy art Thou, whom Nature hath not formed.
           Holy art Thou, The Vast and Mighty One.
           Lord of the Light and of the Darkness."

Compare this to a passage from The Pymander:

"86. Holy is God the Father of All Things.
87. Holy is God Whose Will is Performed and accomplished by His Own Powers.
88. Holy is God, that Determineth to be Known, and is Known of His Own,
or Those that are His.
89. Holy art Thou, that by Thy Word hast established all Things.
90. Holy art Thou of Whom all Nature is the Image.
91. Holy art Thou Whom Nature hath not Formed.
92. Holy art Thou that art Stronger than all Power.
93. Holy art Thou, that art Greater than all Excellency.
91. Holy art Thou, Who art Better than all Praise."

(Except from the "Foreword to the Divine Pymander," from the book Collectanea Hermetica Volume II: The Pymander of Hermes, soon to be published by the Golden Dawn Research Trust.)

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