Hermeticism is a philosophical tradition based mostly upon the writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. In the hermetic philosophy, reality as we know it is referred to as "The One", the "Universal Consciousness" , and or "The All". There is an Absolute in which all matter and the universe participate. According to this tradition there are three parts in the wisdom of the entire universe:
Alchemy-The Operation of the Sun-is not merely changing the molecular structure of physical objects(e.g lead into gold) It is the search and investigation into the spiritual constitution or the life of matter and physical existence through the application of the mysteries of birth, death, and resurrection. Some aspects of the mysteries include various stages of chemical distillation and fermentation. When applied these quicken nature's processes in order to bring a natural body to perfection.
Astrology-The operation of the Moon-In Hermetic thought, it is believed that the movement of the planets have meaning beyond the ordinary laws of physics and may very well hold metaphysical value as symbols in the mind of God, or "The All". Hermes claims that Zoroaster discovered this wisdom of the Universe and taught it to man. It is believed that Astrology influences the Earth, but cannot dictate our actions. And wisdom is gained when we can identify these influences and learn how to deal with them.
Theurgy-The operation of the Stars-There are two different types of magic which are the completely opposite if each other. The first is γοητεια, Goëtia, black magic reliant upon an alliance with evil spirits(demons, etc). And the second is Theurgy, which is divine magic, which is reliant uppon an alliance with divine spirits(angels, archangels, Gods). Theurgy translates into "The Science of the Divine Works" and is the practical aspect of the Hermetic Art of Alchemy. Alchemy is seen as the "key" to T
heurgy. The ultimate goal of which is to become united with higher counterparts, leading to the attainment of Divine Consciousness.
A prime characteristic of Hermeticism is the search for secret wisdom or knowledge. Another belief is that absolutely everything in the world and universe is connected. Frances Yates, an English historian who focused on the study of the renaissance as well as esoteric history said it best, "Hermeticism is a religion without temples or liturgy, followed in the mind alone." One aspect of Hermeticism that puts it at odds with followers of Abrahamic faiths is the belief that man is equal to God. Some scholars of thought believe that "God only knows what you know", suggesting that man's journey on earth is a learning experience for God as well as the individual. The Caduceus is the symbol for Hermes. There are many stories that explain how the Caduceus became his symbol. This is also the symbol used for modern medicine. The hermetic student believe that the earth itself is evidence of divine harmony and beauty.
Stay tuned for part 2!