The Divine Pymander of Hermes: Revelation of the Above and the Below
The Divine Pymander
It chanced once on a time, while I was meditating on the things that are, my thought was raised to a great height, yet my bodily senses had been put under restraint as in sleep, though not such sleep as that of men weighed down by fullness of food or bodily weariness. Methought a Being more than vast, in size beyond all bounds, called out my name and said:
“What would you hear and see, and what have you in mind to learn and know?”
“Who are you?” said I.
“I am the Pymander, Divine Mind of the Sovereignity, the Shepherd of Men. I know what you desire, and I am with you everywhere.”
“I long to learn the things that are, ” I replied, “and comprehend their nature, and know God. This is what I desire to hear.”
“Hold in your mind all you would know,” the Shepherd answered back to me, “and I will teach you.”
Forthwith all things changed in aspect before me and were opened out in an instant. And I beheld a boundless view: all was changed into Light, a mild and joyous Light; and I marveled when I saw it. And in a little while, there came to be in one part a downward-tending darkness, terrible and grim, and methought it like unto a snake. And thereafter I saw the darkness changing into a Watery Substance, which was unspeakably tossed about. Coiling in sinuous folds, it gave forth smoke as from fire; and I heard it making an indescribable sound of lamentation, for there was sent forth from it an inarticulate Cry. But from the Light there came forth a holy Speech, which took its stand upon the Watery Substance, and methought this Word was the voice of the Light. And the Divine Mind spoke for me to hear:
“That Light is I, even the One Mind, the first God, who was before the Watery Substance that appeared out of Darkness, and the Word which came forth from the Light is son of God. Learn my meaning by looking at what you yourself have in you, for in you too, the Word is son, and Mind the father of the Word. They are not separate one from the other, for Life is the union of Word and Mind. Now fix your thought upon the Light and learn to know it.”
I saw in my mind that the Light consisted of innumerable Powers and had come to be an ordered world, but a world without the bounds of material existence. This I perceived in thought, seeing it by reason of the words that the Divine Mind had spoken to me. And when I was amazed, he spoke again to me:
“You have seen in your mind the archetypal form, which is prior to the beginning of things and is limitless.”
“But tell me,” I asked. “Whence did the elements of nature come into being?”
“They issued from God’s Purpose,” came the answer, “which beheld that beauteous world and copied it. The Watery Substance, the One Thing, having received the Word, was fashioned into an ordered world, the elements being separated out from it. And from the elements came forth the brood of living creatures. And the One Mind, that Mind of Life and Light, being male and female both, gave birth to another Mind, which was a maker of things; and this made out of the elements Seven Planetary Administrators who encompass with their orbits the world perceived by sense; and their administration is called Fate.
“And forthwith, the Word of God leapt up from the downward-tending elements of Nature to the pure body of the highest Sphere that had already existed and united with Mind the Maker, for the Word was of one substance with that mind too. And the downward-tending elements of Nature were left devoid of reason, so as to be mere matter.
“Then Mind the Maker united with Reason, and He who surrounds the Spheres and spins them with His whirl, set turning His formations, and let them turn from a beginning boundless unto an endless end. For the circulation of these Spheres begins where it does end in a circle, as Mind does will. And from the downward-tending elements Nature brought forth lives without reason; for He did not extend Reason (the Logos) to them. The Air brought forth things winged; the Water things that swim, and in the Watery Substance, Earth-and-Water one from another were separated, as Mind the Maker willed. And from her bosom, Nature produced living things, four-footed animals and reptiles, beasts wild and tame.
“But the One Mind, being both Life and Light, next brought forth Man, a Being like to Himself, with whom He fell in love, as being His own child; for it was beautiful beyond compare, the Image of its Sire. In very truth, God fell in love with His own Form; and on it did bestow all of His own creations. And when Man gazed upon what Mind the Maker had created in the region of Fire, he too wished to create and so assent was given him by the Father. Changing his state to the formative Sphere, where he was to have his whole authority, Man had in himself all the workings of the archetypal Administrators. Likewise, they fell in love with him, and each gave him a share of their own ordering. And after that, Man had well learned their essence and had become a sharer in their nature. Man then had a mind to break right through the boundary of their Spheres, and to subdue the might of that which pressed upon the Fire.
“So he who had the whole authority, having learned the being of the Administrators, willed to break through the Spheres and showed to downward-tending Nature God’s fair Form. And when Nature saw that Form of beauty that can never satiate, and Man who now possessed within himself each single energy of all Seven Administrators as well as God’s own Form, she smiled with love; for it was as though she had seen the image of God’s fairest form upon her Water, His shadow on her Earth.
“He in His turn beholding the Form like to Himself, existing in her, in her Water, loved it and willed to live in it; and with the will came actuality, and so Man vivified the Form devoid of reason. And Nature took the object of her love and wound herself completely round him, and they were intermingled, for they were lovers. And this is why beyond all creatures on the earth, Man is twofold: mortal because of body, but because of his essential Eternal Substance, immortal. Though deathless and possessed of sway over all, yet does Man suffer as a mortal does, subject to Fate. Thus, though his true nature is above the Spheres, within the Spheres he has become a slave. Though male-female, he is from a male-female Mind; and though he is sleepless from a sleepless Sire, yet is he overcome by sleep.
Thereon I say: “Teach on, Oh Divine Mind of me, for I myself as well am amorous of the Word.”
And the Shepherd said: “This is the mystery kept hid until this day: Nature embraced by Man brought forth a wonder, oh so wonderful. For as he had the nature of the Concord of the Seven, who, as I said to you, were made of Fire and Spirit. Nature did not delay but immediately brought forth seven men, in correspondence with the natures of the Seven Administrators, male-female were they and moving in the air.”
“0h Shepherd, ” I said, “for now I’m filled with great desire and long to hear; do not run off!”
“Keep silence,” said the Shepherd, “for not as you have I unrolled for you the first discourse.”
“Lo! I am still,” said I.
To Increase and Multiply
“In such wise then,” the Shepherd continued, “the generation of these Seven came to pass. Earth was as woman, her Water filled with longing; ripeness she took from Fire, spirit from Ether. Nature thus brought forth frames to suit the Form of Man. And Man from Life and Light changed into soul and mind — from Life to soul, from Light to mind. And thus continued all the sense-world pairings until the period of their end and a new beginning arrived. Now listen to the rest of the discourse that you long to hear: The period being ended, the bond that bound them all was loosened by God’s Will. For all the animals being male-female, at the same time with Man were loosed apart; some became male, some in like fashion female. And straightaway, God spoke by His Holy Word (the Logos): ‘Increase you in increasing, and multiply in multitude, you creatures and creations all; and Man that had Mind in him, let him learn to know that he himself is deathless and the cause of death is love, though Love is All.’ When He said this, His forethought did by means of Fate and the Spheres effect their couplings and their generations founded. And so all things were multiplied according to their kind. And he who thus had learned to know himself, had reached that Good that does transcend abundance; but he who through worldly love that same end leads astray, he expends his love upon his body — he stays in Darkness — and suffering through his senses the things of Death.”
“What is the fault so great the ignorant commit,” I asked, “that they should be deprived of deathlessness?”
“You seem,” the Shepherd cautioned, “not to have given heed to what you have heard. Did not I bid you think?”
“Yes, do I think, and I remember,” I said, “and therefore give you thanks!”
“If you did truly think thereon,” said the Shepherd, “tell me: Why do they merit death who are in ignorance?”
“It is because the gloomy Darkness is the root and base of the material frame; from it came the Watery Substance from which the body in the sense-world is composed; and from this body of Death and Darkness does the Water drain.”
“Right is your thought,” He said. “But how does ‘he who knows himself, go unto Him,’ as God’s Word had declared?”
And I reply: “The Father of the universals consists of Light and Life, and from Him, Man was born.”
“You are right! Light and Life is the Divine Mind, and from it Man was born. If then you know that you are yourself of Life and Light, and that you are made of them, you shall return to Life and Light.” Thus did the Shepherd speak.
“But tell me further, Mind of me,” I cried out, “How shall I come to Life again, for God does say ‘the man who had Mind in him, let him learn to know that he himself is deathless.’ Have not all men then Mind?”
“Again you speak well! I, Divine Mind, myself am present with holy men and good, the pure and merciful men who live piously. To such my presence becomes an aid, and straightway they gain Gnosis of all things, and win their Father’s love by their pure lives, and give Him thanks, invoking on Him blessings and entering his Kingdom, intent on Him with ardent love. And before they give the body up unto its proper death, they turn from their bodies with disgust from its sensations, from knowledge of what things they operate. Nay, it is I, the Divine Mind, that will not let the operations that befall the body work to their natural end. For being the gatekeeper, I close up all the entrances, and bar the entrance of the base and evil workings of the senses, cutting off all thoughts of them. But to the Mindless ones, the wicked and depraved, the envious and covetous, and murderous and impious, I keep far aloof, yielding my place to the Avenging Daimon, who sharpening the fire, torments them and adds fire to fire upon them, and rushes on them through their senses, thus rendering them the readier for their transgressions of the law, so that they meet with greater torment. Nor do they ever cease to have desire for their appetites inordinate, insatiably striving in the Darkness.”
“Full well have you taught me all, as I desired, 0h Divine Mind. And now, ” I beseeched Him, “pray tell me further of the nature of the way to the Life Above.”
To this, the Shepherd replied: “When your material body is to be dissolved, first you surrender the body by itself unto the work of Transformation, and thus the form you had vanishes, and you surrender your way of life, void of its energy, back to its own nature. The body’s senses next pass back into their sources, becoming separate, and resurrect as new energies; and passion and desire too withdraw unto that nature that is void of reason. And thus it is that man does speed his way thereafter upwards through the Spheres.”
He continued: “To the first zone he gives the energy of growth and waning; unto the second zone, the devices of evil now de-energized; unto the third, the guile of the desires de-energized; unto the fourth, his domineering arrogance, also de-energized; unto the fifth, unholy daring and the rashness of audacity, de-energized; unto the sixth, striving for wealth by evil means, deprived of its aggrandizement; and to the seventh zone, ensnaring falsehood, de-energized. And then, with all the energizings of the Spheres stripped from him, clothed in his proper Power, he comes to that nature that belongs unto the Eighth, and there with Those-That-Are is the One Mind. They who are there welcome his coming with joy; and he, made like to them that sojourn there, does further hear the Powers who are above the substance of the Eighth Sphere, singing their praise to God in a language of their own. And then they, in a band, go to the Father’s home; of their own selves they make surrender of themselves to the Powers, and thus becoming Powers themselves they are in God. This the good end for those who have gained Gnosis — to be made one with God.”
“Why should you then delay?” the Shepherd asked me. “Must it not be, since you have received all, that you should point the way to the world, that through you the race of mankind may by your God be saved?” And after he said this, the Shepherd of Men mingled again with the Powers.
But I, with thanks and blessings unto the Father of the universal Powers, was now freed, full of the power the Shepherd had poured into me, and full of what he had taught me about the nature of All and of the loftiest Vision. And I inscribed in my memory the benefaction of the Divine Mind, and I was exceedingly glad, for I was full with that for which I craved. My bodily sleep had come to be my soul’s wakefulness; and the closing of my eyes, true vision; and my silence, pregnant with good; and my barrenness of speech, a brood of holy thoughts. Becoming God-inspired, I attained the abode of Truth.”
Forthwith all things changed in ect before me and were opened out in an instant. And I beheld a boundless view: all was changed into Light, a mild and joyous Light.
You have seen in your mind the archetypal form, which is prior to the beginning of things and is limitless
Learn my meaning by looking at what you yourself have in you, for in you too, the Word is son, and Mind the father of the Word. They are not separate one from the other, for Life is the union of Word and Mind.