Scientists and Hermetists

(pictures of two different scientists attached – Isaac hermetist vs. Isaac anti-hermetist)

Hermetists had to face with rational trends of modern sciences from the beginning of the 17th century, as if the constant pressure from dogmatic, fanatic and old fashioned priests was not threatening enough in itself. Modern trends in sciences for a long tome rejected from their fields of research all what had to do with magic and alchemy deeming it as superstitious. It all actually started with Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614), when he discovered that Corpus Hermeticum had not been written in the ancient time, but in the 2 and 3 century, which made him reject it all as the falsification.

But the question is: Why should Corpus Hermeticum be the falsification only because they were not as old as perviously thought?

As a part of the hermetic tradition, Corpus Hermeticum was written in relation to some older sources, but why should that thing make them false? It would be like saying that everything else is false if it is based on some older sources.

Well, off course, that doesn’t make it false at all, but most of scientists wholeheartedly accepted Casaubon’s theory, and as a result, Corpus Hermeticum stopped being published in Italy and elsewhere. The less people had a chance to read it, the more it fell into oblivion.

Even to these days, when our contemporary philosophers and historians talk about the time of Renaissance, they often wonder how it was possible that such smart people and brilliant intelligences like Cosimo Medicci and many others preferred Hermes Trismegistus to Plato?

Contemporary scientists mostly do not care to understand reasons for humanists being so much inclined to Hermes, alchemy and magic. They do not care to answer that question because for a long time it was not a legit field of their scientific interests.

Luckily, not all of the scientists thought the same way. Each generation of scientists gave a few remarkable hermetists. And some hermetists were lucky enough to get support from several European monarchs like Rudolph II, an Emperor of the Holly Roman Empire, who hosted: Ticho de Brache, Johannes Kepler, John Dee, Edward Kelley and Michal Mair.

For example, protected by Rudolph II, Mikael Mair wrote many books on alchemy and hermetism:

Arcana Arcanissima (1614), Lusus Serius (1616), De Circulo Physico Quadrato (1616), Atalanta Fugiens (1617), Examen Fucorum Pseudo-Chymicum (1617), Jocus Severus (1617), Silentium Post Clamores (1617), Symbola Aurea Mensae Duodecim Nationum (1617), Themis Aurea (1618), Tripus Aureus (1618), Viatorum (1618), Tractatus de Volucri Arborea (1619), Verum Inventum (1619), Septimana Philosophica (1620), Civitas Corporis Humani (1621), and Cantilenae Intellectuales de Phoenice Redivivo (1622).

Mair tells in “Symbola aureae mensae” that there was a sculpture of Hermes who could divine. Magicians would lit oil lamps and burn incense in front of the sculpture. They would put in its right arm a coin, and whisper a prayer to its ear. Then they would leave the temple with their hands covering the ears not to hear anybody until they would reach the market. The first thing they would hear on the market was Hermes’ reply to their prayers.

Probably the most famous Hermetist among the modern scientists was Isaac Newton (1643–1727). His researches are hermetic in their essence. Since his childhood his aspiration was to rediscover a small part of the lost knowledge of Alexandrian Library. He translated Corpus Hermeticum into English, researched astrology, divination and cabala. He was also criticised by his colleagues for conducting alchemist experiments. And finally the Royal Society in London announced in 1942 that Newton was “the last magician, the last Babylonian and the last Sumerian.”


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