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  Astrology and Hermeticism

   Hermeticism (Greek hermetismos), the hermetic doctrine - the religious and philosophical current of an era of Hellenism and late antiquity which was combining elements of a popular Platonism, stoicism and other philosophical doctrines with chaldaic astrology and Persian magic, and having expressly esoteric character. Compositions in the Greek, Latin, Coptic and ancient Armenian languages in which initiate on behalf of god Hermes Trismegistus all secrets of the world are revealed belong to hermetic tradition.
   Some researchers sharply divide and even oppose each other "basilar", "popular", national Hermeticism (treatises on hermetic sciences: astrologie, alchemy, magic and medicine; 3rd century BC - 3rd century AD) and Hermeticism philosophical and theological, "scientific" ("Corpus Hermeticum" in which attempt to synthesize the Hellenistic mysticism, separate provisions of the Greek idealistic philosophy and Judaic monotheism the II-III centuries becomes). However the doctrines stated in philosophical treatises of "Corpus Hermeticum" actually proved both alchemy, and astrology, and magic, and traditional medicine. In "scientific Hermeticism" two contradictory tendencies are observed: optimistic-pantheistical and pessimistic-Gnostic. The coherent statement of the doctrine of Hermeticism is given mainly in compositions of pessimistic-Gnostic group (especially in the first treatise of Corpus Hermeticum - "Poimandres").
   "Corpus Hermeticum" represents meeting enough diverse treatises written in Greek in the 2-3rd centuries AD. Here titles of these treatises:

   1. Pœmandres, the Shepherd of Men
   2. The General Sermon
   3. To Asclepius
   4. The Sacred Sermon
   5. The Cup or Monad
   6. Though Unmanifest God is Most Manifest
   7. In God Alone is Good and Elsewhere Nowhere
   8. The Greatest Ill Among Men is Ignorance of God
   9. That No One of Existing Things doth Perish, but Men in Error Speak of Their Changes as Destructions and as Deaths
   10. On Thought and Sense
   11. The Key
   12. Mind Unto Hermes
   13. About the Common Mind
   14. The Secret Sermon on the Mountain
   15. A Letter to Asclepius
   16. The Definitions of Asclepius unto King Ammon
   17. Of Asclepius to the King
   18. The Encomium of Kings

   To the Corpus is adjoined some more by the treatises and fragments which reached as a part of the compilation made by the author of the 6th century Joannes Stobaeus. The most considerable of these treatises - "The maiden of the world" (or "A world pupil"). The big treatise called by "Dedicatory word" has remained in Latin translation under the name "Asclepius". These treatises were created at different times by various authors and only later (not earlier than the 6th century) have been united in the uniform Corpus. The most part of treatises submits Hermes's speeches in which he states the Divine revelation received in the supernatural way.
   Hermetic treatises aren't united by the general world outlook installation. In general are characteristic of Hermeticism consecutive use of motives of Ancient Egyptian mythology (e.g., the Sun cult) and interest in area of "practical" knowledge (occult sciences) that allows to differentiate Hermeticism and Gnosticism with which in other respects the Hermeticism has much in common.
   According to hermetic representations, the world is uniform and all its parts are connected with each other. Stars - gods or only images of the deity giving them the initial movement exert impact on the world of people. The world consists of four (or five) elements: water, earth, air, fire (and ether) which interact among themselves and distribute good and bad influences of stars. Thus, the world is the organic unity subordinated to eternal laws and deserves the name "world order" ("space"). This closed field copes eternally coming back time, a circular motion symbol - the ordered movement of stars on the trajectories. Stars and planets influence both the world in general (macrocosm), and each person, being a microcosm: "The person, my dear Amon, knowing call the world as he - part of the world nature" (Jatromathematica, I, s. 387). The human mind is a part of the Divine Mind, therefore, knowing himself, person thereby learns and God. The word, the human speech are penetrated by energies of the Divine Word that opens an opportunity for magic impact of the human word on the world. The person and the world correspond each other: the head of the person is the sky, eyes - the Sun and the Moon, a breast - air, a stomach - the earth, heart is a body sanctuary, a mind habitat. As everything in the world is connected, future can be predicted, say, on interiors of animals or on an arrangement of celestial bodies. Similarly, to make regular various phenomena, the repeating rituals are necessary: so, continuous return of the Moon is provided with bringing in the victim of an antelope, the foe of the Moon. At full clarification of soul from sins there is as if a birth of the new person which essence there is light. And at clarification of "dirty" metals lightful gold is formed. As the world is uniform, also the knowledge is uniform; at the same time the knowledge of the world, self-knowledge and knowledge of God are same. But it not rational knowledge, but secret knowledge, gnosis which comprehension is possible only by means of revelation of the Deity. Similar revelation also were, according to adherents of Hermeticism, texts of Corpus Hermeticum, and the prophet who has given this revelation to people was Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus.
   Development of hermetic tradition in the Middle Ages has been connected mainly with occult practice; renewal of interest in "scientific Hermeticism" in Renaissance was promoted by a transfer on Latin of 14 treatises of "Corpus Hermeticum" made by M.Ficino. To this tradition there goes back the theory of "natural magic" which is put forward by Pico della Mirandola gradually developing into mood of so-called "natural piety" to which many thinkers of 16th-17th centuries (Copernicus, Kepler, Bruno, partly - F. Bacon, etc. - until Newton) have paid a tribute.


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