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Hermes Trismegistus
Christopher Warnock, Esq.
Hermeticism:
A Practical Path to Gnosis
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Copyright 2004, Nigel Jackson
Hermes Trismegistus
Hermes Trismegistus
A Hermetic Election From
the Discourse on the 8th & 9th
Hermetic Dreaming
Fixed Stars in Renaissance Astrology and Magic
Hermes on the 15 Fixed Stars
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History of Hermeticism Video
Hermetic Gnosis Video
Traditional Electional Astrology Course
Introduction to the
Electional Astrology Course
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Introduction to the
Astrological Magic Course
Planetary Magic Mini-Course
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Hermetic Gnosis Video



Hermeticism: A Practical Path of Gnosis
How to Study Astrology, Magic and Alchemy






Hermeticism: A Practical Path of Gnosis

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Medieval Statue
We realize from our study of and, more importantly, our encounter with the figure of Hermes Trismegistus that the most difficult task we have as moderns who wish to pursue a spiritual path is that we cannot simply learn new information and fit it into our pre-existing World View, but we must learn a new World View, a new framework in which to fit the Hermetic knowledge. We are handicapped at every turn by the preconceptions we share of Reality, which are part of the Modern World View. The emphasis on the historical truth of Hermeticism, rather than its spiritual truth is but one trap. The attraction to endlessly "study" the area without actually engaging with the material or practicing the Hermetic arts is another. We do not follow this path because we wish to write a thesis or out of idle or abstract interest. Hermeticism is a means to an end and that end is union with the Divine.
So what is the method? Our first step is to learn and actually practice one or more of the Hermetic arts of astrology, magic and alchemy. At the same time we should study and meditate on the Hermetic philosophy that underlies these arts. We must constantly oscillate between theory and practice.
Practice without theory leaves us blindly following our sources and our limited experience. Practice alone also tempts us to focus on the results of our work, often material, leading us astray with the prospect of wealth, influence and power from our ultimate goal.
Theory without practice is essentially an endless series of mental games. By actually working with the Hermetic arts and obtaining results we can assure ourselves of the efficacy and correspondence to Reality of these arts and the philosophy that underlies them.
Medieval Statue
In choosing to follow the traditional methods of practicing astrology, magic and alchemy, that is those methods used before 1700, we can do our best to avoid the simplifications typical of "New Age" spirituality and the distortions induced by the Modern World View. We do not accept the traditional Hermetic teachings merely because they are ancient, but because they are true.
As interesting and useful as it is to predict the future with astrology, to summon spirits with magic and to create the philosopher's stone with alchemy, we find the true value in these arts is the transmutation that their successful mastery causes in our World View. This is not to say that these are purely psychological changes. No, astrology, magic and alchemy most assuredly do work and do causes changes of both a material and spiritual nature. Rather, by observing these changes and recognizing our ability to cause these results, we can know, by experience and for ourselves, that materialism and atheism are false and that the title of agnostic, literally one without knowledge, i.e. the ignorant, is properly bestowed on most moderns.
After having learned this knowledge intellectually, a slow process of assimilation takes place and we begin to internalize and to embody this knowledge. If astrology, magic and alchemy work, it can only be because the Cosmos is indeed one great unified Being bound together by myriad chains of spiritual sympathy and interconnection. Once we truly know this, once we have actually experienced the reality of this, then we have truly begun the process of Hermetic gnosis.


How to Study Astrology, Magic and Alchemy

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If we wish to do the preparatory studies for Hermetic gnosis we would be well advised to study these arts as they were practiced before 1700. We have already delved into the cul de sac that is academic study without practice, but we also must beware of the Modern World View, that of atheism and materialism, masquerading under the name of astrology, alchemy and magic. Marsilio Ficino, the great Renaissance philosopher and astrological mage has been taken by moderns as a "psychologist", alchemy as a study of symbology and magic as a metaphor. The modern approach, even when attempting to apply the Hermetic arts, has typically denied any actual effect outside the confines of the individual psyche.
Medieval Statue
Another somewhat more popular modern approach is to see the mechanism of astrology, magic and alchemy, as a sort of energy, field or magnetism, and to approach the Hermetic arts as simply another form of technology. Certainly the operation of interconnection and Cosmic sympathy has been seen in terms of rays and light, in Al-Kindi's Stellar Rays, for example, but this energy is spiritual and does not obey the laws governing matter and energy. The fact that spiritual energy acts at a distance, moves infinitely far instantaneously breaking the 186,000 miles per second limit of the speed of light and can be approach as either an impersonal force or a personality, means that it cannot be understood in the Modern World View.
We need a new approach, which in fact, is the old one, the pre-Enlightenment traditions. We should attempt as soon as possible in our studies to stop using modern sources written about the Hermetic arts, i.e. secondary sources, and start using primary sources, the actual texts written and used by practitioners and traditional philosophers. Use the modern sources just to get oriented as a bridge to a new way of thinking and understanding and use the traditional sources to orient yourself and guide yourself in this new world.
With regard to traditional astrology we are privileged to have a number of practicing astrologers who teach courses, Robert Zoller for natal, Lee Lehman and John Frawley for horary and my own Horary Astrology Course, Natal Astrology Course, Electional Astrology Course and full Astrological Magic Course as well as Planetary Magic Mini-Course and Lunar Mansions Mini-Course. While it is theoretically possible to learn traditional astrology on ones own I have yet to meet anyone with the dedication to do it.
Traditional magic is basically the ceremonial magic of grimoires like the Greater and Lesser Key of Solomon and the Picatrix. There are certainly practitioners of traditional ceremonial magic, but they are somewhat reclusive and to my knowledge there are none that offer set courses of study. Most magicians are of the modern variety of Golden Dawn, Chaos or a myriad of other methodologies which are not necessarily compatible with traditional Hermetic gnosis. Similarly many going under the name of alchemists are not doing any practical laboratory work or using traditional sources. Caveat Emptor!
I discuss an additional practical technique for assisting in Hermetic Gnosis in my article Hermetic Dreaming.




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Specializing in Horary Astrology, Electional Astrology Astrological Magic and Astrological Talismans.

Copyright 2004, Christopher Warnock, All Rights Reserved.