Thursday, August 22, 2013

Origin of the Western Mystery Schools: Thoth Hermes Trismegistus

One of the greatest tragedies to befall the philosophical world was the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria. Of the thousands of scrolls of ancient knowledge that were burned, forty books were said to be written by the greatest philosopher, teacher, and ancient monk of all time, those writings of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus.

Thoth was the first great Egyptian philosopher and the creator of the Ancient Mystery Schools. It was said that Hermes obtained his wisdom from God while in deep meditative states. His knowledge was so vast, the Egyptians began to worship him as the communicator with the gods, and eventually he became a god of the Egyptian pantheon.

The Greeks abducted him into their mythology and here he became Hermes Trismegistus. The Romans called him Mercury because Mercury is the nearest planet to the sun, and Hermes was the nearest living creature to the gods. Many think he became Enoch to the Jews, the “Second Messenger of God.” The Scandinavians worshipped Thoth as Odin, the Teutons as Wotan, and it is said that Buddha is also Thoth Hermes.

Ancient Egyptian paintings portray Thoth as the moon god with the body of a man and the head of the ibis, with a crescent moon over his head. Thoth was the god of wisdom, letters, and recording time. In many Egyptian paintings Thoth carried a writing tablet and was said to serve as the recorder during the weighing of souls of the dead in the judgment hall of Osiris.

When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, he installed a Greek governing body to rule over his new subjects. It was at this time that early Egyptian philosophy and religion blended with the Greek pantheon and the greek god Hermes took on many of the characteristics of Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom. Over the course of time the two became one, and the legend of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus was born.


Thoth Hermes was said to have authored over 30,000 books, but this is a clear exaggeration of his greatness. Most scholars put the number at forty-two books. Hermes is also given credit as the founder of medicine, chemistry, law, arc, music, rhetoric, magic, philosophy, geography, mathematics, anatomy, and oratory.

Of the forty-two books written by Hermes, thirty-six contained the whole philosophy of the Egyptians, while the other six were books about medicine and disease. His most famous writings were the Emerald Tablet, the Divine Pymander, and the Book of Thoth. Hermes entrusted the Book of Thoth only to the enlightened candidates of the Mysteries. The book was said to contain the secret processes by which the reincarnation of humanity was to be accomplished.

Nothing is for certain about the Book of Thoth other than the fact that it was written in Egyptian Hieroglyphics. The book was said to give readers that understood the hieroglyphs unlimited power over the spirits of the air and subterranean divinities. When certain areas of the brain were stimulated by the Mysteries, the subconscious of man was awakened and he was permitted to behold the Immortals and enter into the presence of the superior gods. The Book of Thoth thence described the process behind the Key to Immorality.

The Book of Thoth was kept in a golden box in the inner sanctuary of the temple. There was only one key to the box and it was held by the highest initiate of the Hermetic Arcanum Mystery School, the “Master of Mysteries”. Only the Master knew what was written in the Book of Thoth. As the Mystery Schools went into decline, the initiates of Hermes left Egypt and brought the Book of Thoth to another land. The world cannot know where it remains today, but the disciples of Hermes still use it to reach enlightenment and come into the presence of the Immortals. The chain of succession of from the first Hierophant, or Grand Master, initiated by Hermes is still intact to this day.

Hermes is important to Freemasonry as he is the creator of the Mystery Schools and author of the Masonic initiatory rituals which were the rituals used to bring a candidate into the Mysteries. Nearly all Masonic symbols are Hermetic in character. Even the Alchemists of the Revolutionary Age paid tribute to Hermes by referring to chemical writings as “Hermetic,” and the phrase “hermetically sealed” is still used to designate the closing of a glass vessel by fusion.

Below is a link to one the many writing penned by Thoth Hermes Trismegistus. With an open mind, one can find connections to Christianity, Buddhism, Freemasonry and Thiurgy.

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