Hermetic Archetypes

Ella S.

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This is only one potential scheme.

Monad - Ever-present silent stillness.

Sun - The Teacher
Moon - The Caretaker

Salt - Id. One's instinctual and emotional drives, similar to the epithymia and eros.
Mercury - Ego. One's identity and sense of virtue, similar to ethos.
Sulphur - Superego. One's analytical mind and goal-driven sense of reason, similar to the logistikon.

Earth - Discipline. Also associated with the Melancholic Temperament, characterized by cautiousness.
Water - Wisdom. Essentially one's maturity and perspective. Also associated with the Phlegmatic Temperament, characterized by introspection.
Air - Intellect. Essentially one's capacity to reason, problem solve, and remember. Also associated with the Sanguine Temperament, characterized by extroversion.
Fire - Will. Essentially passion and motivation. Also associated with the Choleric temperament, characterized by aggression.

I've been thinking about how to best describe these archetypes for years now and, ironically, I feel like I finally found the best way to describe them now that I am no longer enmeshed in Hermeticism. Perhaps they will be of use to someone else, probably one of those people that collect long-running lists of Hermetic correspondences.

I'm open to discussing why I came to the understandings that I have here.
 

Ella S.

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Hermes and virtue was surprising... how do you arrive at this?

Hermeticism is deeply influenced by Platonic philosophy. The Three Primes were almost a direct adaptation of the Tripartate Soul, although it was also influenced by similar Greek ideas. Here, virtue and honor were associated with spiritedness, which sits "between" the rational mind and the passions, meaning that it would be associated with Mercury since Mercury is between Sulphur and Salt.

Given Hermeticism's focus on balance and harmony, it makes sense that an emphasis would be placed on this mediator figure. Here "virtue" takes on its more classical notion of a "golden mean." Hermes is the golden mean between the gods (and the Logos) and the natural world (with its Pathos.)

Understanding Mercury's role in the Tria Prima took the longest amount of time for me. It's more difficult because it's not consistent whether Mercury is "above" or "below" Sulphur, but given Sulphur's very consistent association with the Logos and the Holy Spirit in earlier texts and Mercury's place as a mediator I figured this layout made more sense. Once the layout was in place, everything else started to make more sense.
 

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I think this Hermeticism stuff is going to be more interesting than I thought. I'm hooked. My understanding is limited, I only know that you are supposed to end up with the Philosopher's Stones when it's all said and done.
 

Ella S.

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I think this Hermeticism stuff is going to be more interesting than I thought. I'm hooked. My understanding is limited, I only know that you are supposed to end up with the Philosopher's Stones when it's all said and done.

Or create a Homonculus or turn Lead into Gold or to create Panacea, etc.

By my mileage, they all symbolize the same process from a spiritual perspective, which is the purification or healing of one's soul by finding harmony with one's inner archetypes, starting by integrating the "lower" archetypes (Earth, Salt, Saturn/Lead, Capricorn) and working up towards the "higher" archetypes to achieve divinization.

Not mentioned above are the planetary archetypes and the zodiac signs, although I think those are probably easier to understand given their prevalence.
 
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Or create a Homonculus or turn Lead into Gold or to create Panacea, etc.

I have heard of lead into gold before, as a transformative process but I never knew much about homonculi or panaceas, so I had to do a search.

By my mileage, they all symbolize the same process from a spiritual perspective, which is the purification or healing of one's soul by finding harmony with one's inner archetypes, starting by integrating the "lower" archetypes (Earth, Salt, Saturn/Lead, Capricorn) and working up towards the "higher" archetypes to achieve divinization.

This is what scares me a little about the whole thing, and that is that Hermeticism can be seized upon by almost any camp of thought. There are both active and passive approaches. Passive with actionless action (easy and natural) is preferable to me. I find that the more active and forced one is with a transformative process the less is achieved. This smacks of a smug and paltry deistic approach, in which a person is caught up in a never-ending quest to outsmart themselves (no active divine, just active ego.)

Not mentioned above are the planetary archetypes and the zodiac signs, although I think those are probably easier to understand given their prevalence.

I always like the easy way best. Would like to hear more about it.
 
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Ella S.

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This is what scares me a little about the whole thing, and that is that Hermeticism can be seized upon by almost any camp of thought. There are both active and passive approaches. Passive with actionless action (easy and natural) is preferable to me. I find that the more active and forced one is with a transformative process the less is achieved. This smacks of a smug and paltry deistic approach, in which a person is caught up in a never-ending quest to outsmart themselves (no active divine, just active ego.)

Transformation doesn't happen by sitting around doing nothing. Well, actually, it can, but you still have to actively do nothing. Actually, any response I have to what you said here is probably going to sound like a uselessly obscurantist koan.

I always like the easy way best. Would like to hear more about it.

Astrology is very popular but I know almost nothing about it. I'm not sure that I could even point you in the right direction on that one.

I do know a bit about the planets and how they relate to the 8 operations of alchemy but, personally, I think the 4 phases of alchemy (based on the 4 elements) work better because they aren't as rigid and growth rarely follows a specific, determined path. The more specific a path is, the less likely it is to be pertinent.

In a book I wrote that touched on alchemy, I pointed out that the 4 phases can each be broken down into a beginning, middle, and end as a way of helping people through each phase. This totaled 12 operations but they were really still based on the 4 phases. You could match these up with the Zodiacs if you wanted but I am not sure how well that would measure up.
 

Ella S.

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I do know a bit about the planets and how they relate to the 8 operations of alchemy but, personally, I think the 4 phases of alchemy (based on the 4 elements) work better because they aren't as rigid and growth rarely follows a specific, determined path. The more specific a path is, the less likely it is to be pertinent.

The four phases (Nigredo/Blackening, Albedo/Whitening, Citrinitas/Yellowing, and Rubedo/Reddening) also correspond to the Neoshamanic Journey where one descends into the lower world (Nigredo), then the middle world (Albedo+Citrinitas which are often combined in alchemical mansucripts), and then the upper world (Rubedo) before returning.
 
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stranger

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Transformation doesn't happen by sitting around doing nothing. Well, actually, it can, but you still have to actively do nothing. Actually, any response I have to what you said here is probably going to sound like a uselessly obscurantist koan.

It's an honest reply, we need more of that here on interfaith. I get you though. Non-action is only called that because it bypasses certain thinking processes. It could be said it doesn't come through thinking, but through being sensitive to the flow of the Tao. The still small voice in the Christian realm.

The four phases (Nigredo/Blackening, Albedo/Whitening, Citrinitas/Yellowing, and Rubedo/Reddening) also correspond to the Neoshamanic Journey where one descends into the lower world (Nigredo), then the middle world (Albedo+Citrinitas which are often combined in alchemical mansucripts), and then the upper world (Rubedo) before returning.

I like this a lot, very much like death and resurrection, dark night of the sould, etc. I'm called there myself and at this point just long to have it all over. Such things will trigger everything you have, desires, emotions, death, life, happiness, sadness, darkness, light. I have seen it coming, just been looking for a place to go to ground and ride it out. I found that there is no such place. It will take you when it is your time no matter where you are.

This is going to sound like a weird question. In alchemy, there is a principle of the sealed flask (there's a word for it but I can't remember). This sealed vessel represents a place in the process where nothing can no longer be put into into the primed material, it already has all it needs. The master alchemist then continues the process by applying heat at just the right time. What I find comforting about this stage is that once the material is locked in like this we are past the point of return, the process will continue now regardless. At this point even I couldn't mess it up. :) It's the comfort of having the process go to a stage where things are out of your hands.
 

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This is going to sound like a weird question. In alchemy, there is a principle of the sealed flask (there's a word for it but I can't remember). This sealed vessel represents a place in the process where nothing can no longer be put into into the primed material, it already has all it needs. The master alchemist then continues the process by applying heat at just the right time. What I find comforting about this stage is that once the material is locked in like this we are past the point of return, the process will continue now regardless. At this point even I couldn't mess it up. :) It's the comfort of having the process go to a stage where things are out of your hands.

While I'm not an alchemist, I think I recognize what you describe. The process, once set in motion, is not going to stop, and in that sense, out of our hands. Learning to adapt gracefully to this state of affairs, on the other hand, definitely does not happen all on its own, and is very much in our hands. I think this is part of all the traditions which address this part of the spiritual journey.
 

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The process, once set in motion, is not going to stop, and in that sense, out of our hands. Learning to adapt gracefully to this state of affairs, on the other hand, definitely does not happen all on its own, and is very much in our hands.

Word.
 

Ella S.

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This is going to sound like a weird question. In alchemy, there is a principle of the sealed flask (there's a word for it but I can't remember). This sealed vessel represents a place in the process where nothing can no longer be put into into the primed material, it already has all it needs. The master alchemist then continues the process by applying heat at just the right time. What I find comforting about this stage is that once the material is locked in like this we are past the point of return, the process will continue now regardless. At this point even I couldn't mess it up. :) It's the comfort of having the process go to a stage where things are out of your hands.

There are some things that cannot be unlearned and some doors that cannot be reopened. Losing your innocence is one of them. Riding a bike is another.

I'm not sure if I agree that the completion of the Great Work counts but I spent the last 8 years on the Great Work until I was able to complete it and it certainly seems like it has become an inseparable part of me. I don't think I could undo the changes it set into me without serious effort.

At the same time, I don't consider myself a magus or a sage for undergoing the work, either. I went into it looking for inner peace and discipline, nothing more. That's what I found.
 

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There are some things that cannot be unlearned and some doors that cannot be reopened. Losing your innocence is one of them. Riding a bike is another.

You and I are from different worlds. The Great work for me includes endless possibilities, one of which is a return to innocence. To seek innocence is to recover something you have lost. To find purity, I know myself to be impure. To find forgiveness, I know myself to be guilty. To be clean, I know myself to be unclean. I speak only of myself here, not of others.

I'm not sure if I agree that the completion of the Great Work counts but I spent the last 8 years on the Great Work until I was able to complete it and it certainly seems like it has become an inseparable part of me. I don't think I could undo the changes it set into me without serious effort.

The changes are sacred and I acknowledge this to be so, but I am not you and you are not me. I cannot be you and you cannot be me. You have finished your work but mine continues and is not yet complete.

At the same time, I don't consider myself a magus or a sage for undergoing the work, either. I went into it looking for inner peace and discipline, nothing more. That's what I found.

Congratulations. I would only have you consider the words of Paul (and I paraphrase), every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner and another after that. It is sad to me in a way that we all have different paths, but I hope on completion perhaps we will find we were not really that different after all.
 

Ella S.

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You and I are from different worlds. The Great work for me includes endless possibilities, one of which is a return to innocence. To seek innocence is to recover something you have lost. To find purity, I know myself to be impure. To find forgiveness, I know myself to be guilty. To be clean, I know myself to be unclean. I speak only of myself here, not of others.

Unfortunately, I don't think any ritual or ceremony will ever return that innocence to you but I wish you luck if that's your quest, regardless. Perhaps you will find something I never have.

The changes are sacred and I acknowledge this to be so, but I am not you and you are not me. I cannot be you and you cannot be me. You have finished your work but mine continues and is not yet complete.

Of course.

Congratulations. I would only have you consider the words of Paul (and I paraphrase), every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner and another after that. It is sad to me in a way that we all have different paths, but I hope on completion perhaps we will find we were not really that different after all.

I appreciate the thought but I'm not Christian, never had a high opinion of Paul even when I was, and I disagree with that saying attributed to him.

Nonetheless, I think most people have something to contribute to society and we can't all just contribute the same thing, but there will always be somebody better than us. The equality posited here is a lie. It's a pleasant and comforting lie but I prefer harsh realities.
 

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Unfortunately, I don't think any ritual or ceremony will ever return that innocence to you but I wish you luck if that's your quest, regardless. Perhaps you will find something I never have.

You are giving up too quickly, imo. Understand that I will never give up on love, no matter what happens. I would never be able to explain that but it is true. To know love, I know myself to be without it.

I appreciate the thought but I'm not Christian, never had a high opinion of Paul even when I was, and I disagree with that saying attributed to him.

I never needed you to be a Christian or have a high opinion of Paul. All that was necessary was that you had read him, and I think you have.

Nonetheless, I think most people have something to contribute to society and we can't all just contribute the same thing, but there will always be somebody better than us. The equality posited here is a lie. It's a pleasant and comforting lie but I prefer harsh realities.

Someone told me when I came here as an untouchable that the truth would come out, and I think it has, at least partly. I sense it is not over yet, so I just wait, not knowing how things are going to go from one minute to the next. I accept the harsh reality of whatever comes, however. The truth comes out for all of us, I suspect, including me. If it destroys me, it destroys me. If it frees me, it frees me. All other avenues have been exhausted. This is what I mean when I say we are not so different, that the struggle is/was the same. Kings and beggars both must lay down everything they have to pass through the narrow gate, to whatever lies on the other side. Until then, I suppose I will remain an untouchable. That doesn't mean I gave up, it just means I let go of my own way.
 

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You are giving up too quickly, imo. Understand that I will never give up on love, no matter what happens. I would never be able to explain that but it is true. To know love, I know myself to be without it.

I'm not sure what part of that statement makes you feel like I've given up on anything. I've never searched for a way to regain my innocence but I've spent a great deal of time trying to learn to accept things as they are. I'm still not very good at it but I'm slowly improving and that's about all I can do.

I'm also not really one to pursue love. I'm asocial and aro-ace. Love simply isn't something that I value. Actually, if I'm being honest with you, I don't want to love, either. To me, love creates an overabundance of irrationality and people who fall in love end up being controlled and enslaved by it. I don't want that to happen to me.

Someone told me when I came here as an untouchable that the truth would come out, and I think it has, at least partly. I sense it is not over yet, so I just wait, not knowing how things are going to go from one minute to the next. I accept the harsh reality of whatever comes, however. The truth comes out for all of us, I suspect, including me. If it destroys me, it destroys me. If it frees me, it frees me. All other avenues have been exhausted. This is what I mean when I say we are not so different, that the struggle is/was the same. Kings and beggars both must lay down everything they have to pass through the narrow gate, to whatever lies on the other side. Until then, I suppose I will remain an untouchable. That doesn't mean I gave up, it just means I let go of my own way.

I don't really know what you're talking about here, I'm sorry.

What truth comes out for all of us and what do you mean by "us?" Infants who die before their cognitive faculties are fully developed haven't really had truth come out to them, depending on what you mean by "truth." Usually, I consider truth to be a conclusion that is more certain than contradictory claims according to the preponderance of evidence so infants just don't have enough experience or understanding to arrive at any truth.
 

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I'm not sure what part of that statement makes you feel like I've given up on anything. I've never searched for a way to regain my innocence but I've spent a great deal of time trying to learn to accept things as they are. I'm still not very good at it but I'm slowly improving and that's about all I can do.

I'm also not really one to pursue love. I'm asocial and aro-ace. Love simply isn't something that I value. Actually, if I'm being honest with you, I don't want to love, either. To me, love creates an overabundance of irrationality and people who fall in love end up being controlled and enslaved by it. I don't want that to happen to me.

I've been really scratching my head over this one. That you are this way and have still been able to complete the great work is nothing short of a miracle!

I myself have trust issues and recent developments have acerbated the problem. At times I've had to deal with the amoral and have had to learn new skills to hold them at bay. They use what I call back resonance. The best way I can explain it is that it is like a sonar ping. They basically just throw a bunch of bull out there and see what comes back to them. This shows them where their target is with no risk at all to them. You would be comfortable with this technique, as there is no love in it.

I'm so tired tonight and rambling. Not sure how much sense I am making.

What truth comes out for all of us and what do you mean by "us?" Infants who die before their cognitive faculties are fully developed haven't really had truth come out to them, depending on what you mean by "truth." Usually, I consider truth to be a conclusion that is more certain than contradictory claims according to the preponderance of evidence so infants just don't have enough experience or understanding to arrive at any truth.

The truth is in what we are not in our physicality's development. No matter how long we live we must eventually unburden ourselves and pass through that narrow gate. Some do it at physical death, some do it, at least as much as possible, before physical death. For an infant to pass early is a tragedy but is there really not a lot of difference between someone who has an early passing and one who, for example lives for a hundred years. There was truth, truth took a body, the body passed away, truth still exists and something has been added to it. This is a mystery but it concerns our sojourn here in the realm of sense. Understand, this is all just IMO stuff.
 

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Mercury's light appears to us as Lucifer, distorted by impurities, what the alchemist calls ‘red sulfur' and is traditionally the devil but in reality is an illusion because it is a distorted image of Mercury. These impurities are the blackness that veils our true light being. Enter the Green Lion! “There is this one green lion, which closes and opens the seven indissoluble seals of the seven metallic spirits which torments the bodies, until it has perfected them, by means of the artist's long and resolute patience”
— ‘The Cosmopolite’ (16th century)

The principle of Mercury is that it always flows back together into a unity, it is perfectly symbolized in the Yin Yang. But, the importance is not on the two halves creating the whole, rather it is the "S" shape that separates them. It is this "S" shape that is the river of alchemical Mercury. This is further identified as the boundary between waking and sleeping. There is a place, not quite sleeping, not quite waking, and here is where flows this river of alchemical Mercury, where you can project the contents of the unconscious and you can read it back to yourself.

Hermetically this is the notion of the microcosm and macrocosm, that somehow the great world, the whole of the cosmos is reflected in the mystery of mankind and it is reflected in the mystery of our mind and body, the objective and subjective universes. Here lies the secret of the alchemist's Coagulation, where the mutability of Mercury is overcome and crystallized. It must become ‘fixed' so that it cannot get away from you. This is what I term the Mercurius Consciousness, what Carl Jung would call the Individuation Process. A dissolving of the boundaries of the ego, and allowing of the chaotic material of the unconscious to pour forth where it can be inspected by consciousness.
___________________________________
from the 'Book of Mercury'
Texts of The Herald of the Dawn (H☿D)
 

Ella S.

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I've been really scratching my head over this one. That you are this way and have still been able to complete the great work is nothing short of a miracle!

Or, more likely, I simply never truly completed the Great Work and corrupted it into a form that I could finish.

I myself have trust issues and recent developments have acerbated the problem. At times I've had to deal with the amoral and have had to learn new skills to hold them at bay. They use what I call back resonance. The best way I can explain it is that it is like a sonar ping. They basically just throw a bunch of bull out there and see what comes back to them. This shows them where their target is with no risk at all to them. You would be comfortable with this technique, as there is no love in it.

I'm so tired tonight and rambling. Not sure how much sense I am making.

That makes sense to me. I used to do something similar for awhile where I would go to forums and take wild positions in the hopes that someone could debate them and I could eliminate my options.

It didn't really work for me. I never really found anyone's arguments compelling online, probably because most people online don't have degrees in analytical philosophy so they don't really know how to make decent arguments. Most people seem to just repeat basic, entry-level arguments without a deeper understanding of them. I had to study more and come to my conclusions on my own for the most part.

Perhaps that's arrogance on my part. I don't know. I genuinely tried to hear them out but I've just become more jaded on the subject over time.

The truth is in what we are not in our physicality's development. No matter how long we live we must eventually unburden ourselves and pass through that narrow gate. Some do it at physical death, some do it, at least as much as possible, before physical death. For an infant to pass early is a tragedy but is there really not a lot of difference between someone who has an early passing and one who, for example lives for a hundred years. There was truth, truth took a body, the body passed away, truth still exists and something has been added to it. This is a mystery but it concerns our sojourn here in the realm of sense. Understand, this is all just IMO stuff.

So is this truth essentially neti-neti?
 

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Or, more likely, I simply never truly completed the Great Work and corrupted it into a form that I could finish.

I think you shouldn't be to modest here on my account. You sounded pretty sure of yourself when you said you completed the Great Work and were enjoying the fruits of your labor. No, I think you have something inside you that I don't have. But that is okay. I have to just be honest and admit that I have not finished The Great Work in any form, above or below. This is my true ground and I will be content with it.

That makes sense to me. I used to do something similar for awhile where I would go to forums and take wild positions in the hopes that someone could debate them and I could eliminate my options.

I experienced some of this when I dealt with the amoral and can assure you it is heartbreaking. This is what it means to be a toy, a plaything of our own past.

It didn't really work for me. I never really found anyone's arguments compelling online, probably because most people online don't have degrees in analytical philosophy so they don't really know how to make decent arguments. Most people seem to just repeat basic, entry-level arguments without a deeper understanding of them. I had to study more and come to my conclusions on my own for the most part.

Well these things usually just further calcify us in our own positions. A mind is hard to change, just think how hard it would be with a heart. It is fascinating how far apart we are. You come to conclusions on your own and I can't do a thing on my own. Aren't we a pair.

Perhaps that's arrogance on my part. I don't know. I genuinely tried to hear them out but I've just become more jaded on the subject over time.

(see above)

So is this truth essentially neti-neti?

Who he? I'll do a search later and get back to you on that one.
 
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