The Ancient Emerald Tablet Of Hermes Trismegistus; The Ultimate Source Of Alchemy?
The Emerald Tablet, aka Smaragdine Table, or Tabula Smaragdina is an ancient text that is said to contain the secret of the prima materia and its transmutation.
Highly regarded by alchemists around the world as the foundation of their art and Hermetic Tradition, the original source of this mysterious writing remains a mystery, Hermes Trismegistus is believed to have been the author of the text. Its first known appearance is in a book written in Arabic between the sixth and eighth centuries. The text was first translated into Latin in the twelfth century. Numerous translations, interpretations, and commentaries followed.
The exact author of the text remains debated. Many authors point towards Hermes Trismegistus, while others suggest it was authored by Balinas Kitāb sirr al-ḫalīqa in the 8th century. Despite the fact that the Emerald Tablet was written in in Arabic, it is claimed to be a translation from the Syriac of an older Greek text.
The layers of meaning in the Emerald Tablet have been associated with the creation of the philosopher’s stone, laboratory experimentation, phase transition, the alchemical magnum opus, the ancient, classical, element system, and the correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm.
An artist’s impression of the Emerald Tablet. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.1)Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
There aren’t probably better ways to introduce an article in which we discuss ancient scriptures which intend to reveal, among many other things, how the world was created.
The above is the first part of the text which is composed of a total of 12, 13 or 13 depending on the translation that makes up the Emerald Tablet: a revealing guide wrapped in mystery. You can’t understand it until you understand it.
Although the meaning is the same, there are several versions of this first line and the rest of the text.
It is one of the most mysterious writings ever created. We do not know where it is located, it is written with an unknown alphabet but similar to the ancient Phoenician script and is—depending on which source you consult— anywhere between 1,200 and 36,000 years old.
What we do know is that the content of what is known as the Emerald Tablet has not only survived the passage of time when it was written but also has left its mark in various spheres of knowledge and personalities like the great Isaac Newton.
2)That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing.
The phrase “as above is below” was and continues to be considered by many as the key to all mysteries.
It is the maxim that guides the faithful to the philosophical and religious tradition of Hermetism.
According to this, what happens at any level of reality, whether physical, emotional or mental, also happens at all other levels.
It is often interpreted as the relationship between the macrocosm, the Universe and the microcosm, the human being; within each is the other, so if you understand one, you can come to understand the other.
On the other hand, those four words capture the essence of alchemy: the sky is a mirror of the Earth and all things correspond to each other.
Interestingly, Alchemy was adopted by intellectually extraordinary figures, from Robert Boyle, the father of chemistry, to Isaac Newton.
It is believed that the Emerald Tablet contains a summary of all the art of the Great Work, the main objective of alchemy.
Alchemy is the art of perfection and the Great Work implies its fulfillment, perfection.
The Emerald Tablet contains in its few lines the secret of the Great Work; it is a direct passage for the achievement of perfection.
This message is expressed in a symbolic way; its mere reading does not reveal its meaning.
Some authors believe how access to the Great Work requires transcending our rational limitation, hence every alchemist entails a parallel personal transmutation that allows him to access the language of the Symbol.
The All, the One, is only expressed symbolically, and it is of great importance to learn the hermeneutics of the Symbol. Otherwise, its mere simplicity will generate disbelief.
In short, the cryptic expression of the Table is not intentional but requires the right person, trained for the Great Work.
Featured image composition: He Who Balances by Hbruton.