Emerald Tablet

From Academic Kids

The Emerald Tablet (or Smaragdine Table or Tablet) of Hermes Trismegistus is a short, cryptic text purporting to reveal the secret of the primordial substance and its transmutations. Alchemical writings sometimes reference it by a variant title: The Secret of Hermes. Its putative author is Hermes Trismigestus (Hermes the Thrice-Great), a legendary Egyptian adept named after the Greek god of occult wisdom. Until the twentieth century, its earliest known sources were Medieval Latin manuscripts, but subsequent investigations have revealed Arabic predecessors.

Contents

The Tablet Itself

One translation, by Isaac Newton, found among his alchemical papers, runs as follows:

1. Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
2. That wch is below is like that wch is above & that wch is above is like yt wch is below to do ye miracles of one only thing.
3. And as all things have been & arose from one by ye mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
4. The Sun is its father, the moon its mother,
5. the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth its nourse.
6. The father of all perfection in ye whole world is here.
7. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
7a. Separate thou ye earth from ye fire, ye subtile from the gross sweetly wth great indoustry.
8. It ascends from ye earth to ye heaven & again it desends to ye earth and receives ye force of things superior & inferior.
9. By this means you shall have ye glory of ye whole world & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
10. Its force is above all force. ffor it vanquishes every subtile thing & penetrates every solid thing.
11a. So was ye world created.
12. From this are & do come admirable adaptaions whereof ye means (Or process) is here in this.
13. Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of ye philosophy of ye whole world.
14. That wch I have said of ye operation of ye Sun is accomplished & ended.

Another translation from Aurelium Occultae Philosophorum by Georgio Beato:

1) This is true and remote from all cover of falsehood
2) Whatever is below is similar to that which is above. Through this the marvels of the work of one thing are procured and perfected.
3) Also, as all things are made from one, by the consideration of one, so all things were made from this one, by conjunction.
4) The father of it is the sun, the mother the moon.
5) The wind bore it in the womb. Its nurse is the earth, the mother of all perfection.
6a)Its power is perfected.
7) If it is turned into earth,
7a) separate the earth from the fire, the subtle and thin from the crude and course, prudently, with modesty and wisdom.
8) This ascends from the earth into the sky and again descends from the sky to the earth, and receives the power and efficacy of things above and of things below.
9) By this means you will acquire the glory of the whole world, and so you will drive away all shadows and blindness.
10) For this by its fortitude snatches the palm from all other fortitude and power. For it is able to penetrate and subdue everything subtle and everything crude and hard.
11a) By this means the world was founded
12) and hence the marvelous cojunctions of it and admirable effects, since this is the way by which these marvels may be brought about.
13) And because of this they have called me Hermes Tristmegistus since I have the three parts of the wisdom and Philsosphy of the whole universe.
14) My speech is finished which i have spoken concerning the solar work.

Textual History

The oldest documentable source for the text is the Kitab Sirr al-Asrar, a pseudo-Aristotelian compendium of advice for rulers authored by Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani in around 800 AD. This work was translated into Latin as Secretum Secretorum (The Secret of Secrets) by Johannes "Hispalensis" or Hispaniensis (John of Seville) ca. 1140 and by Philip of Tripoli c. 1243.

In the 14th century, the alchemist Ortolanus wrote a substantial exegesis on "The Secret of Hermes," which was influential on the subsequent development of alchemy. Many manuscripts of this copy of the Emerald Tablet and the commentary of Ortolanus survive, dating at least as far back as the 15th century.

The Tablet has also been found appended to manuscripts of the Kitab Ustuqus al-Uss al-Thani (Second Book of the Elements of Foundation) attributed to Jabir ibn Hayyan, and the Kitab Sirr al-Khaliqa wa San`at al-Tabi`a (Book of the Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature), dated between 650 and 830 AD.

Influence

In its several Western recensions, the Tablet became a mainstay of medieval and Renaissance alchemy. Commentaries and/or translations were published by, among others, Trithemius, Roger Bacon, Michael Maier, Aleister Crowley, Albertus Magnus, and Isaac Newton.

C.G. Jung identified "The Emerald Tablet" with a table made of green stone that he encountered in the first of a set of his dreams and visions beginning at the end of 1912, and climaxing in his writing the Seven Sermons to the Dead in 1916.

Because of its longstanding popularity, the Emerald Tablet is the only piece of non-Greek Hermetica to attract widespread attention in the West.

External link

Bibliography

  • Holmyard, E.J. "The Emerald Table" Nature, Oct 6th pp 525-6, 1929.
  • Holmyard, E.J. Alchemy, Pelican, Harmondsworth 1957. pp95-8.
  • Needham, J.Science and Civilisation in China vol 5, part 4: Spagyrical discovery and invention: Apparatus, Theories and gifts. CUP, 1980
  • Ruska, Julius. Die Alchimie ar-Razi's. n.p., 1935.
  • Ruska, Julius. Quelques problemes de litterature alchimiste. n.p., 1931.
  • Stapleton, H.E., Lewis, G.L, Sherwood Taylor, F. "The sayings of Hermes quoted in the Ma Al-Waraqi of Ibn Umail. " Ambix, vol 3, pp 69-90, 1949.
  • M.Robinson. "The History and Myths surrounding Johannes Hispalensis," in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies October 2003, vol. 80, no. 4, pp. 443-470] abstractcs:Smaragdov deska

de:Tabula Smaragdina ja:エメラルド・タブレット nl:Smaragden Tafel

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