The Hermetic Revival: 7 Ancient Principles For Self-Mastery

Colton Swabb
Published in
21 min readFeb 26, 2018

The universe runs on natural laws. Apples fall. Birds fly. We live. We die.

When we take the time to understand these laws, we can use them. We can leverage them. We can push against gravity to fly. We can use the knowledge one day we must die, to live better lives.

And since the very beginning of civilization the wisest of us have been united by this pursuit of discovering what these natural laws are, so we can learn from them and use them to experience more happiness, meaning, and control over our lives in the time we do have.

These days, this pursuit manifests as the top shelf of the self-help and personal growth sections at the bookstore. But nearly 2,000 years ago, when these themes and ideas would get you killed for heresy and blasphemy, they were discussed in whispered tones and passed down only from a master to their student in moments extreme trust.

However, through effort of preservation and excavation we are able to get look into our philosophical past and a once-great tradition, which lead to an overall greater understanding of the universe, our place in it, and catalyzed the Italian creative renaissance, influenced the American revolutionaries, and now shows up in much of modern day personal growth media.

This tradition, is Hermeticism.

What Is Hermeticism?

The hermetic tradition represents a non-Christian lineage of Gnosticism, which is the name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D.

The surviving writings of Hermeticism are known as the Corpus Hermetica, which is composed of a series of letters from a master, Hermes Trismegistus, wherein he tries to enlighten his disciple. These letters were lost to the western world after classical times, but survived in the Byzantine libraries.

In the Fifteenth century, the letters were rediscovered and translated into Latin by the court of Cosimo de Medici (yes, grandfather to Lorenzo de’ Medici, the patron of Leonardo Da Vinci and several other renaissance artists). These letters were so influential during the time that they acted as a catalyst in the development of Italian Renaissance thought and…

Colton Swabb

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