Defining Hermeticism

Hermeticism: a magickal/occult definition
Western Esotericism (Hermeticism): an academic definition
Hermetic Links
Hermetic Books


Defining Hermeticism

Defining Hermeticism is not easy. It is a little like trying to define religion, or art. One could say that Hermeticism is the Wisdom Tradition of the West, an esoteric tradition not necessarily limited to any one religion or mystical path, and that embraces both the theoretical and the practical. The following are two overlapping yet quite different approaches to and definitions of Hermeticism; the magickal/occult and the academic. Of course, Hermeticism is not necessarily limited to these definitions.


Hermeticism: a magickal/occult definition

The diagram above is modified from a diagram on a Hermetic Fellowship page – The Opening of the Ways to the Hermetic Temple.  The various circles represent the variety of spiritual Paths in the Western Esoteric Tradition.  Clockwise from the top you have Theurgy, Qabalah, Rosicrucianism, Gnosticism, Grail Quest, Alchemy, Wiccan and NeoPaganism (pentagram), and the Ancient Mystery Religions (ankh).


Western Esotericism (Hermeticism): an academic definition

The following definition is from a news message on a symposium of Western Esotericism and Jewish Mysticism. Although it presents a definition of Western Esotericism (restricting hermeticism to its Renaissance phase) it can just as satisfactorally be read as a definition of Hermeticism in the broad sense

“Western Esotericism” can be understood not according to popular usage (i.e., as a near synonym of the “New Age movement”) but in the technical academic sense of the word. As such, it encompasses a complex of interrelated currents and traditions which have existed in western culture from the early modern period up to the present day, and the historical foundation of which lies in the syncretistic phenomenon known as Renaissance “hermeticism”. Accordingly, western esotericism includes the so-called “Occult Philosophy” of the Renaissance and its later developments; Alchemy; Paracelsianism and Rosicrucianism; Christian and post-Christian Kabbalah; Theosophical and Illuminist currents; and various occultist and related developments during the 19th and 20th century.


    Books, Videos and Web Links Web links

Hermetic Links

 Norton’s Imperium — Enochian Magick Papers & Links – Excellent information rich site – an incredible amount of material in both html and pdf format on Enochian Magick, classical magick texts, and the complete works of Frater Achad.

Hermetic Fellowship Website – dedicated to serving as a general resource for students and practitioners of the Western Hermetic Tradition.  Essays on various subjects and rituals; also links etc.  Specific resource for the Alexandrine Temple of the Hermetic Fellowship in Portland, Oregon.

 Dragon Rouge – Swedish hermetic-occult site

 The Western Esoteric Magical and Cabalistic Pages – “This site is dedicated to scholars and practitioners of esotericism of all types, especially those surrounding the Jewish mystical practice of Cabala. I have provided resources for both parties, and hope that you find the links and personal works as diverse, relevant and important as I do.” by Brian Privik.

 Hermetic Resource Site – as well as some on-site (mosty) Golden Dawn essays, includes a huge list of links to quality Hermetic material (Golden Dawn, OTO, pagan,classical, and other Wesrttern esoteric) on-line

 Timeline of Esoterica – a list of dates pertaining to important figures in the Western Hermetic tradition

 1529 SURF links – magick book crowley chaos magic order water magical great books
“This is one of 22 link pages collected over several years and somewhat categorized as I search for prophecy and end-times information”
a huge list of random links fetched by an automatic program according to keywords – by Glenn Scheper.



Note – the following list – which is in no way complete – combines both theoretical and practical works of Hermticism

The Secret Teachings of All Ages : An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic, and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy by Manly P. Hall, illustr. by J. Augustus Knapp – also in hardcover and Diamond Jubilee edition – a – magnificent work, a huge amount of information, also great illustrations. Although one could dispute minor points here and there, and although there have been other books since which have the benefit of more recent academic scholarship, Hall’s magnum opus will always remain true classic

Initiation into Hermetics : The Path of the True Adept by Franz Bardon – perhaps the best book on practical occultism ever written. Bardon makes it seem so easy. But he was an exceptional soul. It requires tremendous willpower and discipline to get through this course of lectures.

Hermeticism through the ages

Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times (Suny Series in Western Esoteric Traditions) by R. Van Den Broek (Editor), Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Editor), Roelof Van Den Broek (Editor)

Theosophy, Imagination, Tradition : Studies in Western Esotericism (Suny Series in Western Esoteric Traditions) – by Antoine Faivre, transl. by Christine Rhone

The Classical Age

The Way of Hermes: New Translations of The Corpus Hermeticum and The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius by Clement Salaman (Translator), Dorine Van Oyen (Translator), William D. Wharton (Translator), Jean-Pierre Mahe (Translator)
“Grimores” (Grammars) of Magic

The Book of Abramelin: A New Translation by Abraham von Worms, edited by Georg Dehn, translated by Steven Guth – a new translation of this important Jewish 14 century text with self development techniques and its way of journeying into the relms of power is full of complex concepts. The Mathers translation (The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage) is probably unlikely to date back before the 18th century and contains some erroirs in teh squares that crept into teh manuscript since the original was written. Mathers had some unpleasant experiences when translating the book, yet others have read or used it and not been affected at all. Posibly one of the most powerful occult books ever wriitten; like the enochian system, it uses arrangements of letters and certainly has a very unique energy about it.

The Greater Key of Solomon : Including a Clear and Precise Exposition of King Solomon’s Secret Procedure, Its Mysteries and Magic Rites by S. Liddell MacGregor Mathers – a well-known medieval magical text, another of a number of imprtant occult works translated by the industrious Mathers

Three Books of Occult Philosophy or Magic by Henry C. Agrippa – less on evocations and spirits and all the rest and more on a general “magickal” view of the world, in which the secular and the the sacred are not discriminated between

Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy by Henry C. Agrippa – completes the set
Renaissance and Elizabethan Period

The Enochian Magick of Dr John Dee : The Most Powerful System of Magick in Its Original, Unexpurgated Form by John Dee, ed. by Geoffrey James
True & Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between Dr. John Dee & Some Spirits (1659) by John Dee, Ed by Meric Casaubon
– along with the Abramelin system, the Enochian system is certainly one of the most powerful occult systems. It was incorporated into the Golden Dawn corpus.

The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (Magnum Opus Hermetic Sourceworks, No. 18) by Christian Rosencreutz, Joscelyn Godwin (Translator) – classic Renaissance treatise on Alchemy

The Magical Calendar : A Synthesis of Magical Symbolism from the Seventeenth-Century Renaissance of Medieval Occultism (Magnum Opus Hermetic Sourceworks) ed. by Adam McLean

Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition by Frances A. Yates – Dr Yates is written a number of books, but this one is perhaps her best, or at least the most interesting

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisitedby John Matthews (Editor), Paul Bembridge, Joscelyn Godwin, Goodrick-Clarke, Christopher Bamford, Rafal Prinke, Robert Powell, Christopher McIntosh
19th Century

The Magus : A Complete System of Occult Philosophy by Francis Barrett – published in the early 19th century, this was one of the most important occult books of its time, and exerted a strong influence on thsoe who came later

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor : Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism by Joscelyn Godwin, Christian Chanel (Editor), John Patrick Deveney (Editor) – about a little known Hermertic group that exerted great influence on all subsequent Western occultism
20th Century

See the two books listed at the top of this book list

Kybalion : A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece by “Three Initiates” – also in hardover – originally published in 1912, this slim volume presents, with commentary, the basic Hermetic principles

The Eastern Mysteries : An Encyclopedic Guide to the Sacred Languages & Magickal Systems of the World : The Key of It All, Book I by David Allen Hulse
The Western Mysteries : An Encyclopedic Guide to the Sacred Languages & Magickal Systems of the World : The Key of It All, Book by David Allen Hulse
These two books represent a huge compilation of corresponedences, rather like “777” but without them being assigned to particular archetypes

 The Magick of Solomon – a 75 minute video documentary – seems to be an anthropological occultist crossover


Astrologia Theosophica – an interesting article by Mazohir (David ben Areyah) on Astrology, Hermetic mysticism, and Kabbalah; this represents one possible approach to and application of the Western Esoteric Tradition.