Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Spirit of Hermes Return

The Spirit of Hermes Return


There was a Wise Sage teaching at the great Egyptian temple of the Goddess Isis in Memphis with many students and female oracles in training under his guidance. He taught that the goddess, whom he named in their Egyptian tongue as Isis, was a symbol for the great mystery of the universe, the stars themselves and all that is good, above all he taught that their original wisdom came from Thoth, the god of knowledge. Thoth the god of knowledge was the Egyptian name for the god of knowledge that the people celebrated at that time.

One day, after teaching them much of these mysteries, he was called away by the inner voice of his soul, and he renounced his temple status and hierophantic titles along with his teaching role and the company of his loyal students and went into the wilderness, taking with him the eldest of his neophytes, the only one of his neophytes who was beyond puberty. In the temple, as was the tradition, the neophytes and acolytes referred to each other as ‘brothers and sisters’ for such was their communal spirit. When they saw their teacher leave they said ‘goodbye father of the mysteries’ and when they saw the chosen one, the eldest of their class leave they said ‘fare thee well temple brother.’

After a long time the initiates at the temple having a faint remembrance of their wise illuminated teacher wondered at times where he was, and longed to see him for his wisdom of the universe was great. They were then told later by their high priestess that he had gone away long ago, and perhaps had passed from this earth. At times in answer to their longing she would say, ‘perhaps he will come or send word, for so he promised before his departure.' Sometimes the neophytes grieved at their teacher's absence, for he was like their own father and whenever they felt the need for his wisdom to be among them they would read his writings and comfort themselves with the hope, ‘perhaps some day he will be with us as he promised and will complete our temple wisdom in the name of Isis and Thoth!’

After some time the high priestess also passed away, and the neophytes were left with new guardians who were entrusted with their learning and care, together with the care of the great Temple of Isis and all its wealth left by the high priestess and the missing hierophant.

Their elder neophyte, whom they once called brother so long ago, being he who had left with their master, came to return after some years. He had been living in the wilderness of Greece and his master had been teaching the high wisdom in the Greek tongue. Now at last the chosen neophyte came, when his smooth face had become bearded and when his cheerful look had given place to a serious expression, and his fair skin, now weathered in the strong sun for years, had turned brown, he at last came home. He went away with his teacher in grandeur speaking Egyptian; he returned in poverty and knocked at the door of the temple, speaking Greek and poor Egyptian. The temple servants did not recognize him, and did not allow him to enter. His language was changed; the long stay in a foreign country had made him forget many things. He said to the neophytes, ‘Come, oh temple brothers and sisters of the wisdom of Hermes, ye are my master's students, of his wise philosophy. I have come from my teacher, who is perfectly peaceful and happy in his retirement in the wilderness, and has sent me to bring you his love and his message, that your life may become worthwhile, and that you may have the great happiness of meeting your teacher, who loved you so greatly.'

They answered, ‘how can it be that thou comest from our teacher who has been gone so long, and has given us no sign? How is it that you call us brothers and sisters in the wisdom of Hermes, when we were learned in the wisdom of Thoth?’ He said, ‘If ye cannot understand, ask our holy mother, the high priestess of Isis in Memphis. She will be able to tell you.’ But the wise mother had already passed away; only her grave was left, which would never tell the words of how the wisdom of Thoth and Hermes was universal and of the same nature. He said, ‘Then consult your new guardians. Perhaps they will be able to tell you from the recollections of the past; or things that our high priestess may have said to them might bring to their memory the universal words of our teacher about my coming.’

Yet the guardians of the temple had grown careless, indifferent, blind, quite happy in the possession of all the wealth, and enjoying the treasured gold left in their charge, and used their undisputed power and complete hold over all the neophytes in Memphis. Their first thought on hearing he had come was of annoyance. When they saw him they were quite heedless, for they found in him no trace of what he had been like before, and as they saw he was without power or wealth, and was altered in looks, in dress, in everything and they cared not for him for now he seemed to be a Greek and not an Egyptian. They said, ‘By what authority do you claim to be the chosen one of our teacher, who has long since passed away, and may perhaps be dwelling in the heavens by now?’ He then said to the other neophytes, ‘I love you, oh neophytes of my teacher, although you cannot recognize me, and even if you do not acknowledge me as your temple brother, take my helping word for your teacher's word. Do good in life and avoid evil, for every work has its reward like unto it.’

The older ones, who were by now hardened in their ways, paid no heed for they did not recognise this wisdom of Hermes, and the little ones were too young to understand; but the middle ones hearkened to his words and followed him quietly, won by his magnetism and charmed by his loving personality, they realised that Thoth and Hermes were the same.

The temple guardians became alarmed at the thought that the neophytes in their charge might be tempted and carried off. They thought, ‘Some day even the remaining ones may be charmed by his magic; and our control over them, with the possession of their wealth and our comfort in their temple, and our importance and honour in their eyes will all be lost if we let this go on any longer.’ They made up their minds to kill him and incited the remaining neophytes against him, declaring before them the pity of their dear brother and sister neophytes being led astray by false and foreign Greek names, and carried away from their study here and its comfort, and how unfounded was the claim he made.

They came up to this man and arrested him, and bound his arms and legs threw him in the sea, but those neophytes who had looked upon him as their guide and temple brother grieved and lamented at this. The chosen one consoled them, saying, ‘I will come to you again, neophytes of my master. Do not give up hope and the things that you have not understood, being young will be taught to you fully; and as these people have behaved so harshly towards me, it will be shown them what it is to be heedless of our teacher's message brought by his own chosen one; and you will be enlightened, oh neophytes of my teacher, with the same light which I came to give you.’

Their temple brother was an expert swimmer and the sea had no power to drown him. He seemed to them to have sunk from the distance, but then he drew his hands and feet out of the knots, rose upon the water and began to swim, as he had been taught by the Phoenicians. He went to the Wise Sage in the wilderness, their original teacher, and told him all his experiences on his long journey. The teacher said ‘come it is time to move to Rome and teach the people there.’ And so they left their Greek wilderness and went to Rome and spread the teachings of Hermes there. After some time the elder neophyte thought of his temple brothers and sisters in Egypt. Then he expressed his love and desire to obey his teacher's original will and fulfil all his commandments, to go to the neophytes of his teacher’s school again with renewed strength and power, in order to bring them to that ideal which was the only desire of their true teacher of Mystical Wisdom.

A bearer of the message of their father appeared again after a few years speaking in the Roman language used at the time. He did not insist on proving himself to be the chosen one of their teacher, but tried to guide them and help them towards the ideal set for them by their wise master in philosophy. The guardians disturbed already by one who came and went and insulted him, asking ‘from where does your wisdom originate?’ To which he said ‘In Rome we call our god of wisdom by the name of Mercury and the mystery is that of the great goddess Venus.’ This enraged them further for they did not recognise these words. To them there was only one source of wisdom, it was in Thoth as the Egyptians did say, and the great mystery was only of the goddess Isis. The guardians came and stoned him, and drove him out of their sight.; but he, renewed in his power, strength, and courage, and coming fresh from the mighty influence of his teacher’s wisdom, withstood it courageously with consecrated spear and shield, and sought refuge among those of the neophytes who responded to him and sympathized with him on his last coming.

They said, ‘surely he who came before was from our teacher, whom our brothers did not recognize and have sunk in the sea, but we are awaiting his coming, for he promised us that he would come.’ He answered, ‘It is I who promised, and went to our master, and now I have come, for the promise given to you was of two natures: ‘I will come again’ was said to those who could recognize our wisdom in a different garb, suited to the time and the situation. ‘I will send another’ or ‘another will come’ was said to those who were likely to be confused by the external garb. It was said to them so that they might not refuse the words of high initiation sent by our most loving master Wise Sage.’ They understood his word better, but refused to acknowledge him to be the same as the first, whom they had formerly seen and now expected. He spoke, and he showed in his works the signs of their teacher, but they clung to the person whom they had seen at first, forgetting his word and their teacher.

But the little ones amongst the ranks of temple neophytes, who had not known him before, felt the tie of the initiatory relationship, for neither were their hearts hardened nor were they set strongly in their ideas. They loved him, and they recognized him more than had ever been his experience at his former coming, while the other neophytes, under the influence of the guardians, fought and rebelled against all that this man did. But, in spite of all their resistance and the suffering caused to him, the chosen one guided the younger neophytes of his initiator, as many as he could, until the wisdom of their initiator was again glorified and his neophytes were guided in the mystical knowledge, directly or indirectly, through the puzzles of the world and to the knowledge of the secrets of the heavens.

This story illustrates what has happened in the lives of the Wise Sages, especially to the transmission of Alexandrian knowledge, though the terms teacher/master, chosen one and brothers and sisters are really all metaphorical. It is understood in the Alexandrian tradition that Hermes, Mercury and Thoth are all one and the same god, as was first declared during the ancient Alexandrian period before Christ. Hermes was known by different names in the different lands of Egypt, Rome and Greece hence he is called Thrice Great! In Alexandria the Jewish residents there called him Enoch, the first amongst their prophets. Thus equally the mystery remains the same, whether it was named after Isis, Demeter or Venus in other lands, or as the Bride as we call it in the Mystical tradition. There is only one-universal Hermetic knowledge which arose in the Alexandrian age, and while scholars have fought over the Egyptian enigma of the Tarot, all wise knowledge which the world has fought over comes from Hermes no matter its name, and all the forms that have won the adoration of the truth-seeking world for every age are his holy inscriptions. The message, as well as the messenger, takes on other forms suitable to the time and culture of the period. Therefore, though the foolish reject the message, there are wise ones who accept the essence of the spirit of Hermes’ return.

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