Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Secret Hymnody of Hermes




I thought I'd share one of my favourite sections of a dialogue from the Corpus Hermeticum. At times the Corpus is inpenetrable. At other times it blasts your consciousness with illumination and revelatory insight.

The extract I've chosen is section XIII, verses 17 to 29. Over the years I've found that this beautiful work more than repaid the time invested in contemplation and meditation. It can provide a portal or gateway to the deeper aspects of the Ogdoadic and broader Hermetic Traditions. In this part we hear Tat (Thoth) asking the Hermes to retell the hymn he heard by the Powers (dunamis), praising the Godhead, whilst he was in the Ogdoad.

In some ways this short passage is the ultimate culmination of the whole Corpus Hermeticum. Essentially it sums up the overarching theory of the Hermetic system generally while, at the same time, providing an intriguing glimpse at Hermetic praxis.

The focus of the dialogue in the wider Hymnody is on the experiences of regeneration or rebirth, which involve many things, including the replacement of twelve Tormentors within the Self by ten divine Powers, leading to the awakening gnosis of the Self and Godhead.

Aspects from this section of the Secret Hymnody, particularly those in verses 17 to 20, can be worked as a beautiful and inspiring litany for worship and devotion. You may wish to explore different verses and sections to see what works for you. Some of them can be performed twice each day, at the dawn and at the setting of the sun, as an alternative to the standard Egyptian or Vedic Usha versions many people are au fait with.

The extract provided below is based on a translation by an old colleague Vivian Godfrey (pen name Melita Denning) which is not, as far as I know, available in any printed publication. I hope you enjoy it.

“Let every substance of the world receive the sound of the hymn.
Earth, be open;
Let every bolt of the rain be open to me.
Trees, be still.
I am going to praise the Lord of creation,
Both the All and the One.
Heavens, be open,
And, winds, stand still.
Let the immortal circle of God receive my word.
For I am going to praise him who created all things,
The One who established the earth
And suspended heaven,
Who ordered the fresh water to go from the ocean
To the inhabited and uninhabited regions
For the sustenance and creation
Of all men,
The one who ordered fire to shine
On every activity
For gods and men alike.
Let us all in unison give the praise
To him who is high above the heavens,
The creator of all nature.
He is the Eye of the Intellect.
May he accept the praise of my powers.
Powers in me, praise the One and the All.
All you powers that are in me, sing in harmony with my will.
Holy knowledge,
Since I have been illumined by you,
While praising through you the intellectual light,
I rejoice with intellectual joy.
All powers, sing with me.
And you, self-control, sing with me.
My righteousness, praise the righteous through me.
My generosity, praise the All through me.
Truth, praise the Truth.
Good, praise the Good.
Life and Light, the praise goes from you to you.
I give thanks to you, Father, strength of the powers.
I give thanks to you, God, power of my forces.
Your Logos praises you through me.
Through me accept the All in speech,
A spoken sacrifice.
The powers in me cry these things aloud;
They praise the All;
They accomplish your will.
Your wish goes from you to you, the All.
Accept from all a spoken sacrifice,
The All which is in us.
Life, save!
Light, illumine!
God, inspire!
For it is your Logos which the Intellect shepherds.
Spirit-bearer,
Creator,
You are God.
Your man cries these things aloud through fire,
Through air,
Through earth,
Through water,
Through spirit,
Through your creatures.
From your Aion I found a blessing,
And, as I desire, by your wish I have come to be at rest.
By your will I saw.”


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