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Anna Kingsford: Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus – The Virgin Of The World

Artemis of Ephesus,
Restored Roman alabaster statue

from the second half of the 2nd century CE.
Naples, National Archaeological Museum, Italy.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is Anna Kingsford & Edward Maitland’s English translation from the original Greek of the ‘Kore Kosmou‘, excerpted from ‘The Virgin of the WorldA translation of Hermetic manuscripts‘. Introductory essays (on Hermeticism) and notes by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland. George Redway, London, 1885.





THE mystic title of the celebrated Hermetic fragment with which this volume commences, “Koré Kosmou” – that is, the “Kosmic Virgin,” is in itself a revelation of the wonderful identity subsisting between the ancient wisdom-religion of the old world, and the creed of catholic Christendom. Koré is the name by winch, in the Eleusinian Mysteries, Persephone the Daughter, or Maiden, was saluted; and it is also – perhaps only by coincidence – the Greek word for the pupil or apple of the eye. When, however, we find Isis, the Moon-goddess and Initiatrix, in her discourse with Horos, mystically identifying the eye with the soul, and comparing the tunics of the physical organ of vision with the envelopes of the soul; when, moreover, we reflect that precisely as the eye, by means of its pupil, is the enlightener and precipient of the body, so is the soul the illuminating and seeing principle of man, we can hardly regard this analogy of names as wholly unintentional and uninstructive.

For Koré, or Persephone, the Maiden, is the personified soul, whose “apostasy,” or “descent,” from the heavenly sphere into earthly generation, is the theme of the following Hermetic parable. (1) The Greek mysteries dealt only with two subjects, the first being the drama of the “rape” and restoration of Persephone; the second, that of the incarnation, martyrdom, and resuscitation of Dionysos-Zagreus. By Persephone was intended the Soul; and by Dionysos, the Spirit. Hermetic doctrine taught a fourfold nature both of the Kosmos and of Man; and of this fourfold nature two elements were deemed immortal and permanent, and two mortal and transient. The former were the spirit and the soul; the latter, the lower mind – or sense-body – and the physical organism. The spirit and soul, respectively male and female, remained throughout all the changes of metempsychosis the same, indissoluble and incorrupt, but the body and lower intellect were new in each rebirth, and therefore changeful and dissoluble. The spirit, or Dionysos, was regarded as of a specially divine genesis, being the Son of Zeus by the immaculate Maiden – Koré-Persephoneia, herself the daughter of Demeter, or the parent and super-mundane Intelligence, addressed in the Mysteries as the “Mother.” (2) But Koré, although thus of heavenly origin, participates more closely than her Son in an earthly and terrestrial nature. “Hence,” says Proclos, “according to the theologians who delivered to us the most holy Mysteries, Persephone abides on high in those dwellings of the Mother which she prepared for her in inaccessible places, exempt from the sensible world. But she likewise dwells beneath with Pluto, administering terrestrial concerns, governing the recesses of the earth, and supplying life to the extremities of the Kosmos.”

Wherefore, considered as the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Koré is immaculate and celestial in character: considered as the captive and consort of Hades, she belongs to the lower world and to the region of lamentation and dissolution. And, indeed, the Soul possesses the dual nature thus ascribed to her, for she is in her interior and proper quality, incorrupt and inviolable – ever virgin – while in her apparent and relative quality, she is defiled and fallen. In Hermetic fable the constant emblem of the Soul is Water, or the Sea – Maria; and one salient reason for this comparison is that water, however seemingly contaminated, yet remains, in its essence, always pure. For the defilement of so-called foul water really consists in sediments held by it in solution, and thereby causing it to appear turbid, but this defilement cannot enter into its integral constitution. So that if the foulest or muddiest water be distilled it will leave behind in the cucurbite all its earthy impurities, and present itself, without loss, clear and lucent in the recipient alembic. Not, therefore, without cause is the Soul designated “ever virgin,” because in her essential selfhood she is absolutely immaculate and without taint of sin. And the whole history of the world, from end to end, is the history of the generation, lapse, sorrows, and final assumption of this Kosmic virgin. For the soul has two modes or conditions of being – centrifugal and centripetal. The first is the condition of her outgoing, her immergence in Matter, or her “fall,” and the grief and subjection which she thereby brings upon herself. This phase is, in the Jewish Kabbala, represented by Eve. The second condition is that of her incoming, her emergence from Matter, her restitution, or glorification in “heaven.” This phase is presented to us in the Christian evangel and Apocalypse under the name of, Mary. Hence the Catholic saying that the “Ave” of Mary reverses the curse of Eva.

In perfect accord with Kabbalistic doctrine, the allegory of the “Koré Kosmou” thus clearly indicates the nature of the Soul’s original apostacy; “she receded from the prescribed limits; not willing to remain in the same abode, she moved ceaselessly, and repose seemed death.” (3)

In this phrase we have the parallel to the scene represented in the Mysteries, where Persephone, willfully straying from the mansions of heaven, falls under the power of the Hadean God. This, perhaps the most occult part of the whole allegory, is but lightly touched in the fragmentary discourse of Isis, and we cannot, therefore, do better than to reproduce here the eloquent exposition of Thomas Taylor on the subject.

“Here, then,” he says, “we see the first cause of the Soul’s descent, namely, the abandoning of a life wholly according to the Higher Intellect, which is occultly signified by the separation of Proserpina from Ceres. Afterward, we are told that Jupiter instructs Venus to go to her abode, and betray Proserpina from her retirement, that Pluto may be enabled to carry her away; and to prevent any suspicion in the virgin’s mind, he commands Diana and Pallas to go in company. The three Goddesses arriving, find Proserpina at work on a scarf for her mother; in which she had embroidered the primitive chaos and the formation of the world. Now, by Venus, in this part of the narration, we must understand desire, which, even in the celestial regions (for such is the residence of Proserpina till she is ravished by Pluto), begins silently and stealthily to creep into the recesses of the Soul. By Minerva we must conceive the rational power of the Soul, and by Diana, Nature. And, lastly, the web in which Proserpina had displayed all the fair variety of the material world, beautifully represents the commencement of the illusive operations through which the Soul becomes ensnared with the fascination of imaginative forms. After this, Proserpina, forgetful of the Mother’s commands, is represented as venturing from her retreat, through the treacherous persuasions of Venus. Then we behold her issuing on to the plain with Minerva and Diana, and attended by a beauteous train of nymphs, who are evident symbols of the world of generation, and are, therefore, the proper companions of the Soul about to fall into its fluctuating realms. Moreover, the design of Proserpina, in venturing from her retreat, is beautifully significant of her approaching descent; for she rambles from home for the purpose of gathering flowers, and this in a lawn replete with the most enchanting variety, and exhaling the most delicious odours. This is a manifest image of the Soul operating principally according to the natural and external life, and so becoming ensnared by the delusive attractions of sensible form. Immediately, Pluto, forcing his passage through the earth, seizes on Proserpina and carries her away with him. Well may the Soul, in such a situation, pathetically exclaim with Proserpina:

‘O male dilecti flores, despectaque Matris Consilia; O Veneris deprensae serius artes!’ (4)

Pluto hurries Proserpina into the infernal regions: in other words, the Soul is sunk into the profound depth and darkness of a material nature. A description of her marriage next succeeds, her union with the dark tenement of the body.”

To this eloquent exposition of Taylor’s, it is well to add the description given in Homer’s ‘Hymn to Ceres’. Persephone herself speaks:

“We were plucking the pleasant flowers, the beautiful crocus, the iris, the hyacinth, and the narcissus, which, like the crocus, the wide earth produced. With joy I was plucking them, when the earth yawned beneath, and out leaped the strong King, the Many-Receiver, and went bearing me, deeply sorrowing, under the earth in his golden chariot, and I cried aloud.”

Compare with this Hermetic allegory of the lapse of Persephone and the manner of it, the Kabbalistic story of the “fall” of Eve.

“And she saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold; and she took of the fruit thereof and did eat. (…) And to the woman He said: I will multiply thy sorrows and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.”

In a note appended to Taylor’s Dissertations, Dr. Wilder quotes from Cocker’s ‘Greek Philosophy’ the following excellent reflections: –

“The allegory of the Chariot and Winged Steeds, in Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’, represents the lower or inferior part of man’s nature (Adam or the body) as dragging the Soul down to the earth, and subjecting it to the slavery of corporeal conditions. Out of these conditions arise numerous evils that disorder the mind and becloud the reason, for evil is inherent to the condition of finite and multiform existence into which we have fallen. The earthly life is a fall. The soul is now dwelling in the grave which we call the body. (…) We resemble those ‘captives chained in a subterraneous cave,’ so poetically described in the seventh book of ‘The Republic’; their backs turned to the light, so that they see but the shadows of the objects which pass behind them, and ‘to these shadows they attribute a perfect reality.’ Their sojourn upon earth is thus a dark imprisonment in the body, a dreamy exile from their proper home.”

Similarly we read, in the “Koré Kosmou,” that the souls on learning that they were about to be imprisoned in material bodies, sighed and lamented, lifting to heaven glances of sorrow, and crying piteously, “O woe and heart-rending grief to quit these vast splendors, this, sacred sphere, and all the glories of the blessed republic of the Gods to be precipitated into these vile and miserable abodes! No longer shall we behold the divine and luminous heavens!”

Who, in reading this, is not reminded of the pathetic lament of Eve on quitting the fair “ambrosial bowers” of Paradise? (5)

From the sad and woeful state into which the Virgin thus falls, she is finally rescued and restored to the supernal abodes. But not until the coming of the Saviour, represented in the allegory before us under the name of Osiris – the Man Regenerate. This Redeemer, himself of divine origin, is in other allegories represented under other names, but the idea is always luminously defined, and the intention obvious. Osiris is the Iesous of our Christian doctrine, the supreme Initiate or “Captain of Salvation.” He is represented, together with his Spouse, as in all things “instructed” and directed by HERMES, famed as the celestial conductor of souls from the “dark abodes;” the wise and ubiquitous God in whom the initiate recognises the Genius of the Understanding or Divine Reason – the nous of Platonic doctrine, and the mystic “Spirit of Christ.” Therefore, as the understanding of holy things and the faculty of their interpretation are the gift of HERMES, the name of this God is given to all science and revelation of an occult and divine nature. A “Divine” is, in fact, one who knows the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; hence S. John the seer, or the “divine,” is especially the “beloved” of Christ. HERMES was regarded as the Messenger or Angel of the Gods, descending alike to the depths of the Hadean world, to bring up souls from thence, and ascending up beyond all heavens that he might fill all things. For the Understanding must search alike the deeps and the heights; there can be nothing hidden from it, nor can it attain the fulness of supernal and secret knowledge unless it first explore the phenomenal and terrestrial. “For that he ascended, what is it but because be also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?”

With the splendid joyousness and light-hearted humour which characterised the Greeks, mingling laughter and mirth even with the mysteries of Religion, and making their sacred allegories human and musical as no others of any nation or time, HERMES, the Diviner and Revealer, was also playfully styled a Thief, and the patron of thieves. But thereby was secretly indicated the power and skill of the Understanding in making everything intellectually its own. Wherefore, in charging HERMES with filching the girdle of Venus, the tongs of Vulcan, and the thunder of Jove, as well as with stealing and driving off the cattle of Apollo, it was signified that all good and noble gifts, even the attributes of the high Gods themselves, are accessible to the Understanding, and that nothing is withheld from man’s intelligence, if only man have the skill to seek aright.

As the immediate companion of the sun, HERMES is the opener of the gates of the highest heaven, the revealer of spiritual light and life, the Mediator between the inner and outer spheres of existence, and the Initiator into those sacred mysteries, the knowledge of which is life eternal.

The panoply with which Greek art invests HERMES, is symbolical of the functions of the Understanding. He has four implements – the rod, the wings, the sword, and the cap, denoting respectively the science of the magian, the courage of the adventurer, the will of the hero, and the discretion of the adept. The initiates of HERMES acknowledge no authority but the Understanding; they call no man king or master upon earth; they are true Free-Thinkers and Republicans. “For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (6) Hence Lactantius, in his “Divine Institutions,” says: – “Hermes affirms that those who know God are safe from the attacks of the demon, and that they are not even subjected to Fate.” Now, the powers of Fate reside in the stars – that is, in the astral sphere, whether Kosmic or micro-Kosmic. And the astral power was, in Greek fable, typified by Argos, the hundred-eyed genius of the starry zone, Panoptes, the all-seeing giant, whom it was the glory of HERMES to have outwitted and slain. Of which allegory the meaning is, that they who have the Hermetic secret are not subject to Fate, but have passed beyond the thrall of metempsychosis, and have freed themselves from “ceaseless whirling on the wheel” of Destiny. To know God is to have overcome death, and the power of death. To know the origin and secret of delusion is to transcend delusion.

The spheres of delusion, dominated by the sevenfold astral Powers, lie between the Soul and God. Beyond these spheres are the celestial “Nine Abodes,” wherein, say the Mysteries, Demeter vainly sought the lost Persephone. For from these abodes she had lapsed into a mundane and material state, and thereby had fallen under the power of the planetary rulers; that is, of Fate, personified by Hekate. On the tenth day, therefore, the divine Drama shows Demeter meeting the Goddess of Doom and Retribution, the terrible Hekate Tri-formis – personification of Karma – by whom the “Mother” is told of Persephone’s abduction and detention in the Hadean world. And – we learn – Hekate becomes thereafter the constant attendant of Persephone. All this is, of course, pregnant with the deepest significance. Until the Soul falls into Matter, she has no Fate, or Karma. Fate is the appanage and result of Time and of Manifestation. In the sevenfold astral spheres the Moon is representative of Fate, and presents two aspects, the benign and the malignant. Under the benign aspect the Moon is Artemis, reflecting to the Soul the divine light of Phoebos; under the malignant aspect she is Hekate the Avenger, dark of countenance; and three-headed, being swift as a horse, sure as a dog, and as a lion implacable. She it is who, fleet, sagacious, and pitiless, hunts guilty souls from birth to birth, and outwits death itself with unerring justice. To the innocent and chaste soul, therefore, the lunar power is favorable. Artemis is the patron and protectress of virgins – that is, of souls undefiled with the traffic of Matter. In this aspect the Moon is the Initiatrix, Isis the Enlightener, because through a beneficent Karma, or fate, the soul receives interior illumination, and the dark recesses of her chamber are lit up by sacred reminiscences. Hence, in subsequent births, such a soul becomes prophetic and “divine.” But to the corrupt and the evil-hearted the influence of the Moon is malignant, for to such she assumes the aspect of Hekate, smiting by night, and terrifying with ghostly omens of misfortune. These souls fear the lunar power, and in this instinctive dread may be discerned their secret recognition of the evil fate which they are preparing for themselves in existences to come. The Tree of Good and Evil, says the Kabbala, has its root in Malchuth – the Moon.

It has been sometime asserted that the doctrine of Karma is peculiar to Hindu theology. On the contrary, it is dearly exhibited alike in the Hebrew, Hellenic, and Christian Mysteries. The Greeks called it Fate; the Christians know it as Original Sin. With which sin all mortal men come into the world, and on account of which all pass under condemnation. Only the “Mother of God” is exempt from it, the “virgin immaculate,” through whose Seed the world shall be redeemed.

“As the lily among the thorns,” sings the Church in the “Office of the Immaculate Conception,” “so is the Beloved among the Daughters of Adam. Thou art all fair, O Beloved, and the original stain is not in thee! Thy name, O Mary, is as oil poured out; therefore, the virgins love thee exceedingly.”

If, then, by Persephone or Koré, the “Virgin of the World,” we are thus plainly taught to understand the Soul, we are no less plainly taught to see in Isis, the Initiatrix or Enlightener. Herself, equally with Koré, virgin and mother, the Egyptian Isis is, in her philosophical aspect, identical with the Ephesian Artemis, the Greek personification of the fructifying and all-nourishing power of Nature. She was regarded as the “inviolable and perpetual Maid of heaven; “her priests were eunuchs, and her image in the magnificent temple of Ephesus represented her with many breasts πολνμαστός. (7) In works of art Artemis appears variously, as the huntress, accompanied by hounds, and carrying the implements of the chase; as the Goddess of the Moon, covered with a long veil reaching to her feet, and her head adorned with a crescent; or as the many-breasted Mother-Maid, holding a lighted torch in her hand. The Latins worshipped her under the name of Diana, and it is as Diana that the Ephesian Artemis is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. Isis had all the attributes ascribed to the lunar divinity of the Greeks and Romans; and hence, like Artemis and Diana, she was identified with the occult principle of Nature – that is, Fate, which in its various aspects and relations was severally viewed as Fortune, Retribution, Doom, or Destiny; a principle represented, as we have already seen, by the Kabbalists, under the figure off Malchuth, or the Moon; and by the Hindu theosophists under the more abstract conception of Karma.

The hounds of Artemis, or Diana, are the occult powers which hunt down and pursue the soul from birth to birth; the inevitable, implacable forces of Nature which, following evermore on the steps of every ego, compel it into the conditions successively engendered by its actions, as effect by cause. Hence Actaeon, presuming upon Fate, and oblivious of the sanctity and inviolability of this unchanging law of Karmic Destiny, is torn in pieces by his own dogs, to wit, his own deeds, which by the decree of the implacable Goddess, turn upon and rend him. So also, in accordance with this philosophical idea, those who were initiated into the mysteries of Isis, wore in the public processions masks representing the heads of dogs. So intimately was the abstract conception of the moon associated by the ancients with that of the secret influence and power of Destiny in Nature, that Proclos in his Commentary upon the Timaeus says of Diana: – “She presides over the whole of the generation into natural existence, leads forth into light all natural reasons, and extends a prolific power from on high even to the subterranean realms.” These words completely describe the Egyptian Isis, and show us how the moon, occultly viewed as the Karmic power, was regarded as the cause of continued generation in natural conditions, pursuing souls even into the Hadean or purgatorial spheres and visiting upon them the fruition of their past.

Hence, too, in the Orphic Hymn to Nature, that Goddess is identified with Fortune, and represented as standing with her feet upon a wheel which she continually turns, – “moving with rapid motion on an eternal wheel.” (8) And again, in another Orphic Hymn, Fortune herself is invoked as Diana. Proclos, in the Commentary to which reference has already been made, declares that “the moon is the cause of Nature to mortals, and the self-revealing image of the Fountain of Nature.” “If,” says Thomas Taylor, “the reader is desirous of knowing what we are to understand by the fountain of Nature of which the moon is the image, let him attend to the following information, derived from a long and deep study of the ancient theology, for from hence I have learned that there are many divine fountains contained in the essence of the Demiurgus of the world; and that among these there are three of a very distinguished rank, namely, the fountain of souls, or Juno (Hera), the fountain of virtues, or Minerva (Athena), and the fountain of nature, or Diana (Artemis). (…) And this information will enable us to explain the meaning of the following passages in Apuleius, the first of which is in the beginning of the eleventh book of his Metamorphoses, wherein the divinity of the moon is represented as addressing him in this sublime manner: – ‘Behold, Lucius, moved with thy supplications, I am present; I, who am Nature, the parent of things, mistress of all the elements, initial progeny of the ages, the highest of the divinities, queen of departed spirits, the first of the celestials, of Gods and Goddesses the sole likeness of all; who rule by my nod the luminous heights of the heavens, the salubrious breezes of the sea, and the woeful silences of the infernal regions, and whose divinity, in itself but one, is venerated by all the earth, in many characters, various rites, and different appellations. (…) Those who are enlightened by the emerging rays of the rising sun, the AEthiopians and Aryans, and likewise the Egyptians, powerful in ancient learning, who reverence my divinity with ceremonies perfectly appropriate, call me by my true appellation Queen Isis.’ And again, in another place of the same book, he says of the moon: – ‘The supernal Gods reverence thee, and those in the realms beneath do homage to thy divinity. Thou dost make the world to revolve, and the sun to illumine, thou rulest the universe and treadest on Tartarus. To thee the stars respond, the deities rejoice, time returns by thee, the elements give thee service.’ For all this easily follows if we consider it as spoken of the fountain-deity of Nature subsisting in the Demiurgus, and which is the exemplar of that nature which flourishes in the lunar orb and throughout the material world.”

Thus enlightened as to the office and functions of Isis, we are at no loss to understand why she is selected by the writer of the following Hermetic fragment as the exponent of the origin, history, and destiny of the soul. For she is, in a peculiar sense, the arbiter of the soul’s career in existence, her guardian and overseer. If Demeter, the Divine Intelligence, be the Mother of Koré, then Isis is her foster-mother, for no sooner does the soul fall into generation than Isis becomes her directress and the dispenser of her fate. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that by some mythologists Isis is identified with Demeter, and the sufferings of the former modified accordingly, to harmonise with the allegory of the sorrows of Demeter as set forth in the Eleusinian Mysteries. But the cause of this confusion is obvious to those who rightly understand the Hermetic method. Isis, whether as Artemis (Good Fortune), or as Hekate (Evil Fortune), is the controlling and illuminating influence of the soul while remaining within the jurisdiction of Nature and Time; Demeter, the Divine Intelligence, represents the heavenly fountain or super-mundane source, whence the soul originally draws her being, and as such, is concerned directly, not with her exile and wanderings in material conditions, but with her final recovery from generation and return to the celestial abodes. Consistently with this idea, Isis is represented sometimes as the spouse, sometimes as the mother of Osiris, the Saviour of men. For Osiris is the microcosmic Sun, the counterpart in the human system of the macrocosmic Dionysos or Son of God. So that those authors who confound Isis with Demeter, equally and quite comprehensibly confound Osiris with Dionysos, and regard the former as the central figure of the Bacchic Mysteries. The Hermetic books admit three expressions of Deity: first, the supreme, abstract, and infinite God, eternally self-subsistent and unmanifest; secondly, the only-Begotten, the manifestation of Deity in the universe; thirdly, God in man, the Redeemer, or Osiris. On one of the walls of the Temple of the Sun at Philae, and on the gate of that at Medinet-Abou are inscribed these words: – “He has made all that is, and without Him nothing that is hath been made,” words which, fourteen centuries or more afterwards, were applied by the writer of S. John’s Gospel to the Word of God. The microcosmic Sun, or Osiris, was the image and correspondence of this macrocosmic Sun; the regenerating principle within the man, begotten by means of the soul’s experience in Time and Generation. And hence the intimate association between this regenerating principle by which the redemption of the individual was effected, and the divine power in Nature, personified by Isis, whose function it was to minister to that redemption by the ordination of events and conditions appropriate to the soul’s development. Isis is thus the secret motive-power of Evolution; Osiris is the ultimate ideal Humanity towards the realisation of which that Evolution moves.


(1) Dr. Wilder, in his Introduction to the work of Mr. Thomas Taylor, the Platonist, entitled “Dissertation on the Eleusinian Mysteries,” asserts that the name Koré is also Sanscrit, and that the Hindu goddess Parasu-pani, also called Gorée, is identical with the Koré-Persephoneia of Hellenic worship.

(2) The Spirit, under the name off Atman, is the chief topic of Hindu esoteric philosophy, the Upanishads being exclusively devoted to it. They ascribe to Atman the qualities of self-subsistence, unity, universality immutability and incorruptibility. It is independent of Karma, or acquired character and destiny, and the full knowledge of it “redeems from Karma the personality informed of it”. Atman is also the all seeing: and, as the Mantras say, He who recognises the universe in his own Atman, and his own Atman in the universe, knows no hatred.

(3) I substitute the singular from the plural number, but this alters nothing in the sense.

(4) “O flowers fatally dear, and the Mother’s counsels despised! O cruel arts of crafty Venus!”

(5) Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” Book XI.

(6) “Follow no man,” said John Inglesant’s adviser – “there is nothing in the world of any value but the Divine Light – follow it.”

(7) The many-breasted figure which forms the frontispiece of this volume, represents Isis under this aspect. The black face and hands are, of course, equivalent to the celebrated Veil, and indicate the inscrutable nature of the occult influence which directs Destiny; and which, to the uninitiate, even appears to be blind and fortuitous. The well-known “black virgin” has the same significance.

(8) Aεναω στρόφλιγγι Θοόν ρύμα ξινεύονσα.



HAVING thus spoken, Isis first pours out for Horos the sweet draught of immortality which souls receive from the Gods, and thus begins the most holy discourse.

Heaven, crowned with stars, is placed above universal nature, O my son Horos, and nothing is wanting to it of that which constitutes the whole world. It is necessary, then, that all nature should be adorned and completed by that which is above her, for this Order could not proceed from below to above. The supremacy of the greater mysteries over the lesser is imperative. Celestial order reigns over terrestrial order, as being absolutely determined, and inaccessible to the idea of death. Wherefore, the things below lament, being filled with fear before the marvellous beauty and eternal permanence of the heavenly world. For, indeed, a spectacle worthy of contemplation and desire were these magnificences of heaven, revelations of the God as yet unknown, and this sumptuous majesty of night illumined with a penetrating radiance, albeit less than that of the sun, and all these other mysteries which move above in harmonious cadence, ruling and maintaining the things below by secret influences. And so long as the Universal Architect refrained from putting an end to this incessant fear, to these anxious investigations, ignorance enveloped the universe. But when He judged good to reveal Himself to the world, He breathed into the Gods the enthusiasm of love, and poured into their mind the splendour which His bosom contained, that they might first be inspired with the will to seek, next with the desire to find, and lastly with the power to readjust.

Now, my wondrous child Horos, all this could not happen among mortals, for as yet they did not exist; but it took place in the universal Soul in sympathy with the mysteries of heaven. This was Hermes, the Kosmic Thought. He beheld the universe of things, and having seen, he understood, and having understood, he had the power to manifest and to reveal. That which he thought, he wrote; that which he wrote, he in great part concealed, wisely silent and speaking by turns, so that while the world should last, these things might be sought. And thus, having enjoined upon the Gods, his brethren, that they should follow in his train, he ascended to the stars. But he had for successor his son, and the heir of his knowledges, Tat, and a little later, Asclepios, son of Imouthè, by the counsels of Pan and Hephaistos, (1) and all those for whom sovereign Providence reserved an exact knowledge of heavenly things.

Hermes then justified himself in the presence of those who surrounded him, in that he had not delivered the integral theory to his son, on account of his youth. But I, having arisen, beheld with mine eyes, which see the invisible secrets of the beginnings of things (2) and at length, but with certainty, I understood that the sacred symbols of the Kosmic elements were hidden near the secrets of Osiris. Hermes returned to heaven, having, pronounced an invocatory speech.

It is not fitting, O my Son, that this recital be left incomplete; thou must be informed of the words of Hermes when he laid down his books. “O sacred books,” he said, “of the Immortals, ye in whose pages my hand has recorded the remedies by which incorruptibility is conferred, remain for ever beyond the reach of destruction and of decay, invisible and concealed from all who frequent these regions, until the day shall come in which the ancient heaven shall bring forth instruments worthy of you, whom the Creator shall call souls.”

Having pronounced upon his books this invocation, he wrapped them in their coverings, returned into the sphere which belonged to him, and all remained hidden for a sufficient space.

And Nature, O my Son, was barren until the hour in which those who are ordained to survey the heavens, advancing towards God, the King of all things, deplored the general inertia, and affirmed the necessity of setting forth the universe. No other than Himself could accomplish this work.

“We pray Thee,” said they, “to consider that which already is, and that which is necessary for the future.”

At these words, the God smiled benignant, and commanded Nature to exist. And, issuing with His voice, the FEMININE came forth in her perfect beauty. The Gods with amaze beheld this marvel. And the great Ancestor, pouring out for Nature an elixir, commanded her to be fruitful; and forthwith, penetrating the universe with His glance, He cried, “Let heaven be the plenitude of all things, and of the air, and of the ether.” God spake, and it was done. But Nature, communing with herself, understood that she might not transgress the commandment of the Father, and, uniting herself to Labour, she produced a most beautiful daughter, whom she called Invention, and to whom God accorded being.

And having differentiated created forms, He filled them with mysteries, and gave the command of them to Invention.

Then, not willing that the upper world should be inactive, He saw fit to fill it with spirits, in order that no region should remain in immobility and inertia; and in the accomplishment of His work He used His sacred art. For, taking of Himself such essence as was necessary and mingling with it an intellectual flame, He combined with these other materials by unknown ways. And having achieved by secret formulas the union of these principles, He endowed with motion the universal combination. Gradually, in the midst of the protoplasm, glittered a substance more subtle, purer, more limpid, than the elements from which it was generated. It was transparent, and the Artist alone perceived it. Soon, it attained its perfection, being neither melted by the fire, nor chilled by the breath, but possessing the stability of a special combination, and having its proper type and constitution. He bestowed on it a happy name, and, according to the similitude of its energies, He called it Self-Consciousness.

Of this product he formed myriads of Souls, employing the choicest part of the mixture for the end which He had in view, proceeding with order and measure, according to His knowledge and His reason. The souls were not necessarily different, but the choicest part, animated by the Divine motion, was not identical with the rest The first layer was superior to the second, more perfect and pure; the second, inferior truly to the first, was superior to the third; and thus, until sixty degrees, was completed the total number. Only, God established this law, that all equally should be eternal, being of one essence, whose forms He alone determines.

He traced the limits of their sojourn on the heights of nature, so that they might turn the wheel according to the laws of Order and of wise discretion, for the joy of their Father.

Then, having summoned to these splendid regions of ether the souls of every grade, He said to them: “O souls, beautiful children of my breath and of my care, you whom I have produced with my hands, in order to consecrate you to my universe, hear my words as a law: – Quit not the place assigned to you by my will. The abode which awaits you is heaven, with its galaxy of stars and its thrones of virtue. If you attempt any transgression against my decree, I swear by my sacred breath, by that elixir of which I formed you, and by my creative hands, that I will speedily forge for you chains and cast you into punishment.”

Having thus spoken, God, my Master, mingled together the rest of the congenial elements, earth and water, and pronouncing certain powerful and mystic words – albeit different from the first – He breathed into the liquid protoplasm motion and life, rendered it thicker and more plastic, and formed of it living beings of human shape. That which remained He gave to the loftiest souls inhabiting the region of the Gods in the neighbourhood of the stars, who are called the Sacred Genii. “Work,” said He, “my children, offspring of my nature; take the residue of my task, and let each one of you make beings in his image. I will give you models.”

Therewith He took the Zodiac and ordained the world in conformity with vital movements, placing the animal signs after those of human form. And after having given forth the creative forces and generative breath for the whole range of beings yet to come, He withdrew, promising to unite to every visible work an invisible breath and a reproductive principle, so that each being might engender its similar without necessity to create continually new entities. (3)

And what did the souls do, O my Mother? And Isis answered: – They took the mingled material, O my Son Horos, and began to reflect thereon, and to adore this combination, the work of the Father. Next, they sought to discover of what it was composed, which, indeed, it was not easy to find. Then, fearing that this search might excite the anger of the Father, they set themselves to carry out His commands. Therefore, taking the upper portion of the protoplasm, that which was lightest, they created of it the race of birds. The compound having now become more compact and assuming a denser consistency, they formed of it the quadrupeds; while of the thickest part which needed a moist vehicle for its support, they made fishes. The remainder, being cold and heavy, was employed by the souls in the creation of reptiles.

Forthwith, O my Son, proud of their work, they were not afraid to transgress the Divine law, and, in spite of the prohibition, they receded from their appointed limits. Not willing to remain longer in the same abode, they moved ceaselessly, and repose seemed to them death. (4)

But, O my Son – (thus Hermes informed me) – their conduct could not escape the eye of the Lord God of all things; He minded to punish them, and to prepare for them hard bonds. The Ruler and Master of the universe resolved then for the penance of the souls, to mould the human organism, and having called me to Him, said Hermes, He spoke in this wise: – “O soul of my soul, holy thought of my thought, how long shall earthly Nature remain sad? How long shall the creation already produced continue inactive and without praise? Bring hither before me all the Gods of heaven.”

Thus God spake, quoth Hermes, and all obeyed His decree. “Look upon the earth,” He said to them, “and upon all things beneath.”

Straightway they looked, and understood the will of the Lord. And when He spoke to them of the creation of Man, asking of each what he could bestow upon the race about to be born, the Sun first replied: – “I will illumine mankind.” Then the Moon promised enlightenment in her turn, adding that already she had created Fear, Silence, Sleep, and Memory. Kronos announced that he had begotten Justice and Necessity. Zeus said, “In order to spare the future race perpetual wars, I have generated Fortune, Hope, and Peace.” Ares declared himself already father of Conflict, impetuous Zeal, and Emulation, Aphrodite did not wait to be called upon: “As for me, O Master,” she said, “I will bestow upon mankind Desire, with voluptuous Joy and Laughter, that the penalty to which our sister Souls are destined may not weigh on them too hardly.” These words of Aphrodite, O my Son, were welcomed gladly. “And I,” said Hermes, “will endow human nature with Wisdom, Temperance, Persuasion, and Truth; nor will I cease to ally myself with Invention. I will ever protect the mortal life of such men as are born under my signs, seeing that to me the Creator and Father has attributed in the Zodiac, signs of Knowledge and Intelligence; above all, when the movement which draws thereto the stars is in harmony with the physical forces of each.” (5)

He Who is Master of the world rejoiced at hearing these things, and decreed the production of the human face. As for me – said Hermes – I sought what material ought to be employed in the work, and invoked the Lord. He commanded the Souls to give up the residue of the protoplastic substance, which having taken, I found it entirely dried up. Therefore, I used a great excess of water wherewith to renew the combination of the substance, in such wise that the product might be resolvable, yielding, and feeble, and that Force should not be added therein to Intelligence. When I had achieved my work it was beautiful, and I rejoiced in seeing it. And from below I called upon the Lord to behold what I had done. He saw it, and approved. Straightway He ordained that the Souls should be incorporated; and they were seized with horror on learning what should be their condemnation.

These words, said Isis, struck me. Hearken, my son Horos, for I teach thee a mystery. Our ancestor Kamephes had it also from Hermes, who inscribes the recital of all things; I, in turn, received it from the ancient Kamephes when he admitted me to the initiation of the black veil; (6) and thou, likewise, O marvellous and illustrious child, receive it from me.

The Souls were about to be imprisoned in bodies, whereat some sighed and lamented, as when some wild and free animal suddenly enchained, in the first moment of subjection to hard servitude and of severance from the beloved habits of the wilderness, struggles and revolts, refusing to follow its conqueror, and if occasion presents itself, slaying him. Others, again, hissed like serpents, or gave vent to piercing cries and sorrowful words, glancing aimlessly from height to depth.

“Great Heaven,” said one, “principle of our birth, ether, pure airs, hands, and sacred breath of the sovereign God, and you, shining Stars, eyes of the Gods, unwearying light of Sun and Moon, our early brethren, what grief, what rending is this! Must we quit these vast, effulgent spaces, this sacred sphere, all these splendors of the empyrean and of the happy republic of the Gods, to be precipitated into these vile and miserable abodes? What crime. O wretched ones, have we committed? How can we have merited, poor sinners that we are, the penalties which await us? Behold the sad future in store for us – to minister to the wants of a fluctuating and dissoluble body! No more may our eyes distinguish the souls divine! Hardly through these watery spheres shall we perceive, with sighs, our ancestral heaven; at intervals even we shall cease altogether to behold it. By this disastrous sentence direct vision is denied to us; we can see only by the aid of the outer light; these are but windows that we possess – not eyes. Nor will our pain be less when we hear in the air the fraternal breathing of the winds with which no longer can we mingle our own, since that will have for its dwelling, instead of the sublime and open world, the narrow prison of the breast! But Thou, Who drivest us forth, and causest us from so high a seat to descend so low, assign a limit to our sufferings! O Master and Father, so quickly become indifferent to Thy handiwork, appoint a term to our penance, deign to bestow on us some last words, while yet we are able to behold the expanse of the luminous spheres.

This prayer of the Souls was granted, my son Horos, for the Lord was present; and sitting upon the throne of Truth, thus He addressed them: –

“O Souls; you shall be governed by Desire and Necessity; after me, these shall be your masters and your guides. Souls, subjected to my sceptre which never fails, know that inasmuch as you remain stainless you shall inhabit the regions of the skies. If among you any be found to merit reproach, they shall inhabit abodes destined to them in mortal organisms. If your faults be light, you shall, delivered from the bond of the flesh, return to heaven. But if you become guilty of graver crime, if you turn away from the end for which you have been formed, then indeed you shall, dwell neither in heaven nor in human bodies, but thenceforth you shall pass into those of animals without reason.” (7)

Having thus spoken, O my son Horos, He breathed upon them, and said, “It is not according to chance that I have ordained your destiny; if you act ill, it will be worse; it will be better if your actions are worthy of your birth. It is myself and not another who will be your witness and your judge. Understand that it is because of your past errors that you are to be punished and shut up in fleshly bodies. In different bodies, as I have already told you, your re-births will be different. Dissolution shall be a benefit, restoring your former happy condition. But if your conduct be unworthy of me, your prudence, becoming blinded and guiding you backwards, will cause you to take for good fortune that which is really a chastisement, and to dread a happier lot as though it were a cruel injury. The most just among you shall, in their future transformations, approximate to the divine, becoming among men, upright kings, true philosophers, leaders and legislators, true seers, collectors of salutary plants, cunning musicians, intelligent astronomers, wise augurs, instructed ministrants: all beautiful and good offices; as among birds are the eagles which pursue not nor devour those of their own kind, and do not permit weaker ones to be attacked in their presence, because justice is in the nature of the eagle; among quadrupeds, the lion, for he is a strong animal, untamed by slumber, in a mortal body performing immortal toils, and by nothing tired nor beguiled; among reptiles, the dragon, because he is powerful, living long, innocent, and a friend of men, allowing himself to be tamed, having no venom, and, leaving old age, approximating to the nature of the Gods; among fishes, the dolphin, for this creature, taking pity on those who fall into the sea, will carry them to land if they still live, and will abstain from devouring them if dead, although it is the most voracious of all aquatic animals.”

Having spoken these words, God became an Incorruptible Intelligence (i.e., resumed the unmanifest).

After these things, my son Horos, there arose out of the earth an exceeding powerful Spirit, unencumbered with any corporeal envelope, strong in wisdom, but savage and fearful; although he could not be ignorant of the knowledge he sought, seeing the type of the human body to be beautiful and august of aspect, and perceiving that the souls were about to enter into their envelopes: –

“What are these,” said he, “O Hermes, Secretary of the Gods?” “These are men,” replied Hermes. “It is a rash work,” said he, “to make man with such penetrating eyes, such a subtle tongue, such a delicate hearing that can hear even those things which concern him not, such a fine scent, and in his hands a sense of touch capable of appropriating everything. O generating Spirit, thinkest thou it is well that he should be free from care – this future investigator of the fine mysteries of Nature? Wilt thou leave him exempt from suffering – he whose thought will search out the limits of the earth? Mankind will dig up the roots of plants, they will study the properties of natural juices they will observe the nature of stones, they will dissect not only animals but themselves, desiring to know how they have been formed. They will stretch forth their daring hands over the sea, and, cutting down the timber of the wild forest, they will pass from shore to shore seeking one another. They will pursue the inmost secrets of Nature even into the heights, and will study the motions of heaven. Nor is this enough; when nothing yet remains to be known than the furthest boundary of the earth, they will seek even there the last extremities of night. If they apprehend no obstacle, if they live exempt from trouble, beyond reach of any fear or of any anxiety, even heaven itself will not arrest their audacity; they will seek to extend their power over the elements. Teach them, then, desire and hope, in such wise that they may know likewise the dread of accident and of difficulty, and the painful sting of expectation deceived. Let the curiosity of their souls have for balance, desire and fear, care and vain hope. Let their souls be a prey to mutual love, to aspirations and varied longings, now satisfied, now deceived, so that even the sweetness of success may be an allurement to draw them towards misfortune. Let the weight of fevers oppress them, and break in them all desire.” Thou sufferest, Horos, in hearing this thy mother’s recital? Surprise and wonder seize thee in presence of the evils which now fall upon poor humanity? That which thou art about to hear is still more sad. The speech of Momos pleased Hermes; he deemed his advice good, and he followed it.

“O, Momos,” said he, “the nature of the divine breath which enwraps all things shall not be ineffectual! The Master of the universe has charged me to be His agent and overseer. The Deity of the penetrating eye (Adrastia) (8) will observe and direct all events; and for my part, I will design a mysterious instrument, a measure inflexible and inviolable, to which everything shall be subject from birth even to final destruction, and which shall be the bond of created entities. This instrument shall rule that which is on the earth, and all the rest.”

It is thus – quoth Hermes – that I spoke to Momos; and forthwith the instrument operated. Straightway the souls were incorporated, and I was praised for my work.

Then the Lord summoned anew the assembly of the Gods. They gathered together, and He thus addressed them: –

“Gods, who have received a sovereign and imperishable nature, and the sway of the vast eternity, ye whose office it is to maintain unceasingly the mutual harmony of things, how long shall we govern an empire unknown? How long shall creation remain invisible to the sun and moon? Let each of us undertake his part in the universe. By the exercise of our power let us put an end to the cohesion of inertia. Let chaos become a fable, incredible to posterity. Inaugurate your great labours; I will direct you.”

He said, and immediately the Kosmic unity, until now obscure, was opened, and in the heights appeared the heavens with all their mysteries. The earth, hitherto unstable, grew more solid beneath the brightness of the sun, and stood forth adorned with enfolding riches. All things are beautiful in the eyes of God, even that which to mortals appears uncomely, because all is made according to the divine laws. And God rejoiced in beholding His works filled with movement; and with outstretched hands grasping the treasures of nature. “Take these,” He said, “O sacred earth, take these, O venerable one, who art to be the mother of all things, and henceforth let nothing be lacking to thee!”

With these words, opening His divine hands, He poured His treasures into the universal font. But yet they were unknown, for the souls newly embodied and unable to support their opprobrium, sought to enter into rivalry with the celestial Gods, and, proud of their lofty origin, boasting an equal creation with these, revolted. Thus men became their instruments, opposed to one another, and fomenting civil wars. And thus, force oppressing weakness, the strong burnt and massacred the feeble, and quick and dead were thrust forth from the sacred places.

Then the elements resolved to complain before the Lord of the savage condition of mankind. For the evil being already very grievous, the elements hastened to God the Creator, and pleaded in this wise – the fire being suffered to speak first: – (9)

“O Master,” he said, “Maker of this new world, Thou whose name, mysterious among the Gods, has hitherto been revered among all men; how long, O Divinity, hast Thou decreed to leave human life without God? Reveal Thyself to the world which calls for Thee, correct its savage existence by the institution of peace. Grant unto life, law, grant unto night oracles; fill all things with happy auguries; let men fear the judgment of the Gods, and no man shall sin any more. Let crimes receive their just punishment, and men will abstain from unrighteousness. They will fear to violate oaths, and madness will have an end. Teach them gratitude for benefits, so shall I devote my flame to pure offerings and libations, and the altars shall yield Thee exhalations of sweet savours. For now I am polluted, O Master, because the impious temerity of men forces me to consume flesh. They will not suffer me to remain in my nature; they pervert and corrupt my purity!”

The air spoke in its turn: – “I am defiled by the effluvium of corpses, O Master; I am becoming pestilent and unwholesome, and from on high I witness things which I ought not to behold.”

Then the water took up the word, and spoke on this wise, O my illustrious son, and thus began: –

“Father and wondrous Creator of all things, Divinity incarnate, Author of Nature who brings forth all through Thee, command the waters of the streams to be always pure, for now both rivers and seas are compelled to bathe the destroyer and to receive his victims!”

Then at the last the earth appeared, O my glorious son, and thus began: –

“O King, Chief of celestial choirs and Lord of their orbits, Master and Father of the elements which lend to all things increase and decrease, and into which all must return; behold how the impious and insensate tribe of man overspreads me, O venerable One, since by Thy commands I am the habitation of all beings, bearing them all and receiving into my bosom all that is slain; such is now my reproach. Thy terrestrial world in which all creatures are contained is bereft of God. And because they revere nothing, they transgress every law and overwhelm me with all manner of evil works. To my shame, O Lord, I admit into myself the product of the corruption of carcases. But I, who receive all things, would fain also receive God. Grant to earth this grace, and if Thou comest not Thyself – for indeed I cannot contain Thee – let me at least receive some holy efflux of Thee. Let the earth become the most glorious of all the elements; and since she alone gives all things to all, may she revere herself as the recipient of Thy favours.”

Thus the elements discoursed, and forthwith God filled the universe with His divine voice. “Go,” said He, “sacred offspring, worthy of your Father’s greatness, seek not to change anything, nor refuse to my creatures your ministry. I will send you an efflux of myself, a pure Being who shall investigate all actions, who shall be the dreadful and incorruptible Judge of the living; and sovereign justice shall extend its reign even into the shades beneath the earth. Thus shall every man receive his merited deserts.”

Thereupon the elements ceased from their complaints, and each of them resumed its functions and its sway.

And in what manner, O my mother, said Horos, did the earth afterwards obtain this efflux of God?

I will not recount this Nativity, said Isis; I dare not, O powerful Horos, declare the origin of thy race, lest men in the future should learn the generation of the Gods. I will say only that the Supreme God, Creator and Architect of the world, at length accorded to earth for a season, thy father Osiris and the great Goddess Isis, that they might bring the expected salvation. By them life attained its fulness; savage and bloody wars were ended; they consecrated temples to the Gods their ancestors, and instituted oblations. They gave to mortals law, nourishment, and raiment. “They shall read,” Hermes said, “my mystic writings, and dividing them into two parts, they shall keep certain of them, and inscribe upon columns and obelisks those which may be useful to man.” Institutors of the first tribunals, they established everywhere the reign of order and justice. With them began the faith of treaties, and the introduction into human life of the religious duty of oaths. They taught the rites of sepulture towards those who cease to live; they interrogated the horrors of death; they shewed that the spirit from without delights to return into the human body, and that if the way of entry be shut against it, it brings about a failure of life. Instructed by Hermes, they engraved upon hidden tables that the air is filled with genii. Instructed by Hermes in the secret laws of God, they alone were the teachers and legislators of mankind, initiating them in the arts, the sciences, and the benefits of civilised life. Instructed by Hermes concerning the sympathetic affinities which the Creator has established between heaven and earth, they instituted religious representations and sacred mysteries. And, considering the corruptible nature of all bodies, they ordained prophetic initiation, so that the prophet who lifts his hands to the Gods should be instructed in all things, and that thereby philosophy and magic might provide nourishment for the soul, and medicine might heal the sufferings of the flesh.

Having performed all these things, O my son, and seeing the world arrived at its fulness, Osiris and I were recalled by the inhabitants of heaven; but we could not return thither without having first praised the Lord, so that the celestial Vision might fill the expanse, and that the way of a happy ascension might open before us, since God delights in hymns.

O my mother, said Horos, teach me this hymn, that I also may be instructed in it. Hearken, my son, answered Isis. (…)


(1) The text of this passage presents great difficulties and uncertainties. The words in Canter’s edition, Άσκληπιός ό ίμούΘμς σπανός και ́ηΦαίστου Є́ονλαι̃ς, Canter reads Asclepios, Ammon, and Hephaistobulus. Patrizzi changes ́ηΦαίστον Єονλαι̃ς into ́ηΦαιστοЄύλης, and renders it Asclepios Imuthes, Spanos and Hephaestobulus. Others read πανός in place of σπανός, which is plausible enough, but at the same time they preserve ήΦαιστοЄ́ούλης, and then ίμούΘης becomes a surname of Asclepios, who would thus be son of Pan and Hephaistoboulè, an absolutely unknown goddess. But in another fragment we read, a little further on, Άσκληπιός ό ίμούΘμς and Άσκληπιός ό ήΘαιστου, and the word πάλιν indicates that it refers to the same Asclepios, and not to two persons of the same name. It may be, then, that Imouthè was the name of his mother, as Fabricius supposes. Is it not likely that it is the Greek form of “Mouth”? The Egyptian Asclepios was represented bald, according to Synésios; the word, which means bald, might then be retained. But in this case, in order that the phrase may have a meaning, it would be necessary to change Єονλαι̃ς into Єονλαι̃ος, and translate: – Asclepios, the bald Imouthès, and counsellor of Hephaistos.

(2) This sentence is very obscure; the participles are in the masculine, as though the author had forgotten that a goddess was speaking. I believe the text of the passage must have been altered.

(3) This recital of the creation of the souls recalls the Timaeus of Plato. After all the Gods were born, the Artificer of the universe thus addressed them: – “Gods of gods, of whom I am the Creator and Father, and who, formed by me, are by my will indissoluble, learn what I now say to you. (…) In order that mortal natures may exist, and that the universe may be indeed universal, turn yourselves according to your nature to the formation of animals, imitating the power which I employed in the generation of yourselves. (…) I myself will deliver the seeds and beginnings; and for the rest do you weave together the mortal and immortal nature, constructing and producing animals.” He said, and into the same cup in which He had mingled and tempered the soul of the Universe, He poured the residue, and mixed it in the same manner, but in less pure combinations of a second and third order. And having constituted the universe, He allotted souls to the stars in equal number, distributing each to each; and causing every one to mount his vehicle. He displayed to them the nature of the universe, and taught them the laws of Destiny.

[It may be added, also, that this legend, quaint and grotesque as it is in many of its details, is, likewise, in accord with the Kabbala, which recounts the pre-mundane history of the souls, their creation, their transgression, and their punishment, in much the same fashion. The creation of the visible world by the “working gods,” or Titans, as agents for the Supreme God, is a thoroughly Hermetic idea, recognizable in all religious systems, and in accord with modern scientific research, which shews us everywhere the Divine Power operating secretly through natural forces. A. K.]

(4) In reading this allegory, it must be borne in mind that the word “Soul” is used as a general term for all Egos or Intelligences, whether Genii or Men. Further, that in these Fragments, as in the Hebrew Scriptures, the same truths are repeated under different symbols in different passages. Hence the creation of Nature and of “differentiated forms” has already been otherwise depicted in a previous paragraph; and the whole process of the evolution of the Soul has been epitomized in the fable of the making of the protoplasm. The descent into generation occurs, actually, when the Titans first begin the manipulation of this protoplasm. The human body, although last in manifestation, is really the first in the Divine intention, and is the ultimate cause of all the series of objective forms. Hermetically speaking, there is nothing in the whole universe, save Man. A. K.

(5) Heeren sees in these metaphors an allusion to the creation of Pandora in Hesiod. They recall also a passage in the Pymander, wherein the Rulers of the Seven Planets cause Man to participate in their nature; an idea developed likewise by Macrobius in his commentary on the Dream of Scipio – Lib. L., chap. xii.

(6) Canter translates this by atramentum, which would signify initiation by writing; but it is possible that the heads of the initiated persons were covered with a black veil, or perhaps the veil of Isis is here intended.

(7) It has been questioned whether Hermetic doctrine affirms the Hindu theory of transmigration, to wit – the possibility of the passage of the guilty Ego into lower forms than that of man. We must, I hold, admit the orthodoxy of the doctrine, which, when rightly understood, involves no paradox. In the Divine Pymander, it is clearly set forth that if a human soul continue evil “it shall neither taste of immortality nor be partaker of the good, but being drawn back it returneth into creeping things; and this is the condemnation of an evil soul.” Yet, Trismegistus hastens immediately to explain and qualify this statement by adding that such a calamity cannot befall any truly human soul – that is, a soul possessing the divine Mind, however fallen from grace, for so long as the soul retains this living fire it is the soul of a man, and man “is not to be compared to any brute beast upon the earth, but to them that are above in heaven, that are called Gods.” But there is a condition so low and lost that at length the divine flame is quenched, and the soul is left dark and Godless, a human soul no longer. “And such a soul, O Son,” says Hermes, “hath no Mind; wherefore neither must such an one be called Man.” Therefore, while it is true that “no other body is capable of a human soul, neither is it lawful for a man’s soul to fall into the body of an unreasonable living thing,” so also is it true that a soul, bereft of its Divine Particle which alone made it human, is human no longer, and, following the universal law of affinity, straightway gravitates to its proper level, sinking to its similars, and drawn to its analogues. Nevertheless, when its purgation is accomplished, such a soul may “come to itself and say, I will arise and go unto my Father.” There are some Rabbis indeed who have thought such an occult significance to lie hid in the parable of the prodigal; swine being accounted universally a figure of lust and sordid desire. The Hermetic doctrine, thus interpreted, is identical with that of the Kabbala on the same point, as we shall elsewhere have occasion to shew; and also with the teaching of Apollonius of Tyana. – (v. The Perfect Way, III, 21, etc.) A. K.

(8) This name appears to have been a marginal interpolation, inserted into the text by a copyist. It serves as a key to what follows, Adrastia (or Nemesis) being the personification of the necessary law (or inflexible instrument) of which Hermes is about to speak.

(9) In the Book of Enoch a similar legend appears – “The Giants turned themselves upon men to devour them, and began to do evil to birds and beasts of the field and reptiles and fish; and they devoured with one accord their flesh and drank their blood. When the earth lifted up her voice against the unjust, (…) and because of the perdition of men, a cry arose that came even unto heaven. Therefore, Michael and Gabriel, and Souryan and Ouryan, looked forth from the height of heaven, and beheld the abundance of blood that was shed upon the earth, and all the iniquity that was accomplished, and they said one to another: – The voice of their cries ascends, the clamour of the earth is heard even at the gates of heaven, and before you, O holy ones of the skies, the souls of men complain, saying – Avenge us in the presence of the Lord. (VII. 14-15; VIII. 8-9; IX. 1-3).

[See also the first book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, V., VI., VII. In all these accounts it appears that mankind is inspired to wickedness and impiety by the Giants, who are, in Hermetic teaching, explained to be the lower mundane forces, or “fallen Angels.” They are, probably, the first created “souls” mentioned in an early passage of the allegory, and are elsewhere spoken of as Demons. Almost all the poets, whether Hebrew, Hellenic, Hindu, Persian, Norse, or Christian, celebrate the revolt of the Giants against heaven. It is needless to remind the reader that all these sacred fables have an esoteric and individual application, related to the Microcosm within man, as well as to the Macrocosm or world without. The text is manifestly imperfect. A. K.]




O MY illustrious son, if thou wilt know anything further, ask it of me. And Horos said, Revered Mother, I would fain know how royal souls are born. And Isis answered: – Herein, my son Horos, lies the distinctive character of royal souls. There are in the universe, four regions, governed by a fixed and immutable law: heaven, the ether, the air, and the most holy earth. Above, in heaven, dwell the Gods, ruled as are all the rest, by the Maker of the universe; in the ether are the stars, governed by the great fire, the sun; in the air are the souls of the genii, governed by the moon; upon earth are men and other animals governed by the soul who, for the time, is their king. For the Gods themselves engender those who shall be kings befitting the terrestrial race. Princes are the issue of kings, and he who is most kingly, is a greater king than the rest. (1) The sun, nearer to God than is the moon, is greater and stronger than she, and to him she is subject as much by rank as by power. The king is the last of the Gods and the first of men. So long as he sojourns upon earth, his divinity is concealed, but he possesses something which distinguishes him from other men and approximates him to God. The soul in him comes from a loftier region than that from which descend the souls of common men. Souls destined to reign upon the earth descend thither for two causes. There are those who in former lives have lived blameless, and who merit apotheosis; for such as these royalty is a preparation for the divine state. Again, there are holy souls who, for some slight infringement of the interior and divine law, receive in royalty a penance whereby the suffering and shame of incarnation are mitigated. The condition of these in taking a body resembles not that of others; they are as blessed as when they were free. (2)

As to the various characters of these kings, the variety is not in the souls, for all are royal, but it is due to the nature of the angels and genii who assist them. For souls destined to such offices are not without ministers and escort. Heavenly justice, even while exiling them from the abodes of the Blessed, treats them as their nature befits. When, then, O my son Horos, the ministering angels and genii appointed are warlike, the soul in their charge takes that character, forgetting its own, or rather laying it aside until some future change of condition. If the guardian angels are of a gentle order, then the soul follows its path in peace; if they are friends of judgment, the soul loves to judge; if they are musicians, then the soul sings; if they love truth, the soul is that of a philosopher. Thus the souls necessarily follow the teaching of their guardians; falling into human bodies they forego their proper estate, and while exiled from it they approximate to those intelligences by whom they have been embodied.

Thine explanation is complete, my mother, said Horos, but thou hast not yet informed me in what manner noble souls are born.

There are upon earth, O my son, different offices. So also is it among souls; they occupy different stations, and that soul which issues from a more exalted sphere is nobler than the rest; even as he who is free among men, is nobler than the slave. Exalted and royal souls are necessarily the masters of men.

How are souls born male or female?

Souls, my son Horos, are all equal in nature, since they come from one region wherein the Creator has formed them. There are not among them either males or females; this distinction exists only between bodies, and not between incorporeal beings. But some are more energetic, some are gentler; and this belongs to the air in which all things are formed. For an airy body envelopes the soul; in it are the elements of earth, water, air, and fire. Among females this combination contains more of cold and of moisture than of dryness and heat, and the soul which is enfolded therein is watery and disposed to softness. The contrary happens among males; their envelope contains more of dryness and of heat, less of cold and of moisture; hence in bodies so formed the souls manifest greater vivacity and energy.

And how, O my mother, are born the souls of the wise?

And Isis answered: – The organ of vision is enveloped in tunics. When these tunics are thick and dense, the sight is dull; when they are fine and subtle, the sight is penetrating. Even so is it with the soul; she likewise has her coverings, incorporeal as herself. These coverings are the interior airs; when they are subtle, clear, and transparent, then the soul is perspicuous; when, on the contrary, they are dense, thick, and turgid, then she cannot see far; and discerns only, as though in cloudy weather, that which lies immediately before her steps.

And Horos said: – For what reason, my mother, are the minds of men who are not of our holy country less open than the minds of those who belong to it?

And Isis replied (3): – The earth is set in the midst of the universe like a man lying on his back and gazing into heaven, and the various regions of earth correspond to the different members of the man. The earth turns her gaze towards heaven as towards her father, following in her changes the changes of the skies. Her head lies to the south, her right shoulder to the east, her left is turned towards the Lybian wind, her feet are under the constellation of the Bear, the right beneath the tail, and the left beneath the head of the Bear; her loins are under the regions of heaven nearest to the Bear; the midst of her body is beneath the centre of heaven. Behold as a proof of these things, how they who dwell in the South have a beautiful countenance and plentiful hair, while the orientals have hands hardy in conflict and ready with the bow, for they are right-handed; the westerns are strong and fight with the left hand, attributing to the left side the functions which belong in others to the right; those who dwell beneath the Bear are distinguished by the attributes of their feet, and by the beauty of their legs; those who inhabit beyond the Bear in the climate of Italy and of Greece are remarkable for the beauty of their loins, and hence their tendency to prefer males. This part of the body also, being whiter than the rest, produces men of a whiter hue. The hallowed region of our ancestors is in the midst of the earth, and since the midst of the human body is the seat of the heart, and the heart of the soul, this is why, my son, the men of this land, beside the qualities which all men possess in common, have also a loftier intelligence and wisdom, because the heart of the earth brings them forth and nourishes them.

Moreover, my son, the south is the storehouse of the clouds; it is there they assemble, and thence, it is said, flows our river (Nile), when the cold becomes abundant. Now, where the clouds descend, the air grows thick and is filled with vapours which spread themselves as a veil not only over the sight, but over the intelligence. The east, my son Horos, is continually disturbed and glowing under the sunrise, as is the west under the sunset; therefore, they who dwell in these regions can hardly preserve a clear perception. The north, by means of its icy temperature, thickens the mind even as it does the body.

The central land alone, clear and serene, is favoured as are those who inhabit her. She brings forth in a perpetual tranquillity, she adorns and completes her offspring, she contends alone against all others, she triumphs, and like a worthy ruler partakes with the vanquished the fruits of victory.

Explain to me further, my august Mother, what it is that causes in living men during long maladies, an alteration of discernment, of reason, even of the soul itself.

And Isis answered: – Among animals there are those who have affinity with fire, others with water, others with earth, others with air, others again with two or three elements, or with all the four. Or, inversely, some have an antipathy for fire, some for water, some for earth, some for air, or again for two, three or four elements. Thus, the locust and all kinds of insects flee from the fire; the eagle, the hawk, and other birds of flight fear the water; the fish dread the air and earth: the serpent abhors the open air, and like all crawling creatures loves the ground; all fishes delight in the deep, the birds in the air where they pass their lives; those who fly highest delight in the fire (of the sun) and sojourn in its vicinity. There are even certain creatures who disport themselves in the fire, such are the salamanders who have their abode in it. The elements enfold the body, and every soul inhabiting a body is weighed down and enchained by the four elements; wherefore, it is natural that the soul should have affinity with certain elements and aversion for others, for which reason she cannot enjoy perfect happiness. Nevertheless, as the soul is of divine origin, she struggles and meditates even beneath this bodily covering; but her thoughts are not what they would be if she were free from the body. And if the body be disturbed and troubled by sickness or by terror, the soul herself is tossed about like a man in the midst of tempestuous waves.


(1) This must not be understood in a vulgar sense of mere earthly monarchy, but of souls whose destiny it is to be chiefs and leaders among men, whether spiritually, intellectually, or politically. A. K.

(2) This passage perhaps refers, though obscurely, to Avatars of souls who have already attained beatitude, though not apotheosis. A. K.

(3) I believe the whole of the ensuing passage to be highly metaphorical, and to relate to the occult distinctions and divisions of the seven great races of mankind. It is not difficult to interpret the allusions. A. K.




THOU hast given me admirable instruction, O my most powerful Mother Isis, concerning the marvellous creation of Souls by God, and I am filled with wonder; but thou hast not yet shewn me whither souls depart when set free from bodies. Fain would I contemplate this mystery, and thank only thee for the initiation.

And Isis said: – Hearken, my son, for thy most necessary enquiry holds an important place, and may not be neglected. Hear my reply.

O great and marvellous scion of the illustrious Osiris, think not that souls on quitting the body mix themselves confusedly in the vague immensity and become dispersed in the universal and infinite spirit, without power to return into bodies, to preserve their identity, or to seek again their primeval abode. Water spilt from a vase returns no more to its place therein, it has no proper locality, it mingles itself with the mass of waters; but it is not thus with souls, O most wise Horos. I am initiated into the mysteries of the immortal nature; I walk in the ways of the truth, and I will reveal all to thee without the least omission. And first I will tell thee that water, being a body without reason, composed of myriads of fluid particles, differs from the soul which is, my son, a personal entity, the royal work of the hands and of the mind of God, abiding herself in intelligence. That which proceeds from Unity, and not from multiplicity, cannot mingle with other things, and in order that the soul may be joined to the body, God subjects this harmonious union to Necessity.

Souls do not, then, return confusedly, nor by chance, into one and the same place, but each is despatched into the condition which belongs to her. And this is determined by that which the soul experiences while yet she is in the tenement of the body, loaded with a burden contrary to her nature. Hear: therefore, this comparison, O beloved Horos; suppose that there should be shut up in the same prison, men, eagles, doves, swans, hawks, swallows, sparrows, flies, serpents, lions, leopards, wolves, dogs, hares, oxen, sheep, and certain amphibious animals, such as seals, hydras, turtles, crocodiles, and that at the same moment all the creatures should be liberated. All at once would escape; the men would seek cities and the public places, the eagles the ether, where nature teaches them to live, the doves the lower air, the hawks the higher expanse; the swallows would repair to places frequented by men, the sparrows to the orchards, the swans to districts where they could sing; the flies would haunt the proximity of the ground as high only as human exhalations extend, for the property of flies is to live on these and to flit over the surface of the earth; the lions and leopards would flee to the mountains, the wolves to the solitudes; the dogs would follow the track of man; the hares would betake themselves to the woods, the oxen to the fields and meadows, the sheep to the pastures; the serpents would seek the caves of the earth; the seals and the turtles would rejoin their kind in the shallows and running waters, in order to enjoy, conformably to their nature, alike the proximity of the shore and of the deep. Each creature would return, conducted by its own interior discernment, into the abode befitting it. Even so every soul, whether human or inhabiting the earth under other conditions, knows whither she ought to go; unless, indeed, some son of Typhon should pretend that a bull may subsist in the waters or a turtle in the air. If, then, even when immersed in flesh and blood, souls do not infringe the law of order, although under penance, – for union with the body is a penance, – how much more shall they conform thereto when delivered from their bonds and set at liberty!

Now this most holy law, which extends even unto heaven, is on this wise, O illustrious child: behold the hierarchy of souls! The expanse between the empyrean and the moon is occupied by the Gods, the stars, and the powers of providence. Between the moon and ourselves, my son, is the abode of the souls. The unmeasured air, which we call the wind, has in itself an appointed way in which it moves to refresh the earth, as I shall by and by relate. But this movement of the air upon itself impedes not the way of the souls, nor does it hinder them from ascending and descending without obstacle; they flow across the air without mingling in it, or confounding themselves therewith, as water flows over oil. This expanse, my son, is divided into four provinces, and into sixty regions. The first province from the earth upwards comprehends four regions, and extends as far as certain summits or promontories, which it is unable to transcend. The second province comprises eight regions in which the motions of the winds arise. Be thou attentive, my son, for thou hearest the ineffable mysteries of the earth, the heavens, and of the sacred fluid which lies between. (1) In the province of the winds fly the birds; above this there is no moving air nor any creature. But the air with all the beings it contains distributes itself into all boundaries within its reach, and into the four quarters of the earth, while the earth cannot lift itself into the mansions of the air. The third province comprehends sixteen regions filled with a pure and subtle element. The fourth contains thirty-two regions, in which the air, wholly subtle and diaphanous, allows itself to be penetrated by the element of fire. Such is the order which, without confusion, reigns from depth to height; – to wit, four general divisions, twelve intervals, sixty regions, and in these dwell the souls, each according to the nature thereof. They are indeed all of one substance, but they constitute a hierarchy; and the further any region is removed from the earth, the loftier is the dignity of the souls which dwell therein.

And now it remains to be explained to thee, O most glorious Horos, what souls they are who abide in each of these regions, and this I shall set forth, beginning by the most exalted.

The expanse which stretches between earth and heaven is divided into regions, my son Horos, according to measure and harmony. To these regions our ancestors have given various names; some call them zones, others firmaments, others spheres. Therein dwell the souls who are freed from bodies, and those who have not yet been incorporated. The stations which they occupy correspond with their dignity. In the upper region are the divine and royal souls; the baser souls – they who float over the surface of the earth – are in the lowest sphere, and in the middle regions are the souls of ordinary degree. Thus, my son, the souls destined to rule descend from the superior zones, and when they are delivered from the body, thither they return, or even higher still, unless indeed they have acted contrary to the dignity of their nature and to the laws of God. For, if they have transgressed, the Providence on high causes them to descend into the lower regions according to the measure of their faults; and in like manner also it conducts other souls, inferior in power and dignity, from the lower spheres into a more exalted abode. For on high dwell two ministers of the universal Providence; one is guardian of the souls, the other is their conductor, who sends them forth and ordains for them bodies. The first minister guards them, the second releases or binds them, according to the will of God.

In this wise the law of equity presides over the changes which take place above, even as upon earth also it moulds and constructs the vessels in which the souls are immured. This law is supplemented by two energies, Memory and Experience. Memory directs in Nature the preservation and maintenance of all the original types appointed in heaven; the function of Experience is to provide every soul descending into generation with a body appropriate thereto; so that passionate souls should have vigorous bodies; slothful souls sluggard bodies; active souls active bodies; gentle souls gentle bodies; powerful souls powerful bodies; cunning souls, dexterous bodies; – briefly, that every soul should have a befitting nature. For it is not without just cause that winged creatures are clothed with feathers; that intelligent creatures are gifted with finer senses and superior to others; that beasts of the field are furnished with horns, with tusks, with claws, or other weapons; that reptiles are endowed with undulating and flexible bodies, and lest the moisture of their natures should render them feeble, are armed either with teeth or with pointed scales, so that they are, even less than others, in peril of death. As for fishes, these timid souls have allotted to them for a dwelling-place that element in which light is bereft of its double activity, for in the water, fire neither illuminates nor burns. Each fish, swimming by the help of his spiny fins, flies where he wills, and his weakness is protected by the obscurity of the deep. Thus are souls immured in bodies resembling, themselves; in human shape, those souls who have received reason; in flying creatures, souls of a wild nature; in beasts, souls without reason, whose only law is force; in reptiles, deceitful souls, for they attack not their prey face to face, but by ambush; while fishes enshrine those timid souls who merit not the enjoyment of other elements.

In every order of animals there are individuals who transgress the laws of their being.

In what way, my Mother? said Horos.

And Isis answered: In this wise: – A man who acts against reason, a beast which eludes necessity, a reptile which forgets its cunning, a fish which loses its timidity, a bird which renounces freedom. Thou hast heard what was to be said concerning the hierarchy of souls, their descent, and the creation of bodies.

O my son, in every order of souls there are found a few royal souls, and of divers characters: some fiery some cold, some proud, some gentle, some crafty, some simple, some contemplative, some active. This diversity belongs to the regions from whence they descend into bodies. From the royal zone the royal souls go forth, but there are many royalties; the royalty of spirit, of the flesh, of art, of science, of the virtues.

And how, said Horos, dost thou name these royalties?

O my son, the king of souls who have hitherto existed is thy father Osiris; the king of bodies is the prince of each nation, he who governs. The king of wisdom is the Father of all things; the Initiator is the thrice great Hermes; over medicine presides Asclepios, the son of Hephaistos; force and power are under the sway of Osiris, and after him, under thine, my son. Philosophy depends on Arnebaskenis; poetry, yet again, on Asclepios, Imouthè’s son. So that, if thou thinkest thereon, thou wilt perceive that there are indeed many royalties and many kings.

But the supreme royalty belongs to the highest region; lesser kingships correspond to the spheres which bring them forth. Those who issue from the fiery zone handle fire; those who come from the watery zone frequent liquid spheres; from the region of art and learning those are born who devote themselves to art and science; from the region of inactivity, those who live in ease and idleness. All that is done and said upon earth has its origin in the heights, from whence all essences are dispensed with measure and equilibrium; nor is there anything which does not emanate from above and return thither.

Explain to me this that thou sayest, O my Mother.

And Isis answered: – An evident token of these exchanges has been stamped on all creatures by most holy Nature. The breath which we indraw from the upper air we exhale and again inbreathe by means of the lungs within us which perform this work. And when the way destined to receive our breath is closed, then no longer do we remain on earth; we depart hence. Moreover, O my glorious son, there are other accidents by which the balance of our combination may be destroyed. (2)

What is, then, this combination, O my Mother?

It is the union and admixture of the four elements, whence emanates a vapour which envelops the soul, penetrates into the body and communicates to both its own character. Thus are produced varieties among souls and bodies. If in the composition of a body, fire dominates, then the soul being already of an ardent nature, receives thereby an excess of heat which renders it the more energetic and furious, and the body the more vivacious and active. If the air dominates, the body and soul of the creature are thereby rendered unstable, errant and restless. The domination of the water causes the soul to be mild, affable, bland, sociable, and easily moulded, because water blends and mixes itself readily with all other things, dissolves them if it be abundant, moistens and penetrates them if it be less in quantity. A body softened by too much humidity offers but a weak resistance, a slight malady disintegrates it, and little by little dissolves its cohesion. Again, if the earthy element be dominant, the soul is obtuse, because the body lacks subtlety, nor can she force a way through the density of its organism. Therefore, the soul remains indrawn upon herself, borne down by the burden she supports, and the body is solid, inactive, and heavy, moving only with effort.

But if the elements be all in just equilibrium, then the whole nature is ardent in its actions, subtle in its motions, fluent in its sensations, and of a robust constitution. Of the predominance of air and fire birds are born, whose nature resembles that of the elements which generate them. Men are endowed with an abundance of fire united with but a little air, and of water and earth equal parts. This excess of fire becomes sagacity, seeing that intelligence is indeed a kind of flame, which consumes not, but which penetrates. The predominance of water and earth with a sufficient admixture of air and but little fire engenders beasts; those endued with more fire than the rest are the more courageous. Water and earth in equal quantities give birth to reptiles, which, being deprived of fire, have neither courage nor truthfulness, while the excess of water renders them cold, that of earth, sordid and heavy, and the lack of air makes all their movements difficult. Much water with but little earth produces fishes; the absence of fire and air in them causes their timidity, and disposes them to lie hidden, while the predominance of water and earth in their nature approximates them by natural affinity to earth dissolved in water. Moreover, by means of the proportional increase of the elements composing the body is the body itself increased, and its development ceases when the full measure is attained. And so long, my beloved son, as equilibrium is maintained in the primitive combination and in the vapours arising therefrom, that is, so long as the normal proportion of fire, air, earth, and water remains unchanged, the creature continues in health. But if the elements deviate from the proportion originally determined – (I speak not now of the growth of activities, nor of that resulting from a change of order, but of a rupture of equilibrium whether by addition or diminution of fire or of other elements) – then malady supervenes. And should air and fire, whose nature is one with that of the soul itself, prevail in the conflict, then, through the dominance of those elements, destroyers of the flesh, the creature abandons its proper state. For the earthy element is the pabulum of the body, and the water wherewith it is permeated contributes to consolidate it; but it is the aerial element which confers motion, and the fire engenders all energies. The vapours produced by the union and combination of these elements blending with the soul, as it were by fusion, bear her along with them, and clothe her in their own nature, whether good or evil. So long as she remains in this natural association the soul keeps the rank she has attained. But if a change should occur either in the combination itself or in any of its parts or subdivisions, the vapours, altering their condition, alter likewise the relations between soul and body; the fire and air, aspiring upward, draw with them the soul, their sister, while the watery and terrestrial elements, which tend earthwards like the body, weigh it down and overwhelm it.


(1) This hint is enough to indicate that Isis speaks in metaphorical language. The entire description should be understood as equally applicable to the macrocosm and the microcosm, the consciousness of every constituent particle in man’s system being accounted a soul. A. K.

(2) Isis here speaks not as a Goddess, but as a mortal. A. K.


Excerpt taken from

‘The Virgin of the World’,

a translation

of Hermetic manuscripts.

Full text







of the ‘Kore Kosmou’

by G.R.S. Meade

is available at this

impressive resource



Text Source and for ALL things Anna Kingsford, THE resource:🌿For a contemporary scholarly edition, translation and commentary of these texts, we warmly recommend by Dr. David Litwa:
Anna Kingsford: Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus – The Virgin Of The World

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