The Three Principles of the Thrice Great Hermes

three higher planetsHermes Trismigestus proclaimed in the Emerald TabletTherefore, am I called Hermes Trismigestus, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.

What are these three parts or three principles?

The Three Levels of Consciousness

Fool Magician High Priestess

The classical names for the three principles are Godhuman, and nature. The relationship of these three principles is revealed by two important spiritual tenets. The first: That which is above is as that which is below and that which is below is as that which is above. This is the first statement of the Emerald Tablet. It means that superconsciousness and subconsciousness are identical. How so? The Fool is the Spirit when It rules, and the High Priestess is the Spirit when It serves. The serving spirit is also known under the term karma, the undeviating just transformation of intention into experiences.

The second tenet is the golden ratio. It states, “The Lesser is to the Greater as the Greater is to the Whole.” If you turn that statement into a mathematical equation and solve that equation, you get an irrational number that has the approximate value of 1.618. That ratio is also known as one of beauty. It can be found all over nature and has been used in art over and over.

Beauty is the meaning of Tiphareth, the sixth Sephirah that is right in the middle between Kether (Spirit) and Yesod (the cosmic subconsciousness). The golden ratio plays an important part in the construction of the Tree of Life too.

The crudest approximation of the golden ratio is 358. 358 is an important Gematria that includes the following words:

  • Messiah (Christ)
  • Serpent (the serpent of temptation or karma)
  • Copper (the metal sacred to Venus)
  • Peace shall come, a phrase that hints at the Messiah
  • He shall anoint, a phrase that hints at the Messiah too
  • Son of fire (un-evolved, natural humans)
  • Shekinah (the Spirit’s presence inside us)
  • Renewing (the title of Tarot card 15 that illustrates the principles of adversity)
  • Filled with Chokmah’s Spirit
  • Honor

Equilibrium is the secret of the great work – the equilibrium between the three principles. This balance is the result of spiritual practices, it’s a matter of skill and art. The first step towards this equilibrium is the conquest of the illusion of evil (the Messiah is the Serpent and the Adversary renews). Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. And so does evil.

The Three Mental Keys to Liberation

How to make proper use of the three levels of consciousness or awareness? Through the principles illustrated by Tarot card 12, Tarot card 1, and Tarot card 6:

Hanged Man Magician Lovers

The key to superconsciousness is practicing union and surrender to that which is above. And receptivity to that which is above. Receptivity is the literal meaning of Qabalah. All spiritual traditions agree with that. The ultimate state of mind of surrender is known as samadhi.

They key to evolving self-consciousness is practicing focus and meditation.

The key to making a better use of subconsciousness is practicing love and appreciation. That releases subconsciousness from negative suggestions. That way it is free to perform the great work and build a spiritual personality.

The Three Principles In Astrology

Since human personality isn’t perfect – in its natural state at least – things are a bit more complicated in human affairs. Messed up to be precise. On a personal level, Mercury, self-consciousness, is the highest instance. He is the messenger of the gods (receptivity). But self-consciousness is tinged with passion and ambition (Mars) and subconsciousness is swayed by personal desires.

Magician Tower Empress

The Magician, hands down, gives all sorts of suggestions to subconsciousness. Unfortunately, many of them are negative. Subconsciousness picks them up and builds states of mind and experiences that comply to those negative suggestions. We reap as we sow. Only when the Magician raises his wand and becomes receptive to superconscious guidance, our lives turn around.

Naturally, the Mars force fuels ambition and sexuality. And that more or less uncontrolled. This force tempts us to take shortcuts and bend rules. The result is adversity. The Mars force needs to be redirected and used to incinerate negative mental patterns. Its spiritual application is purification – dissolution is the secret of the great work.

In its natural state, Venus is stuck with sensual experiences instead of building a life and relationships in the name of love. She needs to be impregnated with the Fools inspirations (that arrive through the Magician). And she needs to be relieved (through the fiery Mars force) from negative thought, feelings, and memories.

The Three Principles In Alchemy

In alchemy, the three alchemical principles are known as Mercury, Sulphur, and Salt. They correspond to the three spiritual planets Uranus, Pluto, and Neptune. If we shuffle the Tarot a bit, we can also illustrate the three alchemical principles with Tarot cards:


three higher planets

These three reverberate with the three personal forces represented by Mercury, Mars, and Venus. A receptive Mercury calls superconsciousness into action. A redirected Mars force induces experiences of other realities (the fourth dimension shown in Tarot card 20). And when we turn desires into love, we experience the Grand Reversal and unite with the Spirit (the white-haired being in Tarot card 12).

Picture attribution: copyright: momanuma / 123RF Stock Photo

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