49 Days of Definitions
November 6, 2013 1 Comment
So I’ve recently been compiling all my notes, lore, and some of the most important rituals I use into a single text that, eventually, I’d like to send to be published. Basically, I’m writing up my own grimoire for a modern Hermetic magician, and though I admit I’m still fairly new in my work and young as a magician (and a human, for that matter), I feel like I’ve got enough to at least get started, like an outline or something. But seeing how I’m casting my eye on the possibility of having apprentices or even teaching my own set of classes, I figure having a core text written by me can help out those who might follow me. It’ll be interesting, for sure, but I need to have something to provide besides giving teenagers some translations of Renaissance texts, however interesting that may be. So, I figure I may as well provide some of the things I learned and started with.
One of the things that Fr. Rufus Opus starts off with are something he calls a set of aphorisms, more properly called the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”. Those who are familiar with the Corpus Hermeticum (which, dear reader, of course you are or should be by now and you can read online here) will recognize the two names immediately, with Hermes Trismegistus being that thrice-great god-mage-prophet who founded the path of Hermeticism and Asclepius being his disciple, in addition to Hermes’ son Tat. In this case, the Definitions would be presented from Hermes to Asclepius as another sort of Corpus Hermeticum, either a distillation of it, an addition to it, or something extra alongside it. The Definitions are preserved only in an Armenian text from the 6th century AD, but likely originate in the 1st century, about the same time or earlier than the Corpus Hermeticum.
You can probably find the aphorisms online or elsewhere; the book The Way of Hermes contains an English translation, and you can easily find a PDF of it online (at least as of this writing). The Definitions are a set of 49 more-or-less short but dense explanations of various parts of Hermetic philosophy, a little longer than the Kybalion but much more true to classical Hermeticism than that New Thought/Theosophical amalgam of early 20th century occult thinking. Although it’d be nice if the aphorisms were broken down into seven groups of seven, they’re not; instead, the Definitions are broken down into 10 groups, some having as few as two aphorisms and some as many as seven. The aphorisms themselves are pretty dense, and each deserves contemplation both on their own as well as with the other aphorisms, and it’s been a while since I reviewed them. Like Alan Moore’s Promethea series, every time I go through them, I always pick up something new or something blatantly obvious stands out to me that wasn’t there before, and Fr. Rufus Opus himself said that these aphorisms should be regularly reviewed.
Since we’re at the tail end of another Mercury retrograde period, which is good to review old work, why not take this time to get a 49 day blog project going? For each of the next 49 days, I’ll be posting one of the Definitions along with my explanation and contemplation of each, how I consider it and how I can apply it to my life and practice. Feel free to join in with your own interpretations and contemplation; each of these definitions has a lot of meaning packed into each other, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s read these or has contemplated on them or similar concepts before. I’ll probably start next Tuesday, November 12 to give me a few days to prepare and get the next few days sorted out (I’ve got another weekend trip set up this week), but in the meantime, find those aphorisms for yourself and take a look. That’ll be 49 days of my interpretation of an ancient Hermetic text, lasting through the rest of 2013; you can consider it my Advent calendar Christmas present to you all.