Monday, March 27, 2023

Emerald Tablet: 21st Century Insights on Its True Nature and Meaning (SFTS, 3/26/23)


Emerald Tablet - Legend

Tabula Smaragdina (Latin)
Lawḥ al-zumurrudh (Arabic)

Attributed to Hermes Trismegistus (“Hermes the Thrice-Greatest”), aka Thoth

noun: demi-god
a being with partial or lesser divine status, such as a minor deity, the offspring of a god and a mortal, or a mortal raised to divine rank. – Oxford Languages

  “…in Egyptian religion, a god of the moon, of reckoning, of learning, and of writing” - Encyclopedia of Britannica

8th-9th Century - Arabic sources

12th-13th Century - Translated into Latin

Earliest known version appeared in Apollonius of Tyana’s

 Sirr al-khalīqa wa-ṣanʿat al-ṭabīʿa (The Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature)

 Apollonius was a Neo-Pythagorean, just as Plotinus was a Neo-Platonist

A contemporary of Jesus and Buddha, he too performed numerous miracles.

Unlike Jesus and Buddha who chose to move  among the poor and downtrodden, Apollonius chose to move among the upper classes, nevertheless, according to H.P. Blavatsky, “the three ‘miracle-workers’ exhibited striking similarity of purpose”

“His existence is surrounded with such a veil of mystery that he is often mistaken for a myth … It is quite true that this Sage, who stands unrivalled in his thaumaturgical powers to this day – on evidence historically attested – came from it, no one seems to know whither. But the reasons for this are evident. Every means was used – especially during the 4th and 5th centuries of our era --- to sweep from people’s minds the remembrance of this great and holy man.” – H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, Vol. III

According to Apollonius, he discovered a vault hidden below a statue of Hermes. Inside the vault, he found an old corpse on a golden throne. The corpse held the Emerald Tablet in its hands.

 Much has been projected on to the Emerald Tablet over the centuries.

Medieval alchemists looked to it for the secrets of the Philosopher’s Stone.

 Modern mystics and occultists have woven their world-views around the Tablet’s signature declaration, “As above, so below.”

 “it is first and foremost and fundamentally an alchemical formula, relating both to the alchemy of the base metal and the divine alchemy of human regeneration” - Manly Palmer Hall, “Secret Teachings of All Ages”

 The Emerald Tablet is only fourteen lines long.

In preparation for this talk, I compared and contrasted numerous translations and renderings, including those of the great Sir Isaac Newton, Theosophical Society founder H.P Blavatsky and Sufi author Idries Shah. The differences are mostly insignificant. The version I chose to use here is that of the early 20th Century French alchemist Fulcanelli (translated into English by Sieveking), Fulcanelli was the author of the brilliant “Mystery of the Cathedrals.”  …

Emerald Tablet – The One

“Above” and “below” are so limited and limiting. Even though this phrasing is healthier than that of the religionists who exalt “Heaven” and debase the so-called mundane world, this phrasing still warps and denigrates the meaning of the teaching it is meant to convey. This powerful truth is not about “Heaven” and “Earth.” They are not two. They are not separate. It’s not “Gods” and “Angels” above and “humans” and other “animals” below. And even though it says “as above, so below,” it’s still a separation that only exists in the human mind, you are not “a soul” in “a body,” you are not “here” now and going “there” after, they say “as” – it’s not “as” it’s “IS,”

‘IS above IS below’ would really work better.

 This phrasing is the old patriarchal paradigm repeated over and over. And no, the Sky is not “Masculine,” just because the Earth is “Feminine.” It’s a false correspondence.

So in my rendering of the Emerald Tablet, I supplant “As above so below” with –

The Microcosm is within the Macrocosm and the Macrocosm is within in the Microcosm.

The next lines in this particular translation show a deeper understanding, so no strikethrough.

“all things exist in and emanate from the ONE Who is the ultimate Cause, so all things are born after their kind from this ONE”

Yes, indeed. Now who is this “ONE”?

Gaia is the Macrocosm, I am, you are, the Microcosm. The Ecosystem of the Planet, which is itself the Intelligence of the Planet, is the Macrocosm, my five bodies are the microcosm. All of it spirals upward and outward, downward and inward, SIMULTANEOUSLY. Gaia is the Microcosm, the Solar System is the Macrocosm. The Solar System is the Microcosm, the Galaxy is the Macrocosm, and on and on …

For nearly the entire history of life on this planet, 85 percent of that history in fact, life consisted solely of of microorganisms. The last universal common ancestor (LUCA) for every life-form on this planet was bacterial. Again: The last universal common ancestor for every life-form on this planet was bacterial ... In fact, every life-form we see - again, every life-form, including you and me - is simply a modification of bacteria in a more complex form ... The Gaian ecosystem, the self-organized system that we know as Earth, came into being with the emergence of the global bacterial community. The bacterial community is still the foundation of the world. It is Gaia. It is the interconnected network of millions of bacterial biofilms, individual bacteria, and symbiogenenic, bacterially generated, complex life-forms that lies deep within the crust of the Earth (perhaps by as much as 5 kilometers), covers the surface of the planet, and extends at least 50 kilometers above the Earth's surface ... The original neural networks that are present in all bacteria and their communities have been expanded in both shape and extent over long time lines. All the living self-organized systems that we know of as life-forms contain neural networks based on the original neural network that emerged. And the neurochemicals that bacteria originally developed have been refined over long time lines and are now used by virtually every life-form that exists. Our neural network is only modification of an already extant neural reality that pervades the entire Earth ecosystem; it is only a specific instance of a general condition.This expansion of the neural net, in multiple forms, all interconnected, facilitates the intake and processing of environmental information at ever more sophisticated levels of the Gaian network as a whole. Each self-organized system, that is, each subset of the larger whole, possesses a drive to fulfill its ecological function within the whole, and each possesses a sophisticated neural network with which it gathers data about the local environment in which it exists. Each also possesses free will as to how it accomplishes its function and how it responds to environmental perturbations. Gaia does not use top-down control over the parts that make-up the whole. - Stephen Harrod Buhner, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm

Emerald Tablet - Sun & Moon

The Emerald Tablet - Sun and Moon

Languaging is so important, so pivotal … Languaging impacts the stream of consciousness, if it’s off, if it’s unhealthy, it can warp a truth, it can flatten it out, make it brittle and thin, make it square,  drain it of its Sakti … Esoteric, metaphysical, mystical, spiritual languaging concerning the Sun and the Moon offers vivid examples of this abuse … In all of the Table of Erroneous Correspondences, nothing is as egregious as the characterizations of the Sun and Moon as “Active and Receptive, Male and Female, Yang and Yin,” wrong, wrong, wrong … To anthropomorphize the Sun and the Moon into “Father” and “Mother” is patriarchal, sexist, Samsaric … it is trivializing and misleading ..  

Consider the Sun …

26,000 light years from the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, the Sun holds the planets of this solar system in its thrall, pulling them with it as it circumambulates that galactic core.

 At an average speed of 450,000 miles an hour, each circumambulation takes 230 million years.

All the while, the Sun is delivering the heat and light that make life on Earth possible.

Noun: photosynthesis
the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis in plants generally involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a byproduct. – Oxford Languages

“It would be impossible to overestimate the importance of photosynthesis in the maintenance of life on Earth. If photosynthesis ceased, there would soon be little food or other organic matter on Earth. Most organisms would disappear, and in time Earth’s atmosphere would become nearly devoid of gaseous oxygen. The only organisms able to exist under such conditions would be the chemosynthetic bacteria, which can utilize the chemical energy of certain inorganic compounds and thus are not dependent on the conversion of light energy.” - Britannica

“Sunlight kills bacteria. Many of us spend a lot of time indoors ... Sunlight may reduce high blood pressure ... Sunlight can regulate the immune system ... Sunlight strengthens bones ... Sunlight can improve sleep quality ... Sunlight boosts mood …” - GoodRx Health, 5/27/22

 “Nothing is more important to us on Earth than the Sun. Without the Sun's heat and light, the Earth would be a lifeless ball of ice-coated rock. The Sun warms our seas, stirs our atmosphere, generates our weather patterns, and gives energy to the growing green plants that provide the food and oxygen for life on Earth.” - NASA

And as for the Moon …

“The Moon's radius is larger than a quarter of Earth's radius, a much larger ratio than most moons to their planets.” -

“The brightest and largest object in our night sky, the Moon makes Earth a more livable planet by moderating our home planet's wobble on its axis, leading to a relatively stable climate. It also causes tides, creating a rhythm that has guided humans for thousands of years.” - NASA

 “Earth's moon is vitally important in making Earth the planet we know today: the moon controls the length of the day and ocean tides, which affect the biological cycles of lifeforms on our planet. The moon also contributes to Earth's climate by stabilizing Earth's spin axis, offering an ideal environment for life to develop and evolve.” - The Week, 2/7/22

Father and mother? Putting the gender stereotypes aside, even if it were a metaphor predicated on healthy parenting, your parents bring you into the world, then you grow up and live your life, you individuate, maybe at the end of theirs you help them out of this life just as they helped you in … But the Sun and the Moon, they did not just give birth to the world, and these mysteries, they are at the center of them moment by moment, sustaining it all, organizing it all at every level, now and ever since, and for as long as they endure, they are central to it all, and allow for the rise of Gaian Intelligence, they empower Gaia to paint her masterpieces upon the canvass of her own luminous flesh, yes …

So in my rendering of the Emerald Tablet, I supplant ““The Sun is the father and the Moon the mother …” with –

Within the Cauldron of the Creatrix, the Yin and the Yang swirl ceaselessly, likewise the Yin within the Yang and the Yang within the Yin swirl ceaselessly. Feel all of this.

The true alchemy of this living planet owes a lot to the Taoists –

Every whole "thing"--from a tree to a person to a business, an atom, planet, or universe--can be seen as a metaphorical Tai-Chi, with corresponding Yin and Yang aspects. Once Yin and Yang are distinguished, each one can also be seen as a whole and broken down further into its own integral Yin and Yang parts. We can see this creative process unfold all around us. The universal process of Being arising from Non-Being through the fusion of opposites, followed by the differentiation and increase of complexity from oneness to myriad forms, can be observed in the studies of modern cosmology, the evolution of species, the conception and development of individuals, and the arising of ideas ...  - Simmone Kuo

 “Yin and Yang are one vital force -- the primordial aura.” – Yangming Wang

“The motion of yin and yang generates all things in nature” - Meh Jiuzhang & Guo Lei

Emerald Tablet - Philosopher's Stone

Hajar al-Falāsifa (Arabic)
Lapis Philosophorum (Latin)

“The alchemists believed that the universal formula contained in the Emerald Tablet was the basis for a spiritual technology first introduced on the planet in ancient Egypt more than 10,000 year ago. The formula consists of seven consecutive operations, performed on the ‘matter’ – whether it be of a physical, psychological, or spiritual nature.” – Dennis William Huack, The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation

I looked up ‘Philosopher’s Stone” in the index to Manly Palmer Hall’s “Secret Teachings of All Ages,” I had to laugh. Among the numerous references, two in particular stood out.

One entry read “Philosopher’s Stone contains all the powers of Nature CLVIII” Lol.

You know what else “contains all the powers of Nature”? N-A-T-U-R-E! Nature Herself. Gaia.

Another entry read “Philosopher’s Stone represented by Isis XLVII”

Well, yes, but really it’s not “symbolism.” It would be more accurate to say “Isis is the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Philosopher’s Stone is Isis.”

Isis, of course, being one of Gaia’s many divine disguises.

Please don’t misunderstand me, “Secret Teachings of All Ages” is a marvelous tome, a rich resource, but the minds of white men from earlier centuries (even the 20th but especially the 19th) are utterly at a lost when it comes to the deep feminine mysteries of this planet.

I find myself wanting to declare “This is the true alchemy of our living planet!” Because, well, it is. But I need to add a caveat, I am not saying this is the only true alchemy. There is the true alchemy of Carl Jung and his path of individuation. Jung’s encounter with the Emerald Tablet in particular, and his inquiry into alchemy as a whole, would be a talk unto itself, and such a meaningful one, there is the true alchemy of novelist Paolo Coehlo. In “The Alchemist,” he writes, “Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life.” The history of alchemy is vast and sprawling. There is Chinese alchemy, there is Indian alchemy, deep troves overflowing with treasures. There is a whole alternate, suppressed herstory of alchemy, Mary the Jewess is considered the first known alchemist. 200 CE. And, of course, here in this very Lodge, we honor the life and work of the legendary African American alchemist Light Devoy Edward Harris who left this plane of existence in December 2014. “L-I-G-H-T Light! S-O-U-N-D Sound! Light and Sound! Sound and Light! Light and Sound Sound and Light. L-I-G-H-T Light! S-O-U-N-D Sound!” Yes, there are many true alchemies! This talk is just a reflection on my encounter with the Emerald Tablet, it is what I feel to speak through these five bodies with my voice in my words, calibrated to our present circumstances. We are in the throes of this Planetary Emergency. Anthropogenic Climate Disruption and the Sixth Great Extinction pose an existential threat to civilization itself. And only through the Ascendancy of the Feminine and the spread of Eco-Feminism, in philosophy, psychology, mysticism and the arts, in politics, science and commerce. The arc of human evolution is leading us beyond patriarchy. Thus I say this is the true alchemy of our living planet.

“The Tablet supposedly contains the secrets of alchemy and the recipe for the philosopher's stone, an artifact capable of giving its user eternal life.” – The Archaeologist: Civilizations of the World

Well, yes, but …

I suggest to you that the great Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) knew more than the men who came before her, more than the men of her time, and more than the men who came after her.

And Hildegard wrote about what she called Vriditas, the “Green Flame,” the “Greening Force.”

“O most honored Greening Force, You who roots in the Sun; You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel that earthly excellence fails to comprehend. You are enfolded in the weaving of divine mysteries. You redden like the dawn and you burn; flame of the Sun.” - Hildegard of Bingen, “Causae et Curae”

In my rendition of the Emerald Tablet, I swap out the cryptic lines about alchemical operations involving four (of the five) elements, e.g., “… the wind carried it in his belly. Earth is its nurse and its guardian …” and I supplant it all with this –

The Green Flame is the Emerald Tablet in ceaseless motion, the Emerald Tablet is the Green Flame in utter stillness. They occupy the same space. Within that space, every incarnation is lived and all karmas are played out. The Green Flame forges the Emerald Tablet. The Emerald Tablet fuels the Green Flame. Immerse yourself in this mystery and realize that you are a mystery within a mystery, a miracle within a miracle.

Within Nirvana, Gaia is the Philosopher’s Stone. Within Samsara, the individuated being, the woke being, the being that has fallen awake, is the Philosopher’s Stone. And yes, Nirvana and Samsara occupy the same space. So that’s where it all is, what it all is, utterly INCOMPREHENSIBLE, utterly UNSPEAKABLE, and yet, we can know it and speak it …

Worlds without End!