1. Hermeticism can refer to one of two things:

    The study and practice of occult philosophy and magic, of a type associated with writings attributed to the god Hermes Trismegistus, "Thrice-Greatest Hermes," a syncretistic deity who combines aspects of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. Hermeticism is also associated with alchemy. These beliefs were influential in European occult lore, especially from the Renaissance forward, when they were revived by people like Giordano Bruno and Marsilio Ficino. Hermetic magic underwent a 19th century revival in Western Europe, where it was practiced by people such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Eliphas Lévi.

  2. From the arcane language associated with these beliefs, comes the second meaning:

The deliberate use of obscure, convoluted, or esoteric imagery in various arts.


The Hermetica or Corpus Hermeticum are texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, some of them possibly remains of gnostic traditions, dealing with magic, philosophy, and related concepts. These scriptures were rediscovered and repopularized in Italy during the Renaissance and have had profound influence over alchemy and modern magic, as well as impacting philosophers such as Giordano Bruno and Marsilio Ficino.

In the late Roman Empire and during the Renaissance, these texts were all believed to be of ancient Egyptian origin, some are believed to be even today to date from History of Ancient Egypt. However, by studying the vocabluary of the texts, the classical scholar Isaac Casaubon showed in 1614 that some of the texts (mainly those dealing with philosophy) betrayed a vocabulary too recent to be so old. Recent research suggests some of these texts may be of pharaonic Egyptian origin, although most of the "philosophical" Hermetica can be dated to around 300 A.D. and these texts are generally seen as closely related to Neoplatonism.

Parts of the Hermetica appeared in the gnostic library found in Nag Hammadi.

Contents of the Hermetica

See Plotinus

Mandrake Press Home Page
Mandrake Press Shop