Practical Hermeticism applies itself to educating thought and imagination (or memory) to keep in step with the will. This is why it requires constant effort of thought and imagination combined in order to think, meditate and contemplate in symbols – symbolism being the sole means of rendering thought and imagination capable of not being suspended when the will submits to revelation from above and enabling them to unite with it in its act of receptive obedience, so that the soul not only has a revelation of faith but also participates in this revelation with its understanding and memory.
This is the principle point of practical Hermeticism and, at the same time, its contribution to Christian mysticism. I say Christian mysticism and not Christian mystical theology, because theology rationalises the material of mystical experience in deriving rules and laws, whilst Hermeticism wants thought and imaginaiton to participate in this experience. Its aim is found in the experience itself, not in the domain of explaining it or accounting for it.
Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XII, The Hanged Man
Pictured: International Banner of Peace, Nicholas Roerich
We have demonstrated that the primordial Vapour, or that fire and water, are after God, the First Matter of all Things. This two-fold Vapour by inspissation is become water and this water by the action of the invisible spirit therein diffused, has begun to ferment and then to generate Matter. At first, this water was perfectly subtil and pure, but by means of the action of the inward spirit, it becomes turbid, smelled badly and thus generated Earth. It was divided into various parts, into a Spiritual, most subtil, into a half or less subtil, into a half corporeal, and into a Body. At first it was 1 and 2, now it is is 1, 2 and 3, likewise 4 and 5.
It was 1, as a simple Humidity; 2, as a water containing a spirit; 3, when it was separated into volatile, half fixt, and fixt, that is, chemically speaking – into Volatil, Acetum and Alcali; Anima, spirit, Corpus; 4, when it was divided into the four so-called Elements, fire, air, water, earth; 5, when it is by Art, assisted by Nature, formed into an indestructible fiery Quintessence.
Thus said the Poet: “When Death comes to you, All ye whose life-sand through the hour-glass slips, He lays two fingers on your ears, and two Upon your eyes he lays, one on your lips, Whispering: Silence!” Although deaf thine ear, Thine eye, my Hafiz, suffer Time’s eclipse, The songs though sangest still all men may hear.
Songs of dead laughter, songs of love once hot, Songs of a cup once flushed rose-red with wine, Songs of a rose whose beauty is forgot, A nightingale that piped hushed lays divine: And still a graver music runs beneath The tender love notes of those songs of thine’ Oh, seeker of the keys of Life and Death!