The Divine Pymander

The Pymander

The Supreme Lord of all, Who has walked and talked with the Worthy Ones of every period since the dawn of time, is the very same Lord under whatever name He is invoked, whenever and wherever He is said to appear.

He is known as Adonai, as the Christ, as Osiris, as Krishna. But it was as the Divine Pymander that He appeared unto Hermes Trismegistus, the mighty Egyptian Hierophant, called also Mercurius Termaximus, and Thrice-Greatest Thoth, the Father of the Hermetic Wisdom.

Pymander means "Shepherd of Men".  He is Leader and Teacher, Illuminator and Ideal Archetype of all mankind.

"I am Pymander, the Shepherd of Men, the Nous of the Supreme; I know what thou desirest." -I. 2.

"Have Me in thy mind and whatever thou wouldst learn, I will teach thee." -I. 3.

"I am that Light, the Nous, thy God, Who was before moist Nature appeared out of the darkness; and that Light-Word from the Nous is the Son of God." -I. 6.

The Nous may be understood here as the Mind of God, the Divine Reason of all things, the Illuminating Idea in the light of which all other ideas and aspects of truth are unfolded.

Nous, as objective to the Supreme, is the same as the Logos; as subjective to Soul, it is best translated "Spirit".

"I myself," said the Pymander, "the Nous, am present with holy men and good, the pure and merciful; men who live piously; and My Presence is a help unto them, and forthwith they know all things, and lovingly propitiate the Father, praising Him, giving Him thanks, singing hymns; being ordinate and intent on Him, with adoration and love." -I. 22.

"The Father of all things," declared the Pymander, "the Nous, being Life and Light, brought forth (Archetypal) Man, like unto Himself, whom He loved as His own Child; for he was beautiful beyond compare, having the Image of his Father.  In very truth God loved His own Form, and on him did bestow all His own formations." -I. 12.

"Contemplate through Me" (the Archetype), said the Pymander, "the Cosmos now subject to thy vision; regard carefully its beauty, a Body in pure perfection, though one than which there is none more ancient, ever in the prime of life, and ever young, nay, rather in ever fuller and yet fuller prime." -XI. 6.

Since the Pymander is the Supreme Archetype, it follows that to contemplate the Cosmos through Him is to see it as it really is, subjectively and objectively, in its pure and everlasting perfection; constituting, as it were, the Grand Body in which are made manifest the ideas or thoughts in the Divine Nous.

"Behold, also, the Seven Worlds set over us, adorned with an everlasting beautiful Order, filling eternity with their varied courses.  See how all things are full of light, but fire is nowhere, for it is the love and blending of the contraries and dissimilars that doth give birth to light shining forth by the energy of God, the Father of all Good, the Leader of all Order, and the Ruler of the Seven World-Orders." -XI. 7.

The Seven Worlds, or Worlds-Orders, need not to be taken as referring only to visible worlds or planets, but rather in a larger sense to the Seven Planes or Conditions of Existence. 

The first of these planes or eternal World-Orders is super-essential, the next three are subjective, and the remaining three are objective.  If this is borne in mind throughout when considering the words of the Pymander it will be found that many apparent inconsistences and contradictions which have prejudiced some modern scholars against the work as a whole are thereby reconciled.  The Seven Planets, while symbolizing the above worlds, are all objective.

"Behold the Moon, organ of Nature, changing the matter here below.  Behold the Earth, set in the midst of all, foundation of the Cosmos beautiful; nourisher and nurse of all things on earth.  And contemplate the multitude of deathless lives, how great it is; and that of the lives subject to death; and, midway between, the things immortal-and-mortal." -XI. 7...

Thus does the Pymander reveal unto Hermes the Panorama of the Cosmos, in which are written the thoughts of the One Father.  For the Divine Pymander Himself is the Word made manifest, the Perfect Man, made from all eternity in the Image of God; the First-born and the Firstfruits, from Whom all mankind proceeds, and into Whose likeness all may earn the right to be assumed...

The Three Heads

Throughout the Trismegistic writings there is constant reference to three distinct Principles, and, in conformity with his title, the Thrice-Greatest Thoth explains all things under three Heads.  For having received the One basic Idea of Truth from the Divine Pymander, he unfolds the significance of the three principal Ideas which it contains, and which, in their fullness, necessarily embrace all that it is possible for the intelligence to conceive or know.

"Now, my Son," says Hermes to his disciple, "I will go through all the things that are, by heads.  First, God; second, the Cosmos; thirs, Man.  The Cosmos for Man's sake; and Man for God's.  If thou perfectly remember these Heads, thou canst not forget those things which in more words I have largely expounded unto thee, for these are the summaries or syntheses of them." -Excerpt I.

"From One Source all things depend; but the Source is from the One and Only.  Three then are they: God the Father and the Good, the Cosmos, and Man.  God doth contain the Cosmos; the Cosmos containeth Man.  The Cosmos is the offspring of God; and Man, as it were, is the offspring of the Cosmos." -X. 14.

"The Cosmos is, indeed, from God, and in God; but Man, of the world and in the world.  The Beginning and the End, and the constitution of all things, is God." -VIII. 5.

The first Head, or Idea, is the subject of Theology, the science not only of the Supreme God, but of all the High Gods and Ruling Intelligences.  It is the highest of all sciences, and includes the causes of all real beings, ideas, and worlds.

The second Head, or Idea, is the subject of Cosmology, the science of the Cosmos.  Literally, the word "cosmos" means order and beauty, but commonly it is taken to signify the solar system and the universe, and sometimes the world.  But in the Pymander, as the second of the three Heads, it is the Principle or Idea of all Order by which all things not only proceed from their causes, but by which alone it is possible for them to be manifested, to be held together, to be related or ordinated to each other, and to the end and purpose for which they exist.

For the Voice of God sounded over the primeval darkness of the deep, which was void and without form, and out of that Chaos came the Cosmos and all the orders of existence which it comprehends.

Therefore, the Cosmos includes all worlds and universes - subjective and objective - all planes, sub-planes, spheres, and regions, of existence and of activity.  But it does not include the Divine Natures and Ruling Intelligences who operate in the various worlds, for these belong to the first science and its sub-sciences.  Neither does the Cosmos include the Idea of Man, who, although a microcosm of the macrocosm, is also, potentially, something more, and therefore he is the subject of the third Head, namely, Anthropology, the science of Man; that is, of Archetypal Man, of individual man, with his manifold principles, and of pan-humanity or mankind as a whole.

If all that is implied by these three sciences - of God, the Cosmos, and Man - with their respective inter-relationships, is thoroughly realized, a valuable criterion is established which is an almost infallible guide in the recognition, not only of the manifold phases of truth presented in different systems of thought, but also of the elements of error with which they are sometimes mingled. For the confusion of these three Ideas, and the withdrawing of them from their proper relationships, is probably productive of most of the false teachings prevalent in every age.  But the manner in which they are dealt with in the Trismegistic writings provides a further striking example of how Hermetism can elucidate so many of the problems confronting the human reason.

The Secret Hymnody 
Let all Nature of the Cosmos receive the hearing of this hymn!
   Be opened, O earth; let every deep of the abyss be opened for me.
   Tremble not, ye trees, for I would hymn unto the Lord of Creation, to the All and to the One.
   Be opened, ye heavens: stand still, ye winds: let the deathless sphere of God receive my words.
   For I will sing praise unto Him who founded all; who fixed the earth, who suspended the heavens;
   Who commanded the sweet water to come out of the ocean into the earth, to those parts inhabited and those that are not, for the use and nourishment of all men;
   Who commanded the fire to shine for every action of Gods and men.
   Let us together give praise unto Him, the Sublime One, Who rideth upon the heavens and is the Lord of all Nature.
   He, Who is the Eye of Nous, may He accept the praise of my powers.
   O all ye powers within me, praise ye the One and the All.
   Sing with my will, all ye powers that are in me.
   O holy knowledge, by Thee illumined, I magnify the intelligible Light that Nous alone can see, and rejoice in the joy of the Logos.
   All ye powers, sing praises with me.
   Hymn with me, O my temperance, and my continence; hymn through me, O my justice, the praises of the Righteous.
   Hymn thou, O my communion, the praises of the All.
   Sing through me, O truth, the praises of the True; and sing thou, O goodness, the hymn of the Good.
   O Life and Light, from us to you our praises flow.
   I render thanks to Thee, O Father, Energy of all my powers: I give thanks to Thee, O God, Thou Power of all my energies.
   Thy Logos, through me, sings praises unto Thee; take back through me the All into the World, this oblation of the Logos.
   Thus is the pćan of the powers in me; they praise Thee, Thou All, they do Thy will.
   From Thee is Thy will: to Thee is the All; receive the reasonable oblation of the All.
   O Life, preserve the All that is in us; O Light, enlighten it; O God in-spirit it.
   For Thy Nous is the Shepherd to Thy Word, O Thou Creative Bestower of the Spirit.
   Thou art God - Thy (Essential) Man thus calls to Thee through fire, through air, through earth, through water, through Spirit, and through all Thy creatures.
   From Thy Eternity I have found how to praise Thee, and in Thy will I have found the object of my quest.
   I have found my rest! -XIII. 1-20.
   And thus, as Hermes declares: "Nous enters the pious Soul and leads it into the light of divine knowledge.
   "And such a Soul never tires of hymning praises unto God, and of pouring blessings upon all men, both in words and deeds - in imitation of its own Divine Father.
   "Therefore, O Son, let us give thanks unto God, and pray that we may indeed receive the radiant Nous." -X. 21, 22.

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© The Shrine of Wisdom 1923, Second Edition 1935, Third Edition 1948, Fourth Edition 1955, Reprinted 1970