Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. 1, by G.R.S. Mead, , at sacred-texts.com
That at one period the “Religion of Hermes” was not only widely spread, but practically supreme, in popular Hellenistic circles, may be seen from a study of the texts of the numerous magic papyri which have been preserved, and made accessible to us by the industry of such immensely laborious scholars as Leemans, Dieterich, Wessely, and Kenyon.
The Greek Hermes prayers, as with many others of a similar nature, are manifestly overworkings of more ancient types, and, as we might expect, are of a strongly syncretistic nature. In them we can distinguish in popular forms, based on the ancient traditions of Egyptian magic, most interesting shadows of the philosophic and theosophic ideas which our Trismegistic literature has set forth for us in the clear light of dignified simplicity.
But just as we now know that the once so-called “Gnostic,” Abraxas and Abraxoid amulets, gems, and rings pertained to the general popular magical religion and had nothing to do with the Gnosis proper, so we may be sure that the circles of high mysticism, who refused to offer to God even so pure a sacrifice as
the burnt offering of incense, and deemed naught worthy of Him, short of the “prayers and praises of the mind,” had nothing directly to do with the popular Hermes prayers, least of all with the invocatory rites of popular theurgy, and phylactery or amulet consecration.
Nevertheless, there is much of interest for us in these invocations, and much that can throw side-lights on the higher teaching and practice which transformed all external rites into the discipline of inner spiritual experience.
The following prayers, which, as far as I know, have not been previously translated, are rendered from the most recently revised texts of Reitzenstein, who has omitted the magic names, and emended the previous editions. I cannot but think, however, that these texts might be submitted to a more searching analysis than has yet been accorded them. They seem to present somewhat similar phenomena to the recensions of the Book of the Dead; that is to say, fragments of material from the tradition of a greater past have been adapted and overworked for the needs of a lesser age. Indeed, the whole effort of the Trismegistic schools seems to have been to restore the memory of that greater past; it had been forgotten, and its dim record had become a superstition instead of a living faith, a degenerate magic instead of a potent theurgy. The theurgy of our prayers is that of dwarfs; the theurgy of the past was believed to have been that of giants.
[Revised text, R. 15-18; Leemans (C.), Papyri Græc. Mus. Ant. Pub. Lug. Bat. (Leyden, 1885), II. 141, 14 ff., and V. 27, 27 ff.; Dieterich (A.), Abraxas (Leipzig, 1891), 195, 4 ff.; and Jahrbücher f. class. Phil., Suppl. XVI. 808 ff. (Papyrus Mag. Mus. Lug. Bat.).]
1. Come unto me, O thou of the four winds, 2 almighty one, 3 who breathest spirit into men to give them life;
2. Whose name is hidden, and beyond the power of men to speak; 4 no prophet [even] can pronounce it; yea, even daimons, when they hear thy name, are fearful!
3. O thou, whose tireless eyes are sun and moon, 5—[eyes] that shine in the pupils 6 of the eyes of men!
4. O thou, who hast the heaven for head, æther for body, [and] earth for feet, and for the water round thee oceans deep! 7 Thou the Good Daimon art, who art the sire of all things good, and nurse of the whole world. 8
5. Thy everlasting revelling-place 9 is set above.
6. Thine the good emanations 10 of the stars,—those daimons, fortunes, and those fates by whom are given
wealth, good blend [of nature], 1 and good children, good fortune, and good burial. For thou art lord of life,—
7. Thou who art king of heavens and earth and all that dwell in them;
8. Whose Righteousness is never put away; whose Muses hymn thy glorious name; whom the eight Wardens guard,—thou the possessor of the Truth 2 pure of all lie!
9. Thy Name and Spirit rest upon the good. 3
10. O mayst thou come into my mind and heart for all the length of my lifes days, and bring unto accomplishment all things my soul desires!
11. For thou art I, and I am thou. 4 Whateer I speak, may it for ever be; for that I have thy Name 5 to guard me in my heart. 6
12. And every serpent 1 roused shall have no power oer me, nor shall I be opposed by any spirit, or daimonial power, or any plague, or any of the evils in the Unseen World; 2 for that I have thy Name within my soul.
13. Thee I invoke; come unto me, Good, altogether good, [come] to the good, 3—thou whom no magic can enchant, no magic can control, 4 who givest me good health, security, 5 good store, good fame, victory, [and] strength, and cheerful countenance! 6
14. Cast down the eyes of all who are against me, and give me grace on all my deeds! 7
[Revised and restored text, stripped of later overworkings, R. 20, 21. Wessely (C.), Denkschriften der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, “Neue griechische Zauberpapyri” (Vienna, 1893), vol. xlii. p. 55; Kenyon (F. G.), Greek Papyri in the British Museum (London, 1893), i. 116.]
1. Come unto me, Lord Hermes, even as into womens wombs [come] babes! 8
2. Come unto me, Lord Hermes, who dost collect the food of gods and men! 9
3. Lord Hermes, come to me, and give me grace,
[and] food, [and] victory, [and] health and happiness, and cheerful countenance, 1 beauty and powers in sight of all!
4. I know thy Name that shineth forth in heaven; I know thy forms 2 as well; I know thy tree; 3 I know thy wood 4 as well.
5. I know thee, Hermes, who thou art, and whence thou art, and what thy city is.
6. I know thy names in the Egyptian tongue, 5 and thy true name as it is written on the holy tablet in the holy place at Hermes city, where thou dost have thy birth.
7. I know thee, Hermes, and thou [knowest] me; [and] I am thou, and thou art I. 6
8. Come unto me; fulfil all that I crave; be favourable to me together with good fortune and the blessing of the Good. 7
[Revised and restored text, R. 21. It is worked in with the preceding, but is of later date.]
1. Come unto me, Lord Hermes, O thou of many names, who knowst the secrets hidden both beneath the poles [of heaven] and underneath the earth!
2. Come unto me, Lord Hermes, thou benefactor, who doest good to all the world!
3. Give ear to me, [and] give me grace with all that are on earth; open for me the hands of all that give like thee; 1 [and] make them give me what their hands contain!
4. Even as Horus, 2 if eer he called on thee, O greatest of all gods, in every trial, in every space, gainst gods, and men, and daimones, and things that live in water and on earth,—had grace and riches with gods, and men, and every living thing beneath the earth;—so let me, too, who call on thee! So give me grace, form, beauty!
6. Hear me, O Hermes, doer of good deeds, thou the inventor of [all] incantations, 3 speak me good words! 4
7. Hear me, O Hermes, for I have done all things [that I should do] for thy black dog-ape, 5 lord of the nether ones!
8. O, soften all [towards me], and give me might
[and] form, 1 and let them give me gold, and silver [too], and food of every kind continually.
9. Preserve me evermore for the eternity from spells, deceits, and witchery of every kind, from evil tongues, from every check and every enmity of gods and men!
10. Give unto me grace, victory, success, and satisfaction!
11. For thou art I, and I am thou; thy Name is mine, and mine is thine; for that I am thy likeness. 2
12. Whatever shall befall me in this year, or month, or day, or hour,—it shall befall the Mighty God, whose symbol is upon the holy vessels prow. 3
[Revised text, R. 22. Leemans, op. cit., II. 103, 7; Dieterich, op. cit., 189.]
1. Thee I invoke alone, thou who alone in all the world imposest order upon gods and men, 1 who dost transform thyself in holy forms, 2 making to be from things that are not, and from the things that are making the not to be.
2. O holy Thoth, 3 the true sight of whose face none of the gods endures!
3. Make me to be in every creatures name 4—wolf, dog, [or] lion, fire, tree, [or] vulture, 5 wall, 6 [or] water, 7 or what thou willst, for thou art able [so to do].
[Revised text R. 22, 23. Leemans, ibid., II. 87, 24; Dieterich, ibid., 176, 1.]
1. Thee I invoke who hast created all, who dost transcend the whole, the self-begotten God, who seest all and hearest all, but who art seen by none.
2. For thou didst give the sun his glory and all might, the moon her increase and her decrease, and [unto both] their ordained course. Though thou didst not diminish aught the [powers of] darkness, the still
more ancient [than the sun and moon], thou madst them equal [with it]. 1
3. For when thou didst shine forth, Cosmos came into being, and light appeared, and all things were dispensed through thee; wherefore they all are under thee.
4. O thou, whose actual form none of the gods can see, who dost transform thyself into them all in visions [that men see], O thou Eternity of the eternity. 2
5. Thee I invoke, O Lord, that thy true form may manifest to me, for that I am in servitude below thy world, 3 slave to thy angel and unto thy fear. 4
6. Through thee the pole and earth are fixed.
7. Thee I invoke, O Lord, een as the gods whom thou hast made to shine, that they may have their power.
The above prayers afford us some striking examples of the popular Hellenistic form of the Hermes religion, 5
in its theurgic phase. In it Hermes is regarded as the Mind 1 or Logos. The Mind is invoked to enter the mind and heart (I. 10). 2 With the shining out of the Mind, the Spiritual or Intelligible Light shines forth in the world and man (v. 3). The Mind is thus the guide of souls. 3 He is also identified with the Good Daimon (of whom Chnuphis or Horus are variants), with the Great Ocean, the Heaven-Space or Celestial Nile, the Great Green, the Light, the Æon.
In connection with the above invocations Reitzenstein gives the text of a very interesting ritual of lower theurgy, or rite of the sacred flame, which he characterises by the term “mystery of lychnomancy or lamp-magic.” This is the lower side of such high vision as is referred to in “The Shepherd of Men” treatise and in the rite described in the following passage of the Pistis Sophia, 272, 373:
“Jesus said unto his disciples: Come unto me! And
they came unto him. He turned to the four quarters of the world, and spake the Great Name over their heads, and blessed them, and breathed on their eyes.
“Jesus said unto them: Look, see what ye may see!
“And lifting up their eyes they saw a great Light, exceeding vast, which no dweller on earth could describe.
“He said to them again: Gaze into the Light, and see what ye may see!
“They said: We see fire and water, and wine and blood.”
[Revised text, R. 25-27. Wessely, op. cit., “Griechische zauberpapyrus von Paris und London” (Vienna, 1888), 68, 930 ff.]
(a) Invocation to the Light 1
1. I invoke thee, O God, the living one, 2 who dost show forth thy splendour in the fire, thou unseen Father of the Light! 3 Pour forth thy strength; awake thy daimon, and come down into this fire; inspire it with [thy] holy spirit; show me thy might, and let the house of the almighty God, which is within this light, be opened for me! Let there be light,—
[thy] breadth-depth-length-height-ray; 1 and let the Lord, the [God] within, shine forth!
(b) A Stronger Form to be used if the Flame dies down
2. I adjure thee, O Light, holy ray, breadth-depth-length-height-ray, by the holy names which I have uttered, 2 and am now about to speak . . . abide with me in this same hour, until I have besought thy God, and learnt about the things that I desire!
(c) The Theagogy or Invocation of the God proper
3. Thee I invoke, thou mightiest God and Master . . . thou who enlightenest all and pourst thy rays by means of thine own power on all the world, O God of gods!
4. O Word (Logos) that orderest night and day, who guidst the ship, 3 and holdst the helm, thou dragon-slayer, 4 Good Holy Daimon . . . !
5. To whom the East and West give praise as thou dost rise and set, thou who art blest by all the gods, angels, and daimones!
6. Come, show thyself to me, O God of gods . . . !
7. Enter, make manifest thyself to me, O Lord; for I invoke as the three apes invoke thee—who symbol-wise name forth thy holy Name.
8. In thy ape-form 1 enter, appear to me, O Lord; for I name forth thy mightiest names!
9. O thou who hast thy throne about the height of cosmos, 2 and judgest all, encircled with the sphere of Surety and Truth! 3
10. Enter, appear to me, O Lord, for that I was before the fire and snow, and shall be after [them];
11. I am the one who has been born from heaven. 4
12. Enter, appear to me, O Lord of mighty names, whom all have in their hearts, 5 who dost burst open rocks, 6 and makst the names of gods to move!
13. Enter, appear to me, O Lord, who hast thy power and strength in tire, who hast thy throne within the seven poles. 7
14. And on thy head a golden crown, and in thy hand a staff . . . 1 by which thou sendest forth the gods!
15. Enter, O Lord, and give me answer with thy holy voice, that I may clearly hear and truthfully about this thing!
(d) A Stronger Form of Adjuration if (c) fails
16. He doth enjoin thee, He the great living God, who is for the eternities of the eternities, the shaker and the thunderer, who doth create each soul and every birth. Enter, appear to me, O Lord, joyous, benignant, gentle, glorious, free from all wrath; for I adjure thee by the Lord [of all]!
(e) The Greeting when the Presence of the God is manifested
17. Hail Lord, O God of gods, thou benefactor . . . ! Hail to thy glories 2 ever more, O Lord!
(f) The Farewell to the God
18. I give thee thanks, O Lord. Depart, O Lord, to thine own heavens, thine own realms, and thine own
course, preserving me in health, free from all harm, free from all fear of any ka, 1 free from all stripes, and all dismay, hearkening to me for all the days of [all] my life!
(g) The Farewell to the Flame
19. Depart, O holy ray; depart, O fair and holy light of highest God!
In connection with the above, we may also take the following ritual-prayer used in the consecration of an amulet ring.
[Revised text, R. 28, 29. Wessely, ibid., 84, 1598 ff.]
1. Thee I invoke, O greatest God, Lord everlasting, thou world-ruler, above the world, beneath the world, mighty sea-ruler;
2. Who shinest forth at dawn, out from the East rising for all the world, and setting in the West!
3. Come unto me, thou who dost rise from the four winds, joyous Good Daimon, for whom the heaven is thy revelling-place! 2
4. I call upon thy holy, mighty, hidden names which thou dost joy to hear.
5. When thou dost shine the earth doth sprout afresh, the trees bear fruit when thou dost laugh, the animals bring forth when thou dost turn to them.
6. Give glory, honour, grace, fortune and power . . . !
7. Thee I invoke, the great in heaven . . . , O dazzling Sun, who shedst thy beams on all the world!
8. Thou art the mighty serpent, the chief of all the
gods, 1 O thou who dost possess Egypts beginning, 2 and the end of all the world!
9. Thou art the [God] who saileth oer the ocean; thou art the [God] who doth come into sight each day.
10. O thou who art above the world, and art beneath the world, O mighty ruler of the sea, give ear unto my voice this day, this night, these holy hours [of thine], and through this amulet let that be done for which I consecrate it!
84:1 I have supplied the titles.
84:2 Perhaps originally spirits or breaths.
84:3 παντοκράτωρ, used of Hermes, Anth. P., append., 282.
84:4 Compare Lactantius, i. 6 (Frag. II.); and especially iv. 7 (Frag. VI.).
84:5 The “eyes and light of Horus,” according to Plutarch, De Is. et Os., lii.; mystically, the higher and lower “ego” and much else.
84:6 ἐν ταῖς κόραις—compare the dissertation on the meaning of the title of our treatise generally translated “Virgin (κόρη) of the World,” in the commentary thereto.
84:7 Sc. the Ocean of Space, the “Great Green” of the Ritual.
84:8 That is, father-mother of the universe.
84:9 κωμαστήριον—that is, heaven. See VII. 3 below.
84:10 ἀπόρροιαι—or personified influences. See Plutarch, De Is. et Os., xxxviii., liii., lviii.; and especially Pistis Sophia, where it occurs over and over again. Compare also K. K., 1; Stob., p. 405, 17 (W.).
85:1 εὐκερασία—referring apparently to the composition of “body” and “soul.”
85:2 That is, the Pleroma or Æon (see VI. 9 below). Reitzenstein (p. 18) says rightly, as we have seen, that Egyptologists have long recognised that the God here identified with Agathodaimon was originally the Hermes or Thoth of Hermopolis Magna, Lord of the Eight Wardens (the Ogdoad), symbolised by apes, hymned by the Muses (? the Nine or Ennead), and spouse of Isis-Righteousness (cf. Plut., De Is. et Os., iii.).
85:3 See 13 below.
85:4 Compare the extra-canonical logos: “I stood on a lofty mountain and saw a gigantic man, and another, a dwarf; and I heard as it were a voice of thunder, and drew nigh for to hear; and He spake unto me and said: I am thou, and thou art I; and wheresoever thou mayest be I am there. In all am I scattered [that is, the Logos as seed or “members”], and whencesoever thou wiliest, thou gatherest Me; and gathering Me, thou gatherest Thyself.” (From the Gospel of Eve, quoted by Epiphanius, Hæres., xxvi. 3.) Cf. II. 7.
85:5 In the Egyptian sense—that is, thy true “person” or “presence.” See R. 17, n. 6, for many references to this fundamental concept of Egyptian religion.
85:6 φυλακτήριον—lit., as a phylactery or amulet. See R. 18, n. 8, for Egyptian origin of Jewish phylacteries.
86:1 δράξ—here the symbol of any hostile elemental force. Compare K. K.,—Stob., 402, 22 (W.).
86:2 καθ Ἅιδου.
86:3 See 9 above.
86:4 ἀβάσκαντος, ἀβάσκαντος.
86:5 σωτηρίαν, or salvation.
86:6 See II. 2 below.
86:7 Compare with this prayer for the descent of the Mind into the heart, the ascent of the man into the Mind of C. H., xiii. (xiii.) 3.
86:8 This is an echo of spiritual rebirth or regeneration.
86:9 In its highest sense the heavenly food, or wisdom, the “supersubstantial bread,” or “bread of life.”
87:1 ἐπαφροδισίαν προσώπου. See I. 13 above.
87:2 The symbols of which are: the ibis in the east, ape in the west, the serpent in the north, the wolf (or jackal) in the south. So says the overworking of the text; but perhaps wolf should rather be dog.
87:3 The terebinth, or turpentine palm. Compare this with the story of Terebinthus, from whose four Books Manes is said, in the Acta Archelai, to have derived his system.
87:4 The ebony; perhaps symbolic of the “dark” wisdom, the initiation “in the black” of the K. K. Fragments.
87:5 τὰ βαρβαρικὰ ὀνόματα—lit., barbarous, that is, non-Greek.
87:6 Cf. I. 11.
87:7 Lit., with Agathodaimon; compare σὺν θεῷ—“with Gods blessing.”
88:1 συνδωκόντων—a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον—δώκω (δίδωμι) may be compared with στήκω (ἵστημι). The image may be taken from the well-known symbolical representation of the sun sending forth rays, each furnished with a hand for giving and blessing, especially in the frescoes of the Atem-cult period. Cf. K. K., 11 and 31.
88:2 In the mystery-myth.
88:3 Orig., medicines or philtres.
88:4 εὐδιάλεκτος γενοῦ—a unique and inelegant expression in Greek, and of uncertain translation into English.
88:5 This appears here to refer to Anubis, the “dog” of Hades, or the “death-genius,” the attendant on Thoth. “Black” is lit. “Ethiopian.” But compare in Pistis Sophia, 367, “Æthiopic Ariouth,” a ruler among the infernal daimonials, who is “entirely black.” The Ethiopians were famous for their sorcery and black magic. They were the traditional opponents of the “white magicians” of Egypt. Compare “Hor, son of the Negress” in the “Second Story of Khamuas,” in Griffiths (F. Ll.) Stories of the High Priests of Memphis (Oxford, 1900), pp. 51 ff.
89:1 This is not necessarily a prayer for physical form and the rest, but a prayer that the subtle ka of the man, the plastic soul-substance, may take a form of power and beauty, in the unseen world.
89:2 εἴδωλον, or image or double. The theurgist is endeavouring to identify his ka with that of the god. It was with his ka also, presumably, that the consecrated statue of the god was “animated.” Compare the exposition of this theory as given in P. S. A., and the “image” or “likeness of God” in Lactantius, ii. 10. According to the Egyptians, man possessed: (1) a physical body (khat); (2) a soul (ba); (3) a heart (ȧb); (4) a double (ka); (5) an intelligence (khu); (6) a power (sekhem); (7) a shadow (khaibit) (8) a spiritual body (sȧḥ [sic]); (9) a name (ren). See Budge, Gods of the Egyptians, ii. 299, 300. These are, of course, not arranged in any natural order or in a scientific distribution. The precise meaning of most of these terms is not known. Budge (op. cit., i. 163, 164), however, writes: “Related intimately to the body, but with undefined functions, as far as we can discover, was the sekhem, a word which has been translated power, and form, and even vital force; finally the glorified body, to which had been united the soul, and spirit and power, and name of the deceased, had its abode in heaven. This new body of the deceased in heaven was called sāḥu.”
89:3 Thoth and Maāt are represented as sitting on either side of Rā in his boat.
90:1 That is, Hermes as the cosmic Logos.
90:2 Thoth changes his form in every heaven-space or sphere. Compare C. H., i. 13; and also the same idea in the descent of the Christos in a number of Gnostic systems, where the Saviour and King conceals himself in the forms of his servants in every phase of his descent. Cf. also C. H., xi. (xii.) 16.
90:4 That is, essence, or may be type.
90:5 Presumably a symbol for air.
90:6 Presumably a symbol for earth.
90:7 Compare C. H., xi. (xii.) 20; and P. S. A., vi.
91:1 With the Egyptians, Darkness was the mystery of all mysteries. As Damascius (On First Principles) says: “Of the first principle the Egyptians said nothing; but characterised it as a darkness beyond all intellectual conception, a thrice unknown Darkness” (σκότος ἄγνωστον τρὶς τοῦτο ἐπιφημίζοντες). See my Orpheus (London, 1896), p. 93, and for “Night,” pp. 154 and 170 ff. Perhaps this may again give some clue to the initiation “in the black” of the K. K. excerpt. The “dark wisdom” was the hidden of the hidden.
91:2 αἰὼν αἰῶνος. In another hymn, Hermes, as Logos, is called “Cosmos of cosmos” (R. 23, n. 1)—that is, the spiritual world or order.
91:3 That is the spiritual cosmos, or cosmos of Mind.
91:4 Compare Isaiah xlv. 7: “I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” Cf. C. H., i. 23, “the avenging daimon”; and ibid., 15, “Within the Harmony he hath become a slave.”
91:5 Called in the Trismegistic literature the “Religion of the Mind” (Mentis religio). See P. S. A., xxv.
92:1 Compare the cosmogony in Dieterich, Abraxas, 17, 43: “Through the Bitterness of God, there appeared Mind . . . that restrains the heart, and was called Hermes.” With this peculiar phrase “Bitterness of God” compare the “Bitter Chaos” of the hymn at the end of the J. source of the Naassene Document in “The Myth of Man” chapter; also the “Bitter Water” or Chaos of the Sethian System (Hipp., Philos., v. 19); so also Julian, in Oration V., who writes: “The oracles of the gods declare that through purification not only our soul but also our bodies are judged worthy of being greatly helped and preserved, for it is said in them that the mortal vesture of bitter matter is preserved.” Is it thus possible that the “Bitterness” of Jacob Böhme may be a reminiscence of the ancient Gnosis?
92:2 For pure Egyptian parallels see R. 24, n. 1.
92:3 See the theogony in Dieterich, op. cit., 18, 75: “And the soul came into being. And God said: Thou shalt move all things . . . Hermes guiding thee.” Compare C. H., x. (xi.) 21: “But on the pious soul the Mind doth mount, and guide it to the Gnosis light;” also xii. (xiii.) 12, ix. (x.) 10, iv. (v.) 11, vii. (viii.) 2.
93:1 These rubrics I have added, following the example of Reitzenstein, but not his wording.
93:2 Compare the expression “Jesus the living [one]” found frequently in the Introduction to the “First Book of Ieou” (Carl Schmidt, Gnostische Schriften in koptischer Sprache aus dem Codex Brucianus (Leipzig, 1892), 142-145—reprinted with his recent translation of the Pistis Sophia in Band I. of his Koptisch gnostische Schriften (Leipzig, 1905); and also the Preface to the newest found logoi: “These are the . . . words which Jesus, the living [one], spake” (Grenfell and Hunt, New Sayings of Jesus, London, 1904).
93:3 Compare in the same writings the oft-repeated “Father of all fatherhood, Boundless Light.”
94:1 See Dieterich, Jahrb. f. Phil., Suppl., xvi. 802, 171, and 706. Compare also Ephes. iii. 18, and the Valentinian interpretation of the terms in this text as given by Hippolytus, Philos., vi. 34 (Dunker and Schneidewin, p. 248); also the interpretation of the Light Hymn in Pistis Sophia, 146, where the “height” is identified with the “home” of the Light.
94:2 The magic names of power are omitted, as in the other prayers.
94:3 Horus is often represented as pilot of the sun-ship in its voyage across the ocean of space, the “Great Green.”
94:4 The dragon here undoubtedly meaning darkness. Cf. C. H., i. 4.
95:1 ὡς κυνοκέφαλος. Can it be possible that behind this strange symbolism there may once have been some such idea as this—that as the ape is to man, so was this great elemental to the God?
95:2 Lit., art seated on the head of cosmos.
95:3 That is the Eternity or Æon, called elsewhere the Pleroma or “fullness of grace,” and identified with Agathodaimon (see prayer, R. 30). See also Wessely, op. cit., 185 (R. 362); and compare John i. 14, “full of grace and truth”; and 16, “Of his fullness have we received, and grace for grace.”
95:4 The regenerate, or spirit-born—that is of “virgin-birth” or the “birth of Horus.” But compare the declaration of the soul on its entrance into the unseen world after death, as given on an inscription found in the tomb of an Orphic or Pythagorean initiate, at Petilia, in what was once Magna Græcia: “Of Earth and starry Heaven child am I; my race is of the Heavens!” (See Inscr. Gr. Siciliæ et Italiæ, 638; and my “Notes on the Eleusinian Mysteries,” Theosophical Review, xxii. 317.)
95:5 These are the logoi hidden in the hearts of all.
95:6 This may be merely a figurative expression in praise of the might that can not only dissolve the most stable things on earth, but also set in motion the centre of stability of spiritual essences; or it may refer to the idea of the “God born from the rock,” which is most familiar to us from the Mithriac mystery-tradition, where the rock is said to symbolise in physics the “firmament,” which was thought of as solid or rigid by the ancients.
95:7 That is, the seven cosmic spheres.
96:1 μεμνοινην—an untranslatable reading. Is it Egyptian?—or is it intended for μεμνόνειαν? If the latter, it would presumably be connected with the Egyptian myth and cult of Memnon (see Roschers Lexikon, coll. 2661 ff.). The Memnon cult was somehow connected with Hermes, for in the ruins of the temple were still (at the beginning of the third century) to be seen “statues of Hermes,” according to Philostratus (Vit. Apoll., vi. 4), who also (Imag., i. 7) tells us that the Memnon statue was as a lyre which was struck by the rod (πλῆκτρον), that is the ray (ἡ ἀκτίς), of the sun. If so, “the rod [of power], by which thou sendest forth the gods,” that is thy rays, each god being a ray of the spiritual sun, might have the epithet Memnonian applied to it. But in our present lack of information, this interpretation seems very strained.
96:2 δόξαι—here meaning powers.
97:2 κωμαστήριον. Cf. I. 5 above.
98:1 The serpent was a symbol of the Logos, and this is the idea underlying the so-called Ophite systems of the Gnosis.
98:2 This refers to the first nome of Upper Egypt, whose metropolis, Elephantine, was once the chief seat of the popular Agathodaimon cult (R. 29, n. 4). The “world” was thus the Egyptian civilised world, beyond which was the darkness of Ethiopia.