A Symbolic Image of the Cosmos

The Hermetic tradition derives its name from Hermes, no less-the Greek god, the Roman Mercury-and especially from mythic Hermes Trismegistos, all of these being instructors and educators of human beings, messengers of the gods, a personage who appears in nearly all traditions under various forms, as emissary or intermediary between heaven and earth, always connected with that which flies, so that he is customarily represented with as endowed with wings. He is also related to the hearing of things, with the reception and transmission of messages. That is, he is related to doctrine,1 to science, wisdom, and revelation. The word "tradition," in a way, signifies the same as the preceding,2 so that the expression, "Hermetic tradition," could seem a redundancy, unless one wished to emphasize, by the addition of the second word, an explicitly revealed origin as well as to indicate a historico-cultural circumstance referred specifically to the West and to the origins of its civilization. On the other hand, the term with which we are concerned is also clear in that it indicates a determinate course of cognition, related to the lesser mysteries, which are also called intermediate world or level, on the initiatory route, expressing, further, the idea of the darkness and silence inherent in this path, likewise referring to its mysterious nature. 

The Hermetic tradition, then, is a form of unanimous, universal, and primordial tradition-adequate to the historical accouterments and mentality of certain peoples and certain persons-manifested here and there, shaping and organizing culture and civilization. The God Hermes enjoys a solidarity with the Egyptian Toth,3 since, like him, he represents wisdom and hermeneutic interpretation, and virtues of prophecy, also attributed to Henoch and to Elijah the artist-patron of alchemy-both rapt to heaven in fiery chariots (a frankly solar vehicle), and said to be not dead, but alive, like other, analogous, personages of different traditions, whose second apparition is awaited for the end of time, just as Christians expect the parousia of their master Jesus, king of the Jews, Christ the King, who becomes incarnate in human form in order to reveal to us the true life: a transmission that converts him into savior and redeemer. 

Historically, it is not too difficult to notice that the Egyptian, Jewish, Greek, Roman, Christian, Arab, and Mediterranean in general, myths and esoteric symbols shape a whole that can be directly related to the Western peoples; and that this spiritual influence, even where it does not take religious forms, is indisputably valid by the purity of its origin, and by the concatenated development of transmission, protagonized by sages, prophets, warriors, and "artists." This does not preclude that the body of teachings to which we refer be in perfect solidarity with others, of different eras and climes, and even identical with them, apart from their formal disguises. In the particular case concerning us-that of the divine emissary who joins within himself the unified potential of the creeping and the flying, of earth and the air, who have had to be separated in order to be adequately complemented through passion and love-this fact is clear, and is evidence of the archetypal unity of all traditions, inasmuch as this opposition/conjunction is found to be manifested everywhere. What is of interest to us now is to emphasize that the sciences and arts present in the so-called Hermetic tradition have a common origin, manifested historically throughout Western life, and is expressed through the intermediary of a series of disciplines and labors, myths and symbols, which constitute a cohesive code, open to being transposed to all traditional codes and systems, since all actually express and propose themselves the same thing: the revelation of an occult knowledge. This permits the conquest of the true human state, original being, which every person has lost by the fall, and which places him and her in an infrahuman situation with respect to themselves, the motive by which they must restore their true "I," which is hidden within them, only alive in potential form, and which must be actualized, by memory of themselves, and the recall of the original archetype, with faith and love, thanks to traditional doctrine, known in this case under the name of Hermetism. Which permits them to be reborn4 to the authentically human state, in comparison with which the inferior states5 appear as dreams, or attempts, or illusory projects, or mere idiocy, not to say stupid vanity. 

These disciplines, or vehicles, lift up the apprentice-through the intermediate world-and place him before the tabernacle, in the heart of the temple, at the axis, which likewise communicates with the crypt or cave, the underground country of the dead, or better, in the interior of the sacrarium, whence he will be able to initiate his vertical ascent, to the cupola or summit, which symbolize emergence from the temple or the body, the supracosmic or superhuman. Indeed, he has been delivered from the trials of the labyrinth of the formations. Converted, now, by the solar communion, into the King of the World, the aspirant will be able now to be entirely absorbed in the sacerdotal function, and to escape the cosmogony, which has been revealed to him, by using his identification with it as a living support of ineffable transmutation. This is the duty of warriors and equestrians, as well as that of sages and artists, that is, of astrologers and alchemists, and includes proficiency in knowledge. This knowledge is no small thing, in the case of astrology and alchemy, disciplines that shape Hermetism or the Hermetic condition-the minor mysteries of antiquity-since they refer respectively to the knowledge of heaven and of earth, constituting both of them the knowledge of the complete cosmogony, the science of the cycles, and the science of the transmutations: "architecture" experienced directly.6 

Historically, in numerous points of Western culture, the appearance of Hermetic currents of ideas, beliefs, systems, and viewpoints can be detected-that is, esoteric currents of ideas, beliefs, and so on, within the exoterism of such and such a determinate period. To restrict our considerations to the Christian chronology, these ideological events appear not only at determinate historical moments-shaping entire periods, as in the European Middle Ages-but also constitute the antecedents of certain scientific, philosophical, historical, and literary personages and events, and even the origin of an entire code, as in the case of astronomy and mathematics. It will thus be in order to situate ourselves in some more or less clear and computed segment of temporal becoming, and to evaluate a set of samples of events of cultural history, in order to illustrate this exposition, which does not pretend to be a historical or sociological study. 

We can take our position, then, in the Alexandria of the third century of our era, and observe the multitude of ideas, conceptions and personages, traditions and cultures-including the Hindu and the Buddhist-whose currents merge there, constituting a true crossroads, a point of concentration of a series of analogous energies, come from various and differing directions, which are later to shape the diverse facets of our culture. In that time and place, we can encounter the Christianity of the first Fathers, in their coexistence with gnosticism, both of Eastern origin. We can find Greek thought, especially neo-Platonism-which will appear as a constant throughout the history of the West-mingled with the Hebrew tradition, and with the fragments of civilizations like the Chaldean, the Egyptian, those of Iran, and others, some of them lost or forgotten by us. Nor shall we attempt in this essay to give a more or less clear vision of these events and facts, let alone offer a panorama. We refer the reader to the extensive bibliography in this area, the work of authentic specialists. From our viewpoint, we emphasize these spatio-temporal coordinates, as a locus of reunion and later expansion of the ideas of the unanimous tradition, of the philosophia perennis et universalis, of doctrine, which have come down to us under the name of the Hermetic tradition. It is also very interesting to emphasize that these ideas, through the centuries, have stayed alive to our very day. And they have not merely survived--they have always constituted the invisible framework of certain revivifying events in the history of the Western human being, without which framework this history, and this human being, would long since have disappeared. 

The scaffolding of ideas to which we are referring will remain more or less intact, and will be considered as that wisdom, ever hidden and evasive, that is nonetheless present in the public life of the city and the people-as an imperishable cultural legacy-until approximately the seventeenth century. And it will continue to constitute Europe's cultural marrow. But from then on the deepest values, entering into crisis at the hands of what is misnamed "humanism," will be degraded, to the very negation of any possibility of tradition and doctrine, innocence of any esotericism, and total ignorance with respect to what is meant by initiation.7 The transition has then been made to the profanation of the sacred and the desacralization of life and reality, by which all begins to be empirical and nonsignifying.8 

Not that this has not previously occurred-or, inversely, not that there is no light in the current darkness-but we are now referring to the particular tone of a determinate cycle. This cycle with which we are dealing is, in general terms, that of the culture called Western. And like any cycle, it is linked to another, which is linked to a third, and so on in succession. But there is more: each cycle is a fragment of another, greater one, and each of its parts can be a complete cycle in itself, with its systems of subcycles, and so on limitlessly. All is cycles within cycles, and history-sometimes alarmingly-exemplifies this complexity that is as subtle as it is tangled. But doctrine appears in each of them, in one way or another, at some moments intensely bright, at others growing dim, or hidden in darkness, in the hearts of a few persons. The Hermetic tradition has been present in the West since its historical and ideological origins, manifesting itself through distinct groups, persons, or institutions. We are not referring exclusively to Greek philosophy, Pythagoras and Plato,9 Plotinus and Porphyry, Proclus, or to the soteriology of the Romans (Virgil, Apuleius), or to the true gnostics, or to the first Fathers of the Church-rather we wish to bring out the enormous accumulation of Western Christian Hermetists and Jewish and Islamic esoterists, who had such great influence over the builders of the Middle Ages, and among alchemists, Rosacrucians, and certain knightly orders of various types, from which Masonry derives, an initiatic order born historically in the eighteenth century, although of much more ancient origins-even mythic-which, happily, endures to our own day. Unfortunately, it is almost unknown, even to the actual members of its ranks, by reason of the cyclical cultural degradation occurring in all orders and places, that grows ever more speedy, and that has made the truth all the more mysterious and secret as if it had actually withdrawn to the depths of itself and had to be searched for, or as if we had to remove from ourselves the psychological veils that hide us from ourselves. Nevertheless, Masonry continues to bestow initiation in its lodges, and this initiation is perfectly valid, given that it is a matter of the regular transmission of a spiritual influences. Many are the lodges that, in Europe and America, are laboring very seriously, and there are a sufficient number of adepts who are revitalizing original values. 

With respect to the modern West, we can acknowledge that the religious traditions that currently shape it and are present in a greater degree in its culture, are the Jewish, the Christian, and the Islamic, or those denominated "of the Book." Judaism has in its religion its own tradition, and certain rabbis devote themselves to the Cabala, to the relations between letters, words, and numbers, to study, rite, and meditation. As for Islam, its exoteric part and its esoterism are very little differentiated. A religion of the desert, it is experienced individually, and its practices, wholly interior, have no need of arrays of images or complicated rites. Sufism, we know, is the expression of Islamic esoterism. As for Christianity, and more specifically Catholicism, we shall say that many of its members have belonged in different eras to Hermetic orders of Christian esoterism. Popes, archbishops, bishops, cardinals, simple abbots, or pastors, or humble monks, have incarnated this knowledge-and not only among the doctors and sages of the Church, but also among its saints and its martyrs, commencing with the Apostles. It will suffice to mention a few names, within Christian esoterism, in order to prove the continuity and the importance of the latter, not only with respect to the church as an institution and Catholicism as a religion, but inasmuch as it represents historically the very roots of Western thought. Thus, for example, we should have to begin with Origen and the first fathers of the Church, to continue with the orthodox Chtistianity of the East;10 we should have to speak of monasticism in Ireland, of Saint Benedict and the construction of the various orders of religious monks, and come to Saint Bernard, the Cistercians and the knightly orders, and mention no less than Denis the Areopagite, in the fifth century, as well as Saint Augustine, to come to Albertus Magnus, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Meister Eckhart. On this point, an important element is the appearance of an initiatory ambience, that of the mystics of Munich, which for Eckhart was the same as the order of the Fedeli d'Amore for Dante. Just so, we should have to recall the medieval artists (Nicholas Flamel, Basil Valentino, Bernard of Trèves) and Christian cabalistic Hermetism: Raymond Lull, Nicholas of Cusa, Marsilio Ficino, and Pico de la Mirandola. Also Jacob Boehme, Cornelius Agrippa, Francis Zorzi; and the Isabelline magicians, Robert Fludd and the Rosacrucians we have mentioned. 

In this fashion we could traverse the cycles of the particular histories-inscribed within other, broader ones-and establish the legitimate connections and unsuspected relations of every type, among various events without apparent connection, which would show us and teaches us another history. And that is the value that the history of personages and peoples really has, that of being taken as a code of significative or signifying signals, as a discourse sprinkled here and there with revelatory details: a cryptographic language, which could afford us a kind of spectrum, or panarama-framed in time-in which we should read, as in an open book, the book of life, whose reading would take us to immortality through knowledge of the universal cycles, analogous to the cycles of human beings. 

The knowledge of "another time" is actually included in the Hermetic ordination or initiation, which supposes the direct experience of a cosmogony, and initiation into its mysteries. And our only concern here has been to show the spiritual influence of the Hermetic tradiction, under various forms, to our own day, in the West. Even Christianity offers a virtual initiation by the intermediary of the sacrament of baptism, or regeneration by waters, a reason for which persons interested in this type of theme to which we are referring have no need to have recourse to traditions foreign to their own, although in no way ought they to underrate the latter, despite the difficulty that at times is had of identifying with them.11 

Alchemist and astrologer work alone. One can see this in numerous reproductions of Hermetic iconography. Or else by studying, meditating or praying, when not absorbed in the contemplation of their discoveries.12 The Hermetic work is produced in the interiority of the athanor (analogically, the interiority of the temple of the human being). What is certain is that this tradition proposes cognition by way of the study of the cosmogony. The study of the cosmogonic laws does not require a literary erudition, or the computation of banal details, which for these disciplines are secondary things, if not at times actually obstructing. Knowing the cosmogony supposes being one with it: to be alive, or to have been born to the true human state. This astounding fact includes a loss and a finding of identity, a death and a resurrection, realized numberless times in various years, in the athanor of the alchemist, his interiority. And it also gives him the material with which to continue working in this alchemical process, also called that of initiation into the path of knowledge and of real life. 

To know a cosmogony means to live the three-dimensional mandala of the cosmos. It means understanding the revelation of a universe and its laws, a universe absolutely different from the one that we have been taught: a universe in which values are so different that they can only be perceived by means of a total psychological conversion. This process has need of an order and a labor. Not only does it hold enormous risks of deviation, of all types (which, generally, are part of the process), but it can be almost impossible to realize, for a limitless number of reasons. It is said that it is difficult, but not impossible. There can be lost, on the road, among other things, health, fame and honor-all security. But the reward is identity, knowledge, being. The alchemist's apprentice is ready for spiritual realization, which includes the living knowledge of the laws of the cosmos-in short, knowledge of himself, and of reality, order, life. He will receive, then, what he has desired, provided his work be patient and sacrificial,13 and provided he undergo the trials of the mythologic heroes. He must carry his Hermetic work into every level of his life and his everyday, for it is a matter of recovery of the light-lucidity-using the emotional fire of blood. The study of the Hermetic disciplines of the magical texts will alternate with constant meditation, and interior, sacred labor, and he will then be surprised to see himself more and more a stranger in the world of causes and effects.14 That internal space can be host to the structures with which to construct a new cosmos, or better, the apprentice will discover them within himself, manifested everywhere. He will then be able to live, from morning to night-and in his very hours of rest-a new world, ever more astonishing, whose characteristic is wealth and splendor alike. As this is nothing but what he holds in his hands, he must therefore have become aware of his responsibility in his own regard, and notice that it has not been by his merit, nor a discovery of his own, that which he will have obtained, but simply is what it is, and furthermore, does not belong to him. There is more: he will recognize that his personhood, such as he has imagined it, does not exist. He must then strive to deal with the strategies peculiar to the martial arts, and constantly to balance the trajectory of his path, the management of his vehicle. This art requires a delicate manipulation, and it is probable that it will be learned by stages; at all events, it is a matter of a science of powerful contrasts. But, persevering to the end, he will gain life in a living mandala, a reflection of the cosmos, where all things have meaning, in the tensions and hues proper to the harmony and order of creation, and proper to its invisible, archetypal support. He will have known the cosmogony, and place of the lunar baptism of John, of water (of the science of the square), and have received the solar baptism of Jesus, of fire (of the science of the compass), and when he has completed this last process, then it can be said that he has understood the essence of earth and sky, which is simultaneous with his arrival at the center, and is tantamount to being now ready to begin his vertical ascent, for he has finished dealing with the minor mysteries. 

It is a matter, then, of a magical path, where the vehicles themselves are revelatory.15 And when we use the term "magical," it goes without saying that we are not speaking of anything of a minor tone, in which personal interests, always niggardly, are at stake, and mere phenomenonic individualization is valorized in accord with modern, materialized patterns. We refer to something much more subtle and powerful: the invisible, authentic structure of space and time, intuited directly, which is no longer anything exterior, or alien from oneself and the whole. Among other reasons, it is said that analogical thought is magical, because the associations and correspondences it provokes teach us to think, give us to know what is at hand with the obscure recall of cognition. And it transforms us into true intelligent beings, in making us sharers in the nature of our identity. This psychological transformation, and the phenomenology which corresponds to it, is magical-theurgic. On the other hand, there are initiatory systems especially designed to transmit these truths of analogical thought. These methods are charged with the spiritual influence of those who have brought them to light, and with the energy of all those who have meditated on them. This is what they have been constructed for-just as any revelatory or sacred text, which without this end would not have been written-and trust is had in their symbolical, synthetic power, which manifests the cosmogony through a mandala (or play of structures) in order to make us sharers in it, through the use of codes and symbols like the sephirotic tree of life or the play of the Tarot. 

In this way, the spiritual energy of the revelation is transmitted, and the person who is in a condition to understand will be able to hear the voices and the call of Tradition, and to accomplish her initiation, that is, set off down the road of knowledge. For this moment, the majority of candidates have surely known the world around them sufficiently well, and in one way or another have become disilllusioned with it: they have "hit bottom" with respect to what current society can offer them as attractive, especially as to the plane of the realization of authentic being. That is, they have effected a labor of purification and selection with respect to themselves, and that quest has brought them to the themes of the Hermetic tradition, which almost never are found in a casual manner. From a determinate moment onward-for the one who must be prepared internally-the effective beginning of the process of knowledge is produced. The initiatory trials come afterwards, and resemble passage through a labyrinth. The difficulties that each aspirant may have encountered up to the moment of initiation must be taken only as preparatory circumstance, however serious or significant they may have been. 

From this point forward, a process is articulated that, transposed to the plane of the temporal, must necessarily be seen as successive and gradual. It comprises the knowledge of seven, nine, or more, stages,16 depending on which tradition is in question--stages symbolized in the form of a pyramid in space, or else, in the plane, within the spiral-or double spiral-or with a play of concentric circles (the ones within the others), which can be synthesized in three great circles or levels, corresponding to the degrees of apprentice, companion, and master and any subdegrees that there may be between one of these stages and another. 

These things are quite simple to understand, although not so much to experience honestly, for which reason vast numbers of persons have only been confused and have caused confusion in the matter, having recourse to the ignorance of the rest, and coming to constitute genuine obstacles to the initiation of the pure.17 In this way, they become the accomplices of very dark forces, which we do not dare to qualify, but which can form part of this process and even definitively demolish it. We refer expressly to those who deny the possibility of the incarnation of knowledge, through a development, and who thus repudiate the divinity of the internal Christ, according to the unanimous opinion of the traditions. It is those same persons who, not feeling qualified for this enterprise, permit themselves to judge the others, in conformity with the tawdriness and mediocrity of their patterns, for which reason they condemn themselves to their own limitations, without, therefore, their desire to harm and do evil being less manifest. A curious thing-this type of persons are moralists, and at certain times pretend to know something of the initiatory process. They are enemies both disguised and puerile, who think that initiation is a physical ceremony, in which an extraterrestrial being imposes hands on a poor, ignorant person and the latter is immediately transformed into a superman. Initiation, for these persons, would be a diploma, duly certified and guaranteed by a religion of officialism-a prize for good conduct and punctuality, a "tip" granted to merit. Let us be very cautious with those who "know" about doctrine, mystery, and initiation-false doctors of the law who condemn the process of love and Christian passion. These folk tend to be the same as those other dark sacristans by vocation who pretend to be "good" and "pious," indeed, goodness and piety itself,18 holding genuine contests in order to determine who is the best and greatest among them, all filling themselves with a prideful, moist, greasy satisfaction. These personages, insignificant in themselves, can do serious harm, let us repeat, legitimizing themselves by way of a fraudulent orthodoxy and false positions and knowledge. And the aspirant must know that they are enemies of her spiritual evolution, and she must necessarily defeat them, on the plane of ideas, because it is probable that they are part of the tests of her course, and not merely innocent persons making a mistake. 

Just so, there is another kind that can be met with in the course of the process, which, joined with the former, constitutes a very pronounced bloc, sharing its simulation, although the apprentice must know that innumberable dangers await her in the form of many personages, who are only the external and social projection of their egos. In this case, it is a matter of those who think that dominating the passions is concealing them.19 Furthermore, they do so with a "second intention," intimately associated with power. And they refuse to allow themselves the least demonstration of their emotions, proceeding with a "poker face," persons with "courage," who act in "cold blood."20 

With many concepts, the same thing occurs as with these personages, or egos, and they are authentic dangers-without going further, with all of the terminology currently in use, which corresponds to a literal, materialized reading of the words and terms with respect to the meaning with which they have been conceived. This confusion, this obstacle, is not an isolated fact. On the contrary, it constitutes a sample of the general cultural degradation of modern society, whose head, we must specify, is the prince of this world, who, as has been so well said, is not a monster of evil and falsehood, but, above all, is a genuine dunce, and a liar. He is a personage whom we all of us bear within, and who has us constantly sell ourselves for a mess of pottage. 

Accordingly, there is nothing irregular in an initiatory process realized by means of the teachings, instructors, and masters of the Hermetic tradition-as neither is another, effectuated by the Jewish, Christian, or Islamic traditions-and developing in normal form, despite difficulties, anxieties, and paradoxes of every kind, proper to this magical-theurgical path-on which work is done nearly always in solitary fashion-however much its realization be produced in a medium as irregular as the modern world. And we must warn persons who begin to experience certain phenomena referring to the opening of their awareness and who begin to share them, that they should take care, because these things are dangerous. But they may also feel sufficiently secure to live with others, or with another, among whom will be found the Spirit, as is said in the gospels. Likewise, it is declared: "Seek and you shall find," and likewise, a Hermetic adage assures us that "when there is a disciple, the master appears." The latter, if the attitude is adequate, will appear at all events. 

It will be appropriate to explain, on the one hand, that no one can add a single cubit to his stature, for which reason one must arrive where one can and should, in the trajectory of life, and in knowledge. On the other hand, we must consider that, despite his manifold merits, the aspirant has been or will be taught everything. No person can or will be able to know these secrets, nor discover them by herself, except by revelation, and her participation in an initiatory chain, into which she will have inserted herself. The life proposed here is the symbolics of the Hermetic tradition, and its relation with universal symbolics and mythology. Where a symbol or myth is not clear in one or other context, the corresponding analogy is sought in one tradition or another. The transpositions and relations effected with the symbols constitute a great part of the Hermetic effort. A Chinese, or pre-Columbian, symbol may immediately illuminate a European symbol, and in this fashion be constituted an integral part of a play of relations, of ideas, which, except for its participation, could not have been constituted. Let us recall, once more, the energy-force attributed to symbols in general and to those of the Hermetic tradition-in this particular case-and to its magico-theurgical radiation. Full attention must also be paid to the texts of the sages, hierophants, and magicians, who act in a special manner, among those who are capable of receiving them, and escort them to the garden of Paradise, or Adamic state, restoring them to the original androgyny. 

In any case, we should indicate, in conclusion, that it is surely very beneficial to move specifically along the path of a determinate religious tradition, and to practice the corresponding exoteric rite. But in no wise is it indispensable, since the mysteries of the Hermetic tradition-which is not religious-and initiation into the same, not only constitute the living legacy of the West, but also, as it happens, its raison d'être, as a gesture, or a color, in the spectrum of human history.

1 Not to be confused with the narrowness and fanaticism of the dogmatic.
2 From the Latin tradere, "to convey."
3 To whom it is usual in myth to attribute the paternity of the code of the Tarot. The bird Ibis is one of his symbols.
4 Cognoscere, in Latin, "to know," is equivalent to co-nascere, "to be born-with." This is more evident in French: connaître = co-naître.
5 Infer-nus.
6 We do not think that the minor or lesser mysteries ought to be associated with hinayana Buddhism and the greater ones with mahayana. The hinayana designates the "small vehicle," and signifies the path the adept, or the monk, takes by and for himself. The mahayana, or great pathway, is the realization that is not produced "until the very grass be enlightened," that is, the realization that would be effected conjointly with all sentient beings. This difference does not apply to the minor and major mysteries. Nor do the minor mysteries correspond to what has been called the moist way and the major mysteries to the dry way. Nor that the former are lunar and the latter solar: the lesser mysteries correspond to the totality of alchemical work and astrology, and accordingly, to the lunar way and the solar, the work in white and the work in red, the small and great journeys. In the major mysteries the idea of journey, and even that of motion, are nonsignifying.
7 Some take specifically the year 1492 as the crossroads of this historical phenomenon. Indeed, it was at this time that Catholic Spain was united, America was discovered, and the Moors and Jews (and even the gypsies) were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. This theme would require a broad development, which we intend to undertake at some later moment.
8 It is furthermore to be remarked that this degradation also affects the Hermetic Tradition, which in many cases has degenerated into parodies and pseudo-spiritualist, occultist, theosophic institutions and into every sort of fraternity and confraternity that have usurped certain cognitions, reducing them to the triviality of their literal reading. The same occurs with the names and terminologies of the authentic tradition, given shameless, even "philanthropic," currency.
9 "Who is Plato?" various generations of us readers have wondered.
10 Esoterism within this traditional form still exists, and not exclusively localized on Mount Athos.
11 It is not difficult, currently, to strike up a connection with members or representatives of Eastern traditions, whether by traveling to where they are or by taking part in courses and rites in various European or American cities, especially Tao and Zen Buddhist masters, as well as lamas of mahayana Buddhism, There are likewise Islamic tariqahs in the West, among which we can cite, in cities of the Spanish language, that of Granada (Spain) and Buenos Aires (Argentina). The Hindu tradition, unfortunately, is the most notorious victim of every kind of fraud. This is most frequently verified in India itself, and even in sacred cities like Varanasi, Rischikesh, and Harivard. These same dangers exist with the pre-Columbian tradition, or better, among some who pretend to know it or even represent it, which is not the case, of course, with its authentic chiefs, masters, or medicine men.
12 Contemplation can be linked, in greater degree, with the energy of the sky, while activity can be connected more directly with that of earth.
13 In the sense of sacrum-facere.
14 It will be in place to emphasize the energetic force of prayer, its power of immediate concentration, the necessity of ceaseless invocation of the divine names, their repeated recall, their memory handed on constantly to the ever-present.
15 Recall the numerous magic, or speaking, horses of the various traditions and folklores.
16 In the Hermetic tradition, it is sometimes customary to take these degrees as ten, the first seven being those of the construction of the interior being or temple, the eighth being that of passage, the ninth the conclusion of the work, and the tenth that of the coronation of the same, or virtual emergence from the cosmos or from the simply human spatio-temporal perspective, which has been gradually modified throughout the process.
17 The pure: those not composed, or double. Valiant and generous aspirants to knowledge. No connection with the pious "daughters of Mary."
18 As those who desire to be ascetics or stoics for asceticism and stoicism as ends, and not as simple vehicles or means, that appear along the way. Once more an absolute is being made of something relative.
19 Instead of using this fire and taking it, in such wise that it facilitates transmutation.
20 The "naughty children" one will encounter along the route-who already "know it," or who confuse their megalomania with the truth. Their "sport" is constant manipulation. 
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