Hermes Trismegistus (Chymisches Lustgärtlein
An imaginative 17th century depiction of the Emerald Tablet
from the work of Heinrich Khunrath
The Tabula Smaragdina, also called the Emerald Tablet or Smaragdine Tablet, has its spiritual core in Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary inaugurator of Egyptian culture. The principles depicted in it had a great influence on alchemy and are considered the key to the preparation of the philosopher's stone.
According to legend, the Tabula Smaragdina was found by Sarah, Abraham's wife, in a cave near Hebron in the tomb of Hermes Trismegistus. (Lit.: Gebelein, p. 113)
Since the ways of the external tradition of the Tabula Smaragdina are often obscure, it is not certain for external historical research whether it is actually very old or was only written down in the Middle Ages. The following Latin version has survived:
Verba Secretorum Hermetis, quae scripta erant in Tabula Smaragdi, inter manus eius inventa, in obscuro antro, in quo humatum corpus eius repertum est.
- Verum sine mendacio, certum et verissimum:
- Quod est inferius, est sicut quod est superius, et quod est superius, est sicut quod est inferius, ad perpetranda miracula rei unius.
- Et sicut omnes res fuerunt ab uno, meditatione unius, sic omnes res natae fuerunt ab hac una re, adaptatione.
- Pater eius est Sol, mater eius Luna. Portavit illud ventus in ventre suo. Nutrix eius terra est.
- Pater omnis telesmi totius mundi est hic.
- Vis eius integra est, si versa fuerit in terram.
- Separabis terram ab igne, subtile a spisso, suaviter cum magno ingenio.
- Ascendit a terra in coelum, iterumque descendit in terram, et recipit vim superiorum et inferiorum.
- Sic habebis gloriam totius mundi. Ideo fugiet a te omnis obscuritas. Hic est totius fortitudinis fortitudo fortis; quia vincet omnem rem subtilem, omnemque solidam penetrabit.
- Sic mundus creatus est.
- Hinc erunt adaptationes mirabiles, quarum modus hic est.
- Itaque vocatus sum Hermes Trismegistus, habens tres partes philosophiae totius mundi.
- Completum est, quod dixi de operatione Solis.
The words of the Mysteries of Hermes, written on the Emerald Tablet, were found between his hands, in a hidden cave where his human body was found.
- True it is without falsehood, undoubted and truthful:
- That which is below is like that which is above, and that which is above is like that which is below, to perform the wonders of the One.
- And as all things are from the One, by a thought of the One, so are all things from this one cause by adaptation.
- The Sun is its father, the Moon its mother. The wind has borne it in its belly. The Earth is its nourisher.
- This is the father of all that is accomplished in the whole world.
- His power is complete when it has been reversed in the earth.
- You will separate the earth from the fire, the fine from the dense, lovely with great determination.
- From the earth it ascends to the sky, and descends again to the earth, taking the power of the upper and the lower.
- In this way you will attain the glory of the whole world. Then all darkness will depart from you. This is the strong force of all forces, which unites all subtle forces and pervades all solid ones.
- This is how the world was created.
- Since then all marvellous adaptations have been of the kind like this.
- Therefore I am called Hermes Trismegistos, because I have the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.
- Complete is what I have said about the workings of the Sun.
- Helmut Gebelein: Alchemie, Diederichs Gelbe Reihe 165, hg. v. Michael Günther. Sonderausgabe 2000 (orig. 1991, Hugendubel, München). 2000, Hugendubel, Kreuzlingen/München
- Julis Ruska: Tabula Smaragdina, Carl Winter's Universitätsbuchhandlung, Heidelberg 1926 digital