views updated


The body of secret mystical wisdom that honored Hermes Trismegistus ("Thrice-Greatest Hermes") between the third century B.C.E. and first century C.E. , identifying the Greek god Hermes with the Egyptian god Thoth. This wisdom literature involved two levels of writing: a popular Hermetic teaching of astrology, magic, and alchemy, and a later higher religious philosophy. The Hermes-Thoth literature had a profound effect on the development of Western magic. Hermetic works include Poimandres (Shepherd of Men), Asclepius, and The Secret Discourse on the Mountain.


Atwood, M. A. A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery. Belfast, Ireland, 1918. Reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1976.

Hermes Trismegistus. The Divine Pymander. Translated by Dr. Everard. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1894.

. Hermetica. Edited by Brian Copenhaver. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

. Hermetica. Edited by Walter Scott. Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1924. Reprint, Boston: Shambhala, 1985.

. Theological and Philosophical Works. Edited by J. D. Chambers. 2 vols. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1882.