The Emerald Tablets

The Legendary Emerald Tablet

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The origins of Western alchemy can be traced back to Hellenistic Egypt, in particular to the city of Alexandria. One of the most important characters in the mythology of alchemy is Hermes Trismegistus (Hermes the Thrice-Great). The name of this figure is derived from the Egyptian god of wisdom, Thoth and his Greek counterpart, Hermes. The Hermetica, which is said to be written by Hermes Trismegistus, is generally regarded as the basis of Western alchemical philosophy and practice. In addition, Hermes Trismegistus is also believed to be the author of the Emerald Tablet.

The Emerald Tablet is said to be a tablet of emerald or green stone inscribed with the secrets of the universe. The source of the original Emerald Tablet is unclear, hence it is surrounded by legends. The most common legend claims that the tablet was found in a caved tomb under the statue of Hermes in Tyana, clutched in the hands of the corpse of Hermes Trismegistus himself. Another legend suggests that it was the third son of Adam and Eve, Seth, who originally wrote it. Others believed that the tablet was once held within the Ark of the Covenant. Some even claim that the original source of the Emerald Tablet is none other than the fabled city of Atlantis.

An artist’s impression of the Emerald Tablet

An artist’s impression of the Emerald Tablet . Photo source: Wikimedia.

Whilst various claims have been made regarding the origins of the Emerald Tablet, as yet, no verifiable evidence has been found to support them. The oldest documentable source of the Emerald Tablet’s text id the Kitab sirr al-haliqi (Book of the Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature), which was itself a composite of earlier works. This was an Arabic work written in the 8 th century A.D., and attributed to a ‘Balinas’ or Pseudo-Apollonius of Tyana. It is Balinas who provides us with the story of how he discovered the Emerald Tablet in the caved tomb. Based on this Arabic work, some believe that the Emerald Tablet was an Arabic work written between the 6 th and 8 th centuries A.D., rather than a piece of work from Antiquity, as many have claimed.

Whilst Balinas claimed that the Emerald Tablet was written originally in Greek, the original document that he purportedly possessed no longer exists, if indeed it existed at all. Nevertheless, the text itself quickly became well known, and has been translated by various people over the centuries. For instance, an early version of the Emerald Tablet also appeared in a work called the Kitab Ustuqus al-Uss al-Thani (Second Book of the Elements of the Foundation), which is attributed to Jabir ibn Hayyan. It would, however, take several more centuries before the text was accessible to Europeans. In the 12 th century A.D., the Emerald Tablet was translated into Latin by Hugo von Santalla.

A reconstruction of the Emerald Tablet

A reconstruction of what the Emerald Tablet is believed to have looked like by the International Alchemy Guild Image source .

 

The Emerald Tablet would become one of the pillars of Western alchemy. It was a highly influential text in Medieval and Renaissance alchemy, and probably still is today. In addition to translations of the Emerald Tablet, numerous commentaries have also been written regarding its contents. For instance, a translation by Isaac Newton was discovered among his alchemical papers. This translation is currently being held in King’s College Library in Cambridge University. Other notable researchers of the Emerald Tablet include Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, John Dee and Aleister Crowley.

The interpretation of the Emerald Text is not a straightforward matter, as it is after all a piece of esoteric text. One interpretation, for instance, suggests that the text describes seven stages of alchemical transformation – calcination, dissolution, separation, conjunction, fermentation, distillation and coagulation. Yet, despite the various interpretations available, it seems that none of their authors claim to possess knowledge of the whole truth. Furthermore, readers are encouraged to read the text and try to interpret and find the hidden truths themselves.

Featured image: A reconstruction of what the Emerald Tablet is believed to have looked like by the International Alchemy Guild Image source .

By Ḏḥwty

References

Beyer, C., 2014. http://altreligion.about.com/od/westernocculttraditio1/p/Emerald-Tablet.htm. [Online]
Available at: http://altreligion.about.com/od/westernocculttraditio1/p/Emerald-Tablet.htm

Clark, R., 2013. Rawn's Commentary upon the Emerald Tablet of Hermes. [Online]
Available at: http://www.abardoncompanion.de/EmeraldTablet.html

Hart, E., 2006. The Emerald Tablet. [Online]
Available at: http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/world/med/me-elo4.htm

[Accessed 10 August 2014].MacFarlane, I. C., 2005. The Emerald Table of Hermes. [Online]
Available at: http://www.endlesssearch.co.uk/philo_emerald_tablet.htm

Sacred-Texts, 2014. The Emerald Tablet of Hermes. [Online]
Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/alc/emerald.htm

Comments

There is great Truth spoken of in this thread. It is oft worth remembering though that Wisdom spoken out of Wisdom's turn is aught but the jowly hum of a fool about his errands.

here lies the true history... read the lyrics and discover more than about the smerald table
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpbkJrJodcQ

It's the first book on Risk Management. Written by the old Philosopher Georges Costanzanikis

Here are the Chapters of this Emerald Tablet "In order to manage risk we must first understand risk.
How do you spot risk? How do you avoid risk and what makes it so risky?"

Tablets of Stone.
There was a man named Cainan spelling is different from the others. This is the son of
Enos from Adams line not from Cain’s line. He was the great grandfather of Enoch the
7th from Adam, who wrote upon tablets of stone what was to take place in times to come
and he hid them in his treasures.
Another one named Cainan same spelling as the one from Enos, but this one is from
Arpachshad the son of Shem who was cursed for finding the stones of the writings of the
Watchers, as they are called. The sons of God in Genesis, the ones who came from
heaven and committed those awful deeds that God hated. This one sinned because of
what was in the books. According to the book of Enoch these were only the rejected
Mysteries. Not the good mysteries.

What indication do we have that it is not real.  Just because it is so long ago that we cannot find the real source, doesn't maken it unreal.

However, Atlantis as a source souns much better than Seth...

Anyway, thank you Seven Star Hand , I'm looking forward to reading the link you provided, when I can find the time.

Sunny Young

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