"Samizdat: Publishing the Forbidden."

Tag: Tabula Smaragdina


“As Itzhak Bentov explains, if one were to freeze such an interference pattern, for example, the ripples in water made by a stone being dropped, then one could, analysing the pattern, discover where the stone had broken through the water. On a note of poetic whimsy, one could perhaps visualise the Tree of Life as the wave-front of the light of God.

One may realise that all the above modern ideas are actually pre-empted and summarised in a more ancient doctrine, which states, in the Tabula Smaragdina (Tablet of Emerald); “it is true without lying, certain and most true, that which is inferior or below, is as that which is superior, or above, and that which is superior as that which is inferior, to work and accomplish the miracles of one thing.”

Patterns emerge at all levels and all scales, such as the spiral of a shell and the spiral of a fern branch, or the shape of a galaxy and the shape of a human cell. As Louise B. Young states, “the whole is immanent in all the parts, no matter how small.” To those who work with such a self-reflexive system, then it becomes possible to model, and experience, states that often defy description in other, more linear systems.

As Blake puts in “Auguries of Innocence:”

“To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.”

Such is the promise that the Tree of Sapphires (another translation of the word Sephirah) holds, as each facet of each sapphire reflects eternally upon each other in a labyrinth of light.”

–Frater FP, The Magician’s Kabbalah, pp. 12-13.

Arabic Antecedents of Alchemy

Another “oriental” influence is that found in the Western alchemical traditions, deeply influenced by Islamic spiritual practices and philosophies. The entire history of alchemy passes through Islamic alchemical traditions, inherited from the Greeks, but is infused with Islamic spiritual ideas regarding the alchemical processes. Jabir ibn Hayyan (fl. c. 760 CE), later known as Gerber (in Latin), a Persian Sufi living in southern Arabia, was believed to be the author of many alchemical texts, showing a clear attribution to “oriental wisdom” in the transmission of alchemy to the Medieval west. The mystical style of the Jabir corpus reflects many Sufi ideas and may have been authored by the Iranian brethren of Purity (c. 1100). However, one text, the Kitab Sirr al-Khaliqa wa San`at al-Tabi`a (Book of the Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature), attributed to Jabir, c. 800, who in fact attributes this text to Apollonius of Tyana, is the basis for the single most popular text in Western Hermeticism, translated into Latin (1140) as the Tabula Smaragdina (Emerald Tablet) (43).

This text, transiting from Greek to Syriac, to Arabic, to Latin and finally to modern European languages, is a symbolic testimony to the interweaving of classical, “oriental” and later European alchemical and hermetic thought. The very term alchemy (al-kimia) is, of course, Arabic transmitted from the Greek (chemeia) and carries with it a fusion of Greek and Arabic ideas, as expressed in the famous, influential alchemical text, the Turba Philosophorum (“Conference of Philosophers,” c. 900 CE, translated into Latin by the 13th century) which combines pre-Socratic philosophy with Islamic-Sufi ideas (44). Maslama ibn Ahmad’s The Aim of the Wise was translated into Spanish and Latin, where it became known as Picatrix (1256). Many other Arabic influences (Razi, Avicenna, and so on) can be traced in the history of western alchemy, stemming particularly from the 7th through the 11th centuries (45).

–Lee Irwin, “Western Esotericism, Eastern Spirituality, and the Global Future.”

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