Was Hermes Trismegistus a real person?

Was Hermes Trismegistus a real person?

In this blog post, we will explore the legend of Hermes and his connection to Thoth.

We will also talk about the many cults and religions founded in his name and why his message is still so relevant in today’s world.

Evidence that Hermes Trismegistus was a real person

As with so many myths and legends, we can never be sure if Hermes Trismegistus was a real person or not.

However, some clues suggest he might have been based on a historical figure.

For example, the Greek historian Herodotus mentioned a sage called Thrice-Greatest Hermes, who may have been the inspiration for the legend. Also, a manuscript from the second century AD called Asclepius describes Hermes Trismegistus as a wise man and teacher.

Some versions of his teachings are very similar to Thoth, suggesting that they may be the same person. For this reason, many historians believe that Hermes Trismegistus was a real person and that he was the founder of the first Mystery School.

If he was real, when would he have been alive?

The earliest records of Hermes Trismegistus date back to the first century AD. However, the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus were much older than this, and they may date back to as early as 500 BC, when Thoth was thought to have been incarnated into human form.

Another theory is that he lived during the time of Moses around 1450BC. If he was a contemporary of Moses, then certain events in his life become very significant.

For example, Hermes Trismegistus was supposed to have written the Emerald Tablet, which would later influence people like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

The fact that this tablet is believed to contain all of the secrets to the universe means it may well be one of our most important historical texts.

Was he an Egyptian Priest-King?

It seems he was either much more than a simple priest-king or less.

On the one hand, it is said that he was worshipped by kings and priests who would consult him when making important decisions, such as the coronation of a new Pharaoh. On the other hand, he is sometimes seen as a rebel who was not afraid to challenge the status quo.

This could be why his teachings were eventually banned in Egypt. The victors often rewrite history, which may be why Hermes Trismegistus has been portrayed as an Egyptian priest-king.

There is evidence that suggests he was a Greek sage who lived during the time of Plato and Aristotle, but we will probably never know for sure.

Was his message lost or stolen?

This argument becomes very relevant when we consider how many cults and religions were founded in the name of Hermes Trismegistus.

His teachings could likely have been stolen or plagiarised by Christians who wanted to bolster their own beliefs about the Prisca Theologia. By this account, Hermes Trismegistus was either a contemporary of Moses or the third in a line of men named Hermes, i.e., Enoch, Noah, and the Egyptian priest-king known to us as Hermes Trismegistus.

For example, when one reads through specific passages from the Emerald Tablet, it is difficult not to see the clear parallels with the Bible. Another explanation, in the Suda (an encyclopedia from the tenth century), is that “He was called Trismegistus on account of his praise of the trinity, saying there is one divine nature in the three.”

Whichever you look at it, Hermes Trismegistus’ teachings have influenced many religions, including Christianity.

Hermetic Writings

The texts studied and attributed to Hermes Trismegistus are called Hermetic Writings. These include The Emerald Tablet, Asclepius, Corpus Hermeticum, and The Divine Pymander. The most well-known is the Emerald Tablet which has been translated into many languages over the years.

Some people believe that this tablet is a forgery written by Al-Biruni in the eleventh century, but most historians seem to agree that it dates back at least as far as AD 300.

Why was he called Hermes Trismegistus?

There are many theories about why this Egyptian sage and priest-king should be known as Hermes Trismegistus. One is that he was known as the Thrice-Greatest because he embodied the three aspects of the divine: creator, preserver, and destroyer.

Another is that his teachings contained the three great mysteries of life: the mystery of existence, the mystery of change, and the mystery of unity. Depending on what you believe, you may see Hermes Trismegistus as a great sage, priest-king, or even the founder of many world religions.

Was he just a myth?

The fact that Hermes Trismegistus has been associated with so many different people and time periods makes it hard to believe that he was real at all. However, we know that the ancient Egyptians believed in life after death and believed in reincarnation.

If Hermes Trismegistus was just a myth, it seems strange for ancient Egyptians to have created so many mummies containing the teachings of someone who never existed.

The first recorded instance of his name is on an ancient tablet that dates back to around 1450 BC. From this historical evidence, it is hard to dismiss the possibility that he was a real person.

The Many Cultures and Religions that claim him as their own

Many different cults and religions have claimed Hermes Trismegistus over the centuries. Most notably, he has been associated with Alchemy, The Magi, Gnosticism, Astrology/Astronomy (and astronomy in general), Freemasonry, Kabbalah, and Hermetism, among others.

This is because all of these systems are connected by their belief that there is one hidden truth that can be found by following the path of Hermes Trismegistus. His teachings have been used to explain the nature of the universe, the human soul, and our relationship with God.

Hermes Trismegistus’s impact on history and culture

Hermetic Philosophy is by far the most direct antecedent of the Renaissance. Through Hermes Trismegistus, the Greek and Egyptian cultures began to merge, creating a whole new movement in thought and religion.

Many famous thinkers and religious leaders were influenced by his teachings, including Plato, Pythagoras, Leonardo da Vinci, and even Isaac Newton. With so many schools of thought tracing their origins back to this mythical man, it can be said that Hermes Trismegistus had a profound impact on history and culture.

Another possible explanation is that Hermes Trismegistus’s name was actually a title, meaning “Thrice Great Hermes.” This would make him more of an archetype or symbol than a real person. However, if this is true, it’s still fascinating to think about how many people have been influenced by his teachings over the centuries.

Why his message is still relevant today

Hermes Trismegistus believed in the unity of all things. He saw the universe as one extensive, interconnected system where everything was connected to everything else. This idea is known as Monism, and it has been incredibly influential, particularly in Eastern thought.

Until the late 1800s, Monism was seen as a truly revolutionary concept because it did away with the idea of God or other deities, which were often used to explain unexplainable events. While many still don’t accept this way of thinking today, Monism has become a massive influence in the scientific community and is sometimes referred to as Pantheism.

Hermes Trismegistus’s message of oneness still resonates with many people today, especially those who are open to alternative ways of thinking about life and its meaning. While we may not all accept that he was a real person, Hermes Trismegistus’s teachings offer a unique and insightful perspective on the world we live in.

Could he have been a Greek or Egyptian god?

The ancient Egyptians had many gods, but some historians have argued that Hermes Trismegistus is a combination of two gods: the Egyptian god Thoth and the Greek god Hermes. Both were represented by an Ibis, the same bird whose form was also used for the caduceus, which appears in many images of him.

Some believe these similarities are proof enough to suggest he could only be a god from these two cultures. However, there are others who argue that the way Hermes Trismegistus was portrayed in Asclepius is very different from how Thoth and Hermes were represented.

While it’s challenging to be sure about his true origins, we can say for sure that he has had a considerable impact on Western thinking and culture.

In Greek mythology, Hermes was the messenger of the gods, and Thoth was the god of wisdom. Could it be that Hermes Trismegistus was actually a sage from Greece who was honored by the Egyptians for his teachings? Or could he have been an Egyptian sage who the Greeks adopted?

We may never know for sure, but his influence on history is undeniable.

The legend of Hermes and his connection to Thoth

When we explore the meaning and symbolism of the Egyptian god Thoth, something interesting emerges. Thoth is often depicted with an Ibis head, the same as Hermes Trismegistus. In some myths, Thoth is said to be the son of Hermes and Maat, the goddess of justice. This suggests that there may be a connection between the two figures, something which many sources have acknowledged.

In alchemical texts, Hermes Trismegistus is often called Thrice Greatest Thoth. This may be a reference to his connection to the Greek god of wisdom and magic because both figures were considered masters of their respective arts.

Ancient Egyptian religion and Hermes Trismegistus

Any Egyptologist will tell you that the ancient Egyptians were highly religious people, and their religion was incredibly complex. It’s no surprise, then, that Hermes Trismegistus would be connected to Egyptian religion somehow. The ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife where they could continue to live after death. They also believed in a pantheon of dozens of gods who represented natural phenomena like the sun, moon, and stars.

Hermes Trismegistus is often associated with Thoth, but there could be another Egyptian god behind Hermes’ influence on Western thinking. The ancient Egyptians revered animals as sacred beings because they believed that all life came from the Nile River in some form. They believed that, in some way, all of life was connected and part of a “great chain.”

The concept of this great chain is also associated with Hermes Trismegistus because he says it’s the one thing that links him to all other beings in Asclepius.

The cults and religions inspired by Hermes Trismegistus

Although many cults and religions can be traced back to this man, the three main ones are Hermeticism, Freemasonry, and Theosophy.


Hermeticism was a movement founded on the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus. It began in Hellenistic Egypt but would later spread to Europe, where it found a new life and became an influential school of thought during the Renaissance period.

The hermetic tradition is based on the belief that the universe is an organic, unitary whole in which all things are connected. There’s so much more to Hermes Trismegistus than what we can discover in history texts.

The ancient Egyptians were wise people who had a deep knowledge of the world around them, and their myths reflect this wisdom in many ways. Thoth, the god of writing and magic, was portrayed as an ibis with wings that stretched out into infinity.

Was the ancient Egyptian god Thoth actually Hermes Trismegistus? Was he a Greek sage adopted by Egyptians and given a new name? We may never know for sure.


Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that traces its origins to the guilds of stonemasons who built Gothic cathedrals in Europe during the Middle Ages. Historians can trace many Masonic symbols back to Hermes Trismegistus and his teachings.

The most famous Masonic symbol is the all-seeing eye, which is said to be a representation of the god Horus. Thoth is considered one of their founding fathers in Freemasonry alongside Solomon, Pythagoras, and Hiram Abiff. Another interesting Masonic symbol is the letter “G,” surrounded by a circle. This was inspired by Hermes Trismegistus’ invention of geometry and has been adopted as their official logo.


In the 19th century, Helena Blavatsky founded a group called Theosophical Society which was closely tied to Freemasonry. Alongside the connection with Freemasonry, Theosophy also adopted many of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus.

Theosophy teaches that there is a hidden spiritual meaning behind all physical phenomena and that we can access this knowledge through intuition and meditation. Many proponents of Theosophy believe that Hermes Trismegistus was a real person who had access to hidden knowledge about the spiritual world. Others believe that he was more of a symbol or an archetype than a real person.

When Madame Blavatsky was writing, the world was in a “Hermetic revival,” and people were interested in spiritualism. Therefore, it is possible that she may have fabricated some of the stories about Hermes Trismegistus to appeal to her audience.

The secret societies associated with him

Many obscure and mysterious secret societies have claimed to be inspired by Hermes Trismegistus. These organizations include the Knights Templar, Ordo Templi Orientis, Bavarian Illuminati, Freemasons, and The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn.

As each of these movements has risen and fallen in popularity and influence over the ages, so too has the myth of Hermes Trismegistus been molded and changed to fit their needs.

The Knights Templar

When the French monarchy was persecuting the Knights Templar, they claimed to have been followers of Hermes Trismegistus. It is also believed that they may have possessed some of his writings or hidden knowledge about him.

The Ordo Templi Orientis

The Ordo Templi Orientis is a secret society that worships Hermes Trismegistus as their divine founder. They believe that he was the first to achieve enlightenment and thus become a master of magic.

The Order of The Golden Dawn

In 1887, a man named William Wynn Westcott founded a new society called “Hermetic Society.” This secret society was inspired by Freemasonry and followed Hermes Trismegistus teachings.

The Bavarian Illuminati

In the late 18th century, a group called “Bavarian Illuminati” emerged that claimed to have been established by Hermes Trismegistus himself. They were mainly composed of Freemasons and Hermeticists who wanted to create a one-world government ruled over by an elite few.

Hermes Trismegistus in literature and art

Apart from being mentioned by philosophers like Plato, Hermes Trismegistus has also been the subject of many works of art and literature. The Emerald Tablet is one of his most notable literary contributions that speaks about how all life comes from a single source.

He’s also mentioned in Dante’s Inferno, where he is condemned to Hell for being involved with magic which was forbidden at the time. In the 20th century, he was popularized by the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Today, Hermes Trismegistus is considered to be one of the most influential spiritual figures in history. Even though his existence has never been officially confirmed, there’s no doubt that he has left a lasting mark on the world.

The legacy of Hermes Trismegistus

Even though we may never know for sure who Hermes Trismegistus was, his influence on history is undeniable. His teachings about the unity of all things and the power of thought still resonate with people today. He represents a unique perspective on life and its meaning which is still relevant and inspiring today.

The Kybalion

Among his teachings, Hermes Trismegistus is credited with writing The Kybalion, a book about the principles of mystical philosophy. This text has been highly influential in developing new-age thinking and continues to be studied by people worldwide.

It can be argued that Hermes Trismegistus is one of the most influential figures in Western history, and his legacy will continue to be felt for many years to come.

The Emerald Tablet

It’s worth mentioning The Emerald Tablet, a cryptic text that is said to contain the secrets of alchemy. Some believe that this tablet was written by Hermes Trismegistus himself, while others claim later writers made it up.

Regardless of its origins, this text has been interpreted in many different ways, and its mysteries have fascinated people for centuries.


Historians have debated whether Hermes Trismegistus was also known as Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. Some claim that this figure and Thrice-Greatest Thoth are the same, while others believe they were two separate individuals who lived centuries apart.

In alchemy, both figures share many similarities, which suggest there may be a connection between them.

The Corpus Hermeticum

An essential text for anyone interested in the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus is the Corpus Hermeticum, a collection of writings that date back to the first few centuries AD. This text contains many of his most famous teachings and provides a detailed overview of his philosophy.

The mystery surrounding Hermes Trismegistus will likely never be solved, but he still makes an appearance in history books today. Regardless of his origins or identity, the wisdom left behind by this figure has helped many people throughout the centuries find meaning and purpose in their lives.

What makes Hermes Trismegistus relevant for us today?

Despite his mysterious origins, Hermes Trismegistus remains a relevant figure in history. He is one of the most important influences for many different religions and societies throughout human history, including Freemasonry, Theosophy, Hermeticism, Alchemy, and many others.

His teachings about life and spirituality have been highly influential, even though they can be difficult to interpret. This is because Hermes Trismegistus was known for being a master of the occult who used riddles and symbolism in his teachings, making them seem abstract or even confusing at times. The Kybalion is one example of this, but it’s also discussed extensively across many different texts, including The Corpus Hermeticum.

So, was Hermes Trismegistus a real person?

There is no definitive answer, and we may never know for sure.

We can confidently say that his teachings have profoundly influenced many world religions and that he remains one of the most enigmatic and mysterious figures in history.

What do you think?

Do you have any thoughts about Hermes Trismegistus?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


Seb Niel

Seb Niel

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