as above so below as within so without. If hermeticism could be boiled down into one central concept it would be this.
I’ve spent years developing my understanding of this strange esoteric philosophy. Believe it or not, I’m still coming to terms with a lot of its general weirdness. I do however sincerely feel like I understand the concept of “As above so below as within so without.” (Maybe better than the layman, but enough to understand it’s pretty self-evident).
Understanding the journey we are on and how it pertains to the greater expanse of all existence is a task “as occultists” we all must avow to. Because deepening our relation between sacred texts to experience is the hermeneutics of our own inner being and development.
It’s not a difficult concept to grasp per se. Getting it opens up new vistas of realization previously ungrasped.
Steps of Hermetics
I got into Hermetics when I was going through a disillusionary period of my life. I had seemingly disavowed Christianity and I was searching for new meaning in life. Being brought up in a highly Christian conservative home, I was suffering not only from a loss of meaning but like a breakdown of the symbolic world that was constructed around me.
Having taken a job as a clerk for a local swim club I was tasked with checking people’s passes to allow them into the pool. After a few months, I soon came to love and embrace the quirky personalities of each club member.
There was, however this one guy. We’ll call him “weirdo.” A very chubby German man with the worst dandruff and Masonic stickers on the back of his SUV.
“Weirdo” was highly talkative. In fact, he’d come to the front desk and spend almost the entire time, talking to us through the window about various things. Predicting the stock market, conspiracy theories, ancient history, and all sorts of Kabbalah mysticism.
The whole team was generally sort of fed up with him. I, on the other hand, found him fascinating. Sometimes, when the boss wasn’t around, I would just ask him as much questions as possible and he’d have the most profound ideas and tangents of the illusory nature of perceptions and the absolute truth.
One day he came in and said, I have something for you tomorrow I am going to bring you something very very interesting…..
As Above so Below and Beyond
The best way to describe “as above so below” is through a Nautilus shell. Notice the way that the entire structure seems to spiral out from a central point and move beyond. It’s almost a continuous look, an unending paragon of sacred geometry.
Then you notice that this pattern seems to repeat itself throughout nature. It’s in our DNA, in the Galaxies, and even down to the structural level of subatomic particles. It’s turtles all the way down.
Enter the Microcosmos
Yes I know, my dear Occultist. How could you distill the ancient concepts of all being into a boilerplate of Hermetics?
You can’t have up without a down, you can’t have big without small. The forces which we perceived to be adversarial, turned out to be compliments. They don’t exist without the other. This is the idea of the monad, the nondual. Everything is internally linked by it’s intrinsic nature.
Have you ever seen the “Yin and Yang” symbol. The darkness is only puncuated as much as it is by the light. They appear as two separate things, however they are wholly one thing.
We live in 3rd Dimension and experience time in the 4th. However, physicists are beginning to learn that all these dimensions somewhat exist intertwined all within one another. Like a cord or rope bound together and twisted knotted together. That is, everything overlaps and plays a part in everything else.
Like the Nautilus shell or the double Helix, there exists the thumbprint of the divine in all things. Extension from the ephemeral out into the eternal. There is an interconnectivity to your being that moves through all realms at all dimensions.
You are made in the image of God
To tie this in with Christian theology, you are made in the image of God…likewise, God is made in the image of you. Those that gaze too long into the abyss, often have the abyss gaze back into them (or something to that like.)
I mean, sometimes microcosms aren’t exactly the ideal depiction of a vast and complicated cosmos. I get it. Like let’s say you had to account for the vastness of life on earth and the evolutionary phylogenics of polymorphism and speciation. But you only had a single-celled ameoba to base all life on earth off of. Now you definitely would see organelle (which are the precursors to organs). You would see DNA. But there is a vast scaling-up difference between these two dimensions.
However the difference though, the idea…the transcendent implications are still there.
Harmony of the Spiritual and Metaphysical
It’s very simple to see the “As above” to refer to the metaphysical realm. Then we take “as below” to refer to the physical. In Hermeticism we refer to these balances as the 7 Hermetic Harmonies.
The height of the highest peak is only lifted by its lowest base.
The Side-Effects of this Realization
Now you’re probably foaming at the mouth.
Most people come into the occult through crisis, full swing. I mean, the spiritual development really ramps off in the middle part of life. That is after the feeling first part of your life, the childhood phase is pretty much done with. You look back and see this death as you struggle with your sanity at the slow creep of this moment into the next.
The Moment it clicks
I never had a “click” moment. Probably further up the ladder of enlightenment, there is some better internalization of this. I’m not on here to preach and give you an ego trip about how enlightened I am. Far from it. Having even just a preliminary knowledge of “as above so below, as within so without” can sometimes be enough to jolt you out of nihilism.
It’s hopeless (you may think). Everything is moving towards a penultimate demise. Your death. The cycle of life and death are two sides of the same coin. They are not adversaries, they are compliments.
We live in more than one plain of existence. First we have our physical bodies. Within that dimension though is the internal world, sutble brains, massive spirits. Composite this multidimensional idea over your immediate empirical experience. It’s possible that we have multidimensional ideas and are multidimensional creatures. The phrase alludes to several aspects of who we are.
The products of our ideas are what we are able to see, feel, taste, and experience. Whatever we think, whether consciously or subconsciously, positively or negatively, it comes back to us. Others will adore us if we do; they will respect us if we do; they will also find us beautiful and self-assured if we do. We become what we believe we are.
The very existence of this lower level implies the transcendent extra dimension that stretches beyond all things.
Ancient Wisdom for Today
as above so below as within so without. So goes the hermetic axiom uttered by Thrice Great Hermes. But what does it mean exactly? It’s one of those anomalous zen koans meant to be mulled over over decades. It’s a seemingly simple idea, but very difficult to see.
All the Exists, Exists Within You
Picture DJ Kahled looking at you and saying “Know dat.” That’s the gist of the as above so below as within so without concept.
So what did that guy bring me at the beginning of the story? Well, he brought me the “Franz Bardons: Initiation into Hermetics.” To which I practiced daily the hidden steps of the Occult. The ancient practice was compiled by Franz Bardon. If you haven’t read it I implore you to check it out.