The Kybalion and the 7 Hermetic Principles

Is the Kybalion Valid?

The Kybalion is an issue that is hotly debated within Hermetic circles. The idea of a “Kybalion,” meaning “Key” to unlocking the obscure symbolism of the Hermetic writings, is claimed to have been an enduring oral tradition. Those who take what looks like a type of “purist” position, often rush to “poo poo” or refute anyone who mentions the Hermetic “Kybalion” in some of the esoteric Facebook groups on the basis that it was written by William Atkinson, and reveals New Thought Movement content, such as “Mentalism.” It’s almost expected that naysayers will pop up whenever anything relating to the Hermetic Kybalion is posted. Eager to rain on anyone’s parade for referencing it.

I own a copy of the Kybalion, Centenary Edition, which includes a forward by Richard Smoley. Briefly stated, Smoley goes through all of the available data and evidence, concluding that Atkinson does appear to be the anonymous writer. He also concludes that the fact that Atkinson is the writer is not a good reason to dismiss the work. And he launches into Atkinson’s source material and completely unpacks an analytical survey of its content. I tend to side with Smoley on that analysis, but for many other reasons which I will disclose in this blog post. 

The deeper issue–which Smoley never points out–is that when viewing the “Consciousness First” paradigm, and its potential antiquity, the ancient models of rising and falling awareness that I’ve outlined in earlier blog posts accompany that claim. But I’m going to unpack it much further right now. I strongly suggest that readers take time to digest the content of “The Great Year” documentary, by Walter Cruttenden (linked below):

The whole thing is worth watching, several times if necessary, in order to take it all in and really understand the ancient mindset, which is different from our modern “linear timeline” thinking. You may notice that a linear timeline is merely a short section view of a much greater, cyclical reality. Point A to point B occurs within the greater context of a large-scale cycle or sine wave, to be more precise. This can be seen on the old cyclical model charts overlaid with one another and based on the precession cycle (24,000-26,000 years, depending on the source). What we consider the dawn of human civilization from a linear perspective, is merely the lower ⅓  section of the entire cycle, which we tend to view as linear. However, it falls into a much larger cyclical dynamic where it is claimed that human awareness rises for half of the cycle and falls for half of the cycle, like the tide rising and falling. Over and over again. On repeat. 

For the argument that I’m going to lay out, one must be familiar with the ancient models and also how we can point to information, which was known in the distant past, and then lost during the bottom or “Kali Yuga” part of the cycle when human awareness was at its lowest, only to be naturally “rediscovered” again across the other side of the cycle–the ascending human awareness side of the same cycle.

To pinpoint a few visual illustrations of what I’m referring to, just go to timestamp 20:00 of the Great Year video to see the first explanation. It goes into how the Kali Yuga is the age of materialistic and dualistic thought, when finer forces are harder to conceive of. Around timestamp 28:00, the video illustrates how knowledge was lost in the ancient world during the last descending half of the cycle and then rediscovered on the other side of the cycle during ascending human awareness. 

Cycle of Human Awareness

This loss and rediscovery of ancient knowledge is pivotal when trying to provide more perspective to the arguments between the “purist,” anti-modern thinking Hermeticists and the modern thinking friendly Hermeticists who are just fine with modern thinking exactly the way in which it’s been revealed–the writing of the Hermetic Kybalion in 1908, by Atkinson, notwithstanding! 

The problem with pointing back to medieval time periods and similar as the”‘good ol’ days,” in the way that many people do within “purist” positioning, is that they are (1) demonstrating to others who know better that they haven’t yet learned to know any better themselves and (2) that what they are pandering to represents the very lowest, most uninformed, and less self-aware time periods in modern history. Of course, the situation is NOT where some great knowledge was known anywhere near the bottom of the last Kali Yuga and is now perverted by modern Idealistic thinking! That’s a ridiculous assertion to be coming from any so-called mystic, IMO!

This deeper insight that I’ve outlined applies in both linear and cyclical ways. If we go with the basic and commonly understood ‘linear perspective,’ then clearly, we are now much more advanced than we were in the medieval and Middle Ages periods of recent history. On that premise alone, even if we assume that Atkinson did just make it all up (which Smoley disproves in the forward of the Kybalion), the glaring issue is that modern science and philosophy, through advancement, have already deduced that Consciousness must be ‘primary and fundamental.’ 

If the Hermeticists from the medieval times and Middle Ages didn’t know this (I think they did know it, and kept it hidden, or “occulted,” as the Kybalion suggests), modern Hermeticists had better be learning it regardless because it’s relevant as demonstrable truth today with society’s advancement in knowledge! To shy away from the 1st Hermetic Principle is to create distance between yourself and what is now, in the modern era, demonstrably true for the reasons already set forth on in this blog site (see The Confusion: Baylon Surrounding Truth).

I deemed it necessary to combine both ancient Hermeticism and modern philosophical and scientific (mathematical) Idealism into a coherent format now known as “Hermetic Idealism!” I put my forward-minded, INTJ-T personality thinking to work, and this is the result. This has not been totally a solo effort–many friends have helped along the way (guests posts are starting to arrive–see Hermeticism and Chaos Magick: Blending a Philosophy and a Practice and Who Am I?). Everyone has a voice and platform in the Hermetic Idealism movement if they want it. This is where the people get to voice up. Many blogs of this variety demand to see “credentials” in order to publish a blog post. Here, ‘demonstrable intellect’ and ‘keen spiritual intuition’ are the only credentials that mean anything! Direct experience and demonstrations of direction experience, in other words.

I had to create this platform from scratch because Analytic Idealism is Bernardo Kastrup’s baby. It’s his own personally devised model, which he alone is worthy of adjusting and correcting as he sees fit. Where I may diverge or have some considerations beyond his own, the right thing to do is to formulate a new Idealist position incorporating all of the ancient mysticism and factor it into a comprehensive analysis of modern Idealism. To where both ancient and modern Philosophy of Mind are required together in “non-dual” focus. Regardless of what people within the academic elite think about it.

The chart below is helpful for visualizing the ‘alternative view’ of history as cyclic, with human awareness transitioning through natural ascending and descending patterns, like the tides or any other example of the Hermetic Principle of “Rhythm.” 

What we view today as a “linear timeline” of Biblical and/or modern civilization, belongs specifically to the ages of Taurus and Aries, the last two descending ages, and then Pisces and Aquarius, the first two ascending ages of the newly turned over Great Year cycle. The knowledge and information from the last Golden Age, or Satya Yuga, belong to the 11,500 BCE section at the top of the chart. Hermeticism is believed to go back that far! First, it was an oral tradition, a mystery school tradition, then it flowed from the Egyptians to the Greeks (Pythagorean/Platonic) and Jews, and from the Greeks and Jews, to the early mystical Christians. From there, it traveled in “secret society” form to all of Europe and, eventually, the New World. 

During those same time periods, the ancient philosophy also spread throughout the East in the form of Vedic tradition, being transformed into Hinduism and then Buddhism and the various offshoots that grew out of the ancient Vedic tradition. All of this allegedly traces back to a common ancestor philosophy which dates back to the last Satya Yuga / Golden Age, that informed both Eastern Vedic and Western Hermetic traditions from a remote antiquity. And we are on the way back around to those same conditions again according to the old astrotheological “Sacred Science” of precession. If I take Primary Consciousness seriously, this is what accompanies. The ancient models that come from the ancient Primacy of Consciousness platform in dynastic Egypt and prior. They were actively working to prepare for what they saw as a “cosmic winter,” coming ahead. Known to us as “the dark ages.” Where dualistic thinking and materialism become the dominant trend in society, for a while.

On the ascending side of the cycle – which we’re into now – what is to be expected is for the Primacy of Consciousness to be rediscovered in a public, non-occulted way. And that is exactly what is happening now! And has been gaining speed since the writing of the Kybalion! Carl Jungs 7 Sermons to the Dead hailed the coming of the Aquarian Age just the next decade after the Kybalion was written. Robert Collier’s, “The Secret of the Ages” came out the next decade. Joseph Campbell and Alan Watts followed. And Now Bernardo Kastrup and Donald Hoffman have brought the ALL-Mind platform into modern cognitive science and philosophy of mind. This is a “Golden Chain” of knowledge transmission picking up speed and picking up pace according to the “celestial timetable.”

Back to the Kybalion

With that foundation laid, here are the 7 Hermetic Principles as set forth in the Kybalion: Mentalism, Correspondence, Vibration, Polarity, Rhythm, Cause and Effect, and Gender. We will embark on a journey to learn more about each of these principles. Stay tuned for the next installment on the First Hermetic Principle of Mentalism.

Stephen Wollard,

The Hermetic Idealist

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One Comment

  1. This is a great clarification! Much needed for the future evolution of this blog, I believe. Hermeticism is as old as 4/5 thousand years and used to be oral. It is imperative that we understand that human consciousness was different at the time that this notions were transmitted orally. People’s psychic abilities were heightened thousand of years ago. We need a different approach today. I support the distilled work put forward in the Kybalion and consider it a great source for hermetic applications. Thank you Stephen for sharing this important information

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