art by Tatiana Plakhova
Hermeticism is a school of esoteric or occult thought that can be traced back to Egypt in late antiquity and possibly farther back than that. The surviving texts of the Corpus Hermeticum date to the 3rd century AD around the time of the burning of the Library of Alexandria. If as is commonly believed they originate from the Library of Alexandria, then it is possible that, as is traditionally believed, they may go back further into antiquity.
Hermetic teachings were later summarized in a text known as The Kybalion. The Kybalion was published by the Masonic Lodge of Chicago, and was based on knowledge passed down over time, which was finally released to the public in 1908. It includes a series of seven principles that summarize Hermeticism. Surprisingly, all of these can be derived from modern physics (though perhaps the last is only derivable via metaphysics), physics that was not available at the turn of the last century!
The known texts of the Corpus Hermeticum date back to the Library of Alexandria, raising interesting questions. When and where did Hermetic teachings really first originated? What other secrets might the Library of Alexandria have held before its burning in the 3rd century?
To investigate these it is necessary to first understand the foundation of Hermeticism. Of the seven principles in The Kybalion, three of them provide a framework for understanding the rest. To do this I will explain the physics behind these three principles, and then move on to show how they derive the others.
Mentalism: The first Hermetic principle tells us that “All is mind, the universe is mental.” It sounds strange to describe the universe is a dream or perhaps better a simulation in a Greater Mind. However this is exactly what the physics tells us. The peculiar effects seen in modern physics are now being explained by breakthroughs in quantum gravity, the field devoted to uniting Einstein’s relativity with quantum theory, as due to quantum information processing, which tells us that our spacetime is an emergent simulation1. Elsewhere, experiments into the foundations of quantum mechanics, such as tests of the Leggett inequality2, have actually falsified realism! Meaning there literally is no spoon!
The precise details of the physics elucidate the mental nature of this information construct however. Recent discoveries tell us that spacetime emerges specifically from entangled information3, the information generating quantum entanglement, the spooky phenomenon wherein two or more particles affect each other at vast distances. Meanwhile the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness, or IIT, identifies entangled information as integrated information or consciousness4:
”Quantum entanglement and integrated information, to the extent that one cannot perturb two elements independently, they are informationally one.”
Putting these two together we see that therefore spacetime emerges from consciousness. The universe is after all a mental information construct inside of some Greater Mind’s consciousness, which is of course the same thing as the Principle of Mentalism.
Correspondence: The Principle of Correspondence tells us that our world is a lower manifestation of a higher or more fundamental realm. The world below is a projection of the world above, or “as above, so below” as is sometimes said. In turn, this entails that physical things in our world “correspond to” things in the higher non-physical realm, hence why it is called Correspondence. In regards to science, this notion of correspondence naturally follows from the fact that our “world,” namely spacetime, emerges from some deeper or perhaps higher level of reality.
But principle of correspondence also tells us that the higher reality the physical corresponds with is a mental or spiritual reality. To account for this I will defer to the mini-documentary provided below. Through A Mirror Darkly explains the physics of mentalism, correspondence and vibration together. Though before continuing I should provide a disclaimer. The interpretation of this physics as Hermeticism is my own and not necessarily the producer of the videos.
Physical spacetime emerges from inner space as shown by quantum gravity and quantum cognition.
The video rederives the mental universe but from a different angle that illustrates the Principle of Correspondence. It combines the emergence of space-time from Hilbert space, the mathematical domain of entangled quantum states, with quantum cognition, which describes our inner world of thoughts and emotions as behaving like quantum superpositions in Hilbert space5.
This gives us a new way to think of our mental universe such that it tells us “where” it is being simulated from. The external world of physical reality in spacetime is being simulated from this collective inner space of thoughts, emotions, and other mental states. Though most of it is in our subconscious of course, the world without emerges from the world within! Or “as within, so without,” as one summarization of the Principle of Correspondence says.
This is what Carl Jung referred to as the collective subconscious, the world of archetypes and forms. Interestingly, Jung collaborated for twenty-six years with one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, Wolfgang Pauli, in an attempt to explain the collective subconscious with the new physics. Unfortunately, the physics was not developed enough yet to do this, but it seems now it is!
Vibration: The next principle, the Principle of Vibration tells us that everything, “all forms of matter manifest vibration.” Modern physics exactly parallels this with the wavefunction. According to the Schrodinger equation in quantum mechanics, everything can be defined by a wavefunction that describes a quantum probability wave, which vibrates at a specific frequency.
Interestingly, the parallels do not stop there. Other direct parallels specific to both quantum mechanics, as well as even more advanced physics exist. The Kybalion states that:
“if the vibrations be continually increased the object would mount up the successive states of manifestation… until it would finally re-enter The All,”
As it turns out, the frequency of an object’s wavefunction is directly proportional to the energy content of the object being described. So the higher the vibration of the object the greater the degree of its mass or energy content, just as described in the quote. This is not the end of the parallels however. Let’s look at another example:
“The Universal Ether, which is postulated by science without its nature being understood clearly, is held by the Hermetists to be but a higher manifestation of that which is erroneously called matter — that is to say, Matter at a higher degree of vibration”
At the time of the writing, the notion of an “ether” was still in use and would shortly be replaced with the notion of spacetime. However when this is recognized, this provides a remarkable insight that seemingly should only have been known by modern physics, physics that was not yet discovered! A discovery almost a decade ago regarding the relationship between space and quantum entanglement6 demonstrated that spacetime behaves as a holistic pattern of entanglement known as a string-net, and that subatomic particles emerge from this string-net.
This network of entanglements is of course a field of vibrating quantum waves.
String theory meanwhile tells us something similar. According to string theory matter and space are actually two descriptions of the same thing. This is shown by the fact that spacetime created by matter due to relativity shares the same vibratory frequency as the matter that generated it. The spacetime is merely matter at a different degree of vibration and vice-versa, exactly as explained in the quote!
Cause and Effect: The principle of cause and effect is just a natural extension of correspondence. If our physical world within spacetime emerges from a higher realm outside of it as stated by quantum gravity, then naturally any cause in the realm outside spacetime, would cause some effect within the physical world. Given the notion that this realm is also mental as explained before, mental influences could have an effect on the physical world, even if they are perhaps subtle.
Some research into this such as the Global Consciousness Project seems to indicate that this is the case with remarkable success. The GPC uses random number generators such as those based on the decays of radioactive isotopes. Then when big catastrophes occur that grab the attention of people around the world, these random number generators somehow spike in correlation with people’s global conscious focus. The more the conscious focus, the more the effect. For example on 9/11, an event that captured the near exclusive attention of the entire world, the random number generators spiked off the charts7.
An experimental illustration of Cause and Effect: Global Consciousness Project random number generator data on the day of the 9/11 event, illustrating the effect of global conscious focus on the radioactive decays of particles behind random number generators.
This makes sense though if consciousness is in the wavefunction, as described by quantum cognition. It would then be able to cause small effects in the physical world, such as inducing the radioactive decays of molecules, which are of course determined by the probabilities in the wavefunction.
Polarity: The Principle of Polarity is the consequence of vibration and mentalism put together. According to Polarity, different mental states or perceptions are on a scale. Then when one shifts or “polarizes” (this seems to be an irregular usage of the word) the vibrations associated with the mental states to higher or lower vibrations, the mental state changes to another mental state on the scale.
Quantum cognition and Integrated Information Theory explain this scientifically. As explained with the Principle of Vibration, everything is in a state of vibration, which we now know today to be referring to quantum probability waves. According to quantum cognition these quantum probability waves also encode mental states though. Thus a vibration would have some specific mental state.
Integrated Information Theory explains the rest. According to IIT entangled information is integrated. Entangled information is described by a quantum probability wave however. But now there is only one way to increase the vibratory frequency of a quantum probability wave: increase its energy content. In turn that is only possible by adding more particles into superposition in the quantum wave.
When you do this though, it increases the entangled information present, changing the integrated information state to a new integrated information state in the process. Of course, IIT treats integrated information as consciousness though. So what this means is that if you change the vibration of the quantum wave, you change the conscious state, exactly as the Principle of Polarity says.
The quantum biological effect of quantum smell, illustrates the link between quantum vibratory frequency and conscious states. Change the vibration of the molecule by replacing a hydrogen atom with a deuterium atom and the conscious state of the smell changes also.
An example of this can be seen in nature with the phenomenon of quantum smell8. Molecules that have hydrogen atoms produce a certain vibration. These molecules then interact with your central nervous system, via your noses olfactory receptors, to give you the conscious experience of a particular smell.
However if you now take the same molecule and replace the hydrogen atoms with deuterium atoms (hydrogen atoms with one neutron added), the same molecule will suddenly smell different to your central nervous system. Why? Because the additional neutron in the deuterium atom changes the hydrogen atom’s energy and thus increases the vibration of the molecules quantum probability wave. In turn this integrates more information, and thereby produces the conscious state of a different smell.
Rhythm: The Principle of Rhythm is simply an extension of vibration scaled up. As explained before, everything, even the fabric of spacetime, is comprised of superpositions of quantum probability waves, or what Hermeticism refers to as vibrations. However these vibrations or wavefunctions naturally have frequencies that they oscillate to. Thus if everything is comprised of these vibrations, then it follows that everything has natural rhythms at all scales however complex they may become.
Gender: Lastly there is the Principle of Gender. This principle states that gender manifests in everything on all planes. Though this principle can not be derived from physics directly. It can be derived as a simple metaphysical consequence of the universe being mental.
The idea is that if you start with just one mind, The All, God, etc. then to create new minds you will need to cut out smaller minds from the inner thoughts of the first mind, and so on. The mind that has been “cut out” is then seen as “female,” and the mind that was “cut out of” is seen as “male.” This is seen in the concept of Mental Gender in the Kybalion where the male “I” contains the female “me,” or contents of the “I.” Since everything is mental in Hermeticism however, this would then logically extend to everything at all, even including things we would not ordinarily identify as minds.
A derivation of the principle of gender from mentalistic metaphysics. Once again the interpretation of the conclusion as Hermeticism is once again my own and not necessarily the video producers.
This has a few interesting consequences, including the idea that men tend to be initiatory, whereas women tend to be receptive. For example men tend to ask women out on dates rather than vice-versa. The male sperm is what initiates fertilization in the female egg rather than vice-versa, and so on.
More interestingly though, this same pattern, as well as how it is derived, shows up near universally in religions throughout the world, even ones no longer in existence. In Hinduism the female Shakti is cut of the male Shiva, and both then reunite or “marry” in a “state of cosmic consciousness.” In the Bible, Eve is cut out of Adam as Adam’s rib and it is then stated that the putting them back together is the reason men and women marry. Likewise the male Christ contains all things including the female Church. Sufi Islam teaches that male and female are split parts of a single soul in heaven.
Even in ancient religions this is seen. Sumerian myth talks about a male heaven and a female earth once being the joint being Anki. The male An, or heaven, was then split from the female Ki, or earth. In Egyptian mythology Isis and Osiris were brother and sister, indicating a single metaphysical origin for both, and are also considered husband and wife, and so on.
The physics parallels in the seven principles of Hermeticism are astounding to say the least. The necessary physics to understand this was not available in 1908, much less at the time the Library of Alexandria was burned in the 3rd Century or even before then when tradition has it Hermeticism was founded in deep antiquity.
Whatever its origins, the physics parallels are clearcut. However only now do we have the physics to recognize these parallels. Hermeticism seems to have understood such things as quantum mechanics, quantum cognition, and emergent spacetime long before it was supposed to have been developed. Until more solid information arises as to its origins, we must simply treat Hermeticism as a curious yet marvelous enigma: an ancient occult science rediscovered by modern physics.
By: Steven Jordan
1. Brian Whitworth, Simulating Space and Time, 2010, http://brianwhitworth.com/BW-VRT2.pdf
2. Philip Ball, Physicists bid farewell to reality? Nature, 2007
3. Ron Cowen, The quantum source of space-time, Nature, 2015http://www.nature.com/news/the-quantum-source-of-space-time-1.18797
4. Giulio Tononi, Consciousness as Integrated Information: A Provisional Manifesto, Footnote 14, 2008 http://www.biolbull.org/content/215/3/216.full
5. Daphne Muller, Your Brain Isn’t a Computer –It’s a Quantum Field, BigThink 2015 http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/does-the-mind-play-dice-with-reason
6. Zeeya Merali, The universe is a string-net liquid, New Scientist, 2007 https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19325954-200-the-universe-is-a-string-net-liquid/
7. Roger Nelson, Formal Analysis September 11 2001, Global Consciousness Project, 2001 http://noosphere.princeton.edu/911formal.html
8. Physics World, A Quantum Sense of Smell, 2015, http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/multimedia/2015/mar/24/a-quantum-sense-of-smell