Per Unum – Ad Unum
The eightieth birthday, on 30 May 1996, of Gilles Quispel, the nestor of Hermetic gnosis, was the occasion of a symposium held in his honour at the University of Amsterdam. The lectures presented at the symposium by Gilles Quispel, Roelof van den Broek, Peter Kingsley, Jean-Pierre Mahé and Carlos Gilly are included in this volume, From Poimandres to Jacob Böhme. Gnosis, Hermetism and the Christian Tradition.
The present contains a number of the scholarly articles which Gilles Quispel and Roelof van den Broek have produced in the 1990s. Their contributions offer compendium of their scholarly insights, which are characterized by the marked originality of their philosophical approach, while demonstrating at the same time their great familiarity with the world of thought of Hermetic gnosis.
The volume opens with two contributions by Peter Kingsley, an eminent scholar who earlier drew my attention because of his knowledge of the pre-Socratics. His article on the Poimandres is a profound investigation of the roots and origins of Hermetic language. His book In the Dark Places of Wisdom, published in 1999, shows that the gnostic world of thought generates a ground-breaking force of its own when used with in the context of the Hermetic discipline.
The research conducted by Jean-Pierre Mahé, a true disciple of Hermes Trismegistus, has demonstrated conclusively that the earliest roots of Hermetic thought lies in the mystery schools of Ancient Egypt. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his scholarly work and dedication, his openness and his generosity in sharing his knowledge and insights with other researchers.
Finally there is Carlos Gilly, librarian of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica and an outstanding historian. With his research into the Hermetic works, notably the Corpus Hermeticum, the Asclepius and the Tabula Smaragdina, he is spanning the ages, showing how these works, from their earliest manifestations on, spin a golden thread which runs through the texts of all great representatives of the spirituality of the Middle Ages, of the Renaissance of Marsilio Ficino, and of the 17th-century works of the Early Rosicrucians, contemporaries of the greatest European gnostic of all, Jacob Böhme.
This volume is once again a polished magical mirror, in which we see how the initiatives which were developed in the 1980s have provided, at the beginning of the third millennium CE, the evidence for a revival, a Hermetic Renaissance of the Hermetic-Christian gnosis as a third cultural component next to theology and philosophy.
In a recent discussion with Roelof van den Broek in my library, we came to the conclusion that the true meaning of being human and the development of human history are given shape by ideas which are put into action. What matters is to place into focus the profound meaning of the development of human awareness. The Rosicrucians summarize this in the axiom ‘state of consciousness is state of life. And state of life is state of consciousness. The authors writing within the tradition of the Hermetic gnosis, often despised and persecuted as heretics, were able to record the living gnostic word because their pens were dipped in the force of the Living Spirit. As inspired followers and disciples of Hermes, they strove for the encounter with their Pymander – the All-One spirit.
The tragedy of a great deal of past and present research is that in general it has failed to proceed beyond fixed philosophical and theological confines, demonstrating a preference for the mental, intellectual approach without possessing the true depth of an intuitive dynamic spirituality.
That is why the Hermetic adage ‘Per Unum – Ad Unum’ (through One to One) alludes to a vitally important fraternization and internalization, which is based on an essential process, to get to know this world with its external manifestations after its internal life spark. This makes it possible each day to experience and apply the Hermetic principle of omnipresence, the possibility to pass to an advanced level of spiritual enlightenment.
The present volume again proves that we must work together with a solid circle of scholars, precisely at this moment in time when a revolution in global awareness and an acknowledgement of the value of the Hermetic gnosis is taking place. The great significance for this age is that it brings to the surface the deeper-lying roots of human existence.
It fills us with deep gratitude and respect to witness how the life work and above all the great inspiring force of Gilles Quispel has managed to point towards a new phase in our global history and has received the worldwide recognition it deserves.
JOOST R. RITMAN
Founder Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica
Preface in From Poimandres to Jacob Böhme: Gnosis, Hermetism and the Christian Tradition. Edited by Roelof van den Broek and Chis van Heertum. Publishing House In de Pelikaan, Amsterdam 2000.