“The Jews answered him, saying, for a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that though being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”
—Gospel of St. John, 10:33-34, citing Psalm 82:6
“The perfection of all that we see, come from contraries, through contraries, into contraries, to contraries. And where there is contrariety, there is action and reaction, there is motion, there is diversity, there is number, there is order, there are degrees, there is succession, there is vicissitude. ”
GIORDANO BRUNO, LIKE MOST Renaissance “humanists,” was really a Hermeticist. That is, like fellow philosophers of the Renaissance such as Pico De Mirandola (1463–1494), Tommaso Campanella (1568–1639), and so many others, Bruno was inspired by the appearance in Italy of a body of works purporting to be compositions of the ancient Egyptian philosopher-priest Hermes Trismegistus, or the “Thrice Great Hermes,” a body of works known as the Corpus Hermetica or the Corpus Hermeticum.
How that body of works came to Italy is itself a part of this story, and accordingly, we will spend some time in its telling, rehearsing the efforts of scholars from the Renaissance to our own time to pin down its elusive origins. Similarly, we shall also have to examine its presentation of the ancient metaphor for which Bruno gave his life, by way of a wider examination of that metaphor in other cultures, in order to ascertain just how, and why, the Hermetic construction of that Metaphor, and Bruno’s adaptation of it, spelled such a threat to the financial and religious powers of Venice and Rome. As such, this will be a somewhat lengthy and technical chapter, but nonetheless an essential one for the understanding of the deep relationships between the Metaphor, the mind, the physical medium, and money.
A cautionary note, however, is in order. In viewing Bruno’s martyrdom as being in part the result of the threat that his system posed for Venetian—and indeed all north Italian—merchant banking and finance, we are, of course, departing from standard academic analyses of the motivations of the powers behind his death, which would view such motivations in strictly religious, theological, and political terms. Yet, it seems an obvious though overlooked thing to do, since Venice so profoundly symbolized the rising financial and banking class of the late Renaissance and early modern period. Therefore, though this analysis is speculative, and perhaps even highly so, it is nonetheless long overdue.
A. THE ORIGINS OF THE CORPUS HERMETICUM
1. The “Author” of the Corpus Hermeticum
The Hermetica, or as they are also known, the Corpus Hermeticum, are a body of writings in Greek and Latin that purport to be the works of the ancient Egyptian wisdom-god Thoth, or, as he was known to the Greeks, Hermes Trismegistus, the “Thrice Greatest Hermes.” In this one fact there lies quite a tale, as we shall discover in this chapter.
The story begins, in fact, with something of a confusion, for when Alexander the Great’s armies swept into Egypt and eventually conquered that country, the conquerors quickly deduced that the Egyptians’ Thoth was one and the same as their own Hermes, and thus began that merger “of two deities of highly divergent origin”2 that was to cause such interpretive confusion throughout the ages. The confusion over the authorship of this mysterious body of work is also reflected in its influence on western philosophical history since its first resurgence during the Renaissance. It has been viewed, for example, as a kind of “proto-revelation” given to Egypt that in many respects closely paralleled that of Christianity, particularly in its apparent endorsement of a doctrine of a Trinity.3 Similarly, it has been viewed as a banner beneath which philosophical warfare was waged against the constrictions of the Aristotelian theology of the medieval Catholic Church.4 Bruno, of course, appealed to it in part to champion the Copernican theory, and indeed, Copernicus himself appealed to the Hermetica at the beginning of his own treatise outlining his heliocentric theory.5 It was appealed to, both in order to promote, and to argue against, the Enlightenment.6 And of course, it was also appealed to for its profound doctrine of the spirit at one and the same time that alchemists invoked it in their quests to confect the Philosophers’ Stone.7
The Greeks who conquered Egypt had good reason to identify the Egyptian Thoth with their own Hermes, for Thoth was the quintessential “wisdom god,” or if one prefers, the god who imparted the high sciences of divination, that is to say, astrology and astronomy, magic, and medicine.8Similarly, the Greek Hermes was a wisdom god “who crossed the border between gods and men, between this world and the next”9 in a manner that recalls how mankind, in Bruno’s adaptation of Hermeticism, was viewed as a common surface or boundary condition between the worlds. In a manner recalling Marduk’s invisibility suit from the Babylonian epic the Enuma Elish, Hermes had a “Hades helmet” that rendered him invisible.10 And of course, the Greek Hermes was the inventor of oratory and letters. For our purposes, it is also significant that the Greek Hermes was also the patron of trade, finance, and commerce, and thus had a cult among merchants.11 In the milieu of post-Alexandrian Egypt, then, the two Gods—Thoth and Hermes—became fused, as Alexander’s Macedonians and Greeks, sweeping across the ancient world, quickly concluded that the various pantheons of the cultures they conquered were all identical in essence, differing only in their outward cultural form and nomenclature. This led, of course, to a conflation of the functions of the two gods as they amalgamated into the figure of “Hermes Trismegistus,” the “Thrice Greatest Hermes.”12 He was the god who lived among men and taught them philosophy and theology, eventually inspiring—so the tradition ran—the philosophers Democritus, Plato, and Pythagoras. In other words, the Hermetic tradition claimed that it was Egypt, and not Greece, that was the origin of philosophy and the basis for science.
It was precisely this conflation that led, very early on, to confusion over the “author” of the Hermetica, for as early as the third century B.C. the Egyptian priest Manetho stated that there were in fact two Hermes, the ancient one, Thoth himself, who existed prior to the Deluge and who attempted to preserve antediluvian knowledge, and a subsequent Hermes, who, existing after the Flood, translated the works of the first Hermes into Greek.13 This highlights the problem, for the ancient practice assigned less importance to “authorship” than identifying a series of concepts as belonging to a particular tradition and to its originator. Thus, anonymous authors could compose treatises embodying Hermetic doctrines, and because of this, would attribute “authorship” of such a treatise to “Hermes” as an act of honoring the inspiration behind the treatise. Thus could a body of literature grow and be attributed to “Hermes Trismegistus.” With this in mind, we now need to briefly examine the actual composition of the body of works known as theHermetica.
It will have been noted that the claim of Hermeticism goes back to an antediluvian knowledge, that is, that the Hermetic texts contained an ancient wisdom, a primordial theology or prisca theologia, and this was to play a crucial role in the wide dissemination and influence of the Hermetica up until the late Renaissance. For example, Herodotus records that Pythagoras sojourned in Egypt, and, returning to Greece, taught the Greeks philosophy and the mysteries.14 By the ninth century, the Muslim scholar Albuzar (787–886) noted that the first Hermes, whom the Egyptians identified as Thoth, was the grandson of Adam, and reckoned by the Hebrews to be Enoch, and whom the Muslims, following a tradition in the Koran, took to be the ancient prophet Idris. He, according to Albuzar, erected cities and pyramids in Egypt and warned of the impending Flood, taking the precaution to inscribe all his knowledge on the walls of the temple at Akhmin.15 Like Manetho, Albuzar maintained that the second Hermes lived after the Flood, and it was he, according to Albuzar, who instructed Pythagoras.16
2. The Works in the Corpus Hermeticum
From the foregoing discussion, we may conclude that, without exception, the writings of the Hermetica of Hermes Trismegistus are all pseudepigrapha, “for their alleged author did not write them.”17 But this also affords us a convenient definition of whatconstitutes the Corpus Hermeticum, a definition moreover that is in keeping with ancient conceptions that attribute “authorship” to the assumed origin of the provenance of concepts embodied in a text. Thus, by Hermetica we mean simply “all texts that refer explicitly to Hermes Trismegistus as their author” or which “are implicitly ascribed to him.”18 Even the great Neoplatonic philosopher Iamblichus (ca. 245–345) admitted that the Hermetic books were not in fact written by Hermes Trismegistus but were rather “translations from the Egyptian by Greek speaking philosophers”19 who traced the origin of their ideas back to Hermes.20 As most researchers are also aware, the Corpus Hermeticum is divided roughly into two distinct classes of texts, one having to deal with matters of philosophy and cosmology, and the other with “practical” matters concerning magic, astrology, divination, and, of course, the alchemical Philosophers’ Stone. We shall in this chapter concentrate almost exclusively on the philosophical texts.
When using this definition, the philosophical component of the Corpus Hermeticum may be understood to be a collection of roughly seventeen texts,21 which were first circulated as a collection in the fourteenth century.22 Most of these texts are titled Libellus orAsclepius, followed by a number designating the specific treatise in each series. We shall have occasion to examine some of these texts more directly later in this chapter.
3. The Medicis, Ferrara-Florence, and Ficino
While some texts of the Hermetica were certainly known to early Church fathers and writers such as Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150–215)—who returned a favorable verdict on them23—or Augustine of Hippo (354–430) who did not24—it was during the Renaissance that they truly exploded into significance, when Western Europe recovered original Greek manuscripts of some of the texts, and in this lies yet another intriguing story.
The story begins with a grand event, the reunion Council of Ferrara-Florence, held between 1438 and 1445 to reunify the Greek and Latin churches that had split in 1054.25 It involves a rather obscure Italian scholar named Ficino, and the very famous Italian banking family he worked for, the Medicis. Florian Ebeling comments on this constellation of relationships, and its significance, as follows:
A widely believed legend is that Hermeticism, having vanished in the Dark Ages along with the ancient world, remained hidden under the mantle of Christian dogmatism until it was rediscovered in the Renaissance. In 1439 the cover was lifted when Cosimo de Medici relocated the great Council from Ferrara to Florence. The Greek scholars in attendance, including Bessarion and Plethon, so impressed the Florentine intellectuals, especially Cosimo, with their knowledge of Greek antiquity, that they decided to create a home in Florence for the ancient spirit, particularly Platonism. Some years later the head of the Medici family chose Marsilio Ficino to render Plato’s writings from Greek into Latin. Then, in 1460 or thereabouts, one of Cosimo’s agents sent the texts of the Corpus Hermeticum to Florence. So while Ficino was still in the process of translating Plato, Cosimo unexpectedly asked him to render the texts of Hermes Trismetistus. Ficino completed the first translation in 1463, a year before Cosimo’s death, and with that began the renaissance of Hermeticism, which shaped the intellectual history of the early modern period into the seventeenth century.26
Note what we have here:
1)A prominent Florentine banking family—the Medicis—are sponsors of the reunion Council of Ferrara-Florence;
2)Prominent Byzantine humanists, Bessarion and Plethon, are among the Greek delegation in attendance;
3)After the Council, the Medicis somehow acquire the texts of the Corpus Hermeticum; and finally,
4)Cosimo de Medici has Ficino immediately drop translation of Plato to concentrate on translating the Hermetica.
Why would a banking family such as the Medicis be interested in Platonism, and more importantly, the Corpus Hermeticum? And how did these texts actually make their way to them?
Once again, we may be looking at the possibility of hidden agendas in play during the episode, for the Byzantine humanists Bessarion and Plethon would likely have had some knowledge of the Hermetic texts, and with the Medicis sponsoring a kind of revival of Plato’s academy in Florence, it would have been natural for them to negotiate privately with these humanists for acquisition of the Hermetic texts.27 As we shall discover in chapter eight, there is other evidence that the West’s relationship with the Byzantine Empire was for more than just Christian or political purposes, and there is more evidence that some famous events of history may have been cover stories for the acquisition of hidden or lost knowledge. We shall address the question of why a prominent banking family should have been interested in such texts later in this chapter.
In any case, Ficino’s translation activities for the Medicis included important translations of the Neoplatonists Plotinus, Porphyry, and Iamblichus, in addition to the Hermetica,28 and thus played a significant role in launching the Renaissance, as the new philosophical orientation not only challenged the Aristotelianism of the Church, but also provided, as we saw in chapter one, the philosophical basis for the rise of modern science.
In this respect, it is important to understand why Hermeticism so quickly captured the imagination of Renaissance intellectuals and magicians like Bruno. Ficino, in his construction of the genealogy of Hermes Trismegistus, followed the tradition that the individual was a real person, and found so many numerous parallels between Hermes and Moses that the idea could be entertained that the vast body of texts came from ancient times, and that the two figures might be identical.29 Indeed, in the Renaissance view, Moses was trained in all the arts and sciences of the Egyptians, including alchemy,30 and thus the ancient texts, including the Hermetica, were viewed as encoded information embodying lost high knowledge, the prisca theologia of high antiquity.31 In one text, theAurora Philosophorum or “Dawn of the Philosophers” (1577), the idea was ventured that this knowledge was passed down by Adam’s sons, and that it survived the Deluge in Egypt, subsequently being passed by Moses to the ancient Hebrews.32 Persia and Babylon, likewise, were viewed as Hermetic societies founded on the ancient wisdom,33 and even the Greek mythological figure of Prometheus was understood by Ficino to be a “physicist.”34
Succinctly put, the widespread tendency of the Renaissance was to take the Hermetic texts at their word, and thus to ascribe the origins of their doctrines to the knowledge and science of High Antiquity. The doctrines consequently spread rapidly.
For example, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494), coming under the protection of Lorenzo de Medici (1449–1492),35 in 1489 boldly published a series of nine hundred theses, ten of which referred to doctrines gleaned directly from the Hermetica. Six of these give strong hints as to why a family heavily engaged in banking activity would seek to extend its protection to the Hermeticist Pico:
1.Wherever there is life, there is soul. Wherever there is soul, there is mind.
2.Everything moved is corporeal, everything moving incorporeal.
3.The soul is in the body, the mind is in the soul, the Word is in the mind, and the Father of these is God.
4.God exists around all and through all things. The mind exists around the soul, the soul around the air, the air around matter.
5.Nothing in the world is devoid of life.
6.Nothing in the universe can suffer death or destruction. Corollary: Life is everywhere, providence is everywhere, immortality is every-where.36
Given this list and its contents, it is easy to see why a powerful banking dynasty like the Medicis would be interested in promoting Hermeticism generally, and protecting Pico particularly. If one pursues the logical implications of these doctrines to their ultimate conclusions, as did Bruno, the necessity for Catholicism, or, for that matter, Protestantism, and their priestly or clerical elites and sacramental systems disappears. It is, in other words, a covert way of challenging the power of the Roman Church, and gaining significant “maneuvering room” for the emerging financial-political classes of northern Italy.
But why, then, would Bruno, clearly an avowed Hermeticist, incur the wrath of the other great banking power of northern Italy: Venice? As we shall see, the answer lies in these very same doctrines. But before we can turn to a consideration of this question, we must first understand why Hermeticism so abruptly declined a few years after Bruno’s martyrdom for the system.
4. Isaac Casaubon and the End of Hermes Trismegistus
It was a Franco-Swiss philologist, Isaac de Casaubon (1559–1614), who spelled the end of the Corpus Hermeticum as a set of texts purportedly stemming from High Antiquity. Born in Geneva to French Protestant refugees, Casaubon eventually made his way to England, where he published the work that ended the career of Hermeticism, De Rebus Sacris et Ecclesiasticis, or “Of Things Holy and Ecclesiastical,” in the year of his death, 1614.
Just what did Casaubon do that was so destructive to the claims of the Hermetica?
Casaubon began by noting that there were parallelisms between passages of the Hermetica and the canonical Gospels of Christianity.
For example, he compared the passage, “If you do not first hate your body, my son (Tat), you cannot love yourself” … to the passage in John 12:25, “Those who love their life lose it; and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”37
Additionally, Casaubon observed that the style of the Greek texts was not what one should expect of pre-Christian writers, noting that many words in the Greek Hermetica appeared only after the time of Christ.38 Additionally, Casaubon pointed out that the Platonic influences clearly evident in the texts meant that they could hardly have stemmed from a period earlier than Plato.39 Hermes Trismegistus was a pseudepigraphal “imposter” who merely stole words of Scripture in order to convince pagans of the truth of Christian doctrine.40 Furthermore, the fact that no pre-Christian ancient author ever mentioned, or quoted, from the Hermetica was another strong argument against its authenticity.41 The net result of Casaubon’s work, in effect, redated the entire Corpus Hermeticum to the early centuries of the Christian era.42
With this redating came the shattering of Hermeticism’s own “legitimization legends,” ushering in the “horrible age” of Hermeticism, as it again went underground in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,43 surviving in the doctrines of secret societies and fraternities. But it was no longer possible to view it as a primeval source of knowledge.44
Consequently, it is fair to judge Casaubon’s work as signaling not only the end of Hermeticism as a body of knowledge claiming a descent from High Antiquity, but as the watershed work that spelled the end of the Renaissance, since the two were so closely intertwined. Frances A. Yates, once again, squarely addresses this point and all of its implications:
Some discoveries of basic importance for the history of thought seem to pass relatively unnoticed. No one speaks of the “pre-Casaubon era” or of the “post-Casaubon era” and yet the dating by Isaac Casaubon in 1614 of the Hermetic writings as not the work of a very ancient Egyptian priest but written in post-Christian times, is a watershed separating the Renaissance world from the modern world. It shattered at one blow the build-up of Renaissance Neoplatonism with its basis in the prisci theologi of whom Hermes Trismegistus was the chief … It shattered the position of an extremist Hermeticist, such as Giordano Bruno had been, whose whole platform of a return to a better “Egyptian” pre-Judaic and pre-Christian philosophy and magical religion was exploded by the discovery that the writings of the holy ancient Egyptian must be dated, not only long after Moses but also long after Christ.45
But it was not Casaubon, but Bruno and the Hermetica, that were to have the last laugh, as we shall now see.
5. Epilogue: Modern Scholarship and the “End” of Isaac Casaubon
In his argument that texts of the Hermetica seemed to parallel statements in the canonical Christian Gospels, Casaubon was, of course, arguing for the priority of the latter over the former. But he did not consider the possibility that the Gospels themselves, and in particular that most “Hermetic” of the Gospels, that of John, may have had Hermetic origins and influences, a possibility that modern scholarship has once again opened up.
The problem with Casaubon’s analysis, as modern scholarship sees it, is that it makes short shrift of the ancient conception of “authorship,” and indeed, short shrift of the concepts embodied in the texts, concepts that do ultimately stem from ancient Egypt. Even Thoth, whom as we saw previously formed the partial basis for the character of Hermes Trismegistus, was revered in Egypt, originally as “twice great,” as early as the second millennium B.C.46 This was quickly expanded to “thrice great,” which of course “finally became ‘Trismegistus’ in the Greek language.”47 And the modern discovery of many Hermetic texts in the Nag Hammadi library in 1945 opened up once again the question of just how much Hermeticism was really Greek, or Egyptian, in origin.48 In this respect, as Ebeling observes, the mention of Egyptian places and names in the Hermetica is “so striking that we cannot dismiss them as mere ‘decor,’ especially as parallels can be found in ancient Egyptian texts.”49
Nor is this all.
With the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts in 1945, with their rich content of Gnostic and Hermetic texts, “the intellectual origins and context of Hermeticism” must be seen “in ever closer relationship to traditional Egyptian thought”50 according to the modern scholar Garth Fowden. One of the texts of the Nag Hammadi library, The Ogdoad Reveals the Ennead, makes it clear that Hermeticism viewed the relationship between the master and the disciple as a component of a long tradition and succession,51implying an origin earlier than Casaubon’s dating, indeed an origin that ties the concepts to Egypt. It is this idea of a succession, of a tradition of concepts, that gave rise to Hermeticism’s understanding of its texts as “sacred,” but not in the sense of a special revelation.52 As we have already noted, with this idea of a succession, or tradition, “authorship” to the ancient mind meant primarily the ascription of concepts to their ultimate purported origin, in this case, to Hermes Trismegistus, that is, to ancient Egypt.53
The result of all these modern scholarly efforts is that “Egyptian thinking was indisputably a major influence on the Hermetica.”54 The mere fact that many texts of the Hermetica were written in Greek simply stems from the result of the Greek conquest of Egypt, such that any linkage of them to the Christian texts as Casaubon argued was not direct, but indirect, since both traditions stem from “the same blend of theological and philosophical speculation, drawn from various cultures, including the Hellenic, Iranian, Judaic—and of course, the Egyptian—which were being explored at the time.”55 The dialogue form of the texts, which superficially resemble the philosophical dialogues of the Greeks, themselves disclose an ultimately Egyptian provenance, for rather than being dialogues between various philosophers, they are dialogues between master and disciple, as is the case in standard Egyptian wisdom literature.56
The result of these modern findings would have pleased Bruno, and displeased Casaubon, for
… now we’re back where we started. As was believed before Casaubon put the feline among the feathered creatures, the Hermetic books may have contained traditions, not to say secrets, from the old Egypt, the Egypt untainted by the trendy Hellenic glamour of its occupiers.57
There is also one final, and very significant, point that indicates an Egyptian origin of the concepts of the Hermetica.
This occurs in the Hermetic text known as the Asclepius, and here it is best to cite Fowden on this point:
in answer to Aslcepius’ enquiry where these gods are at the moment, Trismegistus replies (at Ascl. 27): ‘In a very great city, in the mountain of Libya (in monte Libyco),’ by which is meant the edge of the desert plateau to the west of the Nile valley. A subsequent reference (Ascl. 37) to the temple and tomb of Asclepius (Imhotep) in monte Libyae establishes that the allusion at Ascl. 27 is to the ancient and holy Memphite necropolis, which lay on the desert jabal to the west of Memphis itself.58
This suggestive coupling of “gods” with “mountains,” as readers of my book The Cosmic War: Interplanetary Warfare, Modern Physics, and Ancient Texts will recognize, resembles the formula “mountains ≈ gods ≈ planets ≈ pyramids,” which also occurs in many other ancient texts,59 and is hardly Hellenic or Platonic in any sense.
B. THE ANCIENT TOPOLOGICAL METAPHOR OF THE MEDIUM
We are now at last in a position to examine the concepts of the Hermetica and how they expressed the ancient Metaphor of the physical medium directly, and to see why, initially, banking dynasties such as the Medicis would champion Hermeticism, and why, eventually, the banking colossus of Venice would see in a rigorous Hermeticist like Giordano Bruno an explicit threat to its power.
One might say that the essence of Hermeticism is that it brings the process of reasoning by analogy to a very high pitch,60 indeed, to such a high pitch that it only falls just short of doing so by means of a formal calculus of analogies. To understand why this is so, it is now time to explore the “Ancient Topological Metaphor of the physical Medium” in some depth, a metaphor which we alluded to in the first chapter. While I have written extensively of this metaphor elsewhere, here its implications are reviewed from yet a new perspective, that of finance.
1. Topological Preliminaries
Let us begin with a simple thought experiment from mathematician George Spencer-Brown, and the cryptic remarks that open his masterpiece Laws of Form:
Draw a distinction.
Call it the first distinction.
Call the space in which it is drawn the space severed or cloven by the distinction.
Call the parts of the space shaped by the severance or cleft the sides of the distinction or, alternatively, the spaces, states, or contents distinguished by the distinction.
Let any mark, token, or sign be taken in any way with or with regard to the distinction as a signal.
Call the use of any signal its intent.61
Now let us imagine that we envision an indescribable “No-thing,” as we envisioned in the first chapter, utterly devoid of any distinguishing features whatsoever, infinitely “extended” in every “direction.” We might envision it as the empty space in this box, except of course, our box has no neat lines denoting its “edges”:
We have, in other words, an infinitely extended “No-thing” which, as we noted in the first chapter, has a perfect mathematical symbol, the empty hyper-set, symbolized by Ø, to describe it, or as Spencer-Brown calls it, a mark or “signal” of intention.
Now, within this space, we draw the simplest distinction: we cleave this space:
Remembering that our “box” really has no “edges,” what we really have is this:
In other words, we have two “spaces,” all that inside the circle, and all outside of it, or, in other words, we have what Spencer-Brown calls a “cloven space.” Note that the circle is a circumscription, a “writing around” or “peri-graphing,” which would be functionally symbolized by the paragraph symbol, ¶, as a symbol of the function of “drawing a distinction” or “cleaving the space.”
Note two important things here: (1) we are dealing both with a “space” in the intellectual or conceptual sense, and (2) with a space in the real physics sense, at one and the same time. Additionally, because our original “box” is infinite, the circle or cloven space within it itself has no limits, save that there is a boundary or “side” as Spencer-Brown calls it, a surface as the topologists would say, between it and the space outside it. So we may assign symbols or marks to each of the three things now distinguished:
1)the space outside the circle we will designate as the “interior” of space 1, with the interior denoted by the topological “o” superscript above the signal or symbol Ø:
2)and similarly the space inside the circle as space 2, another “interior”:
3)and the common surface of the two, denoted by the partial derivative symbol ∂:
Notice that what we now have, as a result of performing one act of distinction, are three “distinguished nothings.” We have created a metaphor of a “one-three,” a kind of primordial trinity. Notably, because our original Ø was dimensionless or infinite, we cannot assign any real dimensionality to any of the entities thus distinguished either.62 Notice the all-important point that the signature of Ø will always remain in the formal description of the regions or surfaces no matter how many times the process is repeated. It remains in all contexts, and is thus a basis for analogical connections between all entities subsequently generated by repetitions of this process. One might view this as a kind of “formally explicit calculus of inter-contextual analysis,” or, in short, analogical calculus.
Now let us use this very abstract “topological metaphor” to examine its expression in various ancient cultures.
2. In the Vedas
Without a doubt, the earliest expression of this metaphor exists in the Vedic traditions of ancient India. For example, in the Padama Purana, it says this:
In the beginning of creation the Great Vishnu, desirous of creating the whole world, became threefold: Creator, Preserver, Destroyer. In order to create this world, the Supreme Spirit produced from the right side of his body himself as Brahma then, in order to preserve the world, he produced from his left side Vishnu; and in order to destroy the world he produced from the middle of his body the eternal Shiva. Some worship Brahma, others Vishnu, other Shiva; but Vishnu, one yet threefold, creates, preserves, and destroys; therefore let the pious make do difference between the three.63
There are several significant things going on in this passage.
Firstly, note the metaphor once again is of Vishnu self-differentiating into three entities: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
But secondly, notice that the persons of Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva are associated with the functions they perform
Vishnu preserves; and
This association of persons with functions is one of the most crucial for our purposes, for it has enormous implications for the development of the doctrine of the corporate person in medieval Western Europe. For example, one finds a distant echo of this association in the “doctrine of appropriations” in the trinitarian formulations of St. Augustine of Hippo. There, the persons are once again associated with the functions they most “appropriately” perform:
The Father is principally the Creator;
The Son is principally the Redeemer (note the language of transaction); and
The Holy Spirit is principally the Sanctifier.
This association of persons with functions inevitably devolves into the temptation to reduce persons to functions, or sets of functions, to define them as such. This, as we shall see, is precisely the essential step in the elaboration of the doctrine of corporate personhood.
However, there is much more to unpack from this significant passage. Note that Vishnu is also called, at the beginning of this process, the Supreme Spirit, that infinite No-Thing-ness that we have symbolized by the empty hyper-set, Ø. Once he has self-differentiated, he becomes Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, yet by the topological symbolism we have employed to explore the metaphor, at the end of this process we have two interiors, Brahma and Shiva, Ø1 and Ø2 respectively, joined by a common surface, Vishnu, ∂Ø1,2. Why is Vishnu the common surface? Because in hisfunctional description as preserver, he unites the oppositions of Brahma (creator) and Shiva (destroyer). Thus, something important has happened: Vishnu is revealed as having contained, at the beginning of the process prior to his self-differentiation, all functions. In short, Vishnu symbolizes Bruno’s coincidenta oppositorum, the coincidence of opposites. Vishnu becomes, as it were, the binding relationship in his person of the other two persons, Brahma and Shiva.
Notice another significant thing that has happened here. At the beginning of this process, it is difficult to state whether Vishnu, as the Supreme Spirit, is a thing or a person, or to put it in more categorical terms, nature or person. But at the end of the process, the original Ø has differentiated itself into persons described or associated with different functions:
In other words, in the Vedic version of the metaphor, the differentiation also results in the creation of these categories: nature, functions, and persons, with the signature of Ø that remains in each of the above symbolizations denoting the fact that they all share the same common underlying nature, Ø. To put this same point somewhat differently, in the initial stage of Ø prior to differentiation, one cannot say whether Vishnu, as the Supreme Spirit, is merely a kind of impersonal nature or a person. Indeed, in the unfolding of the metaphor, it is both at the same time. This will have important implications as we shall see. Also bear in mind Vishnu’s role here as a common surface or relationship between the other two will be quite crucial when we turn to a consideration of its use as a metaphor of money, as we shall see below.64
a. The Vedic Version of the Metaphor, and Sacrifice
We now approach the Vedic version of this ancient metaphor from a completely different point of view, and in doing so, we also approach the connection of the metaphor to the notions of sacrifice and debt. If one looks at the Vedic version as outlined previously, it is possible to view Vishnu—as the Supreme Spirit who differentiates himself—as dismembering himself, that is to say, as “sacrificing” himself in order to bring about creation.65 As differentiations proceed from Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva, creating ever more and more gods and differentiations, thus the whole process of continuous differentiation is also the process of continuous dismemberment and sacrifice.
This is, in fact, what one school of Vedic thought did, for it is this sacrifice which is the founding act of creation:
It is the Sacrifice which is “the center of the Earth,” for through the Sacrifice “the gods performed it … and through it all these powers reach the center … of heaven where the first performers … , the gods, are.” The different images of perception, either as confused or non-differentiated … or differentiated … all end up in the Sacrifice—through decapitation, dismemberment, interaction, or as the sensorium synthesis.66
In other words, the metaphor here, as always, has a “both/and” character, being now a metaphor of overflowing fecundity and plenitude, and of the absence of debt, and now a metaphor of the indebtedness of creation to the “sacrifice” and “dismemberment” which brought it about, leading, as the above quotation illustrates, to two very different ways for the creature to approach the gods, or God, namely, either through the intellectual ascent of the “sensorium synthesis” or through sacrifice: “This returning to the original infinite space . . . is no longer the return to inaction, but rather the result of action, an action leading to that illumined instant-moment of light . . . where the ‘Father and Mother meet … ’”67 that is, where the oppositions once again coincide, here, in the coincidence of androgyny.
But Hinduism, during the Brahmist phase, also pursued not only the implication of the principle of the fecundity of the metaphor and of a return or union with God or the gods through the intellectual sensorium synthesis, but also construed the metaphor in its sense of the generation of the infinite indebtedness of creation to the gods and their sacrifice. It is quite crucial to note that this notion of sacrifice, of indebtedness, does not follow logically from the metaphor when understood in its bare, topological nakedness, i.e., when understood in the most sophisticated mathematical fashion, but only does so when the metaphor degenerates from a mathematical expression to a religious one. In other words, while there is no logical connection between “differentiation” and “sacrifice,” the two became equated and identified once the metaphor was stated in religious and metaphysical “financial” language. Once so construed, however, it forms the ultimate basis for the long association of the temples of high finance with the temples of religion, and every effort is bent to prevent the exploration of the metaphor in terms of its inherent principle of fecundity and plenitude.
This is quite the crucial point, for if, as I have argued elsewhere, the societies of the Indus Valley, Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and so on, are the legacies of an ancient Very High Civilization from High Antiquity, possessed of advanced science and technologies, then the degeneration of the metaphor from a topological one to a religio-financial one represents, in one sense, not merely a change in the terms by which the metaphor is expressed and symbolized, but a profound misunderstanding of the metaphor in its original mathematical intent. To put it even more succinctly, the likelihood is that the earliest sense of the metaphor was based solely on the principle of fecundity and plenitude, not of sacrifice and indebtedness.
This has two implications. As can be seen, the very nature of the metaphor is analogical, since the signature of Ø remains across all distinct contexts. Consequently, one may approach the reascent to “the gods” via the practice of the analogical imagination, and even of sympathetic, or better put, “analogical” magic, to gain influence and power over “the gods,” as we saw with Bruno. On the other hand, in the twisted version of the metaphor, one may also seek to gain control or influence over the gods—to “appease” the gods—through the practice of bloody sacrifice. As we shall see when we return to a consideration of the Hermetic expression of this metaphor, and to a consideration of Bruno’s employment of it, this point has profound implications.
Consequently, the metaphor became twisted into a language—and into the actual practice—of sacrifice and indebtedness, and once it did, it began to empower a priestly elite authorized to perform sacrifices, or, alternatively, magical rituals. Significantly, the earliest Vedic literature, dating from 1500 to 1200 BC, “evince a concern with debt—which is treated as synonymous with guilt and sin.”68 For these texts, stemming from the Brahman period, human existence “is itself a form of debt.”69 For example, in theSatapatha Brahmana 126.96.36.199, this understanding of the metaphor is stated explicitly:
A man, being born, is a debt; by his own self he is born to Death, and only when he sacrifices does he redeem himself from death.70
The consequences of this view are enormous, according to French economic theorist Bruno Théret:
At the origin of money we have a “relation of representation” of death as an invisible world, before and beyond life—a representation that is the product of the symbolic function proper to the human species and which envisages birth as an original debt incurred by all men, a debt owing to the cosmic powers from which humanity emerged.
Payment of this debt, which can however never be settled on earth—because its full reimbursement is out of reach—takes the form of sacrifices which, by replenishing the credit of the living, make it possible to prolong life and even in certain cases to achieve eternity by joining the Gods. But this initial belief-claim is also associated with the emergence of sovereign powers whose legitimacy resides in their ability to represent the entire original cosmos. And it is these powers that invented money as a means of settling debts—a means whose abstraction makes it possible to resolve the sacrificial paradox by which putting to death becomes the permanent means of protecting life.71
But this can only be true, as we have seen, if one misconstrues the metaphor from its deepest mathematical sense—emphasizing the principle of plenitude and the creation of information via ever more differentiations—to the metaphor of indebtedness and sacrifice. For as we shall now discover, the metaphor, in its explicit Hermetic version, contains some very significant clues that suggest profound and deep reasons why Bruno was such a threat to the religious and financial powers of his day.
3. The Metaphor in the Hermetic Tradition
There is a passage in the Hermetica that succinctly embodies the metaphor, and which does so in linguistic terms that unite theology, philosophy, and cosmology very tightly:
Of what magnitude must be that space in which the Kosmos is moved? And of what nature? Must not that Space be far greater, that it may be able to contain the continuous motion of the Kosmos, and that the thing moved may not be cramped for want of room, and cease to move?—Ascl. Great indeed must be that Space, Trismegistus.—Herm. And of what nature must it be Aslcepius? Must it not be of opposite nature to Kosmos? And of opposite nature to the body is the incorporeal . . . Space is an object of thought, but not in the same sense that God is, for God is an object of thought primarily to Himself, but Space is an object of thought to us, not to itself.72
Notice once again that we have the presence of a primordial Trinity, only this time it is not that of Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva, nor even the Christian Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or the Neoplatonic One, Intellect, and World Soul, but God, Space, and Kosmos . Note also that, with the exception of the term God, the other two enumerated entities are things, not persons.
But like the Vedic version of the metaphor, each of these three entities are distinguished by a dialectic of opposition based on three elemental functions, each of which in turn implies its own functional opposite:
As I have pointed out in previous books, each of these three entities—God, Space, and Kosmos—may thus be described as a set of functions or their opposites:73
In this version of the metaphor, it is space that becomes the common surface of the other two entities, since it comprises functional elements—as noted in the table above—of the other two entities. So, once again, we have our familiar three topological entities:
1)The “bracketed” region of nothing, or Ø1,, Hermes’ “Kosmos”;
2)The rest of the nothing, or Ø2, Hermes’ “God”; and,
3)The “surface” that the two regions share, or ∂Ø1.2, Hermes’ “Space.”
But this is not all there is to the Hermetic version of the metaphor.
In the Libellus II, there occurs a short, but very significant, exchange between Hermes and his disciple Asclepius:
Hermes: Now what was it that we said of that Space in which the universe is moved? We said, Asclepius, that it is incorporeal.
Asclepius: What then is that incorporeal thing?
Hermes: It is mind, entire and wholly self-encompassing, free from the erratic movement of things corporeal …74
In other words, in the Hermetic version of the metaphor, there is a direct interface between mind and space, or mind and the physical medium.
But there is more.
The Hermetica state quite explicitly that its understanding of the metaphor is almost exclusively based on the principle of fecundity, of plenitude; there is in such passages almost a complete absence of any language of the notion of sacrifice and primordial debt:
Matter, though it is manifestly ungenerated, yet has in itself from the first the power of generating; for an original fecundity is inherent in the properties of matter, which possesses in itself the power of conceiving things and giving birth to them. Matter then is generative by itself, without the help of anything else …
… Thus the space in which is contained the universe with all things that are therein is manifestly ungenerated … For the existence of all things that are would have been impossible, if space had not existed as an antecedent condition of their being.75
Observe that matter and space are both conceived in almost the same terms, as an ingenerate but creative principle, almost as if the Hermetica was anticipating modern physics theories of the energy of vacuum space, the zero point energy. And this matter-space, as we have seen, is also Mind.
The Hermetica make one last association to this complex of Space-Matter-Mind, and that is man himself, who, as the boundary condition or common surface of soul and matter, is the microcosm of the whole creative process at large in the Universe, which as we saw in chapter one is viewed as a “great man,” and more besides:
… (That) is why man, unlike all other living creatures upon the earth, is twofold. He is mortal by reason of his body; he is immortal by reason of the Man of eternal substance.76
Thus this Man of eternal substance is, so to speak, not only the “common surface” of Space-Mind and Matter, but is also a co-creator with God of the entire creation,77 and thus, as a co-creator with God, is thus also to some extent God and therefore not indebted to some external power. For those who are aware of it, this is but another expression of what modern physics would call the Participatory and Final Anthropic Principles, which may be formulated as the following two statements of principle respectively:
1)“Observers are necessary to bring the Universe into being.”78
2)“Intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the Universe, and, once it comes into existence, it will never die out.”79
As Bruno put it, Yahweh “represents each one of us.” Hermeticism, by embodying the metaphor in metaphysical categories most closely approximating the topological properties of the metaphor, thus knows no version of debt or sacrifice—or priestly elites empowered to perform them—and thus, if translated into financial and monetary terms, it is supremely a metaphor of debt-free production and creativity, of debt-free money.
Pause now and consider carefully the threat that Hermeticism posed, particularly in the rigorous form that Bruno advocated it, both to the Papacy and to Venice, that is, to the religious and financial powers:
1)On the one hand, by claiming to stem from Hermes Trismegistus, a provenance more ancient than Moses, the Hermetica was also claiming to be based on a hidden tradition of knowledge older than the Yahwist revelation on which the power of the Papacy rested.
2)On the other hand, by framing the metaphor in terms devoid of sacrifice and debt, and in which man himself is both eternal and a co-creator with God, Hermeticism struck another blow at the emerging debt-money banking systems that had begun to emerge in northern Italy in the late Middle Ages, and also at the very sacramental-sacrificial system of the Roman Church.80
As the scholar and anthropologist David Graeber puts this point, theories of primordial debt, or versions of the Metaphor which stress the sacrifice-debt interpretation of creation, “always end up becoming ways of justifying—or laying claim to—structures of authority.”81 Indeed, in the primordial topological version, the metaphor is not one of debt at all:
Even if it is possible to imagine ourselves as standing in a position of absolute debt to the cosmos, or to humanity, the next question becomes: Who exactly has a right to speak for the cosmos, or humanity, to tell us how that debt must be repaid?82
That, indeed, is the rub, for in the Hermetic version of the Metaphor, every human being is a manifestation of that “eternal Man,” and thus no one individual or institution is in a privileged position to speak for it.
4. Giordano Bruno and Other Renaissance Thinkers
We return then to a deeper consideration of Giordano Bruno and his place within this vast constellation of concepts of God, space, the medium, Mind, and money. It may safely be said that the problem of the relationship of an infinite space and an infinite deity was the key question engaging not only late medieval theology and philosophy, but science as well.83 As philosophers and theologians alike noted, both God and Space were described by similar terms, such as “One, Simple, Immobile, Eternal Complete, Independent, Existing in Itself, Subsisting by itself, Incorruptible, Necessary, Immense, Uncreated, Uncircumscribed, Incomprehensible, Omnipresent, Incorporeal, All-penetrating, All-embracing, Being by its Essence, Actual Being, Pure Act,” and so on.84 Because of this fact, many Hermeticists came to identify Space, Mind, and God. The fact that much western medieval theology and philosophy proceeded within a basic Aristotelian framework of a closed system made this question even more crucial once the Platonic, Neoplatonic, and Hermetic traditions reemerged in the fifteenth century.
Bruno, following his own Renaissance version of modern physics’ “multiuniverse” theories, derived the idea that God created all possible worlds from the Hermetic tradition’s interpretation of the principle of plenitude of the Metaphor.85 Bruno, in short,rigorously applied the plenitude principle.86
Following the Hermetic principles surveyed above, Bruno deduced fifteen properties of space, among which there is one that is both a direct blow at Aristotle, and at the Church’s teaching that God alone is pre-existent and eternal:
Space is neither a substance nor an accident because things are not made from it nor is it in things. Rather, space is that in which things are locally. It is a nature that exists “before the things located in it, with the things located in it, and after the things located in it.”87
By removing space from Aristotle’s categories of substance and accident,88 Bruno is in effect saying that space—whose identity with Mind, and with the principle of fecundity we have already noted in the Hermetica—is that primordial “No-thing” from which all else is derived.89
Moreover, this space is for Bruno’s contemporary and compatriot and fellow Hermeticist, Tommaso Campanella (1568–1639), a space with specific mathematical properties (as one would expect from the influence of Hermeticism upon him, and with Hermeticism’s strongly topological flavoring of the Metaphor). It was this mathematical property that allowed it to be linked directly to Mind and mental processes.90 It was, literally, for so many Hermeticists of the day—Campanella included—a potency for the forms of the mind.91
For Bruno, Space became a kind of ultra-fine matter from which everything else was created, whereas for another contemporary and Italian Renaissance Hermeticist, Francesco Patrizi (1529–1597), Space was filled with light, thus making it appear that between the two men—Bruno and Patrizi—yet another modern physics conception, the wave-particle duality, was anticipated during the Renaissance.
Given all this, it is clear that Bruno—and others—were explicitly dealing philosophical death-blows to the closed religio-philosophical system of the medieval Church.
C. THE RELIGIOUS, POLITICAL, AND FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE HERMETIC VERSION OF THE METAPHOR
We are at last in a position to understand the full political, religious, and financial ramifications of the metaphor, and in stating these ramifications, one may easily perceive why a rigorous Hermeticist like Bruno posed such a threat to the religious, political, and financial powers of Venice and the Vatican:
1. Political and Religious Implications of the Coincidenta Oppositorum
It has already been noted that Bruno was accused of being an atheist in Britain, but yet was warmly welcomed (for a time at least) in Lutheran Germany, implying his views carried some theistic weight in that country. The reason for this lies in the peculiarity of the Metaphor itself, which, as we have seen, implies the conjunction of opposites,92 a point which, as we saw in Chapter One, Bruno stated quite clearly. And one of the most difficult aspects of this conjunction is that the Metaphor may be construed in both an atheistic and theistic sense.
a. The Atheistic and Theistic Interpretations
If one looks closely at the Metaphor in its topological expression, it constitutes a kind of “First Event” or “Primordial Happening.” This implies both an atheistic and theistic understanding:
… for if analyzed carefully, it is both an act that is supremely irrational and random on the one hand, and supremely rational and non-random on the other, and in that, various people at various times have construed it now in an atheistic sense, and in a theistic sense, and that is the point: it can, and to a certain extent, must be construed as both. Let us look at the “irrational and random” side of it first.
Since it is the First Event, it is truly random and irrational as no subsequent events deriving from it can be; there is no prior explanation for it, there are no temporal or physical or metaphysical categories that can be applied to it. In the metaphor of “differentiated nothings deriving from a primordial nothing,” one may simply replace the word “nothing” as a translation of Ø with the word “randomness,” to see that every subsequent event becomes suffused with a condition of randomness, since the signature of that First Randomness, Ø, always remains as a part of its formal topological description. We are bold to suggest that it is for this precise reason that many scientists and physicists view the world in “atheistic” terms, as a series of random events and the ability of systems to “self-organize,” for that is one implication of the metaphor. It is truly random, in other words, because there are no other Events with which it may be compared and statistically modeled; it is the Event from which all events stem.
But, at the same time once again, one cannot imagine any such First Event as occurring without an act of Consciousness to draw the distinction or cleavage in the original space to begin with; one, after all, imagines it, and that is a supreme act of a reasoning consciousness. The First Event, therefore, is also a supremely non-random and rational event at one and the same time as it is a supremely random and irrational one. To put this point in terms that would be understood by an ancient metaphysician, being is becoming. This stresses yet another “both/and” characteristic of the Metaphor, for that Primordial Happening stands both inside of, and outside of, time. It stands inside of time in the sense that, in its mathematical description, a change in the state of the system has occurred between Ø and the three resultant versions of Ø that arise after it is cloven: ØA, ØB, and ∂ØA,B. Yet, that first primordial “trinity” stands outside of time as well, since the First Event leading to their rise occurs inthe primordial Nothing or Ø to begin with, and in that Ø, the absence of distinctions means that there is an absence of time.93
By adhering rigorously to the Hermetic version of the Metaphor, Bruno was therefore bound to be interpreted by his contemporaries as either a theist, or, as he was accused in England, an atheist, when in fact by the Hermetic nature of the case he was both.
But there is another implication, one that lies hidden in the Hermetic association of God, Space, Mind, and “the eternal Man” acting as the common surface of all, and it is one that hovers over the whole Hermetic enterprise, suffusing itself throughout the implications of Bruno’s writings, and that is the moral conjunction of the opposites of good and evil. By maintaining that “Yahweh represents or symbolizes us,” Bruno was in fact saying that humanity and human intentions, for good or ill, had a kind of group-multiplier effect on the Medium, on God, and hence, that the way to banish ultimate evil was literally by the expulsion of vices—murders, lusts, greed—the expulsion of the Triumphant Beast from within each individual person. That is to say, for the rigorous Hermeticisim of Bruno, the problem of theodicy, of good and evil, lay within man himself, and so did its solution.
b. The Impersonal and Personal Interpretations
This same both/and quality of the Metaphor also leads to a second implication, namely, that in its original stage, prior to differentiation, it may be construed in both an impersonal and in a personal sense, as we saw with the Vedic version. Here too, Bruno criticized the Yahwist revelation, “with its emphasis on a personal God” as destroying “the concept of the Deity as immanent principle, embodied in the natural religion of the Egyptians.”94 Yet, Bruno could, and did, speak of his immanent Deity in very personal terms. Again, in this Bruno was adhering rigorously to the both/and dialectical nature of the Hermetic version of the Metaphor.
2. Financial Implications
While we have already noted that the Hermetic version of the Metaphor speaks seldom, if at all, of the idea of sacrifice and debt, but is based on the pure “topology” of the creation of information in the principle of plenitude, it is worth noting here once again that the financial implication is that money becomes a kind of alchemy of creativity and production, a measure of it. Debt, and with it, empowered debt-elites, do not enter the picture. While we must inevitably address this question of money, debt, sacrifice, and the Metaphor in more depth in the coming pages, it is worth noting that, just as in the Hermetica, one likewise searches in vain in Bruno for the notion that man owes a debt to God or the universe. Small wonder, then, that Venice was complicit in his holocaust. Bruno’s philosophical-Hermetic magic was indeed threatening to the whole financial religious system as it had emerged in the High Middle Ages and existed in his own day.
It is therefore to Venice, the other side in this grisly transaction, that we now turn.
1Giordano Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, First Dialogue, First Part, p. 91.
2Florian Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism from Ancient to Modern Times, trans. from the German by David Lorton (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007), p. 3.
3Ibid., p. 2.
5Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, The Forbidden Universe: The Occult Origins of Science and the Search for the Mind of God (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2011), pp. 31–32.
6Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, p. 2.
8Ibid., p. 4.
9Ibid., p. 5.
10For Marduk’s invisibility suit, see my The Giza Death Star Destroyed (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press, 2005), pp. 42–43. For Hermes’ Hades Helmet, see Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, p. 5.
11Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, p. 5.
12Ibid., p. 6.
13Ibid., p. 7.
14Ibid., p. 28.
15Ibid., p. 45.
17Ibid., p. 7.
19Ibid., p. 8.
20Ibid., p. 9.
21Walter Scott, trans., Hermetica: The Ancient Greek and Latin Writings Which Contain Religious or Philosophic Teachings Ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, Volume I, Introduction, Texts and Translations (Montana: Kessinger Publishing Company, n.d.), p. 17.
22Ibid. Of course in the modern era further Hermetic texts have been discovered at the Nag Hammadi library and have only relatively recently been translated. As these texts were not known during the Middle Ages or Renaissance, and therefore to Bruno or his accusers, we confine our observations in this chapter to texts that were known during those periods.
23Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, pp. 39–40.
24Ibid., pp. 42–43.
25The author is well aware that the break between Cardinal Humbert and Patriarch Michael Kerularis in 1054 only finalized an earlier break between Rome and Constantinople that had occurred in 1014.
26Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, p. 59, emphasis added.
27I am grateful to my friend Mr. Daniel A. Jones for pointing out this intriguing possibility.
28Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, p. 60.
29Ibid., p. 63.
30Ibid., p. 73.
32Ibid., p. 78.
33Ibid., p. 79.
34Ibid., p. 61.
35Ibid., p. 65.
36S.A. Farmer, Syncretism in the West: Pico’s 900 Theses (1486), Medieval and Renaissance Texts & Studies 167 (Tempe, Arizona: 1998), pp. 340–343, cited in Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, p. 66.
37Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, pp. 91–92.
38Ibid., p. 92.
41Picknett and Prince, The Forbidden Universe, p. 102.
42Ibid., p. 175.
43Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, p. 113.
44Ibid., p. 114.
45Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, p. 398.
46Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, p. 30.
50Garth Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind (Princeton University Press, 1993), p. xxiii.
51Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes, p. 157.
52For this point, see Fowden, op. cit., p. 158.
53Ibid., p. 1.
54Picknett and Prince, The Forbidden Universe, p. 104.
55Ibid., p. 177.
56Ibid., p. 179.
57Picknett and Prince, The Forbidden Universe, p. 177. For the nature of the Egyptian influence on the “technical” Hermetica, i.e., on the texts having specifically to do with the mechanics of magic and astrology, see Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes, p. 68.
58Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes, pp. 40.
59Joseph P. Farrell, The Cosmic War: Interplanetary Warfare, Modern Physics, and Ancient Texts (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press, 2007), pp. 81–83, 135, 232–233. The association between “mountains, music, physics, and the gods” is also found within the Pythagorean-Platonic tradition. See Joseph P. Farrell, with Scott D. de Hart,The Grid of the Gods: The Aftermath of the Cosmic War and the Physics of the Pyramid Peoples (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press, 2011), pp. 229–254, and particularly pp. 244–251.
60For an interesting observation on this point concerning Goethe’s Hermeticism as an analogical process, see Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, p. 129.
61George Spencer-Brown, Laws of Form: The New Edition of This Classic with the First-Ever Proof of Riemann’s Hypothesis (Leipzig: Bohmeier Verlag, 1999), p. 3.
62I presented a very different way of analyzing or “imagining” this primordial cleaving in the appendix to chapter nine in my Giza Death Star Destroyed.
63W.J. Wilkins, Hindu Mythology (New Delhi: Heritage Publishers, 1991), p. 116, citing the Padma Purana, cited in Farrell and de Hart, The Grid of the Gods, p. 71.
64For a different presentation of this metaphor, see Farrell and de Hart, The Grid of the Gods, pp. 70–79. It is to be noted that Shiva also partakes of the characteristics of the conjunctio oppositorum in that Shiva is depicted as an androgyne.
65Antonio T. de Nicholás, Meditations through the Rig Veda: Four-Dimensional Man, New Edition (New York: Authors Choice Press, 2003), p. 147.
66Ibid., p. 148, citing the Rig Veda, 1.164.35 and 1.164.50.
67de Nicolás, Meditations through the Rig Veda, p. 153.
68David Graeber, Debt, p. 56.
70Satapatha Brahmana 188.8.131.52, cited in Graeber, p. 56.
71Bruno Théret, “The Socio-Cultural Dimensions of the Currency: Implications for the Transition to the Euro,” Journal of Consumer Policy (1999), pp. 60–61, cited in Graeber, p. 58. In view of the contemporary financial meltdown in Europe, and the pressing of “austerity measures” on the peoples of Europe by private central bankers, it should be asked why a major economic theorist of the euro is writing about the association of religion, sacrifice, and unpayable debt.
72Libellus: 1-6b, Hermetica, trans. Walter Scott, Vol. 1, pp. 135, 137.
73See Farrell and de Hart, The Grid of the Gods, pp. 75–76, and my The Philosophers’ Stone: Alchemy and the Secret Research for Exotic Matter (Port Townsend: Feral House 2009), pp. 45–46, and The Giza Death Star Destroyed, pp. 239–241.
74Libellus II, Hermetica, trans. Walter Scott, p. 141, boldface emphasis added.
75Asclepius II, Hermetica, trans. Walter Scott, p. 313, emphasis added.
76Libellus I, Hermetica, trans. Walter Scott, p. 123, emphasis added. See also Asclepius I in ibid, where it is stated that God “made man as an incorporeal and eternal being ... ”
77Ibid., p. 121.
78John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 22.
79Ibid., p. 23.
80See also Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, p. 86.
81Graeber, Debt, p. 69.
82Ibid., p. 68.
83Edward Grant, Much Ado About Nothing: Theories of Space and Vacuum from the Middle Ages to the Scientific Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 182.
84Ibid., p. 227.
85Ibid., p. 184.
86Ibid., p. 185.
87Ibid., p. 187, citing Giordano Bruno, De Immenso (Wittenberg, 1588).
89Ibid., pp. 188–189.
90Ibid., p. 195.
91Ibid., p. 196.
92See the Libellus X, Hermetica, trans. Walter Scott, pp. 193, 195.
93Farrell and de Hart, Yahweh the Two-Faced God: Theology, Terrorism, and Topology (Periprometheus Press, 2012), pp. 21–22.
94Arthur D. Imerti, “The Heretical Premises of Lo Spaccio,” in Giordano Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, trans. Arthur D. Imerti, p, 42.