The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus
In English by H. P. Blavatsky
From Isis Unveiled 1:507:
Tradition declares that on the dead body of Hermes, at Hebron, was found by an Isarim, an initiate, the tablet known as the Smaragdine. It contains, in a few sentences, the essence of the Hermetic wisdom. To those who read but with their bodily eyes, the precepts will suggest nothing new or extraordinary, for it merely begins by saying that it speaks not fictitious things, but that which is true and most certain.
“What is below is like that which is above, and what is above is similar to that which is below to accomplish the wonders of one thing.
“As all things were produced by the mediation of one being, so all things were produced from this one by adaptation.
“Its father is the sun, its mother is the moon.
“It is the cause of all perfection throughout the whole earth.
“Its power is perfect if it is changed into earth.
“Separate the earth from the fire, the subtile from the gross, acting prudently and with judgment.
“Ascend with the greatest sagacity from the earth to heaven, and then descend again to earth, and unite together the power of things inferior and superior; thus you will possess the light of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly away from you.
“This thing has more fortitude than fortitude itself, because it will overcome every subtile thing and penetrate every solid thing.
“By it the world was formed.”
In English by Sir Isaac Newton
1) Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
2) That wch is below is like that wch is above & that wch is above is like yt wch is below to do ye miracles of one only thing.
3) And as all things have been & arose from one by ye mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
4) The Sun is its father, the moon its mother,
5) the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth its nourse.
6) The father of all perfection in ye whole world is here.
7) Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
7a) Seperate thou ye earth from ye fire, ye subtile from the gross sweetly wth great indoustry.
8) It ascends from ye earth to ye heaven & again it desends to ye earth and receives ye force of things superior & inferior.
9) By this means you shall have ye glory of ye whole world & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
10) Its force is above all force. ffor it vanquishes every subtile thing & penetrates every solid thing.
11a) So was ye world created.
12) From this are & do come admirable adaptaions whereof ye means (Or process) is here in this.
13) Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of ye philosophy of ye whole world.
14) That wch I have said of ye operation of ye Sun is accomplished & ended.
[Dobbs 1988: 183-4.]
Two versions in Latin
In the 12th Century CE, the Arabic work Kitab sirr al-asrar waas translated into Latin as Secretum Secretorum. Within it was the following Latin version of the Emerald Tablet:
Verum, sine mendacio, certum, et verissimum:
Quod est inferius est sicut quod est superius, et quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius, ad perpetranda miracula rei unius.
Et sicut res omnes fuerunt ab uno, meditatione unius, sic omnes res natae ab hac una re, adaptatione.
Pater eius est sol; mater eius est luna.
Portavit illud ventus in ventre suo; nutrix eius terra est.
Pater omnis telesmi totius mundi est hic.
Virtus eius integra est, si versa fuerit in terram.
Separabis terram ab igne, subtile ab pisso, suaviter, magno cum ingenio.
Ascendit a terra in coelum, iterumque descendit in terram, et recipit vim superiorum et inferiorum.
Sic habebis gloriam totius mundi.
Ideo fugiet a te omnis obscuritas.
Haec est totius fortitudinis fortitudo fortis, quia vincet omnem rem subtilem, omnemque solidam penetrabit.
Sic mundus creatus est.
Hinc erunt adaptationes mirabiles, quarum modus est his. Itaque vocatus sum Hermes Trismegistus, habens tres partes philosophiae totius mundi.
Completum est quod dixi de operatione solis.
In 1541 the Arabic version of the Emerald Tablet taken from the Kitab Sirr al-Asrar was translated into Latin by Chrysogonus Polydorus of Nurembug.
1. Verum, sine mendatio, certum et verissimum:
2. Quod est inferius est sicut quod est superius, et quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius, ad perpetranda miracula rei unius.
3. Et sicut res omnes fuerunt ab uno, meditatione unius, sic omnes res natae ab hac una re, adaptatione.
4. Pater eius est Sol. Mater eius est Luna.
5. Portavit illud Ventus in ventre suo.
6. Nutrix eius terra est. Pater omnis telesmi totius mundi est hic.
7. Virtus eius integra est si versa fuerit in terram.
8. Separabis terram ab igne, subtile ab spisso, suaviter, magno cum ingenio.
9. Ascendit a terra in coelum, iterumque descendit in terram, et recipit vim superiorum et inferiorum.
10. Sic habebis Gloriam totius mundi.
11. Ideo fugiet a te omnis obscuritas.
12. Haec est totius fortitudinis fortitudo fortis, quia vincet omnem rem subtilem, omnemque solidam penetrabit.
13. Sic mundus creatus est.
14. Hinc erunt adaptationes mirabiles, quarum modus est hic. Itaque vocatus sum Hermes Trismegistus, habens tres partes philosophiae totius mundi.
15. Completum est quod dixi de operatione Solis.
Contemporary English Translations from the Latin
This is a contemporary rendering of the 1541 Latin text:
1. It is true, without error, certain and most true,
2. That which is below is as that which is above, and that which is above is as that which is below, to perform the miracles of the one thing.
3. And as all things were from the one, by means of the meditation of the one, thus all things were born from the one, by means of adaptation.
4-5. Its father is the Sun, its mother is the Moon, the Wind carried it in its belly, its nurse is the earth.
6. The father of the whole world (or of all of the initiates) is here.
7. Its power is whole if it has been turned into earth.
8. You will separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the dense, sweetly, with great skill.
9. It ascends from earth into heaven and again it descends to the earth, and receives the power of higher and of lower things.
10. Thus you will have the Glory of the whole world.
11. Therefore will all obscurity flee from you.
12. Of all strength this is true strength, because it will conquer all that is subtle, and penetrate all that is solid.
13. Thus was the world created.
14. From this were wonderful adaptations, of which this is the means. Therefore am I named Thrice-Great Hermes, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.
15. It is finished, what I have said about the workings of the Sun.
A second contemporary translation of the 1541 Latin version:
I. True it is, without falsehood, certain and most true.
II. That which is below is like that which is above, and that which is above is like that which is below, to accomplish the miracle of One Thing.
III. And all things have proceeded from One, by meditation of One, so all things are born from this One Thing, by adaptation.
IV. The Sun is the Father thereof. The Moon the Mother.
V. The Wind carried it in its belly. The Earth is its Nurse.
VI. The Father of all the Telesme of the whole world is here. Its strength and power is complete if it be converted into earth.
VII. Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, gently and with unremitting care.
VIII. It ascends from the earth to the heavens, and again descends to the earth,
IX. And thereby gathers to itself the strength of things above, and of things below.
X. By this means, all the glory of the world shall be yours, and all obscurity shall flee from you. It is the strong strength of all strength. XI. For it shall overcome every subtle thing, and penetrate every solid thing.
XII. Thus was the world created. Hence shall wonderful adaptations be achieved, of which the means is here.
XIII. Therefore I am called Hermes Trismegistus. For I hold three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.
XIV. That which I had to say concerning the operation of the sun is completed.
English translation from the Arabic
English translation from the Kitab Sirr al-Asrar:
1. It contains an accurate commentary that can’t be doubted.
2. It states: What is the above is from the below and the below is from the above. The work of wonders is from one.
3. And all things sprang from this essence through a single projection. How marvelous is its work! It is the principle part of the world and its custodian.
4. Its father is the sun and its mother is the moon. Thus the wind bore it within it and the earth nourished it.
5. Father of talismans and keeper of wonders.
6. Perfect in power that reveals the lights.
7. It is a fire that became our earth. Separate the earth from the fire and you shall adhere more to that which is subtle than that which is coarse, through care and wisdom.
8. It ascends from the earth to the heaven. It extracts the lights from the heights and descends to the earth containing the power of the above and the below for it is with the light of the lights. Therefore the darkness flees from it.
9. The greatest power overcomes everything that is subtle and it penetrates all that is coarse.
10. The formation of the microcosm is in accordance with the formation of the macrocosm.
11. The scholars made this their path.
12. This is why Thrice Hermes was exalted with wisdom.
13. This is his last book that he hid in the catacomb.
Additional English Versions
Truly, without Deceit, certainly and absolutely —
That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, in the accomplishment of the Miracle of One Thing. And just as all things have come from One, through the Mediation of One, so all things follow from this One Thing in the same way.
Its Father is the Sun. Its Mother is the Moon. The Wind has carried it in his Belly. Its Nourishment is the Earth. It is the Father of every completed Thing in the whole World. Its Strength is intact if it is turned towards the Earth. Separate the Earth by Fire: the fine from the gross, gently, and with great skill.
It rises from Earth to Heaven, and then it descends again to the Earth, and receives Power from Above and from Below. Thus you will have the Glory of the whole World. All Obscurity will be clear to you. This is the strong Power of all Power because it overcomes everything fine and penetrates everything solid.
In this way was the World created. From this there will be amazing Applications, because this is the Pattern. Therefore am I called Thrice Greatest Hermes, having the three parts of the Wisdom of the whole World.
Herein have I completely explained the Operation of the Sun.
True, without error, certain and most true: that which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above, to perform the miracles of the One Thing.
And as all things were from One, by the meditation of One, so from this One Thing come all things by adaptation. Its father is the Sun, its mother is the Moon, the wind carried it in its belly, the nurse thereof is the Earth.
It is the father of all perfection and the consummation of the whole world. Its power is integral if it be turned to Earth.
Thou shalt separate the Earth from the Fire, the subtle from the coarse, gently and with much ingenuity. It ascends from Earth to heaven and descends again to Earth, and receives the power of the superiors and the inferiors.
Thus thou hast the glory of the whole world; therefore let all obscurity flee before thee. This is the strong fortitude of all fortitude, overcoming every subtle and penetrating every solid thing. Thus the world was created. Hence are all wonderful adaptations, of which this is the manner.
Therefore am I called Hermes the Thrice Great, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world. That is finished which I have to say concerning the operation of the Sun.
Tabula Smaragdina: the Emerald Table (with introduction, history & commentary)