The Emerald Tablet is a compact and cryptic piece of the Hermetica reputed to contain the secret of the prima materia and its transmutation. It was highly regarded by European alchemists as the foundation of their art and its Hermetic tradition. The original source of the Emerald Tablet is unknown, although Hermes Trismegistus is the author named in the text.
The Emerald Tablet:
- This is true and remote from all cover of falsehood
- Whatever is below is similar to that which is above. Through this the marvels of the work of one thing are procured and perfected.
- Also, as all things are made from one, by the [consideration] of one, so all things were made from this one, by conjunction.
- The father of it is the sun, the mother the moon. The wind bore it in the womb. Its nurse is the earth, the mother of all perfection.
- Its power is perfected. If it is turned into earth.
- Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle and thin from the crude and [coarse], prudently, with modesty and wisdom.
- This ascends from the earth into the sky and again descends from the sky to the earth, and receives the power and efficacy of things above and of things below.
- By this means you will acquire the glory of the whole world,
- And so you will drive away all shadows and blindness.
- For this by its fortitude snatches the palm from all other fortitude and power. For it is able to penetrate and subdue everything subtle and everything crude and hard.
- By this means the world was founded
- And hence the marvelous conjunctions of it and admirable effects, since this is the way by which these marvels may be brought about.
- And because of this they have called me Hermes Trismegistus since I have the three parts of the wisdom and philosophy of the whole universe.
- My speech is finished which I have spoken concerning the solar work
~ a translation found in Theatrum Chemicum, Volume IV (1613), in Georg Beatus’ Aureliae Occultae Philosophorum
The layers of meaning in the Emerald Tablet have been associated with the correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm. Macrocosm and microcosm refers to a vision of cosmos where the part (microcosm) reflects the whole (macrocosm) and vice versa.
Fludd states that “Man is a whole world of its own, called microcosm for it displays a miniature pattern of all the parts of the universe. Thus the head is related to the Empyreal, the chest to the ethereal heaven and the belly to the elementary substance.” [Theories of Macrocosms and Microcosms in the History of Philosophy, G. P. Conger, NY, 1922, which includes a survey of critical discussions up to 1922.]