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The 7 Hermetic Principles Explained


The 7 Hermetic Principles Explained


The seven hermetic principles are considered the universal laws of nature or the cosmos. They originate from Hermeticism. Hermeticism is a system of religious and philosophical ideologies that incorporate the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus.

Hermes Thrice the Greatest as his name means was a revered master of divine wisdom. The qualities of Hermes Trismegistus are derived from those of Egyptian and Greek gods Thoth and Hermes respectively. These gods had the title of scribes in their pantheons and presided over intelligence, wisdom, and communication. Another equivalent is the Roman god Mercury.

Hermes Trismegistus is believed to have existed in ancient times when gods were said to live among men. He passed his knowledge to mankind and since then his teachings were passed down from one generation to the next through oral tradition.

All religions intentionally or unintentionally have adopted elements of Hermeticism in one way or another. In later centuries with the advent of writing, some of these teachings were recorded in various Hermetica texts such as the Emerald Tablets, and the Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature.

The Kybalion (1908) written by the Three Initiates also provides a more modern description and explanation of the seven principles of nature. These are: 1) Mentalism 2) Correspondence 3) Vibration 4) Polarity, 5) Rhythm, 6) Cause and Effect 7) Gender.

Principle 1: Mentalism

Summary: The ALL is Mind; The Universe is Mental.

Understanding this law requires the Hermetic knowledge that there are several planes of manifestation and existence organized into three major planes, physical, mental, and spiritual. Thus, in addition to our physical being, we also have emotional, mental, and spiritual existence.

In saying that the ALL is mind and the universe is mental, this principle means that every manifestation of life is the creation of a mind. All that is perceived by the physical senses is but a creation of an undefined and unknown infinite spirit of the universe, the MIND.

This mind creates all. Everything exists within it as units and subunits.

All our minds and beings together are part of the ONE mind.

Principle 2: Correspondence

Summary: As Above, So Below; As Below, So Above.

What is above is similar to what is below and what is within is similar to what is without.

This principle reveals the connectedness and interrelatedness between the visible and the invisible.

In the previous principle of mentalism, we learned that the mind or the invisible spirit creates the physical universe. Hence, the principle of correspondence shows us the relationship between the mental and the physical.

In fact, anything visible that has been created in the material universe began as a thought, idea, or imagery in the mind.

You may also notice in outward behavior that if one is acting a certain way, people are likely to pin it to an inner state of being, for example, visible sadness or crying may imply a state of grief or hurting.

Hence the outer state of being is a mirror to the inner one. The mental plane above corresponds to the physical plane below which it creates. The macrocosm and the microcosm are a reflection of each other.

Principle 3: Vibration

Summary: Nothing Rests; Everything Moves; Everything Vibrates.

Everything, even the grossest of matter is always in motion according to the principle of vibration.

We see some things as moving while others as still only because of their different rates of vibrations.

According to the Kybalion, Spirit has the highest vibratory rate to the extent that it is undetected. On the other hand, the most gross physical matter such as a stone may seem to be standing still, yet it is vibrating but at a very slow rate.

In between the Spirit and the grossest form of Matter are manifestations of various vibratory rates that can be manifested as matter, energy, mind, and spirit.

You have probably heard a phrase like ‘heavy emotions’, or ‘light-hearted’, meaning that even in the emotional plane, various feelings take up a corresponding vibrational magnitude.

If matter, emotions, energy, and so on were aligned on a scale based on their vibratory rates, the fast vibrating ones would be higher along the scale while the slow vibrating ones would be lower.

Principle 4: Polarity

Summary: Everything Is Dual; Everything Has Poles; Everything Has Its Pair Of Opposites; Like And Unlike Are The Same; Opposites Are Identical In Nature, But Different In Degree; Extremes Meet; All Truths Are But Half-Truths; All Paradoxes May Be Reconciled.

The law of polarity is interesting because it helps us understand that two things of opposing nature are actually identical, it is only the degree of their expression that varies.

Look at temperature for example, we feel cold in the absence of heat and warmth in the presence of heat. The absolute cold or hot cannot be determined as they are both variables in a continuum scale used to measure temperature. Therefore, both cold and hot are just bipolar attributes of heat.

At the emotional level, we may feel varying degrees of the same emotion. For example, the process that leads to loving someone who is good to you is the same that leads to the hatred of the same person if they betray or mistreat you. Love and hate come from the same emotional pole.

Like and Dislike, Expression and Depression, Active and Inactive, Light and Darkness, Good and Evil, and Truth and False, are other dual examples of identical things with different degrees of expression.

The importance of this principle is in showing that things of a dual or contradictory nature can be reconciled, after all, they are one and the same.

Principle 5: Rhythm

Summary: Everything Flows, Out And In; Everything Has Its Tides; All Things Rise And Fall; The Pendulum-Swing Manifests In Everything; The Measure Of The Swing To The Right Is The Measure Of The Swing To The Left; Rhythm Compensates.

A rhythm exists in life which is of equal magnitude whether up to down, left to right, or front to back. 

As we know by now, everything is always in motion. The principle of rhythm further details that circumstances do not stay in the same state forever.

Hence, no matter how you plan or live your life, there will always be days of joy and sorrow, rises and falls, success and failures, actions and reactions, intakes and outputs, sunshine and rain.

Even the manifestations of the universe itself go through a cyclic state of expansion and contraction, creation and destruction, life and death.

This law is important as it reminds us of the inevitability of the circumstances of nature. By being aware of the tides and ebbs in our lives, we can learn how to neutralize the effect of the pendulum swing.  

Principle 6: Cause and Effect

Summary: Every Cause Has Its Effect; Every Effect Has Its Cause; Everything Happens According To Law; Chance Is But A Name For Law Not Recognized; There Are Many Planes Of Causation, But Nothing Escapes The Law.

The principle of cause and effect is most likened to the concept of karma, that for every action (or inaction), there is a consequence.

The cause is generated from the mental plane, the mind where all creation begins as thoughts. The effect happens in the physical plane which experiences the consequences of the cause.

There is no such thing as good luck or bad luck as both are consequences of a cause playing out.

If one wants to change a negative effect, then one needs to be aware of the cause. Only the mind can be reprogrammed to create causes that generate positive effects.

Once a cause has been set in motion, the effects cannot be reversed unless the cause is changed. There is no escaping the effect of what you have caused.

In Hermeticism and various other mystical philosophies, it is believed that ignorance of causes is what leads to suffering.

Rather than reacting to effects, humans should uplift their consciousness to the mental plane to understand the cause and change it to have the desired effect.

Principle 7: Gender

Summary: Gender Is In Everything; Everything Has Its Masculine And Feminine Principles; Gender Manifests On All Planes.

In the physical plane, we understand the principle of gender as male and female. Worth noting is that the masculine and feminine aspects are present even beyond the physical being. For example, in atoms, we have positive (masculine) protons and negative (feminine) electrons.

In addition, every individual has both masculine and feminine principles even if they seem to manifest one polar on the physical plane of duality.

The masculine principle embodies attributes such as projection or extraversion, logic, analytical or scientific thinking, and directedness. On the other hand, the attributes of the feminine principle include inwardness or introversion, creative thinking, compassion, and holism.

The gender principle is important in creation, generation, or regeneration, not only of babies but of ideas, objects, worlds, and so forth.

Optimum success can only be achieved if both principles are applied in a balanced way, rather than promoting one and suppressing the other.


The 7 Hermetic principles describe the seemingly invisible laws that affect every visible aspect of our being. It helps to not only understand the theoretical presentation of these principles but figure out how to integrate them into practical, day-to-day life.