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Hermetic herbalism and pharmacology

Disease is unnatural, and there is evidence that there is a maladjustment within or between organs or tissues. Permanent health cannot be regained until harmony is restored. The outstanding virtue of Hermetic medicine was its recognition of spiritual and psychophysical derangements as being largely responsible for the condition which is called the physical disease. Suggestive therapy as used with marked success by the priest-physicians of the ancient world.  Among the American Indians, the Shamans or “Medicine Men” dispelled sickness with the aid of mysterious dances, invocations and charms. The fact that in spite of their ignorance of modern methods of medical treatment these sorcerers effected innumerable cures, is well worthy of consideration. The Egyptian and the Brahmin worlds undoubtedly understood the fundamental principles of vibrotherapeutics. By means of chants and mantras, which emphasized certain vowel and consonant sounds, they set up vibratory reactions which dispelled congestions and assisted Nature in reconstructing members and depleted organisms.

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The herbs of the fields were sacred to the early pagans, who believed that the gods had made plants for the cure of human ills. When properly prepared and applied, each root and shrub could be used for the alleviation of suffering, or for the development of spiritual, mental, moral, or physical powers. In The Mistletoe and its philosophy, P.  Davidson pays the following beautiful tribute to the plant “Books have been written on the language of flowers and herbs, the poet from the earliest ages has held the sweetest and most loving converse with them, kings are even glad to obtain their essences at second hand to perfume themselves; but to the true physician – Nature’s High-Priest – they speak in a far higher and more exalted strain. There is not such a plant or mineral which has disclosed the last of its properties to scientists. How can they feel confident that for every one of the discovered properties there may not be many powers concealed in the inner nature of the plant? Well, have flowers been called the “Stars of the Earth” and why they should be beautiful? Have they not from the time of their birth smiled in the splendour of the sun by day, and slumbered under brightness of the stars by night? Have they not come from another and more spiritual world to our earth, seeing that God made “every plant of the field Before it was in the earth and every herb of the field Before it grew.”

The art of healing was originally one of the secret sciences of the priestcraft, and the mystery of its source is obscured by the same veil which hides the genesis of the religious belief. All forms of higher knowledge were originally in the possession of the sacerdotal (priestly) castes. The temple was the cradle of civilisation. All branches of learning were monopolised by the priesthood, who admitted into their ranks only those intellectually and morally qualified to perpetuate their Arcanum.

According to the Hermetic philosophers, there were seven primary causes of diseases. The first was evil spirits. These were regarded as creatures born of degenerated actions, subsisting on the vital energies of those to whom they attached themselves. The second cause was a derangement of the spiritual nature and the material nature: these two, failing to coordinate, produced mental and physical subnormality. The third was an unhealthy or abnormal mental attitude. Melancholia, morbid emotions, excess of feeling, such as passions, lusts, greed, and hates, affected the mumia, from which they reacted into the physical body, where they resulted in ulcers, tumors, cancers, fevers, and tuberculosis. The ancients viewed the disease germ as a unit of mumia which had been impregnated with the emanations from evil influences which it had contacted. In other words, germs were minute creatures born out of man’s evil thoughts and actions. The fourth cause of disease was what the Orientals called Karma, that is the law of compensation, which demanded that the individual pay in full the indiscretions and delinquencies of the past. The fifth cause was the motion and aspects of heavenly bodies. The stars did not compel the sickness but rather impelled it. The Hermetists that a strong and wise man ruled the stars, but that a negative, weak person was ruled by them. These five causes of disease are all superphysical in nature. They must be estimated by inductive and deductive reasoning and a careful consideration of the life and temperament of the patient.

The sixth cause of the disease was a misuse of faculty, organ, or function, such as overstraining a member or overtaxing the nerves. The seventh cause of disease was the presence in the system of foreign substances, impurities, or obstructions.

According to the Hermetists, disease could be prevented or successfully combatted in seven ways. First by spells and invocations, in which the physician ordered the evil spirit causing the disease to depart from the patient. The second method of healing was by vibration. The inharmonies of the bodies were neutralised by chanting spells and intoning the sacred names or by playing musical instruments and singing. The third method was with the aid of talismans, charms, and amulets. The ancient believed that the planets controlled the functions of human body and that by making charms out of different metals they could combat the malignant influences of the various stars. The fourth method was by the aid of herbs and simples. The fifth method of healing disease was by prayer. The sixth method – prevention than cure – was the regulation of the diet and daily habits of life. The seventh method was the “practical medicine” consisting chiefly of bleeding, purging and similar lines of treatment.

The so-called “new discoveries” of modern science are often only rediscoveries of secrets well known to the priest and philosophers of ancient pagandom. Man’s inhumanity to man has resulted in the loss of records and formulae which, had they been preserved, would have solved many of the greatest problems of civilization.


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