The Emerald Tablet
Sifting through the massive amount of information circulating about The Secret, I latched onto the Emerald Tablet, which those of you who have seen the DVD or read the book, know holds equal footing with Wattles as the basis for Rhonda Byrne‘s quest.
What is the Emerald Tablet? What are the facts? Are there any? I did some research and present here an article that combines both LEGEND and FACT. The designation as such is a result of my research.
The Emerald Tablet
In the beginning of the film The Secret, you see:
LEGEND: an Egyptian scribe taking a rubbing from a slab of green stone, which he then buries in the sands outside of the Great Pyramids of Giza.
FACT: That green slab is known by several names: The Emerald Tablet, the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, tabula smaragdina (Latin/Greek), Smaragdine Tablet, Tablet Zaradi, and the Secret of Hermes.
LEGEND: From the supposed text of this tablet are evolved the centuries-long study of alchemy, and the root philosophy underpinning the Law of Attraction as described in Rhonda Byrne’s book and film, The Secret.
What is The Emerald Tablet anyway? Who wrote it and what does it say that makes it so earth- or paradigm-shattering?
FACT: The text is very symbolic verse, comprised of 13-14 stanzas, only known western translation in Latin. LEGEND: It had a revolutionary impact on the medieval world because it supposedly contained in its mystical verses the alchemical instructions for the creation of gold from more common metals. Esoterically, it contained the formula for raising one’s level of consciousness to new heights.
FACT: In the modern sense, both of these concepts deal with the elemental transformation of energy.
LEGEND: The Emerald Tablet is inscribed with 13-14 stanzas that contain, for the initiate, an entire system of tradition and modern magic. If there was such a tablet, would it have been made of emerald?
FACT: The Egyptians and Greeks used the same term for emeralds, green granite and often green jasper. The Egyptians had been producing works of art in faïence for thousands of years, a quasi-ceramic, glass-like process which can produce colors from bright turquoise blue to deep green. Given the Egyptian predilection for inscriptions on faïence, it is not unthinkable that such a emerald-colored tablet could have been produced. Glass making was well-developed at that time, but would have been more difficult to inscribe.
LEGEND: It was written in Hellenist (Greek) Egypt (300-50 BC) by a man-god named Hermes Trismegistus which is
FACT: Greek for “Hermes, the thrice-greatest.” Hermes is also the name of the Greek God of writing, magic and communication. The Hellenist Egyptians tended to combine Hermes with Thoth, who is the Egyptian God of writing and wisdom. Hermes Trismegistus was 1)
FACT: real scholar or sage,
LEGEND: 2) a legendary sage or 3) a god combining the attributes of Hermes and Thoth.
FACT: The name Hermes Trismegistus does appear in some sources; he is credited with having several wives. More than one son took his name and he had a grandson also with the name. That might account for
LEGEND: the myth that he lived an incredibly long life.
FACT: The Catholic Church had enough belief in his existence to make a floor mosaic of him in the Cathedral of Siena, Italy.
FACT: The Arabic book Kitab Balaniyus al-Hakim fi’l Ilal (Book of Balinas the Wise on Causes) contains verse from the Emerald Tablet, giving rise to a belief that Balinas is the author.
LEGEND: But the story goes that Balinas found the tablet, rather than wrote it. One version is that he entered a hidden chamber with an old man sitting on a golden throne, the emerald tablet in his hand. The inscribed language was Syriac, a branch of Aramaic, and he christened it “Tablet Zaradi.” Another legend is that the tablet was found in a caved tomb, clutched in the hands of the corpse of Hermes Trismegistus himself, that it was written in Phoenician and revealed the magical secrets of the universe.
FACT: The first documented language is Arabic, but if it is indeed a document that predates the Arabic period, it would have been written in another language. If Hermes Trismegistus did exist in Hellenist Egypt and if the tablet actually existed, and if the tablet was written by Hermes, then it would probably have been written in Greek. Greek was the language of government and literature in that period of Egyptian culture. Civil service exams were given in Greek and all formal education as well. The language of the Pharonic Egyptians, which today we know as Coptic, was preserved through the transliteration of the tongue previously written by hieroglyphs, demotic or heretic, into the Greek alphabet with the addition of seven new letters. That copies could have been made in cotemporal languages is obvious.
LEGEND: It is unlikely that it would have been written in Phoenician, which would have been a language that pre-dated Hellenist Egypt. Of course, it could be that the tablet was not written by Hermes Trismegistus at all, 1) because he never existed, or 2) he himself translated older texts.
FACT: Plato’s Timaeus and Critias, two of Plato’s dialogues, speak of a Temple of the Goddess Neith at Sais, (Zau in pharonic Egypt and Sa el-Hagar today) in the Nile Delta.
LEGEND: supposedly has a secret hall that contains historical records kept for 9,000 years.
FACT: Herodotus in his eye witness accounts of Egypt tells of Sais’ many temples, royal palaces and tombs.
FACT: Archaeologists have argued that the Temple of Neith rivaled Karnak in size and splendor.
LEGEND: Some believers suggest that there are 42 essential texts containing core religious beliefs that remain hidden in a secret library.
FACT: This might be rooted in the writings of Clement of Alexandria who believed the Egyptians had 42 sacred writings by Hermes which contained the mystical training of Egyptian priests.
LEGEND: Certainly this belief in a mysticism predating Hellenist Egypt is the explanation for those who claim that the Emerald Tablet (or the magical verse it contains) is older than the 2000-2300 years if attributed to Hermes.
FACT: The impact of the West’s belief in Hermes and his authorship of the Emerald Tablet, which has been the cornerstone of the alchemist movement for over a thousand years, are evidenced by the adoption of his name into our vocabulary. “Hermetic literature“ is a category of papyri which supposedly contain spells and induction procedures. All through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the writings of Hermes Trismegistus were known as “Hermetica” and laid down the ground rules for alchemists in the known world.
LEGEND: He is credited with thousands of writings, his research on works from the most ancient of times.
FACT: The Hermetic tradition includes alchemy, magic, astrology and related subjects. There are two categories: philosophical, which deals with philosophy or spiritual mysticism, and technical which involve magic, potions and alchemy. This was taken very seriously in its day. Sir Isaac Newton, who laid the groundwork for modern physics, was himself an alchemist. The common description of being “hermetically sealed” actually derives from the spells which were pronounced to protect objects.
FACT: The Hermetic literature (Hermetica) is composed almost exclusively of Greek text documents attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. The translation of the Emerald Tablet, the most important of texts is the only non-Greek part of Hermetica and the one that is attracting the most attention today. The alchemists had their run with it for centuries. Now it is fully in the public eye due to the immense popularity of The Secret.