I recently read The Forbidden Universe by revisionist historians Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince. In the first part of the book, they argue that all the great minds who laid the foundations of modern science—including Copernicus, Kepler and most particularly Newton—were heavily influenced by the Corpus Hermeticum. This is a body of religious-philosophic teachings that sees the universe as a conscious entity with physical and non-physical dimensions. According to Picknett and Prince, the Hermeticum dates from the earliest days of Ancient Egypt.

In the second half of The Forbidden Universe, Picknett and Prince argue that over the last half-century neo-Darwinism has made little progress in explaining the flaws in evolutionary theory. Instead, growing numbers of scientists now view natural selection as only one component of a more complex creative force. This includes non-mechanistic ‘directionalities’—i.e. precisely what the Corpus Hermeticum has described for thousands of years.

Incontinent

The other constant between the two halves of The Forbidden Universe is the authors’ disparaging view of the New Age movement, which they go so far as describing as “incontinent.” This is ironic, giving that many of the leading New Age writers have advocated a Hermetic worldview for several decades now.

The blogs of writers like Denise Le Fey, Sandra Walter and Lisa Renee may seem senseless to the uninitiated. That is because they are twisting the technically strong English language into new structures to describe emotional experiences and mental states beyond the language’s borders. Understand the lexicon and they are no more incontinent than documents written in legalese or heavily academic jargon—or even the dense, tangled prose Charles Darwin used in his paradigm-breaking The Origin of Species.

Unlike Picknett and Prince, who have merely arrived at an intellectual understanding of the Hermeticum, what Le Fey et al are doing is actually embodying it, as described in Treatise XI of the Corpus: “Unless you make yourself equal to god, you cannot understand god; like is understood by like.” By consciously releasing existing mental and emotional blindfolds, they and others at the forefront of the New Age movement are expanding the parameters of what it means to be human.

Why then Picknett and Prince’s disdain for the New Age? Isn’t it exactly what they advocate?

Actually, no… they have a point—or, more accurately, half a point. While many people use New Age practices to increase their emotional cohesion, personal empowerment and wellbeing, others are quite simply stuck. They practise the rituals of the New Age but see little or no result.

God’s new clothes

For these people, the New Age appears to be simply the next religion on from Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. Its pantheon has expanded from single figures like Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed to include not only all of the above but Native American chieftains, archangels, pixies and fairies, and a host of other entities incarnate or otherwise.

While the Zoroastrian religion of the pre-Biblical era narrowed from polytheism to monotheism, the New Age movement has made the reverse transition—a return to polytheism

While the Zoroastrian religion of the pre-Biblical era narrowed from polytheism to monotheism, the New Age movement has made the reverse transition—a return to polytheism. Yet what has not changed for many is the emotional relationship between worshippers and worshipped.

It all comes down to that phrase in the Corpus: “make yourself equal to god.” What that means explicitly is: raise your self-worth. As long as people see themselves as worthless sinners, to use the Christian phrase, it matters not how many gods they choose, whether it’s many or none. The result will always be disempowerment. But “make yourself equal to god” and you will discover, as the Hermeticum has long told, a sense of meaning and oneness with the universe. Only then will the two faces of the New Age movement meld into one.

Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay. Composited and cropped to 16:9.