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Socrates and Sages

Socrates and Sages   by Robert Bruce Baird

You can easily see why it takes more than an Encyclopaedia to be able to follow what is going on from just this little quote. There are many twists and turns to follow in the pursuit of knowledge and its power that has been the purpose of many secret agencies since 'his'-story began. Even before the records of history that extend (by way of stones and symbols) to the beginnings of man's thoughts. These beginnings did not start with language due to some God-given gift and they did not need alphabets or other form and structure such as Locke's 'tabula rasa' would have us believe. Here we see the Jewish and Muslim as well as Catholic myth-makers were involved in cryptic or coded information. It is important to remember that the Islamic people didn't have as complete a 'Dark Ages' destruction of knowledge despite the efforts of Caliph Omar. Hermes Trismegistus is reckoned by many to have been the cause celebré or namesake of Hermetics and yet Barrett would have us believe he and his work did not exist until the Catholic Churchians had developed Hermeneutics. Talk about 'revisionist history' or Hellenized plagiarization!

"Hermes Trismegistus

There is considerable doubt as to when the works of Hermes Trismegistus were written, but it is certain that no one person by that name ever existed. The name means Hermes the thrice-greatest, Hermes being the Greek God of the spoken word - the 'logos' - identified with Mercury, the winged messenger God of the Romans, and with Thoth, the Egyptian God of writing, itself a magical activity not understood by the common man {Emphasis added.}.(Note that Mercury - both the astrological planet and the liquid metal - was of supreme importance in alchemy.) Thoth was the historian, and the creator of the all-important calendar by which not only history, but the movement of the Sun, Moon and stars could be measured. {Marshack is a well-respected authority and has proven a 15-30,000+ year old calendar of great precision existed in the Iberian region of Portugal.} As the scribe of the Gods Thoth was the custodian of all knowledge. Knowledge is power; knowledge known only to the few is even more so. Under the intermingling of philosophers and religious scholars of different cultures {Read propagandists or myth-makers}, Thoth/Hermes became the God of esoteric knowledge and power. A priest, philosopher or magician whose works were ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, was the human amanuensis of the Gods.

Whoever or how many people 'he' was {If Moses, then it would have involved his sister Mariae, who has alchemic treatises intact and credited to her, it might mean 'he' is a 'she'.}, Hermes Trismegistus was the author of what became known as the Hermetic texts, or the 'Corpus Hermeticum', a vast amount of writing on esoteric religion. (The complete 'Corpus Hermeticum' in English translation fills three large volumes.) {We will see more factual reference to thirteen.}

It was thought at one time that Hermes Trismegistus lived at around the time of Pythagoras, or perhaps of Moses; references in the Hermetic texts to the teachings of Jesus {Iesa would have been the original name in another language. Jesus of Nazareth was named after this concept of the sun [son] and 'Brotherhood of Man'.} were believed to be prophetic foreshadowings of these great truths. {If Jesus studied to find discipline and truth 'within' 'the living father' so should everyone. Thus the idea of an easy and accessible, by 'special dispensations’ and confessions type of 'Salvation' would not have such credibility or market acceptance. Pardon my coarse use of business terms to apply to the effort of these 'religious scholars' who like to be thought of as having 'Divine Inspiration'.} Later scholarship, however, has shown that the 'Corpus Hermeticum' was written sometime in the first five centuries AD, largely in Egypt, as a fusion of Greek and Egyptian esoteric teachings.

{But Michael Grant, in his well-respected 'The Rise of the Greeks' makes note that the cult of Thoth/Hermes and its equivalent 'Imhotep/Asklepios' was the main intellectual belief during the time of Pythagoras. Others know Pythagoras as a Therapeutae ['Dead Sea Scrolls Deception' by Baigent and Leigh, as well as Rabbis galore.] which is the origin of the Essenes that Gardner tells us are an outgrowth of 'The Great White (not racial) Brotherhood of Master Craftsmen'. The real answer is far more ancient, as we shall see, but for now it is important for you to know these things at a minimum, in order to judge what is being said.}

The Hermetic texts were known to Islamic scholars in medieval times, but it did not come to the attention of the West until they were translated into Latin in 1471 {There are others who even dispute this date. How did Albertus, Aquinas and Bacon get their knowledge? etc.} by the Italian Marsilio Ficino. The texts included works on religion, philosophy, magic, medicine, alchemy and astrology, all of which were closely linked. They include among many others the 'Emerald Tablet', or 'Tabula Smaragdina', which begins with the saying usually shortened to 'As Above, so below', {There is a great book of recent date by this name in New Age bookstores. Barrett uses the Dictum of Hermes Trismegistus on his back cover flap as it is taken from Macoy's 'General History, Cyclopedia and Dictionary of Freemasonry', 1850.} and which discusses the Philosopher's Stone; 'Poimandres', 'The Good Shepherd', a Gnostic text about the infinite light of God, and man's journey to enlightenment, and the 'Perfect Sermon of Asclepius {A variant of Asklepios which was mentioned before.} which speaks of the divine Unity above a hierarchy of spiritual beings, and of man, who possesses both body an spirit, having a divine nature." (2)

Thus you see the 'living father within' that Jesus taught about; and even Barrett admits the 'Source' of the teaching of Jesus is the Grail which has a lot to do with the Dag (or Nag) Hammadi 'finds’. These were deciphered from Coptic in 1971 and I highly recommend 'The Gospel of Thomas'. So the 'churchians' in hot pursuit of this knowledge the Gnostics hid in protective urns when they were defending Alexandria's Library through four attacks, also wanted to keep people 'ignorant'. Jesus did not! The Cathars were later genocidally dealt with in a Crusade. This IS serious business, and it was not long ago that anyone speaking such things would be the victim of 'Blasphemy Laws' (ended in 1951 in England) or worse. I can attest to major problems in my own life despite our apparent freedoms; but this is not the forum for such digressions.

It is important to deal with his assertion that Islamic scholars 'in medieval times' knew hermetics or alchemy. He seems to suggest in a back-handed way that there was no earlier date for these things even in the relatively free Islamic world. This is a lot like the 'flat earth' and a host of other fictions that seek to minimize knowledge before the obvious Empire-builders had destroyed the egalitarian (Gaian or matriarchal in some cases) truth, of even better times. Better than any yet achieved, not just better than Greeks who made an art of slavery and Romans who the Greeks correctly called 'barbarians'.

Forensic analysis is the science and art of detective work. It comes in handy to have been an owner of a Public Relations firm (after being an auditor) for twelve years as I wade through the possibilities of 'spin-doctoring' at work by the Bible Exegesists. They sometimes call themselves hermeneuts or other high-falutin' names that would get any bum a coffee, and some change. Here is the real perspective of the Arab scholars from a highly credible Encyclopedia from 1996:


Pythagoras is often mentioned in Arabic philosophy and in gnomic literature. Jaldake calls him 'al-mu' lallim al-awival' because he acquired the science from hermetic texts.

SOCRATES {Teacher of Plato and Aristotle, also mentioned as an alchemist in Mark Haeffner's 'Dictionary of Alchemy along with these same people. Yet no anthology of Aristotle in my local library mentions his 'Secretum Secretorum'.}

Socrates is considered not only as a wise man but also as an alchemist {HIS teacher Archelaos was too.}. Jabir calls him 'the father and mother of all philosophers' and considers him as the prototype of the real chemist. From Socrates to Jabir, there is a continuous tradition which attributes entire treatises to him {All kept from unwarranted viewers.}. Jabir affirms that Socrates was opposed to writing down of alchemic knowledge to avoid its exposition to the ignorance of the masses. Most references to Socrates refer to his arithmetical speculations (theory of balance) and also to artificial generation {Homonunclus to be covered more later.}.


In reference to his book the 'Liber Quartorum' he says: 'The contents of this book are mainly alchemic but it contains also information on geometry, physiology and astrology. The ancient authors cited are Aristotle, Ptolemy, Hipparchus, Proclus, the Sophists {Not alchemists and too open about their knowledge for the liking of Socrates who compared them to prostitutes who sell their beauty for money.}, Ostanes, Hermes, Asclepius and Hippocrates


He wrote a book on alchemy for his disciple Alexander… It includes three chapters (l) About the great principles of alchemy; (2) Alchemic operations; (3) The elixir. Pythagoras, Democritus, Asclepiades, Hermes, Plato, Ostanes, and Balins are mentioned in the text. We also have a dialogue between Aristotle and the Indian Ykh+n sent by the Indian king as messenger to Alexander...

Zosimus and his contemporaries {Third century AD. much after these others, and in line with what Barrett says.} who collected their predecessors' traditions insist on their connections with the Egypt of the Pharoahs or with the Persia of Zoroastra and Ostanes. We can find texts under the name of Agathodaiman compared with Hermes. Some written pieces even say that alchemic texts were engraved in hieroglyphs on steles {Stones that could be rubbed with charcoal and parchment would pick up the symbols and formulas - thus ancient libraries.) but it was absolutely forbidden to divulge them.


According to Ibn al-Nadim (351, 19) Arab alchemists considered the Babylonian Hermes as the first one to have mentioned the art of alchemy. Exiled by his countrymen, he came to Egypt where he became king {Guilds and knowledge were prerequisites to achieve high office in ancient times, for example the Tuatha de Danaan leader - Lugh.}. He wrote a certain number of books on alchemy and was equally interested in the hidden forces of nature.

The 'Fihrist' gives a list of thirteen books of Hermes about alchemy but in fact some of them are about magic." (3)

At the very least we can be assured that someone knows alchemists weren't hermits hiding in caves working on making manure into gold. That is the way many books and even Time/Life Video portrays them. They called Carl Jung an alchemist as well. That may be, in some definitions of the word; but I never read where Jung thought of himself in that manner even though he wrote a book on Psychology and Alchemy. His interest was more in the archetypal primordial symbology, and the truth aspects of it. If we were to accept Jung as an alchemist, then all Masons or at least the high level ones in Rosicrucianism are alchemists. It is true that some of the attendees at Eranos were alchemists and that Jung was a hermeticist, I suppose. It is not an easy title to throw around and I have been a student of these things for many years, but still wouldn't call myself an alchemist and certainly not a Spagyricist.

Many of the items and people mentioned will be dealt with as we proceed but there are many others who have traveled this awesome road in pursuit of something less than what is right. Personally I agree with Mr. Barrett about no one person being able to truly know so much. The 'Thrice-greatest' appellation is either psychopompous braggadocio or a guise to mislead. The Three laws of the magi require intense study and two would likely be the maximum that anyone has actually achieved unless we are to go back to the designer of the Great Pyramid. The application of all knowledge that exists in that one monument is beyond the perception of all but a few writers, among the hundreds of thousands who hold forth on its meaning.

It would be interesting if the Russians really did have the 'Philosopher's Stone' that some claim they are selling under the name of 'Red Mercury'. Atomic research is only one way of getting this kind of knowledge and I believe it requires spiritual knowledge and attunement as well. This perception is shared by alchemists who I have befriended, and by Rosicrucian inner sanctum people who think highly of my knowledge in the area. Paracelsus was a prodigy in the field and I have his formula for making the 'Stone'. It would not avail me any good to try to make it, unless I had prepared myself in the manner attributed to Jesus as he spent forty days in the desert without food and water. For esoteric scholars who have not traveled any distance along the path towards such attunements it makes little sense for them to comment on alchemy. Israel Regardie was Aleister Crowley's personal secretary and he wrote books on the subject as well as an educational approach from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (HOGD). In his book 'The Philosopher's Stone' he said the whole meaning was metaphoric for a spiritual transmutation only. Twenty-some years later when he did a reprint, he knew better.

About Author Robert Bruce Baird :

This is part of my book on Alchemy which is available at

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