To the word origin: also: Hermetics, Hermeticism, “Hermetic Art”; derived from Greek hermetic, medieval Latin meaning = “airtight and watertight, impenetrable” in the sense of “occult, closed, hardly accessible doctrine”; a movement or direction which deals with the revelation and secret doctrine of the legendary Hermes Trismegistos and which emerged in the first centuries after the turn of time. The Hermeticism of Manetho (3rd century BCE), Clemens of Alexandria (150-215), Laktanz (250-325), Iamblichos of Chalkis (250-330) and Augustine of Hippo (354-430) is testified and mentioned for the first time. The word “hermetic” in turn derives from the Greek god Hermes, who was called Mercurius (= Mercury) by the Latin Romans.
Hermes is the son of the father of the gods Zeus and the nymph Maia; his name in turn derives from the so-called “hermen” (singular: “herma”); these are stone heaps at roadsides and pastures which served to protect the herds of animals. Hermes therefore literally means “the one from the stone heap” and is a god of shepherds. – Immediately after his birth he proves himself to be an inventor, master thief and clever merchant: so he invents the lyre, then steals a herd of cattle from his half-brother – the shooter Apollon – and then – this time legally – trades it off against the lyre just invented by him, which he made from the shell of a turtle.
Hermes is a healer, the guardian of sleep and dreams He is also the soul guide who accompanies the souls into the underworld. He is also a god of wind, air and weather, the winged messenger of the gods who lives in three worlds: heaven, earth and the underworld. He is considered the inventor of writing and science as well as the art of interpretation and explanation. That is why his name has survived in the philosophical discipline of hermeneutics – the art of interpreting texts – to this day.
Hermes was equated with many gods of other cultures. For example, the Egyptian god Thoth was already called Hermes in Plato’s time. Thoth on the other hand is often identical with Re (Ra), the Egyptian sun god or Tahuti, the Egyptian god of time; the former being identical to Mithras.
Hermes was also called “Hermes Trismegistos” = “Hermes, the three times largest” or “Triple glorious Hermes”, since Thoth often received the nickname “the great” and his invocation was tripled. The god Thoth, Hermes Trismegistos, was the founder of alchemy and the author of the so-called hermetic writings, called Corpus Hermeticum (see also Chapter “Hermetic Texts“).