What is the Kybalion and the 7 Hermetic Principles?

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The 7 Hermetic Principles are a set of ancient tenets, passed down through the generations. They were codified into a book called The Kybalion in the 20th Century.

Depending on your point of view, The Kybalion, which is fabled to have been authored by the three anonymous ‘initiates’, is either a bunch of pseudo-scientific, half baked nonsense or it is an essential truth that has survived the ages which is only now being validated by recent breakthroughs in science, like the fourth state of water or the ‘observation effect’ in quantum physics.

The book states that it makes its appearance in one’s life when the time is appropriate, so make of that what you will dear reader. 

The Kybalion is purported to reflect the writings of Hermes Trismegistus – the personage of the Greek God Hermes and the Egyptian God Thoth from the time of the Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, who was associated with wisdom, learning, and literature. 

Some Christian writers considered Hermes Trismegistus to be a wise pagan prophet who foresaw the coming of Christianity, while the Islamic tradition regards the Prophet to be a direct descendant of Hermes Trismegistus. 

In some respects, The Kybalion Is not dissimilar to the Book of Proverbs from the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament. 

Understanding the 7 Hermetic Principles will help you understand where Napoleon Hill is coming from in Think and Grow Rich. 

The 7 Hermetic Principles Overview

  • Mind: Mind and everything is energy. The universe is mental. 
  • Correspondence: As it is above so what is below and as it is below so it is above – reflecting congruent qualities. 
  • Vibration: Nothing is stationary, everything vibrates giving off light, heat or sound.
  • Polarity: Everything is double, and everything has its opposite. 
  • Rhythm: All is ebb and flow as demonstrated by action and reaction advance and retreat. 
  • Cause & Effect: Nothing happens by chance, everything happens according to law. 
  • Generation: Generation is manifest in everything and in everything animate or inanimate is masculine and feminine

A Breakdown of the 7 Hermetic Principles

1. The principle of mentalism

7 Hermetic Principles

The first of the 7 Hermetic Principles asserts that all is mind; the universe is mental. For anything to exist, a thought had to first exist, which then formed a physical reality or manifestation. Your thoughts are seeds, plant positive scenes in your mind garden.

What we think we shall become. For more on this, see the summary of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.

When we have the right thoughts, the right action will follow. 

 2. Principle of correspondence

As above, so below; as below, so above. There are Physical, Mental, and Spiritual planes in which all things exist. 

Physical, Mental, and Spiritual are not separated but instead flow in the same line with different degrees of existence. 

3. Principle of Vibration 

7 Hermetic Principles Vibration

Nothing rests, and everything moves and vibrates. Matter, energy, mind and even spirit are the results only of different vibrations. Everything is in motion. We either vibrate in a state of harmony or in a state of chaos. This is within your control.

Transmutation (the idea that a thing can be changed from one state to another) is the practical application of this principle. To change one’s mental state is to change vibration. One may do this by will i.e. by deliberately fixing one’s intention upon a more desirable state.

4. Principle of Polarity 

7 Hermetic Principles Polarity

Everything has two poles, and everything has its opposite. There is hot and cold, light and dark, good and evil etc. We cannot have one without the other.

However, what appears as dualism is but unity in disguise. If we look at a thermometer, when does hot start and cold begin? Rather they are both of the same quality but different in degree. 

Everything “is” and “isn’t” at the same time. 

While I prefer to think that there is such a thing as objective reality, the Kybalion poses that all truths are but half-truths and every truth is half false; there are two sides to everything, opposites are identical in nature but are different in degree, extremes meet, and all paradoxes may be reconciled.

5. The Principle of Rhythm

7 Hermetic Principles Rhythm

In everything, there is manifested a measured motion, to and fro, backwards and forwards like a pendulum. This principle enables the transition from one pole to the other. The seasons change with the summer becoming winter. There are days when crops are greatly harvested and days when the seasons are too rough to plant.

If you understand this law, then you can learn to enjoy the rise and neutralise the falling season of your life.

6. Principle of Cause & Effect

7 Hermetic Principles Cause and Effect

There is a cause for every effect and an effect for every cause. There is no such thing as chance; chance is merely a term indicating extant causes not recognized or perceived.

By dominating our moods, characters, qualities, and powers, we become masters of ourselves. In careful consideration of the cause, we can lead to a better effect. 

7. Principle of Gender

Gender (i.e. not just physical sex but its generative function “…to beget, to procreate, to generate, to create, or to produce…” is manifested in everything. 

In Taoist alchemy, masculine and feminine or believe to be the same energy in different forms i.e. Yin and Yang. 

People should aim to have a balanced mental gender. 

According to The Kybalion, the feminine principle leans in the direction of receiving impressions. The feminine conducts the work of generating new thoughts, concepts and ideas, including the work of the imagination and the subconscious. 

The masculine principle leans in the direction of giving, making or expressing. Without the feminine, the masculine is apt to act without restraint resulting in chaos. The feminine alone is apt to constantly reflect and fail to actually do anything, resulting in stagnation. With both the masculine and feminine working in conjunction and cooperation, there is thoughtful action that breeds success, which shows that both the feminine and masculine fulfill each other.