Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems was nothing but a concept to me many years ago. Back then, if somebody had stopped me down the street to tell me I’d be writing sequels to popular ancient Egyptian tales, myths and legends associated with hermetics and esoteric knowledge I probably would have told them to take a hike. But the ability of time to morph us as individuals is somewhat of a miracle, and what began as a slight interest in Egyptian history, mythology and its relation to biblical events many years ago soon sprouted into an obsessive fascination with hermetic philosophy, alchemy and old tales and legends which had long been absent from the consciousness of the Western world.
Sometime in 2006, I began delving into Egyptian mythology and noticed that many of the myths and legends seemed disjointed. Those familiar with world mythology would know about the love affair between the sibling deities Isis and Osiris, the subsequent Contendings of Horus and Seth and other stories about gods and mortals but has anybody ever stopped to ponder if other relevant literature once existed which bridged all of these myths together into a single, cohesive worldview? What is true is that during those times the word of mouth was much preferred to the written word. It is also true that much has been lost from ancient Egypt. What can be inferred from these conclusions is that the majority of folklore was passed down from the elders of communities to their offspring by word of mouth. In time, many of these literary treasures were lost to the inheritance of humanity. What was left behind were only remnants of the more popular ones but even they were not preserved in their original form. The love story of Isis and Osiris was first communicated to the Western world by the Greek writer Plutarch (C. AD. 46-c. 126) millennia after it was first conceived, so it is possible the original oral version was completely different to the one we learn about in mythology and history textbooks today.
After pondering on what other literature might have existed, I began writing verse drama which connected many of the myths together and expanded on some of the better known ones. My keen interests in alchemy, astrology and philosophy where also thrown into the mixing bowl and what I ended up scooping out of it was a hybrid book of both poetry and prose that explicated what that world of oral Egyptian mythology might have been like before it was extinguished forever. The book’s main focus was oral and written folklore, although alchemy ended up as one of the main pillars supporting the entire work. In fact, three of the stories in it – Creation Myth, The Contendings of Hathor and Anti, and The Flawed Mirror are all about spiritual alchemy, the magical transformation of consciousness into the material universe. The last of these is also the aorta of the book’s heart. It is the piece most influenced by hermetics and esoteric knowledge and was based on a lucid dream I had where a woman swathed in black clothes and a veil told me the meaning of life and why the universe had come to be. As you might imagine, when I woke up I’d forgotten everything. The language of the unconscious mind only makes sense when you’re sleeping. When you awake, it either seems illogical or you’ve forgotten it altogether.
In time, Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems shaped up to becoming a literary collection comprised of an assortment of folkloristic devices; a testament to the fact that ancient folklore found expression in variant literary forms. I made good use of the sacred number seven as well, ensuring that the poetics section was divided into seven categories – alchemica, astrologica, mythologica, philosophica, musica and erotica. Similarly, I picked only seven for the verse drama despite having written more. A symbologist reading this book would be quite impressed by the obvious and sometimes not so obvious symbols that appear throughout the stories. I feel I’ve layered it beyond belief.
Oral and written folklore, old or new, continues to influence and shape our lives unconsciously. It matters little whether the compositions originate in ancient Egypt, medieval Europe or modern-day America – they may well speak our under different guises, but they always communicate the same morals and archetypal themes. It is to this world that we return to every night; an irrational world of epic and dramatic poetry. We all exist someplace there – in one of the verses of Hermetica – treading a fine line between reason and magic.