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The Kybalion – Three Initiates (1908)

I have known about The Kybalion for decades, but I never intended to read it. Just a contemporary book claiming to be Hermetic, right? For some reason the book gets renewed attention and I kept running into references. I decided to see what it is all about.

The “three initiates” are probably just “the New Thought pioneer William Walker Atkinson (1862–1932)” (Wikipedia). This -indeed- is also how the book reads. ‘Modern science’ of a century ago, references to authors of these days, obvious ‘New Thought’ ideas.

Just as I thought, the author(s) refer to the “ancient text” Kybalion, quoting it and explaining the quotes. None of these quotes seem to be ‘genuinely Hermetic’. The book has got the famous and often quoted “Seven Hermetic Principles” which are mostly just variations to the idea of duality. They are the principles of “mentalism”, “correspondence”, “vibration”, “polarity”, “rhythm”, “cause and effect” and “gender”. It is amazing how often these principles are quoted, but I really wonder how these were distilled from Hermetic texts.

It is not like the book is entirely without interesting thoughts, but it has little to do with Hermetism. It is really but a child of its time and from a fairly specific line of thought too. Yet the book remains to be influential. Even the most famous Hermetic saying “As above, so below; as below, so above” comes from the Kybalion. I do not think this wording is used in any traditional Hermetic text.

Nothing more than a ‘page through and move on’ text to me.

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