Hermes, later to be known as Hermes Trismegistus (The Thrice Greatest), studied the Craft of Natural Medicine under Aesculapius, a doctor so great that he was rumored to be the son of Apollo.
Hermes, in turn, became so wise and famous that he was deified as the planet MERCURY by the Romans, as the God THOTH by the Egyptians, and as the Phoenician God TAAUT.
Hermes invented many things necessary for the uses of life and named them. He is credited with the discovery of books and the art of writing. He uncovered the knowledge of the heavenly bodies, the Zodiac, and gave man ceremonies of honor to the Sun at each Zodiacal festival.
Wise in the ways of human nature, he urged men to worship the True God, that they should fast, that they should pray unceasingly, and that they should share their bounty with the needy.
He restored the Old Wisdom Teachings, with their music, dancing and group exercises to develop both mind and body, and taught them the science of numbers and music. He invented the lyre with three strings -- the dulcimer.
It was he who taught the Greeks the mode of classification of times and things, hence the name "Hermes," signifying "Interpreter."
Hermes started Schools of Wisdom in both Greece and Egypt. He gathered together a number of highly qualified men, and ordained them to be PRIESTS OF THE LIVING GOD. He taught them the Secrets of the Way, heretofore veiled in cryptic symbols. These secrets were communicated to his Initiates ONLY after a terrible oath never to reveal then, except to those who, after long trial, proved themselves worthy and capable of receiving them.
These Secrets, he called THE SACERDOTAL ARTS, and included Natural Medicine, Astrology, Magiism (Magic), the Science of the Mental World (Mental Science), and others. Much of this lore has been lost through the ages, but it is said that the remaining scraps of Hermetic Science still preserved by the Craft transcend all that the human mind is capable of conceiving. As Brother Chaucer said many years ago, "This life so short, and the Craft so long to learn."
The principle teachings of these Secret Schools were boiled down into nine Hermetic Principles which act as a teaching outline for Craft philosophy.
All the Great Masters of this science -- the Magi -- have been compelled to use symbol, allegory, parable, and figurative expressions for two reasons first, to teach those ready to learn: second, to conceal such advanced ideas from those not prepared to receive them.
Modern day teaching is no different. It is secret. "Do not cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, then turn on you and rend you" is the admonition of Jeshua ben Yuse (circa 7 b.c.).
The Hermetic Sciences are, at one and the same time, everything to everybody: a religion which surpasses religion for the religious; the grand philosophy for the thinker; a Way of Life for the Wise Ones and a natural science for the scientist.
One of the Grand Alchemic Principles states that something cannot be made from nothing. To make money, you must have money to use for seed. "Them as has, gets," says an old wise folk saying. Do you have enough wisdom to use as seed?