The Emerald Tablet
The Emerald Tablet, is the smallest of all the Sacred texts, with the actual text of the Tablet, easily fitting on a single sheet of letter sized paper. Although small, the Emerald Tablet has had an influence far greater than the nine to fourteen lines, of the various translations, would lead one to believe. This Sacred Text has captured the imagination of Hermeticists and Alchemists, who for centuries, prized it as the highest of all possible human Knowledge and as one of the foundation documents of Alchemy and Hermeticism. The Knowledge contained in the Emerald Tablet, concerned the “Philosopher’s Stone” which is a magical, immortal, multiplying, substance that “descends from Heaven” and “arises from the earth.” The Stone can transmute itself and other substances from a base level to a higher level and that this power of transmutation also worked in Men. The Stone is the only source of the very best medicine known, which they called by the Arabic name “Elixir”. The Medieval and Renaissance era Alchemists and Hermeticists believed that the Emerald Tablet was totally, completely, and only about the Philosophers Stone. It has to be pointed out that the Philosophers Stone is the original focal point of the Emerald Tablet, since for the last few hundred years more and more esoteric, spiritual and philosophical interpretations of the Emerald Tablet have been developed. Most of these “newer” “spiritual” interpretations completely ignore the reality of the Philosophers Stone, which is at the very heart of the Emerald Tablet. Read this short commentary at Sacred-texts Hortulanus Commentary on the Emerald Tablet to learn more about the Philosopher's Stone. There are many similarities between the Medieval Hermetic and Alchemical “Philosophers Stone” and the “living stone” of early Eucharistic Christianity, 1 Peter 2:1-4 “1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.” This quote states that the “Lord” can be “tasted” that it is a “living stone” “disallowed by men” but “chosen” by “God” and “precious”, not suprisingly these lines are almost never quoted by modern Christian Churchs.
Below is a version created by Donald E. Teeter by taking the Emerald Tablet's various English translations and choosing the clearest line of the various translations and rebuilding the Emerald Tablet up line by line. Where the translations used the word “it” at the beginning of a sentence, “the Stone”, “the Philosophers Stone”, or “our Stone” was substituted for easier reading and understanding. Photos were added to further illuminate the Emerald Tablet's meaning.
The Emerald Tablet
(C)2008 Donald E.Teeter
1 These words are True, concerning the Stone of the Philosophers.
2 What rises above, comes from that left below, and what is below comes from the above, to work the miracle of creation of the One Stone.
3 All things originated from the Philosophers Stone by a single process.
4 The Stone’s Father is the Sun, its Mother is the Moon.
5 The Wind carried the Stone in its womb, the Earth breast fed it.
6 The Stone is the Father of all ‘works of wonder' in the world,
its power is complete.
7 With the color of Fire and ashes, our Stone comes up from the earth,
You must separate the earth from the Stone, the precious from the gross, gently with great industry.
8 The Stone, arises from the earth and descends from heaven;
thus it gathers to itself the strength of all things above and all things below.
9 Thus when you have the Philosophers Stone, the light of lights,
the darkness of ignorance will flee away from you.
10 In the Stone is power, strong with the strength of all power,
for the Stone will penetrate all mysteries and dispel all ignorance.
11 Thus, was the world of Man created.
12 In the future wonderful developments will be made,
and the Philosophers Stone, is the Way.
13 I am Hermes the Threefold Sage,
so named because I hold the three elements of all Wisdom,
the Animal, the Mineral and the Vegetable.
History of the Tablet
History of the Tablet (largely summarised from Needham 1980, & Holmyard 1957)
The Tablet probably first appeared in the West in editions of the psuedo-Aristotlean Secretum Secretorum which was actually a translation of the Kitab Sirr al-Asar, a book of advice to kings which was translated into latin by Johannes Hispalensis c. 1140 and by Philip of Tripoli c.1243. Other translations of the Tablet may have been made during the same period by Plato of Tivoli and Hugh of Santalla, perhaps from different sources.
The date of the Kitab Sirr al-Asar is uncertain, though c.800 has been suggested and it is not clear when the tablet became part of this work. Holmyard was the first to find another early arabic version (Ruska found a 12th centruy recension claiming to have been dictated by Sergius of Nablus) in the Kitab Ustuqus al-Uss al-Thani (Second Book of the Elements of Foundation) attributed to Jabir. Shortly after Ruska found another version appended to the Kitab Sirr al-Khaliqa wa San`at al-Tabi`a (Book of the Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature), which is also known as the Kitab Balaniyus al-Hakim fi'l-`Ilal (book of Balinas the wise on the Causes). It has been proposed that this book was written may have been written as early as 650, and was definitely finished by the Caliphate of al-Ma'mun (813-33).
Scholars have seen similarities between this book and the Syriac Book of Treasures written by Job of Odessa (9th century) and more interestingly the Greek writings of the bishop Nemesius of Emesa in Syria from the mid fourth century. However though this suggests a possible Syriac source, non of these writings contain the tablet.
Balinas is usually identified with Apollonius of Tyna, but there is little evidence to connect him with the Kitab Balabiyus, and even if there was,the story implies that Balinas found the tablet rather than wrote it, and the recent discoveries of the dead sea scrolls and the nag hamamdi texts suggest that hiding texts in caves is not impossible, even if we did not have the pyramids before us.
Ruska has suggested an origin further east, and Needham has proposed an origin in China. Holmyard, Davis and Anon all consider that this Tablet may be one of the earliest of all alchemical works we have that survives.
It should be remarked that apparently the Greeks and Egyptians used the term translated as `emerald' for emeralds, green granites, "and perhaps green jasper". In medieval times the emerald table of the Gothic kings of Spain, and the Sacro catino- a dish said to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba, to have been used at the last supper, and to be made of emerald, were made of green glass [Steele and Singer: 488].
From Jabir ibn Hayyan.
0) Balinas mentions the engraving on the table in the hand of Hermes, which says:
1) Truth! Certainty! That in which there is no doubt!
2) That which is above is from that which is below, and that which is below is from that which is above, working the miracles of one.
3) As all things were from one.
4) Its father is the Sun and its mother the Moon.
5) The Earth carried it in her belly, and the Wind nourished it in her belly,
7) as Earth which shall become Fire.
7a) Feed the Earth from that which is subtle, with the greatest power.
8) It ascends from the earth to the heaven and becomes ruler over that which is above and that which is below.
14) And I have already explained the meaning of the whole of this in two of these books of mine.
[Holmyard 1923: 562.]
Another Arabic Version (from the German of Ruska, translated by ‘Anonymous').
0) Here is that which the priest Sagijus of Nabulus has dictated concerning the entrance of Balinas into the hidden chamber... After my entrance into the chamber, where the talisman was set up, I came up to an old man sitting on a golden throne, who was holding an emerald table in one hand. And behold the following - in Syriac, the primordial language- was written thereon:
1) Here (is) a true explanation, concerning which there can be no doubt.
2) It attests: The above from the below, and the below from the above -the work of the miracle of the One.
3) And things have been from this primal substance through a single act. How wonderful is this work! It is the main (principle) of the world and is its maintainer.
4) Its father is the sun and its mother the moon; the
5) wind has borne it in its body, and the earth has nourished it.
6) the father of talismen and the protector of miracles
6a) whose powers are perfect, and whose lights are confirmed (?),
7) a fire that becomes earth.
7a) Separate the earth from the fire, so you will attain the subtle as more inherent than the gross, with care and sagacity.
8) It rises from earth to heaven, so as to draw the lights of the heights to itself, and descends to the earth; thus within it are the forces of the above and the below;
9) because the light of lights within it, thus does the darkness flee before it.
10) The force of forces, which overcomes every subtle thing and penetrates into everything gross.
11) The structure of the microcosm is in accordance with the structure of the macrocosm.
12) And accordingly proceed the knowledgeable.
13) And to this aspired Hermes, who was threefold graced with wisdom.
14) And this is his last book, which he concealed in the chamber.
[Anon 1985: 24-5]
Twelfth Century Latin
0) When I entered into the cave, I received the tablet zaradi, which was inscribed, from between the hands of Hermes, in which I discovered these words:
1) True, without falsehood, certain, most certain.
2) What is above is like what is below, and what is below is like that which is above. To make the miracle of the one thing.
3) And as all things were made from contemplation of one, so all things were born from one adaptation.
4) Its father is the Sun, its mother is the Moon.
5) The wind carried it in its womb, the earth breast fed it.
6) It is the father of all ‘works of wonder' (Telesmi) in the world.
6a) Its power is complete (integra).
7) If cast to (turned towards- versa fuerit) earth,
7a) it will separate earth from fire, the subtile from the gross.
8) With great capacity it ascends from earth to heaven. Again it descends to earth, and takes back the power of the above and the below.
9) Thus you will receive the glory of the distinctiveness of the world. All obscurity will flee from you.
10) This is the whole most strong strength of all strength, for it overcomes all subtle things, and penetrates all solid things.
11a) Thus was the world created.
12) From this comes marvelous adaptions of which this is the proceedure.
13) Therefore I am called Hermes, because I have three parts of the wisdom of the whole world.
14) And complete is what I had to say about the work of the Sun, from the book of Galieni Alfachimi.
[From Latin in Steele and Singer 1928: 492.]
Translation from Aurelium Occultae Philosophorum..Georgio Beato
1) This is true and remote from all cover of falsehood
2) Whatever is below is similar to that which is above. Through this the marvels of the work of one thing are procured and perfected.
3) Also, as all things are made from one, by the condsideration of one, so all things were made from this one, by conjunction.
4) The father of it is the sun, the mother the moon.
5) The wind bore it in the womb. Its nurse is the earth, the mother of all perfection.
6a)Its power is perfected.
7) If it is turned into earth,
7a) separate the earth from the fire, the subtle and thin from the crude and course, prudently, with modesty and wisdom.
8) This ascends from the earth into the sky and again descends from the sky to the earth, and receives the power and efficacy of things above and of things below.
9) By this means you will acquire the glory of the whole world, and so you will drive away all shadows and blindness.
10) For this by its fortitude snatches the palm from all other fortitude and power. For it is able to penetrate and subdue everything subtle and everything crude and hard.
11a) By this means the world was founded
12) and hence the marvelous cojunctions of it and admirable effects, since this is the way by which these marvels may be brought about.
13) And because of this they have called me Hermes Tristmegistus since I have the three parts of the wisdom and Philsosphy of the whole universe.
14) My speech is finished which i have spoken concerning the solar work
[Davis 1926: 874.]
Translation of Issac Newton c. 1680.
1) Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
2) That wch is below is like that wch is above & that wch is above is like yt wch is below to do ye miracles of one only thing.
3) And as all things have been & arose from one by ye mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
4) The Sun is its father, the moon its mother,
5) the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth its nourse.
6) The father of all perfection in ye whole world is here.
7) Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
7a) Seperate thou ye earth from ye fire, ye subtile from the gross sweetly wth great indoustry.
8) It ascends from ye earth to ye heaven & again it desends to ye earth and receives ye force of things superior & inferior.
9) By this means you shall have ye glory of ye whole world & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
10) Its force is above all force. ffor it vanquishes every subtile thing & penetrates every solid thing.
11a) So was ye world created.
12) From this are & do come admirable adaptaions whereof ye means (Or process) is here in this.
13) Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of ye philosophy of ye whole world.
14) That wch I have said of ye operation of ye Sun is accomplished & ended.
[Dobbs 1988: 183-4.]
From Fulcanelli (translated from the French by Sieveking)
1) This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:-
2) As below, so above; and as above so below. With this knowledge alone you may work miracles.
3) And since all things exist in and eminate from the ONE Who is the ultimate Cause, so all things are born after their kind from this ONE.
4) The Sun is the father, the Moon the mother;
5) the wind carried it in his belly. Earth is its nurse and its guardian.
6) It is the Father of all things,
6a) the eternal Will is contained in it.
7) Here, on earth, its strength, its power remain one and undivded.
7a) Earth must be separated from fire, the subtle from the dense, gently with unremitting care.
8) It arises from the earth and descends from heaven; it gathers to itself the strength of things above and things below.
9) By means of this one thing all the glory of the world shall be yours and all obscurity flee from you.
10) It is power, strong with the strength of all power, for it will penetrate all mysteries and dispel all ignorance.
11a) By it the world was created.
12) From it are born manifold wonders, the means to achieving which are here given
13) It is for this reason that I am called Hermes Trismegistus; for I possess the three essentials of the philosophy of the universe.
14) This is is the sum total of the work of the Sun.
[Sadoul 1972: 25-6.]
From Fulcanelli, new translation
1) It is true without untruth, certain and most true:
2) that which is below is like that which is on high, and that which is on high is like that which is below; by these things are made the miracles of one thing.
3) And as all things are, and come from One, by the mediation of One, So all things are born from this unique thing by adaption.
4) The Sun is the father and the Moon the mother.
5) The wind carries it in its stomach. The earth is its nourisher and its receptacle.
6 The Father of all the Theleme of the universal world is here.
6a) Its force, or power, remains entire,
7) if it is converted into earth.
7a) You separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, gently with great industry.
8) It climbs from the earth and descends from the sky, and receives the force of things superior and things inferior.
9) You will have by this way, the glory of the world and all obscurity will flee from you.
10) It is the power strong with all power, for it will defeat every subtle thing and penetrate every solid thing
11a) In this way the world was created.
12) From it are born wonderful adaptations, of which the way here is given.
13) That is why I have been called Hermes Tristmegistus, having the three parts of the universal philosophy.
14) This, that I have called the solar Work, is complete.
[Translated from Fulcanelli 1964: 312.]
From Idres Shah
1) The truth, certainty, truest, without untruth.
2 )What is above is like what is below. What is below is like what is above. The miracle of unity is to be attained.
3) Everything is formed from the contemplation of unity, and all things come about from unity, by means of adaptation.
4) Its parents are the Sun and Moon.
5) It was borne by the wind and nurtured by the Earth.
6) Every wonder is from it
6a) and its power is complete.
7) Throw it upon earth,
7a) and earth will separate from fire. The impalbable separated from the palpable.
8) Through wisdom it rises slowly from the world to heaven. Then it descends to the world combining the power of the upper and the lower.
9 )Thus you will have the illumination of all the world, and darkness will disappear.
10) This is the power of all strength- it overcomes that which is delicate and penetrates through solids.
11a) This was the means of the creation of the world.
12) And in the future wonderful developements will be made, and this is the way.
13) I am Hermes the Threefold Sage, so named because I hold the three elements of all wisdom.
14) And thus ends the revelation of the work of the Sun.
(Shah 1964: 198).
Hypothetical Chinese Original
1) True, true, with no room for doubt, certain, worthy of all trust.
2) See, the highest comes from the lowest, and the lowest from the highest; indeed a marvelous work of the tao.
3) See how all things originated from It by a single process.
4) The father of it (the elixir) is the sun (Yang), its mother the moon (Yin).
5) The wind bore it in its belly, and the earth nourished it.
6 )This is the father of wondrous works (changes and transformations), the guardian of mysteries,
6a) perfect in its powers, the animator of lights.
7) This fire will be poured upon the earth...
7a) So separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, acting prudently and with art.
8) It ascends from the earth to the heavens (and orders the lights above), then descends again to the earth; and in it is the power of the highest and the lowest.
9) Thus when you have the light of lights darkness will flee away from you.
10) With this power of powers (the elixir) you shall be able to get the mastery of every subtle thing, and be able to penetrate everything that is gross.
11a) In this way was the great world itself formed.
12) Hence thus and thus marvellous operations will be acheived.
[Slightly altered from Needham 1980: 371.]
Sacred-texts Emerald Tablet
The Alchemy Web Site Emerald Tablet of Hermes
A Hyper-History of the Emerald Tablet
Wikipedia Emerald Tablet