Body – Soul – Spirit
While reading “The Hermetica: The Lost Wisdom of the Pharaohs” translated by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, there is a section dedicated on sayings regarding “souls.” Texts relating to souls have always interested me. Gnostic literature features quite a few texts detailing the soul’s journey and I was happy to see this continue in Hermeticism. The soul is not to be confused with spirit, but rather as our bridge from the body to spirit, thus Body-Soul-Spirit. See my crude diagram (above) for a visualization of such a concept.
Rather than post full texts from The Hermetica, I will post sections/phrases that really stuck out to me. This first section is from the text titled “Incarnation of the Soul.” This is the last part of the text and it’s a detailed account of souls not wanting to leave their heavenly home to be incarnated in the flesh.
I have seen a vision of souls
About to be shut up in bodies.
Some of them wailed and moaned.
Some struggled against their doom,
Like noble beasts caught by crafty hunters
And dragged away from their wild home.
And looking up and down exclaimed:
‘O Heaven, source of Being,
Bright shining stars
And unfailing sun and moon,
Light and Life-breath of the One,
All you that share our home–
How cruel it is that we are being torn away
From such celestial splendour!
We are to be expelled
From this holy atmosphere
And from the blissful life we live here,
To be imprisoned
In a mean and sorry place.
What hard necessities wait for us?
What hateful thing will we have to do
To meet the needs of a body
That will quickly perish?
Our eyes will see little,
And only through the fluid
Which these orbs contain.
And when we see our vast heavenly home
Contracted to a size as small as an eye,
Our sorrow will never cease.
We shall not even see clearly,
For we have been condemned to darkness.
And when we hear our brothers and sisters
Blowing with the wind
We shall grieve
That we are no longer breathing
In unison with them.’
Definitely sounds like someone did not want to incarnate in a walking meat sack on the physical realm! I don’t blame them one bit. The second “soul” related text in the book is titled “Death and Immortality.” Like the title states, it is about death and immortality (gotta keep it simple!). Here is a passage from the text. Please note, I replaced “Atum” with “The Father” (see my previous blog post on why I did this).
After quitting the body,
Mind, which is divine by nature,
Is freed from all containment.
Taking on a body of Light,
It ranges through all space–
Leaving the soul
To be judged and punished,
According to its deserts.
Souls do not all go to the same place.
Not to different places at random.
Rather, each is allocated
To a place that fits its nature.
When a soul leaves the body
It undergoes a trial and investigation
By the chief of the gods.
When he finds a soul to be honourable and pure,
He allows it to live in a region
That corresponds to its characteristics.
But if he finds it stained
With incurable ignorance,
He hurls it down
To the storms and whirlwinds,
Where it is eternally tossed between sky and earth on the billowing air.
Only a good soul is spiritual and divine.
Having wronged no one
And come to know The Father,
Such a soul has run the race of purity,
And becomes all Mind.
After it leaves its physical form,
It becomes a spirit in a body of Light,
So that it may serve The Father.
The third text in the book is titled “Ignorance of the Soul” and its about awakening from ignorance and seeking your true self. Of the three, this is probably my favorite. I will include several phrases below:
It is impossible to be permanently happy
While attached to a body.
A man should train his soul in this life
So that, when he enters the other world
Where he is able to see The Father,
He does not lose his way.
Our possessions possess us.
We were not born with possessions,
But acquired them later.
Everything a man uses to gratify his body
Is alien to his original god-like nature.
Not only possessions–
Even the body is foreign
To our true self.
You are drunk with ignorance of The Father
It has overpowered you,
And now you are vomiting it up.
Empty yourselves of darkness
And you will be filled with Light.
There is no greater mistake
Than to have the power to know The Father
And not to use it.
Everywhere The Father will come to meet you.
Look and he appears–
At times and places when you least expect.
This is because
The Father is All.