You Can’t Know Spirit: Introduction to the 7 Hermetic Principles

The Hermetic Principles are a set of universal laws that govern everything. Does the word “Hermetic” sound familiar? Think back to High School Western Civ…. Ever heard of Hermes? Yes, the Greek Messenger God, often portrayed with little wings on his shoes and helmet… Got that picture in your mind?  Well, you’re halfway there. Hermes was the Greek’s translation of Thoth (Hermes Trismegistus), the Egyptian deity of writing and esoteric knowledge. Some say he gave early humans the knowledge needed to create technological advances and thus civilization. Some even say he was a Blue Avian, sent to Earth to aid humanity out of dankness and darkness, hence his bird-like (an ibis) representation. Draw your own conclusions there, but what can’t be argued are these 7 nuggets of wisdom that just make so much sense.


We get the 7 principles from the Kybalion, a 100+ year old text created by three initiates of Thoth’s teachings. The teachings of Thoth were passed down to students through the ages, and the Kybalion came of it. The initiates state:

“The Principles of Truth are Seven; he who knows these, understandingly, possesses the Magic Key before whose touch all the Doors of the Temple fly open.” -The Kybalion.

Read it for yourself. Purchase the Kybalion Here

Sounds awesome, right? Let’s dig in:

…Actually, before we can do that, we need to have a base understanding of the main player used to describe how and why these principles exist. Namely, we need to understand (as best we can) what “THE ALL”, “Spirit”, “The Real Essence”, and the “Infinite Living Mind” are.

Spoiler alert: they all mean the same thing.

But what does this mean?

Everything that exists is the creation of “THE ALL”, but who or what is it? The Kybalion offers us an explanation for better understanding. Henceforth, I will refer to “THE ALL” as “Spirit” to bring the term down home a bit.
A breakdown of what does and does not constitute Spirit follows:

  • Spirit is of infinite mind; humankind is of finite mind.
  • It is impossible to know an infinite mind with a finite mind.
    • Similar to Lao Tzu’s “Tao” or “the way”. One of the first stanzas of the Tao Te Ching states “The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.” That is, it is impossible to give such a massive, infinite, and abstract entity a concrete definition- simply the act of doing so makes the definition incorrect.
  • Spirit is therefore unknowable.
  • Spirit is all there is and thus eternal. Therefore there is nothing outside of it (since Spirit is ALL, there can only BE ALL…. so there couldn’t be anything outside of it, even if that something was nothing as “nothing” is “something”)
  • Spirit does not change; since it is ALL, there is no opposing force for which it needs to change by or for.
  • Since Spirit is ALL, unchangeable, and infinite, then logic follows that anything finite cannot be ALL. Since nothing exists outside of the ALL, then finite things cannot exist in “reality”.
  • Spirit cannot be separated since it is ALL. Therefore elements such as the universe and humankind must BE Spirit- and not separate from it.

Congrats if you made it this far.

Now, here is a brief description of each of the 7 principles. I will go into them in more depth in future posts. With a greater understanding of these principles, you will come to understand what is meant when it was stated that all that is finite is not real….in absolute terms. Click on a link to learn more about that principle.

The 7 Hermetic Principles

  • The Principle of Mentalism
    • Everything is created by the mind. There are no exceptions to this.
  • The Principle of Correspondence
    • As above, so below. What works there, works here.
  • The Principle of Vibration
    • Nothing rests. Stagnation is death, and Spirit is eternal.
  • The Principle of Polarity
    • Everything has its opposite, and like and unlike are the same. Just has hot and cold are really just varying degrees of heat, and love and hate are just varying degrees of love. Extremes meet.
  • The Principle of Rhythm
    • Everything flows in and out, like breathing out and in, like the tides going in and out, like the moon waxing and waning.
  • The Principle of Cause and Effect
    • Every effect has its cause and vice versa. What we call “luck” or “coincidence” or “chance” is just a name for this unrecognized principle at work.
  • The Principle of Gender
    • There is gender on all planes of existence: everything has masculine (straight) and feminine (spiral) properties.


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