of the O.A.S.
by G.R.S. Mead
Mind Unto Hermes
complex text is written as a revelation from the divine Mind - the
"Man-Shepherd" of CH I - to Hermes, concerning the nature
of God and the universe. Difficult enough in its own right, it has
been made rather more so by some of Mead's most opaque prose. I have
tried to insert clarifications where these are most needed.
<Some notes on terminology may also be useful. The term Aeon
here, as in many of the so-called "Gnostic" writings,
refers to the timeless and spaceless realm of ideal being. The word
cosmos means both "order" and "beauty" - the
same root appears in the word "cosmetic". Additionally,
the words genesis and becoming in the translation are the same word
in the Greek original.
<Finally, the word "inactive" in square brackets near
the beginning of section 13 is Mead's, intended to fill a lacuna in
the text. The more usual conjecture, as he comments, is "apart
from God". - JMG>
1. Mind: Master this sermon (logos), then, Thrice-greatest Hermes,
and bear in mind the spoken words; and as it hath come unto Me to
speak, I will no more delay.
Hermes: As many men say many things, and these diverse, about the
All and Good, I have not learned the truth. Make it, then, clear to
me, O Master mine! For I can trust the explanation of these things,
which comes from Thee alone.
2. Mind: Hear [then], My son, how standeth God and All.
God; Aeon; Cosmos; Time; Becoming.
God maketh Aeon; Aeon, Cosmos; Cosmos, Time; and Time, Becoming
The Good - the Beautiful, Wisdom, Blessedness - is <the>
essence, as it were, of God; of Aeon, <the essence is>
Sameness; of Cosmos, Order; of Time, Change; and of Becoming, Life
The energies of God are Mind and Soul; of Aeon, lastingness and
deathlessness; of Cosmos, restoration and the opposite thereof; of
Time, increase and decrease; and of Becoming, quality.
Aeon is, then, in God; Cosmos, in Aeon; in Cosmos; Time; in Time,
Aeon stands firm round God; Cosmos is moved in Aeon; Time hath its
limits <or is accomplished> in the Cosmos; Becoming doth
become in Time.
3. The source, therfore, of all is God; their essence, Aeon; their
God's power is Aeon; Aeon's work is Cosmos - which never hath
become, yet ever doth become by Aeon.
Therefore will Cosmos never be destroyed, for Aeon's indestructible;
nor doth a whit of things in Cosmos perish, for Cosmos is enwrapped
by Aeon round on every side.
Hermes: But God's Wisdom - what is that?
Mind: The Good and Beautiful, and Blessedness, and Virtue's all, and
Aeon, then, ordereth [Cosmos], imparting deathlessness and
lastingness to matter.
4. For its beginning doth depend on Aeon, as Aeon doth on God.
Now Genesis <or Becoming> and Time, in Heaven and upon the
Earth, are of two natures.
In Heaven they are unchangeable and indestructible, but on the Earth
they're subject unto change and to destruction.
Further, the Aeon's soul is God; the Cosmos' soul is Aeon; the
Earth's soul, Heaven.
And God <is> in Mind; and Mind, in Soul; and Soul, in Matter;
and all of them through Aeon.
But all this Body, in which are all the bodies, is full of Soul; and
Soul is full of Mind, and Mind of God.
It <i.e., Soul> fills it <i.e., the Body of the Cosmos>
from within, and from without encircles it, making the All to live.
Without, this vast and perfect Life [encircles] Cosmos; within, it
fills [it with] all lives; above, in Heaven, continuing in sameness;
below, on Earth, changing becoming.
5. And Aeon doth preserve this [Cosmos], or by Necessity, or by
Foreknowledge, or by Nature, or by whatever else a man supposes or
shall suppose. And all is this - God energizing.
The Energy of God is Power that naught can e'er surpass, a Power
with which no one can make comparison of any human thing at all, or
any thing divine.
Wherefore, O Hermes, never think that aught of things above or
things below is like to God, for thou wilt fall from truth. For
naught is like to That which hath no like, and is Alone and One.
And do not ever think that any other can possibly possess His power;
for what apart from Him is there of life, and deathlessness and
change of quality? For what else should He make?
God's not inactive, since all things [then] would lack activity; for
all are full of God.
But neither in the Cosmos anywhere, nor in aught else, is there
inaction. For that "inaction" is a name that cannot be
applied to either what doth make or what is made.
6. But all things must be made; both ever made, and also in
accordance with the influence of every space.
For He who makes, is in them all; not stablished in some one of
them, nor making one thing only, but making all.
For being Power, He energizeth in the things He makes and is not
independent of them - although the things He makes are subject to
Now gaze through Me upon the Cosmos that's now subject to thy sight;
regard its Beauty carefully - Body in pure perfection, though one
than which there's no more ancient one, ever in prime of life, and
ever-young, nay, rather, in even fuller and yet fuller prime!
7. Behold, again, the seven subject Worlds; ordered by Aeon's order,
and with their varied course full-filling Aeon!
[See how] all things [are] full of light, and nowhere [is there]
fire; for 'tis the love and the blending of the contraries and the
dissimilars that doth give birth to light down shining by the energy
of God, the Father of all good, the Leader of all order, and Ruler
of the seven world-orderings!
[Behold] the Moon, forerunner of them all, the instrument of nature,
and the transmuter of its lower matter!
[Look at] the Earth set in the midst of All, foundation of the
Cosmos Beautiful, feeder and nurse of things on Earth!
And contemplate the multitude of deathless lives, how great it is,
and that of lives subject to death; and midway, between both,
immortal [lives] and mortal, [see thou] the circling Moon.
8. And all are full of soul, and all are moved by it, each in its
proper way; some round the Heaven, others around the Earth; [see]
how the right [move] not unto the left, nor yet the left unto the
right; nor the above below, nor the below above.
And that all there are subject unto Genesis, My dearest Hermes, thou
hast no longer need to learn of Me.
For that they bodies are, have souls, and they are moved.
But 'tis impossible for them to come together into one without some
one to bring them [all] together.
It must, then, be that such a one as this must be some one who's
9. For as the many motions of them [all] are different, and as their
bodies are not like, yet has one speed been ordered for them all, it
is impossible that there should be two or more makers for them.
For that one single order is not kept among "the many";
but rivalry will follow of the weaker with the stronger, and they
And if the maker of the lives that suffer change and death, should
be another <from the maker of the immortals>, he would desire
to make the deathless ones as well; just as the maker of the
deathless ones, [to make the lives] that suffer death.
But come! if there be two - if matter's one, and Soul is one, in
whose hands would there be the distribution for the making? Again,
if both of them have some of it, in whose hands may be the greater
10. But thus conceive it, then; that every living body doth consist
of soul and matter, whether [that body be] of an immortal, or a
mortal, or an irrational [life].
For that all living bodies are ensouled; whereas, upon the other
hand, those that live not, are matter by itself.
And, in like fashion, Soul when in its self is, after its own maker,
cause of life; but the cause of all life is He who makes the things
that cannot die.
Hermes: How, then, is it that, first, lives subject to death are
other than the deathless ones? And, next, how is it that Life which
knows no death, and maketh deathlessness, doth not make animals
11. Mind: First, that there is some one who does these things, is
clear; and, next, that He is also One, is very manifest. For, also,
Soul is one, and Life is one, and Matter one.
Hermes: But who is He?
Mind: Who may it other be than the One God? Whom else should it
beseem to put Soul into lives but God alone? One, then, is God.
It would indeed be most ridiculous, if when thou dost confess the
Cosmos to be one, Sun one, Moon one, and Godhead one, thou shouldst
wish God Himself to be some one or other of a number!
12. All things, therefore, He makes, in many [ways]. And what great
thing is it for God to make life, soul, and deathlessness, and
change, when thou [thyself] dost do so many things?
For thou dost see, and speak, and hear, and smell, and taste, and
touch, and walk, and think, and breathe. And it is not one man who
smells, another one who walks, another one who thinks, and [yet]
another one who breathes. But one is he who doth all these.
And yet no one of these could be apart from God. For just as, should
thou cease from these, thou wouldst no longer be a living thing, so
also, should God cease from them (a thing not law to say), no longer
is He God.
13. For if it hath been shown that no thing can [inactive] be, how
much less God? For if there's aught he doth not make (if it be law
to say), He is imperfect. But if He is not only not inactive, but
perfect [God], then He doth make all things.
Give thou thyself to Me, My Hermes, for a little while, and thou
shalt understand more easily how that God's work is one, in order
that all things may be - that are being made, or once have been, or
that are going to be made. And this is, My beloved, Life; this is
the Beautiful; this is the Good; this, God.
14. And if thou wouldst in practice understand [this work], behold
what taketh place with thee desiring to beget. Yet this is not like
unto that, for He doth not enjoy.
For that indeed He hath no other one to share in what He works, for
working by Himself, He ever is at work, Himself being what He doth.
For did He separate Himself from it, all things would [then]
collapse, and all must die, Life ceasing.
But if all things are lives, and also Life is one; then, one is God.
And, furthermore, if all are lives, both those in Heaven and those
on Earth, and One Life in them all is made to be by God, and God is
it <i.e., God is the One Life> - then, all are made by God.
Life is the making-one of Mind and Soul; accordingly Death is not
the destruction of those that are at-oned, but the dissolving of
15. Aeon, moreover, is God's image; Cosmos [is] Aeon's; the Sun, of
Cosmos; and Man, [the image] of the Sun.
The people call change death, because the body is dissolved, and
life, when it's dissolved, withdraws to the unmanifest. But in this
sermon (logos), Hermes, My beloved, as thou dost hear, I say the
Cosmos also suffers change - for that a part of it each day is made
to be in the unmanifest - yet it is ne'er dissolved.
These are the passions of the Cosmos - revolvings and concealments;
revolving is conversion and concealment renovation.
16. The Cosmos is all-formed - not having forms external to itself,
but changing them itself within itself. Since, then, Cosmos is made
to be all-formed, what may its maker be? For that, on the one hand,
He should not be void of all form; and, on the other hand, if He's
all-formed, He will be like the Cosmos. Whereas, again, has He a
single form, He will thereby be less than Cosmos.
What, then, say we He is? - that we may not bring round our sermon
(logos) into doubt; for naught that mind conceives of God is
He, then, hath one idea, which is His own alone, which doth not fall
beneath the sight, being bodiless, and [yet] by means of bodies
manifesteth all [ideas]. And marvel not that there's a bodiless
17. For it is like the form of reason (logos) and mountain-tops in
pictures. For they appear to stand out strongly from the rest, but
really are quite smooth and flat.
And now consider what is said more boldly, but more truly!
Just as man cannot live apart from Life, so neither can God live
without [His] doing good. For this is as it were the life and motion
as it were of God - to move all things and make them live.
18. Now some of the things said should bear a sense peculiar to
themselves. So understand, for instance, what I'm going to say.
All are in God, [but] not as lying in a place. For place is both a
body and immovable, and things that lie do not have motion.
Now things lie one way in the bodiless, another way in being made
Think, [then,] of Him who doth contain them all; and think, that
than the bodiless naught is more comprehensive, or swifter, or more
potent, but it is the most comprehensive, the swiftest, and most
potent of them all.
19. And, thus, think from thyself, and bid thy soul go unto any
land, and there more quickly than thy bidding will it be. And bid it
journey oceanwards; and there, again, immediately 'twill be, not as
if passing on from place to place, but as if being there.
And bid it also mount to heaven; and it will need no wings, not will
aught hinder it, nor fire of sun, nor auther, nor vortex-swirl, nor
bodies of the other stars; but, cutting through them all, it will
soar up to the last Body [of them all]. And shouldst thou will to
break through this as well, and contemplate what is beyond - if
there be aught beyond the Cosmos; it is permitted thee.
20. Behold what power, what swiftness, thou dost have! And canst
thou do all of these things, and God not [do them]?
Then, in this way know God; as having all things in Himself as
thoughts, the whole Cosmos itself.
If, then, thou dost not make thyself like unto God, thou canst not
know Him. For like is knowable unto like [alone].
Make, [then,] thyself to grow to the same stature as the Greatness
which transcends all measure; leap forth from every body; transcend
all time; become Eternity <literally, Aeon>; and [thus] shalt
thou know God.
Conceiving nothing is impossible unto thyself, think thyself
deathless and able to know all - all arts, all sciences, the way of
Become more lofty than all height, and lower than all depth. Collect
into thyself all senses of [all] creatures - of fire, [and] water,
dry and moist. Think that thou art at the same time in every place -
in earth, in sea, in sky; not yet begotten, in the womb, young, old,
[and] dead, in after-death conditions.
And if thou knowest all these things at once - times, places,
doings, qualities, and quantities; thou canst know God.
21. But if thou lockest up thy soul within thy body, and dost debase
it, saying: I nothing know; I nothing can; I fear the sea; I cannot
scale the sky; I know not who I was, who I shall be - what is there
[then] between [thy] God and thee?
For thou canst know naught of things beautiful and good so long as
thou dost love thy body and art bad.
The greatest bad there is, is not to know God's Good; but to be able
to know [Good], and will, and hope, is a Straight Way, the Good's
own [Path], both leading there and easy.
If thou but settest thy foot thereon, 'twill meet thee everywhere,
'twill everywhere be seen, both where and when thou dost expect it
not - waking, sleeping, sailing, journeying, by night, by day,
speaking, [and] saying naught. For there is naught that is not image
of the Good.
22. Hermes: Is God unseen?
Mind: Hush! Who is more manifest than He? For this one reason hath
He made all things, that through them all thou mayest see Him.
This is the Good of God, this [is] His Virtue - that He may be
manifest through all.
For naught's unseen, even of things that are without a body. Mind
sees itself in thinking, God in making.
So far these things have been made manifest to thee, Thrice-greatest
one! Reflect on all the rest in the same way with thyself, and thou
shalt not be led astray.