For over a hundred years, from Reitzenstein’s Poimandres published in 1904, to Fowden’s The Egyptian Hermes published in 1986, the question of Egyptian influence on the fourteen Greek texts – tractates {1} – collectively known as the Corpus Hermeticum has been much debated. The opinions of scholars, and of translators, have ranged from little influence (Festugiere) to insignificant influence (Myatt), to much influence (Mahé), to the more recent one (Fowden) of hermeticism being syncretic, combining elements of Hellenic culture with elements of Egyptian culture in various and still disputable proportions.

What, however, is often not explicitly defined is what ‘Egyptian’, and Egyptian culture, mean in the context of where and when the Greek texts of the Corpus Hermeticum were written; which was, to give the widest parameters, sometime between the end of the first century CE and the end of the third century CE when Egypt was a province of the Roman Empire and where cities like Alexandria were places where Hellenic culture thrived and where people of Greek and of Roman descent lived in large numbers, some of whom no doubt had an interest in and knowledge of native Egyptian – ‘Pharaonic’ – culture and history. For centuries before that, most of Egypt had – following the conquests of Alexander the Great – been a Greek colony ruled by a succession of people of Greek origin such as the Macedonian Ptolemaios Soter who established what became known as the Ptolemaic dynasty (or Kingdom) whose last ruler was Cleopatra, herself of Greek origin, who desired that the native Egyptians of her time consider her as an embodiment of their native goddess Isis.

Thus for some three centuries before the texts of the Corpus Hermeticum were written Egypt was a thriving outpost of Greek culture; a place where the likes of Aristotle and Archimedes lived and flourished for many years.

It is therefore necessary to make a distinction between the ruling, Greek, elite – and the Greek aristocracy of people such as Aristotle and Archimedes – and native Egyptians; a cultural and an ancestral distinction. A relevant comparison is the British Raj in India who were British by heritage and culture and who, even if they were born and spent most of their life in India, could not – should not – be described as ‘Indian’.

Considered thus the relevant context of the Greek texts of the Corpus Hermeticum was the centuries-long Greek culture of such an aristocracy combined with the relatively recent culture of Rome from the time of Caesar to praefectus Statilius Aemilianus (270 CE). What is not particularly relevant is the culture of the natives, the ancestors of the fellaheen, some or many of whom no doubt continued to revere or at least remember the divinities of ancient Egypt such as the goddess Isis and most of whom would not have been able to read let alone write Greek.

Given the centuries-long Greek and Roman heritage of the ruling elite and the aristocracy – who could speak and read Greek and who were probably acquainted with the writings of Plato and Aristotle – and given why rulers such as Cleopatra desired, for the benefit of her subjects, to be identified with an ancient Egyptian divinity such as Isis, it is most probable that the authors of the Greek texts of the Corpus Hermeticum, resident as they were in the then Roman province of Egypt, sought to give their metaphysical speculations some local, Egyptian, colour by – among other things – naming the son (or the pupil) of the Greek Hermes after the Egyptian god Thoth.

As Myatt noted in the introduction to his translation of tractate IV of the Corpus Hermeticum:

“In respect of Τάτ, while there is no disputing that Thoth is meant, what may or may not be implied by the name Thoth is whether or not there is a primarily Egyptian genesis for the metaphysics and the cosmogony of this particular tractate. For what does ‘Egyptian’ mean in the context of the Corpus Hermeticum, written when Egypt was a post-Ptolemaic Roman province where Hellenism still thrived? That is, is the text propounding a metaphysics and a cosmogony primarily redolent of indigenous, pre-Alexandrian, times, with Hermes Trismegistus simply a Hellenic name for the ancient Dynastic deity Thoth, and thus with the Greek Hermes possibly being a son of that ancient Egyptian deity? Or is the text redolent of a classical metaphysics and a cosmogony; or of a Hellenic metaphysics and cosmogony; or of some syncretism of Egyptian (pre-Alexandrian) weltanschauungen with Hellenic mysticism? Or has the author (or authors) of Ἑρμοῦ πρὸς Τάτ ὁ κρατῆρ ἡ μονάς simply used the name of an ancient deity – Thoth – in order to appeal to an audience of Hellenized Egyptians, or Greeks/Romans dwelling in Egypt, or because it seemed to add some esoteric gravitas to the text? Or, as the title might be taken to imply – of Hermes to Thoth – is it a text intended to inform Egyptians (Hellenized or expatriate Greeks/Romans, or otherwise) about Greek/Hellenic metaphysics and cosmogony, with Thoth thus regarded, symbolically, esoterically, or otherwise, as the son of the Greek divinity Hermes?

In this matter, I incline toward the view – based on some forty years of study of the Corpus Hermeticum and similar mystical and esoteric texts, classical, Hellenic, medieval, Arabic and otherwise – that what is imparted in this tractate, as with the Poemandres and Ιερός Λόγος, is primarily a mystical, and – for centuries – aural, Greek tradition, albeit one possibly influenced, over time and in some degree, by the metaphysical speculations of later philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.”

I therefore find myself in agreement with Myatt regarding the question of native Egyptian influence on those texts. That the texts present us with a Greek/Hellenic metaphysics and cosmogony, not with some Greek and Egyptian syncretion, and certainly not with a native Egyptian metaphysics and cosmogony slightly influenced by Hellenism.

For it is essentially a question of terminology: of what ‘Egyptian’ means in cultural and in ancestral terms. Of a perhaps an inhibition on the part of some modern scholars to differentiate between the ancestry and the culture of ‘the natives’ and the ancestry and culture of a ruling elite and aristocracy.

R. Parker

{1} Tractate is derived from the classical Latin tractatus meaning a discussion, ‘concerning’, a treatise; and was used by writers such as Cicero and Pliny. It was later assimilated into ecclesiastical Latin – qv. Augustine – where it denoted a homily or sermon. It is the basis of the modern English word tract.


List of works cited

A-J. Festugiere. La Révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste. 4 volumes. Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1946-1954.

G. Fowden. The Egyptian Hermes. Princeton University Press, 1993

J-P. Mahé. Hermes En Haute Egypte. Tome I. Peeters. 1978.

D. Myatt. Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates. CreateSpace. 2017.

R. A. Reitzenstein. Poimandres: Studien zur griechisch-ägyptischen und frühchristlichen Literatu. Teubner, Leipzig, 1904

R. A. Reitzenstein & H. H. Schaeder. Studien zum antiken Synkretismus aus Iran und Griechenland. (Studien der Bibliothek Warburg), Teubner, Leipzig, 1926

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Re-discovering Western Paganism

Whenever the term ‘western paganism’ is written or heard, in our contemporary societies, there is tendency for many readers or listeners to conjure up either images of ancient ‘superstitious barbarians’ offering sacrifices to various gods such as Odin, or images of modern devotees – of what has been termed ‘contemporary paganism’ and ‘neopaganism’ – in robes conducting or attending romanticized rituals and ceremonies such as those now associated with the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge.

In this essay, however, in referring to Western paganism we are referring to a particular and spiritual ethos – to a distinguishing character, or nature, or ‘spirit’ – germane to European lands and thus to ‘the West’, where by ‘spiritual’ is meant concerning what is considered to be, intuitively or otherwise, numinous, and/or concerning those forces or powers which are believed to be, or which may, determine our fate, wyrd, destiny and thus which may bring good fortune or misfortune to us, our family, and to our communities.

Hence, when writing about ‘the West’ we are not writing about the nations of the modern West and the life-styles and politics evident in such modern nations as the United States and Britain. What is meant is the culture and the civilization of and associated with European lands (and with what are now our former colonies or émigré lands) embodied and manifest as that culture and civilization was and is in the paganism of classical Greece and Rome; in the ritual practices and beliefs of North European lands such as Scandinavia and ancient Britain; in Greco-Roman art; in classical – and European folk – music; in the philosophy of the likes of Aristotle; in allegories such as those of Faust and myths such as King Arthur, Wotan, and the Valkyries; in the Greco-Roman mysticism of the Corpus Hermeticum, and in modern science and technology.

That is, we are writing about a particular culture of a particular people; of indigenous Europeans, among whose descendants are people of such lands as are now named Greece, Italy, Britain, Germany, Spain, France, Scandinavia, Poland, Russia, etcetera.

Part of this ancestral Western, this ancestral European, culture is a particular and spiritual ethos, and one which the term Western paganism correctly describes, with this particular paganism having its roots in Ancient Greece and Rome and thus being different, in ethos and in practise, from what is currently known concerning, for example, such religious practices and beliefs as that of ancient Germanic tribes. This ‘Greco-Roman’ paganism is the paganism of Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristotle, Seneca, and Cicero; a paganism that is pragmatically spiritual whose foundation is the rationalization that certain deeds were wise and certain other deeds unwise, with such unwise deeds – such hubris, ὕβρις – upsetting that natural balance of the Cosmos (κόσμος) and thus liable (according to ancestral tradition) to cause misfortune. Thus did Sophocles express a truth of this tradition when he wrote that “hubris is the genesis of tyrants” since tyrants invariably bring misfortune upon the people and, eventually, upon themselves and – quite often – on their descendants. In addition, and importantly, elegance, the beautiful (τὸ καλόν) as well as excellence (arête, ἀρετή) and nobility (τὸ ἀγαθόν) were all associated with those who did what was considered wise and balanced (μέσος, in Aristotle).

This is the ethos, the pragmatic spirituality, and the notion of balance, harmony, elegance, and of beauty, which infuses the culture and the civilization of Ancient Greece and Rome, and which culture so enthused those Europeans – artists, scholars, educators, potentates, and others – who from the 14th century on brought about the Renaissance and which Renaissance, which re-discovery of the culture of ancient Greece and Rome, gave birth to and infused our Western ‘Faustian’ civilization.

A Pagan Renaissance

This Renaissance, however, did not in any significant way include a practical return to classical paganism. Instead of giving rise to a new, an evolved, pagan ethos – and thus dispensing with the notion of anthropomorphic deities interfering in the lives of human beings – it resulted in only minor changes to the governing religious ethos manifest as that was in Christianity with its quite un-classical, rather stark, notions of Hell-Fire, Damnation, Sin, and Prudery. In other words, the governing spirituality continued to be Hebraic, derived from the Old Testament as amended by the ‘new covenant’ of Jesus of Nazareth.

While laudable, the attempt in recent times by some Europeans to rediscover the pagan ethos of their ancestors – exemplified in certain (but not all) neopagan groups and weltanschauungen – and thus distance themselves from Hebraic spirituality, is not and never can be, in our view, effective in reconnecting us to the ethos of the West for two reasons. First, because such attempts (at least so far) do not exemplify, do not manifest, the spiritual ethos of the West, founded as that is on the culture and spirituality of ancient Greece and Rome. Second, because they generally do not take into account how the ethos of the West has itself been distorted by a Hebraicism that is not only spiritual but is now, and has been for over a century, cultural.

This cultural Hebraicism is a mode of thinking and action in which Hebrews – ancient and modern – and their beliefs, and those of their followers and disciples, are taken as the type, the moral ideal, to be aspired to and lauded. In the case of ancient Hebrews and their beliefs, the type, the ideal is evident in the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), and in latter-day interpretations of the Bible. In the case of modern Hebrews and their disciples, the type, the ideal, derives from (a) the dogma of ‘equality of races’ – ultimately derived from Marxism, sociology, and what has been termed ‘social anthropology’, with the belief being that all ethnicities have the same abilities, intelligence, potential, and human character – and from (b) the religious-like remembrance of and compulsory teaching regarding the Shoah, together with a hypocritical championing of ethnic awareness and ancestral traditions for all ethnicities except native European (‘White’) peoples, which ethnic awareness of, and its promotion among, native European peoples is considered ‘hatred’, ‘racist’, ‘extremist’ and is increasing censored and outlawed in the lands of the West with the Hebraic reasoning being that such ethnic awareness of, and its promotion among, native European peoples gave rise to colonialism, to fascism and National Socialism and thus to the Shoah – which must “never be forgotten” – with no Western country ever allowed to again make ancestral European beliefs, and the Western ethos, the raison d’être of a nation-State.

In respect of rediscovering the pagan spirituality of the West a fundamental problem has been a lack of knowledge among those interested in what, exactly, that spirituality is. A problem exacerbated by pre-existing translations of some of the ancient works knowledge of which is necessary in order to understand that spirituality. Works such as the Oedipus Tyrannus and the Antigone by Sophocles, the Agamemnon by Aeschylus, and the mystical texts of the Corpus Hermeticism.

Which problem of translation is why, for example, the Antigone of Sophocles has become to be regarded (by all but a handful of scholars) as some kind of ancient morality tale or as just a drama about a conflict between two strong and different characters, Antigone and Creon; why Oedipus Tyrannus is regarded (by all but a handful of scholars) as a morality tale about “incest”, and why the texts of the Corpus Hermeticism are regarded as imbued with a Christian-like mysticism and as having been influenced by both the Old and New Testaments.

Yet properly understood in the necessary cultural context, the Antigone, as one translator noted in the Introduction to his translation,

“deals with the relation between mortals and gods. The work is an exploration and explanation of the workings of the cosmos, and the answers given express the distinctive ancient Greek ‘outlook’ or ethos. This ethos is pagan, and its essence may be said to be that there are limits to human behaviour; that some conduct is wise, some conduct is unwise. Unwise conduct invites retribution by the gods: it can and often does result in personal misfortune, in bad luck.” {1}

Ditto in respect of the Oedipus Tyrannus, and the Agamemnon of Aeschylus. Regarding the Corpus Hermeticism, as we have previously mentioned, certain new translations restore

“these texts to the Western pagan tradition and make them relevant to our times when Western culture and our classical, Greco-Roman, and pagan heritage is increasingly subsumed in schools and elsewhere by other, non-Western, cultures and religions, with it now being politically incorrect to point out that Western culture with its Greco-Roman pagan heritage has profoundly changed the world for the better and is arguably superior to all other cultures past and present.” {2}

That is, translations of important classical texts are now available which, when studied together, enable us to appreciate and understand the classical, pagan, ethos and thence the ethos of the West itself. {3}

Which understanding might – probably should – lead us, or someone, to develop a new, an evolved, pagan weltanschauung which does not involve anthropomorphic deities but instead is based on a new ontology regarding our relation, as sentient beings, to Being, to the Cosmos, rather than to ‘God’ or to some ‘gods’. Something perhaps prefigured in Greek texts such as these with their reasoned, pragmatic, and often quite warrior-like, spirituality:

The Muse shall tell of the many adventures of that man of the many stratagems
Who, after the pillage of that hallowed citadel at Troy,
Saw the towns of many a people and experienced their ways:
He whose vigour, at sea, was weakened by many afflictions
As he strove to win life for himself and return his comrades to their homes.
But not even he, for all this yearning, could save those comrades
For they were destroyed by their own immature foolishness
Having devoured the cattle of Helios, that son of Hyperion,
Who plucked from them the day of their returning. {4}


You should listen to [the goddess] Fairness and not oblige Hubris
Since Hubris harms unfortunate mortals while even the more fortunate
Are not equal to carrying that heavy a burden, meeting as they do with Mischief.
The best path to take is the opposite one: that of honour
For, in the end, Fairness is above Hubris
Which is something the young come to learn from adversity. {5}


This person, whom I praise, never ceased to believe that the gods delight in respectful deeds just as much as in consecrated temples, and, when blessed with success, he was never prideful but rather gave thanks to the gods. He also made more offerings to them when he was confident than supplications when he felt hesitant, and, in
appearance, it was his habit to be cheerful when doubtful and mild-mannered when successful. {6}



Because of these grievous things, no one should invoke a fatal curse upon
Nor turn their wroth toward, Helen
As if she was some man-killer who alone destroyed
The lives of those many Danaan men
By having wrought such a festering wound […]

The wife of this corpse presents herself here
As that most ancient fierce Avenger.
It is Atreus, he is of that cruel feast,
Who, in payment for that, has added to his young victims
This adult one […]

But do not suppose that his killing was ignoble
For did he not by his cunning set Misfortune upon this family? {7}



So even then you dared to violate these laws?


It was not Zeus who proclaimed them to me,
Nor did she who dwells with the gods below – the goddess, Judgement –
Lay down for us mortals such laws as those.
Neither did I suppose that your edicts
Had so much strength that you, who die,
Could out-run the unwritten and unchanging
Customs of the gods: for the life of these things
Is not only of yesterday or today, but eternal,
No one remembering their birth. {8}

All of which explains why we love to also quote what a certain English poet wrote in 1873 CE: “the separation between the Greeks and us is due principally to the Hebraistic culture we receive in childhood.” All those tall tales from the Bible about various Hebrew folk…

Rachael & Richard Stirling
Autumnal Equinox 2017 ev


{1} Antigone. Translated by David Myatt.


{3} These translations – dating from between 1991 and 2017, and all of which are independent of his own mystical – if pagan – ‘philosophy of pathei-mathos’ – are by David Myatt, and include the following important classical texts:

° The Agamemnon of Aeschylus. ISBN-13: 978-1484128220

° Sophocles – Oedipus Tyrannus. ISBN-13: 978-1484132104

° Sophocles – Antigone. ISBN-13: 978-1484132067

° Homer – The Odyssey: Books 1, 2 & 3. ISBN-13: 978-1495402227

° Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates. A compilation containing translations of and commentaries on tractates I, III, IV, VI, VIII, XI, XII, XII. ISBN-13: 978-1976452369.

The commentaries on the tractates are of especial interest in elucidating the paganism of the texts.

His Greek translations are available here:

{4} The Odyssey. Translated Myatt.

{5} Hesiod. Translated Myatt, and quoted (with the Greek text) in his commentary on Tractate III.

{6} Xenophon. Translated Myatt, and quoted (with the Greek text) in his commentary on Tractate I.

{7} Agamemnon. Translated Myatt.

{8} Antigone. Translated Myatt.

David Myatt


A welcome addition to the published works by Myatt is his Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates which brings together in one volume his eight translations and commentaries of hermetic texts, chapters 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 12 and 13 of the Corpus Hermeticum.

The compilation is available as a pdf document {1} and as a 190 page printed book {2} and contains a Preface which outlines his translation methodology, and from which this is an extract:

{Begin quote}

This work collects together my translations of and commentaries on the eight tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum which were published separately between 2013 and 2017. From the fourteen Greek tractates that have been traditionally referred to as the Corpus Hermeticum, I chose the eight (the ogdoad) whose texts I considered were the most metaphysical and mystical and thus which can provide an understanding of what came to be termed hermeticism […]

The methodology of using some transliterations, some relatively obscure English words, and some new term or expression (such as noetic sapientia) results in a certain technical – an ‘esoteric’ – vocabulary which requires or may require contextual, usually metaphysical, interpretation. Often, the interpretation is provided by reference to the matters discussed in the particular tractate; sometimes by reference to other tractates; and sometimes by considering Ancient Greek, and Greco-Roman, philosophy and mysticism. Occasionally, however, the interpretation is to leave some transliteration – such as physis, φύσις – as a basic term of the particular hermetic weltanschauung described in a particular tractate and, as such, as a term which has no satisfactory English equivalent, metaphysical or otherwise, and therefore to assimilate it into the English language. All of which make these translations rather different from other English versions, past and present, with these translations hopefully enabling the reader to approach and to appreciate the hermetic texts sans preconceptions, modern and otherwise, and thus provide an intimation of how such texts might have been understood by those who read them, or heard them read, in the milieu of their composition.

One of the intentions of these translations of mine of various tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum is provide an alternative approach to such ancient texts and hopefully enable the reader without a knowledge of Greek (and of the minutiae of over a century of scholarly analysis of the Greek text) to appreciate the texts anew and understand why they have – in the original Greek – been regarded as important documents in respect of particular, ancient, weltanschauungen that have, over the centuries, proved most influential and which can still be of interest to those interested in certain metaphysical speculations and certain esoteric matters.

{end quote}

The publication of this work also marks a milestone, since Greek translations now account for well over half of Myatt’s published – printed – output. His printed works alone currently amount to almost 1,000 pages, and given that most of these books are large print format (11 inches x 8.5 inches) then were they published in the standard paperback format (6 inches by 9 inches) the total would in the region of 1,200 pages.

The RDM Crew
September 2017 ev

{1} Available here:

The pdf document is published under the Creative Commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0) License, which allows for non-commercial copying and redistribution provided no alterations are made to the text and the document is attributed solely to the original author.

{2} David Myatt, Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates, 2017, ISBN 978-1976452369, BISAC: Philosophy / Metaphysics. The 190 page book is priced US$10, and is available direct from a well-known ‘internet publisher’ and from other book outlets such as Barnes & Noble. Like most of Myatt’s printed works it is idiosyncratic given its large size (8.5 x 11 inches). If printed in the standard paperback size (9 x 5 inches) it would amount to around 220 pages but, given the amount of Greek text, would probably be less readable.

David Myatt

David Myatt has now made available (in pdf format) his completed translation of and commentary on tract XIII of the ancient Corpus Hermeticum. A printed version is scheduled for publication in October 2017.

This complements his previously published translations of and commentaries on tracts I, III, IV, VI, VIII, XI, and XII, totalling some 220 pages.


Tractate XIII: Translation and Commentary


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The Avenging Alastoras


We read an awful lot, these days, in books, articles, and via the internet, about ‘sorcery’ and invokations, almost all of which books and articles describe or rely on the Magian influenced goetic ‘tradition’ as exemplified by the misnamed Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn.

Thus it is refreshing to once again revisit actual Western pagan sources {1} dating from centuries before The Magian Distortion; that is, before the ‘grimoire’ tradition with its summoning forth of Hebrew, and Hebrewesque, ‘demons’ and entities, as beloved by the likes of Creepless Crowley and Howard – the Yahoudi – Levey.

This visit of ours is to Tractate 13 – an evocative name by itself – of the ancient, Greco-Roman, Corpus Hermeticum, as brought to life by the recent translation of Mr David Myatt {2}. The tractate itself deals with palingenesis and Greco-Roman (Western) mysticism – a Western mysticism perhaps relevant to the ‘sinisterly-numinous’ way of the Order of Nine Angles – and our extract below deals with both palingenesis and those avenging deities, the Alastoras, mentioned by Klytemnestra after she, in revenge, had honourably killed her husband and his mistress Cassandra and, covered in blood, stands over the body of her husband:

     Do not add to those words that it was me who was the mistress of Agamemnon
Since the wife of this corpse presents herself here
As that most ancient fierce Avenger.
It is Atreus, he is of that cruel feast,
Who, in payment for that, has added to his young victims
This adult one. {3}

It is probably just coincidence that one of the Alastoras is named by Myatt as Vengerisse, given that in his Mythos Of Vindex he named the female Vindex as Vengerisse.

Alastoras and The Vengeress

An extract from sections 7-11 of tractate 13.

{begin quote}

     Go within: and an arriving. Intend: and an engendering. Let physical perceptibility rest, and divinity will be brought-into-being. Refine yourself, away from the brutish Alastoras of Materies.

Alastoras are within me, then, father?

Not just a few, my son, but many and terrifying.

I do not apprehend them, father.

My son, one Vengeress is Unknowing; the second, Grief. The third, Unrestraint; the fourth, Lascivity. The fifth, Unfairness; the sixth, Coveter. The seventh, Deceit; the eighth, Envy. The ninth, Treachery; the tenth, Wroth. The eleventh, Temerity; the twelfth, Putridity.

In number, these are twelve but below them are numerous others who, my son, compel the inner mortal – bodily incarcerated – to suffer because of perceptibility. But they absent themselves – although not all at once – from those to whom theos is generous, which is what the Way and Logos of Palingenesis consists of […]

To us: arrivance of Knowledge of Theos. On arrival: Unknowing is banished. My son, to us: arrivance of Knowledge of Delightfulness: on arriving, Grief runs away to those who have the room.

The influence invoked following Delightfulness is Self-Restraint: a most pleasant influence. Let us, my son, readily welcome her: arriving, she immediately pushes Unrestraint aside.

The fourth invoked is Perseverance who is influxious against Lascivity. Which Grade, my son, is the foundation of Ancestral Custom: observe how without any deliberation Unfairness was cast out. My son, we are vindicated since Unfairness has departed.

The sixth influence invoked for us – against Coveter – is community. With that departed, the next invokation: Actualis, and thus – with Actualis presenced – does Deceit run away. Observe, my son, how with Actualis presenced and Envy absent, the noble has been returned. For, following Actualis, there is the noble, together with Life and Phaos.

No more does the retribution of Skotos supervene, for, vanquished, they [all] whirlingly rush away […]

With a quietude, father, engendered by theos, the seeing is not of the sight from the eyes but that through the noetic actuosity of the capabilities. I am in the Heavens; on Earth; in Water; in Air. I am in living beings, in plants; in the womb, before the womb, after the womb. Everywhere.

{end quote}

As a certain English poet wrote in 1873 CE, “the separation between the Greeks and us is due principally to the Hebraistic culture we receive in childhood.”

T.W.S., 2017


{1} Our first visit is described here:

{2} An extract from Myatt’s translation is available, together with his comprehensive scholarly commentary, here:

{3} Aeschylus, Agamemnon, as translated by DW Myatt.


David Myatt


Selected Essays Of David Myatt

Edited by Rachael Stirling

Such Respectful Wordful Offerings As This


° Editorial Preface
° Bright Berries, One Winter
° The Leaves Are Showering Down
° Perhaps Words Are The Problem
° A Non-Terrestrial View
° Musings On Suffering, Human Nature, And The Culture of Pathei-Mathos
° Blue Reflected Starlight
° A Slowful Learning, Perhaps
° Toward Humility – A Brief Personal View
° A Catholic Still, In Spirit?
° Some Personal Perceiverations
° Twenty Years Ago, Today
° Some Questions For DWM, 2017
° Cantio Arcana
Appendix I – A Note On Greek Terms In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos
Appendix II – On Translating Ancient Greek
Appendix III – Concerning ἀγαθός and νοῦς in the Corpus Hermeticum
Appendix IV – Cicero On Summum Bonum
Appendix V – Swan Song Of A Mystic

From the Editorial Preface

This compilation of essays arose out of some enquiries sent or forwarded to us following our re-publication of Some Questions For DWM, 2017 and of Ms Stirling’s article – titled Swan Song Of A Mystic – commenting on those questions and answers. Included here are all of the Myatt texts enquired about, plus a few others for context including those 2017 questions and answers and Swan Song Of A Mystic.

Most of the texts are extracts from David Myatt’s correspondence with friends or academics or enquirers, often in response to particular questions asked. All the items included here have previously appeared on his personal ‘website’ or his ‘weblog’ and were published by him under the liberal Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License which allows for copying and re-publication. All of the translations, quotations, and footnotes are by Myatt and were included when previously published on his website or on his weblog.

The texts date from between 2010 and 2017 and are not in any particular order, chronological, by subject, or otherwise. Given the date range there is inevitably some overlap of content and/or of quotations. Considering the development of his weltanschauung between the aforementioned dates, readers may notice how some of his views have evolved; and why – as he noted in one of the more recent texts here – there will be no more personal writings from him

“because I have become ever more aware of the consequences of words, of my own fallibility; of the depth of my uncertitude of knowing; of how words – including mine – can and often do obscure the wordless empathic essence; and especially aware of how such essays can be, and in my case seem to have been, manifestations of vanity and occasionally of hubris, [with their being] a renewed acceptance of such greater solitude as will hopefully prevent me from any further pontifications public and private, with my translations, slowly proceeding as they are, becoming my only occasional vainful presence in the outer world, for such translations are somewhat other-worldly, and neutral at least in respect of opinions about matters which I now accept are beyond my purview, with my much self-vaunted ‘diverse experience over decades’ no longer seeming to me to be a viable excuse for inflicting my presumptions and intimations on others.”

The title of the compilation is taken from Myatt’s translation of the Cantio Arcana of tractate XIII of the Corpus Hermeticum and which ‘Esoteric Song’ we include here.

Three Wyrd Sisters
2017 ev

David Myatt


Swan Song Of A Mystic?

The latest effusion from Mr David Myatt, titled Some Questions For DWM 2017, is interesting for a variety of reasons not least of which is that it is permeated – as is his philosophy of pathei-mathos – with references to the classical culture of ancient Greece and Rome. It is also – perhaps unintentionally – revealing about Myatt’s character providing as it does facts about his life and how he now views his philosophy of pathei-mathos, which philosophy he has previously described as his weltanschauung, his own outlook on life.

The overall impression is of a man steeped in Western culture who is still ineluctably part of that culture but who – even though already withdrawn from the world – desires as a mystic might to cut what few ties still bind him to the world of vanity and materialism.

The Philosophy of Pathei Mathos

One of these ties appears to be his philosophy of pathei-mathos. This is a philosophy which is not only clearly pagan and part of the Western philosophical tradition {1} but also one which provides we Westerners with a cultured – a philosophical – paganism relevant to the modern world which is completely different from and even at odds with what has been termed both “contemporary paganism” and “neopaganism” with its invented rituals and ceremonies, its belief in and revival of ancient deities, and its lack of philosophical rigour. In effect, Myatt has continued, refined, and evolved the Western paganism – the ancient, the classical, paganism – evident in the works Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Cicero, the Corpus Hermeticum, and Marcus Aurelius, stripping away the old idea of gods and goddesses and replacing them with a modern mysticism centred around philosophical concepts such as Being and physis {2}, and virtues such as personal honour, pathei mathos, and empathy. Such a philosophical approach also conveniently does away – sans polemics – with conventional religions such as Christianity. {3}

Why then – given this gift to those seeking a Western alternative to the likes of Christianity who are unable to take “contemporary paganism” and “neopaganism” seriously – does Myatt in his latest effusion seem, as some have commented, to reject his own pagan philosophy? For among other things he writes,

“All that ‘philosophy’ seems to be to me now is a rather wordy and a rather egoistic, vainful, attempt to present what I (rightly or wrongly) believed I had learned about myself and the world as a result of various experiences.”

My own view is that he is not rejecting that philosophy, only moving on, as a composer of musical works – finding themselves unsatisfied with their creations – moves on to other things, to new compositions. In other words, Myatt is only re-expressing what he said some years ago, which was that the philosophy of pathei-mathos was

“simply my own weltanschauung, a weltanschauung developed over some years as a result of my own pathei-mathos. Thus, and despite whatever veracity it may or may not possess, it is only the personal insight of one very fallible individual.” {4}

In Myatt’s case he is simply moving on to concentrate on translations, and to live as his conscience dictates, or rather as his own pathei mathos informs him he should, which is life as a modern recluse and a learned mystic.

That he is not rejecting his own philosophy but instead is just not going to write anymore about it – or as he says, is not going to “pontificate” about it anymore – is evident in two of his replies. For in one reply he writes “I would suggest the tentative answers expressed by my weltanschauung,” while in another that such philosophical essays “can be, and in my case seem to have been, manifestations of vanity.”

But whether he will really write no more philosophical essays remains to be seen for there have been many writers, artists and musicians who, having forsworn their craft, nevertheless return to it at some stage.

A Western Heritage

In his latest effusion Myatt acknowledges his Western heritage, writing that as a schoolboy he read in Greek the likes of Thucydides, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and Herodotus, and in a rather remarkable admission that what he

“imbibed in those early years from such books of Ancient Hellas was nothing particularly philosophical but instead martial, and I could not but help admire those ‘thinking warriors’, those ‘perspicacious inventive gentlemen’ (περιφραδὴς ἀνήρ as Sophocles described them, cunning in inventive arts who arrive now with dishonour and then with honour, τι τὸ μηχανόεν τέχνας ὑπὲρ ἐλπίδ ̓ἔχων τοτὲ μὲν κακόν, ἄλλοτ ̓ ἐπ ̓ ἐσθλὸν ἕρπει) nurtured as I was then and had been for years by and in various colonies and outposts of what was still the British Empire. Thus it was natural that when, a short time later, I first learned about the Third Reich and about the loyalty of a soldier such as Otto Ernst Remer and the heroic actions of warriors such as Leon Degrelle I admired such men and intuited that something of the warrior ethos of ancient Hellas and Sparta may have manifested itself in our modern world.”

He also admits that

“some aspects of some of the tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum have influenced my thinking, just as Aristotle, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Marcus Aurelius, and other classical and Hellenistic Greek and Latin writers have.”

That he does not mention any non-Western literature I find indicative.

Thus it is my view that Myatt – despite some of his past peregrinations or perhaps because of some of those peregrinations – is still rooted in and still contributing to the ethos of the West, a fact evident in his philosophy of pathei-mathos and also in his on-going translations of texts from the Corpus Hermeticum and his on-going translation of the Gospel of John, both of which are important for understanding the past and the current ethos of the West itself particularly as Myatt notes, in one of his replies, that his presumption is “of early Christianity probably being influenced by the diverse hermetic traditions which existed and flourished during the Hellenistic period.”

This rootedness in the culture of the West is also evident in another of his replies, with Myatt lamenting that

“for so many in the modern West there is no longer an ancestral culture of which one is a living, dwelling, part – a connexion between the past and the future and a connexion with a rural place of dwelling – and which culture preserves the slowly learned wisdom of the past.”

Like a few others, my view is that his philosophy of pathei-mathos as well as his translations provide some of the links we need to reconnect ourselves with our Western ancestral culture.

Rachael Stirling
August 2017

{1} See
{2} In one of his replies Myatt writes that in his philosophy “the apparent parts of the unity are expressed by descriptors such as masculous and muliebral, with that unity – The One, μονάς – not designated by terms such as theos (God, god) or theoi (gods) but rather metaphysically, as Being and the emanations/effluvia of Being such as ourselves, Nature, and the Cosmos itself.”
{3} A detailed analysis of Myatt’s philosophy is given in the 2016 book The Mystic Philosophy Of David Myatt, which is available as a free download – – and as a printed book, ISBN 978-1523930135
{4} The Way Of Pathei-Mathos – A Précis. The essay is in the 2014 compilation titled One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings.

In a recent article {1} David Myatt quotes from one Flavius Josephus, the much vaunted Jewish ‘historian’ who lived during the time of Vespasian, the Roman general whose son destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

Myatt’s article reminded me of how unreliable Josephus is as an historical source, how boastful he was about himself, and how his writings (such as The Antiquities of the Jews, and The Jewish War) are still used as a reliable source by many authors.

Among the uncorroborated boasts of Josephus was his claim to be of “royal blood” and that he was so knowledgable at 14 years of age that High Priests and other influential people came to him for advice (The Life of Flavius Josephus, 1) . Other uncorroborated boasts are that during the Judean rebellion against Rome he was high-ranking military officer who was responsible for raising and training a large army and for fortifying cities, and that when the people of Jerusalem believed false rumors of his death they were all in morning for a month.

When what he writes can be checked with other historical accounts his errors are obvious. To present just four from dozens of examples. (1) Comparing the account of Josephus regarding the camp of Mithridates by the Nile (Antiquities, 14. 128-136) with the accounts of Cassius Dio (42.41ff), and of Alus Hirtius in De Bello Alexandrino (26ff) shows that Josephus got his facts wrong. (2) Comparing the account of Josephus regarding the expulsion of Hebrews (Antiquities, 12.414ff) with sources such as For Flaccus (28) by Cicero contradicts Josephus. (3) Josephus confuses the Persian Kings Darius the Second and Darius the Third. (4) Josephus (Antiquities, 168) claimed that Nehemiah travelled to Jerusalem in the 25th year of the reign of Xerxes despite the fact that the reign of Xerxes only lasted for 20 years.

In summary, because of his proven unreliability and his boasting Josephus comes across as someone repeating uncorroborated hearsay; as biased, and as self-serving. Someone, that is, who in this day and age would not – or who should not – be considered a reliable witness.




Another Iconoclastic Translation

Although David Myatt’s translation of the gospel of John from the Christian New Testament is a work-in-progress, sufficient has been released for a preliminary review. Thus far he has published the completed translation of the whole of chapters 1,2 and 3, which partial and regularly updated translation is available, as a pdf file, from The Gospel According To John.

To describe the translation as iconoclastic is something of an understatement. Perhaps more aptly it is heretical in the sense that Wycliffe’s 14th century and Luther’s 16th century translations were at the time considered by some to be heretical. To understand why it might be considered heretical, by mainstream Christians at least, we need to examine Myatt’s methodology.


Myatt’s methodology is the same as that used in his translations of chapters from the Corpus Hermeticum which was written in the same Hellenistic Greek as the New Testament. His methodology is to use some transliterations – theos instead of god/God; phaos instead of light; and so on – and to find unusual English words for Greek terms which he considers are important to preserve the meaning current at the time the writings were composed. His reasoning is that particular English words – and angel, Word, spirit, prison, heaven, hour, and Jews, come to mind vis-a-vis the gospels – have acquired or now convey meanings which are not appropriate to the time of the gospels and which thus distort the text.

One very striking example is his translation of verse 24 of chapter 3. The King James Bible has “For John was not yet cast into prison.” All other English translations are similar. Myatt, however, has “And John had yet to be hurled into a guarded cage.”

In his commentary on this verse he writes,

βεβλημένος εἰς τὴν φυλακὴν. A phrase deserving some consideration, for φυλακή is not ‘prison’ as prisons are understood today and in the past few centuries but rather ‘a guarded cage’, with βεβλημένος εἰς implying a forceful ‘throwing’ or a hurling into such a cage.

A quick check of a dictionary of ancient Greek reveals that φυλάσσω – the origin of the term φυλακή – does mean “to keep guard” and figuratively, in the likes of Herodotus, implies a ‘cage’.

But possibly most controversial of all is his rejection of English terms such as Jews, angel and heaven. In place of Jews he has Judaeans, writing in a comment on chapter 1 verse 19,

After much consideration I have translated ἰουδαία not by the conventional term ‘Jews’ but rather by Judaeans, given (i) that the English terms Jews and Jewish (deriving from the 13th/14th century words gyv/gyw and Iewe) have acquired connotations (modern and medieval) which are not relevant to the period under consideration; and (ii) that the Greek term derives from a place name, Judaea (as does the Latin iudaeus); and (iii) that the Anglo-Saxon version (ASV) retains the sense of the Greek: here (iudeas) as elsewhere, as for example at 2.6, æfter iudea geclensunge, “according to Judaean cleansing.”

In a long and bound to be controversial comment on the term ‘heaven’ he writes,

Conventionally, οὐρανός here is always translated as ‘heaven’ although the term ‘heaven’ – used in the context of the Gospels – now has rather different connotations than the Greek οὐρανός, with the word ‘heaven’ now often implying something explained by almost two thousand years of exegesis and as depicted, for example, in medieval and Renaissance Christian art. However, those hearing or reading this particular Greek gospel for the first time in the formative years of Christianity would most probably have assumed the usual Greek usage of “the heavens” in the sense of the “the star-filled firmament above” or in the sense of “the sky” or as the abode of theos and/or of the gods (ἐν οὐρανῷ θεοί), an assumption consistent with the fact that the Evangelist explains and interprets certain non-Greek words (qv. the comment on 1.42) and considering also his use of a colloquial Greek expression (qv. the comment on 1.51).

It therefore seems apposite to suggest a more neutral word than ‘heaven’ as a translation of οὐρανός and one which might not only be understood in various ‘classical’ ways by an audience of Greek speakers (such as the ways described above) but also be open to a new, and Christian, interpretation consistent with the milieu that existed when the Gospel of John was written and first heard. That is, before the exegesis of later centuries and long before post-Roman Christian iconography. Hence my suggestion of the post-classical Latin term Empyrean, which can bear the interpretation of the abode of theos and/or of the gods, of “the sky”, of the “the star-filled firmament above; and a Christian one suggested by Genesis 2.8 – παράδεισον ἐν Εδεμ (the Paradise of Eden) – and also by shamayim, שָׁמַיִם

Which is why the standard translation of a verse such as chapter 1,19 – “And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?” – is interpreted by Myatt as

For such was the evidence John gave when the Judaeans dispatched priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him: “Who are you?”


His heretical interpretation is evident in so many passages it is difficult to pick out just one or two. But the following is a typical example, from chapter 3, verses 19-21, with Myatt pointing out in his commentary that in the gospel of John the phaos is identified as Jesus himself and thus is in the gospel of John a synonym for Jesus.

And this is the condemnation: That the Phaos arrived in the world but mortals loved the darkness more than the Phaos, for their deeds were harmful. For anyone who does what is mean dislikes the Phaos and does not come near the Phaos lest their deeds be exposed. But whomsoever practices disclosure goes to the Phaos so that their deeds might be manifest as having been done through Theos.

This is conventionally translated as “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”

The effect of Myatt’s interpretation of the gospel is that it not only humanizes Jesus but also Christianity so that the message we apparently get is not of “fire and brimstone” – not of evil verses good, not of sin and the need to believe – but of what the likes of Julian of Norwich, George Fox and William Penn wrote and spoke of, and it is perhaps no coincidence that Myatt mentions those persons in the Preface to his translation.


As to whether Myatt’s translation, when completed, will find a niche is an interesting question given not just his iconoclastic methodology but also the esteem in which the gospels are held by Christians the vast majority of whom, were they to read his translation, would probably be offended by his interpretation.

As to when the translation will be completed, if the rate of updates is any guide it will be in about a year from now.

June 2017

David Myatt

In the Spring of this year (2017) David Myatt released his versions – translations and commentaries – of several more Corpus Hermeticum texts to complement his existing, published, versions of tracts I, III, IV, VIII, XI {1}. The new additions were tracts VI, XII, and the Cantio Arcana part (sections 17 and 18) of tract XIII. {2}

The latest additions – bringing his translations of Hermetica texts to seven – follow the same methodology as previous versions. That is, his penchant for transliterating certain Greek words, his use of often unusual English words in place of the standard translations and meanings given in Greek-English lexicons such as LSJ {3}, and the terms and expressions he invents or digs up from usually very old books of English literature. All of which combine to make his translations idiosyncratic and remarkably different from all previous translations into English, antique and modern. To his credit, he explains in his commentary – sometimes in pedantic detail – his choices, citing his reasons and often providing some quotation in Greek, Latin, or English.

In regard to his translations of hermetic texts, this results in two things. In translations with a technical vocabulary relating to hermeticism, and in translations which transports the reader to an ancient world. Both of these combine to breathe new life into the texts and thence into hermeticism itself. Thus, far from, as Myatt writes in his introduction to tract VI, giving the impression “of reading somewhat declamatory sermons about god/God and ‘the good’ familiar from over a thousand years of persons preaching about Christianity,” the hermetic texts he has translated give the impression of reading about a pagan mysticism that most readers will probably be unfamiliar with.

Thus while other translators write moralistically about god, righteousness, truth, and ‘the good’, Myatt previews a world of divinities, of respecting the customs of the gods, of honesty, and nobility. A good example of the difference is in Myatt’s rendering of part of the Cantio Arcana. Copenhaver – who follows the proto-Christian interpretation of earlier translators and whose recent translations of the Corpus Hermeticum are regarded as “the definitive versions”, has:

“Holy knowledge, you enlightened me; through you, hymning the intellectual light, I take joy in the joy of Mind. Join me, all you powers, and sing me the hymn. You also, continence, sing me the hymn. My justice, through me hymn the just. My liberality, through me hymn the Universe. Truth, hymn the truth. Good, hymn the good.” (4}

Myatt has:

Numinous knowledge, from you a numinal understanding:
Through you, a song of apprehended phaos,
Delighted with delightful perceiverance.
Join me, all you Arts, in song.
You, mastery, sing; and you, respectful of custom,
Through me sing of such respect.
Sing, my companions, for All That Exists:
Honesty, through me, sing of being honest,
The noble, sing of nobility.

In Myatt’s version there are the two previously mentioned things. A technical vocabulary – such as numinal, phaos, perceiverance, Arts – requiring interpretation, and nothing reminiscent of Christianity, such as ‘hymn’ and ‘holy’ and being ‘good’. As Myatt writes in his commentary on the Cantio Arcana in respect of his use of the terms song, honesty and Arts:

Song. ὕμνος. Not a ‘hymn’ in the Christian sense (which the word hymn now so often imputes) but rather celebrating the numinous, and theos, in song, verse (ode), and chant.

Honesty. ἀλήθεια. Given that those who are urged to sing are personifications, this is not some abstract, disputable, ‘truth’ but as often elsewhere in classical literature, a revealing, a dis-covering, of what is real as opposed to what is apparent or outer appearance. In personal terms, being honest and truthful.

Arts. As at Poemandres 31 – which is also a traditional doxology (δοξολογία) to theos – the sense of δυνάμεων [here] is not ‘powers’, forces (or something similar and equally at variance with such a laudation) but ‘arts’; that is, particular abilities, qualities, and skills. Here, these abilities and skills – the craft – relate to esoteric song; to be able to be an effective laudator in respect of theos and “every Physis of Kosmos.”

His reference to every Physis of Kosmos is to the beginning of the ode:

Let every Physis of Kosmos favourably listen to this song
πᾶσα φύσις κόσμου προσδεχέσθω τοῦ ὕμνου τὴν ἀκοήν

which Copenhaver translates as “let every nature in the cosmos attend to the hearing of this hymn.”

The commentaries which accompany the translations deserve a mention. Each of them not only occupies far more pages than the actual translation but they reveal the author as erudite with pages of quotations from ancient Greek and Latin works – for most of which Myatt provides his own translation – and the occasional quotation from English literature. In the case of English literature usually to explain the meaning of the unusual English words of phrases he uses, quoting the likes of Chaucer, Coleridge, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Chapman, and others.

        In effect what Myatt does in his translations is paint of picture of classical – and of Hellenic – culture and especially of Hellenic mysticism; a culture and a mysticism which is pagan and based on individuals, on tangible things such as honesty, and not on moralistic and religious and impersonal abstractions. That is, he reveals the Greco-Roman ethos – the pagan ethos – underlying the hermetic texts and which is in contrast to that of Christianity with its later, medieval and Puritanical, impersonal moralizing. He incidently leaves us with an interesting question. Which is whether such pagan Hellenic mysticism influenced Christianity in a positive way. In academia the assumption has always been that Christianity and earlier Judaic monotheism influenced hermeticism despite the fact of evidence from papyrus fragments indicating the opposite and despite the fact that the earliest texts of the Old Testament were written in Greek and not in Hebrew. {5}

Myatt himself is of the opinion that parts of ancient Greek mysticism and cosmogony – as described for instance in tract III of the Corpus Hermeticum – have influenced both Judaism and Christianity. {6}

Such controversial matters aside, his translations of tracts from the Corpus Hermeticism are decidedly iconoclastic and – when compared to those of other translators such as Copenhaver – idiosyncratic and as such are not and probably never will be mainstream at least in academia. They may therefore never gain widespread acceptance among established academics. Does that matter? Probably not because his actual and potential audience is much greater. Which audience is of those interested in Western mysticism, in Western paganism, and in Greco-Roman culture in general, and for such interested parties Myatt has done a great service since he places the hermetic texts firmly into those milieux.

One other thing about the translations and commentaries deserves a mention. As well a being available in printed form he has not only made all of them available as free downloads from the internet {7} but also issued them under a liberal Creative Commons license which allows others to freely copy and distribute them.

Rachael Stirling

{1} D. Myatt. Corpus Hermeticum I, III, IV, VIII, XI. 2017. ISBN 978-1545020142
{2} Tracts VI, XII, and the Cantio Arcana, are available at [Accessed May 2017].
{3} H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, H. S. Jones. A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1996.
{4} B. Copenhaver. Hermetica. Cambridge University Press. 1992.
{5} The earliest written texts of the Old Testament – papyrus fragments found in Egypt – are in Hellenistic Greek and date from around 250 BCE and precede by over a century the earliest fragments written in Hebrew (some of the Dead Sea Scrolls) which date from 150 BCE to around 50 BCE.
{6} See Myatt’s introduction to his translation of tract III.